3. A First Dream

3. A First Dream

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



It was a chilly early autumn and Rosie snuggled up in bed and waited for sleep and dreams to engulf her with the usual instantly forgotten but none-the less blissful wonderland that scrolled past her during the night.

He was a nice boy, was Roy,” she thought, and he had been.

That second day all those years ago when the rain had started he had taken her by one hand and led her towards the old cottage.

It’s all right,” he said, “nobody’s lived here for years, probably not since before the war.”

The war had come to its bitter end twenty years ago, and when you’re almost sixteen, twenty years is more than your life-time, so it was a long time.

I’ve explored it before,” he said with the confidence that comes with youth, “there’s stuff in it, old musty stuff and loose doors and chairs. Come on, we’ll keep dry in there, and then, when the rain stops, we can go home perfectly dry.”

I’m getting wet already,” she grumbled, “I hate it when my skirt gets wet. It clings to my legs and feels all cold.”

Come on, then,” he said, holding her by one hand and tugging her along. She found herself trotting across half-buried rubble, almost tripping on a protruding broken brick, and he pushed the back door, which swung open with a graunching creak.

Then they were inside a kitchen that had barely been touched in years. There were footmarks in the dust on the floor, probably left by Roy on a previous excursion into its derelict interior, cobwebs clinging precariously to a wooden picture rail up by the ceiling, which was mottled in a variety of grey dirty tones. And a naked light bulb hung there. Did it still work? It looked to be so old and dirty.

This is my paradise,” grinned Roy, “I love old places like this. Nobody lives here, nobody cares about it, yet here it is. Look: there’s even a cooker! It doesn’t work, though: I suppose the gas has been cut off.”

It needs a bit of cleaning out before I’d call it anything like a paradise,” she said, “though that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. The musty air smells of, oh, I don’t know, time, years, people who’ve gone away.”

And ghosts,” he grinned at her, “I’ll bet there are ghosts here when the night falls and the only sound is the hooting of a distant owl!”

I might write a poem about it,” she murmured, half to herself, “I love the atmosphere. I love the idea that once upon a time there were people bustling about in here, mum cooking the dinner on that dirty old cooker, dad, lazy as men are, sitting at the table and waiting impatiently to be fed, and maybe the little boy pushing a toy car across the floor, which would have been polished and shining and clean back then.”

You’ve got quite an imagination,” he said, “I love it.”

You love what?”

The way you conjure up possible stories about forgotten times,” he murmured, a little shyly because he wasn’t used to praising girls for anything other than superficial things, like her long and golden hair which, for the moment, hung lank and damp down her back.

It’s the way I can’t help thinking,” she sighed, “there are so many stories that might be told if they hadn’t been forgotten. It’s sad, really, how men and women get married and like each other, even maybe love each other and kiss like mad, and have babies, and the whole lot of them slowly grow old, do things, and end up in the graveyard, leaving a gap that will eventually be filled when other people come along to live their lives.”

Like us, you mean?”

Yes. Like us. Like any stranger spending a few moments in a crumbling old place. Tell me, Roy, do you want to have children around you, helping to fill the space around you when you’re old enough? Are you a father-in-waiting? And when they come along, will you play with them, maybe have a son and play football or cricket with him according to the season? Will you create the raw material for other people’s ghosts?”

Me? Be a dad? I should coco!”

Why not?”

He looked uncertain at that, as if she was laying a trap for him to fall into.

You need the right sort of girl,” he said, “and you need her to know what to do. I mean, I went to a boys’ school, haven’t got a sister and the kids who live near us on the street are all boys except for one little girl who’s still in nappies.”

What’s that got to do about it?” asked.

Well, other lads, they seem to know stuff the girls they know tell them alol about things, at least they say they do, though I don’t always believe them. But, you know, I’ll find out in my own good time and not waste my life pondering on what I don’t know much about!”

So you don’t know how to become a father?”

And there we were, she thought a lifetime later as she lay in her bed, two teenagers far from the madding crowd and both hoping the other knew more about the grown-up things we’d find all too much about over our future lives. Yet back then it was all a mystery, sex, pregnancy, babies … I almost think I believed the old story about them being brought by a stork!

And it stopped raining before his ignorance could reveal itself in a silly boast based on knowledge as insubstantial as a vacuum.

I’ll be a dad one day,” he said, confidently, “but look: the sun’s coming through and the rain’s stopped, and we stayed safe and dry in here!”

My hair’s still wet,” she pointed out.

It’s beautiful, is your hair,” he whispered, “so beautiful I want to touch it.”

And dream of what it might have seen when it was much shorter and I was only a kid, like you did yesterday?” she said, grinning.

It must have taken years to grow like that…” It was half a statement and half a question. She nodded at the former and didn’t answer the latter.

I’m thinking of growing a beard,” he said, needing a hair-related topic to equal her glorious head of golden strands.

You’d look … like a rock star,” she teased him, “a rock star in a heavy metal group thrashing out noise and hoping it makes a tune!”

Don’t you like heavy metal?” he asked.

It’s okay. But I love poetry. Like Donovan sings,” she told him, “with me everything’s poetry.”

You’re sweet,” he said, meaning it.

You mean, like sugar? Or spice? Or all things nice?”

No,” he said, “like you. Only like you.”

Was I that sweet? Fifteen and only kissed the once by a boy? And did it cross my mind that it’s just about possible that kisses might make babies? Never! I can’t have been that naive!

© Peter Rogerson, 09.03.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on March 9, 2021
Last Updated on March 9, 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..