THE SAMPLING: Lily Max: Sun, Surf, Action

By Jane Bloomfield

Young fashionista Lily Max reunites with her long-lost BFF Greer at a beautiful surf beach, where the movie ‘Wave’ is being filmed. A perfect summer together stretches out before them … until local surfer-boy Ryder becomes an unwanted third wheel.

When Lily Max auditions as the body-double of the young female lead and dares Greer and Ryder on a secret mission to a derelict lighthouse, things start to go weirdly wrong …

Reproduced with permission, from Lily Max: Sun, Surf, Action, by Jane Bloomfield (Luncheon Sausage Books, 2017)

‘Let’s sunbathe,’ says Greer. ‘I’m planning on all my freckles joining up so I’m one brown-as hazelnut!’

We flop down on her huge orange circular towel. I wiggle out of my jean shorts. ‘Me too!’

The sun sure is shedding some heat rays. The saltwater on my skin seems to instantly evaporate.

We lie on our backs, holding hands. Bestie-best friends, side by side, warmed through by the sun, cracking tans.

This is the life.

Then Dad shouts from the beach edge. ‘LILY MAX! You’re in trouble, young lady!’ He starts to walk over the sand towards us, but like me, he’s not trained in walking on hot coals. He hops frantically back to the wooden steps by the path.

I shout to him. ‘It’s okay, Dad, I . . . I’m fine.’

I didn’t actually put my head under. Honest. Just dipped the ends. My first sea swim here may be the subject of future Neptune-ish-nightmares, but hey.

Dad keeps shouting. ‘Come back to the cottage and help your Mum and me unpack. You’ll fry out here. We’ll all come down to the beach this afternoon.’

All the swimmers, surfers and sunbathers on the beach have turned to watch this tall, mop-haired, shouty person. And now they all know my name.

All the swimmers, surfers and sunbathers on the beach have turned to watch this tall, mop-haired, shouty person. And now they all know my name .

Dad continues. ‘The tide will be low this afternoon.’ He’s rubbing his hands together now. ‘I can make an enormous sandcastle.’

Oh golly, there I was thinking I was going to have the cool dad at the beach. Going surfing with all the other cool dads. But mine is going to be making sand villages.

‘Hey, Ted,’ yells Greer. ‘Good to see you!’ She waves, then turns to me. ‘You’d better go, Lily Max. You haven’t got any sunblock on. I’ll get the goss from Jemima.’ (Greer always calls her mum by her first name.) ‘She was on a conference call with the director and the producer when I left. She’s probably still on it. The director – Scarlett – loves filming on location here. She’s constantly adding new scenes. I’ll come round after that. You’re number 7A, right? Next to the old banana plantation.’

‘I haven’t spied any bananas. But how’d you know our number?’

‘Way Wave Bay grapevine. Everyone knows everything about everyone around here. You’ll get the hang of it. All it takes is five minutes at the beach store each day.’

* * *

The midday sun is pretty powerful – one massive burning orb, centre sky. My thighs are already red-leopard-blotchy. It’s kind of a relief to get out of it.

Mum seems to be heading towards a complete beach-house-expectation meltdown. I don’t know how long I can keep the movie-delay news from her. Fingers crossed Greer appears soon, with good news. Any news.

I carry in bag after bag of food. The cottage kitchen is as narrow as a yacht’s galley, but at least there’s a big fridge. They must have known we were coming.

Mum says, ‘Take Rocco outside and keep an eye on him, please.’

There’s an old outdoor enamel bath, dapple-ly shaded by the back hedge and conveniently positioned under a second small water tank on tall stilts. The water runs warm. The bath is long enough for me to completely recline in.

It rests on elegant, four hawk-talons-clasping-balls brass feet. It’s neatly screened from the car park and neighbours, on one side by a fence with what must be the banana trees Greer talked about.

I manoeuvre my bikini as best I can to sieve out the sand. Rocco gets in, wearing his new stripy board shorts and dragon-emblazoned rash top. It’s like being in a rock pool painted white, with all the shells displayed on the soap shelf and the sand island that’s settled on the bottom.

