Lynn gives Mike an ultimatum.
My boyfriend, Mike, lived in a large detached house in one of the better areas of Locksford. I curled myself up under the blankets of a luxurious and expensive double bed, feeling flushed, warm, and contented. I had deceived my parents by telling them that I was staying the night at my friend Pat's house but the guilt about telling them lies was the last thing on my mind. I was impressed with Mike's bedroom, it was bigger than the living room at my house and as well as an expensive hi-fi he had his own television and his own telephone in the room. My underwear was lying on the floor and the rest of my clothes neatly draped over a chair. I had enjoyed our lovemaking and felt contented with my lot.
Mike's father was away on business taking his wife with him and leaving Mike in charge of both the Gym and the house. I fantasised that this was my home and I was married to Mike, a successful proprietor of a string of fitness centres across the North West. I would love a big house like this one and love to spend my life bringing up my children in such a place. I imagined watching my babies play in a huge playpen in the enormous garden. Mike, lean, muscular and handsome, mowing the grass wearing just shorts and sandals while I sat at a garden table wearing a straw hat and a bikini. I would be sipping at a Cherry B from a Babycham glass, two cherries on a stick lying in the glass, one for me and one to teasingly feed to my husband, my lover.
But a darkness drifted into my thoughts like it occasionally did; like an unwelcome guest spoiling a party. This man had violated me and forcefully taken my innocence. Even though he had shown a great deal of remorse and had treated me like a queen ever since the dark thoughts would often unexpectedly enter my mind; but I always managed to expel them as I concentrated on our newfound closeness.
I felt as if I were the envy of all the girls in town. Mike was the prize they all wanted but he was mine and I thought we would now spend more time with each other. Perhaps one day we would indeed be married, share our future together and turn my fantasy into reality.
The door opened and Mike walked into the bedroom with a small bottle of sparkling wine and two glasses on a bright silver tray. I looked over at him and grinned. He looked magnificent with his tanned naked body toned to perfection.
"Why are you walking about in the nude?" I said. "I thought you'd put a dressing gown on or something."
"What for, I'd only have to take it off again wouldn't I? Do you want this drink now or later?"
"Err, let me think." I paused, my gaze dropped provocatively to look up and down his naked body. Knowing he was teasing me I looked back to his grinning face and gave a short laugh. "Later," I said. He put the tray down on the dresser and I laughed again and pulled the covers over my head as he rushed towards the bed.
I had been for a driving lesson and was sitting in The Coffee Bar waiting for Kathy. We have been friends since our early school days and I missed the fun we used to have when we went out together but no amount of prompting seemed to have any effect on Kathy's stay at home attitude following the death of her mother.
After the funeral, Kathy had to cope with the extra blow of her father seeming to lose interest in her and her sister as if he blamed them for their mother's illness. He began spending most of his time and money in the Crossways Tavern, the large public house near the Meadowview council estate. He became increasingly hostile towards his daughters and was especially nasty to Kathy even though she gave up her social life and spent all her spare time at home. She worked at the local bakery until late afternoon and then she would go home to prepare and cook the dinner. She did all the washing, cleaning and ironing and also attended to the garden after her father lost interest. She worked hard and it annoyed me that her father didn't appreciate her efforts and criticised her at every opportunity.
"Blinking quiet in here," Kathy said as she walked in The Coffee Bar. She greeted me before getting herself a Coke. "Can't you turn the jukebox up, Tony?" The proprietor looked at her and gave a false grin while raising his hands but he ignored her request. "Can hardly hear the record," Kathy said as she sat down at my table.
"Waste of time asking," I said. "He won't turn it up till tonight. Thinks if it's too loud it'll turn the shoppers away." I glanced at two middle-aged women who were drinking tea and chatting. At night, it would be a different place and packed with teenagers with some of them dancing to the music that would be blasting out at full volume from the jukebox. I ran a spoon across my milky coffee scraping away the skin that had formed on the top. I gave a laugh. "Do you remember when we were in here with those two boys from the grammar school?"
"Bloody hell yeah. It was your thirteenth birthday." She started laughing. "That was so funny. We tried for ages to get a date with them. You had to be flash. We all got bottles of 7up but you had to have the milky coffee. I'll never forget the look on their faces when the slimy skin on the coffee went in your mouth and you spat the lot all over the table."
"I was so embarrassed; everyone in the place thought it was hilarious."
"Yeah, except the grammar school boys. Our first potential boyfriends but they never asked us out again."
"Pair of boring prats anyway."
"I dunno they weren't too bad, from a distance anyway, bit snobbish though. I suppose they were boring really." Kathy reflected for a moment before perking up again. "Talking of boring prats. How are you getting on with Mike now?"
I gave a laugh at her comment. "I don't know why you don't like him."
