Forbidden fruits

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“Promise not to tell?” Jocelyn leant towards her friends, a smile escaping from beneath the serious expression she was struggling to maintain.

Sally and Anne-Marie leant forward, intrigued and impatient.

“Yes, how many times?!”

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!”

The girls squealed.

“One more time, just for good measure” Jocelyn teased.

“Yes!” both girls shouted, their voices overrun with that energetic enthusiasm and overexcitement characteristic of most teenage girls.

Jocelyn looked around one last time.

Surrounding them on the beach were the other camp-goers, some playing volley ball, some sat in groups not unlike them and others frolicking about in the sea – the cool water offering a pleasant relief from the unrelenting sun that beat down at it’s hottest between eleven and four thirty. At the edge of the beach, where the sand met the path that led to the accomodation huts, the camp mentors sat huddled together, reclining and chatting, many shading their eyes from the sun with their arms or hands. Although they were a fair distance away, Jocelyn recognised that shock of gold-blonde hair a mile off. Daniel – a safe distance away. Despite herself, she couldn’t pull her eyes away from him, and, like many people who sense they are being looked upon, he began to turn around. He looked toward the beach on which they sat and surveyed his surroundings slowly, subtly. Although he did not acknowledge her formally, there was a slight pause in his motion visible only to Jocelyn, that confirmed to her that she had not gone unnoticed. She spun back around, pleased.

“Come on then” Anne-Marie dug her hand into the sand and flicked it towards Jocelyn’s leg. Sally followed suite, hurling an even bigger handful at Jocelyn’s torso.

“Yeah, come on then. It will be time to shower and clean up for evening meal soon.”

Jocelyn turned her attention back to her friends. Their expectant faces taking her off-guard and causing a wave of shyness to overcome her, all of a sudden scared to share her secret for fear of being judged. What if they didn’t keep it a secret, or worse, told on her? For a minute, she toyed with the idea of making up a different story altogether – one that was much less climactic than the one that sat caught in her throat – but one that would carry much less risk. 

Although she had only met Anne-Marie and Sally 12 days ago when they had been put in the same bunk along with five other girls, they had spent a lot of time together – so far they had been inseparable. They’d shared many other secrets between them already, none of which had left the tight-knit confines of their friendship. Why should this secret be any different? She leant closer to her friends and hushed her voice to just above a whisper.

“I’ve met someone”

Silence followed, a brief moment that lasted one second at most, but was enough to cause Jocelyn to immediately question her decision. There was no going back now.

“Oh my god. Really?! Here, at camp?” Anne-Marie’s face lit up, her eyes wide in awe and glinting with intrigue.

“No. Freakin. Way. Who? When? You’ve been with us like, every minute of everyday I swear. You sneaky minx!” Sally began to giggle and huddled even closer – if it were possible – to her friend and looked her dead in the eyes, both hands tucked under her chin. Annie-Marie mirrored her. Jocelyn shuffled back a little.

“Tell us everything.”

“Yep. From the beginning of course.”

“Um. I don’t really know what to say really. Um. Well for starters, he is beautiful.   Not just a little bit handsome but like absolutely crazy attractive, everything I’ve ever wanted in a boy, man, and more. He is older. I can’t believe he is even interested in me at all. But he is. He really is. I know it. He’s special”

“Okay. Eeek. Go on. How did you meet? Who is he?”

Jocelyn begun to relax a little more. Talking about it made it even more exciting, even more real. She was getting into the swing of this now. She sat back and took a deep breath.

“Well, I met him whilst I went to the wind-surfing session. You know, that one that you both were too scared to try.” She threw a smug smile at the girls and raised her eyebrows.

“I wasn’t too scared, I just didn’t want to mess my hair up.” Anne-Marie stroked her hair in mock affection. Sally stayed silent but the smile on her face told Jocelyn the joke had been taken well, regardless of it’s truth.

The girls laughed.

“Anyway, he was there. And he helped me get on the board and showed me how to do it properly and there was just this connection between us. Sounds so cheesy but it’s true. I thought it was just me at first, a silly little schoolgirl crush. There was no way someone like him would want me ya know. But then you know that night at the campfire when I went to pick up some extra marshmellows from the kitchen block, he was in there.” Jocelyn’s eyes glazed over a little. The sun reflected in the pools of her ocean-blue eyes. 

“I wondered where you had gone. It all makes sense now! Lost. As if. It sounds like a bad rom-com” Anne-Marie’s eyes were even wider now. 

“And then what happened…”

Jocelyn felt her cheeks flush hot and pink. She bit her lip and looked down at the floor.

“You kissed him didn’t you. Didn’t you!”

“You totally kissed him”

Jocelyn covered her face with her hands and began to roll on the floor in fits of giggles. The others girls collapsed in a heap on top of her, a giggling pile of curls and pink skin.

“Does that answer your question?”

“Yep”

“Yes it does indeed. But I have another one. The biggest question perhaps. Who is it?”

Jocelyn spun her head around and glimpsed towards where the group of mentors had been sat. They had dispersed, each having gone their own separate ways – leaving only the imprint of there bare legs and elbows in the sand. 

“I, I don’t know whether I can tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Yeah, why not. You have to.”

“I told him I wouldn’t tell anyone.”

“We won’t tell anyone.”

“You know you can trust us. Anyway, why does it need to be so secretive. What is he trying to hide?” Anne-Marie’s forehead crumpled a little.

“Nothing.”

Jocelyn looked at her feet. She knew she could trust the girls. But she had promised Daniel. Granted, she didn’t want to lose him, that is the last thing she wanted. But he didn’t need to find out – he would never know. It would be another secret, yes, but Jocelyn was getting pretty good at secrets by now. She was too far into the confession to turn back. She was silent for a minute. 

“You can’t tell anyone. Pinky promise?” she raised her pinky fingers and held it up to the girls. They linked them together and spoke in unison.

“Pinky promise.”

Commentary:

With this passage, I wanted to introduce some dialogue as it is something that has been void in most of the earlier narratives I have written. I’d like to work on and improve my dialogue, and there is no better way to do this than to actively practice it.  

In terms of the story I saw in the image – I liked the idea of the girls being a close knit group of friends, and the conflict that I could bring in by means of a secret. Not a trivial secret, but a secret that, if found in the wrong hands, could have  dramatic consequences. Jocelyn being in a relationship with a much older camp mentor seemed to do the trick nicely!

In terms of challenges, I’d say navigating my way through the dialogue in which multiple people were talking (a group chat rather than a one-to-one) was something I’ve not had to tackle before. I was keen to bear in mind not to overuse the phrase ‘x said’ too much, but obviously I wanted it unambiguously clear who was speaking.

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