He met Fiona, a girl his own age with hippy-like flowing skirts and long loose hair, at one of these classes and thence began a love-affair that introduced Ashley to sexual intercourse for the first time. He found it a disappointing experience.
“I thought the world was supposed to change,” he complained to Melvin, “I thought there was supposed to be like an explosion and a – I dunno, a feeling of wonder and splendour and …… and well, that it was really great.”
“Yeh, well mate, it is. It is great. Can’t do without it. S’ppose my first time was a bit flat too. Depends on the girl, I think. She has to sorta be well …… you know, erotic or summat.”
Oddly enough, his new non-virgin status seemed to open up other doors for him, and for the first time ever, and thanks largely to Fiona who was a bubbly and charismatic girl, Ashley was able to join-in with his college friends and feel a part of the student peer group to which he adhered. Having Fiona at his side introduced him not only to other students but to the sensation of being a cog in a wheel, a part of a whole, and of having a role to play. He supposed he was probably in love.
“You don’t look like a Maths student,” said Fiona one evening. They were lying on her bed and she traced her fingers slowly over his chest. The room smelt of spunk and cigarettes.
“What does a Maths student look like?” he asked.
“Oh – dunno –sort-of boring. You look more like a poet.”
“What does a poet look like?”
He thought he was going to be pleased with this conversation, particularly in view of Melvin’s comment. He had – years ago now – sensed that his father was disappointed that he was not a big burly chap like himself, and he had been concerned as a young lad that his fair hair was girlish …… but if he looked like a poet, that was okay. He smiled at her in anticipation.
“You look like Rupert Brooke,” continued Fiona, “ethereal, sensitive, beautiful like an archangel.”
“Well, I am ethereal, sensitive and beautiful like an archangel,” he grinned, though he had never heard of Rupert Brooke.
“Yeh – really modest too.”
When he got home to his digs that night he looked Rupert Brooke up on the net: a first World War poet. There was a black and white sepia photo of him – indeed, he was beautiful like an archangel. A finely-chiselled profile gazed out of the side of the page, full of the pain of love and full of an ardour all things lovely. He was beautiful and Ashley could suddenly see how men find men beautiful. Ashley closed the net, stripped off and stood naked in front of the mirror. Frowning slightly as he turned this way and that, he studied his body carefully. He was not tall – five feet nine inches in fact – and he had a pinkish skin that tanned quickly in the English summer to a pleasant pale gold. Without the tan his skin was effeminate. His eyes were light blue-grey. His hair was fair, not quite blonde, and he wore it short in a traditional schoolboy cut, though it was already extremely thin. His pubic hair was slightly darker. He had only recently started to shave, and even now – he was nearly twenty – needed to do so barely once a week. What stubble did grow there was fair and hardly showed. There was not the slightest trace of hair on his chest though a thick crop grew on his lower legs, like a soft down. The jaw-line was oval, the cheek-bones high, the lips full, and he had long thin fingers with immaculately clean nails.
The Man with Green Fingers by Catherine Broughton, is a novel set in Cyprus. Described by leading critics as “brilliantly written” and “a page-turner”, this novel has little do to with gardening, as one might have supposed, and contains a gripping mixture of mystery, adventure, romance and murder. Available on Amazon on Kindle, or can be ordered from most leading book stores and libraries.
Catherine Broughton is English, though born in South Africa. She has travelled a great deal and this is reflected in all her books. She is also an artist and a poet. More about her and her work on http://www.turquoisemoon.co.uk
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