Jeanie awoke to the sound of her alarm shrilling harshly in her ear. She moaned and rolled over to the small table beside her bed, clunking her hand down on the button to turn it off. It was seven fifteen am. She really did not want to get up. She had been having the most delicious dream of a young man with an uncanny resemblance to Antonio Banderas rubbing lotion on her back as she lay topless on a sunset beach and he mumbled unknown Spanish words in her ear. It was such a vivid, warm and relaxing feeling, she really didn’t want to be snapped out of it so rudely by the radio alarm and back into the present where there was a pile of chores to be done and no handsome Spaniard to ease her way through them.
Beside her, Bill was still asleep. He always slept through the alarm. She had no idea how he managed it, it was really loud. No matter. She shuffled off to the bathroom and sat thankfully on the toilet. At least she had a few moments to herself, which was a relief.
She stood up, flushed and, as she washed her hands, regarded herself in the mirror. There wasn’t much to be pleased about these days it seemed. Her face was red on one side from sleeping against the pillow and her hair was all matted. She ran her tongue over her teeth. They felt fuzzy. Gross. Picking up her toothbrush she loaded it up with her favourite vanilla flavoured toothpaste and started to brush. It felt so good to brush away the layer of night saliva, something that made her feel awake and a bit more alive in the morning. Bill always said that he could never understand why it was the she had to brush her teeth before she even ate or drank anything. She had just done so the night before, but then it was just one of those things that irritated her irrationally. She hated having a pasty tasting mouth. Finally she spit the white foam into the sink, rinsed off her toothbrush and wiped the residue from the side. Smiling at herself, she whispered “much better” into the mirror and walked back into the bedroom to wake Bill.
To her surprise, he was already sitting up in the bed.
“Morning honey, sleep well?” he asked her as she climbed back in beside him for a moment.
“Not too bad.” He planted a kiss on her cheek and headed off to the bathroom himself while she got back out of the warm bed that was far too tempting. She threw on some clothes, ready to wake the girls for school.
That was why today was going to be such a good one, it was the first day of school. Annie was six years old and starting grade one today. She was so excited; she had been hard to get to sleep the night before. There was a crisp new Princess backpack waiting for her, with a matching lunch box and pencil case, newly filled with fresh supplies. This was a very big deal. Grade one meant that she would stay at school all day and take the big bus with her older sister Lizzie.
Lizzie was going into grade three and was already far too cool to be bothered with excitement over back to school. She had already abandoned the bedecked with pictures backpacks for the more muted ones in two toned color. Hers was black and beige, with thick black zippers everywhere for further storage. She didn’t even want a lunch box this year, insisting that she was far too old for that sort of thing. Instead she had demanded that her mother purchase a bulk case of brown paper bags for carting lunches to and from school. That was the only acceptable choice as far as she was concerned. Of course, Jeanie and Bill had happily obliged. They loved to see their serious daughter’s lovely face get all screwed up in a concentrated frown as she tried to impart the importance of her decision on her parents. It was such a contrast to the earnest and eager face of Annie, who lived to laugh and giggle and was not in any way as serious as her older sister.
Jeanie opened the door to their room and tentatively walked in. Lizzie was already awake and was standing on the floor in her underwear and vest studying her closet.
“Good morning, honey. What’s the matter?”
“I can’t find my blue tights. I wanted to wear my new skirt today and I can only find my red ones and they won’t go with this outfit.” She was obviously distraught.
“Okay, well, just get dressed without your tights and we’ll find them before breakfast.”
Lizzie did not seem altogether pleased with this solution, but started to pull on clothes none the less. Jeanie leaned over Annie in her bed and lightly stroked her sweaty hair from her face.
“Annie, Annie, it’s time to get up.” She whispered to her.
Her small eyelids fluttered for a moment and then she opened her lovely huge bright blue eyes and smiled at her mother.
“Today is a school day?”
“Yes, and I need you to get dressed.”
With an ungodly amount of energy, she bolted out of bed and jumped down to the floor. How it was that Annie could be asleep one second and literally bouncing around the next was completely beyond Jeanie. It took her ages to wake up in the morning. Annie had pulled out from one of her overflowing dresser drawers a Halloween costume of Princess Cinderella.
