Everyone who has been bullied dreams that, when they leave high school, everything will change. Everyone lives in hope and likes feel good stories where the nerd gets the girl in the end. As we say at Victims Anonymous, “My name’s Sam, and here’s my story”:
My last year at high school was a shit year. I wasn’t popular to begin with, wasn’t good looking, wasn’t trendy, had zits. And on top of that, I had lots of shit happen in my life, all in that same year. My mum walked out. Well, it felt like she was abandoning us, but really it was dad and I who got chucked out and she kept our flat and her new lover. We moved to a small mid terrace in a rougher neighbouring borough. And because it was my last year, I couldn’t swap schools so I had a really long walk to and from school all through that final winter and spring. I wore all this pain on my sleeve and became grouchy and unpopular and drifted away from what friends I had, and none of the girls were interested in me. And I had zits.
But despite all that shit, I did well enough at my O-level exams to get into six-form in my new borough. My dad, who wasn’t a big drinker really, put some effort into being social and got friendly with some builders in our new local pub and that got me a summer job mixing plaster. It was back-breaking work but a few weeks real hard labour muscles you up in ways a gym never will and the builder charm and confidence really rubbed off on me too. It was always an early start, on site by 7, but with a “liquid lunch” down at the pub and, because I was with a bunch of builders, I was served and nobody let on — they thought it was a funny secret that that their scrawny labourer was under-age. I spent a good part of my wages on rounds but I learned a lot of self confidence doing it. So you can stop feeling sorry for me now; I did. You know where this is going. I’m going to go to a six-form where nobody knows me, and as a man not a boy.
Around rolled the first day of six-form. I left the house and went to the end of the row and turned right. The bigger road was full of a steady flow of kids, some in groups and some alone, in the same uniform heading towards my new school. I slotted myself into a gap in the stream.
Basically I noticed all the girls. I couldn’t help it. No boy can help it. I was addicted to looking at girls. In front of me, for example, was a girl. I carefully kept pace so I wouldn’t catch up. She had really toned long pale legs and a short mini-skirt. Her blouse was baggy and she had a heavy satchel over one shoulder. London kids always carried their bags over one shoulder, even if the bag had two straps. She was clutching a big binder. She looked weighed down. She was quite tall and I guessed she must be in the six-form. She had long fuzzy blonde hair. It was a very light blonde, almost white.
I kept my head down and tried to keep a constant distance from her long legs and wiggly little bottom.
The new school was quite near and we were soon there. I got out the little map I had received in the post and tried to work out how to get to the form room. It wasn’t hard, and I didn’t stop to talk to anyone. The quad was full of kids chatting and catching up, waiting for the bell, but I didn’t know a soul so I went straight to find my new form room.
The classroom was in a portacabin on the side of the games field. Most of the six-form was in a cluster of portacabins near the games field, away from the high school. We only had to go up to the main school building for science subjects.
Feigning confidence, I went straight in. It was half full. I made a bee line for the free seat in the far back corner. People watched at me. Everyone else had been to the high school together, and I was the only new boy.
Some chatty giggly girls came in and sat down in the back row. The girl who sat down beside me turned and introduced herself as Helen. Helen had golden curly hair, probably permed. She had an open smiley face and bright brown eyes and a gap between her two front teeth. She wore a tight blouse over her amble bosom and her school tie was loose and her blouse top buttons undone to show generous cleavage. As she lent towards me to talk my eyes were sucked in and she twittered at my attention. She started to point out and name everybody as the room filled up.
In high school the bad boys had sat at the back, as a rule, if it was free seating. Some teachers decided who sat where but mostly it was free seating and so there was a pecking order. I had never sat in the back row before. But not a lot of bad boys went on to six-form so the bad girls were promoted to back row sitters and I, the new boy, the unknown quantity with the confidence of someone who had been shoveling sand and cement all summer, had gone and sat myself there. I had been advertising my presumed confidence and dominance. Inside, if I’d stopped to think about it, I’d have been petrified.
