Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fiction #55: Tamsin Andrews

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“I think I’m going home.”

Her suitcase top fell with a thump. She wished it held a definitive snap, but there wasn’t much to do with zippered suitcases.

“Woah, woah, Hannah, stop. Why?”

She wrenched the zipper around the lid, forcefully tugging at the zipper pull.

“I just… I think I’m tired.”

“Tired? Tired of what? Of us?”

Hannah looked up at Cole, wondering how truthful she should be. She sighed. “Tired of the Meghan and Cole show.”

Cole snapped his head around in shock, confusion visible on his face.

“It’s not like that.”

“It’s a little.”  Hannah paused. “It’s a lot. And I’m tired of it.”

“So you’re, what? Going home?” Anger strained his voice. “How? I’m not driving you.”

“I’m not asking you to.” She bent over her suitcase, unable to look at him. “Shane is picking me up. And it’s not like you’ll notice me gone.” She darted a look at him.

“Shane is driving two hours just to come get you? That’s ridiculous. Why- why would he do that?”

Because he understands. Hannah looked away, turning back to her suitcase. “Because he can, I guess.”

Laughter could be heard outside, loud, boisterous voices followed by their owners as the rest of the group entered the cabin. “Guys?” James called out from the kitchen. “We’re going swimming, if you want to join.”

“In a minute!” Cole turned back to Hannah, pulling a bathing suit from the floor and handing it to her.
“Come on, Hannah. It’s three more days. Call Shane back, come to the beach with us.”

Hannah grabbed the swimsuit from him. A vivid image of Cole and Meghan, bathing suit clad, lounging in the water, danced in front of her. She winced at the picture, one too vivid from events this past week. She shoved the suit in her bag, shrugging. “No… no, I’m going home. I’m sorry, Cole.”
Hurt strained his face when she looked up. He shook his head in disappointment.

“Whatever, Hannah. Have a good summer.” And he left. She jumped when she heard the cabin door slam.

Hannah turned back to her suitcase, neatly folding everything in. The cabin was oddly quiet with everyone now at the beach. This weekend had promised her so much hope, until reality struck them.
Her hands rhythmically packed in almost slow motion, each line of folded clothes perfect.

*

She wasn’t sure what she had expected from this weekend. Something from Cole. Something more than the flirting she’d experience all summer. Something more on that kiss at the outdoor pool. Something fantastic, maybe.

Not this. In all the years she’d known him, in everything she’d been through with him, she hadn’t expected this.

Hannah let her head sink between her arms. She wanted to scream. Idiot! She was so dumb for thinking anything would happen between them. She was so stupid for getting her hopes up. Of course there wasn’t anything between them, why would there be?

But Meghan. It had to be Meghan. That bright, bubbly, bobblehead of a girl who could barely keep track of her left hand, let alone a group of small children, that’s who he took his fancy to?

“Shit!”

This was supposed to be their last hurrah, their weekend at James’ cottage away from the city, away from real life. It was their weekend of no responsibilities before they all parted ways again, and she’d ruined it.

Or he’d ruined it.

Or Meghan had ruined it.

Or she’d ruined it.

Shit, well, someone had ruined it.

The cabin was still, making Hannah feel restless. She could hear shrieks of laughter coming from the beach down the hill. She checked her phone again, but had no new messages from Shane. Hannah sighed and fidgeted in her seat. There was no way she could be here when Cole came back, but it’s not like she could ask Shane to get here quicker.

Or could she?

A graphic image of a horrific car crash spread down the highway flashed in Hannah’s mind.
She shuddered and put her phone down. No.

She couldn’t help but be bitter about the whole thing. Visions, ideas, fantasies danced in her head all summer, and they all came crashing down this weekend with the work of one little brunette. And she did, she really liked Meghan, but the excessiveness of her and Cole made Hannah’s blood boil like the shrew she was.

There was flirting, definite flirting.

She was sure of it, her friends were, and she thought he was too with that kiss.

But it was one kiss, it didn’t mean anything. God knows she had kissed enough people for it to not mean anything anymore.

Was she being insane? Did she really have the right to leave a weekend of friends because of an… overreaction? Was it an overreaction? No! She had every right to be pissed! There was something between them, or there was, and she shouldn’t have to watch him and Meghan practically fornicate in front of her.

He’d liked her at one point. At the beginning of the summer. He just wasn’t… or she wasn’t… something got fucked up and here they were. And she was leaving and he was with Meghan.
Hannah thoughts back to that kiss so long ago.

