“You’re only fourteen, you don’t know what love is.”
This is my mother’s wisdom. Something which irritates the hell out of me but I didn’t want to get into it now. I was not accustomed to getting into these matters at seven o’clock in the morning, at the top of the landing after a shower, with a towel wrapped around me, my hair still soaking and water creeping down my back. I sidestep past my dressing-gowned mother and close my bedroom door behind me. I tousle my hair dry and check my phone to see if she had text me. Not yet.
I spray deodorant all over my body before slipping on my Spider-Man boxers. Spider-Man’s eyes were either side of my crotch, watching out for the vulnerable treasure hidden inbetween them.
“You better look after them,” I remind him, chuckling to myself like a loon.
Shirt and trousers now on, I clamber down the stairs, dragging my blazer and tie along with me, shoes lodged under my chin and bag slung over my back. After nearly falling down the stairs, I dart past the living room where mother had settled herself into the sofa, coffee in hand, poking morosely at the iPad. Dad is in his orthopaedic seat, a throne of musk to park his itchy arse, watching his daily DIY programmes. Even Claire is up, she usually stayed in bed until near midday – lazy bitch.
In the bread bin I find my sister has left me just the crusts. How thoughtful of her.
As I wait my phone vibrates in my pocket and I smile to see her name heading a message.
C U L8R BABEZ. MWAH! XOXOXO
I draw smiley faces into the crusts with the flat of a knife and chuck them in the toaster. I agonise over a reply, but eventually decide to send just kisses back. With my slabs of toast done, I bang them on a plate, smother them in butter and hesitantly enter the living room trying to suppress a grin.
“Mornin’ son,” Dad mumbles ritualistically.
I nod as an answer, falling into the free single chair opposite Mum. She doesn’t look up, neither does Claire. The latter is clicking away on her phone, like she has friends.
The atmosphere in the room is as thick as my toast, though it only seems to ooze from mother – though that is bad enough. You see, on Friday my sister had blabbed to my folks that I was seeing a girl. There has been a tension in my mother ever since. It made me anxious and feel as though I had done something wrong. Sometimes I had felt like telling my parents the truth, because I was so happy and I was so sure they would just beam at me. But that had been robbed from me now.
Though Dad seemed pleased that at least his youngest son didn’t turn out gay, mother was a different matter entirely. The whole weekend was like one big chav-free Jeremy Kyle show, entitled: ‘Help, my son has a girlfriend’. I really do wonder if she was ever like this with my older brother, though somehow I doubt it.
“Too young, too young,” my mother mutters.
I just didn’t understand, I’ve had girlfriends before, though admittedly I don’t recall telling her about any of them. My mother seem to equate boyfriend and girlfriend to sex, though it was rather galling as she had been pregnant at seventeen herself with my older brother. Dad says not a word, his mouth quirking, clearly enjoying my embarrassment and possibly the hypocritical nature of it all.
I munch on my smiley toast, watching Tommy Walsh as he gave tips on the best way of tiling a kitchen floor.
“Ah!” exclaims my mother triumphantly, beckoning me over to her. “Look at this.”
She thrusts the iPad at me, its screen displays an article of a 13 year old boy who fathered a child, the older girl having bullied him to sleep with her. I pretend to read it and chuck the tablet on the settee.
“Mother,” I moan, my face heating. “It’s not like that.”
It is true, I didn’t have any immediate plans to start a family, I’m quite sure she didn’t either. We didn’t need that. I just loved being with her, it was comforting, having a rightness to it that I find hard to describe. Well it is kind of like the same feeling I have when I watch cartoons; utter contentedness, never wanting them to end. Yes I know, equating cartoons with love is beyond the pale but she made my head lighten just by being with me, almost dizzy and as though a current was passing through our skin as we held hands. Well Mother, if that isn’t love then what was it?
I would be lying if those other thoughts hadn’t played across my mind though, but they were just harmless imaginings for now.
“Maybe not yet,” says my mother, slicing through my thoughts. “But sooner or later it might happen. At a party, in a park, anywhere…Is she in your class?”
I try to hide behind my second piece of toast, pushing the residue of butter around my plate. It takes time for my Mum’s coffee to work.
“Mother, I go to a boy’s school,” I say patiently.
She has no reply to this, flinching at my formality.
“Well, are you going to invite her around for tea?”
I huff, but my mother steamrollers on.
“Frankly, I think we should meet this girl if she’s so important to you.”
I open my mouth to protest.
“I agree,” pipes up Claire, a smirk on her face.
“No one asked you!” I snap.
A glittering brace makes an appearance as a smile spreads across my sisters face.
“I really want to meet her too,” she croons. “She must be well thick though, actually wanting you to munch her face off.”
“Well no one would get off with your mug of a face,” I retort. “They would rip their lips off with those pylons of yours.”
My Dad chuckles but my sister glares at me.
“Gerald, now don’t take this out on your sister,” Dad put in dutifully.
“Dad, don’t call me that!”
My name is Reilly. Not really my first name, but can you blame me? For some reason my parents thought it highly amusing to inflict the name ‘Gerald’ on me. Maybe in the stone age that forename was fashionable but the name ‘Gerald’ was about as popular as ‘Jesus’ around here. I have made it crystal clear that I hate this name, insisting that friends and family call me Reilly. Most do, except my sister of course who uses neither of those names.
“Well retard,” my sister says, relishing the insult and diverting my attention from the before and after shots of the kitchen Tommy Walsh had tiled. “Your true love is at the door.”
I bolt upright, feeling the heat rise in my face again. Surely she hadn’t come? That is the last thing I want right now, as much as I love her.
“Jon’s at the door,” Claire sneers at me.
