Authors: Lindy Dale
Tags: #romance, #lost, #short story, #chick lit, #novella, #teenage romance, #australia fiction, #australian author, #lindy dale
It Started With A
©2013 Secret Creek Press
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Ear buds wedged in her ears and music tuned
to an indecent volume to keep out the city noises, Georgie Bird
jogged purposefully along the path that wound its way along
Riverside Drive, nodding hello to a few regulars running in the
opposite direction as she went and side stepping a group of elderly
ladies who were out for their daily constitutional. Georgie hated
jogging. It made her sweaty, hot and more pink-cheeked than an
Eskimo in a sauna but she persevered with the practice because it
kept her fit and thin. A good five kilometer run meant she could
have her cake and eat it, too.
With a trail of sweat trickling down the side
of her temple, Georgie picked up the pace as her playlist ticked
over to a new song. A more up-tempo tune, it made her happy and
took her mind off the fact that she was exercising in such a
torturous manner. It didn’t, however, provide her with the
peripheral vision required to avoid a large mound of dog poop that
had been strategically plopped in her path. Georgie felt the
squelch before she realized what had happened and even then, she
was so engrossed in the song it took until the stench wafted to her
nose before it registered. Stopping, she looked back at the path,
noting the brownish-greenish pile that was splattered across the
path from where she’d stepped in it. She looked at down her
The sides of her left shoe were covered in
the stuff and, boy, did it reek.
Great,” she muttered,
wondering why on earth people couldn’t dispose of their dog doings
in the proper manner. Honestly, some people just didn’t give a
Half-smiling at her own pun, Georgie made her
way to the grass along the side of the track and sat down,
carefully removing her shoe so as not to get the offending material
on her fingers. A disgusted shudder rippling through her body,
Georgie picked up a stick and began to dig bits of brown from the
crevices of her sole. Bile rose in her stomach as she dragged her
shoe back and forth on the grass a few times, managing to get most
of it off but it still stank to high heaven. So much so, in fact,
that it was making her dry reach and she didn’t think she could
finish her run while heaving at the same time. If only she had some
water to rinse the remains away.
Then she had the perfect idea. She was
sitting on the side of the Swan River, for heaven’s sake. How could
she not have thought of it before?
Standing up, shoe in hand, Georgie hopped
across the grass towards the riverbank and knelt down on the side
of the river wall. The water was a way down, with the tide being
out, but if she stretched far enough she knew she could give her
shoe a quick dip, get it clean and put it back on. It’d dry off
Satisfied with the plan, Georgie leant over;
reaching her arm into the water and maintaining balance with her
other arm, which was holding her iPod. Her shoe barely grazed the
surface of the water but she swished and swirled, reaching as far
as she safely could without falling.
At least, that was what she thought.
Her body appeared to have other ideas on
safety and balance and before she knew it, Georgie was chest deep
in the murky sand of the riverbank. Her attempt to stop herself
from toppling in had only succeeded in making the fall worse and
she’d ended up on her bottom in the water with her arms stretched
high above her head, one hand holding her stinky shoe, and the
other her iPod.
A frustrated groan escaped Georgie’s lips,
followed by a couple of expletives. Now what was she going to
Sand seeping through her leggings and into
her knickers, Georgie looked hopefully towards the other joggers on
the path. It was a sunny day. Plenty of people were out. If she
smiled nicely, one of them might take pity on her and offer a hand
to pull her out of the drink. The river wall was covered in
barnacles and weed and, while she knew she could climb it, she
didn’t want to be cut to ribbons in the process. She smiled weakly
at a few people but not one of them stopped to lend her assistance.
Most of them pretended she didn’t exist and a few of the real
sadists smirked at her plight as they ran past. Ignorant asses.
There was nothing for it. She’d have to hike a leg up alone.
Georgie stood up and put her shoes and iPod
onto the ledge of the wall. Fingers searching for a grip on the
concrete, she flung her leg upwards next to them, cringing at the
ripping sound coming from somewhere in the region of her thigh. Or
was it her hamstring?
That was all she needed.
Those pants cost her seventy-five dollars. They had special
soak-up-the-sweat fabric in the crotch and butt-lifting technology
that she was sure wouldn’t work if her bum cheeks were poking out.
Georgie leant a little to the left, wiggling her leg as she did,
but it was pointless. The pants were firmly snagged and she
couldn’t put a hand down to free them without falling into the
water again, so she had no choice but to let them tear. And tear
hole so gaping, the whole of Perth could see she needed a bikini
Two attempts to hoist herself onto the grassy
bank later, Georgie lay prone, catching her breath and trying to
get over her annoyance at her own stupidity. It was when she
straightened to pick few bits of shell from her thigh that she saw
him, jogging along the path towards her and looking all buff and
handsome. Georgie blinked.
Nate Adams. It couldn’t be.
