Lugging three Coles bags up seven flights of stairs was not the ideal start to June’s Friday night. Everyone decided to hit the beach to gulp down bloody expensive grog at some party. No amount of coaxing would distract June from a night in with re-runs of Married at First Sight (MAFS) blaring from the telly. A girl needs to eat at home! Contents of the groceries included fresh veggies to have with a cheeky meat pie that had been defrosting throughout the day, a block of chocolate to nibble on after dinner, and a litre of milk – as requested by the now-plastered housemates. A groan erupted from June’s lungs upon entering the flat. Better yet, it was a pigsty; leftover pre’s were scattered on the battered coffee table, and a pile of rejected boardies were hanging off a dining table chair. Ugh. Moping over to the kitchen, June flicked on the stove to prepare veggies before opening the fridge.
“Shit,” she mumbled, “those dickheads already bought fucking milk”.
Two full bottles of milk with their respective expiry dates ticking away in the back of June’s mind now stared back at her. Flicking on the kettle, there was only one way through the milk. A hot Milo will go down well as a pre-dinner snack, and it may just have to be dessert as well since June now found herself owning a gluttonous amount of milk. June realised that eating so much tonight would inflate her stomach, but at least she could recover while watching couples on MAFS tear each other to shreds.
7:15 am and June’s alarm blares through the brains of all impending hangovers within earshot. It is nobody’s first choice to be up at this time on a Saturday morning, yet the list of bookmarked rental houses she had were not about to inspect themselves. Thus, an early rise is crucial to beating the other people who need a house just as much as she does.
“Not that I care about them,” June decides to herself, “I need it more”.
Arriving at the first house in Sydney’s North Shore, June notices a decent queue formed to inspect the property. A few families, four young couples, and miscellaneous individuals like herself. The one thing they all had in common: their greed for a pleasant living situation. A latte in hand and her camera app opened, June declares the inspection mediocre at best. Sure, it would make for a fine place to live, but it is just that: fine. It is certainly not worth its inflated price tag, and the place requires more TLC than June knows her housemates can offer. To the next inspection she goes, with expectations through the flamin’ roof!
That same morning at approximately 7:15 am, Charlie awoke to the muffled sounds of his uptight housemate’s screeching alarm. After a moan and a groan to himself, the ever-comforting concept of sleep lulled Charlie right back to it. None of the madly squawking lorikeets or magpies budged a single muscle of Charlie’s. Following what he could have sworn was a brief moment of shut-eye, Charlie was dazed to find a glance at his iPhone; 12:09 pm; had resulted in “4 MISSED CALLS” shouting the man awake. Vertigo lingering from the night before, Charlie stumbled his way into the bathroom to notice bags under his eyes that were drooping to the floor.
“Fuck this”, Charlie mumbled to himself, “I’m never drinking again”.
It was a declaration that would proceed to fail by the end of that night. Lurching to the kitchen, Charlie prepared toast and a cuppa for his… breakfast? Bread became charcoaled while Charlie’s eyes widen at the overabundance of milk this household had in the fridge.
“You better be prepared to guzzle that milk with me, Chaz,” June stated after suddenly appearing at the door, frightening the empty-headed man.
Brushing June off with a middle finger, Charlie proceeded to coat his bread with Vegemite in a horrifically unpatriotic manner.
“Don’t know if you have enough there,” June snarked, “it’s people like you that push the ‘Vegemite equals bad’ stereotype in the States”.
Charlie could only blink before biting into his breakfast lunch.
“Can you emote for once today? You’re being a bit of a sloth right now you know. What the hell even happened last night?”
June’s quickfire questions overwhelmed Charlie, who became lost in wondering: what the hell did happen last night?
It comes in flashes: the heat, the sand, the hot people everywhere, the deafening music. Standing adjacent to the towering speakers didn’t help, but Harvey insisted it would sober himself and Charlie “right up”. Harvey, the third and final roommate was eccentric. Charlie was initially uncertain about tagging along to a beach party, especially since it was a friend of Harvey’s, and Harvey was Harvey. Cozzies, stubbies, and thongs were visible at every turn of the head, and Charlie was conscious of his choice of boardies. Maybe he should have gone with the navy ones, not these dark red ones that Harvey insisted would spice things up.
“Harv mate, I might go home an-” Charlie attempted to yell over the blaring Hilltop Hoods song.
“WHAT?” Harvey screeched back, twisting his head to make the cork tassels on his hat twirl madly.
“I MIGHT GO HOME AND HELP JUNE PREPARE FOR THE INSPECTIONS TOMORROW! I FEEL LIKE I AM WASTING MY TIM-”
Charlie suddenly remembers what the hell did happen. He saw a pretty girl, and all rational thought exited his brain. Lust is a weapon against logic. It makes you notice your sweaty palms and quickening heartbeat while making you unexpectedly conscious of your appearance. Will this person like how I look? Because oh my God I adore how they look! I bet they are lovely too, because how could someone who looks like that not be?
That feeling combined with the excessive alcohol that had been consumed? Mate, Charlie was a total goner. Perhaps June did not need to know about all that followed though.
