The Diaries. Part 2.

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Rock n' Roll Doggie Band-aid
Nov 19, 2003
Counting the hairs on Bono's chest.
Evenin' peeps. Second part of the Diaries. Feel free to leave feedback, good or bad. I won't mind. :D

© Works written by Youvedonewhat. 20 04 14.

Please do not copy/re-post these works without my permission. Thanks.

Last bit from last bit>>>

We were standing at the mouth of the lane which was situated right opposite my front door. I panicked. I hadn’t realised we’d come so far or that we were now directly across the road from my house. If I’d known I would have left him way before we got there.

I went to say something; to get rid of him in case The Shit Head saw us but he put me off by touching my elbow. And oh but how his heat travelled through my skin and into my very soul. For a second I caught a whiff of the fields and flowers and of course, that special scent; the scent of him. Lust enveloped me. I figured if I breathed in deeply enough I could store that sent inside me and never let it out again. The Shit Head could go shite. This man was like a drug and I wanted to overdose on him.

“By the way”, he was saying as I mentally undressed him. “My name’s Rowan and I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again, Little Susan”. He inclined his head towards me. My heart stopped beating. My breath lodged in my throat. “Until next time”. He said and made a kind of old fashioned sweeping bow; caught me completely by surprise. I watched agape as he straightened up again, that devilish grin stretching his jaw. I wanted to say something witty but nothing would come out. Seeing this, he nodded slightly and then turned away. I watched his back, lusted at the strength there and then turned to face my house; to the place that would never be a home. I closed my eyes for a second. I’d seen him again; talked to him, felt his fingers on me. It was done now; too late. The Shit Head could go shite.

Next bit...

Saturday 16th. Afternoon.

He’s got big hands, you know; square, builders hands. They were the first thing that I noticed about him when we walked back to my house. And when I’d first caught sight of them my natural instinct was to be afraid. I wondered what pain they might inflict on a body because well, I’ve known exactly how much pain a man’s hands can mete out but something was different about his.

Something feminine in me had been drawn to those big hands and I’d wondered how those hands would feel on a person’s skin. Would they be heavy? Would they be smooth or rough? Would they be gentle? Had he known many women?

And his hands weren’t the only things I’d noticed about him. On the way home, I’d secretly taken in everything about him from his black boots to the hair on his head. And it was free, you know; his hair; free and fanning out as he walked. The sunlight had caught the earring in his ear and every now and again it had glinted, attracting my gaze.

And, he’d worn a black waistcoat over a white shirt. The necktie was there and so were the odd necklaces beneath them. And I have to admit that I’d managed to catch a glimpse of dark hair peeking out from above an open shirt button. My nethers had heated up at the sight of that. Funny, cos my nethers haven’t ever heated up like that before.

Monday 18th.

Ok, so it’s been two whole days since my walk with Rowan. At last I have a name. I’m totally in love with him, you know; totally. I can still feel his hand lightly touching my elbow, still smell that woodsy scent of his and of course, that individual scent of his masculinity. It seemed to seep from every pore, you know. And I so wish I could keep it inside me forever.

Oh, I forgot to say that after walking back with him, (The Shit Head never did find out. Go me!), I went to my room and lay on my bed; allowed myself some time in which to fantasise. Somehow, I ended up hugging my pillow and oh but how I’d wished I could hold him up that close. Ok, ok, I’m not entirely stupid. I know this infatuation is totally ridiculous. I know that a man like him would never look at a girl like me. There has to be ten years between us; maybe more. What would he be doing, looking at someone like me? I live in a village; have done all my life. I have nothing to offer him. I hold no interest and have nothing to say. I have no experience of life or men whatsoever. I am a girl who fills her head with fantasies because she has no other life with which to entertain herself. I am drab. I have no colour. Why would he be interested in me?

Course, it doesn’t help being so shy, does it? And I know I can’t behave in a manner that would attract a man. I don’t know how to and anyway, I am mistrustful of men and boys. To a great degree I fear them; their strength, their temper, what they’re all capable of. And you know that it’s The Shit Head who has seen to that! He has beaten out of me any ideas I might have had to tempt men or boys. He has shown me that men are pigs and that women and girls are inferior and only here to serve them. He has shown me that men are cruel and must be obeyed or suffer the consequences. Why then, am I attracted to him? Why then, am I not afraid of him as I am of father?

But, you know, I think I know the answers to these questions. It’s really very simple. When Rowan talked to me his voice had been soft, low, breathy even and had a gentle lilt to it. His words bore no hint of malice or sarcasm like my father’s do. He didn’t talk down to me or talk at me. When he looked at me, his eyes were kind. Oh, I know they were very penetrating and made me feel like he could see right into my very soul but there was no threat or menace there. And when he smiled his whole face lit up. There was no darkness in him. No trickery about him. He wasn’t waiting to catch me out when he asked me questions, not like The Shit Head; my pig stinking father.

And another thing, I ache for his touch. I want him to touch me. Now, why should I want that when the only touch I know from a man is the touch of violence? I’ve never been hugged nor comforted by any man so why do I ache for something I’ve never had? And why from him; a man I barely know?

And whilst I think on it, there’s one more reason why he wouldn’t be interested in me. I have never experienced man or boy. The thought of it niggles at me; makes me cringe with shame and embarrassment. I so hate being me. I’ve heard guys like experienced women and girls; that they’ve no time for women or girls who don’t know how to satisfy them. Veronica has told me so.

She said that blokes don’t waste time on girls like me. They only like girls who are women and not women who are girls. I wasn’t sure at first what she meant but once they started their sniggering and giggling and calling me Girl, then I guessed and it became another time of teasing and ridicule. I am no longer Dumpling but Dumpling The Virgin. And I hate them all so much. I’d like him to show me. Yes, that would be nice; you know, for him to show me the ways of men after all, I’ve decided that I love him so it wouldn’t be a sin would it?

