and The Pirates of the Mystic Caravan.
Chapter 8 - Anyone for tennis?
Game, Set and Scratch!
'We are so pleased to have you back at school!' exclaimed Narenda Upaday, clapping her hands together as Priscilla arrived at Hopewell's iron gates and entered.
It was Thursday morning, half an hour before Assembly in the Quad and she had made an effort to get in early.
'Gee thanks Narenda. I didn't expect a welcome. I've only been sick a few days.'
'But you were extremely ill. Food poisoning is dreadful. I know. I had it when I was eleven. Are you sure that's what it was though?' said Belinda Moss, putting her arm around Priscilla's shoulders.
Priscilla couldn't help smiling at Belinda's tiny speech impediment that made her w's sound like v's, and she gave her a hug. 'That's what the doc said. I mean Doctor Snow actually. He's just such a nice man. Granny Black has been going to him and he looked in on Dad a lot when he was laid up with his leg last year. Anyway, I feel pretty good now.'
'So you should, and you did have Harry to look after you.' said Monique with a gleam in her eyes, 'It must have been very pleasant just lying in bed or strolling around the garden.'
'You should know, you helped me to the toilet and watched me up-chuck a few times,' Priscilla returned, pinching Monique's fingers in hers.
'Good morning Miss Black. Nice to have you back from the dead. I'll be waiting in my music lair for you,' called Auguste Munro, breezing past.
'I've got Arts with Miss Smith first, I mean Missus Munro, I mean your wife...'
'Know what ya mean Miss Black. Sounds kinda cool to me too. Stay tuned, second period we're doin' J.S. Bach. Pappa Brahms, the Beatles and the Bee Gees, amongst other B's. Question girls?' he flung back, stopping in his tracks without turning around. 'Now that there are only two left of the Beatles and two of the Bee Gees, if they got together as a group what would they be called?'
'The Beagles?' suggested Ray Sharp, coming in late on the conversation.
'Right on, my main man! That or The Bea-Bees or maybe the Heebie-jeebies!' shouted Munro, rapping his knuckles on Reception's counter as he went his way.
'He's still up in the clouds I reckon. Being married must be a buzz, even if you're getting a bit old to do...' Ray stopped short of finishing the sentence, his face colouring slightly.
'To do what, exactly?' said Monique, mischievously flashing her big grin at Priscilla. Belinda and Narenda exchanged glances and discretely exited, giggling.
'Aw, you know,' Ray replied sheepishly before changing the subject. 'Do you think you'll be up to tennis practise tomorrow Priscilla?'
'Umm... Well I'm not too sure...'
'Oh dear, I seem to have left some of my Art notes in my room, soon to be our room again Cilla, now that Surban has left you on your own. See you both at assembly,' said Monique, diplomatically taking off after the other two and flashing a wicked grin over her shoulder.
'If you change your grip and hold the racket here, no, don't force your hand around, just shift your fingers a bit, like that, yeah, relax, just let your wrist do the work, here I'll hold your arm, now back and into fore-hand, that's it, relax...'
He wants me to relax while he's standing behind me breathing down my neck and holding my shoulder and my wrist! thought Priscilla, feeling slightly warmer than the cool afternoon of late autumn.
'Aw come on you two! Are we playing doubles or snuggles!' shouted Jimmy Crandle from the other side of the net while Susan Berri impatiently bounced a ball at the base line.
'Alright, alright!' Ray called, releasing Priscilla. 'Get ready to lose this time!'
Crandle and Berri of 2A didn't lose. Winning four out of five games.
'Got to admit you're both getting better,' said Jimmy, as the group headed off the court. 'But 2E is our real monster. They've got John Mossop and Nadia what's-her-name? Nearly beat us in practise yesterday, two three.'
'Nadia Celessi,' said Susan as they reached the entrance to the change rooms. 'They're playing a practise this arvo too against 2G or 2... '
'2H Right now!' snapped Roseanne Sole, emerging from the girls room.
'Forget something Boof-head?' said Priscilla, bristling immediately. 'You playing in your school uniform are you?'
'What would you know skank! Oh, excuse Annie, you got dream-boy with you. 'Spose it was love-all on the court. Pickin' up any hints for off court are ya?'
