7. A Chat in the Garden

7. A Chat in the Garden

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Darren had never seen his neighbour’s back garden from the perspective of being in it before, largely because this was the first time he’d actually been in it. But the heavenly (to him) Jennifer had guided him round, fetched a second deck chair from a rather posh shed, and invited him to sit in it while she sat in the other. And now he could see how much bigger the neighbour’s garden was to his own. Hugely so.

He looked at her, and sighed.

He was seventeen and her black mini-skirt was tiny, and he couldn’t help asking himself if all angels looked like this. And he couldn’t help making the comment:

That’s a very pretty skirt,” he said.

She looked at him and smiled, possibly reading his mind because she was well aware what she looked like: didn’t she have a bedroom mirror and hadn’t she looked at her own reflection most critically, and liked it?

But it’s plain black,” she said. “Nobody’s ever called black pretty before!”

I know what I mean,” came his awkward reply.

And so do I,” she smiled, “black can look really good if it’s seen against another colour, say the flesh colour of a pair of legs!”

Yes, that’s it, exactly,” he stammered.

They do say that young men like girls’ legs, though I don’t see it myself,” she murmured provocatively.

But you’re not sitting where I’m sitting,” he ventured.

We all thought you were either dead or dying,” she told him, changing a subject she knew they’d get back to because her vanity would demand it. She loved her legs.

What on Earth made you think that?” he asked.

I think it was something your mother shouted to your father when he was attending to one of the holes in the fence,” she said. “I heard it and I was worried. After all, I saw you collapse on the street. Down you went like a sack of King Edwards!”

King who?”


Oh, those King Edwards. Well, it wasn’t nice, head-butting the pavement like I did. I’ve still got a sore there.”

And you made a scary noise…”

Oh, that…”

What was it?”

I’ll tell you the truth because I really like you. I was trying to wolf-whistle, but I’ve never been able to. I know it sounds daft, but when that other chap did whistle at you and you smiled that smile of yours at him … well, that’s the truth.

Darren suddenly wanted to be anywhere but where he was. The confession sounded weak, almost comical, to his own ears.

How sweet,” she said.

Was it sweet? Admitting a failure like that? Or was she teasing him? He didn’t fancy being teased by the most beautiful girl on the planet, but being teased might turn out to be better than nothing.

Mmm.” was all he could venture.

What do you want to do when you leave school? For work, I mean?” she asked.

I’ve always been interested in stuff like space and the planets, and the whole universe as it happens, and I wouldn’t mind being an astrophysicist.”

My goodness me! You must be clever!” She looked genuinely impressed even though explaining his ambition had never been a likely chat-up line whenever he had thought of girls, and this girl in particular.

What about you?” he ventured.

Everyone says I’m a girl and therefore mustn’t have big ambitions when I might have tribe of kids before I’m forty,” she said, “but I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree at all. I don’t want to go into teaching or anything like that even though most kids are okay if they’re not spotty… oh, I’m sorry…”

Daniel knew that he had eruptions on his face, but there was nothing that seemed to work when it came to getting rid of them. They’d go when he got a bit older, he’d been told, but then he’d been told that since he’d been a kid, and now that he was seventeen his childhood was far behind him and he still had his spots.

It’s okay,” he lied.

Anyway, I don’t want to do that, so it doesn’t matter,” she assured him, meaninglessly. “I rather think I’d make a good doctor, and that’s what I’ve got in mind for when I get over my horror at the sight of blood!”

He looked at her with huge admiration on his face, admiration so powerful that she could see it for what it was.

I think that’s wonderful,” he said honestly, “and I think you’re wonderful too,” he added.

That, she thought, is the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.. and in gratitude she wiggled slightly in her deckchair and hitched the hem of her mini-skirt a good inch higher than it was before settling back and smiling at him.

You’re so kind,” she murmured, “after all, you hardly know me…”

He glanced at the acreage of leg and shivered. In actual fact he wanted to touch that leg, to feel its soft warmth, but he knew that would be quite the wrong thing to even think of doing.

You’d be surprised…” he found himself mumbling.

I’d be surprised? What of?” she asked.

He looked suddenly uncomfortable. The conversation was getting to be out of his control, but then it always would have. Jennifer had the assured confidence of someone whose parents had honed her to be like that, confident, self-assured, almost immodest, whilst he was Darren Bingley with Darren Bingley’s social limitations.

It’s all nonsense,” he assured her, “but sometimes, when I’m alone and can’t be bothered to marvel at the miracle of black holes and supernovae, I remember when I’ve seen you sitting out here in the sun with your lovely smile and your eyes shut, and I, you know, get to know you then.”

You do?” She looked pleased, which helped him with his nerves.

I’m sorry,” he muttered, “but I think you’re really lovely, too good for a person like me to even think of being with…”

Yet here you are, with me…”

Then something happened to put his world into a whirring torment.

She leaned over towards the deck-chair where he sat and very slowly, very intimately, kissed him on his lips so that he was totally convinced he’d feel the beauty of that kiss to the end of his days.

And a voice from next door where he lived shrieked like a demented hyena,

Darren Bingley, you come here at once! You know what the doctor said… and you must know your place, that you must know. That girl’s not for the likes of you…”

To Darren the universe imploded and for the first time since he’d been really little he felt the sting of salt tears in his eyes.

This girl, his mother shrieked, wasn’t for the likes of him. He wasn’t good enough. Nowhere near.

She’d be a surgeon somewhere, and what would he be? On the bins with his dad, he supposed. Where he ought to be, and not flying high in the regions of a vast imagination like he wanted to be, a master of the universe.

© Peter Rogerson 04.05.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 4, 2021
Last Updated on May 4, 2021
Tags: conversation, back garden, ambition, mother


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..