Father says that having sex out of wedlock is a sin. He says that any woman or girl who has sex with a man before she marries is ‘damaged’ or ‘soiled goods’; a tart, a whore and should be treated as such. He says that they have no self respect and therefore don’t deserve to be respected. I don’t think that father respects any of us women anyway regardless of whether we’re whores or not.

I’m a whore. Oh, I think I already told you that. Funny, but it strikes me as odd that father sees me as a whore and yet I haven’t even been kissed. I can’t work that one out. Maybe I’ve missed something. Anyway, I don’t want to think about it. Not just now anyhow.


Earlier today whilst at school, I made the mistake of writing Rowan’s name over my school books. A girl called Angela happened by. We were waiting for the teacher to come in and so everyone was messing around. Me, I was looking out of the window wondering what my Rowan was up to. My pen was poised, waiting to pay homage to his name yet again and she saw it. “Rowan!” She stated loudly bringing me back into the classroom. “What kind of name is that?” Now, should I have answered her or not? Thing is; I wanted to say his name. I wanted to shout; “His name is Rowan and I love him”. But of course, I couldn’t. So I just sat there quietly, willing her to leave.

When two of the witches heard Angela they sprang out of their seats to come loom over me. Kim ripped the book out of my hand. “Rowan,” She mocked in that loud, attention seeking voice of hers. “That’s a girl’s name”.

I was furious and jumped up out of my seat. “It is not!”

“Yes, it is!”

“It can be a boy or a girl’s name!”

“So, this Rowan must be the new boyfriend?” And then she pretended to gag. Of course, everyone began to laugh.

“Yes, he is my boyfriend; so what?!”

“Oh my; haven’t we got it bad?” Veronica joined in. “And anyway, I thought his name was Ian. C’mere, lemme see!” and she pulled my book out of Kim’s hand and began pawing over the scrawled name. “I’ll bet its some bloke she’s seen on the TV; pretending he’s her boyfriend. We know you haven’t got one so why keep up the pretence?”

“I have!” I snapped.

“Ewwwwwwwwwwww! Who’d wanna snog that?!” It was a boy in my class, ambling by and glancing at my book. “Whoever he is; he wants his head testing”.

I was hurting and wouldn’t take it quietly so I spat out my insult. “Yeah, but at least my face isn’t covered in pizza, you spotty prick!”

“You pupils; sit!” It was Bulldog Churchill come into the room to stuff his overly large backside into an overly small chair that trembled in fear behind his desk. The tiny gathering dispersed and I sat back down. They’d ruined it, all of them; ruined it for me. I couldn’t even have an imaginary lover without them tearing him to pieces.

Sunday 24th.

This afternoon I ventured downstairs to seek out my mother. I found her sitting in her chair, repairing some rag. The Shit Head was out; gone on one of his shooting expeditions. Living in the country seems to give him permission to shoot at anything that breathes. I hate it. It seems such a waste of life and so typical of him.

For me though, it’s a blessing. It means that every Sunday afternoon for about six weeks I can relax and even try to work my way round mother. “Do you think I could go for a little walk for a while?” I’d asked her. “I’ve been stuck in for ages and it’s such a lovely day”. Beautiful Day; just like the one when I first laid eyes on him; my gorgeous traveller.

Mother considered my request for a moment, eying me from above her sewing. She made me wait whilst she took a sip of her tea and replace the cup in its saucer before she spoke. “Alright”. She said with measured slowness. “But be back before your father gets in. He should be home about 5:00”.

Course, she didn’t have to tell me twice. I left before she’d even finished speaking. Two hours; two whole hours of freedom and I knew exactly where I was going to go. In my room I quietly applied the make up I’d bought during my school lunch break.

The Shit Head hasn’t twigged yet that at fifteen, we’re allowed out of the school grounds at lunch time. It’s the only rebellious treat that I’ve got away with. At first I’d been afraid to leave the school gates in case someone The Shit Head knew might see but then watching all the others ambling off towards the cafes and shops I decided that well, if I was caught, it’d be too late by then wouldn’t it? I’d already have been and he couldn’t take that away. So I followed them from a distance. I never went into the cafes or shops with anyone but at least I was free.


Of course, since Rowan has come into my life I’ve realised that I need as much help as I can get. I know it’s all a waste of time but I have to try. So last week I went into our local pharmacy and bought myself a supply of make up with my sanitary wear money. Rowan is much more important than any jam rags so I bought the make up and hoped that I’d get more money before the dreaded curse showed up again. Oh, and by the way; The Shit Head calls make up Whore Paint. Mother never wears any. I don’t think she’s allowed to.

Once I was ready to leave, I was scared to open the front door lest mother heard me. If she saw my painted face she wouldn’t let me out but somehow I managed to pull down the handle without making any noise. I was so excited that my hands shook and when I heard her call my name I knew I had to make a bolt for it, so I did. I left quickly and didn’t look back. I didn’t even look up the lane. I just headed for it, dashed across the road and I was gone before she had a chance to come look for me. I was totally free.


Now, even though they’re camped up in the West Field I’ve never been up there to see them so it was an exciting expedition for me. I, Susan; mouse, reject, village idiot, was going to do something risky. I knew I had to do it or forever regret it. I only hoped that when I got there I wouldn’t bottle it and come back again without seeing him. I was scared but I didn’t care.

Course, the nearer I got the more nervous I became but I wasn’t going to give up. And besides, I was only doing something that Kim and Veronica would have done. They’re not the only girls who can live with deception.

When I reached the West Field I crept along the hedges that line it. I didn’t want them to see me until I was ready. I had to build up some courage, see. If I wanted to go through the gate I wanted to do so looking confident and sure. So, for a while I’d sneak along the hedges and then hide behind them by the entrance. I wanted to get a look at them and see how they lived before I went in. I’m way too shy to go marching straight on in so I had to weigh up the scene and the people, decide how best to proceed, so I would spy on them for a while.


