put the hard word on him to bring the cars down and have them washed for a good cause. Fly stood there in the middle of it. She didnât know what to do with all this kindness. At the end of the day, they were all wet and supremely smelly, but theyâd made enough to cover the repairs to Georgeâs machine. Annaâs mobile bill still needed to be covered, but they reckoned they could knock that off the following weekend. Fly sat there on a milk crate, drinking one of Georgeâs free bottles of water, Jillyâs words about family and relying on each other ringing in her ears. She was even beginning to think privacy was seriously overrated.
Chapter 12 The days were starting to shrink. They mightâve just felt shorter because life at the academy meant there was some kind of activity jammed into every single spare second of the day â training before school, training after school, surfing theory, housework, homework, and maybe the odd hour of sleep squeezed in there as well. But the days themselves were getting shorter too. The earth was doing that thing it did, lounging back on its axis, deciding by degrees that it was someone elseâs turn for the summer sun. Further around the planet there were other kids dragging their swimmers from the back of the drawer. At Solar Blue, they were all starting to keep their sun shirts on for warmth instead of protection. Sheâd heard people talking about autumn in a sad way, like it was the end of something, but Fly loved it. The crispness of the morning and the chill creeping around the back edges of the afternoon always made her appreciate that warm patch sandwiched in the middle even more. Maybe she was feeling so full of the joys of autumn because she was finding her groove. As the weeks rompedby Fly got to see she wasnât the only one with problems. Heath struggled at school â it was like his brain was hardwired to digital and he just couldnât make sense of the whole âpen and paperâ thing. Anna couldnât seem to crack the surfing code yet. Perri got in the middle of an awful catfight between two groups of girls at school. Fly didnât get girls sometimes. She didnât understand the claws that always seemed so ready to spring out and scratch you. It made her like Bec, Anna and Perri even more. Even though they were in serious competition with each other, there was rarely a scratch between them. And then there was the fact that autumn also meant her birthday was around the corner. Anna had asked what she wanted to do. It was the first birthday in the boarding house, they should do something . Fly didnât care as long as it didnât involve ice-skating or going to a G-rated film. Even though Mr Exeter was a bit of a noodle, heâd been right about one thing. Fly was the youngest in her year, and sheâd always been the youngest in her year. Back home, when all her friends were celebrating their sixteenth birthdays doing something that felt a bit grown-up, Fly had only been up to fifteen. And her fifteenth had been a complete embarrassment. Flyâs parents took all her friends to a â you guessed it â G-rated film and, at the end, theyâd presented her with a pair of satin shortie pyjamas with the cartoon characters from the movie all over them. It wasnât their fault. They meant well. Fly heard no talk of a birthday plan as the countdown to the day wound on. She didnât really mind if nothing happened. She knew how busy everyone was. She crawled into bed on the eve of her fifteenth birthday just happy to be where she was. There was nothing more she couldimagine wanting â which was why the dream she cooked up that night freaked her out so much. Somewhere around four am the night-time cinema cranked up in Flyâs head. Dramatic strings swelled and there was a swish of scarlet fabric. Then Fly saw herself, standing on the promenade of the beach, at the top of a flight of