Authors: Katrina Kahler
“It’s so much fun, Becky and the water is
really warm!” I coaxed. “Why don’t you put your swimmers on and hop in with
“I forgot to bring them,” she explained in
a quiet voice.
I knew that she would intentionally have
left them behind, but then I suggested that she could borrow a pair from
“Oh no, that’s ok,” she replied. “They
probably wouldn’t fit me anyway! I’m happy just watching everybody!”
However, I could see that this clearly was
not the case. Becky was looking longingly towards the pool, as she sat following
the actions of everyone jumping into the water. And when I looked up, I saw
them all standing in a row on the diving deck, holding hands ready to take a
running jump into the deep end. Sara had a firm hold of Blake’s hand on one
side and Jack’s hand on the other and was calling out, “One, two, three…” after
which they all took a flying leap. It looked like so much fun and I was keen to
join them myself.
Just then, an idea popped into my head. I
whispered quietly in Millie’s ear and then indicated for her to follow my lead.
Leaping to my feet, I raced to the side of
the pool and called out, “Girls, have a look at this!”
Millie ran over to see what had got my
attention and as expected, Becky joined her. When both girls were looking curiously
into the water, wondering what I had become so excited about, I sneaked behind
the two of them and pushed them both in. Becky was still fully clothed, but I
was determined that she should join in the fun. The squeal of surprise that
came from her just before she hit the water made everyone look in her
Panicking momentarily at what her reaction
would be, I let out a huge sigh of relief when she came to the surface with a
grin and exclaimed, “Julia Jones! I’m going to have to get you back for that!”
“Oh well,” I replied. “You’re all wet now,
so you may as well stay in the water!” And I dived in beside her.
Being dressed in shorts and a little
singlet top, I knew Becky would be fine to swim as she was. And because we had all
brought a change of clothes, I figured she’d have something dry to put on
It turned out to be the best thing I could
have done as from that moment on, the beaming smile never left her face. And it
took very little effort to encourage her to join us in lining up on the diving
deck ready for a big jump. She was obviously feeling comfortable as she was
fully clothed rather than having to expose her body in a pair of swimmers. But
I was glad to see her joining in with the rest of us.
Jackie’s mom was there with her camera,
ready to take photos and just as we were about to run and leap, I felt someone
come around behind me and grab my hand. Looking up in surprise, I saw that it
was Blake and laughing, we all held hands and took a flying jump.
When we resurfaced, I noticed Sara watching
as Blake tried to dunk my head under the water. She was clearly not impressed
that he was showing me any attention and then out of the blue, she suddenly
starting screaming, “Oh my head! My head!” All eyes were then abruptly focused on
“What’s wrong?” Jackie called out in a
worried tone. “Are you alright Sara?”
“No!” she replied angrily. “Someone kicked
me in the head when I went under water just then! Ouch, it really hurts!” And
she stormed out of the pool and slumped down in a chair in the gazebo.
Everyone else immediately climbed out and
went to surround her. Jackie’s mom raced inside to get some ice and some of the
girls wrapped a towel around her shoulders while trying to comfort her. Millie
looked at me and rolled her eyes. “What a drama queen!” she said, shaking her
head as she got out of the water and headed towards the trampoline.
I looked back at Sara with puzzlement then
decided she had enough people attending to her so I joined Millie on the tramp.
We soon became so absorbed in the fun we were having that we didn’t realize everyone
was leaving the pool area to go inside.
But when a shrill scream abruptly emanated
from the direction of the house, we both looked up with a start. “Oh, my gosh!”
I exclaimed to Millie. “What was that?”
Anxiously, I jumped off the trampoline and
hurriedly followed her towards all the commotion.
The girls were all cowering in a corner of
the living room but the reaction from the boys was completely the opposite.
“Oh, wow!” Jack was exclaiming in an
excited tone. “This is awesome!”
Hovering as close as they dared to get,
they stood transfixed with fascination as they stared agape at the writhing
creature that had appeared on the living room floor.
“No, it is not awesome! It is totally
freaky!!” Sara’s squeal was the loudest of all and was probably the scream that
Millie and I had heard when we were out by the pool.
