I confess I became very bored with how depressing many modern short stories can be so I decided to write something a little different.
This is my most romantic story ever.
Love Potion Number 39
You get to meet a different class of people at Uni. Let’s just say there’s no one quite like Emma on the sink estate where I grew up.
Freshers’ week pub crawl, I buy her a vodka martini – the first of many. She’s planning to be a vet, all dogs and horses, and I’m just another geek.
I tag along with her crowd for coffee in her room. I’m not the only one throwing up, but I’m the only one spewing on her floor while she’s watching, ice blue eyes wide open. I grab the nearest thing and scrub.
‘I’ll never forgive you. You were sick on my duck.’
That’s what she says, the next day in the laundry, when I pluck up the nerve to ask her out. She’s cradling a manky yellow stuffed toy, sodden from the washing machine.
‘That’s a no, then,’ I deadpan.
She nearly laughs. There’s hope.
Next evening I’m still getting away with tagging along with the crowd. At least no one’s said out loud I don’t belong.
They start doing a daft computer quiz, cribbed from some women’s magazine from the dark ages. ‘What would you do if you found your boyfriend’s porn collection?’
‘Does anyone even have a porn collection now?’ I asked.
‘Mummy found Daddy’s chauffeur’s Mayfairs and she burned them all,’ Emma says, to general howls of laughter.
She follows me into the kitchen to escape their mockery.
‘Course they were the chauffeur’s,’ someone says.
I pour boiling water into her mug, and she whips the teabag out with a spoon really fast.
‘Weak and milky,’ she says. ‘Gnats’ pee.’
I go for the laugh again. ‘Gannets’ wank, more like.’
She looks up at me, all soft blue eyes, ‘Do they?’
I tilt my head slightly, leaning towards her, watching all the while to see if she wants me to back off. My heart is beating, thud – thud – thud, right in my ears.
I kiss her, and for some unfathomable reason, she kisses me right back.