From the queen of sneaking out to you :)
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In the Solar Blue boarding house, curfew was strict. With Simmo prowling the premises, they would have to be plain stupid to try and break curfew. It was ten o'clock on the weekends, ten fifteen at the absolute latest (but his kids weren't dumb enough to wait until ten. They were home at nine thirty), and if they weren't home at ten to ten, he would stand on the front porch with his bullhorn.
And they had only made that mistake once.
Class of 2005 had learnt quickly that curfews were important. But there was always one who pushed the boundaries.
Bec Sanderson knew Blue Water like the back of her hand, growing up on the beach. She was the one capable of sneaking out through the girls' bathroom window, without kicking the loose bricks and alerting everyone of her presence.
Anna Peterson had been a different story.
(She hadn't been allowed out for three weeks, after she tried to climb in her bedroom window.)
So when Simmo retired and Bec took on the job, she knew better than anyone that any one of the six sixteen year olds would try and sneak out.
But their ten thirty curfew was the one that they had pushed.
"What's the time?" Garry asked, for the fifteenth time in as many minutes.
"Twenty past ten- they've got ten minutes, chill out", Bec yawned, stretching across the lounge.
They were three months into the year- and while the mornings were getting colder, the kids were getting closer. While they still had their monthly dinner and a movie or bowling night, where the eight occupants of the house would take on the town, they had shown themselves to be responsible enough to wander Blue Water on their own, hitting the cinemas, the bowling alley and the cafes. Bec knew everyone, and her kids were slowly getting to know people too. It was a big step, for the kids who had almost been outcasts at the beginning of the year, simply because they were the ones living in the big boarding house on the beach.
So when they were invited to the biggest bash of the year, she had been quick to give the go-ahead. She knew what it was like to become one of the Solar Blue kids, even if she had known some of her classmates since kindergarten.
"I'm chilled", Garry said casually, stretching behind Bec to see the clock.
"sorry". He settled back on the chair, trying to push the thought of the ticking clock out of his mind.
The two had spent a relaxing evening watching movies and playing video games, going as far as to crack a bottle of wine. Their movie was almost over, and Bec was all for starting another one when the kids got home, before their early meeting in the morning (something she was not looking forward too- she had Garry both hated the Solar Blue board breakfast meetings).
It was ten twenty five when they heard a key in the front door, before Charley's voice spoke up.
"Guys, shut up! Bec and Garry'll hear you!"
"Hi guys", Bec called, turning to Garry with a look in her eyes.
"Alright". Garry held up his hands, giving in to her brown eyes. "Okay. How was the party, guys?"
"Good", Bridget answered for all of them, as they crowded around the doorway.
"Want to watch a movie?" Bec suggested, as the credits rolled onto the screen. "we're about to start another DVD".
"Nah, we're tired". Guy faked a yawn. "We're going to bed".
"Good night!" Loren said sweetly, waving as they turned back into the hallway.
"Good night", Garry said suspiciously, as they gathered up the stairs. Turning back to Bec, he glared. "What the hell was that?"
"How am I supposed to know, am I a sixteen year old student?" she almost snapped. "They're tired, they're going to bed!"
"Like you believe that!"
"Unlike you, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt, because you have no comprehension of how embarrassing it is when someone stands on your front porch with a bullhorn, yelling up the street".
Garry snickered- even though she had told the story many times (as a threat to the kids, Garry had agreed, because he was all for bullhorns), it never got old.
"Something went down", Garry argued (still chuckling a little at the mental image of a sixteen year old Bec Sanderson cringing as Simmo bellowed down a bullhorn).
"And I'm sure we'll hear all about it at breakfast tomorrow- we always do, remember?"
(Mealtime conversations in the boarding house were all about who could talk the loudest- Guy's stories reigned supreme over timid Loren, the point of his conversations often forgotten amidst the noise.)
Garry sighed heavily, shrugging. "Alright then".
"Next movie?" she held up her choice, grinning and Garry groaned a little.
"Save the chick flicks for Bridget and Loren, thank you".
"That's really quite rude- and I'll have you know my girls have selected a movie for our next night on the town. The new one, about the dancer?"
"Of course they did… what do my boys think about that?"
"They want a bowling night, but your boys chose last time". She grinned. "So my girls get the choice".
Instead of putting on Bec's DVD choice, the pair stayed up and talked, before the empty wine glasses were placed in the sink and the empty pizza box was walked out to the rubbish bin outside. Bidding each other goodnight, they parted ways at the stairs, heading into their respective bedrooms.