Jackie’s parents were nowhere to be seen and
then I remembered watching them carry buckets of horse feed over to the back
paddock after tending to the bump on Sara’s head. So I guessed they were still
over there, feeding the horses.
“Have you got a broom?’ I asked Jackie as I
stood in the doorway, watching the scene in front of me unfold.
It was clear that if something wasn’t done
quickly, one of the boys was sure to be bitten. The snake that had appeared on
the rug in front of us seemed to be getting more agitated by the minute.
Jackie raced to grab a broom which I
abruptly grabbed from her hands and held out towards the snake hoping to keep
it at bay. We caught a glimpse of the bright red of its underbelly, which
contrasted vividly with the shining black scales that covered its back.
Motioning for the
girls to move out of the doorway, I tried to coax the snake towards the exit
and freedom. Meanwhile, Jackie’s cat sat ready to pounce, bristles raised in
The screaming of the girls suddenly reached
an all-time high as the snake slithered towards freedom, obviously wanting to
escape the chaos that it had been faced with. Sara turned into a blubbering
mess, squealing uncontrollably at the sight of the scary looking creature in
front of her.
“Sara, stop screaming!” Jack exclaimed.
“The snake will freak out and strike at you!”
Those were the words that she needed to
hear and they actually managed to stop all the girls from carrying on in such
an over the top frightened manner.
“Our cat often brings snakes into the
house!” Jackie explained, trying to calm everyone down. “The other week he even
dropped one on the lounge chair right next to my brother!”
Sara cried. “How on earth can you live in a
place like this?”
“You’ve got to be kidding?” Alex replied in
an amazed tone. “This is the best place ever! I’d love to live here!”
The expression on Sara’s face quickly changed
from horror to humiliation. Rather than giving her sympathy and attention, she
was being made to seem pretty silly for reacting so foolishly. And then when
she saw Blake high-five me and congratulate my quick thinking, her face glowed
redder than ever.
“Oh, whatever!” she replied. “So, I’m
scared of snakes. Isn’t that pretty normal?”
Once again, Millie rolled her eyes towards
me and then thankfully, Jackie broke the tension by inviting everyone into the dining
room for something to eat. Her mom had prepared an amazing array of food, which
was waiting for us on the table and as we were all starving, we eagerly sat
down to enjoy the feast.
“That was really cool!” Blake exclaimed
once more, glancing admiringly in my direction. “The only place I’ve ever seen
a snake before is behind a thick pane of glass at the zoo. I never thought I’d
see one up that close and especially on a living room floor. Do you think it
We all looked towards Jackie, who we
assumed would know something about it. “I think it was a red-bellied black
snake,” Jackie replied. “And yeah, they’re really venomous. Our cat has
definitely used up several of his nine lives since he was born, he’s so lucky
he hasn’t ever been bitten.”
“That was so awesome!” Alex commented
again. And we all sat there munching away hungrily as we chatted about the
excitement we had just witnessed.
Sara remained pretty quiet until we had
finished eating and then someone suggested that Jackie should open her
It was at that moment that Sara had a sharp
change of mood. “Yes, I can’t wait to see what Jackie’s been given!” She looked
smugly around the group as we all left the dining table and headed out to the
veranda, where the pile of wrapped presents waited to be opened.
“Save mine till last,” Sara stated firmly,
as she nudged it out of Jackie’s reach.
As we sat watching, Jackie opened her gifts
and we looked on with admiration at the lovely things she had been given. There
was a gorgeous bracelet, a really cool hand bag, some cute pj’s for the summer
months, an iTunes gift card and some gift vouchers. The boys had chosen to give
her some cash so that she could choose something for herself.
Millie and I were really pleased to see how
much she loved our gift and also that the jacket fitted her so perfectly. She
was especially pleased with the J pendant necklace that we had bought for her
and she smiled at us gratefully.
“I’ve always loved your necklace, Julia and
now I have one of my own! Thank you so much girls!” and she gave us each a big
“Ok, now for Sara’s gift,” she exclaimed,
smiling towards Sara questioningly. “I wonder what could possibly be inside
this huge box.”
We sat with anticipation, each of us
wondering exactly the same thing. As I glanced at Sara, I could see that her
smile really couldn’t have become any wider as she waited expectantly for
Jackie to open her present.
