The Charm – Chapter 4


Jemma returns to the here and now as Traci waves to get her attention.

“Hey, Worrywart. Got any tissues?”

Jemma found a reasonably clean bit of concrete to swing her pack onto and digs into a side pocket. She hands Traci a small traveller’s pack.

It’s typical of Traci not to have brought essentials like tissues, or sun cream, or any other comfort items. She relied heavily on Jemma to think of stuff like that. Sometimes Jemma felt they were more like mother and daughter than best friends.

Jemma’s bladder demands a release. She has to go now or endure the embarrassing repercussions. With another uncertain glance around she unzips and  squats, well away from the culverts edge. Closing her eyes, she concentrates on releasing the bladder’s valve she had locked with determination over an hour ago. Finally it is convinced to let go. The release is euphoric. Jemma’s body relaxes asthe pressing need drains from her. She begins to feel more in control until she looks up. Traci is taking off her clothes.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Double strength anxiety returns at the sight, refusing to let her clamp down on the unending flow. Jemma is powerless to stop Traci who is sitting on her pack, prying skin tight jeans over her feet.

“It’s too hot. Wow, you still going? There’s gonna be a flood downstream.”

“For Christ sake, you can’t just strip here!”

Traci pulls her woollen top off and stood up in bra, panties and socks, blinking at Jemma’s rising tone.

“Nobody’s going to come down here.”

“We did! And what about those five rapists!”

“Ha, ha, sure Jemma.”

Traci busily examines the clothes she’d bought without the slightest concern for Jemma’s paranoid delusions.

Jemma makes a concerted effort to finish then reefs her jeans up. Frantically she digs through the assorted bags and holds tops and skirts while Traci considers the merits of each offering.

“Nah… no… yeah! That one and…umm…that one.”

The very short skirt and halter-top Traci deems acceptable barely covers her underwear. Still, Jemma had to admit Traci has got a body worth showing off, and she looked way more comfortable.

“There’s no way I’m stripping here,” Jemma mumbles, unable to stop a wistful look at her pack containing a siren call of shorts and loose fitting T-shirts.

“At least change your top. You’re getting all hot and red in the face. Here, wear this.” Traci holds out a mid-riff top with cut off arms. Jemma relents, swallowing a retort about who exactly made her blood rise. She rips off the sodden jumper and pulls the new, cool material over her head. Then they jam everything back in their packs and run back to the lights and noise of the market, giggling like naughty children.

A few hours later they’ve had enough for one day. Miraculously they find a taxi driver who knows the location of their motel. After registering, they shower and fall into bed, exhausted.

As Traci snores softly beside her, Jemma’s mind turned over the past week trying to come to terms with Traci’s latest folly. Usually it was Jemma’s job to make Traci face facts when she got into trouble. Only this time her counsel had been petulantly thrown back at her and hurtful things had been said. With their friendship under threat Jemma had been susceptible to Traci’s tears and offered a shiny toy for the return of a spiteful child’s love. The super-special ‘fly to Thailand for the weekend’ deal had caught her eye. Mentioned half-jokingly, Traci had reacted with such desperate enthusiasm and instant forgiveness she had been unable to back out. Jemma knew postponing Traci’s problem was the wrong thing to do. The eventual confrontation with reality would be that much harder on both of them.

Jemma’s caring parents had taught her to deal with life’s situations at the earliest opportunity. Rational thought, logic and objectivity had been her pillars. Maybe that upbringing had been partly responsible. Never having acting spontaneously. Never taking a risk or a chance if a safer way was available. Subconsciously she must have wanted to break free of those constraints and experience the wild side. That brief rebellion has withered now. Today had proved spontaneity was not acceptable to her. Outside her comfort zone she’d scrambled to maintain control and she didn’t like that feeling one bit.

She parked a resolution firmly in her head before she fell asleep. They’d have this trip together then go home. Traci would deal with her dilemma and Jemma would help her through, as always. She drifted off, resenting the complexity of life’s choices.

(Chapter 5)

Published in: on Wednesday, 29 October, 2008 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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