So, a new chapter of my story begins. It really is properly on topic in this chapter and ever increasingly so towards the end. For those who don’t want to read the lengthy (and hardly topical) first chapter, inside the spoiler thingy is a synopsis of the story thus far and a brief hint at what’s about to happen beneath this. It would be nice if lots of you read the story and so if you’d only like to read relevant parts I’m cool with that.
A young girl, Poppy Gerrard, has left England to go on her first skiing holiday to France. She is directly accompanied by her parents and younger brother, Thomas. They are sharing a chalet with Mr and Mrs Pugh and their three sons, Dominic, William and the handsome Jack. Poppy has been established to be a bed wetter and for the purposes of avoiding the ruining of the chalet’s sheets (and a great deal of shame), she will be wearing Goodnites at night for the holiday.
The hint: The Gerrard children embark on their first skiing lesson after a brief night’s sleep. Unfortunately, mountain toilet provisions simply aren’t what one is used to in the suburbs of London…
[b]I hope you all read it, enjoy it, and tell me your opinion in any way shape or form (I like comments….)
This story is mine. Please don’t steal it.[/b]
Poppy and Thomas awoke early on their first morning of skiing. Their excitement was compounded by the agonising wait for the sun to rise, though Poppy had denied any kind of enthusiasm over dinner the previous evening. The altitude had given them vivid dreams and Thomas was now giving Poppy a most precise retelling of his most recent as the two began to get up. He ran into the bathroom and when she heard the door shut Poppy stood up. She felt the weight of the Goodnite hanging full between her legs and quickly slipped off from under her pale green nightdress. She pulled a white plastic bag from the drawer of her pinewood bedside table and put the pull-up inside. She walked across the room and put the bad in the little bin, taking care to place it beneath some sweet wrappers and the packaging from the Gerrard children’s new goggles.
Thomas came out of the bathroom carrying his pyjama bottoms. He threw them on to the bed, which Poppy saw was wet. Oddly, she did not feel comforted, she just thought it unusual. Thomas, unlike herself, had been a very quick potty trainer. She said nothing to her brother as she went into the bathroom to ready herself for the day and when she came back out her brother was already dressed head to toe in ski clothes to the very last glove.
Taking her cue from Thomas, Poppy pulled a pair of panties on under her nightdress and she pulled up a pair of thick thermal leggings over that. They were deep, regal purple and a second later she whipped off the nightdress and covered herself with a matching purple long-sleeved top. She drew a pink fleece jumper over her head and then stepped into the legs of her ski suit. She pulled up the zip at the back a little as she had practiced at home, but left the top half hanging down: she did not have any desire to boil. Finally, Poppy removed the slippers she had stepped out of bed into and tugged on a pair of elaborately patterned ski socks. She saw the one marked ‘L’ was on her right foot and switched them round.
Poppy looked at herself in the mirror. The thickly lined ski suit was never going to be attractive, but she thought she looked pretty. Her light layer of makeup complimented the purple outfit as well as she could imagine and her blue eyes shone into the mirror. She left the room and walked down to breakfast: the smell of fresh croissant had been rising through the floor since she had emerged from the bathroom and was quite mesmerisingly delicious. On the table as she entered the room sat a basket so monumental and so abundantly overflowing with pastry that Poppy simply couldn’t believe one person had carried across that perilous slope from the bakery in the village.
Everyone was at the table except Jack and William. A man who worked for the chalet company – or so Poppy imagined, as she could see no other reason for his being so helpful – handed out ski passes to the Pughs and then the Gerrards. “They’re digital this year, so you just need to whack 'em in the sleeve of your jacket – the left sleeve mind – and the turnstiled should let you walk right through. Don’t always, French workmanship… gave us those useless cars… but anyway, you have to be careful not to lose them as well. Gotta pay attention to whose is whose too, ‘cos they don’t have a photo like the old ones, but they’ll flip their lids up the mountain if you get yours mixed up with your kids’.”
Poppy didn’t especially think her credit-card-sized piece of plastic looked so useful, but she lifted the arm of her ski suit onto her lap and slipped the card inside the arm. When she looked up Jack had arrived. He was standing in tight black thermals: she could see the outline of well defined thighs and calves and Poppy wondered what sports he played to have earned them. She hoped he was a rugby player. Suddenly, she felt very self-conscious about her ski clothes.
There was little time for self-consciousness, however, as it was now eight thirty and the children had to be at ski school at nine. For the Pughs this was no hurry as they could ski down to the meeting point, but Poppy and Thomas would have to walk.
In the hallway outside the door, Mr Gerrard knelt down and put on his children’s ski boots. Poppy, already grumpy after fighting for her right to wear makeup to ski as well as sun cream, winced and moaned loudly at her father as he tightened each maddening strap. Worse, when they both stood up, Poppy found her brother and herself scarcely able to walk. Seeing the curmudgeonly expression across his daughter’s face Mr Gerrard decided not to risk asking his children to carry their own skis and so the three began to trudge towards the ski school.
“Why isn’t mummy coming with?” asked Thomas.
“Because she doesn’t love you,” snapped Poppy, who already felt that her boots would simply have to come off.
“Because she’s just finishing her hair up darling,” said Mr Gerrard, ignoring Poppy’s remark.
