Nothing works round here – except the paint doing a good job of peeling off the shower walls.
Putting my dirty uniform in the laundry bag, I head down the corridor to my room.
This is a nurses’ home: 50 women to every man.
Sorry, ladies, nothing is going to happen. I’m not ready. A bit scared. I don’t know the rules. I’m a bit naïve and not ready, right?
Someone else enters the corridor. Nikki! Nikki? not you … oh … she’s coming from the other bathroom. She’s dressed only in a towel, just like me.
Nikki: I’ve adored her for ages.
We meet outside my room. She’s all smiles and tilted head. No: stop. Nikki, do not do this. I’ve planned my life – everything forever.
She drops her laundry bag and says, “Tea? Your room?”
“Nikki … you … know what could happen.”
“I don’t have condoms. What protection do you have?”
There’s something in her eyes. A whirlpool.
I want to drown. I think she knows. That makes me me want to drown more.
I say, “Nikki … help … there are problems.” She’s just looking at me.
Someone is not in control here and I think it’s me.
Nikki seems to know what she is doing: that’s nice. Her penetrating stare is a bit unsettling though. Sort of a bit nice too, like I passed some sort of test.
I go on, “Look, I really like you … so much … but what if you get pregnant? Children need a mum and a dad. That means we need to… That’s a whole wheeling of pushchairs and showing toddlers how to feed the ducks at the pond. Then there is the getting the children to school and university and helping them through all the crap relationships … and then they have babies! It’s total commitment for ever. It has to be. We’re both trained nurses. We know… We are talking about children.”
Nikki winks at me, presses her face against mine. Her hot, happy tears on my cheek. She says, “That’s what I wanted to hear. Got you. Got you at last.” She reaches for the door handle. “This is where it all starts.”
©Gary Bonn, 2016