Hi all! Yup, Nails has been revised, I've added a bit, beefed it up a little, oh, and I discovered that the common ghost crab's scientific name is NOT Ocypode ceratophthalmas, but Ocypode cordimana, so I've fixed that up. The show got it wrong, lol.

Disclaimer: I own no part of Round The Twist or any of its characters – those legends at the Australian Children's Television Foundation do.


Nails
Series 2 – Episode 5

The boy in the yellow, green and purple striped blazer walked up to the front gate of Port Niranda School. He paused, quietly surveying the playground of his new school, then heaved a sigh and continued on toward the school building's entrance, ignoring the stares he received from the other kids.

Gribbs, Tiger, Rabbit, Pete, Linda and Fiona sat on the front steps and Gribbs was bragging out how his father would win the election that would get him into Parliament.

"Well if Nell runs, he might not win," Pete remarked.

Gribbs ignored him. "Nah, but when Dad gets into Parliament, he's gonna get a brand new Mercedes, and he's gonna send me to boarding school, the best there is: Central College!"

"We'll really miss you, Gribbs," said Pete.

Again, Pete's words fell on deaf ears. Gribbs continued talking about Central College, at least until Tiger muttered from the corner of his mouth, "Gribbs, check out the geek coming our way."

Gribbs grinned wickedly as he saw the new boy approaching. "Oh my God!"

"Look at the uniform!" Rabbit sniggered.

Curious, Linda turned to look at the new boy. He was quite tall for his age, with jet-black hair, a solemn face, and iridescent eyes that were neither green nor grey, but a striking combination of the two. All in all, he was quite handsome.

Gribbs looked the boy over and snorted. "What sort of a school would have a pathetic uniform like that?"

"Central College," the new boy said calmly. Gribbs had nothing to say to that.

Linda smiled. It took someone special to shut Gribbs up with just one remark.


Later that morning, Mr Snapper stood at the head of the classroom with the new boy. "Class," Snapper said, "we have a new boy with us today. Andrew Shellford." He looked around the class. "Now, I'll need a volunteer to show him the ropes."

Keen to make up for the mishap of the previous meeting between himself and Andrew, Gribbs raised his hand. "I'll show him the ropes, sir!"

"Yeah, sir, we'll show him the ropes!" Tiger piped up.

Mr Snapper nodded and motioned to the empty seat next to Gribbs. Andrew went and sat down.

"Now tomorrow morning at ten we'll be holding auditions for the school drama . . . " Snapper began, his voice trailing off as Linda's attention span slowly faded. Linda was never like this; she always paid attention, yet for some reason her focus was drifting off towards the new boy, Andrew, sitting right near her. She seemed unable to focus on anything but him. Linda was a little confused. She hadn't felt this way about anyone for a long time, especially not about someone she hardly knew. Was it really possible for one to fall in love so quickly?

Linda threw a quick glance at Andrew, then diverted her gaze back down. Andrew slowly looked at Linda, just as she was looking at him again.

Their eyes briefly met and they exchanged a smile.


After school, Linda stood outside the lighthouse, rehearsing her lines for the school play audition, as Pete and Bronson watched.

"I will never forget the time . . . we kissed on the old pier," Linda said softly, reading from the script.

Pete nodded. "Not bad. Not bad at all. It's working for me." He paced around Linda. "But now you have to kiss him . . . on the mouth!"

"Who?" Bronson asked.

"Whoever gets the part in the play," Pete replied. He looked back at his sister. "Now, be passionate, Linda! Don't be shy! I realise this is your first kiss."

"It is not!" Linda said, annoyed. Pete and Bronson looked a little stunned at that.

"Who've you kissed?" Pete asked, not quite sure he believed her.

Linda glowered at him. "That's private!"

Pete looked thoughtful. "I wonder if that new kid can kiss . . . I mean, act."

Bronson pulled a face. "Only dorks kiss girls!" he declared.

About an hour later, Tony stood outside, working on another sculpture. Linda went up to him rather tentatively. "Dad?" she said softly. "Uh . . . can I talk to you about something?"

"Yeah, sure – " he began, but then looked up to see Harold Gribble running towards them. His wife, Matron followed on a bike, urging him on.

