This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 723 words.
Halfway through that second year at school, I started to attract interest from some of the girls. They seemed to grow up faster than the boys, and even back then they got away with wearing some make-up and shortening their skirts by turning over the waistband.
One day as I was walking home, a girl I vaguely knew as Toni ran up to me as I walked along my street. She extended a hand with some folded paper in it. “Sophie says to give you this”. Then she turned and ran back to a group of girls in the distance, and they all started laughing hysterically.
Sophie Hallett was one of the better-looking girls in my year. Despite being the same age as me, twelve, she could easily pass for fifteen. I once saw her out with some friends at the shopping centre, and she looked about eighteen dressed up in her weekend clothes. I opened the paper and read her note.
‘I think you’re cute. Do you like me? If you do I will meet you outside Spud’s Plaice fish and chip shop on Friday at six’. That was a surprise, and at least I had a couple of days to think about it. Funnily enough, I was more attracted to Toni. She was a bit chubby, but I liked her jet black hair and big round eyes. Sophie was very fashionable, but also stick-thin.
That night, I talked to Uncle Brian about it, expecting him to be jealous, and not at all pleased. But he was enthusiastic. “I think it is a good idea for you to get to know girls, even though you are still far too young. But if you prefer Toni, you should tell her. No point going on that chip shop date with Sophie if you don’t fancy her. Those good-looking popular girls can be very fickle anyway”.
It wasn’t easy to get Toni on her own, as she was almost always hanging around with Sophie and the couple of others. By chance, I saw her in the corridor outside the girl’s toilets on the ground floor. As I walked up to her, she smiled, nodding her head at the door. “Sophie’s in there with the others, you will have to wait until she comes out unless you want me to go in with your message”.
When I told her I would sooner go out on a date with her, and that she should tell Sophie thanks but no thanks, I thought she was going to fall over with shock. “Me? Really? You sure? You’re not just messing me about?” I reasured her that I was serious, and said I would meet her outside the chip shop instead, even buy her dinner from there if she wanted. She nodded, her face almost splitting in half with a huge smile.
“Okay then, but I have to be home by when it’s dark. If you’re making a fool of me, my dad will get you, so tell me now”. I did my best to convince her I liked her, then I left her to tell Sophie the bad news.
Uncle Brian was amused when I told him, but not so amused when he asked me her surname. Malone? As in Patsy Malone? Good God, he is doing a twenty-year stretch for armed robbery, and his wife Maria is as scary as he is. You will have to be careful, Danny. For Christ’s sake don’t upset the girl”. I told him she said her dad would get me if I upset her, and wondered how he would do that from prison. Uncle Brian was shaking his head. “You have a lot to learn, my love. He can reach out from any prison. I wish you had told me it was a Malone, Jesus they only live three streets away”.
On the Friday, Sophie was blanking me completely, acting as if I didn’t exist. But every time I saw Toni, she blushed and gave me a smile. Uncle Brian had left me out twenty quid, and a note. ‘Look your best, have a bath, and buy her anything she wants. Make sure to get her back to Maria’s on time, and whatever you do, don’t feel her up. xx’
As I walked down to Spud’s Plaice, I was feeling pretty good.