Standing at the front of the class, head bowed down, Janice looked disconsolately at the floor. With nineteen in the Creative Literature class, inevitably when paired groups were arranged, one would have to work alone, "But why is it always me that is the odd one out?" she asked herself. As always she knew the answer. "I'm plain, tall and skinny, not really ugly but I'm only very modestly endowed in the breast department, in fact you can almost say I've no tits at all and possess few other womanly curves. My face is sprinkled with brown freckles and spots; my hair is mousy and plain, cut straight to an inch above my shoulders, as mother always insists. Probably my best feature when I look in the mirror, are my large, dark brown eyes, but I'm usually too shy and embarrassed to open them wide when I look at another person, and I daren't smile because of my buckteeth. Perhaps, above all, it is my shyness that makes me a loner."
"Looks like you'll have to work on your own Janice," Miss Rutherford commented, "Sorry, but perhaps you'll prefer it that way?"
"Yes, Miss." Janice answered automatically although mentally she visualised having a nice, kind, attentive, boy as a partner. At seventeen and a few months, she'd still not had a boyfriend, and her mother hardly allowed her out on her own and certainly would not have permitted her to attend those dens of iniquity, teenage disco's and parties. Hence, Janice quietly retired into her shell, did the work the teacher's expected, but hardly spoke to anyone, even her mother. Her divorced father came to her aid several times and overruled her mother's religious wishes but that only served to increase her isolation.
"I'll make allowances for that when I grade your work, Janice, so don't worry on that score. Sit down now." Much to Janice's consternation, only a double desk at the front of the class remained free. She slumped in the seat and tried to make herself as small as possible while ignoring the giggles from the other students. Usually she sat inconspicuously at the back.
"Last year in this sixth form college, you did the Standard English Literature course, but for the next three terms we are going to try something different. I will set you a series of research projects on famous people or events or inventions and it will be your task to find the information on the subject you are given and write and illustrate it as though it were an article in a feature magazine or one of the Sunday supplements. Indeed some of you may try and sell your work and..."
A knock on the door and the entry of a boy interrupted her speech. Ray Singleton, the college's star rugby player sauntered in like an actor about to make a dramatic stage entrance. All eyes stared at the blonde-headed, handsome lad. "I'm sorry Miss, but the office made a mistake with my timetable and they've had to put me in this class to get my quota of English." His voice held no hint of an apology as he handed Miss Rutherford a few sheets of paper, which she studied for a few minutes before shocking Janice by saying he could partner her. For a few seconds her heart fluttered, but the look of disgust Ray gave her quickly turned to shame and once more she cast her eyes down and didn't see the envious looks the other girls gave her, and nor did she see the change in Ray's expression when he saw the hurt he'd caused.
"Hi Jan," he whispered when Miss Rutherford started her spiel again. Jan could only stutter a 'Hi' in response and tried to concentrate on what the teacher said and ignore the close presence of the Adonis next to her.
"Who the hell is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?" Ray exclaimed when the class turned over the cards Miss Rutherford had laid face down on their desks.
Amid the general hubbub that followed the reading of the cards, Janice absent-mindedly answered, "American poet, 19th century I think. Wrote Hiawatha and stuff like that." Turning to face him, she blushed when he looked closely at her, his face only inches away from hers.
"Never heard of him or Hiya-whatever either. Why couldn't she have given us an English sportsman? We're supposed to write an article on a foreign poet and an old one at that? And I have to get at least a 70% to keep my place on the rugby team! They chuck us off automatically if our academic grades are not above that and my maths are weak so I need a good grade in this to pull my average up. You'd better pull your weight on this girl otherwise..." Ray left the threat unsaid but it caused tears to well in Jan's eyes and she thought how much better it would have been if he, this star of rugby, this idol of most females, had not entered the room.
For the rest of the lesson, Miss Rutherford outlined ways her students should consider finding the information, how to interpret it in an interesting way and how to present it in a publishable form. Dutifully Janice took notes but virtually ignored her partner until the end of the session he calmly and arrogantly ordered, "You find out what you can and I'll do the same. Meet me in the Library at lunchtime on Monday. I don't have training that day."
"Is that all you've done? Just pages of handwritten notes?" Ray exclaimed when they met, "Those notes are useless when we've to produce a printed output at the end. You'll have to type them all into to a computer. What a bloody numbskull. Look, see what I've done." Thrusting forward a few pages of information that he'd downloaded from the Internet the previous evening, he tried to intimidate her into producing something more acceptable to him.