"Just out for a run . . . " Harold panted when he reached Tony. "Keeping fit . . . for the senate . . . 'Harold Gribble: Fit to run'!"

"You're not fit for anything!" Nell muttered as she passed.

"Come on, you two," Tony said, always eager to keep the peace. "The election's not on yet."

"Well, we can see when we're not wanted," Matron said rather huffily. She and Harold departed, as did Nell, leaving Linda and Tony alone again.

Tony looked at his daughter. "You were saying, darling?"

Linda looked a little sheepish. "Uh . . . yes . . . " she faltered. "Er . . . this . . . um . . . this is a bit embarrassing . . . "

"Oh." Tony smiled, encouraging her to continue. "Well what is it? You can tell me anything."

Linda stared at her shoes. "Bras . . . " she said softly.

Tony looked a little perplexed. "Bras?"

"Yep . . . "

Tony didn't get Linda's hint. "Well, what about them?"

Linda attempted a smile, although it ended up looking more like a grimace. "Well . . . I think it's time for me to . . . you know . . . get one . . . "

Tony finally clicked. "Ah. Well, no worries," he said. "We'll go down to the bra shop."

Linda blushed. "Dad!" she protested. "You don't go to a lingerie shop with your father! That's what mothers are for!"


The next day at school, Snapper and his class assembled in the hall. Andrew entered last, hesitantly joining the others.

". . . auditions for the school play," Snapper was saying. "I'm looking for the leads, the two lovers, okay? Now I want you all to pair up: boy – girl, boy – girl, boy – girl. Come on now, don't be shy."

Pete didn't have to be told twice; he ran right to Fiona's side. All the others shuffled around, gradually pairing up. Tiger casually approached Linda. "Hey, what's say you and I – "

Linda cut him off with a firm "No."

Marzena, a pretty brown-haired girl, approached Rabbit. "Do you want us to go together?" she asked.

Rabbit was surprised. "Me?"

"Yeah."

After being rejected by Linda, Gribbs paired up with Tiger, leaving Linda and Andrew as the only partnerless ones. "Linda and Andrew, why don't you pair up?" Snapper suggested.

They both smiled as Andrew sidestepped awkwardly toward Linda. The two of them exchanged a quiet "Hi."

Snapper nodded approvingly. "Yes. You make a good pair."

Gribbs motioned to the black gloves Andrew was wearing and nudged Tiger. "Yeah, good pair of gloves. I think we'll grab those later."

"Now, we'll be doing Scene fifteen, where the lovers kiss," Snapper said. A few giggles and "Oooooh"s went up from the class. Linda and Andrew smiled shyly at each other.

"Now I don't want any juvenile nonsense," Snapper continued. "I want unbridled passion. Show me some courage. Pete, Fiona, you go first." Pete and Fiona moved to the centre of the circle the class has formed.

"Goodbye!" Pete said, trying way too hard to look impressive.

"I'll never forget the time when we kissed on the old pier," Fiona said.

"I remember!" Pete threw his hands over his face melodramatically. He stepped towards Fiona, but they were too embarrassed to kiss, and as Pete shuffled his feet, they both lost their balance, ending up on the floor. The class laughed.

"Yes, thank you very much," Snapper said patiently. "Next!"

Marzena and Rabbit moved to the centre. Marzena looked at Rabbit, and his insides suddenly turned to jelly.

"I will never forget the time when we kissed on the old pier," Marzena said. Rabbit shook in his shoes and as Marzena leaned forward to kiss him, he could only whimper nervously.

"Weak!" Gribbs remarked.

"Thank you," Snapper said. "Next!"

Gribbs and Tiger stepped forward.

"Goodbye . . . " Tiger whispered.

"I shall never forget the time when we kissed on the old pier," Gribbs said.

They approached each other with outstretched arms.

They got closer . . . closer . . . closer . . .

Everyone's eyes bugged out. It looked as if the two boys were actually going to kiss. Gribbs and Tiger's noses were almost touching, but at the last moment, they pulled away and everyone groaned.

"Sorry sir," Tiger said. "It's just not me. I don't know, I feel like I'm being type cast or something."

Snapper shook his head. "An abomination," he remarked. "Thank you. Next, Linda, Andrew."

