Ellie gratefully took the bag of clothes into the bathroom, and entering the same stall she’d chosen last time, she locked the door behind her. Taking a seat, she pulled out the bundle and examined the clothes. The leggings were plain black as she’d thought, and the label said they were an age 11-12. Holding them up, she could see that they found fit just fine. In truth, she was probably a little on the small side for her age, and she’d not really started to develop things like hips properly yet, much to her embarrassment when changing next to some of her friends at school who could easily pass for a couple of years older.
As she’d unfurled the leggings, a pair of polkadot underpants had fallen out onto the floor. Feeling a bit odd about examining another girls undies too closely, especially one she’d never even met, Ellie just gave the label a quick glance, noticing that these too were a smaller size. For a moment, Mrs Daniels words about understanding if she didn’t want to wear them flashed into her mind, but then she quickly dismissed that thought. They were clean, perhaps even brand new, and had to be an awful lot better than wearing her wee soaked ones!
Peeling her saturated skinny jeans and purple pants off, she took the opportunity to quickly wipe herself over with some tissue, wishing that she could take a shower, before stepping into the borrowed underwear and pulling up Lucy’s black leggings. As she’d suspected, both fit her absolutely fine and when paired with her Dr Marten boots and checked shirt they actually didn’t look out of place at all, creating what she thought was quite a decent look. An awful lot better than that damned nightie would have been, she thought, laughing to herself.
Throwing her own jeans and pants into the plastic bag, Ellie made to unlock the door and leave the stall, and then she felt her phone vibrate again. Taking advantage of her few minutes peace and privacy, she sat back down to read the message.
It was from Lucy – ‘Hey, sorry I don’t think I know you? Not sure if you’e got the wrong person maybe? ’
Realising the absurdity of the situation, as she glanced down at her phone and caught sight of Lucy’s leggings, which she was wearing whilst sitting reading the message, Ellie couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
‘Hi Lucy! No, you don’t know me. But after today I feel as if I know you…really well actually! The strangest things have happened, you really wouldn’t believe. x’
Ellie could see that her reply had been seen, and the other girl was messaging her back already. She waited in anticipation, wondering what Lucy would say, and also a bit concerned that without some context her last message had probably sounded really creepy and strange.
‘Erm, okay? This is all rather odd. If I don’t know you, but you know me, who on earth are you? And what wouldn’t I believe? Bit freaky this…’
’Sorry, didn’t mean to freak you out! I’ll try to explain, but bare with me, it’s all a bit complex. And a bit embarrassing. And very awkward.;
‘So, I’m Ellie, and I go to your new school. At DinoLand today with my Dad and little brothers. On a ride earlier, I ended up sharing with 2 young boys – turns out one of them was your brother Jack. Ride broke down, we got stuck for ever. I had a bit of a problem. Jack told me about you…now, don’t go mad at him, but he ended up telling me about what happened to you at school last week. Don’t worry, he only told me to make me feel better because the same thing happened to me on the ride. Anyway, I realised I’d seen the photos your so called mates had shared online. I’m so sorry, that was so cruel of them. Anyway, that’s the first part of the story. Sorry it’s so long, but there’s more, one sec.’
‘What? Jack actually told you that? I’m going to kill him! But hope you are ok? I know how rough it can be. OMG I can’t believe he told you…can’t believe I’m chatting you you about it either. Please don’t be winding me up, please x’
‘No, I’m serious, don’t worry. Jack was amazing, him and Tom really helped me. But none of this is even the strangest bit. Turns out your Mum is my brothers teacher, and was my old teacher in primary. Dad tried to get me some clothes after…well, y’know. But he turned up with this AWFUL nightie thing and expected me to wear it. Like, no way, not happening! But them your Mum came to the rescue, and, well, oh this is awkward and strange, but I’m sitting messaging you wearing your leggings. And we’ve never even met! How bizarre is this?? So, yeah, I really just wanted to say thanks, without them I’d have been screwed. x’
‘Woah, woah! What? Blimey. This is just…bonkers! And you’re sure this isn’t just a prank or something?’
‘Promise Lucy, not joking at all. I’m sat in the loo at DinoLand having just got changed into your clothes. Your Mum, my Dad and the kids are all outside. I was gunna message you anyway to say hi, because I felt bad knowing what had happened with the photos, that’s why I added ya as a friend. But then this all happened, and, well, yeah.’
‘It’s crazy! But, well, thanks for thinking of me and everything. It was pretty horrible, but sounds like you know that after…well, after today. Glad Jack and Tom helped and my clothes came in handy! Look, I gotta go, but I’ll message you again later, k?’
‘No worries, and thanks again, without even meeting me you’ve saved me today.’