And there they were; The Free. There were four vehicles gathered in a lazy circle. Through them, I could see a blackened patch of earth where I guessed they’d lit their camp fires. It all looked deserted except that somewhere I was sure I could hear the slow strumming of a guitar and I was right. Someone was playing a soft, sweet melody. I was desperately excited. A guitar! How cool was that?

And I envied them; that quietness, that restfulness. There was no shouting. In fact there were no voices at all. It was peaceful and calm and it looked like they just did what they wanted. Time didn’t dictate to them. They didn’t seem governed by it. Oh yes, I envied them; no one telling them what to do and when to do it or to do it again because it hadn’t been done well enough. I wondered what it would be like to live like that; just to amble through life with no one snapping at my heels. But as I stood spying on them and feeling envious, a twig broke behind me. I realised that I was not alone. Fear crawled up my spine. I felt a presence. I’d been caught.


When I was a little girl, father always said that I should respect my elders, that they should always be obeyed and, that being older than me, they would always be right. Children knew nothing he said and they should never, ever question anything an adult told them. He said if he ever caught me lying I’d suffer far more than if I’d told the truth. He also said that if I’d done wrong, I had to admit to it and take my punishment. However, as I stood beside the hedge with the hairs on the back of my neck prickling and all father’s speeches crowding into my brain I knew that I’d never admit to anything. I also knew that I’d lie; to save my skin, I’d lie.


And he was huge. When I turned round to face him and my eyes had time to travel the up the length of him, all my bravado, all my bluster to lie and stand my ground shrivelled and I knew I’d return to my usual pathetic apologising. I’d say I was sorry; just like I always did. And the fact that he wasn’t smiling made my courage shrivel yet further. He had a face on him that would crack glass and the familiar dread washed over me; the same dread that always suffocates me whenever father is close by. The man’s arms were probably bigger than father’s and folded across a chest that sported a Harley Davidson tee shirt. At his ear, two earrings hung from one lobe and his fair hair was greased back, slick with some kind of gel.

When he didn’t speak I became agitated. I wondered what he would do. I feared that he might lash out and hit me, after all that’s exactly what father would do. I’d get no warning, he’d just go for me and I, well, I’d be expected to take it.

So, when this man continued to stare at me without speaking I knew that I should say something; offer some reason for being there but nothing would come. After all, I’d been caught spying, hadn’t I? I’d intruded on their privacy. Finally, he spoke, his eyes suspicious above an accusing mouth. “You spying on us?” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement because it was clear he’d already made up his mind about me. I felt embarrassment and shame, even though I’d done nothing wrong.

Perhaps I should have told him to bugger off, after all, it wasn’t his land so I wasn’t trespassing was I? And who was he to creep up on me, glowering at me with that face of his. I should have told him to clear off; that I had more right to be there than he did seeing as I lived in these parts and wasn’t just passing through like some ship in the night. Course, I never said any of that. Instead, I caved in, didn’t I, what with him being older than me, bigger than me and a man. Father’s words rang out in my ears; “Yer’ve bin caught! Yer’ll tek yer punishment!” As I stood looking at the strange man, his face faded in my mind to be replaced by my father’s. I reacted accordingly. I denied everything.

“I wasn’t… I wasn’t spying…”

He didn’t believe me. I could tell by the way his eyes narrowed. He took a step forward. I took one back, bracing myself for the onslaught that was bound to come. I felt the exact same fear as I did whenever father was close to the boil. Panic rose within me; poured into my stomach like molten lava. I was sure that he was going to explode; this stranger with father’s face.

I tried to speak again. “I wasn’t spying. I promise. I just…”

He wasn’t wearing it. I should have known that he wouldn’t. “Just what?” He mocked. “We don’t like people snooping on us. It’s not good for us and it certainly isn’t good for them”.

I was terrified. Even though in essence, I’d done nothing wrong, I felt as though I’d broken some unspoken law and I expected punishment. In father’s eyes, I’d done wrong. I’d gone somewhere I shouldn’t; acted in a way that father would say was unbecoming. I should be punished. As the strange man stared at me through horrible, unblinking eyes I found myself shrivelling up inside and in the end I couldn’t stand it. I had to explain myself; anything to get those eyes off me but proper sentences escaped me. I stumbled over my words, knew that I was coming across a village idiot but didn’t care. I was genuinely afraid. After all, here was a man; a man so much bigger than I; a man who’d decided I’d done wrong and, like I’ve said before; women and girls are inferior to men, aren’t they. We mustn’t ever answer back and must always tell the truth. My words came out in a pathetic squeak. I lied, sort of. “I wasn’t spying. I just… I…”

He hauled in a breath, appearing to grow bored with my whiny voice. I saw him roll his eyes and sigh. “If you’re not spying, then what are you doing here?”

I didn’t know what to say. Well, I did but how could I tell him that I’d come to see Rowan. I was just a girl; a stupid, infatuated girl that nobody found attractive. How could I tell him I’d come to see my hero. I couldn’t tell him about Rowan. I couldn’t. So I just stood there, panicking over what he was going to do next; knowing I couldn’t tell the truth and yet also knowing that I’d suffer the consequences if I didn’t. My lips trembled as I stood before him and I felt my eyes begin to sting with unshed tears. I knew I presented a pathetically ridiculous figure and it was obvious that he thought the same thing. He spoke agaom; “I think you’d better clear off, don’t you?”

I was being dismissed. I could leave. Relief flooded through me. I nodded weakly, thanking him though on reflection I don’t know why I found it necessary to thank him for letting me go but I guess it’s something I’m used to doing; feeling grateful for being let off.

