As the 6 girls and Daniel burst through the patio doors and into the garden, Lisa sat up on her lounger.
“Hey kids, the hot tub is all ready for you. Don’t forget to take any jewellery off please, I don’t want it getting a puncture!” She glanced over at them all as she spoke, doing a slight double-take as she saw that Katie was wearing what appeared to be one of Emily’s very old swimming costumes, one designed for a girl of no more than 7 or 8, and quite a contrast to the more mature outfits the others had one.
Raising an eyebrow slightly in the direction of her daughter, Em quickly jumped in to explain. “ Mum, Katie didn’t have any swimming stuff with her, because we only thought about getting the tub out earlier with the weather being so nice. This was the only cossie I had that would fit her thought.”
Giving the smaller girl a reassuring look, Lisa did her best to put her mind at ease. “Don’t worry Katie, there’s only us here, and nobody will be able to see what you’re wearing once you’re under the water anyway. My mum always used to make me swim in just my knickers, that was so embarrassing, especially when I was your age or older! Can you imagine…”
The kids all giggled at this thought, and Katie seemed much less self-conscious about how she was dressed after realising it could have been so much worse if Em hadn’t had the old costume to fit her. Even Danielle managed to smile, although in truth her heart still wasn’t in it, with the movie they’d just watched still playing on her mind and causing all kinds of irrational fears to surface.
“Last one in stinks!” Daniel shouted, laughter in his voice, as he made a sprint for the hot tup and dived in as if it were a swimming pool, causing a tidal wave of water to splash backwards, soaking Lisa from head to toe where she sat.
“Oi, Mister, watch what you’re doing!” She shouted in shock, but couldn’t help laughing herself as the girls followed his lead, half emptying the tub in the process, all laughing riotously. Well, all except Danielle, she noticed. Wondering what was troubling her as she watched them all thrashing about in the water – it wasn’t Danielle’s voice that she could hear up on the landing earlier, so it must be something else. That’s another mystery to keep an eye on, she thought to herself, as she shook the errant drops of water from her mystery novel and laid back down to catch the last few minutes of evening sunshine, before thinking about taking a start on the weeding that she was so carefully avoiding.
One of the girls had set music playing from their phone before jumping in, so soon the air was filled by the sound of the latest pop hits, interspersed by some pretty horrific karaoke sound effects, much to everybody’s amusement. Realising that her peaceful break was well and truly over, Lisa climbed back up to her feet, and set too with the trowel, soon filling a bucket with unwanted greenery, smiling warmly as she did so at the sound of 7 very happy children, all playing behind her without a care in the world, the picture of innocence.
By the time she’d completed her chore, the clothes Daniel had drenched had dried out almost completely in the warm summer air, so Lisa decided that her earlier plan to get changed was no longer necessary, instead venturing into the kitchen to empty out the washing machine which had completed it’s cycle, and of course to refill her now empty wine glass. She was glad that Emily was older now, as that meant her friends were too. When they’d been little, she’d never been able to enjoy a drink when her daughter hosted sleepovers even though that’s when any parent most needs one, as he always needed to be keeping a close eye on things, whereas now she could relax and indulge a little without worrying too much.
As she transferred the laundry to the tumble drier, she noticed again the grey leggings and undies which she’d found earlier, and her mind wandered to the conversation she’d overheard on the landing. Presumably the owner of the leggings was the same person that was dancing around her landing and worrying about leaving a puddle, either that or two of these almost-teenagers had gotten themselves into the same desperate situation. She’d keep an eye on things, but maybe she’d have to have a quiet word with them all about going when they need to, in order to hopefully prevent any further embarrassment.
Having emptied the drier and re-filled it with the damp clothes, Lisa quickly folded the contents of the previous load, and carried them up the stairs to distribute between the bedrooms ready to be put away. As she was walking down the landing with her arms full, she was almost knocked off balance by a blur that ran past her and dashed into the bathroom, slamming the door closed. Chucking a little to herself, although also wondering whether it could have been the same girl – with worries about potential water infections and the like surfacing in her mind – she listened out for the flushing of the toilet, and then made a point of popping her head back out of the bedroom door, to see Daniel shivering along in his wet shorts. Relieved, she called out to him. “Hiya mate, having fun?”
With chattering teeth, Dan nodded “Yes, thanks auntie Lisa. I’m glad I came.”
“Well, good for you! I’m glad you came too, and I know Emily is. And Lucy.” She added the last part with a conspiratorial wink, causing Daniel to blush profusely as he tried to hide his own wide smile. “Remember, you know where I am if you need me…not that you will, I’m sure. Go on, get back in that warm water before you freeze to death, but try to leave some water in the tub this time if you can!”
Laughing loudly, Daniel took the stairs two at a time as he ran back to join the girls. He’d meant what he said, he really was glad that he’d come, and not just because of Lucy, although she definitely made things more fun. Now he just wished he’d been brave enough to do this years ago2
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