Sweet William (Part 2)
Every Sunday morning, Mum and Dad dragged us, kicking and screaming, to church. They’d done so ever since I could remember. We hated going, but had to put up with the boredom. No choice to it in those days. Mum’s word was law and she had the devout Christian ethic of the true eyes-closed, heads-up believer. Dad used to go along with her to keep the peace more than anything else.
Most of the year there’d be no more than fifteen in the congregation. Two expatriate Irish families, my lot and the Kellys, plus a few other pious souls. But in summer, holidaymakers would often add to the ranks of our seaside congregation, and more importantly, swell the offertory platters.
The priests beamed at their increased flock, but Tom and I groaned and scowled. Larger numbers meant the sermon continued ad nauseam. We guessed the priest probably worked on the assumption the longer the service lasted, the more money he could squeeze from the poor unsuspecting newcomers. After all, they were English tourists–rolling in money.
The Trents arrived, unannounced, on the first Sunday of the summer holidays, mother and father, and their four children. William, a slim blond-haired mite of a boy sat next to his father, his three, golden-haired teenage sisters sat on their mother’s side of the pew.
Without doubt, the Trent girls were the most beautiful creatures my thirteen-year-old, hormone-clouded eyes had ever seen. Tom and I swopped glances. He grinned. I gulped.
As the only young lads in the congregation, Tom and I were press-ganged into serving as altar-boys. I detested the task and loathed the daft, frilly cassocks which made me feel like a right twit, but my position facing the congregation gave me a great view of the gorgeous new additions to the throng.
The minute I saw her, I fell arse-over-head in love with the luscious, lustrous, luminous, fourteen-year-old, Annette.
To be honest, I made so many cock-ups during mass that God, if He or She did exist, should have cast me into the darkness there and then. I forgot my place, tripped over my vestments, and spilled the sacramental wine. The whole ninety-three minute service was littered with my errors.
At the end of the debacle Mr and Mrs Trent introduced themselves to the priest and the rest of us poor mortals. I was delighted to learn they weren’t simply another transient holiday family. They were new permanents!
Apparently, Mr Trent had been promoted to manage the local bank. And they’d transferred from somewhere exotic in England, Birmingham, I think he said. I wasn’t really listening.
During the introductions, Annette, resplendent in her Sunday best lemon-coloured dress, hemline a respectable one inch above the knee, stared demurely at her feet. I, tongue-tied, couldn’t speak. William hid behind his father. The two older girls smiled sweetly and tried not to look bored.
The following Sunday, Mum and Dad couldn’t help notice Tom and I didn’t need much coaxing to get out of bed.
It didn’t take long for the handsome and supremely self-confident Tom to corral Annette’s older sister, Jeanette. She was a beautiful, knowing girl, with a winning smile and a wonderful pair of, er… lungs.
Tom even managed to wangle an invitation to afternoon tea – that day.
God was I jealous.
I tried to drag up the courage to talk to Annette. I practised my speech beforehand and everything, but all I could do was sidle up to her and stutter a faltering, ‘Hello’.
She nodded, smiled and walked away.
Why are girls so much more confident than boys? So much more advanced? They need to be, I suppose. After all, boys think of girls as prey don’t we? We stalk and scheme and lie and cheat all for a chance to get close to them.
And I’m a guy, so no different.
To be continued….
As before – anyone who wants to read the end of this story in one sitting, please drop me a line and I’ll send you a .pdf file.
Comments and critiques are welcome. Have at it…