"Drew are you okay?" Mad asked
"Ew!" Bernie exclaimed
I sat up and rubbed my ankle, twisted but not broken. My landing was soft but not what I'd choose! Yep I was now coated in cow poo and sat in the little stream running across the field.
"Come on Tarzan, let's get you home"
I squelched back to the car, everyone else keeping their distance!
"Well you're not getting in the car like that" Dad stated, "You'll have to put your bike kit back on"
"I've got it on underneath"
"Hello" a little voice called out, "is she alright?"
"Just wet, smelly and maybe a bit wiser," Dad replied to the woman in the VW bus parked a few yards away. "Just need to dry him off and get him home"
"You got anything to wear?" she asked
"Only a blanket" Dad admitted
"Poor luv, hang about I might have something for her" she climbed into the back of the bus and started scrabbling about.
"Dad" I hissed
"You fancy an hours drive in a blanket?"
"Here we go, it's not exactly high fashion but it's warm. Come on love you can change in here, pop that stuff off, there's a bag you can put it in"
Why me? Again!
What could I do? What would you do? My wet bum made my mind up for me.
Ten minutes later I emerged from Maureen's van, that was her name, Maureen, dry and fully clothed without a layer of cow dung. In truth the stuff wasn't too bad if a little erm, eccentric? Why she had this stuff in her van who knows? For that matter who cares? I'm warm and dry even if I do look like an Oxfam reject!
Bernie and Mad were doing their best to stifle their laughter. I gave them a look but that apparently made it worse.
"Thanks Maureen, we'll send them over after Drew's washed them," Dad told my 'saviour'.
"No rush Dave, go easy on her"
"Well thanks again. Drew?"
"Yeah thanks Maureen"
"It's alright Drew luv, glad I could help"
Maureen gunned the veedub into life and with a toot on the horn, bounced off down to the road.
"Come on you lot, lets go home" Dad sighed
"Cool outfit Drew" Jules stated apparently with some sincerity.
"Your brother had a bit of an accident and we managed to borrow these togs for him"
"They thought he was a girl huh?"
"We never mentioned it"
"Oh come on Dad!"
"Okay so maybe Maureen thinks he's a girl, but no harm done eh?"
I took the bag of wet and smelly kit through to the washer and it was soon on the way to recovery.
"...Thanks Caroline, I'll tell him when he reappears. Talk to you later"
Dad hung up
"Who was that?"
"I thought you'd got lost"
I climbed into my favourite chair and pulled my legs up.
"Drew!" Jules hissed indicated down below.
Oops, I forgot I was wearing a short skirt; I readjusted it so I was decent.
"Caroline, she says that she's got a cross bike for you if you want it. Nothing special but if you have it she wants to see you riding it."
Caroline's not much is usually a lot. Remember her cast off mountain bike I've got? The Klein?
"Yes please!" I enthused
"I guessed you would, we'll fetch it on Tuesday evening"
"Oh I nearly forgot Dad, Mum rang earlier, she'll ring again later" Jules mentioned.
"How is she?"
"Okay I think, she said there was stuff she needs to talk to you about"
"So Drew goes flying," Mad told her audience of Rhod and Ally
"It's not funny," I growled
"It is so" Bernie joined in
"I could have got hurt"
"You should have been more careful" Mad pointed out
"Whatever. Everyone round for tea?" I asked
"'Course" Ally answered
The first bell ended the conversation and another exciting week was under way. Of course, Mr Woods' spy had been out again so I got the 'aspire to this' treatment for my hill climbing prowess and of course Mum got a more than passing mention too. The day went steadily downhill from there; more rain and I burnt the lasagne we were having for tea.
"Don't forget, Miss C wants us in our uniforms tomorrow for the tryouts and don't forget to bring some stuff to change into" Mad reminded me when we dropped her off.
"You doing something at school tomorrow night Drew?"
"Oh bum, Caroline and the bike. We'll be finished for six, is that too late?"
"I'll pick you up from school and we can shoot straight off, I'll let her know we'll be a bit later than I said"
To say I wasn't greatly enthralled by the prospect of this evening's cheering tryouts would be to understate things - a lot! I remembered to get my uniform out and I stuffed the bag of Maureen's stuff that I needed to post at lunchtime into my sports bag. I pulled a change of clothes out of the wardrobe for later and was interrupted by Jules calling up the stairs
"Stop farting about Drew, we should have left ten minutes ago"
Just then my phone went
"Are you coming this morning?" Mad asked
"Just leaving now"
I picked up my bag and blazer and crashed downstairs
"You've got your uniform?" Mad still on the phone asked
"Yep, see you in a mo" I closed the call and followed my sister out.
