Authors: Nikki McWatters
Tags: #Fiction, #Psychological, #Retail, #Suspense, #Thrillers
It was the knowing that I was a grain of sand on this beach, just like every other person on this planet. We are all the same, male, female, rock-star or fan, baby or old man. And yet we spend this beautiful time on the edge of wonderment looking the wrong way. Competing with the other sand, worrying about what part of the beach we are on, hurting each other, using each other, paying each other back, using other people as instruments of our revenge.
It was… it’s so hard to explain, it’s just…. it was a moment of clarity and extraordinary depth.
‘Let’s surf,’ I smiled at Olive.
In the early morning light, the peaks of turbulent waves glistened like a sprinkling of small change and the horizon seemed to lean over to embrace us.
First we paddled about in the shallows, buffeted by the last sigh of the breakers as they melted into the hard wet sand, leaving a seam of froth. The water was refreshing and a few other surfers were rolling along further out toward the horizon, the thin blue line that was so very much the antithesis of the one I had encountered during my incarceration and time as a ‘defendant’ in the criminal justice system.
Olive squealed as I splashed water at her and challenged her to come further out behind the waves to where the ocean stretched out to the east and north, a cluster of rocky outcrops some metres out, looking in the glare of the sunlight, like a pod of seals. We paddled, moving our arms letting the water wash over and around us. Trying to stay abreast of one another.
After a while we crawled up and sat on our boards, looking back at the bluff that rose up from the shore, the sprinkle of luxury real estate perched on sought-after turf. Dripping wet, with diamond beads of sunlit surf glistening from our skin, we took it all in, the water dancing gently beneath us. The tiny archipelago of brown rocks behind us was being bruised and battered by waves. The early morning sky was still singed with the retreating orange of the sunrise.
‘How great is this?’ I asked Olive.
‘Man, this beats school,’ she grinned. ‘I should have taken out Taylor Mersky ages ago!’
‘Hey,’ I cautioned. ‘Don’t talk like that out here. That’s sacrilegious.’
We sat in silence for a long while, bobbing beyond the breakers, licking the salt from our lips as it dripped from tendrils of hair about our faces.
‘So you and Mum are good?’ she asked tentatively.
‘We love each other, Olive,’ I nodded. ‘And love isn’t easy and it’s never perfect. Cos we’re not perfect and we make mistakes.’
‘That’s how I feel about hurting Taylor,’ she said thoughtfully. ‘I hate her but I do feel bad because she’s just a dick because of stuff that’s happened to her. Maybe people were mean to her once and that’s just her defence…her defences, you know. That’s what I think.’
It sounded like Meg talking. Olive took it all in. She was so much like her mother and I hoped, maybe some of the best of me too.
‘Yeah, we’re the sum of our experiences, that’s for sure,’ I agreed.
‘I’m going to write Taylor a letter,’ she nodded, shielding her eyes and nodding to herself. ‘I’m going to apologize and tell her the truth. That her words hurt me and that I was in a lot of pain that day and her words triggered something bad. I’ll ask her to forgive me.’
I looked across to my daughter. Beautiful, intelligent and gentle Olive. Her dark hair coiled up around her shoulders, frizzled from the salt. Her skin shimmered. I began to very quietly let a tear run down my cheek. How had we managed to make such a masterpiece of her?
‘That is a really beautiful idea,’ I said.
And that got me to thinking. You know, as they old expression goes ‘ the child is father of the man’.
Guru Olive had handed me the golden key to the final stage of healing from all of this nightmare. A salve. An elixir. I couldn’t wait to lie by the pool at the villa with Meg and share my idea.
I think she should write a book about it all. A fictitious account of our drama. And somehow show the pain that Libby O’Neil must harbour, beneath those big green eyes. Try to understand her with more empathy, understand how she was a product of her own experiences.
We’d all been hurt. Our little family had wreaked havoc on itself. I was hurting. Meg was hurting and we’d hurt our daughter too. But our family would stay held together with the fraying seams of our unseen scars. We would heal together and be strong again.
My little baby was graduating. Can you believe it? Me? The mother of a junior high school graduate. With all the fuss and stress this year, Abigail and I have decided that she can complete her school studies at this point and go to the very famous and exclusive Diana Glass School of Beauty.