Tears flowed down Janice's face as she gathered her papers and left the room. "I'll do the piece myself, he can do the same. I won't be able to get to Auntie's computer till she gets back from holiday," she muttered.
"Janice and Ray, please see me at the end of school today and maybe we can sort out the problem you are having working as a team." Earlier, Miss Rutherford spent some time looking over their individual work during her Wednesday session with the group, before making the request.
"I have a match tonight Miss," Ray smirked.
"Not if I have a word with Mr. Mitchell you won't," Miss Rutherford countered to Ray's shock.
"It's all her fault Miss, she won't talk to me and doesn't produce anything that we can use in our presentation. Please don't stop me playing tonight."
"Actually Mr. Singleton, her ideas and the way she's written it, are readable and interesting. Yours will do fine as an obituary but won't capture readers attention and won't score very highly with me." Laughter erupted from the others. "But if it's more convenient, I'll agree to see you both in my office at lunchtime, say 12:30? You should have eaten by then."
"I have a training session at lunchtime."
"My understanding of the situation is that you will not need to worry over training sessions if you do not pass this course," Miss Rutherford commented icily and added, "And you need Janice's help far more than she needs yours." She let that sink in for a few moments while she looked at her class to quieten their comments before asking, "Will lunchtime be alright with you Janice?"
"Yes, Miss," answered almost inaudibly.
Ray sat slumped in a chair in front of the teacher's desk waiting for Janice to arrive. She wasn't late but he hoped she'd be early so he could get hear at least a few minutes of the briefing for tonight's match. Finally, a tentative knock on the door. "Come in Janice, sit down please and if you don't mind, I'll start with you." Janice nodded. "I know from past experience with you in class, that you are extremely shy and I suspect that having to work with someone who considers himself a superstar, has increased that shyness." Another nod. "Forget the arrogant superstar business Janice, in this class you are more than his equal. He needs to listen to you but that also behoves you to talk to him. He is only another person, a boy of your age who, I agree, is gifted in many ways but that doesn't make him a better person than you." Ray fidgeted in his chair but kept quiet. "His main complaint seems to be that you have produced handwritten notes, notes which these days are not acceptable for publication, which is the ultimate aim of the course, and to me for grading. I know you've produced printed work before, has your computer gone down?" When Janice shook her head, Miss Rutherford went on, "There's always the computers at school or the Library."
"I'm sorry Miss, Mother won't allow me to have a computer at home," she quietly stuttered the words but went on almost in one burst of breath, "I'm also doing the IT course and I have to compile programmes which I can only do on computer and getting on to one at school is difficult and the Town Library only allows half an hour sessions. I use that time to do the IT work because I can only do it on computer. Normally, I use my Aunt's computer several times a week but she's on holiday and even if I could get into her house, mother wouldn't allow me to use it unsupervised. At home I had an old electric typewriter but the ribbon broke and the model's too old to get a replacement, so I'm back to a fountain pen. I'm a good typist so it won't take me long to smash in these notes when Auntie gets home. Sorry Miss."
Slowly and gently Miss Rutherford teased the story from Janice. Her mother had very strict religious beliefs and would not allow a computer, TV, radio or any sort of music player, into her house and only her divorced father's court intervention granted her wish to take the IT course. With the lunch break almost at an end, Ray resigned himself to missing all of the match briefing but he now had a lot more respect for Janice and the difficulties she faced when doing any school work.
Only a few minutes before the start of the afternoon session, Miss Rutherford summed up the meeting. "It seems that I couldn't have asked for a more dissimilar pair to work together, but, at this stage, I'm not going to split you up. Each of you has strengths and weaknesses. Ray you are able to find the information on the Internet, and Janice, you have the ability to put in into a readable article. Provided you work together, you should do well. Janice, you will have to try and discuss the work with Ray and Ray, you will have to treat her with a little more respect. Now before the end of the day, I suggest you arrange a time when you can get together, quietly on your own and go through the project and sort out what goes in at least in outline form."
"How about my home after school tomorrow? You could use my computer while I use the laptop," Ray offered as they walked the corridor to their form rooms.
"Mother would never agree to my going to a house with a boy."
"My mother will be there. She doesn't go to work and it is rare that she's out when I get in. I'll ask her to phone your mother, you do have a phone?"
Jan nodded, "We had to have it when grandma lived with us and was very ill." She gave him the number.