When do things go according to plan? It started lashing down just before lunchtime so I put off the Post Office job and joined the others in the canteen instead. The girls kept rabbiting about the tryouts; I just rolled my eyes when I caught Rhod looking at me. Personally I just wanted this evening over with, then I can quit! That cheered me up, excuse the pun!
I forgot to tell you before, Miss C's stipulation that I arrive a la Gaby meant a little subterfuge and the use of the girls lavs in the craft block, well I could hardly risk appearing as Gaby from the boys facilities could I? Why the craft block? Well it usually clears of students pretty quick and it's not far from the Drama studio. I was a bit surprised therefore when mid change I heard someone come in.
"Bloody stupid idea!"
The voice seemed familiar but I couldn't put a name to it. There was the sound of clothing being removed and then some grunting.
"Soddin' bra straps, whoever invented them should be made to wear one"
I stifled a laugh. The activity continued for another couple of minutes.
"Hmmm, not bad girl, not bad."
I do know that voice! No, can't be. The door swung shut and I let the breath I'd been holding out. I quickly finished changing and after a quick check in the mirror I followed the mystery changer out into the corridor.
"There you are Gaby, you're late"
"Come on we need to do your make up and hair"
"Maa-ad" I complained as she dragged me behind a screen where the others were doing their own faces.
"Hi Gab" Ally chirped
"Hi" I sighed submitting to Mad's ministrations
"Come on team, I'm letting them in now" Miss Cowlishaw called out.
There was shuffling and a babble of excited voices as the potential recruits filed in.
"You'll do, hang on earrings"
"Do I have to?"
Mad's look said enough, I found my wallet and produced the hoops which Mad soon had secured in place.
I followed the others out, boy do I feel stupid! We started our warm ups under the gaze of the hopefuls that Miss C was currently identifying with name tags. I spotted Sasha and Tara, a few of the others I vaguely recognised but didn't know names. They were dressed in a variety of sports kit, from approximations of a cheer outfit to a Man U. strip!
"Okay girls, everyone find a seat" Miss C started
She started to go through an abridged version of what things were about and then what tonight's process would entail. I continued checking out the recruits trying to put names to faces.
"Who's that?" I nudged Bernie
"That one at the back, on her own"
"Don't recognise her"
"She looks familiar" Mad whispered
"Oh my god!" Ally gasped
"What?" Bernie hissed
"It's Rhod, I mean Mfanwy"
It was Rhod in the bogs! What is he up to? I have to say he looked pretty good, better than me. No one seemed to be taking any notice of the stranger, I guess the second years thought he, I mean she was a third and visa versa. In fact if I didn't know I'd think she was cute.
"Don't say anything" hissed Mad
"Okay everyone, our four seniors will show you what to do then we'll see what you lot can do" Miss C finished
"That's us," Bernie stated
Great! The music started and the four of us took position.
Mad counted us in and we went through the short routine for the first time.
"Amanda, Mfanwy and Gillian" Coach called out and Ms Morgan nervously joined the line up. We were taking it in turns to lead the groups and it was Bernie's turn.
"What class is Mfanwy in girls?" Miss C whispered
"Three B I think" Ally whispered back and Coach just nodded scribbling something on her pad.
One thing you couldn't deny, all the candidates were enthusiastic, some had two left feet, no co ordination and terrible timing, but enthusiasm wasn't lacking! Finally it was over and Rhod slipped away before we could corner him / her.
"Meet me in my room at lunchtime tomorrow please and we'll go through and select the rest of the squad"
"See you tomorrow girls"
"Night Miss" we chorused
"I need to change, Dad's picking me up at six," I told the others turning towards the lavs.
"We'll wait for you" Ally offered.
I tried the door, it wouldn't budge.
"Are you sure?"
"Well you try it" Bernie gave the door a shove, it was locked alright.
"You'll have to change out here," Mad told me
"I can't do that!"
"There's only us here, no ones gonna see and we're not going to look" Ally advised
"Okay" I reluctantly agreed opening my bag. "Shit, shit, shit!"
