Dan Murphy grew up in Happy Valley,
South Australia. He is currently studying to be a
primary school teacher at Flinders
University and works part
time at a fast food restaurant. The inspiration for the house at Kings Beach
came from Marion
Bay, a tiny coastal town on the bottom of the
where Dan went camping with family and friends as a child.
As the sun peeked
above the horizon, a cool breeze made its way through the front window at number
six of Moonlight Avenue,
causing the curtains to move back and forth eerily. The silhouette of several
palm trees covered part of the window and as they moved in the breeze, a leafy
shadow was cast into the second-storey bedroom. The bedroom was big, with an
in-built wardrobe, a reasonably large LCD television connected to an Xbox 360, a
desk covered with books, a computer and various pieces of paper, a comfortable
looking couch to fit three people, and of course, a king-size double bed
occupied by one sleeping person. At six-thirty, a loud alarm pierced the calm.
The covers began to move as the occupant rolled out from underneath the warm
cocoon that was the bed. An arm reached across towards the wooden bedside table
and grabbed the mobile phone that was emitting the musical sound. By the time
Toby had found the right button to press, he was well awake. He slowly peeled
away the bed covers and lifted his feet over the side of his bed, rubbing his
eyes. The house was very quiet. The only noise that he could hear was a dog
barking a few houses down the street, along with the constant soothing wash of
the waves reaching the shore at the beach nearby. As Toby’s feet moved towards
the floor, they touched something furry. He looked down to find his dog, a
young, grey coloured whippet with a furred brown patch across his left eye,
staring up at him through deep brown eyes.
“Hey, buddy!” Toby whispered. “Time for a run, hey?”
The dog began to wag its tail as it stood up and ran around the room twice,
almost knocking over a DVD stand and Toby’s Xbox.
“Hey, Scooter! Be careful would you? There are people asleep still!”
Toby pulled off his pyjama pants and slid on a pair of running shorts and clean
socks. Scooter was licking his face the whole time as he bent over to tie the
laces on his running shoes. When Toby was finally ready to go, he crept over to
the bedroom door with Scooter at his heels and turned the handle. A shaft of
soft light entered the room as it swung silently open and Toby made his way out
towards the staircase. Once he was down the stairs and out the front door, he
realised that it was actually quite cold outside and he needed a jacket, which
he went back inside to collect. He wrapped a warm beanie around his wavy brown
hair and once he was sure that he had everything, including his phone and house
key, he jogged over to the front gate and pulled it open. It didn’t make any
sound of protest.
“Are you ready?” he asked Scooter, who wagged his tail in reply. Toby looked
around from left to right. There was a small white car sitting a few metres down
the road. It looked like there was someone sitting in the driver’s seat but it
was hard to tell through the tinted windows. The breeze was pushing the palm
trees around and they made a quiet swishing noise.
“Okay, buddy! Here we go!” Toby said to Scooter, and then they were off. They
both made their way past the white car and down the road. Along the way, they
passed many houses on their left, none rising less than two storeys high, and
heavy green vegetation to their right. Behind the vegetation was Kings Beach,
a three kilometre stretch of beautiful white sand and rolling waves. As the sun
continued to rise, clean beams of yellow light squeezed through the gaps in the
vegetation and painted different shapes in between each other. Scooter was
thoroughly enjoying himself as he bounded along next to Toby. At one house, they
both had to dodge a reversing car, its driver on their way to work, but other
than this, there was no one else around. Eventually they reached a break in the
fence to their right where a path led through the trees and came out onto the
beach. Both Toby and his dog turned onto the sandy pathway and took a few bends
and turns before stepping onto the soft sand. The sun was now in the shape of a
semi-circle as it rose even further from the horizon.
Toby breathed in the fresh air as Scooter whipped off towards the waves. He set
off at a reasonable pace down the beach, the icy wind slashing at his face as he
ran. Scooter ran circles around him and barked wildly at the waves that were
nipping at his heels. Toby laughed at the dog’s antics. What could be better
than this? He had a beautiful Saturday morning, a fresh breeze and plenty of
sand to run across. He watched Scooter jump over a rise in the sand and skid to
a stop at a washed up rowing boat. He smelled the rotting wood from top to
bottom before climbing in and barking at a crab that had made its home
underneath one of the planks that was beginning to fall away.
“Time for a rest aye?” said Toby. “Good idea!”
He sat down on the edge of the boat and watched the sun push through some clouds
that had gathered in front of it. Scooter came and sat next to him, wagging his
long and thin tail. For the sixth time this week, Toby gazed at the sun’s
It was seven thirty when Toby returned to number six. He sent Scooter around the
back because he was covered in dirt and sand.
“Come on, buddy! Round the back! Hey!” he cajoled. “You’re not going inside
looking like that!”
