‘Seggy?’ Darren has made a daisy of orange segments on his big tedious hand. The hand is too close to my chest and, worst of all, my nostrils. Sweetness is invading my head, spoiling the blue-kerboom of the chlorine. ‘No, ta – weak enamel.’ When in doubt, aim for smart-casual: just one of many tips I’ve picked up earwigging on Mum and Angela Croxford. Ange sure as heckers knows a thing or three. ‘You’re weird,’ says Darren, shaking his head. He nudges his dopey shoulder into Vicky’s boobtastic body. ‘You can have two seggies coz you’re my special friend.’ Full of it, as ever, Vicky checks I’m watching. She’s sat in the middle of course – centre of attention. I stare at the edge of her apricot foundation and regret my electric lashes and magenta blush. The fold-down plastic seat is giving me a numb bum. They cosy up and swivel their mismatched legs away from me. Darren whispers something and Vicky giggles. She waves down to sexpot Reece. Reece nods from his perch on the other side of the pool and fake yawns. Mr. Cool as usual. He doesn’t stop leg-jigging or spinning his whistle. We’re in the spectator area but the best view is from in the water, right up Reece’s shorts. When he’s finished his shift, Vicky will go round the back with them and do stuff. Icky stuff. They won’t invite me, but I’ll make my excuses in any case: maybe ‘going sandal shopping at the factory outlet’ but more likely ‘got Uncle Duncan visiting’. Keep it simple is another one of Angela’s nuggets. It works for most tight spots, I find. The graphic details will follow tomorrow. Some stuff she likes, some stuff she does so they don’t call her frigid. After the full blow-by-blow, I’ll say ‘TMI, Vicks. T. M. I.’ and we’ll both laugh our bonces off. Ha. Ha. Ha. Bonk. After we’d arrived at the baths and checked the lifeguard rota, we got Dextro Energy out the vending machine. Four tablets at once – two orange, two blackcurrant – delivers maximum tingle without the rabid squirrel look. You don’t want to go above five, trust me. When we’d finished foaming, Vicky dared me to knock on the window and flash my new daisy bra at a man in a wheelchair. She doesn’t know I’ve got a vest on under my sweatshirt. Sneaky McSneak, that’s me. Sugar-rushing is ace. It’s the opposite of hanging out with Dumbo Darren. Oh, sorry, I do beg my pardon: Dumbo Dazzzzz.
*At 2 a.m. I wake up to sounds of concern coming from the landing. Mum’s voice is just a weird rumble until my brain starts dividing up the words. It has that night-time croakiness that reminds me of being poorly. I get a whiff of strawberry Calpol and, for a split second, Brownie, the family vomit vessel, appears like a ghost next to my bed. ‘I’ll ask her now. If I don’t call back it’s because we’re none the wiser.’ I do my best fake snoring as Mum marches into my bedroom. ‘Rebecca, I need to talk to you.’ Cue Oscar-winning throat-groaning from me. ‘Rebecca?’ I let out one final snort for luck. ‘Rebecca!’ ‘Huh! What? Is it… morning already?’ When, oh when, will Miss Keithley recognise my theatrical potential? ‘Vicky’s mum just rang. Vicky’s missing from home. Any idea where she might be?’ Any idea, mother dearest? How’d you like the full scoop with sprinkles? *That phrase of Mum’s, ‘none the wiser’, it’s been going round my head. Vicky acts wise. Like she’s got it all sussed. Maybe I’m not sexy – I haven’t even started my period yet – but I’m what you call ‘savvy’. I get feelings about stuff that float right over Icky Vicky. My enamel’s fine by the way. Apart from at school, I haven’t seen Vicky in yonks. She’s not talking to me, which Mum told Ange is ‘a blessed relief’. I get escorted to swimming now. Mum does her marking while I do lengths. Backstroke is my favourite – mainly coz of the view. The new lifeguard, Bradley, is fit as flip. Brad looks like a surfer but is actually into snooker, Chinese takeaways and the Predator films. They stuck his photo and ‘All About Me’ over Reece. As for Dumbo Daz – well, he’s just a scabby rectangle of Tipp-Ex these days. God knows what ‘got off bloody lightly’ means exactly but Darren and Reece have moved away and been put on some official list. I won’t deny it was a relief to cross them off the one in my diary. My Top Ten of local pervs may have lost two members but I’ve kept the colour-coded notes just in case the police get round to doing their job properly. I keep telling myself that Reece was twenty-six – that’s double Vicky’s age. Even dopey Darren is old enough to drive a van. My new focus is collecting intel on Mr Jervis. That man is a public menace. Pervis needs to focus less on getting Chantal Wilson out of her school blouse and more on teaching us the principal Hindu deities. He barely looked at my poster, even though I went to a tonne of effort to ‘present all the key information in a clear and engaging manner’. I don’t consider it a waste of time though. Perfecting my presentation skills is all part of le grand plan de moi. Like Ange says, it pays to be ambitious. If someone tells you to stay in your lane, it just means you need to swim even harder.
About the Author
Lucy Goldring is a northerner hiding in Bristol. She has been shortlisted by Flash 500, the National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) and Retreat West and won Lunate Fiction’s monthly flash competition in July 2020. Lucy was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2020 by both NFFD and 100 Word Story. She is currently working on a collection themed around climate-angst whilst trying to manage her own.