Helen was mostly interested in introducing me to all the girls in the back row. But I saw that, sitting up the edge away from the window in the seating reserved for the nerds and misfits, was some fuzzy blonde hair I recognised. Was that the delicious wiggly bottom I’d followed to school? My curiously was piqued and I overcame my shyness and pointed and asked who she was.
Helen said dismissively “that’s Alice.” and was going to go back to telling me all about the girls in the back row.
Katie, the girl beside Helen who was trying to join in, giggled loudly and said “Flat Alice you mean! The Ice Queen?”
Katie was just a loud indiscreet kind of girl. Helen seemed a bit pained, and brushed it away “she’s very good at skating. She competes,” to which Katie, obviously enjoying the gossip, giggled and said even louder “No, it’s because she’s a frigid bitch!”
I was scared everyone could hear us. I sensed that everyone was listening. My ears burned. So I asked who our form teacher was going to be.
I got my answer pretty quick. In walked Mr Davis. He was a short but powerful man with thinning hair. He effortlessly commanded respect. The whole room hushed. He put down a pile of papers on his desk, turned to the class and, in a clear Scottish accent, welcomed us to the six-form. He looked around and his eyes settled on me. He told me to stand up, which I did, but I didn’t have to introduce myself and say anything because he did all that for me. Everyone then chorused “hello Sam.” and I sat down.
I was glad I hadn’t had to talk; I don’t think I’d have been able to talk loud enough for anyone to hear.
Mr Davis was also our maths teacher. Those not taking maths — you picked you subjects for A-levels — left and some new kids from other forms came in. I stayed put in my corner seat. Then we had our first maths lesson, which went until lunch. That was different from high school; at A-level you only took three subjects but the lesson slots were often a lot longer.
My first lunch was pretty lonely. I found the cafeteria using my map. I didn’t have any friends to hang out with. This was uncomfortable, but not half as uncomfortable as being at my old school surrounded by bullies. There were so many kids everywhere that it was hard to spot anyone. I didn’t see Helen nor Katie’s gang, nor Flat Alice nor anyone else who might be in the six-form. I probably wouldn’t have dared go up to them anyway. It was a nice day and I sat outside, waiting for the afternoon lesson on physics to start.
That night my dad took me down the local to celebrate my first day at six-form and ask how it went. I told him it went great. He told me it’d take time to make friends and work out who the shits were. I guess he saw through me a bit, but being in the pub with the builders and my dad really kept my spirits high. I wasn’t going to be a push over so quit feeling sorry for me.
The next day I went to school again, slipping into the stream of kids between two groups. I went straight to the back corner of the form classroom, realising that the bunch of boys who sat in front of me didn’t look so friendly. I guess they didn’t like that I was getting in with Helen and Katie and the back row?
Helen seemed really nice. Sure she liked me ogling her boobs, but she liked that kind of attention from all the boys. She was a flirt, but she was also kind and considerate. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. She was way out of my league, but I guess she didn’t know that on account of nobody knowing my history. The back row girls knew all the other boys who had gone on to six-form from the high school and they weren’t really their type. Most of the back row girls had boyfriends who were a year or two older and had left school and were working or looking for it. I think Helen had a boyfriend, although she carefully kept it ambiguous. But Katie kept gleefully implying it.
That lunchtime I looked at my map for somewhere to explore as something to do. I went to the library. The library was in the main old school building and had high stained glass windows. It was almost deserted. I went along the rows of shelves, full of boring books.
And there she was. That magnificent long fuzzy blonde hair. It had to be Flat Alice. She was sitting hunched over her open binder, writing. I walked around her table and stood in front of her and cleared my throat. She looked up. She had small delicate features and high cheekbones, eyebrows so blonde they almost didn’t show and very light blue eyes. She had a few zits but real girls do. So do boys. Hell, I had some zits.
I could sense she was different. I could sense she was special. She seemed approachable, she seemed genuine. It was a vibe she gave off. We were two outsiders.