"How come you wanted that titless, dumb girl's phone number?" Sharon Kemp angrily asked Ray, "Janey told me you were called into Rutherford's office for a pep talk and afterwards you were very close. You trying to get into a virgin's knickers?"
"Not likely, but I have to work with her to get a grade to keep my place on the team."
"Yeah, I bet. Remember, I'm your girlfriend at the moment but you'll look for another if you start fucking around, there's plenty of other boys who'll be willing to take me out. You're not the only one with a decent prick in his trousers."
"Jesus Sharon, I'd want someone more attractive than Jan and I only got lumbered with her because of an office cock-up. She's got nothing up top to get hold of and I bet her cunt is shrivelled up from not being used."
"Perhaps that's just as well because I doubt I would trust you at all with some of the other girls in that group."
Ray mused that although she might arguably be the most attractive girl in his year, her demanding and bitchy nature meant that she was not the most pleasant one. Still they looked good together when they went to parties and restaurants and, she fucked well too.
"Mrs. Griffiths? I'm Myra Singleton, I expect your daughter has told you about the school project she has to do with my son, Ray..."
"We do not speak about her schoolwork, not since her father had the court decide she could take subjects I strongly disagreed with."
The reply momentarily stunned Myra but she went on, "Well they have to work on an English project and they have to do it together to get a pass mark. So far, Janice has only produced handwritten notes because, she says, she is not allowed a computer at home and there isn't enough time at the Library to get it done there and do her other work."
"God gave us a brain, we don't need computers and such trash assists the work of the devil."
"Mrs. Griffiths, I have no wish to see my son fail his course because of your beliefs. Ray has two computers and is willing to let Jan share so they can work together. I will be in the house and can chaperone them if that is what you are worried about." She didn't say that her supervision was pretty lax and that she allowed Ray to take his girlfriends to his bedroom for sex. Even without this knowledge, Janice's mother flew into a vitriolic tirade about the immorality of the school for making children of opposite sexes work together and only when Myra suggested she would contact her father, did she relent. The adverse publicity over the last court case remained in her mind.
Janice stood rigidly still, embarrassed and overwhelmed by Myra's enthusiastic hug-and-kiss greeting when Ray introduced her. Her mother hadn't touched her in friendliness for many years. "You go up Ray while I warn Jan about you." Her laughter took the sting out of the remark. "Jan, I know my son will try and get into your knickers at some point," the comment shocked and frightened Jan, "If he tries to force you, scream and I'll come running and make him very sorry. From what he's said, and what I can see, you are not one of the girls who will go to his bed willingly, but if he does persuade you, make sure he uses a condom. From speaking with your mother the other day, I doubt she will allow you to go on the pill so he must take other precautions. From the look on your face, no one has ever spoken to you about sex but if both parties are agreeable, I have nothing against him taking girls to his bed, but I will not let him force the issue. You understand what I'm saying?" Jan nodded. "Up you go then and I'll bring a sandwich and a piece of cake up in a few minutes." Poor Jan had tears in her eyes from the unexpected advice and hospitality.
"I guess mother gave you the warnings about me," Ray grinned, "She means well but I've never raped any girl. Lets get to work." Again Jan only nodded. "You have to talk to me Jan, like Miss Rutherford said, I'm not a mind reader." Ray watched with some admiration as Janice's fingers flew over the keyboard and typed up her notes while he scoffed the food his mother brought. Now they had two totally different articles to amalgamate into a presentable article. "Miss said yours was better than mine and having read what you've typed, it is a better story."
After a stuttered start, Jan outlined her thoughts. "Longfellow wrote so much and did so many things that we would have to write a thick book to do it justice. I thought to take one of his poems and try to find out how he knew the things he wrote about. I chose 'The Song of Hiawatha' because I liked the poem and the way it almost sings itself. If we can condense what you wrote on his life into two paragraphs, like they do on the flyleaf of a book, and examine one aspect of his work, we can reduce it to the article length like she wants. You have found some photos and engravings we can use to jazz it up a bit."
"What did you mean, 'it almost sings itself'?"
Jan tried explain and looked shocked when Ray asked her to read a bit of it. After a very shaky start, Jan got into the rhythm and, with half closed eyes as though she knew the words by heart, she started,
"Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odours of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the rushing of great rivers,
And their wild reverberations,
As the thunder of the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
"From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountain, moors and fenlands,
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gar,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes."