I moved away, painfully aware of him eyeing up my stupid red face. So much for acting all grown up and sophisticated; I’d acted like a child, a simpering, stupid child. And, like a child, I wanted to run, to get away from his eyes but some small spark of pride wouldn’t allow me so I walked. I walked quickly away. I would not run. Even though my brain told me to, I would not run.

I was crying properly by the time I’d put a short distance between us but I didn’t care as I knew he would no longer be able to see my face. I would run home once he was out of sight. I would run home and decide how best to kill myself but I wouldn’t run if he could see me. Oh no. I wouldn’t run; not in front of him; whoever he was.


When I reached what I considered to be a respectable distance from the strange man, I took up my pride and ran. I had to get home. I had to be left alone so that I could die in peace but it wasn’t to be. Within seconds of my breaking into a run I heard another voice. It wasn’t the voice of the stranger, no. It belonged to Rowan. My humiliation was complete. Rowan; hero, Shit Head Slayer had turned up and I wanted to die twice over.

“What’s up?” I heard him ask of the strange man.

“I caught that kid spying”. Kid; he called me a kid. Kill me now. I ran faster. “Next thing, they’ll be up from the village, bootin’ us out!”

And, you know, I prayed to God to take me right there and then; to strike me with lightning, to create a huge hole for me to fall into, to send a plague of big, black crows to peck out my eyes and feed off my corpse; anything, it didn’t matter what and preferably before I got home. Rowan wouldn’t miss me anyway, what; with me being just a stupid, little girl. He’d see me as the daft kid with a school girl crush wouldn’t he? And then there was his voice; his lovely musical voice coming at me from across the way; “Susan!” He was calling out to me. “Susan! Wait up!”

I wouldn’t wait up though. Nothing would ever make me wait up; not even him. In fact, it was because of him that I ran even faster. I couldn’t bear to have him look at me and I certainly didn’t want to look at him. I needed to put as much distance between us as possible. I wouldn’t let him see me like that. I’d rather not see him at all. I’d rather be able to crawl away; to be alone with my shame but it wasn’t to be. Within a few moments I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard a voice in my ear. “Susan! Wait!”


I do have some pride you know, though not much. Luckily for me I had enough in me to attempt to shrug him off. I was angry with him. I didn’t want to see him, even if he was the most attractive man I’d ever seen and I heard my own voice ringing in my ears. “No!” I snapped. “No! Leave me alone! Get off me!”

But he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t leave me alone. Instead, he ran along with me, pleading; his hand still on my shoulder, trying to slow me down. “Wait up, Susan. Wait up!”

“Get off me!”

“Please Susan; stop!”

We were ages from my house. I knew I’d never make it. I also knew that he wasn’t one who took no for an answer so I slowed down; came to a full stop; knew I had to get it over with. I was breathless. I was crying. I didn’t want to see him. “Get off me!” I heard myself whine. “I have to get home. Get off me”.


“Get off me!”

He knew my distress. I could feel it in him. He let his hand drop from my shoulder and proceeded to watch me. And I hated it. I wanted the ground to swallow me up, to devour me but I knew that it wouldn’t because well, let’s face it; it never did, did it? So, I put up with the staring that is until his hand began to rise and I watched the big fingers stretching out towards me. He touched my face. And I let him. I knew the need to flinch but didn’t. Instead, I held my breath, weathered his touch. I guess some hidden part of me was desperate for affection, so I let him put his fingers on my skin.

And he was so gentle, you know; so gentle that it surprised me. No one had ever touched me in such a way. Indeed, I never knew that adults were even capable of such gentleness. And then his breathy voice brought me out of myself. “Susan”. He whispered. “It’s ok. It’s ok. Look, it’s me; Rowan”.


We stood motionless for a moment, our eyes locked. As he cupped my face I was still holding onto my breath, still shell shocked by the gentleness of his touch. Eventually a few words bubbled up from my throat and I spoke.
“I have to get home”.

He stared at me some more and then sighed; a wistful expression spreading across his face as he cocked his head to one side. My eyes were drawn to his hair as it swayed with the movement. He breathed in steadily and let it out again before speaking. “Why didn’t you stop?” He whispered. “Did you not hear me call?”

And I wanted to answer him, you know. I wanted to say; yes I heard you, but nothing came out and I just stood there marvelling in silence at his beauty; refusing to believe that he was standing before me; that he was touching me; that he even wanted to touch me. When I said nothing a tiny smile began to tug at one corner of his mouth. My eyes dropped to it; how I so longed to kiss those lips.

“Susan?” When my gaze rose back up to his and I saw the intensity there I
froze; scared suddenly. I shook him off. His hand dropped and I took a step back. I had to end this; had to make good my escape. I didn’t want to embarrass myself further. “I need to get back. Father will…”

His face clouded over. “Father will what?”

Father will beat me. I couldn’t tell him that so I lied. “Father will be wondering where I am”. No, he won’t. He’ll assume I’m with you and then… Tense seconds passed before Rowan reached out to touch my face again, this time using his knuckles to brush against my skin. I warmed at his touch, felt the need to press my face against it and then realised that he was wiping away the tears from my cheek. It was such a sweet gesture that my eyes brimmed over yet further but I pushed his hand away and wiped at the tears myself. “No”. I whispered, wanting him to touch me yet not wanting him to. “Please don’t touch me. I have to go”.

He shook his head as I mouthed that I was sorry and began to back away and as I did so something made me glance down at my wet fingers. Mortification exploded in my stomach. When I’d looked down I saw that most of my make up was in my hand and I realised that it’d run; smudged everywhere. I was crushed. I couldn’t believe it and knew so much shame. I knew I’d look like a clown who had been left out in the rain and hauled in a horrified breath. I was mortified, nausea rising in my stomach, knowing that his eyes were on me; knowing that he’d see the mess, see my ridiculous, comedic face .