I introduced myself and asked if we were in the same form. Then there was silence. She hadn’t said anything. She hadn’t answered my question. She was looking at me like I was mad. Finally she reached out a hand to shake mine, saying “Hi, I’m Alice. Yeah we’re in the same form. Is there anything I can help you with?” She said it in that tone she’d use when showing first-years around on an open-day. She looked just the type of respectable teenager who’d be asked to show first-years and their parents around on open-days.
My builder bravado kicked in.
“Yeah, actually, there is. Can you show me where the cafeteria is please?”
She kicked up the responsible student attitude a notch and looked seriously concerned, muttering soothingly about how it was awful I hadn’t been shown around properly. She started to give directions, but I played dumb and pleaded “Can you just show me, please? It’ll be easier.”
Easier? Who was I kidding? She didn’t seem easily convinced but in the end the responsible student closed her binder and stood up, hugging it.
“Follow me.” she said and I did.
We marched side by side across the quad towards the cafeteria. The rush had died down and it was only half full. She was about to turn away when we reached the door, but I asked her if she wanted to eat with me. She just stood there, saying nothing, until I pleaded “Please?” She caved in, and she went sat down at an empty table while I got my lunch of sausage, baked beans and chips.
I sat down across from her. She sniffed her nose up at my plate. “How can you eat that muck?”
I started to explain the mechanics of knifes and forks like I was some kind of wit. I asked what she was going to eat. She opened her bag and plucked out some neatly wrapped sandwiches. She started to describe the school schedule as we sat there. She just talked and talked. I figured it was her kind of defensive mechanism. I listened to her, hanging on every word.
Wednesday morning I had to run past a couple of groups of kids to catch up with Alice who was walking alone to school. She didn’t pay any attention as I caught her up, but when I said “Hi Alice.” she turned, alarmed, saw it was me and calmed down.
She seemed defensive, but at least she talked back. I said we must live quite close, and she smiled weakly and didn’t offer any hints of where exactly she lived. And by now we were at school and we headed together to our form room.
Helen was bubbly and chatty as always and we talked telly, with Katie and the others trying to chime in.
Then that lunch time I rushed off to the library. It was empty. I was a bit gutted and was a bit overwhelmed with a loneliness. But, nothing better to do, I stood outside by the door and waited. Alice was coming across the quad towards me.
“Are you stalking me?”” she asked.
From the tone and neutral face I couldn’t tell if she was joking. I asked if she wanted to eat with me.
She countered coolly “You aren’t going to pretend you can’t remember where the canteen is again, are you?”
I fished some sandwiches out of my bag and held them up swinging in front of her face. She suddenly cracked an unwilling small smile as though she couldn’t help herself.
“Oh ok.” she surrendered, sounding exasperated, like I was a naughty puppy, and she led me off across the game field to some benches on the far side.
We walked in comfortable silence. When we sat and ate, I started to ask her about herself. And little by little she dropped her guard. Alice is actually Norwegian, although her mum had moved to London when she was very little and she didn’t remember much. Although she spends all her summers in Norway visiting family and loves it, London is ‘home’ now. Her real name is Erika, but Alice is her English name and she likes it better; I should call her Alice. Her mum was a young mother and her dad didn’t stick around and that’s one of the big reasons why they moved to England, for a new start. That and that the English really need dentists! Alice’s mum was a trained dental nurse. Alice’s hobby is ice skating, which comes naturally on account of her being Norwegian, and her mum is the instructor in the local rink. I just kept asking questions and Alice kept answering and all this came tumbling out. I don’t remember that we ate any sandwiches.
Then Alice looked at her watch and said we had to get to lessons. It was a bit early I thought, and I said there was no rush. But Alice jerked her thumb over her shoulder, indicating towards a copse at the bottom corner of the games field, and said “The Posse will be finishing their fags and coming back soon and it won’t be good for us to be seen together” as explanation.
Obviously the hard kids went and smoked in the copse at lunch times. We hurried across the field towards the six-form portacabins.
I rushed to the school gates at home time too, thinking Alice would have to pass through them to go home. Yes I was forcing my company upon her. No I didn’t think about it that way. All I could think about was Alice. I was already infatuated. And so we walked home together too.
