2. A First Dispute

2. A First Dispute

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Dusk began draping its smoky shadows on an early autumn world and an elderly Rosie Pinkerton moved away from the window and switched her radio on. She loved the radio, comforting voices regaling her with tales that might have been from her own yesterdays, or music by Mozart or Brahms.

Once it had been Donovan and Dylan, but now it was Mozart and Brahms. Times change, she thought, and people both stay the same but in their own subtle ways, they change.

That kiss, she thought, that first ever kiss…

I wrote it down in rhyming verse, the way I felt when his tongue touched mine, when he gently felt my teenage lips with his, and it was the very first day of magic. I recalled what my pen had scribbled as I lay that night in bed. Not brilliant, I know, but what teenager is?

We were there in the fading sun

And I felt his searching tongue,

A sudden birth, a hopeful lover’s start

As it reached for my beating heart

To where my dreams were hung...

I didn’t know then, did I? How things would last and slowly change, how one moment stretched out to an eternity, and it would never be the same again. I couldn’t see a single shade of grey.

Even eternity grew brief, like it should never be.

He was there at the school gate next day, and he’d washed his face, washed his hair, changed his clothes. Was this the same Roy?

I hadn’t realised just how scruffy, grubby even, he’d been for that first kiss… but he loved my hair, and that spoke volumes.

I thought I’d meet you,” he said, and there was a nervousness about his voice, the way he spoke, the way he chose his words.

I said you could,” she told him.

Do you always wear your school uniform?” he asked, trying not to sound critical but actually sounding critical because, well, why had he asked?

Of course not,” she said, “do you always wear jeans?” She meant it as a riposte, but it came out cheeky.

It’s all I’ve got,” he said frankly.

Oh. Are you poor, then?”

That was the daftest question she’d ever asked because it implied a superiority that couldn’t possibly exist. Her maiden aunt saw to that! But she did have a yellow gingham dress that maybe still fitted her, and what did he have?”

Shorts,” he said, “when I was at school and played football. So I’ve got some shorts.”

What do you look like in shorts?”

All knobbly knees and hairy legs,” he said, frankly.

Were you any good at it? Football, I mean.”

She knew he was good at kissing, so what did being good at football matter?

I couldn’t see the point,” he said quite seriously. “I mean, if a boy wants to run there are plenty of places, like parks and canal banks, for him to do that. And if he wants to kick a ball then what’s wrong with his own back yard?”

But if you were kicking a ball in your back yard I might not see you in your shorts,” she teased suggestively, “I could write a poem about that! Manly booted feet surging over the damp dewy turf… legs shining with perspiration, that sort of thing. So if you don’t play football, what do you do?”

What do you mean, what do I do?”

For a living, I mean.”

My ancestors went hunting,” he told her, “a long time ago before they invented houses or shops or cigarettes.”

They did?” Now, she wondered, what was he on about. They’d reached the lane that led to the ruined cottage where they’d met yesterday and she knew they both wanted to go there. It was a first place. A first meeting, a first kiss … what else could there be that was first?

And they took spears with them and provided for their women with food for their bellies, a deer here, or on a poor day maybe a rabbit there.”

And their women would do the hard work, gutting and skinning and all that stuff while the brave hunters popped to the pub and played cards with their manly mates?”

He looked at her and frowned.

Hunting was the dangerous part,” he said, “risking life and limb in the forest or the jungle or wherever they lived, while the womenfolk tarted themselves at home with red for their lips and sweet fragrances for their hair, and anyway pubs hadn’t been invented.”

She didn’t like that. For a start she’d never worn lipstick and in her head she thought she probably never would. And so what if their hair smelled sweet? Because that meant it was clean.

Is that what you think of women?” she asked, “vain and decorative and okay for the occasional kiss?”

I only kiss the ones I love,” he told her, and she noticed the plural. The ones? How many lasses did he kiss, push his tongue into their mouths and savour them? Was she one of many, and was he a take-your-turn sort of boy, here today and gone tomorrow and leaving a trail of broken hearts behind him.

You never said what you did, besides going out into the jungle and killing things,” she said.

They were almost at the cottage and a spot of rain came down as if the boy, Roy, had ordered it. He hadn’t, of course, but she wanted something to criticise him for. Red lips indeed! And the plural of them, too!

It’s starting to rain,” he said, obviously.

Don’t you really like girls?” she asked, needing to know. “Are you one of those lads who fiddles with other lads and scorns girls?”

That cut him so deep he thought his heart might break. The very idea! Everyone knew he wasn’t one of those! And this girl, he’d only met her yesterday and they’d kissed, she wasn’t to know it but she was the first girl he ever had kissed but it’s best not to tell her something like that or it might reinforce her nasty ideas about him.

I’d have thought our kiss yesterday might have taught you something about me,” he said, his voice raised.

But yesterday was special,” she said, “it was the day we met.”

And today?” he asked, baring his teeth.

Today’s the day we seek reality,” she said.

And years later, sitting and listening to Brahms, she wondered why she’d said that. What was reality, anyway? She’d lived a long life and had managed to work out that there’s no such thing as reality. Even the stars in their courses know how to turn black to white. No, she even wondered about truth too.

If a boy or a man kisses a girl or a woman, where’s the truth in that? Is there any?

And what had he said to that.

You’re so lovely,” was his response, “that’s my reality.”

And tomorrow?”

Tomorrow I’ll wear my football shorts,” he said, “now let’s shelter if there’s any roof left for us to shelter under. And if we both get soaked and catch pneumonia we’ll know what reality is!”

© Peter Rogerson 08.03.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on March 8, 2021
Last Updated on March 8, 2021


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..