When I walked into my sitting room that morning I wasn’t surprised to find someone asleep on the sofa. There had been a lot of noise the previous night when Mum had returned, with her boyfriend, from his sons leaving party. He was emigrating – that’s what they called it in those days – to Canada. It seemed a guest from that party was still here.
Staring at him sleeping I felt something strange happen. A feeling I couldn’t quite comprehend. My stomach had butterflies. His dark hair was messy and by the way his feet hung off the end of the sofa I could tell he was over six foot. Waking suddenly he looked at me whilst rubbing his eyes.
“Hello, who are you?” I asked.
“I’m Lennie, Bobbies best mate.”
Bobbie was mum’s boyfriend’s son, soon to depart from our lives.
“Would you like some tea and toast?” I gushed, having a sudden urge to act on those strange feelings and look after him in some way.
“That would be great, thank you. You must be May – I’ve heard all about you?”
“Yes that’s me, I won’t be a minute.”
I went off into the kitchen my heart scampering around in my chest. Lennie walked in and sat down at the table. We chatted. I blushed as I served him his breakfast. He seemed to be interested in my school and hobbies, even making jokes I could understand. I really believed I had never met anyone so handsome or amusing before.
He was twenty one, I was eleven.
Two years later my mum married her boyfriend. They had a small wedding party after the service at our house. I was at that awkward age. All limbs and no real shape. Lennie walked in and I stared from across the room, now too shy to go and chat with him like we had before. But I certainly had not forgotten him. Sometimes his name came up in family conversation and the racing of my heart made it clear to my head, that I still had a crush on him.
Before the celebrations had finished, when he was a little bit tipsy, he came over and asked how school was and told me he was getting married at our local church in a few months. My heart fell through my chest but my smile didn’t waver.
My Saturday job was in one of the local shops. I worked there with a few of my friends, including Vic and Ant. Whenever Lennie was seen coming down the road, to buy his weekly shopping, one of my co-workers would call me. Immediately I would stop what I was doing and be there at the till waiting to serve him when he needed. I was growing up fast and considered attractive. But I wasn’t overly forward or confident. He always seemed pleased to see me. Sometimes his wife was with him. She was a very beautiful Asian woman. Together they made a good looking couple.
I went travelling for a while so there was not any likelihood that I would bump into him.
Now at twenty one, I had it all going on. The legs, the hair, the boobs. One evening I was out with a group of friends in a pub a few miles from where I lived. I was heading to the bar to buy a drink, turned around and there was Lennie. My stomach lurched and my heart fluttered. Yet I knew they were behaving that way out of habit. After all, they had been practising each time I saw him for ten years.
We stood and talked. He was now thirty-one. Still quite good looking but to me, he seemed almost old. The slight pot belly didn’t help. Inquiring how his wife was I felt a little disappointed. He told me they had divorced a few years previous but had managed to remain amicable.
I finished my drink and he bought me another.
Vic was my boyfriend at this point and he knew full well who Lennie was. As I started on the second drink, still chatting, I could see him out of the corner of my eye looking over, concerned. But something compelled me to continue. I threw my long hair back and laughed. Leaned forward and made a comment about his jacket. Touched his hand. I was actively flirting knowing what I wanted to achieve. This man had been the star in so many of my daydreams, not to mention early “wank fodder”, as I had grown up. I had wanted him even when I didn’t know what that meant. Now he had to want me. That was only fair.
I left him and returned to my friends. Vic questioned me,
“He’s very sweet but old and a little fat,” I reassured him.
We were all going on to a club and the cabs had arrived. I told Vic I would be out as soon as I had said goodbye to Lennie. I touched him on the shoulder. He turned his back on his friends and asked if he could buy me another drink.
“No thank you, I just came over to thank you for the previous drink and say goodbye.”
He held out his hand and brushed his lips against mine in way of a farewell.
“Bye May, it was great to see you again. Perhaps I could take you out to dinner soon? Can I call you?”
Trying not to smile too much, I leaned forward and hugged him. The karmic wheel had struck again.
“Thanks for the invite but I don’t think my boyfriend would like that.”
“Ah, of course you have a boyfriend.”
I turned and left and never saw him again.