Cheers for the reviews.
We're lying on Roman's bed, staring at the ceiling. Roman doesn't normally allow himself to be so physically close to me, but I guess losing his virginity last night somehow makes him feel he's validated his sexuality.
Leisel, it turns out, has a cunt. She said good-bye to her penis half a year ago, months before Roman and I even met her.
'She looks fucking awesome naked,' Roman remarks easily. 'Man, how the hell can you want to have sex with a man?'
'I just do.'
'That's plain wrong.'
'Thanks for your input,' I reply edgily.
Roman sits up. 'Don't get cut,' he frowns. 'I know you probably think I'm gross, too. Come on, do you really want a detailed explanation on how hot I think she is, and how much fun I had playing with her tits?'
'No,' I reply. 'Sorry, I'm a bit sensitive today.'
He shrugs. 'Whatever. Hey, can I ask you something?'
He flops back onto his back and stares at the ceiling again. I glance over at him, my irritation with him gone. I'm so jumpy today. All the guy wants to do was share his excitement at getting laid. The least I can do is shut-up and pretend I really am interested in heterosexual sex. After all, he's listened to God knows how many of my comments, questions and thoughts on homosexual sex.
'If you told Brett or Michael something, and asked them to keep it private, and you later found out they'd told someone – or each other – would you be pissed?'
'Yup, but exactly how pissed off I'd be is dependent upon what it was I told them. I mean, I kind of took it for granted that when Brett found out I was gay, that he'd tell Michael. What I didn't expect was for them to go around telling every person on earth.'
Romie wrinkles his nose. 'In my case, it was Dad telling Mum that Leisel was born a guy. Then Mum went and told Geoff. They were giggling about it this morning. I overheard him. Damn, they piss me off. I'm sure it would be soooo funny if they were the ones who were born in the wrong body.'
'Don't let it get to you. Brett and Mike react stupidly to shit. I think they forget that people under twenty actually have feelings. You know, 'wow, that's a real person' doesn't seem to sink in with them.'
'Yeah. I think I'll choose to ignore them. My mum has plastic boobs as well, the only difference is that Leisel admits she's had surgical help, and Mum doesn't.'
Romie and I crack up laughing at the mention of both his mother and his girlfriend having fake breasts. I personally think Leisel's look more 'natural' than Mona's. Leisel is kind of chubby, and I've learned – from Roman's running commentary – that bigger girls normally have bigger boobs. Roman's mum, however, is skinny with big boobs.
'Ugh, I'm thinking about boobs,' I remark aloud, in disgust. 'Would you shut-up, please?'
'Boobies, titties, ta-ta's, rack,' Roman smirks triumphantly.
I react immediately. 'Dick, willy, cock, penis, hard-on, stiffy, erection…um, um, um, stag.'
'Pussy, cunt, snatch, vagina, hole…Will, help me out….'
We keep giving each other shit, poking and prodding and making highly questionable statements about one almost die laughing. Roman falls off the bed and hits the floor with a loud 'thud', as tears of mirth roll down my cheeks. It feels good, it feels really, really, good to be laughing again. I'm really happy for Roman, too. I know a lot of people would say it's selfish of him to want his girlfriend to have normal, female genitalia, but I honestly can't hold his desires against him. I doubt there's anything that would alter the fact that I'm sexually attracted to men, so there's no way I can expect a straight guy to want anything other than pussy.
The doorbell rings, and Roman stands up, and limps down the stairs. He's still laughing. I follow after him, knowing damn well that it's Leisel who's rung the bell. I wasn't planning on visiting Roman today; I just came over because my own family made me totally stress out yesterday. Little did I know that Leisel was going to come and pick him up, before the two headed down to Southbank.
Roman basically throws himself into Leisel's arms. 'I missed you,' he announces. 'Come in. Will's over, so say hello to Will,' he requests, grabbing her arm and making her wave to me. 'He's coming to Southbank with us.'
'Actually, I was going to go to the library to study,' I reply.
'Will!' Roman exclaims. 'I never see you anymore. Come out with us. I promise we won't embarrass you.'
'But I get embarrassed so easily,' I joke, trying to hide my discomfort. 'You couldn't possibly not embarrass me.'
'Psht,' Roman replies disdainfully. 'Wait here. I'm going to go and get dressed. Leisel, you can come with me.'
