...Just a little bit more and I've got it...and...there!
I pull the tiny rowing boat back towards the river bank with all my might and breathe a huge sigh of relief. Apparently, there is a reason why you're supposed to tie them up and not leave them loose on the river.
"Got it back. It's ready," I shout over at Tia who is lazily sitting on the grass, sunbathing. "Thanks for all your help!" I input.
She pulls up her sunglasses so they sit above her eyes and looks at me nonplussed. "You go on it and I'll take pictures," she says, letting the sunglasses fall back on her nose.
For a second I actually think that her idea is rather a good one. I always go on about how we should photograph our adventures more, but one look at my tiny red and white boat, a glance at the heavy paddles, and a gaze at the mass of water, and I go back to my original idea.
"Tia! I can't do this on my own. Please, get in the boat and steer!"
Well, she's got me there. "The river?" I attempt defeated. She looks at me with confusion before getting up from her spot.
"Are you going to hold on to that rope all day?"
"I don't want it drifting off again,"
In a huff she takes off her shoes and starts to roll up her trousers. "Why did you buy a boat anyway? Are you having a Quarter Life Crisis?"
"No, I don't plan on having one till I'm at least 22," I respond. She looks up at me mid trousers roll-up with yet another confused look.
Honestly, like buying a boat is so strange! People do it all the time. Like in that episode of Friends where Joey buys a boat and Rachel tries to help him learn, but she ends up shouting and realises that she's turned out like her father. I wonder what my realisation will be on my boat. I hope it's a good one. You know, not too life changing like realising I'm a lesbian. But also not too mediocre like realising I've left the GHD's on.
Actually, did I leave my GHD's plugged in?
"How are we getting on it?"
Oh, I hadn't really thought of that. I was hoping we'd be able to simply walk on it, but the way the boat is bobbing up and down the river I don't think we can.
"I'll hold on to the rope, you get in. Then I'll let go of the rope and jump in also," I say, full of optimism.
Tia puts both hands on her hips to tell me that there's no way she's doing that.
"Fine! I'll go in first," I say, handing over the rope. "I don't know why you're so frightened. This'll be easy," and I immediately regret my words.
Because in actual fact I have no idea how I'm going to do this. The boat refuses to stay in one place, and the moment I think I have the perfect distance to get on, it moves. But I have to do this. It's vitally important that I get on this boat. I have to show Jamie that I'm a very serious person, and I have to show Kate that she cannot win no matter how severe her Bunny Boiler tantrums are. I don't know how this will do that, but I'm positive it's a start.
Right. 3... 2... 1...GO! Nope, still not on the boat. OK, this time I will definitely jump in. 3... 2.... 1... 1 and a half... 1 and a quarter... 1 and...
Damn! I wish I was better at fractions!
.... 1 and 20%... 1 and 15%... 1 and...
"Get on the boat!"
One foot drops in followed by the other one, and with a heavy fall as both feet refuse to balance, and a loud 'Ouch', I'm in the boat. Yay! I made it!
A second later, Tia's in there with me. I look at her in annoyance. "Why was that so easy for you?"
"Oh, we go on boats all the time when we're down in Chichester," she says sitting down opposite me.
"So, you could have helped?"
"I could have. But it does mean I wouldn't have been able to get these amazing photos," she brings out her phone whilst giggling.
Oh thanks a bloody bunch!
I grab the phone off her. Actually, some of these photos are incredibly flattering. I think the April sun does wonders for my complexion. Oh, hang on. This one's not so great. It must have been taken when I was trying to do fractions.
I hand the phone back. "Right," I say with a beaming smile, looking ahead at the grand river, "where shall we go?"
"What? No! We're not going to another town! I was thinking more a choice between The Swan or The Weir,"
"We can't go to either pub. We're seventeen,"
"We're not going to go inside! I'm using them as locations,"
"Oh. Let's go to The Swan then," she jolts her head about in both directions, "there seem to be less swans over there. Ironically,"
"To The Swan it is," the current has already taken us quite a way from the river bank. At this rate, perhaps we'll end up in Chertsey after all.
I'm about to grab a paddle and start our journey, and then I realise both paddles are still on the grass.
This is really bad. And also not the sort of realisation I was hoping for.
"Move the water away from you a bit faster, Tia. We're never going to make it back with you using only your fingers!" I say as I dip my hands in the water again to make the boat move. This theory worked for a little bit. But then we got tired, and now we're pretty much just sitting there trying to keep the sun from our faces. I feel lost at sea.
"I knew I should have said no to helping you. There clearly was a reason Mikey was conveniently busy. He knows you far too well by now,"
I roll my eyes. "Mikey's in Oxford at a uni induction day. He would have killed for the chance to be here,"
"You're very testy today," Tia's looking at me like a mother pitying a child who writes S instead of 2. I almost feel like she'll say, "Don't worry, pet. You'll get it eventually,"
But she doesn't. Instead she says, "If you want Jamie, you have to call him. You can't carry on being this stubborn,"
"I'm not stubborn!" I say, crossing my arms and looking away into the distance. "And anyway, I texted him a couple of days ago telling him I have a boat. He didn't reply," I look down at my feet, far too scared that if I make eye contact with Tia, I'll cry. We sit there in silence, but it's as if I can hear her thoughts. Because I know for a fact we're both thinking the same thing - I've lost him.
"Oh well," I say and force a smile.
"Ella, you don't have to pretend that it's all fine,"
"But it is fine. It's not as if I'm married to him and we're about to have a messy divorce, and kids are involved, and we have to decide who gets the good coffee machine. I'm 17. I think I'll manage," I laugh a little and hope to God that I'm right. "Now paddle, please!"
We're about to start all over again, but I hear something. "Is someone saying my name?" I ask, looking around but not spotting anything. We stop splashing and have a listen.
"Did you hear that?" I say to Tia, looking around furiously. And then I spot him. My heart flutters as I see him standing by the river smiling at me. And then it sinks completely. Because standing next to him, is Kate.