"What now?" Mad sighed
"I left my jeans and stuff at home"
"So put your uniform back on," Bernie suggested
"Yeah, right" I agreed. "Bum!"
"Drew, come on, stop arsing around"
"It's not here"
"What do you mean?"
I slapped my forehead
"I must have left it in the cubicle earlier, I got distracted when Rhod came in to change"
"You really do make blondes look bad Drew" Ally mentioned
"Well haven't you got anything else in your bag?" Mad asked
I turned my bag out. Nothing. Nada.
"What's in the package?" Bernie asked
"Maureen's stuff, I was gonna post it at lunch time. I'll have to ring Dad I s'pose and tell him not to bother" I slumped
"Hmmm" Mad looked thoughtful. "You don't want to go out in your cheerleading kit right?"
"And you really want to go pick up this bike?"
"Uh huh" I agreed
"Well it's obvious"
"You'll have to wear Maureen's stuff"
"Why not? It was okay on Sunday"
"There wasn't much choice on Sunday" I pointed out
"There's no choice now either" Bernie stated
I thought through what Mad said, I could cancel but I really wanted to see Caroline and it really would be off to not go and pick it up after it was all arranged. On the other hand the only clothes I've got are the cheerleading togs I'm wearing or the stuff I borrowed from Maureen.
"I can't go in that stuff"
"Why not, just pretend to be Gaby, say Drew had to stay at school or something" Ally suggested. "And I want to see what you look like"
"Come on Drew, hurry up or Pongo'll lock us in" Mad added
"Drew?" Dad asked pushing the car door open.
"It's a long story" I sighed as I slung my bag in the back.
"I hope it's a good one" pater stated as we headed up the A60.
"Sorry we're late Caroline, the traffic was heavy on the M1." Dad apologised
"That's alright Dave, come in. No Drew?"
"There was something on at school that he forgot to tell me about, this is er Gaby, his erm cousin"
"Hi Miss Alexander"
"Oh call me Caroline, you interested in bikes Gaby?"
She led us through to the sitting room.
"Please, I've come virtually straight from work"
"I'll fix you a sandwich," she offered
"You don't have to"
"No trouble. Cheese and something?"
"You want to give me a hand Gaby?" she instructed
"Er sure" I followed her out to the kitchen
"When your mother told me I thought she was having me on, nice outfit by the way"
"Come on Drew, I recognise that look. You had it as a bairn and you still do"
"Stop it! I'm not going to spread it around, I'm surprised but your secret is safe with me."
I slumped onto a kitchen stool.
"Come on kiddo, tell your Auntie Caro all about it while you do the coffee" she gave my shoulders a squeeze.
"Here we go Dave"
"Cheers Caro" he put down the magazine he'd been reading to take the plate of food off Caroline
"Gaby's just been telling me about cheerleading" she hinted
"She has?" Dad looked a bit confused
"It's all right Dave, Jen told me back after the Tour not that I believed her. I think your youngest daughter is just fine" she grinned
I sighed and nodded
"Come on kiddo, eat up and we'll sort that bike out for you" Caroline urged
An hour or so later Dad was loading my 'new' cross bike into the boot while I waited with Caroline.
"Remember what I said Gaby, I mean it"
"Thanks Caroline and thanks again for the stuff"
"No problem, I'd rather see it used than collecting dust in my garage"
I was coming away with not only a nice bike but a spare pair of wheels, some tyres, a pair of cross shoes and a bag of other stuff, shorts and jerseys, that Mad could have a root through. We'd already put a bag of stuff for Jules inside so the car was pretty full.
"Thanks again Caroline and sorry about this one" Dad gave Caro a hug
"I told you, it's no problem, I'll see you in a couple of weeks at Leeds. And you," she ruffled my hair, "take care eh"
I leant my head on the door pillar as we made our way back out to the motorway. What a day. Bugger, what am I gonna do about school uniform tomorrow? I bet Pongo's put it in lost property, more hassle. Caroline was pretty cool though, there's no flies on her! I grinned to myself. The bikes ace, how many thirteen year olds get given an Orange cross bike, even if it is second hand. I'll have to ring Josh tomorrow and tell him, maybe he's doing some 'cross and we can meet up? The streetlights strobed past and I dropped off to dreams of Drew Bond, Cyclo-cross champeen.
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