'Shut your mouth pig, before you're biting on a tennis ball!' volleyed Priscilla, immediately seeing red.
'Keep your cool, Cilla,' said Ray as he and Jimmy stepped between them.
'Aw, you two tough guys gonna spoil Annie's fun with little miss bitch-face here. Too bad, but one day she won't be so lucky. Then she'll look pretty funny with a racket handle stuck up her...'
'Roseanne!' exclaimed Susan indignantly. 'If you're going onto the court, please do so and get out of our way. We want to shower and change.'
'Yeah, course ya do. Gets pretty steamy out there with all that one on one coaching.' Roseanne's face twisted into a malicious grin.
Priscilla strained to get her arm between the boys but Ray caught her desperately-grasping hand and managed to muffle her protests with his tennis bag.
Ignoring her frustrated mouthings, Roseanne went on, 'Anyways Annie's got coachin' of her own with Jen and Tony. Ay Jen! Carmmon!' she bellowed over her shoulder.
The door of the girls change room opened and Jenny Riley emerged, touching up her hair as she flounced out.
Roseanne, seemingly satisfied, called over Susan's shoulder, 'You set Tone!'
Tony Cross, a newcomer to 2H that year, bounced out of the boys room, followed by John Mossop from 2E
'Hi Nadia,' said Susan brightly as she dragged Priscilla past Nadia Celessi, Jenny Riley and Roseanne and into the change rooms.
'She's gonna get... I'm gonna... that stupid... Ohhh that... that big... pisser!' Priscilla used the word like an exhaust valve because she was so angry and nothing worse sprang to mind. 'Who does she think she is? She's gonna coach? She couldn't coach a... a... Ohh! She makes me want to ram her head down a toilet and slam the seat on it!'
Priscilla was still spluttering and spitting venom as Susan stripped and bundled her into the showers. 'Start warm and then turn it to cold. Very cold. You need it!'
'They beat Nadia and Johnny Mossop from 2E in practise, six games to four, believe it or not!' said Cathy Crapper of 2A taking a sip of her Queasies Cafe Special Strawberry and Chocolate Mint Smoothie.
'What? With Roseanne showing them how? What would that big lump know about tennis?' asked Olive Atandi.'
'She sucked up to Mister Garland and got some training from him last term. He plays after school with Mister Dance, but let's not go there,' smirked Sylvia Knight from 2B.
'No, let's not,' said Susan Berri. 'Anyway, I don't believe it about Mister Garland. He's too dreamy to be... well, you know.'
'Gay?' exclaimed Sylvia. 'Even dreamy ones are, dummy! And they both flat together, so what do you think?' She made a face, raising her hands on either side of it.
'So anyway, R. Sole thinks she's ready to start coaching does she?' wondered Cathy, offhandedly. 'Seems like she picked two pretty good players.'
'As long as Jen has a mirror on court and a hair brush. She's more worried about how she looks playing,' offered Olive. 'And yet she's still cool enough to win, doesn't that give you the...'
'And what about this new boy Tony Cross?' cut in Sylvia. 'He's sorta cute. Comes from Carlton. He moves really well on court.'
'Apart from where, in your dreams, he moves, it seems he and Jenny are good enough to go up against you and Jimmy,' said Cathy, turning to Susan.
'That's next Friday. Jimmy and me are ready. Besides, there are lots of try-outs before we get to the real comp.'
'Just as long as Roseanne plays it straight. She's found ways to cheat before,' cautioned Sylvia. 'Don't get sucked in...'
'To what exactly?' said Priscilla, sliding into a vacant seat and dragging another up for Monique.
'Roseanne. She's gonna get you one way or another too.'
'I know. it's just that each time is a confrontation with her and I can't help myself.'
'She's twice your size, you wouldn't stand a chance,' said Cathy.
'You just have to learn self control,' said Monique, patting Priscilla's hand. 'You can't always avoid her but you can ignore her.'
'That's like trying to ignore a boil on your bum,' said Priscilla bitterly.
Looking up she saw that the others were all grinning at her.
'Well it is!' she said, bursting into laughter.
Chapter 9 next