Read The boys of summer Online

Authors: C.J Duggan

The boys of summer (page 3)

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“There is no such thing as a multiculturalsection in the Miss Onslow Pageant, idiot.”

Adam placed his hands up in mocksurrender.

“Sorry, Ellie. I guess I need to brush up onmy beauty pageant trivia.”

I could see this getting ugly. “So, thebreak-up party tonight. What time do we rock up?”

Ellie’s head snapped around. “What are youwearing? Do you want to come to my place first? We can picksomething out.”

“How come I never get invited to thesepre-party fashion parades?” whined Adam.

We both ignored him.

“I haven’t a clue, really,” I said. “Whattime do you want to rendezvous?”

“Make it seven at my house. By the time weget ready, we will be fashionably late.” Ellie flicked her hairover her exposed shoulder.

Adam rolled his eyes and mimicked Elliebehind her back. I threw him a discreet frown.

“Sounds like a plan,” I said, as I lifted myawkward sheet to step over a wayward empty chip packet.

“So we’re not wearing the Togas tonight,then?” Adam pressed.

“No,” Ellie and I said in unison.

“Aww, come on.”

“NO!”

Adam circled us, and chanted in his bestimitation of a caveman voice while fist pumping the sky.

“Toga! Toga! Toga!”

We were about to pummel him in a jointbeating when he tripped on the hem of his sheet and went flying ina very inelegant fashion that had him sprawled on the concrete,revealing his board shorts underneath.

I suppose we should have checked if he wasokay, and not mortally wounded. We would have done so, too, if weweren’t crippled by fits of laughter. Ellie even snorted. That madeus laugh even harder, to the point that we all but forgot aboutAdam who lay there, possibly bleeding to death. But he wasn’t. Heleaned back, and squinted up at us with a wry smile spread acrosshis face.

We bent down, offered him a hand to get upand helped him dust his once-white sheet off. His mum would not behappy.

“And that, my friend, is the perfect reasonwhy we are not going in a Toga,” I said.

***

According to Ellie, it was always importantto make a grand entrance at a party, to have all eyes turned to us.In fact, she revelled in it. As soon as we arrived, Ellie was onthe lookout for John Medding, who was hosting the break-up gala. Hewas your everyday sporty boy – popular, pretty cute. He wouldusually hook up with a girl when he had some Dutch courage from afew beers. He would then choose to never make eye contact or speakto her again. This was my forecast for tonight, given I had seen ita dozen times before, but Ellie didn’t think that far ahead. Fornow her gaze circled the party.

I wanted to dance. I loved dancing. I wantedto move until my feet were blistered and every time a song I likedblared out of the speaker, my heart sank.

The makeshift dance floor was housed in anindustrial-sized shed, filled with gritty machinery emitting thefaint smell of oil. The large space was shrouded in flashing discolights haphazardly hooked up to a twisted extension cord leading toGod knows where. I had lost Ellie in the commute from the mainhouse into the crowded shed. The party was massive! Obviously notan exclusive Year Eleven break-up party like originally planned, Icouldn’t even spot a familiar face. I busied myself with grabbing aCoke from one of the eskies when Ellie bounded excitedly up tome.

“I’m going for a walk with John,” shewhispered.

I didn’t share her enthusiasm.

I watched Ellie walk hand in hand with John,until both were engulfed by the blackness of the night.

Instead of dancing like I wanted to, I foundmyself doing my usual best friend stakeout, perched on the bonnetof a car, legs crossed, staring anxiously towards the woods thatsurrounded the Medding property. Worse still, I was expected to be‘entertainment’ for Zeke Walker, John’s best mate. He caused thecar to dip as he sat next to me on the bonnet.

Having realised that we were to be left alonetogether while Ellie and John went and ‘admired nature’, hispresence caused me to slide to the furthest edge of the bonnet. Ihad played the friend part before, left with whatever prospectivebest friend belonged to the boy Ellie was crushing on. I had evenkissed a couple to pass the time, but as Zeke skulled the remnantsof his beer can, crushed it against his head and let out analmighty belch, I nearly fell off the bonnet in an effort to getaway from him.

Ellie, you owe me big time!