“This is what I want to wear.” She said, proudly, starting to pull it over her head. Lizzie started to laugh at her, causing Annie to dart a murderous look at her sister. But when Jeanie also tried to suppress a giggle, unsuccessfully, her eyes began to fill up ever so slightly.
“Oh, honey, you can’t wear that to school.” Jeanie told her gently, though with great amusement.
“Why not? I wore it to Stephanie’s party last week and that was okay?” Annie felt that she had logic on her side.
“Well, sweetie, that was a costume birthday party, so that was okay, but it’s not suitable for school.”
Lizzie now fully dressed but for tights, left the room and went down to the kitchen.
“Why not?” Annie wanted to know.
“It just isn’t my love. Let’s try to find you something more appropriate.”
Annie snuffled a little, but helped her mother hang up her beloved dress and eventually chose a nice denim skirt and her favorite Strawberry Shortcake t-shirt. Smiling again, she took her new backpack onto her shoulders and led the way down the stairs to the kitchen, where Lizzie was seated on a chair while Bill poured milk on her cereal.
“I gotta go, love.” He said as Jeanie emerged with their other daughter.
“I know. Have a good day, okay.”
He frowned slightly but kissed each of his girls on the tops of their heads and kissed his wife on the lips.
“See you tonight. Try to remember to call the cable company today.” He reminded her. Then he was off out the door and Jeanie went to the window to watch the car pull out of the driveway.
The next hour went by so quickly, Jeanie barely had the time to catch her breath. She managed to get her girls lunches into their respective holders and locate Lizzie’s rogue tights. She put their combed hair into pigtails and finally got them to the bus stop at the corner of their street where all the other moms were waiting with their children for the first reprieve of the year. The big yellow bus pulled around the corner and she could swear that had it not been for the presence of all the children, the mother’s gathered would liked to have let out a cheer.
Jeanie loaded her own two girls on, giving kisses and hugs as they left her and then headed back to the house for her first full day alone since they had been born. She didn’t get that far though, for as soon as she came up level with the house only four doors down from her own, Victoria stuck her head out the front door. She had a towel wrapped around her head and a robe on that was not sufficiently fastened to hold in her perfect size C breasts from practically spilling out from it.
“Jeanie, get over here. Come and have a drink, I gotta talk to you.”
Jeanie grinned at her friend and marched up the driveway. Eying her straight to the chest, she said; “Good morning you two, nice to see you out and about so early.”
Victoria stepped back to let her friend in the house, swatting her on the bum on her way.
“Piss off, I was just getting out of the shower and saw you. You’re lucky I found the robe. I could have come out in just a towel.” She shut the door and Jeanie sank into one of the deep cushioned armchairs in the living room. Without checking to see if the front windows were covered fully or not, Victoria grabbed a pair of panties from a laundry basket near the stairs and slipped them on under the robe, then dropped the robe and stood there topless as she pulled on a pair of jeans next. Jeanie didn’t even chuckle, she had seen Victoria much more naked than this, but she was still envious both of her blasé attitude about nudity and her immaculate body. Lifting her head after doing up the zipper, Victoria noticed Jeanie staring at her.
“What! I’m putting on clothes.” She defended herself.
“Nothing, I just wish I still looked like that, though I don’t think I ever did.”
“Knock it off, you have a great body.”
Jeanie wasn’t so sure. She had to have surgery after Annie was born and it had left an unattractive flap of skin hanging over her pubic bone. She seldom walked around naked. Victoria bent over and shook her way into a bra and then tugged a t-shirt on.
“See, all done. So, get the girls off okay?”
“Yep, all done. I’m free now until three thirty.”
“My god woman, what will you do with yourself?” Victoria teased her. She knew that Jeanie loved her girls fiercely.
“Well, I’m going to let you bring me a grossly large coffee to wake me up and I’m going to hear all your news. Then I’m going to go home and do laundry.”
“Riveting,” Victoria said, but she shuffled off to the kitchen to grab a couple of mugs and load them up with coffee, cream and sugar.
Jeanie took the brimming mug gratefully and took a sip. It was lovely hot and creamy, just enough sugar to take out the slight bitterness that she always detected in her favorite beverage. Victoria sat down in the chair opposite and grinned at her friend.