Abigail always does my make-up when I have a special event to attend. She was born with style, that girl. Oh, alright, perhaps she had a little guidance along the way. I’ve heard all about that nurturing nature thing…it’s a theory isn’t it? It’s all to do with what you’re born with versus what you are surrounded by. And the scientists or whoever they are believe that it’s a bit of both. Which makes me wonder how much of Libby O’Neil was born ‘evil bitch’ and how much those awful parents moulded her into one.
When all that scandal hit, I gave Abigail my advice and that was just to tell the truth even if it meant dishing the dirt on her friend. Save yourself. Friendships come and go. You’ll have to live with yourself forever.
Libby O’Neil has no class and she was the mastermind behind all the lies and the cruel destruction of that Chris Bergin’s life. He was a married man, a rock star, who fell for my daughter and who wouldn’t? She’s gorgeous and funny and she is a very sexy girl. I don’t hold truck with all this prudish nonsense that teenage girls are asexual and not able to use what comes naturally to them. She shouldn’t have been poaching some other woman’s man but I’m a firm believer in a wife being vigilant and if you treat your man well, he won’t have eyes for others. But in regards to my daughter and teenage girls in general, well, once they have come out the other side of puberty and are mature enough to explore their own sexuality, I say, go for it. It’s natural and healthy. People who promote abstinence as a way of life for kids, to them I say….. abstinence does not make the heart grow fonder. Is that how it goes? Oh, whatever.
That Libby, she wasn’t ready for a woman’s world. She was trying to be something she wasn’t. Forcing it. Forcing herself too fast, too soon. She’s a pretty girl, not beautiful like Abigail, but pretty enough. But she’s not as womanly, not in touch with her inner goddess. She’s a bit boyish, if I have to be honest. A bit of a tomboy and I guess that’s why my daughter caught the rock-star’s eye and not Libby. I don’t think her hormones were fully ripe, you know what I mean? She went off half-cocked and got herself in a soup bowl full of trouble.
The graduation night was a big affair. When I say, Graduation Night, it wasn’t exactly graduation night. What do they call it these days? Speech night or awards night or something? Anyway, everyone was there. The entire staff, the students and all the parents. Libby O’Neil even had the nerve to front up. And by front up, I really mean
. She was all belly. Little paddle-pop arms and legs and this enormous round belly. It was quite tacky. She was wearing a crimson clinging dress, waltzing around like she was Queens of Sheba. Some of the girls gathered around her, touching and feeling her stomach until they caught the disapproving frowns from their folks. The O’Neil’s kept a low profile, skulking in the shadows, clearly mortified to be there with their infamous, scandalous round-bellied daughter.
Abigail stole the show. Va-va-voom. She was in a teetering pair of silver stilettos and a sequinned tunic dress which hugged her curves. Her skin looked radiant after that afternoon’s spray tan and her make-up shone with glitter eye-shadow and glossy pink lips. I was so proud I felt like bursting.
I’m so glad we distanced ourselves from that disaster created by Libby. She was disturbed. To my mind, that girl had simply used my daughter as bait. She’d dragged Abigail along, organised for them to get backstage by….well…by doing you-know-what with a roadie….a roadie!!! But Abigail was fully co-operative with the coppers and it paid off and the charges against her were dropped. You see, Abigail had actually believed that Libby had been raped because she said so when she laid the charge but it didn’t add up and some of the stuff Libby was telling Abbie to say began sounding…well…sounding fishy. She hadn’t mentioned it at all early on. Not until she found out she was pregnant. No mention of rape. So my girl didn’t make up a story. Her crime had only been to trust her stupid friend. Just before the commitment hearing or whatever it was, Libby had opened up and confessed that she hadn’t really had sex with Chris, she’d just wanted to create a scandal to destroy the wife. The wife? Who would have thought. Such a foul and scheming little bitch. If she’d done that to any one of my ex-husbands I’d be wanting to boil her alive.
We sat in the auditorium which was, thankfully, air-conditioned, because it was a hot and sticky night.
The lights dimmed, the curtains gave way and the show opened with a number from the musical ‘Rock of Ages,’ a great musical, set in the eighties. The eighties are just
my time and I loved the film with Tom Cruise. Beekham House had originally scheduled it for next year’s big annual performance but the board decided to drop it due to the Libby scandal. A musical about rock-stars and young girls was not going to work. It would have become a joke. So they put on a tame song for the graduation…or whatever… Speech Night and they’d decided to go ahead and do
next year. Evita!
