24. Heads or Tails

24. Heads or Tails

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



By the weekend the weather had reverted to being summer. The rain clouds, those that had dominated the world since the day they left the Dunes site, had migrated to the near continent and their little patch of mother Earth was both sunny and dry again.

And the deckchairs could come out again. And the skimpy frocks for Jennifer to almost wear together with a brand new pair of shiny shorts for Darren.

I thought I’d never see the day Granny Piper took to a lad from the council estate,” Jennifer told him, “she’s usually such a snob, but she took to you all right. I thought she was even going to kiss you!

She knows quality when she sees it,” joked Darren.

And if you’d been wearing that new pair of shorts you’te tainting my eyes with now, I reckon she’d have had them off you as soon as look at you,” smiled Jennifer.

She did seem to understand us,” he told her, “and I should think that two generations of apples haven’t fallen too far from the trees that bore them,” he added.

If by that you mean people don’t change as much as we used to think they did, then you’re probably spot on,” Jennifer told him, “I know mummy and daddy were both what we’d call modern, and married before they were twenty. Daddy said it’s because he knew he’d got the right girl and didn’t want to lose her by wasting so much time that she’d fall into someone else’s arms.”

I don’t want to lose you, Jennifer,” he mumbled.

And you’d be sorely hurt if I fell into someone else’s arms? What would you do? Get into a war of attrition against your opposition until he was worn down and bloodied, and then I’d be was left alone in the field and you could ride off with me into the sunset, where we’d get wed under a blazing sky, and then spend that first joyous night of wedlock discovering what honeymoons are all about?”

Something like that,” he said, immodestly.

What would you want to call the first child that emerged from that joyous union, Darren?”

He paused for a moment, “Depends if it’s a boy or a girl,” he said, and grinned. “It would make for an unhappy son if we named him Jennifer!”

It’s a nice name. I like it.”

But would you still be so keen on that name if you were a big lad with bulging biceps and something mighty lurking in his trousers?”

Don’t, or I might expect something mighty in yours!”

But would this rugby-playing giant like to be called Jennifer?”

No more than a sweet girly daughter would want to spend the rest of her life answering to Darren!”

So if we had a girl after a night’s uncontrolled passion once we were married, what would you want to call her?”

Something simple. Maybe after a fruit. Apple, say. That’s got a feminine sound to it, and apples are good to eat. I’d want to eat her all up, especially if she’s anything like as pretty as you!”

Or Grapefruit?”

Come in Grapefruit, it’s time for tea! It doesn’t quite have the right sort of ring to it.”

He laughed. “It’s a pity we aren’t allowed to choose our own names,” he said thoughtfully, “when we know something about the world and who we are.”

We’d have to wait until we were old enough to understand the naming of people, and by then we’d have been given a nick-name or a substitute name, and that would probably stick rather than the fancy one we’ve chosen for ourselves.”

True. So what is your favourite girl’s name?”

She thought for a moment, then, “don’t misunderstand me, Darren, but when I was a little lass I had a special friend called Ruth. In a way I loved her because for a year or maybe even less we did everything together, and then she faded away, found new friends I suppose, and soon after that I became old enough to start thinking about boys.”

He nodded thoughtfully, then “I had a friend like that. John, he was, and we were so close for a time. We hated weekends because we didn’t see each other then, he living a few streets away and neither of us trusted to navigate the roads that separated us! Why, he even spent one or two nights sleeping over, and my bedroom’s not very big, you know. That was years ago and I reckon that I’ve forgotten what he looks like already.”

I still see Ruth from time to time, but she doesn’t seem to notice me any more. And, you know, she’s plain as a pikestaff and I thought her the most wonderful girl in the world when we were friends. But since then she’s gone to plump. Not at all my sort any more. But somehow I still like the name.

I wonder,” he said thoughtfully, “if I should choose the name for any girl that comes along, and you choose the name for any boy.”

Hey, Darren! You’re jumping the gun a bit! Who said I’m going to want to marry you? And vice-versa, who says you’re going to want to marry me?”

There was one facial expression that seemed to go straight to her heart when he used it, and he switched it on, quite unconsciously, then.

Nobody,” he said, “nobody says that sort of thing. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea, would it? But I know what you’re thinking: we’re both hoping to be going to University in a year or so, and when we come out, when we’ve got our degrees and are all capped and gowned…”

You’ll be a spaceman ready to fly to Mars, and when you come back wounded, I’ll be the doctor who mends you!” She laughed. “Who can possibly tell what the future holds for us? And while we’re away studying, we both might meet a new lover, someone to break our hearts or mend them, who can tell?”

He frowned, then scowled.

I won’t,” he said, meaningfully, “I know I blooming well won’t! Maybe that girl from school, Patsy Plumb or whatever her name was, the one who’s pregnant, maybe she had the right idea. If she married the man who put her in the family way, that is.”

That would be Carl Rogers, and she wouldn’t want to marry him. I know she wouldn’t.”

But it would sort out the future for her.”

You mean, life as a single mum, and not just a bit of her life, but all of it? Harassed? Not knowing whether she was coming or going? And feeling all alone in a world that won’t understand her?”

Then I’d better marry you,” he said, determinedly.

Is that a proposal, Darren?”

Take it or leave it, but that’s what it is.”

Then I’ll have to sleep on it before I give you an answer. Will I marry the boy next door, or won’t I? Where’s a coin? I need to toss one … heads I will and tails I…”

Will!” he said for her.

© Peter Rogerson 22.05 21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 22, 2021
Last Updated on May 22, 2021
Tags: names, progeny, marriage, sjmmer


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..