We have a private garden-bathroom! Like one of those flash tropical wellness retreats. Score. Although, while I’m relaxing in the now-gritty lukewarm water, staring through a low gap in the hedge, something dreadful dawns on me. Seriously dreadful. Our cottage is tiny, but it is on the correct side of the road. The odd numbers are absolute beachfront – exactly what we wanted on this, the Maxwell Small beach holiday extravaganza. Oh yes siree. We planned to sit and gaze at the sea when we’re not in it. Hectares and hectares of mesmerising ocean was to be our permanent view.

However, the paralysing truth is, there appears to be what Granny calls a blot on the landscape. A rather large one. The expansive white wooden villa of number 7. The White House (where we nearly became squatters earlier) sits exactly in front of us and blocks our entire view! It has sweeping wide verandas, a second storey with a high pointy roof, and a smaller, bulbous-shaped third-floor lookout tower with a copper top in the shape of a crown. On top of that is a flagpole flying a black flag.

The house is snugly framed by rows of spiky yuccas (some recently squashed by Dad), phoenix palms, extensive amounts of billowy flowering creepery, large ancient trees, and never-in-their-lives-had-a-trim shrubs. Any glimpse of the ocean has been completely obliterated.

We cannot, I repeat cannot, see even an iota of sea from our property. Our cottage shouldn’t be called Sans Souci (without care, in French), it should be called Sans Sea.

We cannot, I repeat cannot, see even an iota of sea from our property. Our cottage shouldn’t be called Sans Souci (without care, in French), it should be called Sans Sea.

I sit in the tub with my little brother, pondering the situation. Soon I decide that, despite this major sea-view setback, I would like to meet the owners of The White House. It has the proud feel of a house that has lived through historical times. Perhaps even shipwrecks.

Washed-up treasure. Known a lighthouse keeper. And the more I look, the more the house seems to resemble a large ocean-going vessel. A white wooden ship of sorts. What does the black flag stand for? Is this the home of a merchant navy shipman? A salty old seadog schooner captain?

A pirate person? It has a pirate flag!

I glance over to our cottage, then back at The White House. The wooden boards sort of match. As does the roof iron. Don’t tell me – we’re living in the original servants’ quarters of the grand front house. Typical. My life is a constant reminder that I’m always Cinderella. Not the ugly sisters with an invitation to the ball. Even.

‘What’s that noise?’ exclaims Angelica from the back door, putting her hands over her ears. She’s wearing her black-and-bronze zip-up-the-front wetsuit top, black bikini bottoms, snorkelling mask and a pair of flippers.

She marches over like a person wearing oversized duck-feet, just about tripping herself up.

‘If you mean that non-stop clicking noise,’ I say, ‘it’s a mega bunch of male cicadas clashing their cymbals. I mean tymbals. It’s a mating dance. The females add to this crazy insect cacophony by flicking their wings.’

‘Okay, Miss Insect-i-pedia. Can you get out now so I can have a turn? Since I’m not allowed to go to the beach till later.’

I’m wrapping a towel around myself when I get this weird ghosty sensation . . . like someone’s watching. My sixth sense is usually spot on; I’m often vibing about things right before they happen. Especially with Greer. We both have strong ESP. Extra Sensory Perception. I swiftly do a 360-degree surveillance eye-scan of our property’s boundary. Nothing. I look up, just in case it’s a sea bird in a tree, come ashore for a rest or a French fry. But it’s not …

I drop to my hands and knees and crawl partially under our back hedge. The ground is dry, the leaf bed prickly. I can’t see anyone. But from this position, I can glimpse the slimmest sliver of ocean. Or is it sky? Hard to tell from down here. It’s blue!

Maybe it was the whippy wind playing tricks on me. I’m almost all the way through the hedge now, still mostly camouflaged by branches, when I see it. Him. Her. I’m not sure what. But I definitely see a person up in the observa- tory tower window. In a white dress. And maybe a white bonnet. There’s something black in the corner, behind her, but I can’t make it out. A shadow, maybe. There is a goldy tube of a telescope too. It’s pointing south along the beach.

* * *

Later I unpack, which doesn’t take long. I just upturn my suitcase into this large black metal trunk nestled between the bunks and a narrow bed. The dented lid has a heavy brass latch which folds over a keyhole. A keyhole big enough for an old-time jailor’s key. I see no actual key nearby. Pity. I love locking away my stuff.

