We were down at the beach house – all 8 of us, nestled in a little cove off Bay Road. We’d worked hard to secure this respite after the final exams. John had repainted the local church a hideous green, Peter had mowed all of the lawns in Hamilton and I’d experienced the wealth of insults that come with manning a Coles cash register.
Ah, freedom tasted so good. Not just in the figurative sense, but in the literal one too. There was a small fish and chippery hidden behind the beach’s shower block and everyday we’d meander towards the grey brick shack in pursuit of those brown paper bags filled with hot chips.
The owner of the place was kind – always throwing in a few extra dim sims here and there. His toothless grin shone against the blue sea.
Every now and then he’d be replaced by his wife. Cigarette forever running from her lips, her scowl had the same acidity as the lemon that we squeezed over our fish.
We weren’t sure why this was the case. Could it be a built up envy of the young? A dissatisfaction of days spent sorting 5 dollar notes and 10 cent pieces? Peter, in his wit and charm, offered other suggestions: perhaps it was something personal with her husband. That was better than his other alternative, in which the woman was cultivating illicit drugs. I don’t think he was serious. I hope he wasn’t.
These discussions continued for hours upon hours until we collectively decided to solve the mystery. We couldn’t quite pinpoint the source of her bitterness: she had the same home environment as her husband (unless, of course, Peter’s first theory held true), yet her disposition was completely different.
In our youth and innocence, we constructed a plan. Flawless, we thought, as the details of our pursuit became etched into our minds. After going to Main Street in the morning, we’d stop by Smith’s chocolates and buy her a box of truffles. John, the looker of the group, would go over to her stall later in the day and would chat her up....
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