…then someone had the crazy idea we should all leapfrog the postbox.
One of those old fashioned British red ones. A decent height. A challenge. The first fella is over, the rest of us boys in a ragged queue while the girls stand off to one side, watching our foolery.
Now…I’m the last one to worry about making a tit of myself but there’s something amiss. I need to nail this. One of those girls….
It’s the turn of the guy in front of me. My old friend. He has height on his side but the grace of a self-sealing gas tank. He’s off, arcs up into air, our collective breath held as he teeters precariously atop. He’s not getting over it is he? His hand stuck awkwardly. He keels sideways in slow-mo and crashes to the pavement.
We start laughing but cut short. He ain’t getting up. He’s holding his arm. He’s kinda screaming. We rush over and sure, there’s something wrong. Someone dials an ambulance and we cluster round uncertainly. Soon enough he’s getting helped up into the back of the van by the paramedic and I’m sitting with him. He’s my friend, it’s my job to go. But just before the doors close she’s there too. That girl…
“Hey. I’ll come too in case you need a hand with anything”. I bite my lip.
The emergency room isn’t that full. It’s Saturday lunchtime and there’s just a smattering of other damn fool students like us. He’s in waiting for his X-ray and we’re killing time out in the waiting area. I sit. There’s a dozen more chairs to choose from but she parks right next to me.
“I bet you’re glad your mate fell off”.
I straighten up startled and look at her. She’s looking me straight in the eye.
“I bet you’re relieved. You didn’t have to risk making a fool of yourself jumping back there, did you?”
She crosses her legs provocatively. My skin shivers.
It’s a quarter to midnight. My mate is in bed. Plaster cast. Multiple fracture. I pass him a glass of water and a handful of painkillers. I was meant to be kipping on his couch tonight but…
“Steve, I reckon the best thing for you is a decent night’s sleep. I don’t want to disturb you…so hey I’ll go look up one of your friends and crash there. It’s OK it’s no hassle honestly I don’t mind”.
He raises an eyebrow and grunts.
I’m winding through the corridors and up the stairwells and there’s a part of me feeling guilty as hell, but I’m there, I’m at the door… I pause briefly then give it three sharp raps with my knuckles.
“Come in, its open”.
I push the door wide and she’s in bed. I close it behind me.
“Hi there. Sorry to call on you so late but…I have a letter to post and… I was wondering if you had any first class stamps”.
Oh Jesus. Stamps? Really, Paul? Is that really the best you could do?
There’s a pause. There’s a choice in the air.
“Sure I have stamps. There’s some in my purse. Here, let me get one for you”.
She peels out of bed and saunters slowly over to her bag. She is naked. And beautiful. My knees sag. She could have asked me to pass it to her. She didn’t. She rummages, turns to me… “Ah sorry. I was sure I had some in there but it seems I was…mistaken.”
She’s right in front of me now. My face collapses in a helpless grin. And she smiles.