Gaby Book 16 ~ Sweet Sixteen ~ Chapter *18* The Size Of It

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*Chapter 18*
The Size Of It

“So I get off at Lohrsdorf right?” Mand confirmed.
“It’s the first stop out of Remagen,” I pointed out.
“Should manage that.”
“I’ll meet you at the station, it’s not far to Apollinaris.”
“Okay, I’ll see you later, tschuss.”
Her German is improving, she’s actually not so afraid of using it.

Of course I don’t usually see Mand in the mornings, she catches a bus that takes her down to the station at Remagen which only runs one journey a day for commuters. Talk about a culture shock, back in Croydon she could walk to school, here she’s an hours commute away. It’s not that uncommon of course, some kids at Silverberg live nearly twenty kilometres away and once you start college – well I might have to go to Koblenz!

Having got up half an hour earlier than usual to catch Mand, (I forgot last night okay), I now had time to kill before going to Thesing’s so for want of anything else to do I got my manicure set out. I don’t do girly, nails and stuff – well okay, if it’s a party or something I will but Brid for example always has her nails immaculate. Mine are a right mess so I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tidy them up a bit.

“You still here?” Dad needlessly asked joining me in the kitchen.
I finished coating the last nail with top coat, “Had a bit of time to kill, what do you reckon?” I presented my shiny blue nails for his approval.
“Very nice, you do know what the time is?”
“Yeah, I’ve got,” I checked the kitchen clock, “oh sugar!”

Yep you’ve guessed it, the spare thirty minutes was now ten minutes late! Ever tried putting your coat on without smudging your nails? And gloves – well they’ll have to wait. It was damn cold again as I set off in the pre dawn gloom to meet the rest of the gang.

“What’s with the nails,” Nena enquired as I slid into the booth.
“Had a few minutes spare this morning.”
“Nice colour,” Pia opined.
“So how was Bernie?” Steff asked.
I took a bite of my Pflaumkuchen, “Mother and child doing well.”
“So we on for tomorrow?” Con queried.
“Uh huh, we need to organise some transport for them.”
“I’ll talk to Daddy nicely,” Pia suggested.
“Erm, I said it would be okay if Mart came, Bern seemed keen on that.”
“He can watch the football,” Brid posited.
“Oh and Anna said she can get,” I added.
“Is Manda coming?” Con requested.
“I did tell her, best count her in.”
“So that’s nine, ten with Mart,” Steff noted, “unless you’re inviting Max, Gab?”
“And why would I?”
“Well if you don’t know…”

“See you in the morning,” Con called out as the flock of Angels less one set off from Silverberg.

There was time to kill before meeting Mand, an hour in fact, my own fault for suggesting we go to see Petra together. I rode into town, a walk through the shops would kill a bit of time, maybe I’ll see something for Drea. The smell of coffee from the café opposite the tourist office outweighed any desire for window-shopping in the chilly afternoon air.

Of course you can’t have coffee without cake and the mandarin torte did look particularly good. I was feeling somewhat happier after my snackette – and a trip to the ladies in advance to returning to the cold beyond the glass. Scooting along Niederhutstraße, well you aren’t supposed to ride, my eye was caught by the soft toys in the window of the toy cum craft shop, and I screeched to a halt outside.
It wasn’t a huge selection and the thing that grabbed my attention turned out to be a rather naff bear thing. Still, I was stopped now so I parked the Schauff and went inside for a look. It’s hardly Puppenkönig so there isn’t a huge range of stuff, some board games, puzzles, Playmobil™, Lego™ and a bunch of dolls.

I may be a girl, apparently, but I do not do dolls. Jules had some of course but I certainly didn’t, boys don’t do dolls, we have action figures! So okay they were dolls under a different name but you didn’t play dress up or have tea parties with Spidey.

They did have some baby toys, educational – that’s good yeah? A set of cloth cubes in primary colours with numbers and animals on each face looked a good bet and within budget. That decided I had a look at the model cars – well I was already in the shop wasn’t I?

Okay I added to my collection, only two, Volkswagen Polo and one of those new BMW Mini’s. By the time I hit the street the light was fast fading and I had ten minutes to get to Lohrsdorf station – not a problem on a road bike, just doable but on the heavy Schauff, well it’s pushing it. With a silent curse I mounted up and joined the afternoon traffic.