Instinctively, Garry poked his head into the boys' room, to find the three of them sprawled over their mattresses, Guy snoring like a chainsaw. Smiling, he pulled his own blankets over himself, given the peace of mind to have a full night's sleep before the board breakfast meeting.
Poking her head into Cassie's room first, she was relieved to see a lump under the blankets, curled up against the wall. And in Loren and Bridget's room, she found the two girls huddled under their respective blankets, Loren's stuffed dolphin hanging out of the bed.
Making herself comfortable, she squeezed her eyes shut and willed sleep upon herself.
Bec rolled over in her bed, squeezing her eyes shut. It was one thirty in the morning, and Bec hadn't been able to sleep. Garry's comments were niggling at the back of her mind, as she tried to block it out.
Her year had been one to push boundaries, in the Solar Blue house. But with Deb and Simmo and Jilly as their guardians, they had pushed it as far as they could without being grounded for the rest of the year.
Giggling a little, she slapped a hand over her mouth, remembering the time that her brother had borrowed their parents' station wagon and loaded up the car with the occupants of the house, Fly lying in the boot with the backpacks. Simmo and Jilly had had no idea, until they had trekked it up the coast in the van, to offer Heath's family condolences after the apparent death of his grandmother.
It had taken a long time to get over that incident.
There were many stories that she had, stored in her memories- some that she had told Garry and the kids, and others that she kept to herself (simply because she'd never hear the end of it, if they were to clue on).
Lying in bed, she was overcome by memories, making her both want to laugh and cry at the same time.
But a thump from downstairs brought her back to her senses, as she sat up bolt straight.
"What the hell is that?" she whispered to no one in particular.
When she was sixteen, she was the brave one. The feisty local flower, Heath had called her, who knew everyone and everything. She had been the one to kill the bugs that made their way into the bedroom she shared with Perri, the one to pick up a beach cricket bat and investigate. But at twenty, she knew she would never live it down if she was caught sneaking downstairs with a bat.
Nor would she live it down if she went and woke up one of her housemates- no matter how tempting the offer was.
Sighing heavily, she padded downstairs, avoiding the stair she knew that clunked.
Half tempted to snatch a knife from the kitchen, she crept into the hallway and braced herself for the worst…
Where she found Cassie trying to lock the front door.
"Cassie!" she bellowed in a whisper and startling the girl so badly she nearly broke the hall table. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Are you trying to kill me?" Cassie gasped, clutching her heart dramatically and leaning against the wall.
(She could almost hear Garry's tell-tale 'I told you so' in her ear.)
"Why aren't you upstairs? In bed? Like you were when I checked?" she demanded, hauling her into the kitchen and flicking on the light. Cassie winced at the brightness, before answering.
"You better have a damn good reason for this, missy", she snapped, before pausing.
Not only did she sound like her mother, she sounded like Simmo. And as much as she adored her old coach- a second father to her- she did not want to sound like him.
So she changed tactics.
"Cassie. If you're going to break the rules", she said, careful of what she was letting out, "At least use the window so I don't catch you!"
"What?" Cassie blinked at her.
"The window of the girls' bathroom, it doesn't lock… be careful of the loose bricks. Don't break your neck climbing up the side of the house- really quite easy once you leaned the tricks…" she was deliriously tired and starting to rhyme. Shaking her head, Bec frowned.
"Whatever you do, don't let Garry hear about this".
Hearing footsteps from the stairs, Bec grabbed a glass and turned on the tap, filling it with water.
"What's the go?" Garry said sleepily from the doorway, yawning heavily. "Bec, Cass?"
"Hey Gaz", Bec yawned, swinging open a top cupboard and ferreting around for a box of painkillers. "Cassie doesn't feel well… getting her a drink and some Panadol- go back to sleep, I've got it under control".
"You alright, Cass?" he checked.
When she nodded, taking a sip of the water, he nodded back.
"Go to bed… I'm going to bed". Yawning again, he gave them a small wave before shuffling back up the stairs.
Waiting until they heard the door click closed, Bec turned back to Cassie.
"I'm not going to give you a big lecture about breaking curfew and sneaking in because you're sixteen and good God, that's what sixteen year olds do. But if you're going to sneak in at all, girls' bathroom window. That's all I have to say". Sighing, she pushed Cassie towards the stairs. "Bed, now. And I want to hear all about this party in the morning", she said, hoping she sounded stern.
Cassie flung her arms around Bec. "You're awesome".
"Bed", she said, trying to force authority into voice. "And yes, I am the cool one".