Zeke, who was quite beefy and had a tendencyto squeeze his pimples in class without apology, was one of thosevile boys that had been put on this earth to make girls cringe.

“So, do you wanna fuck?”

This time I did fall off the bonnet, shockedat the out-of-nowhere question. He must have read the disgust in mylook as he shrugged.

“You know that’s what they’re doing.”

I ignored him. If I ignored him, maybe hewould go away?

“That’s what John said anyway, he said that…”

“I don’t give a shit what John said,” Isnapped. Here was another one. John had clearly heard that rumour.He assumed Ellie was a sure thing. They both did. I was angry atZeke and John for believing that. And I was angry at Ellie for notcaring what they thought.

“Whoa, touchy!” Zeke said.

I wanted to stomp off, to leave Zeke, thebelching idiot, to himself. But I felt uneasy and wanted to bethere for Ellie when she came back, make sure she was okay. Iwouldn’t just leave her.

Silence fell over us again, except for theoccasional belch or spit. Finally, it seemed that Zeke got boredwith my enthralling company.

“Screw this. I have better things to do. I’llfind out later how he went.”

He walked back to the party; I glared at hisback and fought to contain my anger.

“PIG!”

He flipped me the finger without a backwardglance. I hated him, I hated him and I hated John Medding and allhis stupid friends that waited in the wings for all the details.That was the only reason Zeke had stuck around, not out of concernfor anyone’s wellbeing, but to be the one to get the goss hot offthe press.

Jerk!

I wanted to march into the woods, and yellfor Ellie, when I heard the distant snap of twigs. My first thoughtwas that maybe Ellie was headed back to the party. But my eyes soonadjusted to that of a darkened silhouette. The long confidentstride of the stranger momentarily paused as if they had noticedme. My own form was clearly lit by the disco lights that flashedbehind me. The stranger’s walk slowed, appeared more guarded. Theycontinued towards me, the lights that flickered from the partygradually lighting his face with an array of pulsing hues ofcolour. My tension should have ebbed at the sight of just anotherlate gate-crasher to the party; instead, I sat transfixed. My heartstopped. I knew that face; it was a face I had always known. A faceI hadn’t seen in a really long time.

My head spun at the sight and the memory ofToby Morrison. A boy I had never spoken a word to, a boy I hadalways admired from afar. He closed the distance between us. Helooked at me for what was probably the first time, though I hadlooked at him constantly. I held my breath as he stopped by thecar, our eyes locked in a long moment, his lips parted with whatwould be our first exchange. I breathed in deeply and braced myselffor the moment, the moment I had waited for as he finally spoke…

“Get off my car!”

I almost toppled over as I slid off thebonnet, mortified. He reached out to steady me as he laughed.

Was he laughing at me?

“Whoa! Easy there.” He smiled wickedly.“Don’t stress, I’m just messing with you. It’s not really mycar.”

He steadied me with a gentle touch to myupper arm. A scorch mark burned into my flesh even after he removedhis hand.

It was then that I realised I had a fist fullof Toby Morrison’s T-shirt gathered in my hand with awhite-knuckled intensity. I must have grabbed a hold in an effortnot to fall flat on my face and further disgrace myself.

Toby’s eyes flicked down to his bunchedT-shirt with an air of amusement. His brows lifted in a ‘Do youmind?’ gesture that caused me to let go as if I had beenelectrocuted. Being electrocuted surely couldn’t have burnt morethan my flushed cheeks at that moment. I prayed that the badlighting masked them.

Toby half laughed as he plunged his handsback into his pockets and stepped to my side; he tilted a fractioncloser as if he was about to reveal a secret.

“Relax … I would never own a Holden.” Hewinked and then turned his confident stride towards the party.

I watched his figure as he retreated, andtook a deep breath as if I had forgotten to breathe ’til now. Myhead whirled.

What had just happened? Toby Morrison hadjust talked to me. And had we just shared a joke?

Or rather he had made a joke, and I all butfell over and stared all googly eyed at him like an idiot and notsaid a word.

NOT. ONE. WORD.

I watched as his figure became smaller, butstill clear enough to see that he was stopped every few feet withpeople and hand grasps and pats on the back. Everyone knew TobyMorrison, and I seriously wanted to, too.