Without giving me the chance to say a single word, Roman drags Leisel upstairs. I glance around the lounge uneasily. Both Roman and I know that I wouldn't just nick off without saying good-bye, so this means I'll have to amuse myself while I wait for my best mate to 'get dressed'. This can be painful; Roman likes to look good.
I sit at the bar, reading through yesterday's Courier Mail, as the minutes tick by. Forty-five minutes pass before Roman and Leisel finally come downstairs. I know damn well what they've been doing, and to be perfectly honest, I'm jealous. I miss having a boyfriend. I miss having Jackie. What I felt for him had nothing to do with the fact I had sex with him. I genuinely had feelings for him.
'Sorry,' Roman apologises blithely. 'My hair wouldn't sit right.'
'I thought you were going swimming?' I reply archly. 'Who cares about your hair?'
'Yes!' he agrees. 'Yes, we are. Hang on, I'll go and get you a pair of boardies.'
Ten minutes later we're finally heading out the door. I've rather obviously agreed to go to Southbank with them, and not only that, but I've agreed to travel in the same vehicle. This leaves me sitting in the back of Leisel's father's car, trying to make conversation with two people who are in turn trying to have a conversation with me, but failing miserably because they're too wrapped up in each other.
After arriving at Southbank, we head down to the beach areas to swim. I choose to sit on the sand, study, and mind our belongings while Liesel and Roman go into the water.
I'm sitting on a towel with my biology textbook open in front of me, when someone speaks my name.
'Jackie?' I ask, glancing up.
'That's me,' he smiles, sitting down alongside me. He turns to a child who's followed him, and gestures for the boy to sit down with us. 'This is Josh.'
'Hi,' Josh greets, in between licks of a rainbow-coloured ice-cream cone. 'We have ice-cream.'
'Is it good?' I ask.
'Here,' he offers, passing over his ice-cream cone. 'You can have a little bite.'
'Um, thanks,' I reply, pretending to take a bite, and handing the cone back. Josh isn't a tidy eater; ice-cream has melted over the waffle cone and touching it has left my hands all sticky. I rub them on the towel, but all I manage to do is make sand stick to my hands.
'You only pretended to eat some,' Josh accuses me.
I look to Jackie for assistance. He smiles broadly at me.
'It's okay, mate,' he tells his son. 'Will didn't want to eat any of yours. He can share mine.'
True to his word, Jackie tries to hand his own ice-cream cone over. I refuse him. He shrugs and returns to eating his ice-cream, as though it doesn't really matter to him whether I share his snack or not.
I lay my textbook down, and gaze at Jackie out of the corner of my eye. I wish he'd had more patience with Brett and Michael. Just seeing him again is enough to make start liking him all over again. I love the way his thick, shaggy hair is dripping water onto his tattooed back, I love the long, dark, eyelashes, and I love his brilliant, dark blue eyes. I miss the tickly, scratchy hair on his chest, and the way he'd fool around with me after sex. Just…God, I miss being with him.
'So how have you been?' he inquires, raising his eyebrows slightly. His eyebrows are thick and dark, and he's almost got a monobrow. I don't care in the slightest. I still think he's hot as all hell.
'Um, nothing much. Lee got in an accident at work. He broke his back. Um, Claire was going to have an abortion yesterday, but decided not to. That's pretty much it.'
'What an abortion?' Josh inquires.
'Never mind,' his father replies. 'How's that ice-cream going?'
'Almost gone,' Josh replies triumphantly.
Josh's eyes are the exact same colour as his father's. He has the same widow's peak Jackie has, too, except his hair is almost white-blonde whereas Jackie's is dark, dark brown.
'Did you want to build a sandcastle again when you've finished?'
'Uh-huh,' Josh replies, oblivious to the ice-cream that's on his nose, hands, and right knee. 'Then we can go swimming allll night.'
'I'm going to have to take you home eventually,' Jackie smiles. 'You have school tomorrow. Your Mum and Dad will kick me out of Australia if I bring you home late.'
'They won't mind,' Josh replies, wrinkling his nose.
We sit in silence for a while. Jackie and Josh finish their ice-creams, and Josh starts working on his sandcastle. He's loathe to let Jackie or I interfere, and we're relegated to the sidelines as the child builds his castle.
'What are you doing here?' I ask quietly.
