10 Aug


anime girl tennis photo: tennis 17-3.jpg

Sometimes, thought Paula, sometimes you have to let time do its own thing. Sometimes you’re too close to things to tell good from bad, right from wrong, the appropriate from the inappropriate. Sometimes you just have to let time pass in the way it wants to pass, to stand back and watch the stream dispassionately even though it hurts…

And it had hurt.

David had gone to University and settled in with his maiden aunt. Why did he call her that? Why emphasise her unmarried status by calling her maiden? Aunt Priscilla would have been kinder… Anyway, he kept in touch with Paula every day, just as he had promised, and then, suddenly the emails froze. Became icy. Distant. Trivial. And slowly petered out, and she guessed why, though she didn’t know her name. Not yet.

Meanwhile, Simone had slowly recovered some life in hospital, but she would always walk with a severe and painful limp at best, and even after a year found a wheelchair an essential accompaniment when she was out and about, which wasn’t often. The visible scars of her accident had almost completely faded, her complexion was as peaches-and-cream as ever, but if you stared at her face ever so hard you could still see tell-tale signs of the surgery that had mended her. And that’s what she did: she stared ever so hard at her reflection in any old mirror, and saw what might have been but wasn’t.

She might have thanked some deity somewhere for being alive, but she didn’t: she thanked the medical staff instead.

Her trial was delayed until her recovery was well under way, and despite her worst fears she was found not-guilty of anything but defending herself from a serious sexual assault, in her fear using an instrument that wouldn’t normally hurt a fly. But what else could they have done to a cripple with a ruined life and big sad eyes? She was discharged, with no smear on her name.

David met Jenny. At first she was just another undergraduate, a bright girl with an ever-present smile and legs to die for. David had a thing about female legs. They even teased his dreams!

And Jenny played tennis.

And she wasn’t Paula.

Jenny was a girl he could love in every sense of the word, and he fell for her hook, line and sinker, at the same time as his emails to Paula became brief. And unlike Paula, Jenny was no prude…

Had Paula been a prude? Was that why he needed to move on?

Was he being unfaithful to Paula? Is that why his emails got briefer and the texts dried up?

Paula left home because her dad infuriated her with his reminders of her time with David and what might have been but never would be – his words meant to upset her when he felt like asserting himself. Anyway, it was no life having to be the perfect daughter because there never was any such thing. So she found a friend called Sue and moved into a nice little two-bedroom flat with her, and in a way that was when life began for her.

They weren’t wild things or anything like that, but they did go out and laughed and giggled probably too much, and when they found lads the idea of a one-night stand seemed perfectly sensible, and she discovered that you don’t need a long-term relationship to enjoy sex.

After all, she’d never discovered sex with David. Maybe, she thought, he was a prude…

I wonder whose story this has been? Paula asked herself. Everyone has a story and everyone’s the hero or heroine of their own story. Dad had a story and I reckon that story came to a sort of ending when mum died. That’s when he changed.

David’s got a story and it’s got a Jenny in it and I know, from the things he wrote, that they’re a perfect couple … sport, going out, studying, blogging… I was in his story, but I’m not any more.

Simone’s got a story. It’s a powerful story of life and death and pain and suffering, and she’s slowly coming into volume two of it which could harbour unsuspected triumphs in the years to come, and where I hardly ever appear.

So whose story am I in? Is it my own? Because if it is I don’t seem to have any other characters in it, since Sue went off with Tony…

Tony was a one-night stand that became sort of permanent, and her flatmate Sue moved in with him after saying hardly a word to Paula. Had the boot been on the other foot Paula would have done the same, so it didn’t matter.

Paula gave up any idea of furthering her education. She’d never been the academic sort anyway, and it was her father who had dreams of attending a University graduation ceremony at some future time, proud and smiling, the source of the girl’s genetic prowess. Instead, she got a job in a sportswear shop where she felt at ease and earned quite enough to be able to afford the rent on the flat on her own.

So what was the point of it all? What was the grand purpose behind the tennis on the recreation ground, the furtive worshipping of a lad who placed her so high on a mental pedestal that all she could do was fall off, all the stuff of growing up?

Did there have to be a purpose?

That year passed so quickly it was like in the blinking of an eyelid. But nobody was the same at the end of that momentary optical spasm as they had been at the beginning.

Which is a microcosm of all life, anywhere.


© Peter Rogerson10.08.14


4 Responses to “TEENAGE DREAMS, ALAS”

  1. pambrittain August 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    I saw those evil two words, Peter, but it was a great conclusion.

  2. Peter Rogerson August 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    I couldn’t carry on trying tosecond guess a teenager’s responses forever. The End.

    • pambrittain August 10, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

      Gotcha. I’m ready for something new. What’s it gonna be?

      • Peter Rogerson August 11, 2014 at 8:28 am #

        I wondered about a blind detective…? Just a thought at the moment…

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