Maggie knew she was a gorgeous girl. Tanned, tall, and alluring, plenty of guys before Charlie had become visibly flustered around the young woman. From the Bec and Bridge halter dress hugging her body perfectly to the sold-out-bloody-everywhere Charlotte Tilbury blush wand brightening her cheeks, Maggie was that girl. Unfortunately, Maggie was also that girl who held up a mirror to her 19k Instagram followers to remind them how flawed they were.
“Hi, my beauties! I’ve literally just woken up and have some exciting news to tell you,” Maggie exclaimed as she recorded herself that morning, after doing a full face of makeup, “I now have 20% off discount codes with basically all of your favourite online Aussie brands! The code “MAGGIE20” will work with all these online stores that I’ll pop on my story after this…” she rattled on.
Heart reactions and an overwhelming number of brands reaching out to collaborate excited Maggie. Perhaps what excited her more was the thrill of speeding down a highway while slightly intoxicated, as she did with Charlie in the passenger seat that night. Knowing it was wrong made it right, and the newly licensed P-plater had no reason to believe anything would happen to her.
“BABE I THINK YOU SHOULD PULL OVER,” Charlie found himself yelling over music once again that evening.
With an enormous burst of pride, Maggie slams the acceleration pad and throws an arm outside the driver’s window. She is reminded of how the wind feels extra nice on the skin when you’re drunk.
“DONNN WORRY, NOTHING BAD’LL HAPPEN TO US,” Maggie slurs back. Her hubris wants to add that nothing bad is guaranteed to happen to her, at least.
@posypiper33 was a devoted follower of Maggie. Whether it was scouring Pinterest for hours to find a replica of Maggie’s outfits or having soggy avocados on toast because Maggie said it would earn you a perfect beach body, Piper was prepared to do anything.
Posy Piper. It was what her Mum had always called her, a beauty among the masses. Piper always felt as though it might have meant the alternative – a forgettable flower that blends in with the crowd. Never destined to be anything but a supporter of girls like Maggie. From being the child who resented Hi-5 and their painfully bright outfits to becoming the young adult rolling her eyes at girls wearing White Fox, Piper believed herself to be above trends. Until, of course, Piper followed Maggie. A girl she would kill to look like.
Piper found herself in Coles, meandering through the aisles. She was supposed to just pick up milk for her Mum on her way home, yet Piper lingered. Maggie would most likely grimace at the food choices Piper was making. Sure, the organic bikkies would be healthier, but would they taste as sweet as the Aussie classic chocolate-coated substitute – the Tim Tam? Piper needed a simple little treat, one that would not make it to the Instagram feed.
Piper liked to relax on her drive home. A 20-minute cruise down the highway with The Jungle Giants to bop your head along to is where peace is instantly found. It is, unfortunately, a peace that can be disturbed by a lunatic whooshing down the road lightning fast. Especially when you have a deep-rooted envy for the lunatic in question.
It was unmistakably Maggie. Piper knew her hair anywhere, even hanging half out the crooked car window from the driver’s seat. The labelled dress, the glittery eyeshadow, and the lip fillers were a dead giveaway too. Piper also noticed a hot, though frightened, guy in the passenger seat.
“Of course, he’s hot,” Piper thought to herself, “he’s probably Maggie’s boyfriend”.
Piper knew she would never get away with speeding like that down her usual route home. Not everyone could flutter their eyelashes at the cops to avoid fines. As with most things, success depended on your appearance. At least, that was the reality Piper had come to believe. For Piper, this was a typical, cry-yourself-to-sleep Friday evening.
People flock to the idyllic Australian beaches every weekend to escape their sins of the week. Ocean air fills the nostrils of the masses wearing bikinis and budgie smugglers alike in the only socially acceptable place to do so. June and Charlie needed urgent relaxation after their stressful encounters, and Harvey was just up for a crackin’ good time. After purchasing chicken-salted chips from the canteen adjacent to the beach, Harvey was prepared. As Harvey turned his back to prepare his picnic blanket and lay down his thongs, three scrawny seagulls dove into the bag of chips. Hot, fresh chippies with tomato sauce and all. Harvey was no longer happy. June laughed this off until karma guided her foot directly onto a beached jellyfish.
June’s curses of anguish could not be heard by the moping Charlie, who watched Maggie and her friends frolic around the sand in the distance. It was the whole purpose of suggesting a housemate beach visit if he was honest with himself. Maggie’s latest brand deal led her to campaign for Australia’s favourite fast fashion swimwear label, alongside her golden-brown influencer “friends”. Charlie was livid with himself. Yes, it was his choice to let her go because of her recklessness. It scared him. But she was so gorgeous, and it made him madly overthink his decision.
Piper knew Maggie would be present at this beach today as well. In a way, the influencer was doing her job; strangers were unknowingly bonding on this very beach due to her influence. Piper watched Maggie for hours, while occasionally glancing down at her latest beach read to ease suspicion of the stalking that she was undoubtedly conducting. Piper being the pale girl she was, would come to learn the benefits of sunscreen after this particular beach visit. Maggie would never be seen with crispy skin that could peel off with the right tug. Just because she forgot to slip, slop, slap. Blood would not stain Maggie’s sheets for weeks, nor would she experience the wrath that comes with regret in all its forms. That just did not happen to girls like Maggie. A fact Piper knew.
All of these young Australians were fucked over in one way or another. It was funny, it was devastating, and it was reality all at once