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An Endless Summer

By:C. J. Duggan

Chapter One

Summer of ’96, Onslow.

“There he is!”

My best friend, Tammy Maskala, was deeply, madly, in love with Sean Murphy. Like, truly stalkerish type love.

Tammy and I had been friends forever. We turned sixteen on the same date, snuck out, hung out, and did everything together, but what Tammy wanted to do more than anything, or anyone, was Sean Murphy. We had spent an entire footy season freezing our butts off sitting in the football stands every home game to watch Sean ruck for the Onslow Tigers. I had personally been more enthralled with my bucket of chips than Aussie Rules, but every time Sean even so much as touched the ball, Tammy would elbow me, squealing in delight. I just got annoyed if it knocked a chip out of my hand.

Of course, Tammy was absolutely terrified of talking to Sean or engaging in any activity with him other than deep, longing sighs from a distance. That summer, Tammy said things were going to change and that was it. The only thing Tammy needed was a little helping hand from – yep, you guessed it – me.

“You know him,” Tammy pleaded with me

“I don’t know him.”

“You see him all the time.”

“He’s best friends with my cousin, Chris.”

“Exactly!” Tammy sighed in dismay. “You are so lucky!”

Many of my friends thought that growing up in a pub was the coolest thing ever. However, it wasn’t as glamorous as it seemed. More often than not, I was something that was underfoot, shooed out of the way from oncoming traffic, a.k.a. patrons. I was ushered from forbidden places, lectured for loitering on the stairs, or chastised for eavesdropping on “adult” conversations. I always felt in the way and come summertime, when the season picked up and the tourists flowed in, I was always in the way.

By a young age I had learnt to entertain myself and tried to stay out of everyone’s way. I remember on my thirteenth birthday, I had been given my first set of rollerblades, a brilliant ploy to keep me outdoors. I would race around and around the cemented verandah of the Onslow Hotel; it was like my very own roller rink. My rollerblades were presented to me with strict instructions, though: No rollerblading down Coronary Hill. I knew that. I mean, come on, did they think I had a death wish?

On the very day I got my rollerblades I had been gingerly rolling back and forth on the verandah, gaining my confidence, when Sean and his mates Toby, Ringer, and Stan, rocked up for their usual Friday night drinking session. Every Friday night, without fail, they came in after work for a parma, some pool, and so much beer they usually ended the night with an air guitar competition. I could always hear them from up in my room at three in the morning, arguing over the winner. I was not eavesdropping. Okay, so maybe a little. Anyway, they arrived all freshly showered and changed from their day’s work and I watched them swagger across the car park in a chorus of animated conversation and laughter. I skidded to a halt on my blades and grabbed onto a beam for balance, peering out from behind a verandah pole as they approached.

They skipped every second step up to the verandah before Ringer noticed me standing awkwardly, knock-kneed in my netball skirt and with knee and elbow pads on, clasping the pole.

“Look out, what do we have here?” Ringer announced, playfully pulling on one of my plaits as he passed.

“Looks like we have ourselves a roller-girl. Come on, show us what you got,” Sean teased.

“I’m not showing you,” I said with a sneer. Truth be told, I was terrified of falling flat on my face. I couldn’t go more than five metres without wobbling, flailing, and crashing into a wall.

“Hey, Chook, is Chris behind the bar?” Toby asked.

I nodded. I was always nice to Toby. He was my favourite of all Chris’s friends.

“Sure you won’t show us a trick before we go in?” asked Stan as he turned towards the door.

“Well …” I lifted my chin. “I can do this …” I pushed myself off the pole and gathered enough momentum to work myself into a full three-sixty spin. It was going so well and was pretty impressive until my blade clipped a rough bit of concrete and I swayed sideways.

The boys’ reflex reaction was to flinch; they all raised their hands at me in an ‘easy’ motion. But it was fine. I caught myself. Their bodies all visibly sagged with relief when I didn’t face plant into the concrete. After successfully completing my Evel Knievel stunt, I smiled sweetly with my best ‘Oh yeah! Look what I just did!’ expression.

They all seemed rather impressed, except for Sean who stood leaning in the doorway with his arms crossed, his lips twitching as if fighting a smirk. I glowered at him.