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|06-26-2012, 10:36 AM||#1|
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New Zealand
Phillip's new bike
On the morning of his fifteenth birthday, April 22 1970, Phillip got a Raleigh 20 bike. It was the saddest moment of his life, he thought, wallowing in his despondency. He wanted a new bike that was for sure, a nice looking second hand one would have been fine, but a full size man’s one- hopefully with the three gears on the handlebars- but not this!
These were girls’ bikes; he had looked twice to be sure a whicker basket with daisies embroidered on it wasn’t hanging off the handlebars but thankfully there wasn’t one. And they were looking at him, watching expectantly for his reaction to the special present they had saved for weeks to get for him. He took a breath and forced a smile.
“Mum, dad- I don’t know what to say. This is too much! It’s new; isn’t it?”
His parents stood close together smiling happily- yes it was and it was more than they could afford but he was worth it Phillip. He nodded to his beaming dad as he went over the features, white hand grips (white!), white chain guard, a dynamo powered front light, the three speed gears, yes so much better than the single speed. Oh and just as fast as a normal bike, oh no question. Yes he was happy with it. Sorry? No, no it was great and the saddle bags were great, really useful too. And a chain with a lock to make sure no one would steal it- like anyone would want to- that was really worth having. And? What now, surely there isn’t anything else dad? A stand! So he wouldn’t have to throw the bike on the ground and kick it for ruining his life? Fantastic.
‘You are the best parents in the world,” he told them throwing his arms round their shoulders and kissing his mom then giving his dad a kiss on the cheek too. They were glowing when he looked at them. His brother and sister had stood to the side and Nigel, his eight year old brother was crouching down going over all the neat bits on his big brother’s bike while their sister, thirteen year old Jasmine, had seen Phillip’s face and knew he hated it.
She too didn’t want to hurt their parents’ feelings and she had recovered enough to wish she could get one as nice as that- but a girl’s model- she said innocently as she twisted the knife. It was a fucking girl’s bike for God’s sake he thought through clenched teeth and shot her an evil glance.
So that was the start to his day. Could it get worse? Oh yes.
Raewyn Curtis. The apple of his eye, the girl of his dreams, the woman of his future would be standing at the bus stop with her friends and probably some boys- they always had boys around them for some reason- and he would have to ride past them on his brand new girly bike. She had never actually spoken to him, nor had he actually ever really, truthfully caught her eye but he lived in hope; one day.
But not today, not on this thing- please God she would look the other way and he could just ease past her. His family watched him proudly as he set off for school on his new bike. He gave as cheerful a wave as he could and headed up towards Oceanview Road. They would be at the bus stop on the other side of the road waiting for their bus to take them to Northcote College while he went the other way to Westlake Boys.
As he approached the crest of the road leading to the intersection he looked up- they were watching him; all of them including Raewyn. He stood up on the pedals moving his weight from side to side trying to make himself look stronger hoping he could get away with it. The faces went from curious as they saw his top to disbelief as they saw the bike; then they cracked up.
They were laughing, pointing at the bike and pulling faces. Humiliated he risked a glance at Raewyn; she was looking straight at him. She looked annoyed then she shook her head and turned away.
He wished he was dead. It was down hill and he coasted, blushing bright red, down the hill. As he rode to school his humiliation turned to anger and he felt a resentment against them for mocking his parent’s present. After all it was a new bike and they had made a really big effort – all the pamphlets and flyers mom had been delivering the past three months made sense now. And they had gotten everything they could imagine he would need and they weren’t aware of what was cool to boys his age being, well, quite old now.
He moved on to feel guilty about his own reaction. It was the best they could do and what more could he expect? By the time he had gotten to the bottom of Forrest Hill Road to walk up the steep hill to the school grounds he was ready. It wasn’t long and he got ribbed about it.
“My parents bought this bike for me,” he said very loudly and very deliberately at the boy who had made the comment “, my mother has worked all sorts of hours delivering pamphlets and things and I am grateful they though enough of me to buy me the best present they could. I wish it wasn’t this model. I do but it is and I have to live with it. And I love my parents if you must know.”
They left him alone after that and a few of the boys came to him at morning play time and told him it was really fashionable in England- they’d read about them in a magazine and everyone rode them over there. The day seemed to get better after that.