I place my design journal and my shell reference book, Fun Times For All – Exploring The Seaside, at the bottom of the trunk.

When I shut the lid I notice a small faded picture in gold paint on the top. It’s just flecks now, and a vague outline of something that was possibly a bird, wings outstretched, flying somewhere, once upon a time. Or maybe an anchor.

As well as the beds and the trunk, there’s a scallop-edged mirror hanging on a chain, a small window, and a painting of a young golden-haired girl in a drop-waisted square-collared dress. On the floor is a red paisley Persian rug. Wallpaper of faded flowery pattern gives the room a beige cave feel. Some of the seams aren’t quite cor- rectly lined up, and bits of sacking poke through. Scrim. I’m tempted to brighten it up with my coloured markers. I curb that urge. Instead, I take my markers and sketch pad, along with my wannabe Costume Department Assistant’s kit bag, out to the garden-room.

Rocco is still in the bath, fishing for tropical fish with his magnetic fishing rod. Angelica is poking a long stick at a branch hanging over the side fence. Dad is waxing his surfboard. The cicadas are strumming. The sky is high-blue all the way to outer space. Camping or glamping. Three members of my family seem to have settled in already.

I grab my shorts, which are quite dry and stiff with salt after their swim in the sea, off the washing line and go sit at the outside table under the tree. The denim looks like it has faded a few shades too. To show extra wear and tear, I wrap a piece of coarse sandpaper from my kit bag around a small wooden block and begin to rasp it backwards and forwards over the pocket seams, the fly, the front button, the back pockets, etc. It’s not long before my shorts look like they’ve survived a shipwreck.

Greer is certainly taking her time. I keep peering towards the garden gate. Maybe there’s another drama going down in movie-ville. While I wait, I sketch a few towelling cover-all dry-off tops. And the word badges: PEA BRAIN. PERIWINKLE. HERMI-SQUINKLE. FISHFACE. SEA’S ME. WAVE.

Mum brings out a basketball-sized green stripy water- melon and a machete-sized knife. She dramatically karate chops the voluptuous fruit in half on the handily placed inbuilt chopping board on the table. From the force of her chop, I think she too must have worked out that we have no sea view.

Mum brings out a basketball-sized green stripy water- melon and a machete-sized knife. 

Mum passes me a large canoe-wedge of cool water-melon. We sit side by side in the shade, cross-legged on the burnt grass. The sea breeze is warm. And everywhere. It runs through our hair and folds and flaps itself around us. We slurp and munch noisily. Pink drips of sweet delicious- ness plop down over our ankles. We see how far we can spit the black oval pips, and recite:

‘Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief

Doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief

Coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, dumpcart Silk,

satin, calico, rags’

Over and over. Until all our pips are spat. Turns out I’m marrying a tailor and going to the church in a coach, wearing silk! Just my style. Mum gets a poor man and wheelbarrow and calico!

I tell her, ‘Don’t worry, Mum. You could make a killer wedding dress out of calico.’

Mum straightaway starts chomping into another slice of watermelon. Maybe she’s hoping for a more desirable pip-husband. And pip-wedding.

Right then I hear a loud cheery voice. It’s Greer. She’s standing there rattling a gold mesh purse full of coins, wearing her huge, slightly gap-toothed smile and the flowery cotton print drawstring neck sundress. I made it for her out of this delicate cotton fabric called Liberty lawn.

‘Hey, Mary! Nice to see you!’ says Greer. ‘Who wants an ice cream from the store? I’m getting a triple scooper.’

‘Me,’ I say. ‘But hang on a tick, I’m going to throw my matching sundress on. I made two. We can be twins!’ Plus I want to look cool-and-effortless for my first visit to gossip central. The famous beach store.

Mum starts firing off questions. ‘Hi, Greer. Isn’t it great we’re all here on holiday together? How’s Jemima? How’s the movie? When do we start? I’m ready.’

I grab Greer’s hand and lead her out the gate, hoping Mum calls a ceasefire on the question-volleys. I quickly update Greer on the rent/job situation.

Greer shouts, ‘Oh, I totally get it. I won’t say a word.’

I look around and see, unfortunately, my whole family following us.