As they stepped forward, Andrew smiled at Linda, but she was trembling. Andrew stared into Linda's eyes. "Goodbye," he said softly.

Linda took a deep breath, but was terribly nervous, and her words tumbled out in a garbled mess: "I'll never forget the time when we pissed on the cold ear."

The whole class laughed, and poor Linda, mortified, wished she could dig a hole in the ground and crawl inside.

But Andrew looked angry. How dare they laugh at Linda's misfortune. Andrew raised his voice to silence the laughter. "Goodbye!" Then, more softly, to Linda, "Goodbye . . . "

Slowly, Linda pulled herself together and tried again. "I'll never forget the time the time when we kissed on the old pier . . . "

Andrew approached her. "I remember it so well . . . "

Andrew and Linda leaned towards each other.

"He's going for it . . . " Tiger said, amazed. "She's going for it . . . "

Linda and Andrew kissed, and everyone looked on in astonishment.

"Love is in the air!" Tiger remarked.

Pete was gob smacked. "That's my sister!"

At the end of the kiss, Linda and Andrew smiled at each other and hugged. Snapper stepped forward. "Yes, I think we've found our leads," he said approvingly. "Very well done, though Andrew, the gloves don't do much for me, I think we can lose the gloves."

"Yeah, the gloves don't do much for me either," Gribbs agreed. "How 'bout you, Rabbit?"

Rabbit nodded. "Lose the gloves."


At lunch time, Tony came down to the school and met with Fay.

"Fay, um, I need to talk to you about something."

"What's on your mind?" she asked.

"Uh . . . bras."

Fay wasn't quite sure she understood. "Bras . . . " she repeated.

"Not for you!" Tony said suddenly. "And not for me . . . for Linda."

"Oh, for Linda!" Fay almost sounded a little relieved.

"I was wondering if you could take her to buy her first bra?" Tony asked.

Fay smiled. "Oh, of course I can."

Bronson watched them with a steely gaze.


School was over for the day, and Andrew sat in the Twists' car next to Linda, Tony having offered to drive him to the pier. They stopped at the dock entrance and Andrew got out, as did Linda.

"I'll, um, I'll walk home," Linda said, unable to stop smiling. "It's not far."

Pete grinned. "Only five kilometres!"

"You sure, sweetheart?" Tony asked Linda.

"Yeah," she replied. "I'll be all right."

Tony smiled, then drove off. Linda and Andrew watched them go, then walked along the pier.

"I'm glad to be back," Andrew said. "Didn't like being away from the sea."

"I'd love to live on an island," Linda said.

Andrew grinned. "It's great. Whenever the seas get too rough, I can't get to school."

The pair walked in silence for a while, but then Andrew slowly reached out and touched Linda's hand in a way that could almost have been accidental. Only it wasn't. Linda's heart fluttered. Was this love?

They reached the end of the pier, and Andrew stepped down into his little boat. As he did up his coat, Linda noticed he still had his gloves on, even though it wasn't particularly cold. "Why don't you take your gloves off?" she asked casually.

Andrew looked around, a little uncertain. "Oh, well . . . can't say." He looked up at Linda. "That kiss . . . "

Linda grinned hopefully. "Yeah?"

Andrew gave her a sheepish grin. "Oh, can't say that either." Linda smiled.

As Andrew sailed off towards his island home, he turned and waved to Linda, who waved back. "See you tomorrow!" she called. Andrew smiled and the boat sailed away.

Linda grinned from ear to ear. It was love!


"Ah, here comes lover girl," Pete said as Linda entered the lighthouse two hours later. He loudly hummed Here Comes the Bride.

"How was the long walk home?" Tony asked Linda.

"Looks like she floated all the way!" Pete remarked.

"On cloud nine," Tony agreed, grinning.

Linda couldn't help but smile. "Look, I am not ashamed of the way I feel about him."

"Good girl," Fay praised.

"Anyway Pete, I bet you wish Fiona was on cloud nine over you," Linda continued.

Unbeknownst to all, the ghosts Matthew and Jeremiah appeared on the staircase.

Matthew watched Linda. "I could have been that happy."

"Aye," Jeremiah replied. "If you hadn't have fallen asleep."

