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She’d not seen Benedict at all that day except briefly in the school corridor on her way to domestic science lessons. That had been so brief, that she barely had time to mouth words to him without other girls who were with her seeing her. She had waited at the entrance after school to see him leave to catch his bus home. He stopped for a moment by the gates to speak with her and he said missed seeing her on the playing field due to the rain and damp grass. She said she missed him too. Then he was gone on the bus and the bus pulled away. She waved it out of sight, her hand still in the air after it was no longer visible. Thoughts about him crowded in on her, images of him seeped into her mind’s eye. As she walked home she wished that he lived nearby, not miles away in some small village. If he was nearby they could meet after school somewhere or he could come to her house or she could go to his. But he didn’t live near so it was pointless to think on it, she told herself. Just those brief moments of seeing him that day. Some nights she dreamed of him, dreamed she was in his arms and they were kissing. One night last week she dreamed he was in her bed and the next morning it seemed so real that when she saw him at school she blushed, but he didn’t know why, and she couldn’t tell him. Once was at home, she quickly passed through the kitchen, ignoring her mother’s moans, she went to her bedroom and lay on the bed. She took out, from under her pillow, the black and white photograph Benedict had given her and held it to her lips and slowly kissed it. She had given him one of herself. She lay there wondering if he too kissed her photograph as she had kissed his. With her hand she wiped off the dampness her lips had made. She’d asked her mother about boys, but her mother said thirteen year old girls ought not to be interested in boys. Said she was not to let boys touch her although she didn’t say why or
where and she didn’t ask. They had rowed and her mother’s dark mood got darker, with her making threats saying she wasn’t too big for a good hiding. She slipped the photo back under her pillow. She closed her eyes and breathed the air. She thought of the last time she and Benedict had met on the playing field at school during lunch recess and she had sat on his lap as he sat on the wall by the fence. She recalled how she tingled. His hand was on her thigh. His other was around her waist. It was as if someone had turned on a light inside her head and her whole mind lit up with excitement and her nerves seemed to erupt along her body to a thrilling electric aliveness. She had sat there sensing his legs under her, his hand on her thigh. Mouthing words to her. Now she lay there sensing him beside her on the bed, his body close, his breath on her neck, her breasts. She wanted him there. Wanted his lips on hers. Wanted to feel him, touch him. She wanted to feel that electric aliveness once more. She opened her eyes. The room was as it was before. He wasn’t there. But there was only a banging and a voice, her mother calling loudly to her at the bedroom door.