I had a crush on her and alone with her I was feeling brave. I worked up the guts to make a move: I asked her if she wanted to go down the high street after school tomorrow. She tentatively agreed. It was all going so fast. At high school I had been so moody, bullied and socially awkward that I had never ever spent any time with any girl ever. And yet now I was coming out of my shell so fast I was at risk of doing something really stupid. I should have been thinking about things from Alice’s angle, knowing how it is to be an outsider on the edge of school life being pursued by a horny new boy, but I couldn’t. But luckily it was turning out ok — I think she was warming to me, warming to having a friend.
We agreed to bring a change of clothes to school so we wouldn’t be in uniform. Then we got to the top of my road and I pointed out where I lived, but she didn’t offer directions to hers and I didn’t really want to pry. Alice seemed on her guard and value her privacy. But it kind of felt like we had a date. At least, in my mind, we had a date.
So, of course, that evening and at school the next day my mind was only on going down the high street with Alice.
And then after school came. We met at the school gates but then ducked back into the sports block to change out of our uniforms. There were separate changing rooms. Alice came back outside in a thin baggy rusty red wooly jumper, a tartan mini-skirt and black leggings. She was wearing vivid red lipstick. She was transformed! Still carrying a bag and hugging a binder, she looked every bit a mature college girl easily.
I steered her towards home. She pointed out that it wasn’t the way to the town centre, but I assured her I knew that. She seemed doubtful, half distrusting, half nervous, but she followed with me anyhow. I stopped outside our local. I don’t know really why I did this, why I’d brought Alice there. Now Alice looked really nervous. She bit her bottom lip. She looked invitingly vulnerable. She looked gorgeous.
I opened the door and she stepped inside. It took a couple of seconds to adjust to the darkness. Right in front of the door was the bar where the landlady Brenda stood, cleaning glasses. I went up to the bar and ordered a pint. Brenda was still cleaning a glass “And what will your girlfriend be having, Sam?”
Alice said sharply “We’re just friends!”
Brenda didn’t miss a beat and asked again “And what will your friend be having, Sam?” Brenda thought it funny.
Alice asked for a coke. Brenda asked me if that would be a rum and coke. I nodded. Alice seemed a bit shocked, but she kept quiet. I put it on my dad’s tab and we took our drinks around the side into the salon. It was mid afternoon and it was quite quiet, almost empty.
We sat in a booth next to each other on a bench seat sipping our drinks. Alice asked me if I drank a lot, and asked how the landlady seemed to know my name. I kind of talked myself up a little bit, but a bit of me never wanted to lie nor exaggerate to Alice, so I kept it real.
Alice’s cheeks flushed almost immediately; this was very clearly the first alcohol she’d ever drank, and the first pub she’d ever been in, and the first naughty thing she’d ever done!
Suddenly Alice looked up across the salon and froze. She looked shocked. I followed her gaze. It was Mr Davis and a lady friend sitting in a booth against the opposite wall, kissing.
“That’s Miss Brady, the Geography teacher!” Alice whispered.
“They are enjoying themselves.” I laughed, disinterested.
“But they’re married!” Alice whispered back indignantly.
“Well that’s ok then!” I couldn’t see the problem.
“Not to each other!” Alice clarified.
At that moment Miss Brady glanced up, saw us watching them, and pushed Mr Davis away. They hurriedly tried to adjust and straighten their clothing. I raised my pint to them in salute, brave on the outside and panicking on the inside.
So here were two under-age school kids caught drinking in a pub by two teachers caught having an affair by two school kids in a pub ... I now realised that neither pair wanted this to become public. I pointed this out to Alice, and she seemed ever-so slightly reassured, but she was still really uncomfortable. I think she was more worried what the teachers thought of her than what she thought of other people I guess.
