1 Jul



teenage boy tennis photo: Tennis Pocket Watch PocketWatchVictorianTennis.jpg

Paula’s dad loved a Sunday pint before lunch, and this time he was with his daughter Paula and her bitter-lemon drink.

He was a widower, so Sunday lunch was a confection lovingly prepared in the microwave in next to no time. Paula’s mum had died in the worst way possible, lingeringly and painfully, and when she’d finally passed away at the tail end of last year she’d left a family of two distraught human beings, husband and daughter, to weep themselves, slowly, to sanity.

Now emotions had finally settled down (though Paula and her dad both knew they’d have a precious memory to share for ever) and it was considered normal for him to have his Sunday morning pint (or two) whilst Paula was out watching the lads and playing tennis during the summer. What she did during the winter had yet to be decided: the bereavement was too recent for that to have been established.

He took a long and appreciative sip of his beer, a rusty ale lovingly created by a small brewery just outside town, and looked at his daughter.

So what did that David he mean by you not getting a car?” he asked.

Paula blushed. “Nothing,” she said, vaguely.

Nothing?” queried her dad.

Just something I said without thinking,” she said, blushing. “I … I guess I was jealous!”

You? Jealous? What of?” he asked, taking another sip of his beer and sighing as its tart flavours caressed his palate in a beautifully familiar way.

It was Simone,” she sighed.

Simone? Your friend? What did she do?”

Not much.”

But enough to make you come out with fanciful ideas about cars?” he asked, probing.

I just said you were getting me a car for my birthday and we were going to the pub to celebrate,” she said in one gabbled sentence. She felt uncomfortable, awkward even.

Do you want a car for your birthday?” he asked, gently, “After all, you will be seventeen…”

No … yes … no…” she babbled.

Well? Yes or no?”

No. No. No I don’t,” she decided.

Because that boy said?”

David! No, of course not! I hate him!”

You do?”

She took a mighty swig of her bitter lemon drink, and spluttered.

He was holding Simone’s hand! He was holding it as if they were Siamese twins joined at the fingers!” she blurted out. “I’ll bet they’re having sex together! I’ll bet they’re doing it right now! I hate both of them!”

I don’t think they can be,” he said, calmly.

What do you know? People like those two do the most dreadful things! I’ll bet she’s … she’s … she’s … I bet she’s pregnant!”

You do?” he murmured, smiling. “Is that the kind of thing you do with David when I’m not looking? Have sex? Get pregnant, I mean?”

Dad!” she almost exploded. “I never would! You must know that!”

But David would?”

No … Yes … No! I didn’t think so… but now…”

But with Simone?”

She’s pretty. Prettier than me.

Than you? Never! And anyway, what’s that got to do with it? Is it only pretty girls who misbehave?”

The boys all like her. I know they do. And she tells me … stuff…”

Oh. What sort of stuff?”

You know.”

I wouldn’t be asking if I did.”

You’ve told me often enough that you were young once and know from experience what some boys do because you were one of them… well, there are plenty who do it with Simone. So there.”

Are you sure of that?”

She says so.”

And she isn’t bragging? Exaggerating? Telling porkies?”

I … I don’t know.”

But you believe she’s doing it with David right now, as we speak?”

I’ll bet she is.”

Even though David’s standing over there at the bar, right behind you, trying to pretend he’s enjoying that beer he’s holding and that he’s not looking at you?”

Paula leapt up and knocked over the remnants of her bitter lemon drink, grabbing the glass in time to prevent it smashing on the floor.

Hey! Careful!” said her dad. “That is David isn’t it?” he added. “He’s still dressed for tennis, see.”

What’s he doing in here?” demanded Paula.

Her rather shrugged. “How should I know?” he asked, “why don’t you go and ask him, and get me a pint while you’re there?”

I can’t!”

You can’t? Why not?”

It’s just that … I hate him!”

Still? When he’s on his own and pretending not to look at you?”

He is?”

All the time. Paula, he seems a decent enough lad, which bearing in mind that I’m your dad is some powerful recommendation!

Holding hands with Simone like he was?”

Who was holding hands with who, Paula?”

They both were. It’s not fair! I hate them!”

I’ll go and get myself another pint then,” grinned her dad.

Don’t go near him!”

He’s at the bar,” replied her father laconically.

When her father had been gone a minute or two Paula risked a backwards glance towards the bar. And she saw that David was there, in his fashionable knee-length tennis shorts and smartly tousled hair, but it wasn’t that which caused her lips to curl.

Her dad was talking to the wretched cheating boy, and the two of them seemed to be having a good heart-to-heart. Then David smiled – that smile was one of the things she found most endearing about him, that and the way he wore his fresh white shorts…

And her dad was smiling too!

©Peter Rogerson 01.07.14


One Response to “A DRINK IN TIME”

  1. pambrittain July 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    This is looking like a happy ending. Why do I question that? Oh, never mind. It’s you, Peter, writing this story.

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