She flipped her sunglasses down over her eyes
and took another look, while pretending to excavate the weed from
He hadn’t changed a bit and judging by the
pounding that was coming from Georgie’s chest as he drew closer,
his effect on her hadn’t changed either. It had been how long? And
he could still make her heart race like she’d just done a hundred
Shoving her foot into her dry shoe, Georgie
tied the laces and stood up, straightening her damp clothes as best
she could. Her heart was thumping uncontrollably now and a goofy
smile had spread across her face. It was Nate, the hero of the love
story of her life. He was here. Right in front of her.
As Nate drew close and made to move past,
Georgie signaled to him. “Nate!”
She half expected him to stop and swing back,
a beaming smile on his face as he recalled the girl he’d loved when
he was seventeen.
Instead, he gave her a sideways glance and
continued down the path, a look of, well, nothing, on his face.
Nate?” Georgie called
This time he did stop. He turned, his
expression changing to one of confusion. “Yes?”
Well, this was a bit awkward.
Georgie walked towards him, hoping that a
closer view would jog his memory. “It’s me.”
Such had been their relationship that Georgie
was positive she wouldn’t have to remind Nate of her name. She knew
she looked different since the last time she’d seen him but surely
he couldn’t have forgotten her, could he? They’d been in love since
they were eight years old. Nate had made her promise to marry him
when they grew up. They had a thing.
Georgie was eight when her family moved from
Melbourne to Perth. Her dad got a promotion at the lawyer’s office
where he worked and, within the space of a month, her life had been
packed into a shipping container and transported from one side of
Australia to the other. Mum and Dad had been excited about the move
and the new house. Georgie hadn’t been that pumped. She liked her
school and her friends. She liked that the park was across the road
from her house and that, on Saturday mornings, she went to tap
classes with Miss Suzie. Georgie didn’t want to move house.
The first day at her new
school had been nerve-wracking, to say the least. The kids all knew
each other, they’d been at school together since they were four and
their parents had drinks on Friday nights. The girls didn’t look
like they wanted more friends and the boys made fun of skinny
Georgie in her too long, grey, tartan skirt and her big, blue,
school shirt. They made so much fun of her, in fact, that Georgie
wet her pants, something she hadn’t done since she was being toilet
trained. She was mortified. Especially when she had to suffer the
indignity of wearing the spare knickers from the teacher’s
cupboard. They were too big and the elastic was loose with age. And
they had pictures of
My Little Pony
on the front. Only babies wore undies with ponies
on them. She’d have been far happier if they had pictures of
Georgie spent the rest of the day hitching the knickers up every
time she walked and keeping her eyes to the floor so nobody would
notice her. Needless to say, she had no intention of going back to
that school again.
On the second day, having lost the argument
with her mother about going to school, Georgie entered the
classroom subdued and quiet. All night long she’d prayed to God to
make her invisible but he hadn’t answered, so she’d had to get
dressed in the big baggy uniform and follow Mum into the classroom.
It was as she was putting her lunch order into the basket that she
met Nate. He was skinny too, like her, but he was tall and blonde
and he had a mouth as big as a football and no front teeth. It made
his whole face look like a gaping hole when he grinned. Which he
I’m Nathan,” he said, his
blue eyes twinkling with boyish mischief.
Georgie looked around. Surely, the boy wasn’t
talking to her? After the events of the day before, she’d fully
expected the entire class to ignore her. “Are you talking to
Well, I’m not talking to
the bookshelf. Are you new in our class?”
Georgie swallowed. She waited for one of the
other children to approach Nathan and tell him he shouldn’t talk to
the new girl because she wet her pants but everyone else seemed to
be waiting to see what this boy would do.
I was sick yesterday. My
stupid sister Charlotte gave me Chicken Pox and my mum wanted me to
stay home ‘one more day’ to make sure I wasn’t gonna die or
anything.” He rolled his eyes as if to say there’d been nothing
wrong with him, only
had to stay home when they got a disease. Then, he
held out his arm and pushed up his sleeve, revealing three brownish
scabs on underside of his wrist. “See?”
Nathan beamed proudly at having repulsed her.
“Have you had Chicken Pox?”
When I was five. I have a
scar.” She lifted the hair at the nape of her neck, showing him the
I know. I have one on my
foot, too. I had scabs in my hair and all over my
I had them under my arms,”
I had them between my
fingers.” Georgie revealed yet another tiny scar.
Georgie had no idea what ‘coolaphonic’ meant
but it sounded like the type of word she ought to know.
It means more awesomer
than cool,” Nate replied.
Georgie nodded, storing the information
Their conversation ended as the bell rang and
the children went to sit on the mat ready to begin the day. Nathan
squeezed into the space next to another boy and sat beside Georgie.
He sat very close so that his knee touched her knee when they
crossed their legs and when he was chosen to take the lunch orders
to the canteen, he picked Georgie to accompany him. He smiled at
her the whole way there and back, chattering incessantly about the
things they did at school and the things he liked. He asked if he
could come to her house to play one day and Georgie told him he
could. She was smitten. Nobody, other than her parents, had ever
given her so much attention. When the returned to the classroom
five minutes later, Georgie Bird was no longer the geeky
wet-your-pants girl. As Nathan held the door open for Georgie to
enter before him, she realized she’d moved up a notch in the
classroom pecking order. She had made friends with the coolest kid
in the class.