“I thought you’d forgotten,” Mand accused, “I was about to ring you.”
“On a bike?”
“I did get caught at the level crossing.”
“Hmm, so which way to Apollinaris?”
“It’s along by the viaduct.”
Mand looked where I was pointing up the valley.
“That’s miles away, you never said we had a ten mile hike,” Mand complained.
“Well it’s alright for you, spot the problem? No bike for Amanda.”
“Stop moaning, you can ride on my rack, you know, side saddle.”
“You are kidding.”
“We do it all the time,” I lied.
So I know it’s not really allowed but plenty of kids do it, I’ve been a passenger a couple of times but not in charge – it can’t be that difficult.

I’m glad it wasn’t actually that far, the biggest problem was Mand wanting to balance, when she did sit still it made things a lot easier. The bike rides like a pig at the best of times so it was more overcoming the extra fifty kilo’s that was the issue. By the time we squealed to a halt in the Apollinaris yard I was quite warm from the effort and my calves were burning.

The shed that is Team Apollinaris HQ was open, I pushed the bike inside and we went in search of Petra. She didn’t take much finding; her ‘office’ door was open and leaking Euro pop.

“Hi, girls.”
“Hi, Petra.”
“Your mum said she’ll pick you up, Gab.”
Thank heavens for that, I wasn’t looking forward to transporting Mand to the station.
“Cool, so what’s the crack?”
“Well they want a full set of measurements, I did your mum and the others this morning.”
“Full?” Mand queried.
“Most of the gear will be fully bespoke so they want more than the usual top middle and bottom.”

I couldn’t quite see how some of the measurements related to clothing fit but what do I know. We had to strip down to our underwear of course – at least the room was quite warm – it’s where Petra does massage for the team so it sees plenty of bare female flesh! The other thing it has is a coffee percolator – not as good as a Gaggia® but it makes reasonable coffee.
Someone had to be first, so I volunteered.

I was sipping at a cup of caffeine while Mand was being metricated when Mum poked her head around the door.
“Hey, guys, how we doing?”
“Hi, Mum.”
“About ten minutes,” Petra allowed.
“I’ll put Gab’s bike on the car then, I’ll have a cup of that when I get back.”
Well that’s me told.

“Well I need to get this pair home, Pet, they have a turbo session waiting for them.”
Bum, I forgot about that.
“Can’t interfere with training, eh?”
“Guess not,” I sighed.
We both collected our stuff together and headed for the door.
“See you soon, girls; remember it’s nine in the morning, Jen.”
“How could I forget, see you tomorrow.”

Dad already had our bikes set up when we got home so there was no excuse for delaying our session, a quick change and we were ready to start. I’m not sure where he got the idea from but Dad seems to think we’ve been slacking a bit so he’s decided to have a more pro active input – think stood there with a stopwatch. We mounted up and started our warm up.

“Right, five minutes spinning, bottom gear,” Dad instructed.
The bikes were already set up in the right gear so it was mostly a case of getting pedalling.

“Come on, Gaby, get those legs going.”
Slave driver.

My legs were flying around, the bike bouncing about a bit as I put it all into a final effort.
Dad chopped his hand down, “Aaand end!”

The temptation at this point is to freewheel and get off as soon as but of course that’s not what you should do. Dad passed each of us towels and bidons as we sat up to start our ten minutes of warm down. The garage door that had been partially open was closed – don’t want to catch a chill do we?

“Good session, girls, two more minutes, I’ll see you upstairs.”

We were pretty much steaming now, not pleasant and with Dad out of the room I wasted no time in stripping out of my sweaty sports bra, flinging it towards the washing machine.

“Ga-ab!” Mand opined.
“What?” I queried wiping myself down with the towel.
It was nice feeling the slight breeze in the garage as it cooled my newly exposed skin.
“Do you have to flaunt yourself like that?”
“Cover yourself up a bit?”
I was doing it again wasn’t I? Acting like a boy, I did this to Josh last summer and I’m doing it to Mand now too.
“If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” I blustered whilst covering the girls with the towel.
I really need to consider what I’m doing a bit more I guess.

Before Mand came to stay I would’ve used the downstairs shower but with two of us I’d drawn the short straw of having to go upstairs to clean up leaving Mand in the garage. I sprinted up to my eyrie and was soon snuffling under the needle points of hot water from my shower.

Why me, why has all this happened to me? I used to know what I was, how to behave, what was accepted behaviour. As a boy, as Drew no one would blink at me stripping my top off but now, well as Gaby it’s less acceptable. I don’t just strip at the drop of a hat in front of anyone; I think it’s something to do with comfort. I am, was comfortable around Josh, I am comfortable with Mand but perhaps I need to rein in how I show that a bit.

Maddy Bell 25.05.16

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