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Nick Allen
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Best Mates

Nick Allen

 

          Lorna and me used to go to the pub or bingo two or three times a week while we left our blokes at home, babysitting, had proper good times we had, real girlie nights out. We’d regularly get pissed and sometimes, if we were lucky, cop a feel.

          That was three and a half years ago, though. Before little Grace went missing.

          It was on the news for weeks, pictures every day of lines of coppers crawling through fields or in the local lake. But little Grace never came back, was never found. These last three-and-a-half years are etched into Lorna’s face now, while John pissed off pretty sharpish when the fuss died down and left Lorna with nothing. I tried getting her going out again but – well, you work it out.

          Didn’t stop me offering, though. She’s me best mate, see, and I can’t stand to see her at home every night, telly on but not watching it. So you can imagine my surprise when she said “yes” the other night. I could see it was hard for her, but she had a determination about her too. I think she knew it was time to try, and boy was she trying. Her only condition was we go out of town where no one knew us.

          So we gets dolled up like the old days, I grab fifty quid of the ‘leccy money and we jumps in a taxi and head out of town to a pretty lively pub I’d heard about, where they're having a “fun nite”.

          Half a dozen shorts later and we’re both a bit pissed, but part of me isn’t ‘cos I’m watching Lorna like a hawk. And I can see part of her isn’t, too, probably never will be again.

 

          But we’re having a good time. Then Lorna’s dragged on stage by the MC with three other girls for some fun and games. It’s no surprise that the girls on stage are all wearing short skirts and have big tits.

          So the games get underway and it ends up with a tiebreaker question to win the drinks vouchers.

          Do you want to know what the fuckin’ question was?

          “What do you want most in the world?”

 

          I tell you, I’m sober in one second flat and I look at Lorna stranded up there and see she is, too. She’s stopped smiling, but no one notices, as the first two girls are answering “an engagement ring” and “a holiday in Hawaii”.

          All I see is my best mate on stage, like a lamb to the slaughter, and want to run up and tell the creep of an MC to fuck off with his stupid games. But of course I don’t.

          Then he asks Lorna his fuckin’ question. She pauses, and because of this the whole room goes quiet and I can’t barely watch.

          Finally she shouts, “A fucking great Plasma TV,” to a roar of appreciative laughter.

          Me?  I’m crying, ‘cos that’s the bravest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

 



School Prom

Nick Allen



     Mum and Dad are waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. I can hear them chatting with anticipation while I check myself in the mirror, adjust my corsage – wipe away the tears.

     As I descend the stairs, they “Ooo” and “Ahh” and say “Isn’t the dress lovely?” and all the other things parents say. And I put on a big smile and say “Oh, don’t”. And it’s the hardest thing in the world, as I look into their smiling faces and sad eyes, not to start crying again.

     You see, I’m the plain girl in the school. Did I say plain? I would love to be plain, but I don’t think I’m quite that nice. And Mum and Dad know it, and I know it, but we all go on pretending.

     “Come on, love, get in the car,” says Dad, rubbing his hands together to feign excitement, “I’m your chauffeur tonight, remember!”

     Yes Dad, I think
, that’s because I’ve no one to go with. No boyfriend – no girlfriends, no big limo coming for me.

     But I really say, “OK, let’s get going,” and give my Mum a hug. I don’t want to go tonight and be sat in a corner for five hours hoping the teachers don’t see me sitting alone. Because they’ll come up and smile like Mum and Dad do and say, “Are you having a good time?” and I’ll have to say, “Yes,” and there’ll be an awkward pause before they say, “Well, see you later, then.”

     So I hug Mum too tight and for too long and she has to gently push me away and as she does, I quickly wipe my eye. Then Dad drives me away and Mum’s on the step, waving, but I can see even she’s not managing to smile anymore.

     At the school, Dad opens the car door for me, takes me by the hand like a princess and helps me out. I keep hold of his hand, grip it tightly. My courage has failed, and I turn to him crying.

     “Dad,” I plead, wanting him to say, “Come on love, let’s go back to your Mum.”

     “But what would you say tomorrow?” he replies softly.

     And he’s right. So I turn and slowly walk through the school gates and I think I hear him crying, too.
















 

 

Nick (Allen) is a mental health nurse from Manchester, England.  He has been writing fiction for two years and has work published in a variety of ezines.

Check out his blog at http://www.thetinybadger.com

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