6. An Unexpected Invitation

6. An Unexpected Invitation

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



A distorted, indeed exaggerated, image of the boy next door collapsing with the most humongous groan onto the hard pavement tormented Jennifer that night, and the next morning she decided to put caution to the winds and see what might be wrong with him.

I mean,” she said to Mrs Violet Sagebrush, her wonderful mother, “the last I heard was he was dying.”

Oh dear,” sighed her mother, who thought it most unlikely that a boy fit enough to play football could possibly die of fainting or whatever he it was had happened to him, “wouldn’t it be nice to ask his poor mother.”

So Jennifer thought that, even though she didn’t think either she or her parents had exchanged so much as a whispered word with any of the folks next door, it nevertheless would be the kindest thing to do.

Her problem was more one of class. The neighbours, Darren’s folk, weren’t quite the same sort as her sort. They were (and here she felt uncomfortable when the very idea dared to cross her mind) not the same class of people as her parents, and the man, Darren’s father, Mr Bingley had taken to wearing the most inappropriate shorts that tended (and she shuddered at the thought), to bulge. In addition, though she didn’t know where he worked she was sure it involved some kind of oil because, well, he was sometimes smeared with the stuff. At least, that’s what she thought it was.

So she dressed appropriately for someone visiting a house of mourning. Her only black skirt, though, was very short and she only liked wearing it because, when she looked at herself in her mirror, she thought it a miracle that her underwear didn’t show even if she hitched it up a millimetre or two. But, overall, it’s saving feature was the fact that it was black, the colour of mourning just in case the boy was dead. She did hope not, though, because when he peeped over or through the fence that separated their gardens she rather enjoyed teasing him with her hemline. And she did know her legs were rather special. She could see that for herself.

So clad in the tiniest black mini-skirt she plucked up every ounce of courage that she could and went next door to commiserate with parents who were probably deep in mourning. She even made sure she had a clean hankie with her, just in case.

But it was Darren who opened the door, then nearly closed it again before opening it really wide and stepping into the empty space just in case it decided to close again.

Hello,” he said, and she couldn’t help noticing that he was blushing furiously.

Oh dear,” she said, not knowing what else to say, and hitching her skirt up slightly just in case it helped. “I heard you were in hospital…” She almost stammered when she said that, and stammering wasn’t what her class of people did, not ever, no matter how awkward the situation.

They kept me in just in case,” he told her, also almost stammering. His reason was different, though. Here he was standing in his own doorway and the brightest star in a heavens made up of sparkling angels was standing there, all legs and beauty and glor and tiny black skirt, and here he was, standing awkwardly in his school P. E. shorts that were beginning to misbehave at the very sight of her. It was then that it crossed his mind that she must surely be the loveliest creature under the sun and that there could be no doubt that he loved her.

But it was a tad awkward, because she was posh and he wasn’t, but the notion wouldn’t evaporate like inappropriate notions should.

In case of what?” she asked, largely because it was all she could think of saying because she noticed one thing above all others, and it made her tremble. His shorts. Yes, they were clean, yes they were of the school physical education variety and yes, they were on him. And being on him endowed them with something she’d never ever dreamed could exist except in tacky romance paperbacks (the sort she rather enjoyed when she could get her hands on one without her mother noticing she’d borrowed it from her.)

And those shorts made her want to do one thing. Suddenly she really, really wanted to kiss him.

The thought didn’t die like wayward thoughts ought, but grew until, on a shameful impulse, she flung her lips at his and sucked.

I’m so glad you’re not dead,” she said.

It way have been fortuitous, but at that moment Darren’s mother dressed in a rather worn onesie (it had been pink but the last wash had turned it mauve) made her way from another room into the kitchen.

She saw who was at the door, and her mouth slipped out of all association with her brain.

Why, you are the most beautiful young woman I think I’ve ever seen,” she gabbled, too quickly and with too many nerves attached. “No wonder my Tom can’t stop weeding the garden on your side when you’re soaking up the sun.”

Jennifer knew quite well that it wasn’t only Darren who spied on her as she hitched up her skirt. There were other eyes too, and she found it a source of amusement teasing their owner, whoever it might be.

Mum!” exclaimed Darren, as if she’d let a whole collection of cats out of an enormous bag.

And you, son, and you,” grinned Rona Bingley, her mind racing to see if she could find a way of straightening the collection of words that had spilled unbidden from her mouth. “And it’s no wonder, with a creature as totally lovely as you only yards away! You must get it all the time, admiring glances from a whole host of boys. And older men too, I wouldn’t wonder. Oh that I could be seventeen again!”

I just came to see how Darren was,” smiled Jennifer, in full command of herself now that she could see how desperate Darren’s mother was when it came to saying the right thing, and by what distance she actually missed.

Oh, they kept him in overnight,” smiled Rona, back on a sensible verbal track. “There was a chance that he might have been concussed, so they kept him in overnight just in case. But he’s okay, aren’t you Daz?”

Don’t call me that!’ his mind screamed, but, “I’m fine now, I hope,” he said.

Then Jennifer found herself saying something she would either regret or rejoice in for the rest of her life.

It’s a lovely day,” she said, because it was, the sky being blue and the sun shining hotly, “do you fancy coming round next door and sitting in the garden? Then you could tell me all about it without boring you mum to death?”

The invitation was just too much. But instead of collapsing again he struggled to remain upright and nodded his head with such violence that it almost gave him a headache.

I need that kind of rest,” he managed to say, “the doctor said…”

© Peter Rogerson 03.05.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 3, 2021
Last Updated on May 3, 2021
Tags: neighbour, hosipital, concussion


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..