Hi All, I’ve joined the Free Fiction Friday Group
and will do my best to regularly post a chapter!
My contribution to the group will be an ongoing tale set in Australia.
IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING
( IYLS )
David and Jesse are childhood friends who get separated in their teens but meet up again at university in Newcastle, Australia.
They soon find out that though some things remain the same, other change… oh boy, do they change.
Chapter one: Trip down memory lane.
Life wasn’t meant to be easy.
Apparently, it wasn’t meant to be cool and comfortable either.
Well, not if the thin film of sweat covering my naked body, despite having kicked off everything, including my sheets, was any indication. It was a hot night. In fact, it was the third hot night in a row, which was ridiculous as it was April. We were obviously having an Indian summer. Man, how I longed for a southerly change to come through and cool things off. Summer had been bad enough for testing my finances, I didn’t need it carrying over into autumn. It had certainly been a scorcher with the temperatures soaring. My little flat had an air conditioner, but it cost an arm and a leg to run, so I tried to use it as little as possible.
Between the heat, and my thoughts, sleep eluded me. Finally, tired of tossing and turning, I sighed in defeat, and climbed off my bed to switch the aircon on. For a few sweet moments, I stood before the unit as it pushed cool air back and forth across the clammy skin of my chest and abdomen, before turning to allow it to do the same to my back. I inhaled deeply in relief, closing my eyes and feeling my skin go all goose fleshy. I shivered at the pleasurable sensation.
Feeling one hundred percent cooler, if not relaxed mentally, I pulled open my bedside drawer and retrieved my photo album. Despite realizing it wasn’t going to help me sleep, nor ease my melancholy, I knew I was going to take a trip down memory lane anyway. It wasn’t the first time I’d done it, and I hazarded a guess, it wouldn’t be my last. I already knew some of the pictures would bring back memories that would make me smile, while others would be bittersweet, or maybe even downright painful. The knowledge didn’t matter—it was an itch I had to scratch. A scab I had to pick.
In truth, I didn’t even need the album. I could have just closed my eyes and taken a mental trip through each page, so familiar were they to me, but I liked seeing them. They made it tangible. They made it all real.
I climbed back on my bed, placing the album by my side, taunting myself by trying to delay the inevitable. Resting, with my hands linked behind my head, I surveyed my flat. It was awash in the dim glow cast from the outside lights of the house it was situated behind. Mrs. Gilmore, my landlady, was convinced that leaving them on would deter any would-be burglars. I smiled to myself in the dark, thinking about my sweet, but somewhat eccentric, elderly landlady. She always came out with the funniest things. I remembered when, a few months earlier, she’d called a plumber to fix a leaking tap. According to her, the guy had needed her to give him instructions every step of the way. I could still hear her snort and exclaim, ‘David, he was about as useful as tits on a bull!’ Her blunt words were so at odds with her grandmotherly appearance. Still, she was a dear old thing, and I adored her. Besides, she made the best scones I’d ever tasted. God, were they good. Even better than Jeremy’s mother’s.
And with that thought, I reached for the album.
The first set of pictures were innocuous enough. They were of Jeremy, my childhood friend, and me. I focused on my favorite one. It showed us striking a pose in front of the cubby house his Dad had built for him in their backyard. We were six. I smiled. We looked cute, what with fluorescent-green zinc cream smeared all over our noses and cheeks, our scrawny chests poked out as we stood side by side, our arms wrapped around each other. Not even the big, floppy sunhats our mothers had always insisted we wear, which threw shadows over most of our faces, could hide the huge, gap-toothed grins we both wore.
My gaze shifted, taking in the sturdy structure behind us, and my smile deepened. We’d had some great times in that cubby house. Hours upon hours had been spent playing within its walls, pulling up the ladder, and making it impossible for Tommy, Jeremy’s younger brother, to join us. No matter how much he, by turn, demanded and whined to be allowed up, we’d ignore him. The cubby house was our place. Definitely a no-go zone for pesky younger brothers. In the summer, we’d used it for sleep-outs, and even in winter, we’d snuggled in our sleeping bags and whiled away a rainy Sunday afternoon reading, playing chess, or our Gameboys.
I turned the page, my smile staying firmly in place as I focused on one particular photo. I was a few years older, several inches taller, but still gangly and with lots of missing teeth in my smile. The photo had been taken by my grandmother, who I’d been visiting for a week, just before I boarded a flight back to Ballina. I was standing with my back to the huge window of the viewing lounge at Sydney airport. Behind me, several planes could be seen. The memory of that trip was as clear to me as the day it was created. It was the holiday when I decided to become a pilot. Jeremy and his Mom had picked me up from the airport as my mother was sick, and my father working out of town. Closing my eyes, I allowed myself to sink back to that summer to be that boy again.