After a few more lines she stopped and commented, "He must have known a great deal about the Indians and their way of life to write about them so cleverly. I wanted to try and find out how he gained that knowledge and how well he knew them. Sorry, I'm boring you."
"No," he assured her, it's a totally different way of looking at the article to mine. In truth, hardly ever hearing her speak let alone read in a lyrical way, her soft, musical voice entranced him.
"We'll need to research the Indian tribes and their ways of life and beliefs to see if they correspond with the poem. Can you find out what you can about them? I'll check the reference library."
Even when her aunt returned and Janice could, and did, use her computer, she still got together with Ray on a twice weekly basis because, "We have to do it as a team," she replied when asked. In truth she'd begun to enjoy the visits and Myra treated her like a daughter and gave her a cream that slowly cleared her facial spots. At night she fantasised about Ray being a boyfriend, but knew that would never be. He wanted a woman with tits and who would give herself to him for sex. She only dreamed about it and she'd blushed profusely when she accidentally clicked on a bookmark and one of Ray's porn sites came up.
Ray's thoughts rarely included Jan as a bed partner, but gradually he grew to like her as a friend and work partner. However, the two of them being together so frequently, annoyed Sharon, especially when he defended Jan against her. Several times Sharon tried to interrupt their work time at school and when this failed, she burst in on them at his house. Furious to find they were sitting close together, crudely she demanded, "Ray, leave the dumb bitch alone and take me to bed. I need a good hard fuck and she can watch for all I care. She might even learn a thing or two about love and fucking."
Fortunately Myra caught her before she fled the house. "I'm not going to interfere in my son's love life," she told Jan as they sat over a cup of tea, "But I doubt his relationship with Sharon will survive many more weeks. He or she will find someone else." Jan knew the one he found wouldn't be her. Myra though, insisted she continue coming and working with Ray. "You've done too much together to give it all up now, that would be a disaster for both of you ... and I will miss you coming."
Miss Rutherford praised their progress, although she rightly guessed, Jan sorted the information Ray found and put it into order. After another fortnight, she commented, "I didn't expect you to treat the subject in such an unusual way and with a little more polishing, it might be worth your sending it to a magazine."
Three weeks later they completed the project and were awarded an A+ and great praise from their teacher. "After half-term, you'll be given another project and I suggest you stay in partnership." Janice mechanically agreed but she wasn't sure about it. Since the Sharon affair, although they worked well together, the bond that had begun to grow between them, melted and Jan's shyness returned.
Myra's prediction proved correct and during the half-term break, Sharon found another boyfriend and over the following weeks, Ray had a succession of short-term relationships. Twice he invited Janice to watch him play rugby but each time she refused, saying she wasn't his girlfriend and in any case, she wasn't interested in sport, but the main reason being her mother and her refusal to allow her to go out with a boy. In her mind, all modern-day boys were lechers and disciples of the devil and only interested in trying to get innocent girls pregnant.
A week before Christmas, Ray had a prestige rugby match and again he invited her to attend but this time she used the bad weather forecast to refuse. In fact the game should have been called-off but, because of its importance in the league tables, the referee decided it could go ahead. The rain poured down continuously and by the end of half-time, the pitch, resembled a mud skating rink and the school coach vociferously suggested it should be abandoned but again, the referee decided it could continue. Ray slid into a tackle and four other players crashed helplessly into him, their studded boots smashing his knees and disfiguring his face as well as breaking several ribs and three fingers on one hand and severely lacerating the other. Being on the bottom of the pile, he came off worst not just from the tackle, but also from being stood upon when the others tried to get up. He wasn't the only player injured. Two other players had bad sprains and all had minor cuts and bruises and these led to the referee's decision being examined in minute detail by the media and the rugby board.
Janice knew nothing of this until Myra phoned late that evening and despite asking to talk to Jan, her mother refused to call her down from her bedroom but she did agree to tell Jan. Immediately after hearing an abbreviated version of the accident, she donned her weatherproof coat, and, disobeying her mother's repeated and voluble orders to stay, walked to see Myra.
"Good God, Jan, you shouldn't have walked here in the dark and in this weather. If I'd known you were coming I'd have picked you up in the car. Let's get your coat off and make a hot drink, we can talk while I make it." Janice could see Myra had been crying and her eyes teared up too, the tears fell more profusely when, Myra related the story and described the extent of Ray's injuries. "He won't walk for months and he'll probably get very depressed at not being able to play rugby again so please be there for him Jan. I doubt if any of his other girlfriends will visit him more than once. It's a lot to ask, but he respects you and will listen to you whereas the others are more or less bed partners and status girls."