“So what’s new?”
“Since Saturday? Not much, how about you?”
Saturday had been a big birthday bash at Victoria’s house for Everett, her man. They were not married but had been living together now for close on to twenty years, so everyone just thought of them in terms of a married couple.
“Pretty much the same, that was a great party, huh? Everett had a great time, though he had a hell of recuperation. We just can’t drink like we used to. He was really hung over on Sunday.”
“I’m not surprised. What on earth possessed you to bring out tequila shooters?”
“I thought it would be fun, like when we were younger. You know, forty is a big deal and he was stressing about it, so I was trying to help him remember his younger days. I even gave him a blow job that night, and I can’t remember the last time I did that.”
“How very generous of you,” Jeanie said drily.
“Didn’t work, though; too much alcohol. Then he got frustrated and then he just passed out. Oh well, still a good party.”
Jeanie laughed at her friend. The party had been fairly small, just themselves, Bill and Everett and their friend Karen and her current boyfriend Carson. Carson had drank them all under the table and kept them in stitches all night with wild stories of nights when he had worked in a trendy bar in a much bigger city. Of course, he was about ten years younger than them all, so he was able to maintain himself far better under several shots of tequila then the rest of them were. In fact, Jeanie herself had had quite a hangover the next day and Bill had declined the shots altogether, preferring to stick with beer as his friends got loaded all around him. He had brought Jeanie a large glass of water and two Tylenol in the morning to help with her aching head. Jeanie had been under the impression that he had not enjoyed himself too much, since he had a strong distaste for Carson, but he assured her that it was fun to see her let her hair down.
“Did you guys have fun?” Victoria inquired.
“Course we did. But I could’ve murdered the girls in the morning. They woke up at the crack of dawn and started playing that Barbie video for the ninetieth time and I thought my head would crack open.”
“Lightweight,” Victoria said, teasingly.
Jeanie shrugged. “Like you did so much partying when Joey was little.”
“Okay, you’ve got me there, but I have an empty nest now.”
“How is he, anyway?”
“Fine, I think. He’s been tough to reach for the last little while. Just started a new job two months ago and I think they have him on some rotating shifts. His roommate says he’s been out a lot, but at least he paid his share of the rent on time this month.”
Victoria had given birth to Joey when she was only eighteen years old. Surprisingly, she had found a way to finish high school along with the rest of her class and had even gone on to college. She was a real estate agent now, and a successful one, keeping her own hours and working mostly from home.
Joey was twenty now and living for the past year and a half with a buddy of his in a small apartment working at odd jobs till he decided whether or not he wanted to go to college, as his mother so desperately wanted him to. He wasn’t around much these days, as he was happily living out some independence. Victoria was mainly okay with this, though she sometimes worried about how he managed his finances, especially since she was meticulous with her own.
“Don’t you have to work today?” Jeanie asked her friend.
“Nope, just some things to go over on the computer later, but I pretty much have the day free. I’m going to get my hair and nails done before Everett gets home.”
It was no secret that Victoria brought in more money than Everett, something which was not often brought up because it made him slightly uncomfortable. She often went out to a salon for treatments when her schedule allowed, but Everett always assumed her little cosmetic upkeeps were done at home by herself. Jeanie herself was sometimes jealous of her ability to do this, but she still had young children. She always figured that she’d go back to work when they were a little older and thus be able to afford similar treats for herself.
“Well, I should get back to the house. I have a ton of things to get done today now that I have it empty again,” Jeanie said.
“Okay, doll. See you on Thursday night, if not before.”
“Yep, see you later.”
Jeanie let herself out and headed for home across the street and up a few houses. Thursday nights, about twice a month, she and Victoria and their friend Karen got together for dinner and a good chat. Since Karen lived back in their hometown, it was a great way to keep up with each other and a good reason to get out of the house. The evenings were always fun, and since Karen had gotten a divorce years ago, they were also usually full of her tales of dating drama. This not only kept the other two women highly amused, but also mindfully happy of their own relationship status. It was probably why their respective mates never begrudged them the time together.