That was one of the key reasons Abbie and I decided to drop out of Beekman House after this year. Abigail would have romped home as the lead in
Rock of Ages
and was so looking forward to it. But
!? It’s an okay musical but so very serious. Abigail was looking for more appropriate opportunities and out in the real world, the professional world, she was getting some pretty tempting offers. I can’t say more than that…but leaving school was definitely going to be a key career move.
? Too stuffy for a school musical if you ask me. A political thing about Mexico or somewhere is just so totally irrelevant to the kids of today.
Well, anyway, Abigail belted out the song on stage and kicked some butt. She has such a presence. She oozed superstardom. Abigail Proudfoot was destined for the big time and everyone in the auditorium that night knew it. The last big annual musical concert was
and Abigail had totally upstaged Libby O’Neil. Her Roxy blew Libby off the stage. I doubt that Libby will ever kick-start a career in the theatre now, with that millstone of a baby around her neck. Oh, that and the fact that everyone on the planet knows what a lying, conniving little bunny-boiler she is.
Oh, I know, she hadn’t been found guilty at that stage. Innocent until proven…bla..bla..bla. It was set for trial next year. But Abigail knew and I knew. When Abigail had given her statement to the police that told how Libby had made no mention of rape early on and had in fact been telling Abigail how good her imaginary sex with Chris Bergin had been, a picture began to emerge of a desperate and psychotic little creature. During her confession, Libby had admitted to Abbie that she’d been stalking Bergin’s wife for a year or two and had decided to seduce her husband and tape the evidence so that she could ruin their marriage.
Now, I’m no saint. I’ve had affairs with a few married men, don’t get me wrong. I’m not little Miss Perfect, pointing my hypocritical finger there. But there’s an unspoken agreement to keep the affair a secret. That’s a given. What stays in the lunch-time motel…stays in the….well, you know what I mean, But when you start using it as a weapon to destroy the bloke’s life. That’s rancid. It’s like that ‘Fatal Attraction’ movie. Hey, that’s where the term ‘Bunny Boiler’ comes from. Did you know that? Trivia. I’ve got a head full of trivia and I absolutely love trivia nights. Particularly eighties trivia nights.
But anyway, the opening number was brilliant at the graduation night and it was downhill from there. Really? Can’t they liven those things up a bit? Boring speech after boring speech. A parade of certificate-winners and disinterested applause. Chester McNaughton and Lola Kelly, broke up the monotony by doing a cute little musical number, ‘Baby it’s cold outside.’
How must that poor boy feel about the whole thing? Right? He’s had a crush on Libby since I don’t know when. Ages. Followed her around like a puppy dog, did her assignments for her. She treated him like dirt and then one day up she all but rapes the boy and he thinks he’s in heaven. Then she dumps him, tells him she’s pregnant to someone else and threatens to tell everyone
. Hello? Am I seeing a pattern here? And now it looks like she’s carrying his baby after all. He sang a totally romantic thing to Lola, who I believe he’s going out with now, and I’d believe it because those kids had chemistry, and Libby was sitting in the shadows with his baby growing in her belly. It was just all such an incredible mega-drama. If it was a plot on
no one would believe it, and that’s saying something.
After the show there was a wine and cheese evening. Orange juice and nibblies for the kids. I noticed that the O’Neil’s left promptly and did not hang around to socialise. Good thing too because frankly, they made everyone feel uncomfortable. Like a freak show.
‘Who’s that?’ I asked. ‘Is that Mr. Luft? The head of musical theatre?’ I asked Abbie.
‘Shh,’ she giggled. ‘Don’t let him catch us looking at him.’
‘He’s a total babe,’ I whispered and wiggled my eyebrows at her.
‘Don’t Mum!’ she groaned and rolled her eyes. ‘He’s a teacher. That’s gross.’
‘He’s divine. I could just eat him. What a dish!’
Mr Luft, was, well, in no uncertain terms, Mr Luft was a spunk. A gorgeous man. Tall. Over six foot, blonde, tanned and he looked more like a surfer than a school teacher. I caught him looking our way and gave a smile and a little wave. He nodded back and wandered over, a glass of red wine in his hand.