They had decided to go night swimming. Mainly because it was against the rules of the city pool they worked at and they had to sign a contract as lifeguards to not do it, but obviously if they were signing something legal against it, it had to be done. They were only halfway through their summer contract, but with the amount of whiny kids and pissed off parents they had to deal with, the escape was necessary. So they climbed that pool fence, tossing beers and towels and flip-flops over and stripping down to their underwear and then jumping in.

Thank god she wore her nice bra that night.

There were four of them bobbing in the water, Hannah, Cole, Shane, and Emily. There was a stillness to the water, seemingly undisrupted by their swimming forms. With no light but the street light outside the fence leaving them in a darkness that hid the pool, Hannah felt almost weightless in the unheated community pool. And they treaded water, the satisfying moment of breaking that one rule swiftly leaving as the cold night air settled on them. The four of them scrambled out of the dinky pool and rushed around the cement deck, surrounded by only hushed whispers and the sharp break of laughter, Cole grabbing Hannah’s towel and wrapping it around her scantily clad form.

Her boobs did look great in this bra.

There was stillness there, his hands resting on slightly upon her shoulders. Maybe it was the darkness or the cold night air, but suddenly words felt heavy and couldn’t tread her tongue. The world melted away and she looked at him quizzically. And then his lips were on hers. There was no segue, no pause, she didn’t even register he was kissing her, only that his lips were suddenly on hers and she wasn’t wearing a towel anymore and Shane and Emily were probably watching but she didn’t care and her boobs looked great anyway so let them stare.

Then the moment passed and the world came alive again. Emily and Shane sat on the edge of the pool beside the slide, their calves settled in the water. Hannah glanced at Cole and darted her eyes away, but she caught a glint in the corner of his as he smiled and she lightly touched her lips and blushed.

Then he turned to join Shane and Emily at the edge of the pool and Hannah turned to the picnic bench behind her, wondering where the fuck were her pants?

*

It felt real.

That thought bounced around her head.

It felt real. He must have felt something then, or at some point, there must have been…

She wanted to talk about it, that moment in the water. She tried to bring it up, but everything she thought of was clumsy or awkward or passive aggressive. And as time wore on and he didn’t bring it up, the moment felt less real and more a piece of imagination and she left it in the back of her mind as summer wore on.

But when they lit the campfire the first night up here and she saw him sneak off into the woods and saw Meghan was missing from the group around the fire, and their giggles and teasing and playing became more pronounced over the weekend and she saw them claim a bedroom in the cabin to themselves and Hannah realized oh with a sinking feeling why he’d chose not to bring it up.
She felt like she might throw up and she slipped off to that one corner of the cabin where her phone got service, calling the one person who had seen everything and understood.

“Shane? I need you to do me a favour.”

*

And here she sat. She listened to the laughter emanating from the beach and she sat at the dining room table suitcase to her left and cell phone in the corner to her right.

Asshole.

She checked her phone again, the clock reading 4:05 pm. It would be at least fifty minutes before Shane would make it up here.

Asshole.

She could hear her friends down at the beach enjoying the last of the summer sun and her brow furrowed. Asshole. Hell, she had fifty minutes to waste and she was going to use it. She grabbed a stray towel from the porch and walked off to the growing voices and stray splashes.

Five pairs of eyes looked up at her questioningly as she made her way down to the dock, but Hannah met Cole’s only. He paused, hands resting on Meghan’s bikini clad body. He’d probably told the rest of the group she was leaving, but she wondered if he’d said why.

“Hey Hannah!” Peter shouted from the water. “You coming in?”

Hannah tore her eyes from Cole’s, grinning. “Hell yeah.”

“You don’t have a suit.” She heard Cole say. “She doesn’t- She doesn’t have a suit.”

Hannah tugged at the bottom of her shirt, pulling it over her head. “I don’t need one.” She met Emily’s eye as Emily snorted with laughter. Her black floral bra stood out against her pale skin. Peter and James whistled as she sprinted down the dock and she heard Emily loudly whoop before she hit the water.

Popping up beside Meghan and Cole, Hannah pushed her hair back and smirked.

“Almost Déjà vu, eh?”

She turned back to her friends before she could hear his reply.

*

Tamsin hails from somewhere in Canada, though she's moved around enough that she's not sure where. She currently studies English and Creative Writing at Dalhousie University, and spends her days reading, writing, and fearing the void that is post-grad life. Her most popular piece of writing is a rhyming love note she put in a boy's locker in the sixth grade. It was also her first public reading.

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