Hi, it’s me. Um… me and my brother’s going to the Roundhouse on Sunday. Dyawanna come?”
“Ok. See you outside Chalk Farm tube at twelve then.”
“Far out. Don’t tell your mum where we’re going.”
She puts the phone down.
Other boys of twelve might run around the house laughing, or rush to phone their best friend or seek out their older sister to confide it all in them. But not this one. My self is a big, private space. I invented a word to describe it: aloneliness – the state of being solo but liking it that way.
And I have friends and a mum I like – but they all seem a long way away from the real me. I live in my room and on the walk to and from school, somewhere between North London and the 21st Century, full of ideas and imaginings which I type out on an Olivetti portable typewriter which my Dad had in the war and wrote sexy poems on which I got to see once before he left, and I illustrate my adventures with coloured crayons and stick the words and pictures in exercise books and paint the covers with Potter’s psychedelic paint, and I love doing this.
And I love Jennifer I love love love love love her. I love to say her name. In my head.
She is two years older than me. She has amazing red hair, like a flag, not too many freckles and grey green kind of eyes, and the best smell ever of soap and mints and tobacco.
Her parents are friends of my parents, sort of, and once they came round for dinner: avocado vinaigrette, Chicken casserole with new potatoes and mum’s home made chocolate mousse. Jenny looked bored during the meal, snarling at her mum as they talked about her good results and teased her about the state of her bedroom. Afterwards we left them upstairs drinking coffee and Jennnifer followed me downstairs.
In my room she went straight to the French windows, yanked them open then pulled out a crumpled roll up from a matchbox in her pocket and lit it . I switched on my record player, took Sgt Pepper out of its sleeve, put the disc on the spindle and watched it clunk onto the turntable, the needle swing across, drop down - and the music played.
“We were talking.. about the space between us all” . Those green eyes surveying my room with its coating of posters and newsprint and drawings. She exhaled and smiled. “Wow, Pipsqueak.”
Then her eyes lit on the futurizer on my desk. She rested her cigarette on the edge of the windowsill, picked up my cardboard time communicator, opened it, looked into the carboard screen, laughed.
“Go on, Pip, let me take a look.”
I jumped up to grab the futurizer but she held it high. I jumped to reach but only bumped into her body. I jumped again. She laughed and twisted away, Then I grabbed her, started to tickle. Jennifer howled, squirmed and wriggled. “Hey!” Then she was tickling me back. We fell on the floor, her hot, strong body struggling against mine.
Then suddenly I was flipped on my back, Jennifer straddled me, her knees on my arms.
“Ow!” I pulled my arms free.
“Stay right where you are.”
I lay back, felt the heat of her on my tummy, smelt her soap and tobacco breath, that long hair tickling my face. She looked down at me triumphant. I wriggled to get free. Then I looked up at her, noticed a button had gone on her blouse. I stopped struggling.
And she stayed sat on me, rested the Futuriser on my chest and opened it.
“This is great. A cardboard time machiney thingy.” She said, “I used to do cutting and sticking stuff a bit like this. I sawed the roof off my dolls house and turned it into a boutique once and designed all the clothes for it. Far out, Pipsqueak.”
Then suddenly she rolled off, lay down beside me looking up at the ceiling. She pushed open the doors and relit her cigarette.
She sighed. “Too old for all that now.”
The sides of our bodies pressed together. And we lay there in the dark staring up at my ceiling which I’d covered with silver foil and stars, and our wonky reflections looked down on us and our eyes nearly met and it was good.