Roses, scales and vines.
It's my first ever Valentine's Day. I can't believe I'm getting Jay all to myself.
Content warning: sexual acts and coercion.
Valentine’s Day ❤️❤️❤️❤️
It’s nearly Valentine's Day! My first Valentine's Day to feel a smooth thick red envelope under my fingers a sweet something delivered from under soft eyelashes half given half shoved.
Every year I watch friends open cards from brave boys who sign their names and strut up the creaking corridors coy smiles and swagger. Flowers and roses. Teachers smiling, cheeks rising with blushes as the school rose delivery announce their names from the doorways.
Pushing my hands into the Disney Store pyramid, I have someone to buy for! I pull out Winnie-the-Pooh’s Rabbit, a charm against his hex, his awful ex. Down through to Marks for a small chocolate fudge cake, something to share, so there’s no arguing about who makes breakfast in the morning. It’s almost time for me to have him for myself this whole day and night, to hold him, all mine.
We’re together all of us in the cadet hut pizza booze driving here and there he flirts with Emma and takes the gifts an awkward smirk.
When I won’t shag him in the hut his friends around he’s so understanding but of course but bargains a blow job but even then shame creeping up the smell the opaque viscous cum the thought of piss and cum I can’t.
In my bed Sunday night remembering though sitting curled around him my arms round him feet on his thighs, head on his shoulder, breasts up his back. Every part of me crushed up against him. I WANT HIM and I don’t think that it will happen. If ever again. Bad omens circle.
Why couldn’t I just do it?
Messagesmessagesmessages I leave for him, his home, with his friends. I give him 2 weeks. 1 week.
Walking home over broken lumpy red brick pavements, Liam tells me he’s not friends with Jay any more.
Is this my punishment for having sex before marriage? Sex without even being with someone, just drunk and in a room with so many other people for letting someone do this me?
A week, two weeks roll by without a call.
Even I know it’s time.
None of this matters. I’m going to die. Soon. All I see is death. Watching the 10 o’clock news with mum and dad my nylon trousers crick as I stretch down against the wool sofa. Trevor McDonald shines against the thick soft curtains, bringing us news of fresh disaster. Panic spiders across my chest.
Why is death all around me? Liam’s on call from the marines, to wipe someone out in Northern Ireland. I can’t tell anyone.
If he dies, he’ll go to hell. So many of my friends don’t believe in god, my brothers don’t believe in god. They’re all going to hell.
Blue biro I write my prayers keep my people safe. Dear God — may your love, mercy and grace bless all living. Help them to share in your love + help me to live my life better and more loving, forgiving and understanding. Amen.
The phones bleat. I run along the landing, or down the straight down staircase from my bedroom to the phone by the front door. The gong of the loose floorboards, or the thud from jumping the last three of the stairs, my palm skims the perfect, thick varnished oak curves of the bannisters.
Catch my breath pick up the phone
“Can I speak to Sophie?”
“No, this is Ann’s house.”
“We’re breaking up. You’re messing me around, I don’t like it.”
Jay’s thick laugh, deep low ‘hu-hu’, confident, slow. Pauses. A space.
“I promise I’ll buy you a Valentine's present if you take me shopping”. His caramel voice warms my heart. My feet on the ground or my feet against the beech wood telephone table, layers of mum’s fabric nested inside under, next to me the Yellow Pages and stacks of books even here the phone book, the church phone book. Watch myself in the mirror by the door all 6 feet of it it shakes with every door click.
His voice rises, soft, fast, “We should be shouting and screaming at each other! Slamming down the phone!” Baby voice squeaks. Safe now, laughing together, he brings me back together.
The anxiety haze leaping in my chest eyes sore in the lamplight
It’s done. That’s done.
The next day my hands run major and minor scales. 2 octaves, then 3, clear proud timbre of the Bechstein the dull brass candlesticks from the days of mythical great-great-aunts entertaining. My arse spreads over the side small circular piano stool made for ladies, not soft wide me.
Matt chalk-blue upholstery peers through, the racing-green cover lost its elastic years ago. The seat wobbles over the carved-wood coil, the griffin feet, thick old lacquer. I ignore the jolts and catches of the twirling stool its mechanism too old too delicate maybe as I stretch up and down 4 and 5 octaves where the strange A to A keyboard allows.
C major, A♭ major, F # minor. Relentless, my fingers bend and stretch. His voice pushing pushing in against the contortions of my thumbs and fingers.
Yesterday, light and liting, Jay’s voice, “We should have stayed no strings”.
No-one’s home and I allow my fingers to press and release heavier the every correct run and mis-key hammers into my brain. “FUCKING TWAT, ARGHHHH”
I start back at the beginning shake my hands from my wrists heavy hard like my wrists might twist away break away from my arms breath high in my chest hands try to raise my hands from my wrists to the keyboard delicately allow my fingers count 34343435 not knowing when my thumb or third or fourth finger should be taking over to keep the flow.
Fingers reaching wider, my handspan tighter fingers less mobile stretching reaching to the highest daintiest end of the keyboard —
“It would have been better AnnStorr, come on”.
Clouds fog, smack me hard in the head.
So cheap. A used rag.
The notes stop. I’m alone without a sound around me.
Looking away from me, three children and their donkey, tower over me in their gold frame, their ruffles, silk, his top hat. The white donkey grey in the gloaming. I hated these kids when they’d peer through the twilight of bedtime, until I could say how they scared me –
Into my mind blink and — last night’s dream.
Jay kissing me, I’m on my way to a party, one of the lads from RE. To get there I have to jump into a void, craggy sides, broken bricks, rubble.
My hand grabs thick leathery vines, fine prickles tickle the soft skin of my palms, I swing down, deeper into the black space, hand to hand, narrowly missing stinging nettles that sway towards and away as the breeze meets my body. My lungs full but I am on my way to the party.
I don’t understand it.
I blink again.
I play another scale
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