Scooter yelped in his face before racing off in a hurry towards the pond out in
the backyard. Toby removed his shoes before easing open the front door. Hayley,
his younger sister, appeared at the bottom of the stairs and murmured a weary
“Hey,” replied Toby. “You’re up early!”
“Someone rang my mobile – just a stupid prank call. Couldn’t get to sleep
after,” Hayley mumbled.
“Wasn’t your boyfriend was it?” Toby teased.
Hayley shot daggers at him before loafing into the kitchen for some breakfast.
Toby made his way up the stairs for a shower. Afterwards, he changed into a
fresh T-shirt and a pair of old shorts that he wore around at home to be
comfortable. After all, it was the start of the summer holidays. Hayley was just
finishing a bowl of corn flakes when Toby joined her at the dining table. The
sun was streaming above and below the curtains that were still pulled across the
floor to ceiling window like a closed zipper. Toby tucked into his own bowl of
corn flakes and studied the fine print on the three litre bottle of milk. Hayley
stared blankly at nothing in particular.
“You doing much today?” she muttered quietly.
Toby looked up, his mouth bulging with cereal and full cream milk.
Hayley looked across towards the kitchen. Toby returned his gaze to the milk
bottle. The doorbell rang.
“Ah!” Hayley stood up with her finger raised in the air and made her way out
into the entrance hall to answer the door. Toby heard Scooter barking at the
“Hey! Quiet boy!” he yelled, although he knew that the dog would never hear him.
He always caused such an unnecessary commotion when somebody came to the house.
Toby took his finished bowl of cereal into the kitchen and washed it out before
placing it in the sink. Amidst the barking coming from outside, he heard the
front door slam. He made his way into the hallway to see what was going on.
Hayley was standing with her back to the door.
“What are you...” he began.
“Just church people,” she said quickly.
Hayley began to climb the stairs before Toby could say anything else. Her face
was bright red.
Toby was watching a movie later that morning when his dad knocked on his bedroom
door. He fumbled for the remote to pause the movie before calling him in.
“Are you decent?” asked Dad’s voice from behind the door.
“Yes,” Toby replied as if it was the stupidest question he had ever heard, “come
His dad was looking rather pleased with himself. His round face was beaming from
cheek to cheek and he was panting lightly. It looked like he had been doing
“What is it?” asked Toby.
He was more interested
in the limousine driving across a bridge that had been blown to pieces by a
missile. The driver had been shot and two females were smacking each other in
the back seat. His dad was interrupting a very exciting part of the movie.
“I’ve finished the deck. You should come and take a look!”
“You came all the way upstairs to tell me that?” asked Toby.
“Yes, I did!” replied his dad, still smiling.
A fallen tree had cut a large gash in the wooden deck that encompassed part of
the backyard. His dad had started a slightly over-enthusiastic restructuring of
the entire backyard and the pool had been off limits ever since. The backyard
was a mess but now that the deck was finished, the pool would be ready for use
just in time for the summer.
“Come on! Just take a quick look! It’ll do you good to see what a bit of hard
work can do. It’ll do you better than sitting around watching that rubbish!” he
laughed to himself.
“Okay, I’m coming already...” Toby grumbled.
It was well worth the walk down the stairs. When Toby came to the big double
doors that led outside, he could see what his dad was talking about. The doors
opened onto a golden brown deck complete with small round lights set into the
wood that lit up a pathway to the spa. Three semi-circular stairs led down
towards the in-ground swimming pool with a diving board and small slide leading
from one edge of the deck. The pool looked much like a sunken lounge with one
end facing out to the expanse of fresh green grass that covered the backyard all
the way to the boundary. A barbeque sat tucked up next to one wall of the house
and several palm trees bordered the edges of the deck. Scooter was bounding up
and down the walkway, obviously pleased to have his decking back. He barked as
Toby and his dad walked out into the sunshine to view the finished product.
“So? What do you think?” asked his dad triumphantly, one arm wiping the sweat
from his forehead.
“Dad!” Toby nodded and smiled. “This is just ... it’s amazing! How did you get
this done so fast?”
“You know! Bit of hard work!” and he stretched his muscular arms towards the
“Can we go in the pool yet?”
The movie didn’t seem so important anymore. Toby ran back inside to change into
his board shorts. Just as he came rushing through the hallway to the stairs, his
mum opened the front door, one hand holding a bag of shopping.
“Hey! Can you give us a hand here please?” she asked quickly, straining to keep
the heavy bag from falling onto the floor.
“Here, let me take it...” said Toby as he took the bag from his mum’s tired
arms. Even Toby struggled to get the bag into the kitchen.
As he finally stowed the bag on the bench top he wheezed, “What did you buy?
“Milk? Mum, we don’t need this much milk.”
“Yes. We actually do.”
“What are you making a giant batch of scrambled eggs or something?” asked Toby
as he leant over the bench top, searching through the bags’ contents.
