A piece I wrote as part of my homework for Laura Jane Williams‘ online course, ‘Don’t Be A Writer, Be A Storyteller’ – this week was all about developing characters. Enjoy!
‘See you later mate!’ Chris shouted from across the street. Mud stained and red faced, Joe raised a hand as a goodbye, and then turned to face his front door, fumbling in his backpack for his keys.
He pushed into the hallway, scraping his football boots across the welcome mat.
The sound of dishes clattering in the kitchen paused for a moment. ‘Hiya love! How was practise?’
Joe started striding up the stairs. ‘Good thanks!’
‘Alright love, tea’s ready in an hour.’ The clanging of pots and pans resumed.
Joe took the steps two at a time and bounded to the end of the hall, glancing into Katie’s room and giving her a nod as she laid on bed, scrolling through her phone.
He rushes to his bedroom and closes the door behind him, leaning against it for a moment. Exhaling. Finally, he can take a breath.
His phone bleeps from inside his pocket. A text from Chris – ‘Alright lad? Mint training sesh tnight. Pint on Friday? Tell Lucy my dick says hello 😉 😉’
What an arsehole. Joe shook his head. He loved his mates, he did, but they could be such Neanderthals. Chris had been there for him since they were kids, through his parent’s divorce, through everything, and he could have a right laugh with him – with all of them. But they could be so…single minded.
He wanted to text back ‘I’ll have a pint with you when you stop trying to shag my girlfriend’ – but that would blow his cover, ask too many questions. So, instead, he simply said ‘Yeah mate, see you then’.
The bedroom was small, gloomy. Socks and pants were strewn across the floor, and buxom blondes with baby blues stared down at him from every wall. They knew his secret. They’d never tell.
Joe lifted the nylon football shirt over his head, revealing taut pale skin. He turned to the full length mirror in the corner of the room, kicked the magazines in front of it out of the way and stared. Checked his door was shut properly and looked himself up and down. He slipped off the drawstring shorts, let them fall to the floor. To anyone who walked in now, he was a normal 18 year old, stood in a pair of navy blue boxers and woollen socks.
A loud ring shattered the moment – Lucy was calling him. Still staring into his own eyes in the reflection, he answered it.
‘Hi babe’, he said with a smile.
‘Hey lover – did you have fun at football?’
He slid his index finger slowly, gently, round the rim of his boxers. Red lace poked out from underneath, it’s floral curves winding their way around the dip of his pelvis.
‘Yeah, it went really well. Are you coming to watch the game next week?’
‘Course I am! I wouldn’t miss it.’
She breathed heavily into the speaker. ‘I do miss you though…are you coming over tonight?’
Joe looked to the ceiling, then back again.
‘Yeah course. I miss you too.’
He wasn’t lying to her, but he knew that if he told her, showed every bit of himself, she’d think that he was.
‘Great… text me in a bit?’
He dropped the boxers and stood in just the floral lacy underwear. It felt soft yet scratchy against his skin. He’d have to take them off before going to Lucy’s, because they wouldn’t be on long once he was there.
‘Will do. Love you Luce.’
‘Love you too’.
Joe hung up the phone and placed it back on his bed.
‘Where the fuck is my blue spotty dress?’ He heard Katie shout from the down the hall, stomping about, slamming doors. She’d kill him if she knew – or judge him, at the very least.
His eyes lingered in the mirror one last time before he took everything off and pulled the boxers back up. Back to ‘normality’. Back to Joe. One version of him, anyway.