They talked and cried until nearly midnight and Myra drove her home. "I'll call round in the morning even if it means missing church," Janice promised as they arrived at her home. With no lights on and the house in complete darkness, Myra waited while Jan knocked at the door. Her mother never answered the knock and when it became obvious Jan wouldn't get in, Myra took her back home with her. "Sleep in Ray's bed for the night and we'll sort out the spare room tomorrow if there is a problem with your mother. You'll have to ignore the things you find in his room, but I washed and changed his sheets this morning so at least they are clean."
Janice didn't sleep well. Her mind examined and re-examined the events of the past few months and Myra words, 'I doubt if any of his other girlfriends will visit him'. Did that mean that Ray actually considered her a girlfriend? Or did she mean girl friend? Would she still be able to see him if her help wasn't wanted to keep his place in the team? How depressed would he get when the knowledge that his playing days were over? Would she just be second or third best because the other girls no longer wanted to be seen with him? She reviewed her position. Would her mother allow her into her home now that she'd defied her to go to a boy? She probably thinks I'm pregnant already. What would happen to her if she couldn't go back home? She'd slept on the couch at her father's flat once but he really didn't have room for her to live with him. Similarly, her aunt lived in a one bedroomed flat and wouldn't be able to take her in. Would she be allowed to collect her clothes from home if she was put into care? She was probably too old for that anyway. At that moment she realised she probably had no home, no money and only the clothes she wore to come to Myra's. Despair overcame her and she wept.
"Move over Jan, we could both do with a good cry and a cuddle." In the light from the landing Jan saw Myra in her thin nightdress come into the bedroom and felt her lift the duvet. Myra slid under the covers and pressed her buxom body tightly against Jan's. Had she been given time to protest, Jan would surely have done so. Never before had she been nearly naked in bed with another person, man or woman, but she enjoyed the sensation and for a little while the two cried together, each with their own thoughts on the effects of Ray's injuries and its implications to him and them. Slowly their tears became snuffles until Myra exclaimed, "Here grab a tissue and dry your eyes, we're not the ones who are hurt and we need to be strong for him. We must plan what to do for him — and for you," she added after a pause, "What would you have done if I hadn't waited before driving home?"
"Probably spent the night in the gardening shed. I had to do that once before."
"You'd have frozen to death on a night like this!"
"It would have been God's will according to the gospel of Mrs. Griffiths." The statement shocked Myra because she believed the girl devout, but for the last few years and especially in the last few months when she'd been able to see a different way of life to her own, Janice silently rebelled against the preaching her mother forced on her.
"Will she let you into the house in the morning?"
"Maybe, maybe not, that's one thing that worries me. If she doesn't then I'm homeless and penniless. Dad might take her to court again but that will take time..."
"You certainly won't be homeless, not while we have a spare room. I wanted a daughter after I had Ray but it never happened and with my husband in Afghanistan, I doubt it will happen now. My biological clock is running out and I wouldn't want to go through the hassle of bringing up a baby at my age."
For a long while they discussed Jan's life and what the future might hold for Ray but with many unknowns, much was pure speculation.
"I'll run you home after breakfast and I'll come into the house to check that you're okay."
"Mother will be at Church until 11 o'clock so we won't get in until then. She'll know I didn't spend the night in the shed too and will have imagined my many misdeeds."
The confrontation with her mother proved worse than expected. She hadn't intended letting Myra into the house, and several times asked her to leave. When Myra refused, she threatened to call the police to which Myra calmly replied, "Go ahead. Bring the police into it and explain why you left your seventeen year old daughter out in the cold and rain on a December night."
This brought forth a torrent of abuse at the way Myra had corrupted her daughter and led her away from the paths of righteousness and into the sinful ways of the devil. "Never again will I allow her to visit you on the pretence of helping your son."
"Mother," Janice interrupted more loudly and firmly that she'd ever done before, "Ray is lying seriously injured in hospital and will need my help more than ever. I will not shirk my duty as a good Samaritan to help him." She hoped bringing in a Bible story might help persuade her mother. It didn't.
"You just want to be his whore, an unclean woman. I thought I had brought you up to realise that is all that men want of a woman. Now get to your room and you can stay there until this woman goes and I can deal with you properly."
"I'm too old for the strap Mother."