I shook my head and backed away. “Oh my God; look at me!” I said before I could stop myself. “Look at the mess!” I’d never live this down. “It’s run! It’s all fucking run!” I put my hands up to my face and wiped angrily at my eyes. I needed to be rid of the pathetic make up. And I knew that Rowan watched me. I knew that his eyes were taking everything in. “It’s run!” I cried. “My stupid make up has run! I can’t do anything right!”

I felt his fingers curling gently round my wrists. He spoke. “Susan?” His voice was soft but I wasn’t listening so he spoke again. “Susan?” And he gently pulled my hands down from my face. I wouldn’t look at him. I couldn’t bear the humiliation. I shook my head, focused on some spot over his left shoulder. “Susan?”

“I fuck everything up”. I said. “…Everything”.

“No you don’t”.

“I do. He’s always telling me that I’m useless; a waste of space and I am. I mean, look at me. Look at the clown. Look at the stupid, ridiculous clown”.

And so upset was I that I didn’t notice that his hands were sliding down my arms so that he could take both of mine in his. He curled his fingers round them but I never took it in. “You’re not stupid, Susan. And you don’t look like a clown”.

I didn’t believe him. He was just being polite. “I do. I do and I have to go”.

“Not yet; not like this”.

“Yes. Yes I do”.

And I made to turn away but he held onto my hands, surprising me because it didn’t hurt. He didn’t hurt me. His grip was firm but it didn’t hurt. And it was strange to me because every time father grabs my arm it always hurts. Rowan was speaking again. “Did you not want to see me today, then?”

When I looked up at him I saw that a soft smile was lifting his lips. He looked slightly roguish, as though he wanted to lighten the situation. I studied his lovely face for a second; took in those intense blue orbs, the nose that was a little larger than it ought to be and that fine, fine sensuous mouth that grinned beneath it. I sucked in my lips to stop them from trembling. Did I not want to see you today? Did I not want to see you today? What kind of question was that? And even though I knew he was looking at my blackened panda eyes, I decided to speak the truth though my voice was so tiny I wasn’t sure if he’d hear it or not. “Yes”. I whispered. “Yes. I did want to see you”.

“Then come back with me”.

I shook my head. “No,” I said pulling slightly against his grip. “No. There’s no point”.

He held fast. “There is. Please. Come back with me now. Meet the others”.

“Others?” I snorted and pulled out of his grasp. There was no way I wanted to meet any others. It was bad enough with just him seeing my panda face without others seeing it too. I shook my head. “No. I have to get back”.

Rowan’s face took on a curious expression. “I hope you’re not afraid of Luke there, cos if you are, you needn’t be. He’s just a big fanny; likes to puff himself up in front of the ladies”.

Ladies; what ladies? “I need to get home”.

“Why? You just got here”.

“I…” I couldn’t think fast enough and the temptation to spend a little time with him was oh so great but father’s face loomed large in my mind. He’d go berserk if he knew what I was up to.

Rowan was speaking again, lowering his head so that our eyes locked. There was a smile in his soft voice. “You know you want to”.
I looked across at him and sighed heavily. “I can’t face people right now”.

“Why not? You’ll like them”.

“I can’t”.

“So, you don’t you want to spend a little time with me, there?”

I do want to, yes, but he’ll find out; make me pay. “I can’t”. I said. “Father…” I let my voice trail away.

One of Rowan’s eyes narrowed. “Father what? What about father?” The way he spat out that last word left me in no doubt that he was no fan of my parent.

“I have to go home”.

“We needn’t take long. Elsie’ll make us some tea; maybe even let us have one of her cakes”.


His mouth rose on one side and his eyes twinkled. For a moment I knew jealousy. “Aye, Elsie; makes the best cakes in the world and it’d be a shame to waste your visit by going straight home”.

“I can’t, my face…”

“And there’s nothing wrong with your face, Little Susan”.

I grew sarcastic and snorted. “Oh, you think?”

He ignored the tone in my voice and grinned. “It’s fine, here…” And suddenly his hands were reaching for my face. Instinct made me move my head back but he shook his head, holding his hands in mid air. “It’s ok, let me”.

And as I held my breath, I let Rowan touch my face. I felt his fingertips on my skin as he ran them gently over my eyes to wipe away the tears and smudged make up. And when he got to a stubborn bit, he licked his thumb and pressed it just below my eye where the make up was its worst. “There,” He said finally. “It’s not perfect but it’s better than it was. You just look like you’ve been up all night is all”.

And as he admired his handiwork he chuckled. It came directly from his throat and sounded like a girl. “Come on now. It’ll be good for you to meet Elsie and when we’re done, I’ll walk you back down the lane”. Temptation, need, desire, I don’t know what made me agree but agree I did and the moment I’d nodded, Rowan took a step back, looked pleased with himself and held out his hand.


I eyeballed his fingers. They were thick, big and I couldn’t decide if I was scared or excited by them. I wanted to take them but I’d never held a man’s hand before and I felt shy. When he saw my hesitancy he spoke. “Will you not take my hand, Little Susan?”

My eyes were drawn up to his and I was embarrassed again. Why couldn’t I be more sophisticated, more grown up with him? Why couldn’t I just take his hand and walk off with him like Kim or Veronica would surely do? Huh; those two would have had their drawers off already. I hauled in a breath and nodded. Ok, I could do this. I looked down at my own hand, saw it gingerly reach out to take his. In that soft burr, he spoke again, sensing my hesitancy. “I won’t bite you know and I’ll let you go if you want me to”.

A little spark of courage flickered within me. My movements were slow and apprehensive as I went to take his hand and when I did, when our fingers finally touched, he gently closed his around mine whilst giving me a bright smile. And he was as good as his word. He held my hand loosely. He didn’t squeeze my fingers hard like father did. I knew that should I choose to pull away, he’d let me go.