A short while later Poppy and Thomas had joined five other children around the bottom of a soaring pole bearing a sign ‘Débutants’ in radiant orange. Poppy looked at the other children and confirmed that she was the eldest by at least a couple of years with the exception of a Scottish boy who looked like he might even have been twelve, though not nearly so sophisticated as she. She resigned herself to being treated like a little kid and thoroughly dispirited, waited for the day to begin in earnest. As her group shuffled towards the beginners’ enclosure, trailing behind the instructor and dragging their skis in the snow, Poppy felt sure that she saw the elder Pugh boys fly down the slope from their chalet as if they were Olympians.
skiing was not nearly as fun as Poppy had hoped or imagined even at her most optimistic. Rather than gracefully streaming down the mountainside she found she had her skis pointed together and was practically incapable of any prolonged period of remaining in any way upright. Her heal ached from where her ski boots bit and her hip from where she had fallen time and time again. Worse still, when the group eventually stopped for lunch at a musty slope-side restaurant, Poppy found that she could do little more than sleep after a meal that was – to say the least – uninspiring. Napping, she felt, and especially at the table, was far too childlike for one such as her, yet perpetual tumbling was undeniably exhausting. She expected her body to be as purple as her clothes by the evening.
Nevertheless, the drew every onward to a close and the group, snaking ever so slowly behind the instructor, whom, Poppy noted, spoke only the most rudimentary English, found their way to the top of the slope that would lead Poppy and Thomas home. It looked a good deal steeper than the others the beginners’ group had attempted thus far and busier than Poppy could have imagined possible. She simply had not realised quite how many skiers there were.
As she pointed her skis down the slope, Poppy became suddenly aware of how easily the ground slipped beneath her, “No lean back! No lean back!” shouted the instructor, but Poppy could feel her feet rushing ahead of her as if urging her to sit down immediately. She didn’t want to do that: her bottom half had been wet through since she had begun to fall over that morning. Then suddenly, Poppy and the group were at the mouth of the path to their chalet. As she popped off her skis Poppy breathed a sigh of relief, though rest still seemed so distant a prospect as to be barely fathomable. She plodded back to their chalet without waving back at the instructor or looking back to check Thomas was following. She sat down outside the door and yanked her gloves from her damp fingers. She couldn’t remember even the very first digit of the door code.
Poppy shook her head to allow her hair to breath. She had just removed her helmet and the steam spiralling from her head attested to how uncomfortable it had been. Her wet clothes were cold and irritating. Too tired even to bully her brother – who was playing with the snow that had been stuck to his skis – Poppy waited.
It was not long before Jack and William arrived back at the chalet, fiercely arguing who had fallen fewer times that day. “C3641,” giggled Jack, guessing why Poppy and Thomas were waiting outside.
“Thank God,” Thomas exclaimed, fervently, “I thought we’d be outside all night and freeze!”
Jack was not yet mature enough to humour Thomas and William was struggling with his boots and so no one said anything. Poppy was too weary even to feel embarrassed at Jack’s having found them locked out.
Trying to lighten the mood a little when all four had entered the kitchen, William suggested, “I’m going to head out to the Jacuzzi. How about you?” He pointed out of the French windows of the main room beyond which a Jacuzzi was sunk into the balcony. All three boys enthusiastically began to stripe to their underwear, but Poppy had a sudden and unbearable wave of nauseating dread that threatened to entirely crush her.
She thought back to earlier that afternoon. The children had taken off their skis for a little whilst one of the younger boys went to pee in the trees by the side of the piste. “Write your name!” the instructor had called with an incongruous ebullience. It had taken Poppy some thought to understand what he had meant.
She herself was desperate to pee, yet there was only perhaps an hour of the day remaining, and surely the opportunity to stop at a café. Impatient at waiting even for less than a minute however, the Scottish boy had initiated a snowball fight that quickly involved the rest of the group. Poppy hated it, almost as much as she hated the boy himself. He had washed out ginger hair that hung from his scalp in straggling clumps – freely, as his parents seemed not to have cared a jot for his choice of headwear.
The fight had become rather involved and Poppy had stroppily fled a little way down the mountain. There, fuming by herself she had felt unable to hold any longer. She had screamed at the rest of the group to grow up and come on, but they ignored her. She considered begging, but her pride forbade more than a fleeting thought. Furiously, she had felt herself give in further and the rapidly cooling urine trickled down her leggings, past her socks and as far as the bottom of her boot.
Though it was private, Poppy had felt excruciatingly humiliated. She could not just pee in the snow like the insufferable boys and the others would not come on; she hadn’t even had the opportunity to ask to stop at a restaurant. She hated that earlier in the day she had been too picky to use the revolting toilets at lunch. And now, now Poppy could hardly begin to pull down her clothes and reveal in front of the boys – in front of Jack – her yellowed panties and sodden leggings.
She ran up the stairs to her bathroom and escaped her ski suit and ignominiously marked under clothes as quickly as she was able, throwing them to the floor not even with contempt, but with desperation. She had not brought her bikini and so she put on fresh underwear, but as she finally made it onto the balcony she had already heard William asking Thomas exactly what was wrong with his weird sister. Poppy swallowed back tears as she walked through the surrounding steam to slide into the Jacuzzi and duck her head under the protective water.