The store is more like a café with a handy shop. And it’s a-buzz with people. Girls in surf shorts and bikini tops. Boys in board shorts, wearing sand shoes. Travellers reading Feed Wild Stingrays and Beach Horse Trekking brochures. Granny locals buying litres of milk, and spray-free avocados for $1.00 each. Sandy-hoofed children in wet swimming costumes buying salt-and-vinegar chips and iceblocks. Coffee drinkers in activewear and brand shoes ordering flat whites. Teen surfers in towelling hoodies chomping smoked fish and kumara pies, and slurping fruit smoothies.

Greer scans the surfer crowd, while saying hello to just about everyone. She and Jemima only arrived a week and a half ago! I slink over to the corner of the store and read the noticeboard. Someone has lost a three-legged cat called Nigel and is offering a $20 Reward for information! Someone has found a blue budgie. And there’s a Way Wave Bay Saturday market. New stallholders welcome! There is an outlet for my be-shelled toe sandal enterprise. Excellent. I’ve always wanted to sell my creations at a funky market.

And there’s a Way Wave Bay Saturday market. New stallholders welcome! There is an outlet for my be-shelled toe sandal enterprise. 

We get a table in the courtyard under an umbrella. Dad insists we try lime thickshakes, but I choose a raspberry slushy. Mum orders a banana split. Unprecedented for someone who refuses refined sugars. At all times.

We’re all staring at her, drooling, when it arrives. ‘What?’ says Mum. She reads the menu: ‘Locally grown lady finger bananas, with ethically sourced dark chocolate, raspberry dust and a drizzle of raw agave syrup over bifidus Greek yoghurt.’ Shrugs her shoulders and takes a massive bite.

Greer says, ‘Your neighbour grows the bananas. Wait till you meet her. She’s totally swish!’

Mum says, ‘I’ll get some more spoons, shall I?’ And she walks inside.

An ice-cream headache pierces my brain. I pull my earlobes – my tried-and-tested brain freeze antidote. The fog in my frontal lobes defrosts just in time to see Mum return with the Way Wave Bay Watch Daily tucked under her arm. And the front page headline:


Mum drops the newspaper on the table. I quickly put my arm over the big print. ‘Can I check my star sign, Mum? Thanks!’ I flick through to the horoscopes.

Greer reads over my shoulder. We’ve always been into astrology. It’s nothing to do with the science behind the stars and the moons – that’s called astronomy. Astrology is more your gazing into a crystal ball and hoping the outcome will be good. Or in my case, hoping I’ll catch up with Greer in the surfing department. And hoping I do actually get to work in the costume department of a real movie. IRL. Or at this rate, that some other super-speedy rent-money-making venture raises its pretty head. I don’t think me selling raffia toe sandals at the Saturday market will be a game changer.

Your Summer Stars with Gwendolynne

LEO: Jupiter is at its most distant point. The waxing moon brings harmony. Perfect timing to embark on a well-deserved holiday. Dive into the great outdoors, exercise and eat well and you’ll remain upbeat. Be mindful of others. Always. Flare-ups with loved ones or newcomers may occur. Try not to let jealousies grow. If in doubt, talk it out. Finances may evaporate quicker than expected. Don’t stress. New ventures present themselves. But consider all options carefully before committing. Remember, Leos, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself and try something new! The approaching eclipse will boost psychic powers.

A psychic power boost. That’s a major relief. Yeah.

Mum takes the newspaper back and refolds it. Her brow knots and her mouth falls open when she reads the front. She quickly refolds it again so Dad can’t see. No need. He’s talking tides and swell with local surfers. He’ll be a while.

Greer sees Mum’s face. Then her phone pings. ‘Oh darn it! I’ve gotta scoot. Jemima and I have to drive up the coast. Some sort of movie crisis going down. It’s probably just Pet-ron-eh-lah, the young lead actor, spazzing out again. They always call me in when she goes psycho. Jemima says come over tomorrow night for tapas.’ Then she leans in, kisses me on the cheek and says out of the corner of her mouth, ‘Don’t worry, before you know it, I’ll be back!’

Then she’s gone.

What are the chances of Greer coming back with Petronella the psycho? I just want my BFF to myself.

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Lily Max: Sun, Surf, Action

By Jane Bloomfield

Published by Luncheon Sausage Books

RRP $22.00

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