Ellie was made up that Lucy had messaged her, and looked forward to chatting more later with her. Her mood having definitely recovered, and with a wide smile on her face, she sauntered out of the toilet cubicle and made her way back out into the sunshine, finding that her Dad had returned from the shop whilst she was gone, and everybody was sat together on a picnic bench almost opposite where she stood.
“Ellie, over here love.” Mrs Daniels had spotted her emerging, and beckoned her over to join them all.
As Daniel and Emily found to unfold the large, rubber mass that would inflate into the hot tub, the other girls sat on the lawn watching, playing with their phones and generally just chilling out in the sunshine. Em knew what she was doing, and Dan brought the strength, so they’d only get in the way…well, that was their excuse anyway.
Lucy had sent a quick message over to the girl who’d added her as a friend, Ellie, not really expecting a reply and feeling certain that it was just going to be a wind up, no doubt an older girl from the high school wanting to make comments about her accident. So she’d been surprised to receive a response almost immediately, and soon found herself involved in quite an in-depth conversation, back and forward for a good 10 minute. What she was reading absolutely astounded her, and to begin with she was even more convinced that it was a practical joke of some kind. But eventually she realised it was genuine, and her heart warmed to this older girl who it sounded like was having an incredibly eventful, surreal day. And, if she’d interpreted the cryptic parts of the messages right, the very last thing she had to worry about was her tasing her about what had happened at school, as she was almost sure that Ellie had just admitted to the very same thing happening to her, but at the theme park.
It was all very odd, she didn’t quite know what to make of it, and was looking forward to learning more.
“Oi, you lot, come and give us a hand will you? Grab a side each and pull it out, we can’t start blowing it up until it’s all laid out.” Emily had noticed her friends were all sat doing nothing, and thought it was only fair that they helped out too.
Hurriedly messaging Ellie to let her know that she had to go, Lucy threw her phone back onto the grass and jumped up to help, keen to get the hot tub up and running so they could all have fun in it together later.
Once they had it laid out in the right shape, Em tooth plug and ran towards an outdoor socket which was conveniently located nearby, plugging it in and flipping the switch which caused the large pump to whir into life and the shape of the hot tub to rise from the ground, ready to be filled with water.
“Ok, so now we need the hose. It’s on that reel there, attached to the wall near the kitchen. Dan, if you grab the nozzle and run to the far end of the garden, we will unravel it all from this end.”
Dan nodded that he understood, and grabbing the end of the hose he set off towards the shed in the far corner, whilst the 6 girls all fed more pipe towards him. Working together, this task which would usually take Emily half an hour or more on her own was accomplished in less than 10 minutes.
“Ok Dan, bring the end back over to the hot tub and we can start to fill it up. We’ll have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t flood, but it’ll take a couple of hours at least.”
Walking back towards the hot tub where the girls were standing, Dan was hit by a sudden bust of mischievous inspiration, and he quickly undid the valve at the end of the hose, causing a jet of ice cold water to burst out, soaking the girls from head to toe.
“DANIEL!” Came 6 loud squeals, interspersed with giggles and laughter. He’d got them good and proper, and they were drenched, but in the hot sunshine it did feel good, and they weren’t mad. In fact, they all charged forward towards him wrestling him to the ground and turning the hose onto him, exacting their revenge.
“WATERFIGHT” this time the yell came from all 7 of them, and they spent a joyous 20 minutes chasing each other around the garden with the hose pipe and buckets of water, playing innocently like none of them had done for years, and loving every second of it. There wasn’t a dry patch on any one of them, nor anywhere in the garden…except perhaps for inside the hot tub, which they were supposed to be filling, the had stayed miraculously dry!
“Hey, hey, Kids! Blimey, it’s a good job there’s not a drought at the moment, isn’t it.” Lisa had been watching them from an upstairs window, taking great pleasure in the fun they were having and loving that they were able to play so freely, without a care in the world. They were getting older, and she knew there wouldn’t be many more occasions like this, so she had left them to make the most of it. “Come on, you’re all absolutely soaked, and that water must be freezing. How about you get that hose into the hot tub and then come and dry yourselves off and change into some warm, dry clothes?”
Having worn themselves out, they all readily agreed and as Dan took charge of fitting the pipe into the hot tub, they all trudged shivering towards the open kitchen door, agreeing through chattering teeth that it was the most fun they’d had in a very long time. It had also broken the ice between Daniel and the rest of the girls, and if anything it had helped both Lucy and Dan to like each other even more.
“Ok, girls, up to Emily’s room and get yourselves sorted. There are a stack of clean, dry towels on the end of the bed. And Daniel, you can use my bedroom if you like? There’s a towel waiting in there for you too.”
Nodding, shivering and dripping, they made their way through the house and up the stairs, laughing and chatting easily as they went. As an afterthought, Lisa called after them. “Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows anybody?”
Audio Version of Chapter