“Wow!!!” Jackie sighed in absolute
astonishment as she removed the lid. Inside were several individually wrapped
presents sitting decoratively amongst some pretty lilac tissue paper that had
been scrunched up. As Jackie opened each parcel, the oohs and aahs from all of
us looking on, continued with the unwrapping of each little gift. There was a
set of lip gloss, each one a different flavor, a box of expensive chocolates, a
double pass to the cinema in town, a really pretty halter top and pair of
shorts in contrasting colors and a gorgeous necklace that certainly was
prettier than the simple J pendant that Millie and I had given her.
Just then, Jackie’s parents arrived and the
look of amazement on her mom’s face echoed our thoughts completely. “Oh, my
gosh, Jackie! You are such a lucky young lady! You’ve been given so many
beautiful gifts. And are those the things that came out of that box?”
When Jackie nodded her head in
acknowledgement, her mom continued, “Sara, you have really spoilt her. That was
very naughty of you!” she exclaimed.
“Thank you so much, Sara!” Jackie hugged
her tightly and then sat back looking at her gifts with huge delight.
“Oh, that’s ok, Jackie!” Sara exclaimed
modestly. “I’m glad that you like them!”
Shaking my head in wonder, I looked towards
Millie whose eyes were still as wide as saucers at the sight of the extremely
generous gift Sara had brought.
Then the silence that had enveloped all of
us, was abruptly broken when Jackie’s mom announced that it was time for
birthday cake. Crowding together around Jackie for photos while her dad lit the
candles, we all donned huge smiles as we called out, “Happy Birthday, Jackie!”
We followed this by singing happy birthday to her and then sat down to the most
delicious birthday cake I think I have ever tasted.
Soon after…as the sun was starting to set,
it was time for the boys to leave. All the girls were staying for a slumber
party. Jackie’s parents had set up a tent in their back yard and had even
gathered wood for a campfire. It was going to be the best night ever!
Jackie’s Dad started the fire and we all
sat around and sang songs. Then he brought out some marshmallows. We put them
on sticks and toasted them in the fire. They were so delicious and it was really
cool being able to sit there watching them gently sizzle over the flames of the
We were all too full to eat much of the
pizza they had ordered in, so we decided to play hide and seek in the dark. The
laughter coming from everyone was mixed with squeals and yelps from some of the
girls who were racing around on the grass. Then, all of a sudden, Millie said
that she thought she could hear someone crying.
Glancing in the direction of the sobbing, I
spotted Sara crouched into a ball and totally freaking out. We’d all forgotten
about the snake, but she hadn’t and she was actually shaking with genuine fear.
I felt sorry for her, so I suggested we go back to the campfire where it was
warm and not quite so dark.
“No, I want to go inside!” she cried in
response. We all looked at each other and sighed. It was clear that she was not
going to be convinced to stay outdoors and when she reached the safety of
Jackie’s bedroom, she refused to come back out again. There was no alternative
except for us all to traipse back down to the tent, bring our sleeping bags
into the house along with Sara’s and set them up on the lounge room floor.
“What are we going to do now?” asked
Millie, her voice barely masking her disappointment.
“I know what we can do!” Sara replied with
sudden enthusiasm. “How about some girly stuff? I brought my make-up kit so we
can have heaps of fun with that! There’s some really pretty blue eye shadow
that would definitely suit the color of your eyes, Millie. Let’s get it out and
have a look. You girls can use whatever you want.”
“Seriously, who brings their make-up kit to
a slumber party?” This was the thought that was going through my head. But
Sara’s excited ramblings continued.
“Then we can borrow Jackie’s hair dryer and
straightener and straighten each other’s hair!” she exclaimed with absolute
delight. “I love straightening my hair, it looks so much better when I do!”
“Could this really be happening?” I shook my
head in disbelief at the scene unfolding right in front of me. “How did we go
from camping with a campfire and running around in the dark, to putting on
make-up and doing our hair? Don’t get me wrong, I like to play around with
make-up and make my hair look good, but we can do that anytime!”
I had to give her credit though! She was so
good at manipulating situations to make herself happy and the center of
However, Jackie looked torn. It was obvious
she didn’t want to upset Sara but I could see by her false smile that she
wasn’t at all happy her slumber party had been hijacked.