A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Is Taylor shy? We'll see.


It was all Taylor’s doing.

He’d never had any particular interest in games like tennis but something made him wander along to the sports field where there was an area dedicated to tennis, just to see what people who batted balls over nets actually did. He did, of course, have Angela in his mind. She was rarely off it if the truth be told. She had become like an obsession and over the years since he had swiftly taken his photograph her absolute perfection had increased tenfold. Maybe even a hundredfold. Or more.

In short, she had become, in his imagination if nowhere else, the perfect female that others could only aspire to be like but never achieve.

And it was his fault because it was on that day whilst he was wandering around the sports field, in search of either enlightenment or damnation, that he met Louella.

Or rather, Louella met him.

To call her beautiful would be like calling a molehill magnificent. Beauty, the sort captured by artists in their search for their own Madonna or sleazy photographers in their promise of eternal fame to girls too young understand the folly of fame, wasn’t and never had been on her personal agenda.

And in her total disregard for painting a pseudo kind of perfection on her face with creams and powders, in her refusal to take a walk in Elysian fields with manly beaus prostrating themselves before her as she strolled amongst them, she managed to find a kind of beauty that could still any mortal heart for a moment or two.

The basic of her own beauty was plainness. Her face was so ordinary it might be easily confused with endless other ordinary faces. Her complexion wasn’t so much peaches and cream as fruit cocktail and custard, her hair was neither raven black nor tempting blonde but a kind of mousy brown. And normally her dress sense had little to do with current fashions or fads but her own personal comfort.

In short, she was probably best described as the kind of girl who might live next door if the family next door was as average as average can be.

And when Taylor passed her by he didn’t notice her because she was the kind of young woman that few people notice.

You’re Taylor, aren’t you?” she asked when she had passed behind him.

He paused and looked back. Maybe it was the fact that she had dressed for a game or two of tennis, in white, clean, pure white, that his heart gave an Angela-shaped lurch.

But he saw that, despite the dress, she was nothing like Angela, who had been absolutely perfect.

Yes,” he replied, “that’s my name.”

A good and manly name!” she smiled. Nice teeth, he thought. “But that’s not why I stopped you.” she added.

Oh?” His curiosity, not exactly aroused, was nonetheless not quite slumbering.

Bernie … you know Bernie?” she asked, then “of course you do, you’re neighbours. He says you’re into sport.”

Taylor had never been into any sport, though whilst still at school he’d almost been obliged to join the cross-country running team because he was one of the few boys who didn’t stop for a very forbidden cigarette under a canal bridge and consequently risked arriving back at school ahead of the field.

No,” he replied, “I’m not really very sporty.”

Oh,” she said, and smiled, treating him to s view of her excellent teeth for a second time. “He said you’ve got a portrait of a tennis player on your notice board.”

Oh that,” he said, and grinned. “It’s a picture I took, a photo of a girl I chanced to see on holiday a few years back.”

So you haven’t got any whites?” she asked.

Whites? What did she mean by whites? Her teeth were white, certainly whiter than most teeth he passed by, but she can’t have meant teeth, can she?

I’m Louella,” she said, as if being on first name terms was important, “and I was looking for someone to have a knockabout with. And I thought, well, if Bernie’s friend Taylor is into sport he might want to bash a few balls my way.”

I’ve never...” he began.

Never?” she asked.

Played tennis. We didn’t do tennis at school, or at least the boys didn’t.”

That’s a shame,” she said, “would you like me to teach you? To show you how it’s done? I’m at a loose end… You don’t need to wear white shorts, though it’d be nice to see the shape of your legs!

He never worked out, not then and not later, why he said “of course! That’d be nice!” but he did. But he wore his clothes, trousers and a shirt, the same things he’d been wearing when she’d stopped him.

There could be no doubt about it, she knew how to hit a tennis ball so that it’s very speed deceived his eyes as it flew past him, and he learned in almost no time at all that the very easiest thing to do when serving is to drive the ball straight into the net. But for half an hour he enjoyed himself and actually mastered one or two basic shots until she told him it was time for her to get changed so that she wouldn’t be late for a lecture.

We could always do it again,” she told him, “I don’t have a regular partner and you’re rather nice, even if you are a bit shy!”

That nonplussed him. He’d never given his general attitude much thought, but he guessed she might be right. He might be a bit shy if that meant he was slow to get to know other people. He’d always been that way. Maybe if he wasn’t so introverted he might have at least said something to Angela, to make her remember him.

I’m sorry,” he said, humbly.

It’s all right,” she smiled, showing him those teeth again, “I like boys that aren’t too full of themselves. I tell you what, after the lecture I’m free until dinner. How about popping into my room for a cup of coffee. I’m in room 101. It’s a number you won’t forget in a hurry!”

Ah, nineteen eighty-four,” he smirked, showing the allusion wasn’t lost on him.

You can be my big brother if you like,” she said quietly, and suddenly he got the feeling he’d like to see those spectacular teeth again. And maybe after that, again and again even if her promise of coffee did risk staining them.

Louella wasn’t pretty in the normally accepted sense, but she was certainly fascinating, and that was much better.

He found himself rather liking her, and what’s more, committing the number 101 to his memory, lest he forget it.

© Peter Rogerson 15.08.19

© 2019 Peter Rogerson

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Added on August 15, 2019
Last Updated on August 15, 2019
Tags: tennis, girl, beauty, plaion, friendship, obsession


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..