As we made our way back to the camp he slid into an easy conversation. He spoke like he’d known me for years; told me a little about his life and friends. Me, I just listened. I love the sound of his voice so very much. It’s like no other I’d heard before. It’s kind of breathy, a little sing song even; the kind of voice one would like to hear when one was afraid. Indeed, I lost myself in it so deeply that I never noticed when we reached the camp.

When I first realised we were at the entrance to the West Field, my stomach did a little flip and my eyes searched for the big bloke Rowan had called Luke. I had no desire to meet him again. When I faltered in the entrance, Rowan looked down at me. “It’s ok, baby girl. You’re quite safe here”. I didn’t feel it though and I was sure that I could feel a curiosity in the air. I glanced round nervously; expecting eyes to be upon me but saw no one. I felt uneasy I stopped abruptly. He was surprised. “What?”

“I should go home”. I was certain someone was watching. I felt very uncomfortable. “I look a mess. My face…”

He cut me off, his blue eyes twinkling and crinkling in the corners. “And I told you; there’s nothing wrong with your face, Little Susan”.

I scowled. “My make up…”

“It’s practically gone and anyway, it’s nothing a quick wash won’t deal with. C’mon”. And still holding onto my hand he led the way across the grass. I felt desperately exposed even with that big hand curled round mine and when he gave my fingers a little squeeze I realised that he’d been watching me. When I looked up he immediately rewarded me with a wink.

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me a wink is a very intimate thing; shared between sender and receiver and nobody else; a kind of secret message. My heart missed a beat but he was talking again. “Don’t be scared”. His words comforted me though I still felt like I was on show.
As we got near the vans I saw a man sitting on the steps of one of the wagons. He wore a hat with a feather in its rim. It was the same man I saw Rowan with on that Beautiful Day. In his long fingers he held an acoustic guitar. He was gently caressing it; playing a note, cocking his ear to listen to it and then tuning it up.

When we passed by he looked up. He stared a moment as though wondering who I was and then recognition must have kicked in because he smiled and nodded his head, his face splitting into a warm, silly grin.
“Jimmy”. Rowan said beside me. “That’s our Jimmy. One of my best mates and the biggest arse I know”. I felt my own face twitching into a smile but when I tore my gaze off the man on the steps, my eyes fell upon a woman in her fifties who was walking towards us.

She was staring right at me as she approached and my breath caught in my throat. Rowan, obviously sensing my unease, gave my fingers another little squeeze. I glanced up at him; saw him smiling at the woman. I felt certain she was going to tell me off; to give me a piece of her mind because that Luke one must surely have told her about my spying on them.

I pulled my hand away from Rowan. Immediately he let me go and turned towards me, his face mildly amused. “It’s ok, Susan. It’s only Elsie. Don’t be afraid. She won’t bite”. And then out of the side of his mouth; “Got a nasty bark though…” and he chuckled. “…especially if you try to nick one of her cakes”.

When she drew level with us I looked down at the ground; something I did whenever I felt uncomfortable by another’s presence. I didn’t want to make eye contact with her. Besides, she had a face on her like a bull terrier and a build to match though when I looked at her feet I saw she was wearing pink slippers; pink slippers; they didn’t really go with the image. “So, oo’s this then?” She said.

In that calm, peaceful way he has of talking, he answered her. “This is my little village girl; Susan. Susan meet Elsie, Elsie meet Susan”. And he leaned into me, lowering his head so that his mouth was almost touching my ear. “Elsie’s the best cook a man could ever have”.

I looked shyly across at her and, into one of the kindest faces I’ve ever seen. When she smiled she looked totally different. “Aye,” Rowan was speaking again, his voice roguish this time. “…Best cakes for miles”.

“An’ you boy, ‘ave a glib tongue! Think yer can get away wi’ anythin’ as long as yer sweet talk the ladies”. She whacked him on the arm then and caught my hand in hers. “Come on, darlin’. We’ll go ‘ave a cuppa. Yer look like yer could do wi’ it”.

Rowan spoke. “And what about me?”

“Yer can make yer own, yer big lummox! Now clear off! We got girlie things to discuss”. Lummox; what was that? She was continuing. “…Thinks ‘e can wrap me round ‘is little finger, that one”. And she led me away from him. “C’mon girl; I’m parched!”


Now, I’ve no idea why I thought that travellers never bake so when I first entered her van and saw the delicious display of confections sitting on the side I was surprised. I was also surprised to see that the van was very bright. It was clean an tidy and interesting. Once inside her own surroundings Elsie seemed to change. She might have looked like a bull terrier when I first laid eyes on her but by the time she motioned me to sit down at her table she reminded me of a soft, old Retriever. “Actually,” She said suddenly. “Yer wanna clean up first? Yer’ll feel better if yer do. There’s a sink in there.” And she pointed to a small, narrow door. “An’ whilst yer at it, I’ll make the tea”.

I opened the door that she’d pointed at and found myself entering a small but very well equipped bathroom. Everything was pleasing until I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I looked crap! My make up had run down my cheeks and I’d made it worse by wiping at it. What a sight I was. I turned on the tap. I would scrub at my skin. I would rub it so hard that my face would grow hot and red with the violence of it. And that’s exactly what I did. I scrubbed so hard it hurt but I didn’t care. I was trying to erase myself, wasn’t I? It didn’t work though. When I looked in the mirror again the stupid, silly girl from the village was still there.


I ventured out again to find Elsie seated at a small table; an unlit cigarette poised between her chubby fingers. Two pretty cups in equally pretty saucers and an ornate teapot were laid out before her and she eyed me as I approached. She waited until I was comfortable and then reached for the pot. I watched in silence as the steam rose from the cups as she poured and waited patiently to see what was going to come next. I expected her to grill me but she didn’t. Instead she set the pot back on the table and said, “Good. Settle yerself down an’ take a deep breath”. I was sure she knew why I was there and felt embarrassment crawl up my neck to sit smugly on my face. She didn’t say anything about it though. Instead; “Drink it whilst it’s ‘ot, then”. And then; “…Can’t beat a good cup o’ tea”.