Once in the house, Jeanie went through the kitchen with a practiced hand. Clearing bowls with the dregs of milk in the bottom and rinsing them out before loading them in the dishwasher. Putting away any remnants of the girls’ lunch and wiping down the counters and the stove top. Then she walked down the stairs to the laundry room in the basement where she started separating clothes for a load of wash. The girls stuff was easy, mostly pinks and yellows and lovely bright colors, with a few jeans and cords jumbled in and Lizzie’s prized days of the week socks, which she never wore out of order. Most of their stuff would fit in a single load, so that would go first. Then there were her things and Bill’s to separate. She would wind up adding a towel or two to the loads and use the maximum setting. There was quite a bit, actually. Probably because in those last days of summer leading up to school, they had tried to jam in some fun activities for the children in order to distract them from the impending fall. Consequently, they had several days worth of clothes covered in sandbox dirt, grass stains and melted ice cream. She grabbed a pair of Bill’s jeans and pulled out the underwear that were still inside them, grinning at the pair.
She had bought them as a joke earlier in the summer. They were a metallic red bikini style brief. The result of a comment Bill had made about Carson and the kind of undergarments he probably wore in his buoyancy. Whatever the original intention, Bill had taken a liking to them and started to wear them as often as he could. Usually parading around the bedroom, sucking in his gut and making suggestive remarks to his wife. They were terribly tacky and they reminded her of her younger days and the boys she had known the summer she was fourteen, the first time she ever saw a naked boy. Not that Bill knew the story, or that she would ever tell him. He probably wouldn’t see the innocence in it. But it was a happy memory none the less, and it was how she had first met Karen.
Jeanie was been standing under the sprinkler in her front yard trying to beat the unforgiving heat. School had been out for only a week, and she was pleased for the break as high school had not been what she had thought it would. Already temperatures were soaring into the thirties. There was not much to do to avoid the scorch of the sun except watch the neighborhood boys play baseball at Riverside Park or hang out in the local mall. Neither option was appealing to her, and she was settling for the moment for standing stock still while the cold water ran down her face and body.
She lived on a quiet street in Waterton, a bustling city that had marvelously sprawling suburbs all on the outskirts of the main downtown. Jeanie lived at the top of a hill near a large park, where there was a playground for the young ones and two large baseball fields near the back where the river ran besides a large industrial building. Her parents said it was a mill, but she had always been disappointed that there was no sign of one of those large wheels at the side to harness the water to the building. Apparently, they used different methods these days. She often walked down near the mill in the evening, because it was a quiet and peaceful place. Because there was so much overgrowth in the back of the park, there were seldom other people around to bother her.
She was just musing to herself that it might be a nice cool place to go and sit for a while, so that her mother wouldn’t get mad at the water being on all day, when a tall girl came walking down the sidewalk near her house and stopped to watch her.
“Hi, watcha doin?” The tall girl asked.
“Cool.” The tall girl walked up to her. “My name’s Karen. What’s yours?”
Karen raised an eyebrow at her. “How old are you?”
“Fourteen, why, how old are you?”
“Oh, I’m fifteen. I thought you looked a little young.” She adjusted the strap of her bra which kept slipping out of her t-shirt. “I just moved here a week ago, and I’m so bored. Is there anything fun to do here?”
Jeanie stepped out from under the water and went to the side of the porch to turn it off. She sat on her step and talked with Karen.
It turned out that Karen was really interesting. She had lived all over the place, including living with her grandparents for a year in England. Apparently she had just come home from there to find that her parents had sold their house and moved yet again to this place. Jeanie told her about the mall and the ball park but when she told her about the back area of the park, Karen perked up immediately and asked Jeanie to show her the location. So Jeanie ran into the house, grabbed some dry shorts and a shirt, told her mother where she was headed and the girls were off.
The path down the hill towards the park was terrible, overgrown with long spiky weeds poking out at them from the sides. Jeanie kept up a steady stream of chatter about the neighborhood kids and how dull the high school was after all the things she had read about in books.
“Well, you can hardly blame the high school for being dull, can you?” Karen said to her. “You probably went to all your classes and did your work and didn’t really talk to anyone, did you.”
“Sort of, but there was nothing else to do, honestly.”