Twelve Years Previous (David aged 9)
So freakin’ cool! I can’t wait to tell Jere how awesome flying is. I think I’ll be a pilot when I grow up. So freakin’ cool!
I trailed behind the flight attendant who’d been assigned to me, up one of those tunnel things that they attach between the building and the plane—so cool how they can do that—to where I was supposed to get my bag, and she was walking so slow.
Why do grown-ups walk so slow? No wonder most of them are fat.
She had really high heels on that made a clicking sound with every step she took. I followed her down this long, wide hall, and I knew for sure how slow she was when people kept pushing past us, dragging their little suitcases behind them. Why wear shoes like that if they stopped you from running?
To make matters worse, my nose was itching ‘cause she had so much perfume on.
Why do girls do that?
Mum did it too, and I hated it, though hers, at least, smelled better than this lady’s. I tried to sniff the tickle away, but that just made it worse. I sneezed—I couldn’t help it—and it kinda sprayed a bit, and I didn’t have a tissue or anything, so then I had to wipe it on my shirt sleeve and hope she didn’t notice. Crap, she saw. I know she did ‘cause she gave me a dirty look. I wanted to tell her it was her fault. I was okay until her smelly perfume got up my nose. Girls are so stupid.
There were heaps of people around, and I was looking everywhere as we walked, but I couldn’t see Jere or his mom in the crowd.
Finally, she stopped and pointed, “Your carousel is over there, sweetie.”
They have a merry-go-round at the airport?
I followed her pointed finger to see a big escalator sort of thing with heaps of bags on it.
Holy crap! How am I s’posed to find mine? Nan had taken care of that in Sydney.
I smiled at her, even though she made me sneeze, least I think I did. Mum had said I had to mind my manners on this trip or it would be the first and last time she let me fly alone. I walked toward where the flight attendant pointed, not really sure what I was meant to do.
Where am I supposed to meet Jeremy? And what if I can’t find my bag? Mum will kill me if I’ve lost it. The present I’m s’posed to give Mrs. Hammond is in it. Please, please, please, let my bag be on the escalator thingy.
“Davie! Hey, Davie! Over here! David!” I turn to where the voice was coming from and my eyes nearly popped right out of my head. There was Jeremy, jumping up and down and waving like a maniac. So uncool. I felt a grin break across my face, and then I waved like a lunatic too. He looked taller, I mean, it had only been a week, but he definitely looked taller. Am I bigger, too? I hope so—I want to stay taller than him.
And then we rushed at each other and Jeremy punched me on the shoulder, “You are so deaf! I was yelling out to you for, like, forever!” He grinned at me, and I grinned at him.
“Jeremy!” scolded Mrs. Hammond, just before she squeezed me so tight I could hardly breathe. I liked Jere’s mum. She always smelled good—her perfume didn’t make my nose tickle, for some reason—and she made the best sangas and stuff. I hoped she’d make us heaps of them over the summer holidays ‘cause I had a whole new appreciation for them after Nan’s cucumber sandwiches which I’d had to eat a ton of just to feel full.
“Let me look at you. My god, I’m sure you’ve grown at least and inch! You’re such a weed, Davie! You’re all arms and legs, just like Jeremy!” she said, all excited like, and I felt my cheeks get hot. Okay, I didn’t like that so much about her. Jeremy’s mother could say the most embarrassing things. She was bad as Mum. I looked at Jeremy and had to try really hard not to laugh ‘cause he was standing behind her rolling his eyes and going cross-eyed at me. He did the same thing to me in class, and I always got into trouble ‘cause of it.
“Um, hi, Mrs. Hammond, it’s nice to see you again, and thanks for coming to pick me up.” There, Mum would be happy—I’d remembered to say ‘thank you’ already.
“No problem, David. Now what does your suitcase look like?”
I described it to her as we all walked toward where the bags were going around and around. I gave Jere a bit of a shove with my shoulder, and he shoved me back, so I shoved him again.
“Are you two at it already?” asked his mum, shaking her head at us.
“What?” we both said at the same time.
“Snap!” And then we were laughing and hi-fiving.
“You should see what I got for Christmas, Davie! I got the latest Pokemon game and there’s a hundred new Pokemon to collect. I’m so going to thrash you. I’ve collected over twenty of the new ones already. They’re so cool.”
I listened while he raved on about what he got for Chrissie and all the things he wanted to do now I was back. He never shut up. I smiled at him, remembering what mum always said about him, ‘That boy could talk under water with marbles in his mouth.’
As I listened to him, I decided she was probably right. I wanted to tell him about my holiday in Sydney and the plane, but I could wait. It was always better to let him run out of steam a bit first. I had the rest of the summer to tell him, so yeah, I could wait. Besides, I really wanted to battle him with the latest Pokemon, because I got the new one too, and I bet I could thrash him.
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