This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 745 words.
It hadn’t escaped my notice that Becky was what some people refer to as controlling. She decided when we went to bed that night, and also that we had to get up early to drive to the beach. Then she suggested that it would be nice to go out for a Chinese meal when we got home, although she did insist on paying for it. I wasn’t really that bothered, to be honest. She was good company, the sex was great, and she was easy to be around. The fact that she was very nice to look at didn’t hurt either.
After the shock of what had happened with Justina, I also enjoyed the fact that Becky was very open about things. She wanted to stay in the flat with her friends, was in no rush to settle down and get married, and had already decided she didn’t want any children. Her brother had three kids, so her parents had enough grandchildren to fuss over. When I mentioned that she might like to meet my mum and dad at some stage, she nodded. “Fine with me”. During the Chinese meal, she had made just one stipualtion about us being together.
“Frankie, just one thing. I don’t do open relationships. I know my work makes it hard for regular dates, but if you want to see other girls besides me, I can’t be doing with that. For my part, I guarantee I will not see anyone else while you are my boyfriend. I don’t mean friends, I mean women you might have sex with. Is that acceptable to you? Because if not, it’s a deal-breaker”. I thought that was fair enough, and extended a hand, making a little joke about formalising that agreement by a binding handshake, then insisting on hooking our pinky fingers together to make it official.
That Sunday, she didn’t have to be anywhere. I had a loose arrangement to go to my parents for lunch, so sent mum a text that I was seeing someone, and wouldn’t be coming. I offered to drive Becky home, by way of a trip to London Zoo. I wondered if she might think that childish, but she squealed with delight. “The Zoo! Fabulous! I haven’t been there since I was really small”. Secretly pleased with myself at my bright idea, I added that we could go for Tapas in Camden Town after. She gave me a huge kiss. “Tapas, and The Zoo! It’s like you already know me so well”.
We used to look back on that day as one of the best days. The weather played ball, and we had fun looking at the animals. After that, we walked around the lake in Regent’s Park, and she held on to me as if I was trying to escape. Then we wandered up to Inverness Street for tapas, and she talked about wanting to visit Barcelona one day. She hadn’t been on many foreign holidays, as they mainly went to Holland to visit her brother. There were bad memories of one trip to Greece with her long-term boyfriend, as he had got the shits on the second day, and they spent almost all of their time there inside a cheap hostel.
I could have rushed in and suggested that I would take her to Barcelona, but I stayed calm. As we were walking back to the car, she suggested it instead. “How would you feel about us going to Barcelona, Frankie? We could make a long weekend of it, before the place gets packed with tourists in the summer”. I nodded and casually replied that it sounded good. I told her I would definitely think about it.
Inside, I was leaping with joy.
Ouside her house, I kept acting casual. I didn’t ask to go in, and didn’t act like it was expected. She kissed me goodbye in the car, and got out clutching the holdall. Holding the door open a long time, it seemed she didn’t want to leave. I was told a list of her forthcoming shifts that I knew I would never remember, and she made me promise to text her when I got home, to let her know I had arrived safely. I laughed and told her I was only driving to Beckton, and she gave me a friendly punch on the leg.
On the way back along East India Dock Road, I was feeling happy. It was working out fine.