To break the tension I suggested to Alice that we play pool. She hadn’t ever played pool before so I promised to teach her. So we got up and took our glasses over to the pool table, slotted in ten pence and racked up. Then I broke and, when it was Alice’s turn, I stood behind her and reached around her to show her how to hold the cue and line up and strike. The smell of her shampoo was intoxicating. The beer I’d drank, and it being my local, was giving me my a mega dose of my cocky builder charm, at the same time as I was so sensitive to every gentle touch of our bodies, brush of her hair, as I guided her.
Our game was going slowly. That suited me. I forgot about the teachers. And then Alice needed to go powder her nose and I pointed out where the ladies was.
After Alice left another movement in the bar made me remember we were not alone. Miss Brady was following Alice to the toilets and Mr Davis was heading straight for me. Obviously they were taking this chance to straighten us out one-on-one.
Mr Davis came over and asked if I came here often. I nodded. I had my builder bravado and it was my local and it was outside school hours and I had only been at the school a couple of days so I didn’t have any ingrained fear of him. He seemed to be casting around for something to say.
“Nice to see you with Alice.” was all he came up with.
“Nice to see you with Miss Brady.”
Mr Davis sucked in his cheeks. He didn’t know how to say whatever it was he needed to say.
I guess this awkward conversation was taking longer that it seemed, because the girls were already heading back towards us. Miss Brady and Alice arrived at the same time. They had obviously been chatting but when they reached us there was another pregnant pause. And then my builder bravado kicked in and I suggested a game of doubles.
Alice tried to escape by pointing out she couldn’t play. Mr Davis tried to say they really ought be going. And Miss Brady jumped up and down with excitement and said it was an excellent idea and so it was settled. It turned out Miss Brady had never played either, so a reluctant Mr Davis had to coach her too! I guess Miss Brady had been watching Alice and I intently earlier. I swear Miss Brady was wiggling her butt and pressing back into Mr Davis and doing everything to tease him. Even Alice was lightening up, the danger over and the rum and coke working their magic.
I figured I had pushed our luck far enough for one day and, as soon as the game finally finished, I said to Alice that we’d better be off. Alice reluctantly agreed, and we left the pub and turned towards home.
Alice suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and looked really scared. “My mum is going to smell smoke! She is going to want to know where I’ve been!”
Alice seemed distraught. I cast around for a solution. Suddenly, quick as a flash, I saw a way out. I suggested she change back into her school clothes at my house, and she could keep her trendy clothes at mine ready for our next outing. Alice jumped at the chance.
So I let her into my house. Dad and I live in a tiny mid-terrace house, two up two down. The front door opened straight into the living room which had a black and white TV and tired old sofa and a pair of armchairs. The walls were chocolate brown in best 70s style.
As soon as we were in the hallway Alice thrust the binder at me. “Here, hold this.” Then she asked where the toilet was.
I told her and she took her bag and went and changed. She emerged a six-former again. She came up to me, grabbed her binder and hugged it, and stood in front of me, a foot apart.
“Thanks for today, it was, eh, interesting.” she said with a lop-sided grin.
“Don’t forget you’re wearing lipstick.” I said as she turned and let herself out.
I should have kissed her! Was she waiting for it? Should I have tried? What had she meant with Brenda, ‘Just friends?’ I beat myself up and shouted at myself all evening.
The next few days we went to and from school together and lunched together. I was in heaven. I fancied Alice so much and I was spending so much time with her. I loved watching her, I love hearing her talk. We’d sit on a bench at lunchtime and I’d just keep asking silly questions and she’d fall for it every time, flowing into long detailed answers whilst I just drank greedily from her aura.
It was Friday, the end of my first week, and we were walking home together. I asked her what she was doing on the weekend. She was training ice skating. Suddenly she got excited as though the idea had just come to her: would I like to come ice skating with her? I said I couldn’t skate. She said it was ok, she’d teach me. And so, my heart skipping, we arranged to meet the next day after lunch at the rink.
We met by the entrance. With the recent success in the Olympics, ice skating was in the popular eye again, but that warm August day it wasn’t very popular in my town and the rink was almost empty. An old man sat in the ticket office and greeted Alice and talked to her like good friends. He let me slip in for free.