One other person liked the bike, she liked Phillip too, and that was Theresa McConnell. Theresa went to Carmel College which was on the way to Westlake boys only you went down Shakespear Road instead of carrying along and going up the hill. She had seen him a while ago, February 23rd at 8.27am to be precise- she had recorded it in her diary which she kept padlocked and in which she wrote her inner most thoughts. Her innermost thoughts on Phillip were that she thought he looked a very nice boy and she hoped he might notice her and talk to her.
She had been at the bus stop on Phillip’s side of the road but a way up the hill so he hadn’t noticed her and nor had the kids from Northcote College at their bus top. But she had watched them- she knew he hated the bike immediately and her heart went out to him as he approached the intersection then that Raewyn had given him her snotty look.
Ha! Her parents couldn’t even afford to give her a bike let alone a new one. She was jealous she admitted it to herself; but all the same. She seethed through her day; delighting in feeling anger on his behalf as if somehow it brought them closer. The bus home ran earlier than usual and she saw him as her bus went past him as he tried to look as though riding a girl’s bike was the most natural thing in the world for a boy to do.
Getting off the bus she hurried to a spot where he would be going real slow and got her brush out to make sure her hair was looking nice then straightened her uniform and tried to push her bra up so what she had there would look as womanly as she could get it. Then she waited.
He was only a few minutes in coming and, having the gears now, he was pedaling up the hill. She stood almost at the gutter just before the corner into Eban Avenue as he rode past ignoring her then swung across into Eban Ave trying to do a little flourish as he went but overdoing it and coming a cropper with the handle bars too far over.
It was just a graze but this blimin’ girl was watching. He went to pick the bike up but misjudged and it fell over again. In exasperation he picked it up, wheeled it to the hedge and pushed it as hard as he could at it.
Then he kicked it. The girl put her bag down and went over to his bike. She got the handlebars straight and stood the bike up then wheeled it back to the foot path. As she handed it to him she looked up at him and he felt ashamed.
“Just because certain people give other certain people nasty looks even though their parents couldn’t buy the certain person a new bike anyway doesn’t mean other certain people shouldn’t value what they were given for their birthday.”
She had nice eyes. They were dark brown and they sparkled. Her smile was nice too and her voice was nice. She was saying something to him, something about certain people doing something but he couldn’t work out what she meant so he just listened to the sound of her voice.
As he watched she got her hanky out, licked her finger and rubbed on the dirt mark he had got on the frame when he had kicked it with her wet finger then wiped it clean with her hanky.
‘Well I like it,” she told him and he understood that.
‘Yeah well, they’re all the rage in England you know,” he told her nodding as he spoke.
“So really you’re a fashion trendsetter here in Northcote then?” She favored him with a lingering look then and he blushed.
“Oh, well yes, yes I guess I am, in a way, I guess. Oh I have to go down here now so I guess I might see you, maybe?”
“Maybe- be relaxed tomorrow morning; smile at her Phillip and look at the bike and you pull a face. Women love a confident man you know Phillip.”
She looked at him like before and he felt dizzy like before- she knew his name.
“Hey how come you know my name?”
“I’m friends with your sister,” she used the same tone his sister did when he wasn’t up with the play- which with her was most of the time.
‘Oh, right, you’re friends with Jasmine?”
(Thank God- Jasmine, that was her name)
‘Yes, I’m friends with Jasmine- we tell each other everything; might even mention this to her when I ring her, or she rings me tonight.”
“Oh OK,” his terror was plain.
‘Don’t you want me to ring her?”
“Oh, sure but don’t mention this- you won’t, will you?”
“No Phillip I won’t, your dignity is safe with me.”
She was teasing him hoping he would say something- he was so good looking- but he said nothing, nothing she wanted to hear. He was torn; torn between the woman of his dreams and this girl who would at least talk to him.
No, no he had to be faithful, faint heart ne’er won fair maid, he would try what she said in the morning- she was really smart; he hoped they could be friends; he would ask his sister about her.
Since she had wiped the mud off she had been holding on to the bike just as if she was keeping it steady for him but if he couldn’t move the bike he had to stay with her and if he did he might think to say something; something like “oh you are so pretty’ or “I see the stars dancing in your eyes” something wonderfully romantic.
But he didn’t, instead he pushed hard enough for her to have to take her hand off then got of and pedaled down Eban Avenue towards his home . He gave her a not looking wave as he went and she stood watching until he had gone out of sight.