"I know . . ." Matthew answered in a tortured voice.


The next day at school, Linda walked into the classroom, eagerly looking for Andrew. Her face fell when she saw that the seat next to Gribbs was empty. Snapper entered. "Attention, class," he said, looking at the letter he held. "It seems that our new boy won't be with us any longer. He'll be continuing his studies by correspondence."

Linda's heart seemed to stop for a few horrible seconds.

"I'm sorry about that, sir," Gribbs said, not really sounding sorry at all.

"Yeah, passionately, sir," Tiger said, looking pointedly at Linda.


"I don't see what you need me for," Pete said as he and Linda set off towards Andrew's island in a motorboat.

"I'm just letting Andrew know that some people around here can be friendly," Linda replied.

"You owe me one, Linda," Pete said.

Sitting on the beach, Andrew looked up to see a small motorboat with two passengers approaching. He stood up and smiled when he recognised Linda, who smiled back. Andrew ran out and helped Linda and Pete pull the boat to shore.

"So, how are you doing?" Linda asked Andrew.

"Fine." He smiled at her. "What are you doing here?"

"Just happened to be passing," Pete said casually.

Andrew grinned. "On your way to Antarctica."

There was a short silence. Linda looked at Pete and cleared her throat. Pete got the hint.

"Mind if I take a look around?" Pete said to Andrew.

"Sure."

Pete wandered off, leaving Linda and Andrew alone.


"How come you suddenly decided to leave school?" Linda asked. She and Andrew were walking towards Andrew's shack.

"Oh . . . well, I had to give Dad a hand around the island," Andrew said.

"Oh yeah. And what does your dad do?"

"He's been doing some research on the island's marine life."

Linda looked interested. "What's he studying?"

They reached the shack and went inside. "The common ghost crab," Andrew said. "He's nuts about them. Always out collecting samples." Linda could tell that from the many crab shells and such strewn around the cabin.

"Ocypode cordimana," said a voice. Linda looked up to see a bearded man, whom she assumed to be Andrew's father, entering. The man looked at her. "You must be Linda. I've heard all about you." He threw a glance at Andrew. "In fact, that's all I've heard about." The man walked over to the desk and gathered a few things. "I'm Andrew's dad." His eyes fell upon a photo of a woman and he stared at it briefly before going back towards the door. "I'll be back before dark," he said to Andrew, then left.

Linda shuffled a little uncomfortably. "Well, he certainly likes me, doesn't he?"

"Yeah, he does," Andrew said, then grinned. "If he didn't, you'd really know about it. He's just obsessed with Ocypode cordimana."

"That's easy for you to say," Linda said with a laugh.

Linda moved to the desk and picked up the photo Andrew's father had looked at before. It was of a woman's face. She wore a golden clip set with pearls in her long hair.

Andrew came up behind her. "That's Mum," he said softly.

"She's beautiful . . . " Linda breathed.

"Yeah . . . " Andrew said. "Dad misses her, but I never knew her." He moved to the window and looked outside. Linda followed. "Dad first came to the island when he was a kid. Fell in love with it."

Andrew poured Linda a glass of juice and went to hand it to her, but because of his gloves, he lost his grip on the glass. It slipped from between his fingers to smash onto the ground. Linda looked at him with concern and reached out to hold his hands.

"Why don't you take your gloves off?" she asked.

"It's all right!" Andrew protested.

"It won't make any difference to me!" Linda tried to reassure him.

"There's nothing wrong."

"Come on . . . " Linda persisted gently.

"It's none of your business," Andrew said harshly.

Linda regarded him solemnly. "Look, when there's something wrong, you turn to your friends, not against them."

Andrew stared at her then nodded, slowly removing his gloves. He held up his hands for Linda to see. Linda's eyes widened. She didn't know what she had been expecting, but it wasn't this. Andrew had thirty fingernails, three on each finger.

"How many people do you know with three sets of fingernails?" Andrew said bitterly. "I'm a freak."

Linda looked at him with a brief, sad smile. "Well, you could do with a manicure," she said, trying to make light of his situation.

To Linda's relief, Andrew smiled.


When Linda and Pete got back to the lighthouse, Bronson was helping Tony outside another sculpture.

