Monday, 28 February 2011

Selena's Pact

Jennospot 17  Selena’s Pact

Ave yew ever ‘ad a crush on somebody? Yeah, well Oi suppose everybody ‘as, ‘cept Oi don’t in fer that sorta mushy stuff. Any’ow, silly Selina Dedman ‘ad this stupid crush on Peter an’ was always after ‘im, only ‘ee’s a bit loike me, an’ din’t really go fer soppy ol’ Semolina. An’ in any case, Oi certainly ain’t jealous of ‘er, nor not of nobody else neither. Still an’ all, it gave me a funny sort of turn when ‘ee told me as ‘ow ‘ee’d visited The Old Vicarage, where Semolina lived. This is ‘ow it ‘appened to ‘im:

Selena took me round the side of the house to a big garage. The double doors hung from their hinges like a pair of drooping drunks. There was a hearse inside, up on four piles of bricks. The wheels were on the wall to protect the tyres. No petrol for village hearses in wartime. The old hand-drawn bier must do.
We climbed on to the running board. I tried to peer in. The windows were too grimy to see much.
‘It's got a lot dirtier since I was here last,’ I said. ‘A whole flock of birds must roost in the roof.’
‘Open the door, Peter,’ said Selena. ‘It's not so dirty inside.’
I opened the door. There was a leather bench running across the width of the vehicle.
‘Ladies first,’ I said.
Selena stepped inside and slid along the seat to make room for me behind a huge steering wheel. I got in and shut the door. I grasped the wheel with both hands and tried to see out through the windscreen. It was very dirty.
Selena took hold of my arm again. She held it tightly against her. ‘Do you remember the first time you came here? You were scared because it was a hearse, and then I jumped out at you from the bushes? Who was a cowardy-custard then?’
‘I wasn't expecting to be jumped out at.’
‘You said you'd be my friend.’
‘That was before.’
‘Are you my friend now?’
‘We're in the same class, aren't we?’
‘Yes— but are you my friend?’
I didn't know how to reply to this. I didn't really dislike Selena and didn't want to offend her, but on the other hand, I didn't consider her any special kind of friend.
‘No reason why we shouldn't be friends, Selena,’ I said hesitantly.
‘I'm so glad,’ she replied, drawing me towards her. ‘Let's make a friendship pact.’
‘If you like,’ I said, not really understanding what she meant.
‘A secret pact. I'll be your friend, and you'll be mine but nobody else need know.’
‘Okay,’ I said. It sounded pretty harmless and didn't really commit me to anything in particular.
Selena put her head on my shoulder. ‘A pact has to be sealed,’ she said.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, when it's a written pact, it's signed at the bottom and then stamped with a seal.’
‘You want our pact to be in writing?’ I asked, slightly alarmed.
‘No, silly. Ours is a secret pact so it can't be in writing.’
I felt relieved until Selena said, ‘Our kind of pact is sealed with a kiss.’
She turned her face up to mine. She shut her eyes. I gave her a quick peck on the forehead.
She gave an irritable shake, opened her eyes and glared at me. ‘No, not like that. You must kiss me on the mouth. You know; like at the pictures. Let's try it again.’
Selena shut her eyes once more and turned her face up to me. If I didn't kiss her, I would make an enemy for life. I kissed her on the mouth.
After a long moment she let me go. She dropped her head to my shoulder again and stared unseeing through the grimy windscreen. She sighed deeply.
‘That was more like it,’ she said. ‘Let's pretend we're setting off, you and me alone, on a long journey round the world. We'll stop at Capri, and Cairo, and we'll ride on camels and elephants. We'll see Babylon, and Mount Everest, and Hong Kong, and Hawaii, and drink cocktails with Clark Gable in Hollywood, and then sleep high up in a skyscraper in New York.’
‘I have to go to Lion's Avenue,’ I said.
‘You're not a bit romantic,’ pouted Selena. ‘Don't you want to visit Sydney harbour and see the dolphins around Fiji?’
‘I want my dinner,’ I said. ‘And it's getting late.’ I reached for the door-handle, but Selena grabbed my wrist and held me fast.
‘Stay a bit longer,’ she pleaded. ‘We won't get another chance after I go on Friday to live in The Street. People are always watching what you do there. Let's seal our pact again— please.’ She turned her face up towards me.
We re-sealed our pact. I didn't really understand what our pact meant, but this time I sealed it with somewhat less reluctance. At any rate, Selena seemed content.
‘See— you can be romantic after all,’ she said.

(From “Gang Petition” Chapter 3)

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