Orange and White

Melanie Dixon 2014

We used to jump fences. Me and the cone collector. Climbed into people’s gardens in the middle of the night. Sat in their spa pools. Naked. Didn’t do anything. Just sat and talked. Looked at the stars if there were any. First to spot a satellite. If a light came on inside the house we’d scarper. Never went back to the same place twice. We worked our way around neighbourhoods. He had a map, pinned to the wall of his studio. Night by night, we made our way up and down empty streets, ticking off the houses. We knew we’d scored if we found a pool. Then we’d pull the cover off and swim lazily up and down. Blissful on our backs. Has to be some way of having fun in this busted town.

On the way home we’d pick up a road cone. Seemed harmless to start with. He said he was collecting them. We took them back to his place in Brighton. Piled them up in the living room till you could hardly move for the orange and the white. It looked weird at night, with glimmers of headlights bouncing off the reflective strips every time a car drove past. Ours was a torchlight love, a relationship of illicit 3ams.

Until he was caught.

Truth be known we were both caught out, but he was the one who got it in the neck.

It was in Merivale, one of those posh streets where every house has a pool and a spa. We didn’t know we’d been sussed until it was too late. Word must’ve got out. They knew exactly where we would be. 2:30am on a Wednesday. Everybody should’ve been asleep. The fence was easy to jump. Then there it was, 10 metres of bliss, empty and sublime. We pulled the cover off , rolling it silently into a long blue sausage. I was first in. Stripping off and diving from the side, breaking the water softly. I relished in the cool silence as it closed in around me. My moment of euphoria. Then he jumped. Bombing from the side. Splash. Must’ve got a bit cocky, jumping in like that.

Game over. Lights on. People appeared from everywhere. Out from behind the pot plants, under the outdoor furniture. I legged it. Didn’t stop to look back for him. You’ve no idea what it’s like running through Merivale, starkers, in the middle of the night. Lucky I’m a good runner. Must be all that swimming I do. I was the one that got away. He wasn’t so lucky.

So, that’s how it ended.

A couple of months later I spotted him, in one of those magazines. Turns out he’s a bit of a name. In the photograph he’s standing in the garden of a fancy looking house, with his wife. Yeah, that bit surprised me too. There they are, smiling, standing next to the swimming pool. Behind them towers a huge orange and white elephant made out of road cones, with a torch shining out of its trunk, lighting up the treetops. Triumphant.