The wind rushed through the open windows of the car. The hot gust did little to cool the two girls down as sweat squeezed from their pores. Damn it, why had the air conditioning chosen this trip to break down?
Trixie shoved her dark hair out of her eyes. “I thought I’d packed my sunnies,” she snarled.
Bonny smiled. Her blonde fringe flapped in the wind along with the strands of hair that had escaped the bun. “You can buy new ones in town.” She rolled her shoulders. “Who’s going to be there, again?”
“Chelsea, obviously. Um…Meg, Nick, Dan and Ryan. This trip is going to be a bitch fest.” Trixie leaned forward and pushed buttons on the radio. “Oh, I love this song!” She turned the volume loud and sang at the top of her lungs.
Bonny screamed out the lyrics with her to Summer time Sadness.
Bonny and Trixie had been best friends since they were fourteen. Bonny loved her friend but Trixie had opinions and couldn’t stand ... well ... most people. Bonny, on the other hand, loved people but she’d learned quickly never to piss off Trixie.
“Do you have the directions?”
Trixie pulled out the handwritten notes. “It’s on the other side of town. We take the first left at the cemetery and follow the lane to the end.”
“A cemetery?” Bonny shivered.
“Yep, where the dead rest until summoned on the eve of the New Year by the unintentional chanting of teenagers.” She tried to make her voice sound scary but ruined it with the smile.
Still, Bonny yelped. “Stop it. I hate that horror movie stuff.”
“It’s true. Ghosts walk the beach late at night, searching for a new body to snatch.” She giggled. “However, there is one thing to ward off the dead...a bonfire!”
Bonny indicated to turn off the highway. “We’re in the middle of summer and a total fire ban.”
Trixie pouted. “Well a girl can still dream.”
“Ugh! Don’t start that again!” Trixie shook her head.
“It works. I visualised acing my exams, and I did.”
“And that has nothing to do with all of that studying you did?”
“That too.” Bonny smirked.
Trixie stared at the tiny tourist town. Small gift shops, no parking and dozens of families walking around in swimmers and thongs. It was nothing compared to Nelson Bay.
As they left the town, they passed a caravan park.
“I hope the beach we’re going to isn’t crowded.” Bonny pouted.
“It may have been fifty years ago when Chelsea’s grandparents bought the house. Most of the people here are families, and they don’t wander the sands late at night, or this far out.”
They turned left at the cemetery and followed the narrow lane dented with potholes and lined with gum trees. Sunlight flickered through the branches onto the roof of a house.
They stared in amazement. “Oh. My. God,” they said in unison.
“I thought Chelsea said it was a beach bungalow.”
The grey weatherboard house stood two stories high with white trim around the windows and a wrap around veranda. The closer they got, the more they saw of the splitting timber and peeling paint.
Bonnie stopped the car at the end of a row of parked vehicles. Trixie’s suspicions heightened at the sight of an odd looking car with red Probationary plates. That didn’t belong here. A sick feeling tugged at her gut. God, I hope that car isn’t the one I think it is.
Chelsea ran down the stairs, her fiery red hair streaming behind her. “Hello!”
“Hello.” Bonny smiled brightly as she got out of the car.
Trixie glowered. “Hey, who owns the other car?”
“Oh, that’s Hale’s. He and Tristan are staying too.” Chelsea smiled.
Trixie groaned. “Hale? As in the biggest douche bag to ever live?”
“Hale, as in an attractive nice guy,” Chelsea replied.
“Ha! Tristan is nice. Hale, no way.”
“What do you have against him, Trix?”
“Everything. I just hope Tristan doesn’t start to follow Hale’s bad habits.”
“Ugh, you’re such a goodie-two-shoes!”
They both looked at Bonny who stood silently beside them, and noticed her blush.
“Bon?” Trixie bit her lip so as not to smile.
“Are you alright? You seem a little... red in the face.”
“Hmm. I mean, yeah I’m fine.”
Trixie couldn’t stop it now. She full on grinned. “You still have the hots for Tristan.”
Bonny shook her head violently. She kept her eyes down on her toes. Trixie could only guess what she was thinking. Not again. She couldn’t admit to that and be crushed like last time.
Chelsea sighed. “Hurry up. It’s too hot out here.” She rushed back to the veranda.
Bonny went around the car and opened the trunk.
“Don’t worry, Bon.”
She jumped as Trixie moved in beside her. “What do you mean?”
“This isn’t going to be a repeat of Year Ten, and if anything does happen, we can dispose of his body back at the cemetery and no one would know where to look.” She bumped their shoulders together. “He’ll have to get through me before he hurts you.”
“Thanks,” Bonny whispered.
The girls pulled out their bags and slammed the trunk shut.
Inside the house the air was cool. Every window and door was open, letting the sea breeze in. Upstairs, the heat rose. The hardwood floors creaked and groaned under each step they took.
“Where is everybody?” Bonny asked.
“All over the place. I think the boys are surfing.”
A door popped open. “Yay!” Meg screamed and rushed out of a bedroom.
Trixie stepped aside and rolled her eyes. Great, why did this one have to be here? She stared at the other blonde. Has she cut her hair to match Bonny’s?
Meg threw her arms around Bonny. “Finally you’re both here. I’ve been waiting forever.”
“Hey, Meg.” Bonny pulled away and turned to Chelsea. “Which room can I dump my stuff in?”
