The two girls came together like any normal couple would. One person met another person and they fell in love. The relationship that ensued from this meeting was also normal in every way, except for its secretive nature. The two girls shared intimacy, laughter, and life. They overcame all the trials and tribulations of young adulthood together, building dreams and sharing all the experiences that came their way. They had been there for each other since they met on the first day of second grade when Laura’s family had moved to West Vancouver from the suburbs of Toronto. From the moment Sarah shared her lunch with Laura, who’d forgotten hers on the school bus that first day of class, they were a team.
Laura and Sarah’s friends and family referred to them as sisters. The two girls did everything they possibly could together. They would even shop for clothes at the same stores and then trade the clothes they would buy all year, just to blend together completely. They had the same golden-blonde hair, complete with the same curl that dangled in front of their sparkling blue eyes. They were even the same height and weight – five-foot three, one hundred and ten pounds. From the back, it was almost impossible to tell them apart, and certainly not from the clothes they were wearing. They would often even switch outfits part-way through the day, just to mess with people.
Boxing day was especially special for the two girls. Each of them would slip away from their perspective family gatherings to meet up at their usual hiding place in Laura’s expansive back yard. They would swap whatever clothes they’d gotten for Christmas the day before and hide out in the garden shed there with an electric heater kept on for warmth. The constant swapping of clothes angered Laura’s parents, who weren’t especially down with seeing all the clothes they’d bought Laura disappear from her wardrobe so quickly. They liked Sarah, but felt it wasn’t healthy for Laura to only have one close friend. They thought it detracted from her ability to grow socially.
Laura’s family was rarely home except on special occasions like Christmas, and when they were home, they seldom ventured into the acre of gardens that spread out from their back porch, unless it was for a summer party or to show some invited guest their most prized asset, a West Vancouver property that was worth a few million. Most of the time, they left the back yard to the gardeners. Few people did their own gardening in this neighborhood. These terraced properties that draped across the west-shore mountains required either family fortunes to own, or a dedication to making money that rarely left time for enjoying the fruits of one’s labor. Laura’s parents fell into the latter category while Sarah’s fell into the former.
The girls often found themselves in trouble with their parents, especially Laura. It wasn’t that either of them lived crazy lives, dated gangsters, or drove around in fast cars doing hard drugs or drinking excessively. Their bad habits were much tamer, but frowned upon nonetheless. For instance, both women loved to smoke pot. Also, neither was especially good at keeping up grades and attendance in high school, although Sarah was more well read and the grades came easier, despite her poor attendance. Both had managed to graduate in the spring the year before, despite these lazy academic habits. Sarah even had the right grades to make it into university. Laura hadn’t. She had barely graduated. This wasn’t a shocking outcome for anyone though. Laura had disappointed her parents so many times, Sarah had started calling her best friend and lover “Bad Laura” by the eleventh grade. The nickname stuck like glue. That probably had a lot to do with how much Laura loved to hear it as her namesake.
Boys began chasing the two girls around relentlessly by the time they reached the fifth grade. It didn’t bother either of them. By grade ten, they made a rule. A boy could be dated, briefly, as long as he was dumb. The dumber the better. A kiss or even an intimate encounter was allowed if the boy was dumb and pretty enough. Alpha males with charisma, intelligence, and good looks were completely off limits. Laura had decided these rules in their last years of high school. She said it was best they started occasionally dating boys so that no one would figure out the love they had secretly been sharing without one. The plan worked perfectly. Everyone assumed they were nothing but common teases. No one suspected the nights Laura and Sarah spent enjoying each other in ways that were not acceptable in traditional Christian households like theirs. Neither girl ever asked themselves what Jesus would do in their circumstance. He was only a man after all. Why would they want to follow his advice?
It had been a year since the girls had graduated and neither wanted to spend any more time than was necessary at home. In the year that had passed, both girls had gotten jobs at a coffee shop in Lonsdale Quay to save money to leave. Between them, they had managed to put together $1652.32, as of a Friday afternoon in August when they both cashed their last paycheque. Both had put in two weeks notice the paycheque before, so now was the time to make a decision as to where they should go. The two girls discussed the options over beers on a couch outside the garden shed in Laura’s backyard. They were not sitting out there to hide the beers -they had been allowed to drink beers on the property since graduating high school; they came to this place to discuss private matters or to hold hands, and to kiss and cuddle, hidden behind the branches of the willow trees. They knew they were safe here from prying eyes, ears, and the judgmental thoughts of others. On this night of decision-making, the rain poured down outside the cover of the willow canopy that protected them. The love seat they were huddled up on smelled like wet dog and the air around them was cool and hinted of the coming winter.
The decision as to where to go had one condition they had already agreed on. Wherever they were going, they wanted to learn how to surf. They had spent a great deal of time online looking at options and had decided on two locations to choose from. The first, cheapest option was Tofino, British Columbia, out on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The girls could get there by the Tofino Bus that left Vancouver daily. They’d heard of a property in Tofino called “Poole’s Land” that allowed people to camp for cheap if they did a few hours work a day in the gardens there. It was a place owned by a man named Michael Poole and had offered itself to travelers for more than twenty-five years. Sarah’s parents had even spent some time there in the nineties, when they had passed through Tofino, camping with some friends. They were not amused with Sarah considering staying there. It was a place notorious for being very pot-friendly, and they felt it was too promiscuous a place for their daughter to spend the rest of her summer. Sarah didn’t care what they thought about the idea.
The second choice they had decided on was San Jose Del Cabo on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, in Mexico. Laura had found an ad for a surf hostel there, the “Casita Desiderata,” where work could be exchanged for a cheaper stay. The hostel had just opened and, apparently, there was lots of work to be done on the property. It was owned by a man named Marcus Pomeroy, and they had contacted him regarding it. He seemed nice enough on the phone and said the girls could live in an R.V. while they helped with the landscaping and cleaning around the hostel. They wouldn’t have to pay anything, so long as they kept up their part of this bargain. They could also have free access to the twenty-seven surf boards Marcus owned. He even offered to teach them how to surf. It would cost the girls $1200 of their savings to get to San Jose on an open-ended return flight, which made this a far more expensive choice than going to Tofino, which was only $140 for two of them to take the Tofino Bus.
The decision was a difficult one to make. Should they save money and spend time on the beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island? Or, should they take a chance on Marcus and his surf hostel and jump on a plane to the Baja?
If you choose for the girls to travel to San Jose and stay with Marcus, go to Chapter 3.
If you choose Tofino and Michael Poole’s property, go to Chapter 2.