Friday, 8 December 2006


Julie watched him run into another great defence line, bob on his toes like a cat and sail through the lot of them with the ball still in his hands. The whole school cheered and the sound made the hairs on her neck tingle as if from cold, and then he scored the try right between the posts. The cheering was now like a solid object, warming the pitch between the teams and Gethin was right in the middle of it, being carried like a blonde trophy on their shoulders.
His dimpled smile reached her and she waved, he blew a kiss and smiled even harder. Somehow that just made it worse that he wasn’t hers. She was desperate to just touch those small ears, press her nose into his dimpled cheek and have him press back. She had watched him so many times, observed how his hair changed colour from the back to the front; the short back of his hair was almost gold and ever so slightly curly, but when it came to the front, into that little quiff, it was a light brown shot through with more gold. His neat eyebrows were the same colour, but his eyelashes were dark brown and long like a girls’. Julie had imagined them sweeping down across her cheek so many times, imagined cupping that handsome face with her hands and kissing it. She sighed.
Last time he had stayed at her house after an argument with his Dad; she had dried his tears, made him tea and watched him off to sleep. She had curled her fingers through his hair, smoothed his forehead and gently rubbed his earlobes until she’d made tears of her own. She had felt so wretched about that beautiful boy sleeping in her bed that she had gone to sleep in the spare room with Mr Bear clutched to her chest, the little toy’s head wet through from crying.
The worst part was that he’d already told her he loved her, that she was the best friend he’d ever had. Julie hadn’t known being told something so lovely could hurt so damn much. She’d been that great friend though, looked after him and comforted him – made it through the day without longing for him, waiting for him to change. Another sigh as the crowd cheered again, she didn’t bother squinting to see where he was, she was already looking at him in her head; watching his long legs stride across the muddy field, perfect pink lips breathing white clouds out into the cold air.
Everyone thought they were going out with each other, even his parents. It was a small town and it wouldn’t do that the school’s star rugby player was actually gay; he should have a girlfriend who watched him play so he could blow kisses to her from the pitch. Julie stamped her feet against the autumn breeze, gazing up at the clouds and laughing silently; she hated watching rugby.

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