“There’s always something better to do, you just have to find it, and if you don’t find it, you have to create it.”
They were down at the bottom of the hill now and heading across the street towards the deep and beautiful park. Jeanie was in awe, what could this girl possibly be talking about?
“When I was in England, we were always doing sensational things to stir it up.”
“Well, there was the time we snuck into the English master’s room before class and stole all of his erasers for the chalkboard. He always wrote out way too many notes on the board and had to erase and start over at least three or four times a class. So when he went to erase stuff, there was none to be found. He went nuts, turning over bins and desks and asking kids to turn out their pockets. It was a riot.”
“That sounds like it was pretty funny,” Jeanie was starting to feel like she was an awfully dull person.
“That’s nothing. Once we snuck into the boy’s locker room before gym class ended and stole all their pants. We left them all in the home economics room for the next class. Most of the boys spent the day walking around in their shorts. They were pretty mad, but they never figured out who did it.”
By now the girls had rounded the bend at the entrance to the park and made their way past the playground. There were a couple of boys sitting on the low fence at the back of one of the baseball diamonds swinging bats around by their feet. One of them looked up as the girls walked by.
“Hey Jeanie-in-a-bottle, who’s your friend?” shouted Tom, the most outgoing of them.
“Hey Tom, mind your own business,” Jeanie shouted back.
She was sure it was Everett, the shy boy next to him without a shirt on, and a friend of hers, who had told Tom her name.
Karen nudged her. “What’s the matter with you, he’s cute.” She whispered.
“Who, Tom!?” Jeanie was incredulous. “He’s nuts, always bragging that he can get any girl. You’ll soon learn that his little gang is the one to steer clear of.”
“Sounds like his little ‘gang’ are going to be the ones who’re the most fun.” She said back to Jeanie. Then she turned her full wattage smile on Tom and his friends.
“Hi Tom, I’m Karen. Jeanie says you have a whole gang of friends. So where are they?”
Tom jumped off the fence. He was tall and muscular and the kind of boy Jeanie secretly wanted plenty of attention from, but she hadn’t wanted him to notice tall, leggy Karen. Her shoulders dropped as he came over. He hardly ever noticed her.
“The boys are on the way,” he said flirtatiously, staring right at Karen. “You wanna watch us play baseball?”
“As if, c’mon Jeanie.” Karen said and, sweeping her long honey colored hair around from her shoulders, she pulled Jeanie by the sleeve and walked purposely away from Tom and the others, not even looking back.
Jeanie burst into the giggles as the rounded another bend, now getting closer to the river.
“Oh my god, did you see his face?” she blustered.
“Of course. Now he’ll be thinking of us all day.” Karen said back. “Stick with me, Jeanie. We’ll take these boys by storm this summer.”
Jeanie was instantly grateful that she had been standing in her yard that afternoon.
A large crowd of boys passed by them making little comments under their breath at the girls. One of them winked at Karen and one other tough looking boy spitting on the ground just missing their feet, and then howled with the rest of his friends. Jeanie recognized the spitter as a boy named Marcus who, like most of the boys, was a year ahead of her at school. He was the kind of boy who was always getting into trouble for disrupting classes or smoking in the parking lot, as were most of the boys with him. They were loaded down with gloves and bats and were all wearing a cap, no doubt off to join the game that was soon to take place.
“Hmmm,” Karen said doing a full turn on the spot as the boys passed.
“I wonder why their hair was wet.”
“They must have gone swimming in the river. Maybe down near the dam,” Jeanie told her.
“There’s a dam back here?”
“Yeah, just down near where the mill is, back in the bush a bit. It’s not hard to find. Actually, sometimes I like to go there to get away from my house. It’s nice unless the Mill’s turned on, but that’s not very often anymore, since its closing down, mom said.” Jeanie was pleased that she was the one with Karen’s attention again. It was good to feel like she knew more on at least one topic then her new friend did.
“Show me,” Karen said.
So they walked further on until the path swooped suddenly to the left. Instead of following it around the line of trees, Jeanie kept on walking and showed Karen where a path had been worn going into the woods. It was quiet, and the air immediately lost its heaviness, dropping in temperature by at least five degrees. The path followed the low river, where an old and worn out fence leaned to the side to keep wanderers from falling in. Finally, they came across a not very well built dam, with wooden slats running across the top and some crumbling cement holding the water back with little more than faith.