"Do as you are told girl otherwise you won't sit comfortably until the New Year."
Horrified, Myra shouted, "That's illegal, you can't hit anyone these days."
"Not in the eyes of God. He knows how sinners should be punished."
"Pack your things Jan, you are coming to live with me and if this bitch objects, I'll phone the police and have her put in jail for threatening violence. Where's your room."
Compared to Ray's, Jan's small, sparsely furnished bedroom, looked pristinely tidy. Tears ran down Jan's face as she looked around at the room she'd lived in for so long and might never see again, then her eyes caught sight of the strap hanging behind the bedroom door and she started packing. Without a suitcase they piled Jan's clothes and books on two blankets, folded the corners together and carried them to the car. For a teenager, she had a pitifully small amount of goods. Her mother shouted into the phone as they passed and they guessed she spoke with the priest at her church. He wouldn't arrive until they were well away.
That afternoon Ray, still severely sedated, hardly recognised them but they could see the extent of his injuries from all the plaster, bandages, dressings, and the cuts and bruises that hadn't needed dressing. At least they were able to talk with the doctor and get a better idea of his future. "Most of his upper body injuries should heal perfectly in a month or two. There may be some facial disfigurement but we'll try and correct that as much as we can without doing major cosmetic surgery. The main problem is with his knees and legs and further operations will be needed. So far we've put in replacements and a load of ironwork, some of which will come out later, but it is too early to say whether or not he will ever walk properly again. We'll do what we can, of course, but much will depend on his response to physio treatment later. He's likely to have depressive problems too and that may be an area in which you can help. He's gone from being a star player to a cripple and that's something he will find difficult to adjust to."
"What did you bring her for?" Ray asked when they visited the next day, "I won't need her help now."
"Yes you will Ray, now more than before. You have to become the star of something else and to do that you'll need qualifications and my help with getting them. At the moment, you just have to concentrate on getting better so that you can come home so we can look after you." Jan smiled when he frowned and looked puzzled at her remark but she left it to his mother to explain.
Ray remained in hospital over Christmas and New Year but he came home mid-January. A few of his ex-girlfriends and team-mates visited him in hospital but none came more than twice and most visited only once. Jan went most days and when his spirit seemed low, she read passages from Hiawatha and other poems, which took his mind into another world away from his present predicament. To her surprise, on one occasion she had an audience of other patients listening in to her words.
Sitting around the fire one evening shortly after Christmas, Myra decided to give Jan her 'mother's talk'. "Jan, please don't take this the wrong way, but when the clinic opens after the New Year break, I suggest that we go and have you put on the pill. You don't have to, but knowing my son, it might be safer if you were protected. That doesn't mean I am giving him carte blanche permission to have sex with you and you know he keeps condoms in his room, but it will be an insurance that you are safe if you decide, and I mean if YOU decide, to try it." Myra put it as tactfully as she could and explained what might happen at the clinic. "You are old enough to go on your own, but I doubt you would have the courage to do that, so I'll come with you, if you wish." Since then she'd thought a great deal about what it would be like to have a boy's prick, Ray's, inside her but her enforced shyness from years of oppression prevented her from doing anything about it.
During the Christmas period, Myra and Jan cleared the spare room of accumulated junk and decorated it. To her amazement and a little consternation, Myra allowed her to choose the colour scheme, but it was all done by the time Ray came home. Not that it would have mattered, for the time being, not being able to climb stairs, the front room served as his bedroom. They expected the plaster on his legs to come off at the end of the month or early February and were considering installing a stair lift and the school had a fundraising campaign for this. Meanwhile Myra and Jan acted as nursemaids, Myra sponge bathed him and Jan helped cut up his food sat with him while she did her homework. Although he couldn't write properly she insisted he went through her homework with her and they discussed the next writing project. Most of the time Ray couldn't see the point of doing it but went along with it just to have her company and when his fingers healed sufficiently, he helped with the research. Worse, from his point of view, she went to his subject teachers and brought home the work he missed.
"They're bringing Mike and his troops home from their tour in Afghanistan this coming weekend Jan and they want the wives to be at the airfield to welcome them home. Big publicity thing really. Do you think you can handle looking after him for a couple of days?" Of course she could, but that would mean bathing him and whilst she'd caught glimpses of his prick, she hadn't yet seen it fully exposed as she would when she washed him. Yet, she couldn't refuse but did she really want to? Myra had been so good to her and longed for her husband's return so she felt obligated to look after Ray although she had mixed emotions in doing so.