'I was called into work yesterday, so I took Josh out today,' Jackie explains. 'Is there a problem with me being here?'
'No, no, no, not at all,' I exclaim hurriedly. 'I don't know… Um, on another matter, Terry said you were moving in with him and Jamie. Would you prefer I stopped visiting them while you're living there?'
Jackie's face creases. 'I won't be leaving until Terry passes away. Will…Shit, I'm sorry about what happened. I regret it. I wish I'd done things differently.'
'It's okay. I'll just have a yearly reminder now,' I joke weakly. 'Every year I'll be able to remember when it was you dumped me.'
'I regret calling it off, not the day on which I called it off,' he corrects me.
'Really? Well, you know, we could try again.'
Jackie sighs and fiddles with his toenail. He has freakily long toes. 'You want some advice, Will? Don't ever roll over that quickly for a guy again. I dumped you on your birthday and all you can say is 'sure, let's have another go'.'
I'm humiliated by his rebuke. 'Well, I could see where you were coming from. I know what Brett and Michael are like.'
He lies on his back and pulls his sunglasses down over his eyes. 'Did you end up passing your driving test?'
'Still riding that yellow bike?'
'Yeah. Do you still have your scooter?'
'Yep. Craig's still saying he's ashamed to be my brother.'
'Sounds like something Lee would say,' I sympathise. 'Although Lee has been a bit better since he broke his back.'
Jackie runs a hand through his hair. 'The poor kid. I heard he was paraplegic?'
'He might be able to walk one day,' I correct. 'It's seeming less and less likely, though. He had an infection and…you know…he's not very happy. He made the nurses take the catheter out, though.'
'He has control of his bladder? That's good. It gives him some dignity.'
'That's what Michael said. Also, Lee will apparently get compensation. His solicitor said he'll probably get a fair bit, because he got shitty grades at school and was planning on doing physical work. So, um, financially they should be okay in a few months time.'
'That's good,' Jackie replies.
I frown uneasily. I don't think Jackie's particularly fond of Lee. 'I know he was a prick to you, but Lee's really not that bad.'
My ex-boyfriend sits up again. 'I know, I know. I'm a bit bitter, I suppose.'
I don't know what to say. I already offered to date him again, and was quickly rejected. I'm not prepared to make a fool of myself again.
'Will?' Jackie asks nervously. 'If I said I was sorry, and asked you to have dinner with me on Friday night, what are my chances like?'
Is he serious? What does he think his chances are?
'I'd say yes,' I reply, attempting nonchalance.
'Terrific,' he smiles. 'Now, um…I don't know. Where do you want to go?'
We offer suggestions, discuss our menu choices, and simply enjoy each other's company. Soon, though, Josh decides he wants to go swimming, and Jackie takes him into the water, leaving me on the beach towels. Now I'm minding not only Leisel and Roman's stuff, but Jackie and Josh's.
With a sigh, I pick up my text book again. I'm re-reading a chapter, when I feel someone lay their hand on my shoulder. I look up to see an overweight, middle-aged, redheaded woman.
'I saw you talking to him,' she explains. 'I'm sitting here minding my children's belongings, so I'm happy to keep an eye on your stuff, if you want to go swimming?'
'Really?' I ask.
She gestures to her Jackie Collins novel. 'Really. I'm forty kilos and three children past wearing togs in public.'
'Um, thanks. Thank-you, I really appreciate it,' I reply.
I get the impression on her face that she's not just been reading, she was listening into my conversation with Jackie. I don't particularly mind. I'm nosey like that, sometimes.
I swim with Jackie and Josh, and take them over to meet Leisel and Roman. They all get on well, and we end up playing 'tag' in the water, although we're always careful to let Josh win. He's exultant, and crows all over us, but none of us mind. It's terrific fun.
It's eight o'clock before Jackie leaves. The redheaded woman is also leaving, and we thank her for minding our stuff, before heading to a café for a late dinner and coffee.
'So that's Jackie,' Roman muses. 'I wondered about him.'
I can't help but grin. 'I told you he was cute.'
'Oh, grow some tits,' he retorts, rolling his eyes. 'That's the last thing I thought you pervert.'
Leisel and I take his comment to be an open invitation to give him shit. And we do exactly that, until Roman begs for mercy, and promises never, ever, to tease me about being gay again.