She picked her bag up and slipped her arms through the straps. That had been a disaster. Why were men so stupid? Surely he could see she wanted him to speak to her? And what had she been thinking saying she was friends with his sister? But worst of all, what if he did what she told him to with that Raewyn tomorrow- and it worked!
She trudged back to the corner and up Ocean view Road to her house. There she said hello to her mother made herself a snack, told mother and her sister she was going to get stuck into her homework closed her door and howled into her pillow.
Oh he wasn’t just cute he was wonderful. Oh God! His sister.
Phillip did ask Jasmine if she knew a girl with dark eyes that sort of sparkled and a pretty face and quite you know there and she lived up a bit from the corner on Ocean view Road.
Jasmine’s romance detection antennae were on full alert- he fancied her.
“Who? Theresa?” she knew her by sight but hadn’t spoken with her’, oh yes we’re like that. Like her do you?”
“Like who? Oh, no. no nothing like that we just spoke today and she’s quite nice that’s all.”
It wasn’t all, any fool could see that. She rang through her friends after dinner (Phillip’s special birthday tea) for anyone who might know someone who knew what the girl’s name was- finally she got the name and the number.
“Hi Theresa here.”
Jasmine got down to business- her brother was asking after her; what happened? She told her and they were friends. Jasmine understood exactly.
When they had finished Theresa felt a lot happier- it was good to have allies in the right places.
The next morning Phillip rode up to the corner and sure enough they were all watching for him. He smiled at Raewyn, despite his heart being in his stomach, and got an embarrassed grin back then the finishing touch; he looked at his bike, pulled a face and smiled at her- she smiled back.
The boy with her gave him a dirty look but Phillip was ecstatic – she had smiled at him!
End of Part One.
|06-27-2012, 05:28 AM||#2|
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New Zealand
Theresa wasn’t ecstatic; she sat with her English novel (Wuthering Heights) on her bag and watched as the tableau unfolded. He had done it perfectly, not a sign of nerves; what girl wouldn’t love that?
Even Raewyn Curtis.
Theresa looked back down at the page and tried to read. It was hard to concentrate and to make out the words- with the tears in her eyes.
Jasmine rang her that night; Phillip had never looked so happy.
It was terrible, Theresa told her new friend, she had watched him do what she said and she likes him now.
Jasmine asked her if she thought he would try to speak to her now and she supposed he would. It was a sad time for Theresa but at least, she thought as she listened to Jasmine, she was sharing it with someone who understood.
Phillip spent the waking hours planning his next step. She had smiled at him; now he had to stop and speak to her. Say something. Like? Well, “hello”, no. How about; “Oh hi?” No.Well just “Hi”.
OK, so then what?
Morning came but the words hadn’t. Never mind; once he was speaking to her it would be different; he’d be fine. So again he pedaled up to the intersection. Confident now and expecting to have the same audience but none of them were looking. She had her back to him and that boy that gave him the dirty look had his hand round her waist. He was talking to her, something intense, and as he got up to the white line before turning down into Oceanview Road the other two boys turned and glared at him.
Oh shit! She was off limits. They were tough those boys, he wouldn’t have a show against any of them. He rode to school feeling empty. So close; she had smiled at him, she liked him- well she had yesterday. Now what- unrequited love? Was that it? Doomed to love one who loves him not? A tragic figure in a tragic tale?
A faint heart who quits too soon maybe? Yes! He would fight them, any of them, for his lady. They were bigger and stronger and were used to brawling but he was smarter, he must use his natural intelligence, yes, that was it use his intelligence and determination against these thugs at the bus stop.
He looked at some martial arts books in the library at lunch time.
She was there again, Jasmine’s friend Theresa. It looked as if she was waiting to speak to him but he had to stay true to Raewyn, stay focused. He waved , a little finger ripple, then sped off down Eban Avenue.
Theresa’s face fell as she saw he was going to keep going. She gave a little wave back. How could he be so blind? She had to look prettier, that was it- perhaps she could get her hair cut and just look… well stunning, irresistible would be nice but just more attractive might do.
She was on the phone to Jasmine who told her- it was terrible; he was going to fight that boy, Todd, the one "she" had been with that morning. He’d kill Phillip.
“Mum do you think I might get my hair done?” she asked her mother.