Alice was wearing another thin baggy wooly sweater, mini-skirt and leggings. She had her own skates at the rink. She helped me put my loan pair on and led me out onto the ice.
Immediately my feet went in opposite directions and I almost collapsed. Alice found it all very funny. Very slowly she led me around the rink. She would stand in front of me, holding each hand, and drag me forwards by wriggling her bottom so she moved backwards. Her long fuzzy blonde hair was like a halo around her smiling beaming face and I was mesmerized by the pattern her wiggling bottom traced, its zig zagging path burned into my retina.
Suddenly Alice let go of me and turned. She accelerated instantly and was off around the rink with an elegance and efficiency that made it look effortless. As she reached the far corner furthest from me she did a simple jump and spin without slowing down and was onwards around the rink until she came up behind me again and skidded to a halt exactly where she’d started seconds before. Her cheeks were flushed from the sudden exertion in the cold air. And then she grabbed my hand and tried to get me to skate some more. She did these laps every so often. She said she was keeping warm. I was in awe.
After our skating we walked back and before she realised it she had led me back to her house. She was giggling, saying I was more like Bambi than Dean. I was a bit put out and embarrassed. Everyone was talking about Torvill and Dean. She stopped, pointing out that she lived here. This terrace was a bit posher than my terrace and the houses seemed a little bit bigger. She squeezed my hand and thanked me for skating with her. She laughed and called me Bambi again. My face must have fallen. She lent in and whispered in my ear “Don’t forget, Bambi was a stag don’t you know?” in a fit of giggles and then she turned and bounded up her steps to her front door, several at a time.
I walked home elated and lost. Had she been giving me hints and encouragement? Were we still ‘just friends?’ It wasn’t so far home.
On Monday I had to wait by the end of my row for Alice to come into sight. We walked together, side by side, close but not touching. Alice said matter-of-factly that I was invited around to dinner Tuesday night. Apparently the old man at the rink had told her mum about me and Alice’s mum had thought it would be nice if I came round for tea. ‘Just as a friend’, Alice added. I went from elation to devastation in a split second. But I tried to put a brave face on it.
At six-form you normally take only three subjects. Some take four. And so you have several empty slots on the schema. You are supposed to spend these empty slots in the six-form study rooms where you sit and work, or talk quietly and pretend to work, and there’s a teacher there to take the register so you can’t skip it. I had a empty slot and I sat in the sun on the benches outside the study rooms waiting for that teacher to arrive.
This time it was Mr Davis supervising. He saw me sitting alone outside and paused on his way in.
“No Alice today?” he asked conversationally.
I said she had biology. I stood up to follow him in but he put his arm around my shoulder and joked “ah, you just help her with her biology homework eh?”
I stifled a giggle and he laughed loudly at his own joke and at my embarrassment, and I joined in. So we went into the study room with his arm around my shoulder, laughing.
After study period it was lunch time and we tumbled out into the quad sunshine. Helen and Katie and their gang — they called themselves Katie’s Posse — cornered me. Katie, always loud, asked how I was so pally with Mr Davis.
“Oh I’ve met him down the pub.” I said, my chest puffing out at the boast that I went to a pub!
Almost as quickly I got this sinking feeling that this was a rumour that could easily get me into deep trouble. But The Posse cooed; I was a bad boy and that excited them.
Helen asked what I was doing for lunch. I looked around; Alice was heading straight for us.
“Alice!” I called, as much to attract Alice’s attention as to answer Helen.
Katie smirked incredulously “Flat Alice? Why the fuck do you waste your time with her? What’s she do, blow you?” and The Posse fell around laughing like that was the funniest joke in the world.
I looked wildly around. Where was Alice? Had she heard? I couldn’t see Alice anywhere. One moment she was almost with us, the next she had disappeared.
I heard a quiet voice, Helen’s voice, asking “Do you love her?”
I think Helen had a romantic side and liked to play cupid. It was the kind voice of a friend, of an ally.