I wasn’t used to such kindness and it embarrassed me further. When I didn’t speak, she did. “Come to see our Rowan then?” I knew it. I nodded my head and closed my eyes for a moment. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Elsie ignored me and carried on speaking. “Aye,” She sighed. “’E is a bit o’ a magnet in’t ‘e. In fact, all o’ my lads’re easy on the eye”.

There’s more of them? Instead I made a statement. “I have to go in a minute”.

“Don’t be daft. Yer ‘ave to drink yer tea first an’ anyway, I’m not gonna be askin’ yer any embarrassin’ questions. I was young once meself, y’ know. Och, I know exactly ‘ow yer feelin’, girl. Bin there meself. Done that. Long time ago, mind”. She began to chuckle. “Wouldn’t do it now. Gawd, no. Rather ‘ave a cup o’ tea now”.

“I wish I’d never come up here”. I’d never opened up to anyone before. I don’t know why I did. Elsie just had something about her. She made me want to spread my entire life’s contents out all over her table but of course, I didn’t.

“Nonsense!” She said suddenly and then lowering her voice she continued as though sharing a great secret. “If yer ‘adn’t come, you wouldn’ave seen ‘im would ya? An’ I don’t blame yer for that, no. If I were twenty years younger, I’d ‘ave a go meself”. She laughed at her own words then. “In fact,” She continued. “I’d ‘ave a go now but ‘e can run faster than me”. She laughed again and I warmed to her. Mother would never speak to me like that; never. “Any’ow,” She said. “Yer can come whenever yer want, girl. Yer’ll always be welcome ‘ere”.

She sat back in her seat and drank her tea whilst I marvelled at her words; me? I’ll always be welcome; me? She asked me a question. “Met our Luke then?” I shuddered inwardly and she shook her head. “Scared yer, did ‘e?” When I never said anything she knew that he had. She grinned then, showing a full row of bottom teeth, most of which were crooked and nicotine stained. “Pfft. Yer don’t take any notice o’ ‘im; always glowerin’ at folk. ‘E’s just a big shite. I dunno why ‘e does it. Still, it keeps folk away an’ that’s the main thing”.

“A bit like a Rottweiler then”. I don’t know why I said that. I suppose I made a kind of joke with a woman I didn’t even know.

“Aye, ‘e’s a bit like that, in’t ‘e. Course, once yer get to know ‘im, e’s nuthin’ like that. Good as gold, e’ is”. She cocked her head to one side then. “Yer don’t believe me, do yer?”

“I thought he was going to…” And I let my words fade away.

Across the table, Elsie was suddenly serious. “Yer thought what?”


“Yer sure about that?”

I had to be truthful with her. After all, she’d treated me with kindness. “I thought he was going to lose his temper with me”. I studied the table and waited for her reply. She sat forward in her seat and I knew that she was examining me. “’e’d never ‘it a woman, yer know. Oh, ‘e might huff an’ puff but ‘e’d never ‘it a woman or girl”.

“I’m sure that he wouldn’t”. It was a lie but it was the only thing I could think of saying.

Elsie was talking. “…’e’d ‘it a bloke though. Aye, ‘e wouldn’t back down from a fight if a fight were necessary. Course, that’s blokes for yer. They’ve all ‘ad a few black eyes ‘ere, a few split lips there but nuthin’ ever serious. Never ‘it a lass though, none of ‘em would ever ‘it a lass”.

We fell into silence for a moment and I sipped my tea, wondering what to say next but Elsie spoke first. “Did yer really think ‘e was gonna ‘urt yer, girl?”

When I nodded and looked into my teacup, Elsie reached across the table. She curled her fingers round mine and I was shocked. No one had ever touched me like that before; not even my own mother. Her hand was soft and plump and I thought to myself that this was what a mother’s hand should feel like; all warm and gentle. “It’s not ‘is way,” She was saying. “…Not ‘is way. ‘Sides, I’ve never seen any of my boys start a fight; ended a few mind. Although, yeah, there’ve been a few fisticuffs between ‘em over extra ‘elpin’s of roast potatoes. Yup; air’s bin quite blue over my roast potatoes”.

Her words made me smile; imagining a load of blokes arguing over who’d have the last roast potato. I got to wondering what it would be like sitting at a table like that; all the noise, all the moving about in their seats, reaching across the table, because, well, lets face it; once seated at our table, no one ever speaks and no one ever moves; not until The Superior Being has finished and says we can.

I didn’t realise Elsie had been watching me. “Yer should smile more often, girl. Ah, an’ ‘ere ‘e comes”. I followed her gaze as she continued. “Watch this; as soon as ‘e comes in, ‘e’ll say ‘where’s mine’”. She sat back in her seat and I turned round just in time to see Rowan’s head appearing in the doorway as he climbed up the steps. He walked over to where we were sitting, a grin firmly in position. And we waited. Silence enveloped us as he looked from one to the other. And then; “Ok, where’s mine?” And for the first time in many, many long months I found myself laughing.


He has such fine, blue eyes, you know and when he tore his gaze from Elsie, he let those eyes settle upon me. My breath caught in my throat; again. He sported an elastic grin as he stood at the table and leaned on its clean surface with the palms of his hands. His dark hair hung heavily around his shoulders and I realised that he’d changed his clothing. He stood before us in a black shirt, open at the neck giving me a glimpse of the hair there. And instead of the tight black jeans and boots he was wearing blue jeans, a hole in one knee and light brown shoes.

He continued to speak, his voice ever soft; never taking his eyes off me. “What does a man have to do to get a good cup o’ tea round here, then?” His eyes held a twinkle; a roguish sparkle. Here was a man who knew how to get what he wanted.