Kathleen looked up from preparing dinner to look at her- she was in love. A girl needed her mum at time like this. Fourteen and in love already, just like she had been. Silly school girl romances but they mean so much at the time.
“I’ll ring the salon and book a time love- shall we get you some new underwear too? You really are turning into quite the young lady now.”
“I’ve seen a boy mum.”
“I guessed love. Oh I’m so happy for you. So, what’s his name? How did you meet? Is he going to ask you out? Theresa! Theresa what’s wrong love?”
Her daughter’s face had gone from that faraway look to subdued in a matter of seconds and now she was crying- God! Daughters!
She moved to her Theresa and put her arms round her. They stood in the kitchen as the onions cooked a little too long and then Theresa told her all about it. It’s hard to share a broken heart so she held her daughter’s hands and they just felt sad together.
Morning came and with it Phillip’s determination grew strong. He waved good bye and rode manfully up to the corner. This time he didn’t turn to go down the hill; he rode across to the bus stop and came to a halt facing her.
“Hi,” he said; one eye on Todd.
She didn’t reply. Instead she gave a nervous look and turned away as Todd moved forward.
“Fuck off cunt.”
This was it; the show down.
Todd pushed him off his bike. He got to his feet and rushed at Todd as the others moved out of the way. There was no plan now, no intelligent use of force just one boy rushing at a slightly bigger boy who knew how to fight. Phillip’s head long charge was stopped in its tracks as Todd stood his ground and rammed Phillips face down onto the knee he was bringing up.
It was almost clinical and it left Phillip lying on the ground stunned with blood pouring from his nose, and a cut lip.
She sprinted down the hill and swerved across the road. Todd was hovering over him looking to land another blow and she simply pushed him away. She glared up at them and her eyes terrified them, even Todd. They all backed away and she crouched beside Phillip getting him to roll over then sit up. Blood was pouring from his nose and a fresh hanky went over it then his head was tilted back. It was the new single most humiliating moment of his life. His misery was ended by the Northcote College Bus arriving to take them away and leaving just her and her poor brave Phillip.
“Come on, I’ll get you up to my place so we can get that face looked at,” she was all business now, wheeling his bike with her left hand while having her right arm round his waist as he helped him up the hill.
He could feel her breast pressing into his side and it was kind of nice but a bit embarrassing too. She was really nice and boy she had just pounded down the hill before; he had heard her footsteps thumping as she ran but she was a girl and God he felt stupid.
“That was really brave Phillip, he’s a really tough boy that Todd,” she told him as they neared her gate. He felt a bit better and let her usher him in the front door.
Her mother was worse. In no time his shoes were off and he was lying on the sofa with his head right back and she was on the phone to his mother. When she talked about him she was so nice but when the conversation got to Todd you could feel the cold and it was clear she had no time for the lovely Raewyn.
She has a “reputation” she told him pleasantly; she sure knows what a boy wants. She had smiled at him and it was clear she wanted him to do some thinking- maybe he should.
Theresa had been so kind and she had saved him, Todd was going to finish him- no doubt about that.
For all that he felt just a bit resentful that they were rubbishing the girl he adored so he went quiet and they realized they should just leave her out of the conversation. Mrs McConnell drove down to Phillip’s place to get clean clothes for him, picked up Jasmine, seeing as how she was going to drop Theresa and Phillip off and Jasmine at Westlake Girls was just on the way and it was getting on now.
“Your brother is smitten with the darling town bike, oops,” she put her hand to her mouth as they both chuckled’, I mean sweet Raewyn Curtis,” she said pleasantly and Jasmine rolled her eyes. When they got back Mrs McConnell got Phillip to change in the bathroom and when he was ready and she had seen to his war wounds she took the three of them to their schools.
Raewyn wasn’t mentioned again in the car; he was in love and stubborn and a boy and these things just had to run their course.
She was quiet on the Northcote College bus was Raewyn- she was six days late. Todd didn’t know; he was the only one.
Mrs McConnell told Phillip to wait for her after school, she would pick him up. He had a good day too, his nose was pretty sore, as was his cut lip but he had been in a fight and the others took a great deal of interest. H e was tempted to embellish his part but as soon as they heard he was up against Todd his hopes of doing that vanished so he took the part of one who had fought against overwhelming odds and lost.
During maths in Mr Willis’s class he collapsed.
End of Part Two
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