I felt sick. I pushed my way through The Posse ignoring Katie’s grabbing attempts to hold me back. I went searching for Alice but I couldn’t find her. I guess she’d had years of disappearing and hiding at school and was expert at it.
We met at the school gates at home time. Alice’s eyes were puffy. I went to put my arm around her but she pulled away as though stung. But she seemed a bit pleased that I’d waited for her. On the way home she told me she’d skipped lessons and hid all afternoon in the sports block. I was quiet. I wasn’t really equipped for comforting her and didn’t know what to say.
Tuesday we went to school, lunched and came home from school together as normal. It was routine now and Alice would search me out. I was really enjoying having a proper friend, which kind of complicated things as I also had the most tremendous crush on her and it was growing all the time. I wasn’t sure if she thought about me like that, if she noticed me like that, if she liked boys, if she wanted anything. I was getting an uneasy feeling that we were ‘just friends’ and that I was destined to follow her around forever, watching her date other boys and try and comfort her each time she was dumped and always being in agony inside. I don’t think a boy and a girl can be just friends. One or the other always wants more. I wanted more. I wanted it all.
As we parted on the way home Alice smiled and reminded me to be at hers at 6. It wasn’t like I’d forgotten. I had been nervously looking forward to it all day!
I walked slowly up the steps to her front door and rang the bell. Alice opened the door and invited me in. She was wearing a very short little halterneck black dress with black netting arms embroidered with black roses. Alice was so slender but the dress hugged her like a glove. Her breasts pushed out like two little Christmas puddings. Her hair had been brushed and tamed a bit and she was wearing eye shadow and bright red lipstick. I think the pink flush in her cheeks was genuine, not blusher. She looked absolutely completely stunning. She looked so mature. She looked like a beautiful young lady. She was smiling nervously, her head slightly cocked and her eyes sparkling. She was so alluring.
The house was so different from mine. There was no carpet, only a herringbone wooden tiled floor and strategic rugs. The front door opened into a hall with the front room off to one side and ahead at the end opened into the kitchen-cum-dinning room. Alice’s voice came from the kitchen “Is that Sam? Show him through.”
It wasn’t Alice, but it sounded just like her.
Alice walked towards the kitchen and I followed. Her tiny little bottom wiggled like I’d watched on that first day. I hadn’t thought about it much since as I’d started to walk beside her rather than behind her, but I was powerful reminded of it now. She had a wonderful bottom. I was infatuated with her, every bit of her, and somehow being behind her gave me a chance to ogle more blatantly than if she could see my face and where my eyes roamed. It was liberating to get the chance to watch her walk from behind.
The kitchen was brightly lit and modern looking, and the dinning area beyond only lit by candles. The smell of food was fantastic. And there, chopping a salad on the side, was Alice’s mum.
Alice’s mum was similar to Alice in so many ways. She was the same height and build with blonde hair and blue eyes. And yet in so many ways, she was slightly different. Her hair was ever so slightly darker and straighter, and her brow ever so slight more pronounced. She looked so young, like she was Alice’s older sister. She was dressed quite normally in tight jeans and thin baggy wooly jumper. She introduced herself as Anita. She sounded just like Alice.
Alice was all dressed up, looking very girly. Her mum looked completely casual. There were candles. Her mum was with us. I wasn’t sure if this was a date or not. I sure felt romantic. It felt like Alice was making a special effort and I was excited. Was this more than just friends?
We sat, the three of us, on a small table and ate. Alice and I sat opposite each other and Anita sat on the end, between us. Anita sipped red wine. The lasagne was absolutely wonderful. Anita’s cheeks went red like Alice’s had when she had the rum and coke, and I guessed that Anita wasn’t a regular drinker either. The mood was so light. Anita got me to tell all about how I lived with my dad and what I was studying and what I wanted to do for a job and everything, and Alice tried her hardest to change the subjects and tell her mum off for asking embarrassingly personal questions. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing Alice so comfortable and alive and joining in the conversation. Anita was playful. I thanked Anita for the dinner, and Anita laughed and said I should thank Alice as Alice had cooked it! I was floored. Alice looked so embarrassed. Not knowing what to say next, I gathered up the plates and started washing them up.