Myra left Friday morning and a neighbour called round a couple of times in the afternoon to see all was well until Jan arrived home from school. "I need to pee Jan, can you bring the bottle please." She'd hardly put her books on the table and taken her coat off when Ray made the request but she gave him the bottle and started to leave. "You have to put it in for me," Ray grinned.
"No I don't, you are perfectly capable of doing that with your left hand."
"Maybe, but it would be a special treat if you did it and I bet it will be the first time in your life you've touched a boy's prick.
"I shouldn't, it's wrong."
"So said your mother, not mine." Seeing her hesitate, he added, "Please." Still she hesitated. "You have to pull my shorts down first and you'll see everything tonight anyway when you give me my bedtime bath."
Slowly, and flushed with the excitement building within her, she pulled the shorts down and revealed Ray's semi-hard prick. "Take hold of it and put it in the bottle. It doesn't bite." Gently she lifted it and placed it in the receptacle and when he didn't offer to hold the bottle she had to and then watch as he peed into it. "You just give it a couple of shakes when I've finished." Ray laughed, "Not like you girls needing paper to wipe dry." Leaving his shorts down, she emptied and rinsed the bottle. They were still down when she returned.
"Will you do something else for me Jan, please. With my fingers still strapped together, I can't do it myself except left-handed and that isn't easy. Will you give me a hand job?" Having surreptitiously looked through some of the magazines she found in Ray's bedroom during her time sleeping in there, she knew what he meant and realised he was pushing her toward having sex although, he was in no condition to do that yet but was a hand job perhaps the first step towards a blowjob? Did it matter? Perhaps it was time for her to find out why all those girls ended up in his bed. Slowly she rubbed his prick to full hardness and, under his instruction, increased the pace until his sperm spurted in the air and fell back on his legs and her hand. Flushed in the face, she grinned, pleased that she had performed and given him some satisfaction, pleased that she had pleased him. With a damp cloth she cleaned the mess, pulled up his shorts and told him to behave while she cooked dinner.
Bath time followed a similar pattern and with some tickling, became a little hilarious, but he coaxed another hand job out of her before she managed to get him into bed. Despite his pleadings, she obstinately refused to lie with him.
The sun shone on Saturday and the forecast predicted unseasonable warm weather with a high of 14C. "I'm taking you out this morning," Jan announced, "It's time you had some fresh air in your lungs. We'll just have a look round the shopping centre and I've enough money for an ice cream or something. Perhaps ice cream in January isn't the thing but we'll go and see what else there is." Ray protested that he didn't want to be seen in public but Jan, for once, insisted and even threatened to withdraw the hand jobs for the rest of the weekend. Well wrapped up, she pushed him the half-mile or so to the shops and into the comparative warmth of the centre.
"Hey, look who's here! Howya doing mate? Doesn't look as though you're ready for the match this afternoon, but maybe next season." Two of Ray's rugby teammates showed up with their girlfriends and exchanged greetings and for the first time that she could remember, they included Jan in the conversation especially when Ray called her his bully of a nurse. Two more of the team joined them and they all decided the ice cream parlour was a good idea. Soon the conversation around the table became a little risqué especially when they found out the nurse had to wash him 'all over' but, although Jan blushed frequently, there was no malice in the remarks.
In good humour, Jan, accompanied by her new-found friends, pushed Ray out of the parlour only to be confronted by her mother. "So!" her mother screamed, attracting the attention of all the passers by, "My so innocent daughter is now a whore to all the team. Disgusting little hussy."
Judith French, the big girlfriend of one of the boys, stepped in front of her. "Take that back you mean old bitch. Jan is doing a good job as a nurse to Ray and he's in no state at the moment to fuck your daughter or any other girl for that matter. Jack certainly hasn't fucked her and I doubt Sarah will have allowed Pete to do so either, so keep you accusations to yourself and leave them well alone. It will be months before Ray is better but at least Jan has lifted his depression a little and she's far happier at school now she's out of your fucking clutches. Leave her alone and go and fuck yourself." Judith wasn't known for polite conversation. Flabbergasted and embarrassed at the turn of events, and surrounded by the boys, Mrs. Griffiths made her way through the onlookers only to find two security staff waiting to escort her from the premises.
Tears trickled down Jan's cheeks as she realised that for the first time in her life, she had friends that would stand up for her and protect her, friends that she'd known for a very short time.