I sat on the swing seat with Lina’s brother Josh. A plump boy with sandy coloured hair who worked on the trading floor of a big bank. I slipped off my shoes so I could feel the grass. “Why do girls paint their toenails?” asked Josh, looking at the lurid green polish, splodged onto my toenails earlier that evening,
“Self expression I suppose,” I replied. We could hear the others inside, the hum of voices from the kitchen.
“Do you think they’re talking about us?” he said,
I laughed. “Who cares,” I replied, “everyone here is a gossip, it’s like a disease.”
He put his arm round me and I didn’t stop him. He wasn’t attractive, but he wasn’t repulsive either. It just felt nice to have that weight resting on my shoulders. It had grown dark and the garden looked like a mass of shadows. Ominous trees loomed at the edge of the garden. “What do boys want?” I asked Josh,
“To be adored by girls,” he replied.
Boys are brought up to believe they are a small idol, and the need to be worshipped only grows as they become older. Mothers raise their sons to believe they are little princes, and then are surprised when their daughters’ hearts are broken.
I felt calm with Josh. The motion of the swing back and forth lulled me into an almost sleep, I wasn’t curious about what was being said indoors. Poison. That’s all it was. “Do you care what anyone thinks of you?” I asked Josh,
“No,” he replied. “They’re fools, the lot of them.”
“Im worried about Katy,” I said.
“She has to find her own way,” said Josh, “you can’t be her keeper.”
We fell asleep rocking slowly on the swing.
A couple of days later Josh called me at work. “I just had a call from a guy called Rupert, told me to stay away from you,” he said. I couldn’t tell if he was upset or not.
I didn’t really know what to say. “I’m sorry,” I said eventually, “I don’t really know where that’s come from.”
“I didn’t know you had a boyfriend,” said Josh,
“No, neither did I,” I said.
“Rupert sees me occasionally and never answers his phone,” I explained.
“Why do you see him?” asked Josh,
“Because I’m an idiot,” I replied.