"You're my mate and he doesn't treat you right. You shouldn't be taking second place to that gymnasium."
"That's gonna stop. I've decided to have it out with him tomorrow night."
"You'll get no commitment out of him, Lynn. To be honest, I'm worried about you. I've heard some dodgy stories about him."
"Oh, Kathy, don't. Don't worry about me I can look after myself and if I don't get any joy out of him tomorrow I'm gonna finish with him anyway. Then I'll have to start dragging you out at night," I added, trying to lighten the conversation a little.
"Yeah, well we'll see." The pause was only seconds but when Kathy spoke again the jolly tone of her voice was like a breath of fresh air. "So, how did the blinking driving lesson go then?"
The following night I was with Mike at The Kings Arms. We were arguing but I felt he was not taking me seriously. It annoyed me and I raised my voice. "Wednesdays and Sundays, it's like a sodding school timetable."
Mike glanced around the bar aware that everyone was listening to our conversation. He took hold of my arm. "Come on," he said. "Let's get out of here."
We went outside but a cold wind was blowing along the street causing me to shiver in my short-sleeved frock.
"I don't know what the trouble is," Mike said. "You go out with the girls while I'm at the gym and I don't complain about that, do I? You've got the best of both worlds."
"That's not what I want, Mike. All I want is..." I stopped suddenly as I noticed two girls approaching and I stood quietly waiting for them to pass.
The girls looked up at Mike's short, American style, cropped hair. He couldn't help but respond to their interest. His highly developed body looked as if it would split his shirt as he expanded his chest. His muscles flexed as he stood like he was holding two invisible suitcases. I ignored the girls but waited until they were out of hearing range before continuing.
"I want a bit more commitment from you. One more night, just one more night a week. Surely that's not too much to ask. Things are different now."
"Oh, I see. You think everything has to change now you've lost your virginity. Well I had to wait long enough, didn't I? I could have been with a dozen girls while I waited for you to make your mind up."
"No, Mike, I didn't make my mind up you did."
"Well it was bound to happen eventually, wasn't it? And you know how sorry and upset I was about it, but it turned out for the best. It opened up a whole new world for us. Don't tell me you haven't been enjoying it all the other times, you know, when we've both been stark naked in my bedroom."
"Mike, don't talk like that in the street," I spoke sharply while looking about to make sure no one had heard him. "Anyway, there's a lot more to it than that. We've been seeing each other for nearly two months now and we usually only meet twice a week; that can't be right."
"What about the other Saturday? I spent half the day round your house, didn't I?"
"But you didn't come to see me. You came to watch the World Cup Final with my dad. Shouting like a couple of kids and you hardly even looked at me."
"I'll try to spend a bit more time with you on Sunday afternoons but that's it. I've got too much to do at the gym."
"I'm not playing second fiddle to that place. We either spend more time together or we might as well call it a day."
"You are joking, aren't you? Do you know how many girls are just waiting to take your place?" Mike began laughing.
"You think this is funny, do you? Well, that's it, Mike, I've had enough." I turned and walked away expecting him to stop me, to hold me, to kiss me and ask for another chance. I listened for his footsteps running to catch me up but the only footsteps I could hear were my own lonely footsteps echoing off the pavement. The cold wind blew through the material of my frock and I shivered as goose pimples appeared on my arms. His van will pull up beside me, I thought. He won't let me go home on the bus with no coat on, not on a night like this.
I left the bus and hurried the short distance to my home on the Meadowview Estate. The house stood at the end of a block of four next to a small green. I pulled a few leaves from the privet hedge as I passed noticing how my father had put off clipping it again.
Because I was home early, I thought I had better look into the living room before going up the stairs. I knew if I didn't call in my mother would suspect something was wrong and would follow me up to my bedroom.
My mother was surprised to see me home so early. I smiled at her. I admired my mother's girlish looks and remembered the times she was mistaken for my sister. My father sat in his chair, his huge frame and flat broken nose were clear evidence of his former heavyweight boxing career. My two younger brothers sat on the sofa annoying each other.
"Are you all right, love?" my mother asked. Despite my smile, she seemed to have noticed the sadness in my face.
"Mike's not feeling well so I came home on the bus. I'm a bit tired anyway. I think I'll just get off to bed."
I walked slowly up the stairs to my bedroom and sat on my bed in the corner of the room. I looked across at the Gonk on top of my record player and thought back to when Mike bought it for me. I imagined it laughing at me and I went over and picked it up, opened my bedroom window, and threw it out into the back garden.
My mind wandered back to the dreadful night when Mike attacked me, how I had forgiven him and allowed our relationship to continue and develop into a more intimate affair. I began to feel guilty because I had been putting my feelings for Mike before my feelings for my parents. What would my parents think of me, their little princess, if they found out that I had been deceiving them? If they knew what had been going on over at Mike's house?