My fictional version of the day my parents met
Terry at 18
Shirley at 15
Terry's Indian motorcycle
Blat-blat-blat! Shirley jerked forward on the sofa clutching the book to her chest. Heavens, what's making all that racket? Now silence descended. The sounds of children shrieking and a ball being kicked came back into focus. Shirley crept up to the window and parted the lace curtain just a crack. A boy was hopping off an Indian motorcycle. What a cheek! What a lot of smoke! I wonder if he's woken mother?
Nothing moved within the little flat. She sighed. Her fingers released their pressure on the curtains. Her shoulders descended a fraction. The shelf lined with china figures of ladies frozen in dance - fragile as icing on a cake - stared past her. She parted the curtains to look outside again.
Outside, the boy pulled off a leather helmet. Black hair as slick as oil. He shifted the goggles from his face to his forehead. Shirley laughed. He looked ridiculous! White circles of skin in a grey-flecked face. How silly to travel that way and get so dirty. Imagine what he smells like!
A cough rasping and ragged issued from the back bedroom. Shirley dropped the edge of the lace and spun around. Another dying hack. On light toes she ran into the bedroom.
Stopping unsure a few steps later, she blinked in the heavy, perfumed darkness. Then Shirley picked up the limp hand that dragged on the carpet and tucked it back under the covers.
"What is it? Leave me!" her mother croaked, her voice thick through the covers piled on her. She rolled over coughing intoher pillow. "Can't a woman get some peace? Shut the door and stop your blathering, child."
"I was just checking if you needed anything mother?" said Shirley, backing away even as she said it. Oh mother!
Knock! Knock! Shirley sucked in a breath and quickly shut the bedroom door behind her. Who could that be? Did mother hear? The sound repeated with more insistence.
She hurried to the front door, her heart hammering like an engine running in her chest.
"Who is it please?"
"I'm Terence Hefferan. You don't know me. My mother lives on the floor above you? She needs to know what the time is. Our clock you see, it's broken. You wouldn't know would you?"
Shirley eased the door open but didn't let it off the chain. Her breath frosted the metal panel with a ghost that swept back to nothingness again.
Through the slim gap, she saw the dirty face, the white eye patches, the black shining locks. The smell of oil and dust went straight up and pinched the back of her nostrils.
She recoiled, pushing the door closed again, with one hand to her nose. "Just a minute please... Terence. I'll have a look," she said, politely.
Shirley swiftly crossed to the kitchen parlour. In the part-reflection of the glass doors, she paused to push her bangs up off her forehead. And then she pinched her cheeks.
A minute later, she returned to the door and opened it. The boy called Terence smiled revealing a half moon of very even teeth.
She looked up at him and said, "It's half past eleven."
"Thanks... say, you didn't tell me what your name is. You're Shirley? How do you do?"
Shirley's eyes trailed down the cotton shirt and widened. A pair of khaki shorts ended above the knee and revealed a pair of the skinniest and hairiest legs she had ever seen. Lord save me from those legs!
"Sorry, got to go." She shut the door.
To read about the way my family has supported me, go here. To read the story of my amazing grandmother, go here.