“In here.” She opened the last door off the hallway. “Sorry, but everyone has to share.” Chelsea stepped out of the way.
Trixie and Bonny stared at the double bed and looked at each other. Shrugging, Trixie dropped her bags in the room. “Looks like neither of us will be getting lucky.”
Bonny rolled her eyes. “It will be like old times when we shared.”
“That was years ago.” She moved toward the window. “Wow.”
Vibrant blue skies melded with the rolling surf. Waves roared in the distance. The light and colour was so beautiful, it stung her eyes. She had to look away.
“That is amazing.” Bonny stood beside her.
Trixie sighed contently. “I think this is a view I could get used to.” Uh oh. Suddenly, Trixie spun away from the window and marched over to her bag.
“What’s wrong?” Bonny couldn’t tear her eyes from the motion of the water. “This is the best view, and to think we’ll be waking up to it every morning.”
“I need to get the alcohol into the fridge or there will be nothing cold to drink tonight.” Trixie pulled out her pre-mixes. “Are you sure you don’t want to join us?”
“Not until I’m eighteen.”
“That’s only six days away. No-one here is going to call the cops because you’re underage and drinking.” She headed to the door.
“I know.” Dreamily, Bonny stared out the window.
Trixie shook her head. As she creaked down the stairs, she heard Meg’s voice. “Oh, now we can talk, Bonny.”
What was with that girl? Trixie wanted to slap her.
The layout of the kitchen was an open plan with an island bench, and looked like it had been updated ten years before. Inside the fridge was a collection of alcohol on the bottom two shelves and in the door. The top shelf seemed to be reserved for butter, milk and chocolate.
Trixie looked at the phone. “What the … who has a landline nowadays?” She hurried over to it. “Hello?”
A pause then a click—great, a telemarketer—in the background she heard wild chattering. “Hello? Is this the owner?” The accent was thick.
There was an idea. Trixie moaned again. “Yeah,” she breathed deeply into the phone. “I’m here. Tell me what you’re wearing.” She tried so hard for sexy, but sounded creepy instead. Come on … channel your inner porn star.
“Um … may I speak with the owner?”
“As soon as you tell me what you’re wearing.”
He hung up.
Cackling, Trixie placed the phone back in the cradle. She turned and saw Ryan in the door way. He raised an eyebrow. “Am I interrupting something?”
She squealed and ran at him. They hugged for a long time. “Hello.”
He grinned. “You are one strange girl. Who was that on the phone?”
“It was your sexy boyfriend saying he now wanted to try being straight.” Her smile fell as she looked into his eyes and saw the sadness there. “What? What happened?”
He let her go and ran a hand through his shaggy hair. “We broke up.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Foot in mouth disease.”
“That’s okay, no one else knows.” He sighed heavily. “Anyway, I hope you broke his heart,” he joked, nodding at the phone.
“It was a telemarketer.”
Ryan laughed. “You should be Hale’s other half. You’re both crazy. I think this should be a challenge.”
“Ugh, don’t go there. What sort of challenge?” Excitement rattled through her. She loved a good challenge.
“To see who can keep the telemarketers on the phone the longest. I reckon everyone should participate. When we got here, one of the guys did the exact same thing as you did just then.”
“Alright, and the winner doesn’t have to clean the house before we leave.”
“I like it.”
Trixie hopped along the sand. She gritted her teeth. How could she be so stupid to also forget her thongs? The light burned her eyes and the hot sand seared the soles of her feet. Sighing, she made it to the water’s edge, the damp sand a welcome relief, and the lapping wave a happy surprise.
She took a deep breath of fresh air and the off smell of the ocean—salt, seaweed and algae—so different to the smells inland. The wind moulded her shirt to her chest, and flung sand against her bare legs. Funny how calm she felt.
Bending down, she dipped her hands in the water and washed them. It was a strange habit, something she’d seen her mum do at every new place they went. She would wash her hands in the water or touch them to the ground.
Trixie never asked why, she just understood it.
Standing up again, she wiped her hands on her shorts.
Bonny worried. She hurried across the sand, her thongs flicking the sand against her legs with each step. What was wrong with Trixie?
Meg followed her, words vomiting from her mouth. Bonny paid only half her attention to Meg.
“Hey, you okay?”
Trixie startled. “Yeah. Why?”
Bonny shook her head. “No reason.”
Trixie turned to the other blonde. “Oi, Meg.”
“Shut up for a bit and enjoy this.” Trixie swung her arms out wide over the sea. “Listen to this sound.” And they were silent.
It was broken by bellows from the boys. Bare-chested and wearing only board shorts, Nick and Dan ran along the sand to hug them. “Hey girls.”
Nick kept his arm around Bonny’s shoulders while Dan spun Trixie around until she begged him to let her go.
Ryan crashed into Meg who stood quietly to the side. “Whoa. Did you think you could getaway that easily?” He wrapped his arms around her in a bear hug.
Trixie struggled not to throw up on Dan. “Come on, let me go. I’m so dizzy I might hurl.”
Dan grinned at Nick and ignored her. “What do you think?”
“I think we should.”
“Should what?” Bonny asked with slight panic in her voice.
Nick looked her up and down. “You really aren’t dressed properly for a visit to the beach.” He hoisted her over his shoulder. Dan and Ryan lifted a screaming Trixie and a giggling Meg, and followed Nick into the water.