“All the parents will warn you against coming down here.” Jeanie said. “This dam’s so old and apparently it’s about to fall apart at any moment. But we’ve been coming down here for ages. It’s not bad if you stay back where the water pools better.”
So the girls clambered their way down the side of the bank and found some large rocks in the shelter of a small bunch of trees near the edge of the water. Karen looked up and noticed something further down near the rickety dam.
“What’s that?” she asked, pointing.
“Looks like a shirt.”
“Why would…” she trailed off, a slow smile spreading over her face. “That’s why the guys were wet, they went swimming here.”
Jeanie could see nothing special about that, she had just said it a minute ago.
“So, most kids come down here for a swim at some point. Usually only the high school kids, though.”
“Let’s just stay for a while,” Karen said.
The girls camped out on the rocks, taking off their shoes and dipping their feet in the water, Karen telling further tales from her school in England where the teachers still sometimes smacked your hand with a ruler if you didn’t behave. Jeanie told her of life here in Waterton where everyone did the same things all the time and life as she saw it was boring and seriously lacking in good adventures. When Karen produced a pack of cigarettes from one of her deep pockets and a book of matches, she couldn’t help but gasp in shock. Karen lit one up with a flourish.
“Don’t tell me, you don’t smoke either.”
“No. I don’t know anyone who does, well, except for some of the boys.”
“Everyone in England smokes. I snatched these from my mom’s purse. She’ll just think she smoked ‘em,” Karen said, and took a deep drag.
Jeanie was in awe. This girl was something else, and she desperately wanted to be like her.
Karen noticed the look of longing and amazement on her new friends face and shook the pack out at her.
Not wanting to look uncool, she accepted and gingerly held one to her lips while Karen lit a match for her.
Jeanie choked. It felt like smoke had filled her whole body and was burning her from the inside out. The taste was acrid and brown, but yet slightly appealing. She tried again.
Karen laughed at her. “No, you gotta do it slowly at first. Otherwise you’ll just look stupid. Watch me,” And she elegantly sucked on her smoke, taking a slow breath inwards, then blew it out in a cloud.
Jeanie copied her movements, and felt like the coolest person on the earth. No more boring old Jeanie, she would definitely have adventures now.
There was a movement in the trees and Jeanie panicked and threw her smoke through the trees and into the water.
“Someone’s coming,” She said her face red.
“So, let’s see who it is,” Karen said, stubbing her own smoke out on the rock.
A group of the boys, including Tom and several others that Jeanie recognized from school had come in a cluster to where the dam stood, about twenty feet away from the girls who were now ducked down so they could watch them without being seen.
“That was crap,” One boy said, pulling off his shirt. “Hardly anyone showed up. So much for getting a game going.”
“Hey Everett,” said the boy who had spit at them earlier.
“What?” He answered.
“You left your shirt on the branch, dufus.”
The boys teased Everett and then threw him in the water with his jeans on.
“C’mon, guys, my mom’ll kill me if I come home with wet clothes again.”
“Too bad, shoulda ditched ‘em sooner,” Shouted the spitter at him.
The boys began to strip off. With a shock, Jeanie realized that they weren’t just swimming, they were skinny dipping. Tom stood naked on the edge of the dam. Most of the other boys were now in the water. From where they were sitting, the girls could see everything.
“Alright fellas, get a load of this!” he shouted, walking out along the top of the wooden slats at the top.
“What? You mean your tiny dick!” One guy called, while the others snickered.
“Your sister didn’t mind,” Tom shouted back.
He paused in the center of the dam and dived off into the water.
The guys stayed for another half hour, doing tricks and making jokes about their privates and each other’s mothers, sisters and girls in general and finally got out to head home for dinner.
Jeanie and Karen watched enraptured the entire escapade. After the last boy had left, Karen turned to Jeanie with a wicked grin.
“Boring my ass, this is going to be the best summer ever!”
The girls linked arms and walked away from the woods and back through the park. Jeanie was walking on air. It looked like adventures were finally going to happen for her.