“Oh, alright!” Elsie got up then and went over to the kettle, flicking on the switch. Rowan immediately flung himself into her seat and put a leg up on the table but then Elsie came back for the teapot and slapped it. “Off!” She demanded and he did as he was told but not before winking at me and dazzling us both with his devastating smile.

When Elsie returned with the teapot and an extra mug she shot Rowan a look as she set them down on the table. I watched with interest as she puffed herself up and stood with her hand on her ample hip. “Out o’ my chair!” She said throwing her thumb over her shoulder.

Rowan spoke to her whilst grinning at me. “Och, Elsie. I’m comfy now. Surely you wouldn’t make a man get out of his seat?”

Above him, Elsie’s face changed into Pit Bull mode. “No, I wouldn’t make a man get out of ‘is seat, but that’s my seat so get that fine arse off it an’ find somewhere else to park it!”

Tipping me a wink, Rowan got up, pretending to be irritated and plonked himself down next to me. I gasped inwardly and broke eye contact with him, preferring to look out of the window than let him see how much he affected me. Once seated, Elsie began to speak. “So, yer from the village then?”

I turned to look at her and nodded, catching Rowan’s grin from the corner of my eye. He spoke for me. “Aye, was sitting on a wall, first time I saw her”. He turned to look at me proper before continuing. “…Looked like she’d lost a pound and found a penny”.

A conversation began. I sat in silence feeling awkward and self conscious even though the discussion was light hearted and littered with comedy. I felt uncomfortable to be sitting there with them and needed prompting before I would say anything. I wasn’t being rude. I just find it difficult to talk to strangers. Besides, I didn’t want to say something that would give them an excuse to laugh at me.

Whilst they spoke to one another I took the opportunity to look discreetly at Rowan. He isn’t a classically handsome man. Instead, he holds ruggedness about him and has very strong features. His nose is slightly large for a start, although it doesn’t stand out that much because the rest of his face is very masculine and his eyes; how they attract me. They seem to twinkle with a kind of roguishness; a blatant charm which I’m sure he turns on at will.

My gaze dropped to his fine, generous mouth; how it would transform his face with it’s elastic grin. My eyes dropped yet further to his strong jaw; to the thick column of his neck and how it disappeared into his collar and finally to his shoulders; those fine, fine shoulders, so square so broad. A silent sigh left me. I looked away and out of the window.

And they tried to draw me into the conversation you know, but I made it hard for them with my shyness. It must have appeared that I didn’t have an much to say or have an opinion on anything though they wouldn’t know it was because I feared my own words, my own opinions; sure that they would be met with scoffing and ridicule just like they were at home and school. So, I remained mute much of the time. In the end though, they managed to gently coax a few words out of me and when I answered them, they didn’t laugh.


“…So, do you Susan?” They were speaking to me once more and to my horror I realised that I’d turned my gaze from the window and had been staring at Rowan again; taking in everything about him. Because of my intense perusal of him I hadn’t noticed that they were waiting for an answer. My face heated up. My stomach flipped. I made to apologise, looked down at my watch and realised that it was 4:45. I felt the blood drain from my face.

I stood abruptly giving them both a start. “I’m sorry!” I spat. “I have to go! It’s been really nice. Thank you for the… for the tea… I really do have to…goodbye!” And I fled. Behind me, Rowan had jumped up whilst Elsie remained in her seat looking mildly shocked. I heard him speak. “I’ll walk back with you”.

I turned; “No!” I realised too late that I’d almost snapped his head off. So I finished off on a quieter note. “No, really. Thank you but I’m ok”.

“Not good enough. I said I’d walk you back and I will”. I shook my head but knew that I had no time to argue. I was out of the door already with Rowan fast on my heels. “What’s the big rush?” He was saying as he caught up.

“I have to be back before 5:00”.

“Before 5:00? That’s a bit naff, isn’t it?”

“My parents are very strict”.

“More like they’re living in the wrong century. C’mon. Slow down. A few minutes won’t kill you”. No, but he will. As we reached the entrance to the field, Rowan grabbed my arm, gently pulling on me but I ignored him and hurried anyway.

“You don’t know my parents”. I said. “My father will kill me”.

“What the fuc….why? Why would he do that?” He let go of my arm and fell into a brisk step alongside me.

“He doesn’t like me being out”.

“Why not? You’ve got a life as well, you know. He can’t keep you locked up forever”.

“Mine can”.

“He sounds a right bast…”

I cut him off as my house was coming into view. “You can go. I’ll be alright now”.

He stopped and watched me as I hurried on. I could feel his eyes on my back so I looked round. “I can see you to the end of the lane if you want”. He said.

“No, it’s alright”. I called over my shoulder. “If I hurry I can get home before he sees me”.

I knew he was watching me. I carried on; my feet taking me away from Rowan and towards my house. I heard him call out. “Susan”. I looked round. He spoke again. “Are you sure about that or is it me you’d not be wanting him to see?”

It was my turn to stop then. I spun round. He stood motionless; his hands hanging loose at his sides, his dark head cocked, hair swaying slightly. My heart ached at the sight of him and for a moment I thought I could see the look of a little boy pass fleetingly across his face but no, I must have been mistaken.

I took a deep breath. Of course, I can’t let him see you. Instead I called back to him. “He gets funny if I talk to people I don’t know. I... I’m sorry. I really have to go”. I waved to him and turned away, my heart sinking, my hatred for father growing. He always ruined everything. For the first time in my life I knew excitement and yet he’d ruined it for me. He wasn’t even with me and yet he’d ruined it.

Ok, that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed it. Laters taters...:D
Great as usual! I'm loving Elsie, she's just what Susan needs! Love reading this story again, can't wait to see the progression of these characters all over again.
This was a very good chapter... I hardly noticed the time flying by as I read it. It's so interesting to see how Susan's entire person was shaped from her upbringing, and the contrast between her and a kind, somewhat carefree man like Rowan.
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