“It’s a surprise,” replied his mum, winking as she set about unpacking the milk
into the fridge.
“I bet it is.”
“Do me a favour and get the rest of the shopping please.”
“But, Mum! Dad’s finished in the backyard. I was about to go for a swim.”
“It’ll take you five minutes.”
Toby knew by the look on her face that his mum wasn’t going to take no for an
Later that day, Toby and Hayley were lazing around in the pool on blow up
doughnuts. Crickets were just starting to buzz around in the grass and a light
breeze was pushing the palm trees back and forth. Both their parents were in
their bedroom taking an afternoon nap. Toby had finished the movie after a short
swim and some lunch and now he had spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool.
The warm sunlight was streaming through the water creating a relaxing, wavy
pattern at the bottom.
“So who was really at the door this morning?” asked Toby with a smirk on his
“I already said,” Hayley replied.
“It was your boyfriend wasn’t it? I know it was. Even church people don’t visit
that early in the morning!”
Hayley’s face burned and it wasn’t because of the sun. She pulled her chair
through the water with her tanned arms and glided towards the exit ladder.
“Okay. So maybe there is someone,” she said carefully. “But you have to promise
that you won’t tell Mum and Dad about it.”
“Why not?” asked Toby.
“Because ... well, it’s Benny.”
Toby began to laugh.
“Well I guess I shouldn’t tell them. They would freak out if they knew. You and
Benny lived two doors down the road and he wasn’t exactly a favourite of Toby’s
parents. They always said that they could see him drinking beer on the front
“That kid is trouble!” Toby’s mum would say as they drove past on the way to
school, the very place that Benny had been kicked out of years before.
Hayley climbed out of the pool and headed for the new slide. It ran along the
edge of the tiles before curving sharply into the water.
“Remember, don’t tell Mum and Dad!”
“I don’t understand though. What is a girl like you with him for?”
“What am I like?” asked Hayley questioningly, an annoyed frown plastered over
“I mean, he’s sixteen. You’ve only just turned fourteen.”
Hayley hesitated before answering, “I’m very mature.”
Toby laughed as she came down the slide and entered the water with a huge
splash. Hayley came up with a huge grin on her face.
“Just because you can’t get a girlfriend!” she taunted.
“What are you talking about?” said Toby, looking embarrassed.
Hayley just smiled gleefully.
“Okay. I admit I have a bit of trouble...”
“What!” Hayley burst. “A bit of trouble? You have more than a
bit of trouble! I saw you at school the other day...”
Toby looked down at his sister from the top of the slide.
“Have you been spying on me?” he asked.
“No! I have way better things to do than spy on you,” she admitted. “It was just
lunchtime. I walked past when you were talking to those two blonde girls. Or ...
I wouldn’t call it talking.”
Toby kept quiet and slid head first into the refreshing water. He let the cold
soak around him. Underwater, he looked up at the sky. The sun was beaming past a
couple of rogue clouds that were drifting by deviously. So he had said some
things that might have been taken the wrong way. Perhaps the blonde joke wasn’t
going to work so well with two blonde girls. But they had laughed. What was
Hayley talking about? In fact, what did she really know about girlfriends and
boyfriends? Toby was almost two years older than her. He knew more about
everything than she did.
“At least the girls I go for aren’t getting kicked out of school for who knows
what evil!” he retorted as he rose from the water.
“I don’t go for girls!” replied Hayley.
Toby grabbed a nearby beach ball and threw it at his sister’s head. It bounced
against the edge of the pool and floated away onto the grass.
“Hey! You two!” called their dad from the back door. “Time for dinner! Come on!”
It had been a relaxing afternoon and Toby was looking forward to a good feed.
After dinner, Toby made his way out into the front yard to put the garbage into
the bins. Scooter was standing by the gate, ears erect and mouth closed,
obviously concentrating on something out on the road.
“What is it, boy? Hey! What’s going on?”
Toby walked over to the gate and held himself against it, arms outstretched. He
breathed in the fresh air that was making its way through the trees across the
road. The sounds and smells of the ocean wafted over the fence and into Toby’s
ears and nose.
“Yep,” he nodded to Scooter, “it’s a fantastic summer evening. You know what
Scooter looked up into his eyes before quickly averting his gaze.
“We can get up early again tomorrow and enjoy another good run on the beach. How
does that sound?”
Scooter wagged his tail quickly but continued to stare through the white bars,
out into the street.
“Maybe we can get you a girlfriend as well?” Toby added, feeling rather annoyed
at his sister’s accusations.
“What are you looking at anyway?”
He looked up and down the street and everything seemed to be as it was when they
had left that very morning. There was no one around. It was still dinner time
and people were probably still inside eating.
“Come on, buddy. Time for your
Toby took one last look up and down the street. The small white car was still
sitting a few metres down the road.