“The twin,” my mother says darkly, as though informing us that Darth Vader had arrived.
I ignore them and dart to the hallway mirror, swinging the tie around my neck, ponce around until it is all neat and then pop on my blazer.
It is Jon. It is highly unusual that he ever knocks. He usually just phones me, as though he thinks knocking the door is somehow taboo.
“You allowed out now?” he asks without the conventional pleasantries, he doesn’t look his usual cocksure self.
My parents for some reason were reluctant to release me before eight o’clock. I never truly understood why, but I had never really questioned this stupid rule.
“Mom?!” I ask, looking at my watch: 7:47 am.
“Yes!” she calls wearily from the living room.
She sounds like she is answering my loaded one word question, so I whip a jacket from the coat peg and close the front door behind me.
“What’s up?” I say, a broad grin on my face.
Freedom! Freedom from the constant bloody questioning. I honestly don’t want to know what is up with him but it is my duty as a friend.
“You alright Jon? Why did you knock?”
“Got my phone banned,” he mumbles back. “Mums being a right old bitch lately.”
We turn into a gully at the end of my road. I notice Jon’s strut is missing this morning. He is consciously working his stride as though forcing his way along the path.
“Tell me about it,” I say fervently, knowing Jon and knowing if he hadn’t confided in me already, he wasn’t planning to at all. “Must be something going around.”
“So I hear your parents found out about her,” he says with a forced sort of smirk. “Unlucky.”
He sounds almost vindictive, or at least pleased.
“It doesn’t change anything,” I insist. “She left the house yet?”
“Dunno,” says Jon. “Probably still putting some slap on.”
I dig him in his arm.
“Mate or no, do that again and I’ll kick the shit out of you,” he warns, pointing a finger at me threateningly.
I try to gage his tone and look him square in the face – he meant it.
“I’m not going anywhere near my house anyway,” he continues, losing the vehemence from his voice. “Mum will find something else to have a go at me about. After school I wanna get dressed and then out as soon as possible. You up for that? Cos I need to meet Kerry outside her school.”
As it happens, I was not up for that. All I want to do is see her, my girlfriend. The day could not pass soon enough. Kerry is a friend of my girlfriend, who Jon had been seeing even longer than me – but they had nothing on us. I dig my phone out of my pocket and find another text from her.
MISS YOU BABEZ. MEET BY PARK AGAIN REMEMBA. JON WIT U? XOXOXOX
“You don’t wanna go out for anything but her do you?” he demands, voice thick with contempt, giving my phone a nasty look. “Should never have introduced you.”
I just smile before texting a reply.
Can’t wait. Yeah he’s with me. Y? xxxxx
“Fuck sake, she’s the same at home you know, grinning like a fucking chimp. My Mum is well suspicious, probably thinks she’s on drugs or summat.”
I consider Jon for a moment. He shared no resemblance to her at all but those eyes. Dark dark eyes that were almost black, glassy eyes that danced and glittered, as though they were seeing more than just me, deep and penetrating.
I shook my head violently, Jon is not her.
“Eh?” Jon prompts, sounding confused.
My mind works quickly, trying to remember and put out conversation back on track – he was bitching about his mother.
“Yeah she is a bitch,” I say vaguely.
Jon gives me a dig, his boney knuckles numbing my arm slightly. I use my good arm to press the button at the zebra crossing.
“Only I can call my Mum a bitch, even though she is.”
His mother is friends with my own, meeting weekly at weightwatchers, or as I call it: the menopause mob. I originally thought it was his mother who had grassed on me, as weightwatchers was on a Friday, though that was before Claire claimed credit for it. I laugh as we cross the road and into the park next to my school.
“Well I won’t take it back then. Though I’ll tell your sister if you hit me again,” I promise. “That will be quite a sight, twins fighting…”
“Oh fuck you Romeo. Listen it’s not me you should be scared of, my Dad won’t be happy – trust me.”
Jon is trying to convey something, which I couldn’t quite work out.
“You get weird around her,” he says. “To tell the truth, it’s pretty sickening”.
“Listen Jon mate, I’ve had enough of my folks banging on about it all weekend. Can you just not?”
Jon grunts unhappily and we pass the school gates in silence.
“Well I’ll wait till after school then,” Jon says. “Just tell me something though, do you know who-”
“-spilt the beans?” I finish. “My sister.”
“Do you know who spilt the beans on me?” he asks quietly.
He sounds choked up, as though trying to stop himself from crying. I pull him none too gently into the little garden area at the side of the science department which seems to be empty.
Jon’s face is pale and he puts his back against the wall of the science classroom, sliding down, curling up and pressing his knees into his eye sockets.
My phone interrupts me, buzzing in my pocket. I dig it out.
SAME 😀 NOTHIN, JUS TELL HIM IF HE GOES ANYWHERE NEAR HER, HE’LL B IN EVEN MORE SHIT XOXO
I relay the message to Jon, watching him carefully.
“Who does she mean? Why are you in the shit?”
I watch his shuddering breaths and how he ran his shaking hands across the brick work behind him. I really start to worry now, this is not like Jon at all. He never shows weakness, never.
“Jon, mate, tell me whats wrong,” I urge, bending down to slap him on the back, for comfort and to bring him to his senses.
The other lads would take the piss out of him if they saw him like this, though ironically it was usually Jon doing that.
“Kerry’s pregnant,” he forces out, voice cracking.
Jon is sniffling, rocking back and forth as I stand there dumbfounded, at a complete loss for words.
Well Mother you have the wrong lad, it wasn’t your son, it was Darth Vader all along.
I really don’t like Mondays…
Copyright 2014 Luke J. Fielding