"How was the new boy?" Tony asked Linda.

"Did you find out why he wears gloves?" Bronson asked.

"She knows, but she won't say," Pete replied, giving his twin a pointed look, but she merely smiled.

"Are you going to see him again?" Tony asked.

Linda smirked. "Is Bronson a guts?"

Later that evening, Bronson was in the bath when Linda entered the bathroom. "Hey!" he protested, looking up at her from a mass of bubbles. "I'm in the nude!"

Linda ignored him and rummaged around on the top of the medicine cabinet. She smiled when she found what she was looking for: a pair of nail clippers. Just as she was about to leave, Linda noticed that Bronson's still-shoed feet hung out the side of the bath, covered by shower caps. "So that's where my shower caps got to." Linda raised an eyebrow. "What are you wearing your shoes in the bath for anyway?"

Bronson grinned defiantly. "Secret! Andrew's got secret hands, I got secret feet."

Linda merely shook her head and left, while Bronson resumed playing. "Look out! Iceberg ahead! And the Titanic has gone under!" He plunged beneath the water with his little toy ship.


The next day, Linda set off for Andrew's island again in her small motorboat. As she reached the island and walked up the beach, she could hear Andrew's voice.

"What's wrong with me? Tell me!" Andrew said. "I've got a right to know!"

Linda ran closer and hid behind a tree, watching as Andrew followed his father. "I'm turning into a freak!" Andrew said desperately.

His father continued walking. "I want to see a doctor," Andrew said.

His father stopped suddenly. "Andrew, I've told you, a doctor won't do any good."

Andrew stared at him, then walked off in the other direction. Linda watched, confused, then ran to follow Andrew. "Andrew!" she called, and he stopped. "Are you all right?" Linda asked gently once she'd caught up.

Andrew removed his left glove and looked at her sadly, holding up his hand. The entire back of his hand and fingers were covered in overlapping nails. "It's the nails," Andrew said bitterly. "They're growing all the time, more and more of them." He gave a weak smile. "You should see my toes."

Linda was concerned. "Look, I'll get help, someone who knows what they're talking abou – "

"Listen!" Andrew interrupted suddenly. "I want you to go. I don't ever want to see you again."

Linda wasn't put off. "Come on Andrew – "

"Just go!" Andrew said angrily. "Nick off! Leave me alone! I don't need people feeling sorry for me!"

Confused and a little hurt by this sudden change in Andrew, Linda regarded him with an indescribable expression, then turned on her heel and left.

Unable to follow, nor turn away, Andrew remained where he was, staring after Linda. He'd lied. He didn't want her to leave at all, but pushing her away was his only means of protecting her. If something happened to her because of his problem . . . he would never be able to forgive himself. Andrew watched Linda briefly, then started back towards the shack.

Linda walked for a bit, then stopped. She looked back and sadly watched Andrew leaving.

Linda made up her mind. She wasn't going to back out.


Linda knocked on the shack door. Andrew opened it and sighed heavily when he saw her. "I thought I told you to leave me alone," he said, more harshly than he'd intended.

Linda just gave him a sad look and handed him something wrapped up in brown paper. Andrew took the little package and unwrapped it. A pair of nail clippers.

Andrew smiled sadly. "You should've brought a pair of hedge clippers."

Linda gave him a meek smile, and Andrew let her in. He removed a glove and showed Linda his hand. As the two of them watched, a new set of nails grew out from under his skin.

"We have to do something about this," Linda said softly.

Andrew's father suddenly entered, and Linda looked at him desperately. "Look, he needs help!" she said. "You have to get someone!"

"No one loves him more than I do," Andrew's father replied, giving Linda a sharp look. "I know what's best."

"Why can't you tell me what's wrong?" Andrew asked his father.

"Look, you're not sick," his father said. "You don't need a doctor." His gaze shifted to Linda and softened somewhat. "Believe me, I know how you feel. The more you like each other, the worse it will get. It'd be better if you stayed away."

Linda looked sadly at Andrew. "We can't . . . see each other again?" she asked softly.

"It would be better for everyone if you didn't come back," Andrew's father said.

Linda gazed at him in disbelief. She refused to be deterred that easily. Linda smiled at Andrew before leaving the shack. "See you tomorrow."