Alice and her mum started talking quietly. It was like they were singing. I couldn’t understand a word. It was, I now know, how it sounds when they talk Norwegian. It sounds like singing. From their body language, Alice was telling her mum off for embarrassing her. They sounded so happy when they were singing but their body language said they were were arguing and Alice was trying to dissuade her mum from doing something rash.
Anita suddenly broke off their conversation and looked up and said loudly in English “Sam, Alice and I were wonderin...”
At that point Alice tried to cover her mother’s mouth up with her hand. They struggled for a second and Anita batted away Alice’s arms and carried on despite the protest.
“We were wondering if you would like to dine with us on Thursday too?”
My heart stopped! There was nothing I wanted more!
“And perhaps your dad would like to join us?”
Alice tried to shut her mum up again but it was too late, Anita had said it. And so it was. Anita looked triumphant.
After I’d rinsed the plates Anita came over and told me to just leave them. I tried to insist, but Anita plucked the cloth out of my hand and that was that. Alice shyly came and asked if I wanted to see her room.
Alice led me upstairs. I had dreamed of being led upstairs by Alice, but in real life it was a million times more exciting. Her bottom was so close I just wanted to reach out and touch her. There was another landing, with a bathroom midway and a front and a back bedroom. The back bedroom was Alice’s. She gently pushed open the ajar door and flicked on the light.
“What do you think?” She asked nervously, biting her bottom lip.
“I think you are a beautiful lady and the best cook in the world and I want to marry you!” I don’t know where that answer came from. It tumbled out so quick I hadn’t had time to even think it before it blurted out.
Alice blushed really deeply.
“Not me, silly, the room.” she said meekly, gesturing around.
But I could tell the compliment had landed. I was elated. I had just proposed to the girl I fancied. The only girl in the world I fancied. The only girl in the whole world I ever thought about.
I looked around the room. It was quite small, and very tidy and very Alice. It had been her room a long time. The wallpaper was still pink. There was still a poster of a horse tacked to a cupboard door. And then here were things that seemed more like the teenager Alice such as a makeup desk with mirror and a thousand tiny coloured jars and equipment, and a poster of The Who. There was a tape player with twin decks. There was a shelf along the wall over the little bed with lots of tapes and books on. I moved closer to see what kind of music she liked. They were all mixes recorded off the radio, with band names in Alice’s tiny tidy handwriting down the spines. And then at the pillow end there were some books. I moved closer. They seemed to all be Mills and Boon and Jane Austen.
I reached out to pluck one from the shelf. Alice launched herself at me, grabbing for my outstretched arm to pull it back away from the shelf. I kind of instinctively swung my arm away from her but she had grabbed my cuff and I carried her with me. She spun, tipped, overbalanced over the edge of the bed, and landed on her back spread eagle on her duvet with me tumbling down on top of her.
She was giggling “You can’t read my diary!”
I guess her diary was on that shelf. She suddenly stopped smiling, her eyes searching mine. Her fuzzy light blonde hair was spread out like rays of the sun on her pillow. I forgot what we were talking about. I lent in and we kissed.
Our lips touched. It was electrifying. I had closed my eyes. We just stopped, paused, our lips pressed lightly together, not moving, thinking about the sensation of our touching. I’m not sure how many days we just laid still, joined at the lips.
There was a loud cough, like someone deliberately clearing their throat, from the door. Alice and I sprang apart as though electrocuted. Anita was standing in the door way, leaning on the door frame.
“So you’re ‘just friends’ are you?” she said stifling a laugh.
Alice was beetroot red.
“No, mum, it’s not what it looks like!”
That kind of hurt me a little bit.
“I haven’t got you into trouble, have I, Alice?” I asked her.
Suddenly Anita was loud and aggressive from the doorway.
“You’d better not get her into trouble, young man!”
Alice looked shocked.
“Muummm, that wasn’t the kind of trouble he meant!”
Alice pushed me right off her and got off the bed.