Can you really love someone forever?





‘But I need that one thing.’






‘I think the army’s the answer. That’s the way to go. Security. Money. Action. Fun. Friends.’


They were in the car park behind Safeway. They’d bought some beers. It was late and the last customers were giving them a wide berth as they made their way to their cars.


Lucy stared at Haydn. Young, dark, handsome, wiry. And hers. For the time being, it seemed. Because this was the first she’d heard of his interest in becoming a soldier. Had he considered her when he thought about joining the army?


It was Friday night and school, teachers and the looming exams had drifted into the distance. They were free for the weekend. And Monday was miles away.


Haydn looked at Lucy, a little sheepishly, and went on about this new idea of his. ‘You know, no ordinary career. Fit and mentally tough. A varied and exciting life. Further your education. Travel abroad. Like they say on telly. You get all this in the army. I think it may just suit me. Lucy and me, I mean.’


The boys were playing men. They were sorting out their futures. And the problems of the world. It was sometimes hard to work out which was the most difficult, the international issues they saw on TV, or what they’d do for jobs next year.


Janet said, ‘And a gun. You forgot about the gun. They give everyone a gun. You know, to shoot people. That’s what the army’s for.’ She paused. They were all staring at her. ‘That your testosterone talking again, Haydn? Have you spoken to Lucy about it? An army wife, or even an army girlfriend would not be the kind of life I’d be looking for. Sitting at home, waiting for a telegram. To say the one you love’s been shot. What do you say, Lucy?’


Lucy looked embarrassed. ‘Well, we’ve only discussed it briefly. And no decision has been made. There may be other options.’


She looked at Haydn. He showed her his bright white teeth. ‘That’s it Lucy. Spot on. We’ll decide when the time is right.’


‘Probably won’t be many options next year,’ said Gopal, the geek in the group, and by far the most intelligent. ‘My dad says things will get much, much worse before they get better.’


‘No excuse to go overseas and start killing people,’ Janet was not going to be moved off her pacifist agenda. ‘You boys are all the same. Just so gullible. Joining the army is not like going on holiday with One Direction.’



‘It’s OK for you lot,’ Kevin said, mainly for her benefit Lucy assumed,. ‘All you have to do is find a man to look after you when you’ve finished your studies. Then a bit of housework here and there. Easy. And then, when you’re ready, a couple of kids. Bingo. Out they pop. Easy as that. And everyone’s happy.’


Lucy knew that these were not Kevin’s ideas. Probably his dad’s. And Kevin had just memorized them. To regurgitate at a time like this. Tall, yes. Blonde, yes. Handsome, yes. Intelligent? Well, perhaps not.


Kevin threw a beer bottle towards the skip. It missed and spread bright beads of glass as it burst across the tarmac. Intelligent? Well, perhaps not.


‘Cut it out, mate!’ hissed Haydn as an elderly man stopped on the way to his car and stared at them.


‘Sorry,’ shouted Kevin. ‘Didn’t mean it.’


The man started towards them.


‘Now look here,’ he said as he got nearer, ‘that’s totally uncalled for.’


Gopal decided it was his turn. ‘Why don’t you just fuck off and leave us alone?’ Despite his brains, he sometimes missed the impact this earthy link with older languages has on some people.


‘You filthy mouthed swine. I’ll be calling the police about this as soon as I get home,’ said the old man as he stormed off back to his car.


‘Right. We’ll give them your regards when they get here. Now fuck off! Leave us alone! We’re not doing anything wrong. The bottle just missed the skip. That’s all. Don’t tell me you’ve never broken a bottle in your long life you stupid old codger.’


‘Let it go, Gopal,’ said Lucy. ‘He just over reacted to the broken bottle. He thought Kevin did it on purpose.’



On the way home, Haydn and Lucy stopped off at the park.


‘Gopal shouldn’t have spoken to that old guy like that. He reminded me of my grand dad. And he’s got a right to complain about broken glass.’


‘Yes, well, I suppose you’re right. But he didn’t mean it. Gopal’s not really like that. I don’t think so, anyway. It’s just that his background is not the same as ours. There are cultural differences. And he’s trying to compensate. Trying to be like us.’


Haydn kissed her. They went over to their favourite bench.


‘But I need that one thing. You know, now. That’s what I’d like. Before I take you home.’


He took her hand. She did what he’d taught her to do. Then they just sat on the bench and watched the night descend. Haydn seemed really relaxed and satisfied. He never mentioned the army again.


Lucy felt glad she’d been able to make him feel so good.

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