Andrew couldn't help but smile, and he followed Linda, leaving his father gazing sadly after them.

Linda and Andrew stood in silence on the beach, staring into each other's eyes, communicating without words. Linda didn't want to leave Andrew, nor did Andrew want to be left behind, but the pair took comfort in the fact that they would be together again soon.

Linda waved to Andrew as her boat chugged away from the island. Andrew waved back and smiled sadly.

"See you tomorrow . . . "


But Linda couldn't go to Andrew's island the next day. A terrible storm had brewed overnight. Thunder exploded overhead and lightning tore across the dark grey skies. The ocean swelled and churned viciously, and Linda knew that trying to cross such unforgiving waves in her small motorboat would be suicide.

Instead, she spent every waking hour staring out over the ocean, longing for the moment the storm would clear, and she could go to Andrew's island. Even when Fay took her to the lingerie shop, Linda's thoughts were with Andrew.

Then one morning, Linda awoke to a clear blue sky and warm sunshine. Linda smiled; today she could go to see Andrew again.


"Hello? Anybody there?" Linda knocked on the shack door. It was open, and Linda entered tentatively. "Andrew? Mr Shellford?" There was no answer. Linda moved to the desk and her eyes fell upon the photograph of Andrew's mother. Then she heard a noise and spun around. Her eyes widened in horror. "Andrew!"

Andrew was wheelchair-bound, his legs covered by a blanket. Linda rushed to his side, staring in disbelief.

"It's all right," Andrew said softly, trying to comfort her. "Don't worry. I know what's happening."

Suddenly, Andrew's father rushed up, breathless. "She's here! She's here! Come on!" He ran off again towards the beach. Not understanding any of what was going on, Linda followed, wheeling Andrew in front of her.

Andrew's father dashed out onto the rock shelf, scanning the ocean. It was low tide, but waves still splashed around his feet. Andrew and Linda approached.

The rocks Andrew's father stood upon were pounded by waves. Then he went under.

"Dad!" Andrew cried. He didn't see his father surface, and Andrew knew he had to help him. He rose from the wheelchair, but he could barely stand, and, to Linda's total horror, Andrew too disappeared beneath the water.

"NO! ANDREW!" Linda screamed.

Neither Andrew nor his father surfaced, and Linda knew she was powerless to help them. "Andrew!" she cried desperately.

Then, as suddenly as he'd disappeared, Andrew came swimming back with his father. But there was something very different about Andrew. Taking him in, Linda decided she must have been dreaming.

Andrew's legs were gone; in their place was a glittering fish tail. Sparkling scales covered his now bare chest and back. Fins extended from his elbows.

And his hands . . .

Helped by Andrew and Linda, Andrew's father dragged himself up onto the shore. The three of them sensed a new presence behind them and turned around. Andrew's father smiled.

She sat on the rocks, smiling back at them. A woman with long fair hair . . . and a gleaming fish tail. Linda's eyes widened in recognition. The same golden hair, the same gentle eyes, and in her hair, the same clip, set with pearls.

In that moment, Linda realised that while Andrew's father was a man, his mother was a mermaid. This mermaid.

"Andrew," his father said, "you don't have any choice. But it's okay. It's okay." He hugged his son, the merman named Andrew.

Linda looked down at Andrew. They stared into each other's eyes. Then, slowly, Linda smiled. She reached out to Andrew and they hugged. Then they kissed one last time.

Andrew reached up and gently touched Linda's cheek with a webbed hand.

They weren't nails, Linda thought, but scales . . .

"Bye . . . " Andrew said softly.

"Bye . . . " she replied.

Andrew smiled at his father and her, then swam down, following his mother. Linda and Andrew's father slowly stood up. Rising up from beneath the water, Andrew and his mother waved to them, then plunged down far below the surface.

Linda's heart was in shreds, but she finally understood; a creature of the sea just didn't belong in the world of humans.

"Not many girls have loved a merman," Andrew's father said to Linda.

Linda watched Andrew go, tears brimming in her eyes. "I'll always remember the time when we . . . "

Andrew's father grinned. "Pissed on the cold ear?" He put his arm around her, and as she looked out over the ocean, Linda couldn't help but smile.