Fifteen Years Ago
They formed a circle around the water tap against the brick wall of the house. One by one they filled a box with different coloured water balloons. As Noel tied one of the balloons, he quickly turned to see his teenage brother laughing and shaking his head at them.
“Make sure Mum doesn’t catch you, Nolan!” George yelled out. His parents had named him after his grandfather who served in Vietnam. His family called him Nolan while others called him Noel, the name he'd rather be called. He was the only Nolan in a class filled with Jakes and Daniels.
“I won’t!” Noel shouted back as he turned his attention back to his group of friends. He gave them all a stern stare. He didn’t want to get in trouble for ruining his parent’s party.
“We can hit those annoying girls across the road with the water balloons. If we hit them enough they’ll leave us alone!” Alex said. Noel looked at his best friend and handed out the small, coloured water balloons.
“Alex, don’t lie! You like like Sarah!” Rob teased. For an eight-year-old, Rob towered over their group of friends. Ever since prep, they had all been in the same class. Except for Rob’s brother, Julian, who was a year younger. Alex gagged before turning off the tap.
“Sarah’s pretty,” Max pointed out as he stared at the blue balloon in his hand. Noel watched as Max shrugged his shoulders at the group.
Alex let out a laugh. “Yeah, pretty annoying!”
Max's face contorted at Alex’s comments. Noel nudged Max with his shoulder and offered a reassuring smile.
“Can we not hit Valerie? She helped me home when I fell off my bike last week,” Noel said. He took a few balloons off Julian, whose small hands were unable to carry as much as the other boys could.
“Fine! We won’t hit her. Rob, go get the water guns and we’ll surprise them from the bushes of old man Peter’s garden.”
Rob nodded at Alex. Noel placed the water balloons in the pockets of his shorts. He adjusted his baseball cap as he quickly rolled the sleeves of the long sleeved shirt his mother chose.
“We should go before we get caught!” Julian warned. Noel led them to the side gate of the fence. Alex reached up, unlatched the gate and held it open for their friends. Noel waited until all his friends made it through the gate and towards the driveway.
“Nolan Parker!” he heard his mother yell. Noel let out a heavy sigh as he nodded at Alex to go ahead before closing the gate. He turned around to see his mother tapping her foot at him.
“Are you going to go hit those nice girls with water balloons?” she asked, already knowing the answer. Like any other boy not wanting to get in trouble, Noel lied.
“No, Mum! I swear! I wasn’t.”
“Don’t you lie to me, Nolan!” The corner of his mother’s mouth twitched. Noel stuck his hands in his pockets and felt the water balloons. His eyes fell to the concrete path instead of his mother’s disapproving green eyes.
He heard footsteps and raised his head to see his father walk over and stand next to his mother. “Come on, Louise. He’s just being a kid!” his father, Marcus, defended.
“Marcus, I don’t want those poor girls’ parents at our doorstep,” his mother explained, the irritated tone in her voice clear. Noel looked at his father and silently pleaded for mercy.
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