Chapter Seven: Tension

I write this whilst lying in bed; there are things on my mind that I need to write down and get out of my head before I get up.  It is four days now since he took my hand in his and told me he liked me, and I can’t stop thinking about it; the way he looked at me, his closeness to me, how he looked at that moment…  I need to clear my head of this crap, or I’ll never be able to think clearly again.  Maybe if I write down in here how I feel about him, and how I think he feels about me… maybe things will feel better.

  O.K, item one: How do I feel about Fergus Lowry? Thinking about him saying he finds me attractive… I didn’t like that because… I just didn’t.  This isn’t helping, try again, and be honest… I didn’t like it because I don’t fancy him… Simple really… He is physically attractive, but… nothing stirs within.  Item two: How does Fergus Lowry feel about me? Well, I don’t think he loves me… I think he likes teasing me.

  I feel a little better for having written that.  There is possibly more that I could say, but I need to get up because the phone is ringing and Fliss has gone out.

  (Later)

It was Flora on the phone; she has the beginnings of a song that she needs lyrics for, and is going to drop off a tape later on, I have some ideas for it myself in terms of drums, but right now I need to get dressed; our single is to be released next week, and we are going on tour soon, so now seems to be the best time to get my Christmas shopping done.

  (Later)

This really isn’t my week, first that embarrassing mess with Fergus, now this.  Oh, I shouldn’t have gone shopping today… But I’m rushing ahead; I need to calm down…

  O.K, I am calm, composed, and ready to start from the beginning now.  Here goes…

  It was about two p.m when the bus pulled into the bus station.  I had planned to get an earlier bus, and so avoid the Christmas rush of frantic shoppers as they hunted in herds for mini scooters, cyber dogs, and whatever else the kids are meant to want this year, but – as you may have gathered – I was preoccupied.  Sunday shopping in Stockport is usually less stressful than the traffic congestion and maddeningly slow-moving crowds that you are forced to contend with on the average Saturday, but it’s so close to Christmas now that it doesn’t matter what day of the week you go.

  I paused to admire the Christmas tree and festive roof hangings in the glassed over part of Merseyway; they were neat, and nicely done, not too tacky.  The floor beneath my feet was shiny and slippery, polished until it was like glass.  As I stepped backwards, still admiring the tree, I collided with someone… someone I knew, and a sensation of sheer naked fear began to twist, horribly, at the pit of my stomach.

  I must have winded him, for he was bent double when I turned around, but even though I couldn’t see him in profile, I knew… I began to weave my way through the crowd, slowly at first, then faster and faster, my heart pounding in my throat, but some damned toddler go in my way, and when I turned to go the other way, I found some woman with a buggy blocking my path.  I was trapped.  He walked over to me, and nodded in a surly kind of way, “Alright.”

  My throat felt too tight to speak as I stared at him.  I could only nod.  As the crowds continued to charge past us, I got shoved aside, and in the melee, I lost sight of him.  There was a gap in the crowd and, before he could stop me, I had cut through it and was on my way through Merseyway, my eyes blinded by the tears that had sprung suddenly to my eyes.  Terry Marlowe, I thought as I ran, why oh why did I have to see you now?

  Flora had posted the tape through the letterbox by the time I arrived home.  Fliss still wasn’t back, so I took the tape and had a listen to it.  It was just one of the rough demos that Flora makes when she has an idea for a song, but it was clear enough to work from.

  As I listened to the track, memories of Terry and of the two miserable years I spent with him, came flooding back.  They mingled with my memory of Fergus, of him taking hold of my hand and telling me he found me attractive, and all the pain and anger came streaming out as I began to write lyrics to Flora’s music.  I was so furious then that the lyrics seemed to come from the darkest part of my heart and soul, they seemed to take over me, and when I was done my hand ached and I felt emotionally exhausted.  I called it ‘The Battle You Cannot Win’, because none of us can win; least of all me.

  Later, Flora came round with some clothes for Fliss and me for the tour, and I took the opportunity to show her the lyrics that I had written.  She liked them, and to my relief, didn’t question me about the subject matter.  “I want you two to try on your outfits before I go,” she told us both, “that way I can make any adjustments whilst I’m here.”

  Whilst Fliss opened the bulging bin bag that Flora had deposited at her feet, I picked up my own un-opened and much smaller bag and took it off to my bedroom.  Once inside, I emptied the contents out onto my bed and discovered shirts, t-shirts, and trousers for drumming in, and a couple of mini skirts and dresses for when I’m off duty.  You can’t drum in short skirts, not without trousers, leggings, or really thick tights underneath anyway.  If you do, the audience’s gaze has a tendency to divert itself to your crotch.

  It didn’t take me long to model my outfits for Flora, and once I had finished I returned to my bedroom and hung my new clothes up in my wardrobe. Flora came in as I was doing so, “Maggie?” I heard her ask from the doorway.

  “Yes?”

  “What’s going on between you and Fergus?”

  I stiffened, “Nothing,” I concentrated on hanging my new clothes.

  “Yeah, right,” when I closed the doors and turned around, I found her sat at my desk, lolling cockily on the chair, a faint smirk on her face.

  “O.K,” I tried to stay calm, but my voice gave me away, “what do you think is going on?”

  “Did he try to pull you?”

  I blushed, and she laughed, gleefully and delightfully.

  “I never asked him to!” I protested.

  “So you’re not interested then?”

  “No!”

  I sensed her relief as she got to her feet once more, “Then it’s O.K”

  But as she left, I knew it wasn’t O.K; things are very far from O.K.

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