When Toby Morrison disappeared into the thickof the party crowd, I took a moment to firstly move far away fromthe car, whose ever car it was. I needed to analyse what justhappened, play by play, detail for detail. His smile, his look, hislaugh, and his hand on my upper arm that I swear had burned into myskin.

My back rested against the chill of thecement water tank. I cupped my cheeks and felt the scorching burnof my skin.

A distant rustle interrupted my thoughts, andI noticed two figures had emerged from the woods. John was doing uphis belt and Ellie was three paces behind readjusting her skirt,her hair all in disarray. John walked straight passed me and headedfor the party. I guess the silent treatment began now and extendedto Ellie’s friends. I waited for Ellie, who seemed surprised to seeme still waiting for her. I plucked a twig out of her hair.

“Why aren’t you dancing?” Her voiced soundedsleepy.

“Oh you know, I don’t have a dancingpartner.”

Now was not a good time to do theresponsible, chastising, best friend speech. I could see that shelooked past my shoulder, wondering where John had gone.

My anger had grown more like a swirlingfurnace in the pit of my stomach. Ellie faked indifference,something she always did when boys treated her that way.

“Have you seen Adam?” she asked.

I wanted to be snide and askhow couldI?I had been busy hanging out with foul Zeke.

Except for my run in with Toby Morrison!

All of a sudden I didn’t feel so angryanymore.

“You know Adam. If we were fashionably late,he’d be later.”

We headed towards the thudding of the music,and weaved our way through the mass of bodies. I was acutely awareof the snickers behind their hands as they looked Ellie up anddown. Guess news spread fast at the hands of John Medding. If Ellienoticed, she didn’t let on. Instead, her head bobbed to the musicas her eyes searched for Adam. I looked as well, but my gaze alsosearched for Toby, who wasn’t anywhere. I wondered what he wasdoing at a Year Eleven break-up party, he had graduated from highschool years ago. And more importantly, where had he gone?

We made our way past the shed and headedtowards the house, opening the back door to be flooded by thepounding of a stereo. We slid past the crush of bodies wanderinginto what looked like a dimly lit, stuffy rumpus room filled withsporting memorabilia.

“Ellie! Tess!”

We turned and saw Adam in the distance, hisbody higher than everyone else’s as he was dancing on a billiardtable with a bunch of tarty-looking Year Ten girls. They appearedto be wearing more make-up than they were wearing clothes, and hewasn’t so much dancing with them as wedged between them. They alljumped up and down which was a mean feat for that many people onsuch an apparatus.

Ellie and I shook our heads at the sight.Adam owned the platform with his bad rhythm and beer in hand,decked out in his mangy Toga. The only one still dressed like thatat the party. Ellie and I recognised it as exactly what it had beenmeant: a sign of rebellion.

“Can you believe it?” Ellie shook herhead.

I laughed at the sight. Icouldbelieve it, actually.

“Hey, look, I’ll be back in a minute. I’mjust going to see where John got to.”

I cringed. Sometimes Ellie only saw what shewanted to. “Ellie …” but she cut me off.

“Back soon!” She kissed me on the cheek anddisappeared through the crowd.

I hated watching her go, watching her movetowards her impending doom. As I worried, I felt the distinctcaress of alcohol-infused, hot breath on the back of my neck. Aclammy pair of hands blocked my vision.

“Suuurpriiiseee,” a voice slurred in my ear.I broke free and spun around to see the bloodshot eyes of ScottMiller.

I screamed inside my head and franticallylooked for an exit.

“Hey, Tessh. You’re looking mighty finetonight.” His eyes moved over me with a slow caress in a way thatmade me feel dirty.

“Now, I have a bone to pick with you,” heswayed slightly as he waggled his finger at me, a dopey look ofmock anger on his face.

Why on Earth did I ever go out with him?

“Wow, with me? That’s fresh.” I crossed myarms. I was doing the thing my mum said over and over again: ‘Nevertry and reason with a drunk person’. But a part of me wanted toknow more about this bone. Another of mum’s sayings was ‘A drunkman speaks a sober man’s mind’.

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