‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘I’ll think of something.’
‘Oh.’ She shuffled her feet and gave me one of those looks.
‘What’s that mean?’ I said.
‘What’s what mean?’
‘The sort of look a woman gives a man when she’s expecting him to make an arse of himself, or worse an arse of her.’ She was watching me carefully. I thought about naming her. I should have done it before I’d started writing her, so I could have begun with identifying her as a specific person.
‘A sensible one this time.’
‘What?’ I was beginning to wonder who was writing this.
‘A sensible name. I don’t want one of those fantasy names the reader spends the whole book trying to pronounce,’ Sue said.
‘Sue? Again? Really? Sue gave me another look. ‘You’ve never really got over her have you?’
‘Got over who?’ I could feel my neck getting hot and my face reddening.
‘Oh, come on. I’m a creation of your mind. I’ve seen some of those memories that you dredge up when you’re thinking of a female character. Very supple, wasn’t she?’
‘Don’t give me that,’ Sue said. ‘That holiday you went on together to that cottage in Gower. It is a good job they built them sturdy in those days. That oak beam must have been at least 300 years old… and how did she get her leg all the way up there?’
I smiled at the memory. It took me three weeks for my back to get right again after that holiday and it was only a long-weekend minibreak.
‘You may not necessarily be that Sue,’ I said. ‘There were others.’
She nodded. ‘As long as our not thinking of that one who fell over in the pub.’
I laughed. Now that Sue was fun… if a little erratic. ‘No, not her.’
‘No-one in particular. Just think of yourself as a composite character. After all, we can always change your name in a later draft, if we think it suits you better.’
‘Yes. I like to give my characters some leeway, if not autonomy. You ought to know that… after that time.’ I suddenly found something very interesting to look at in the left-hand margin.
Sue glanced at the empty margin and then back at me. I could see the anger. ‘I don’t know how you could think of things like that… even for the stories you keep in your special folder with the password.’ She shook her head. ‘No-one would do something like that in real life.’
I decided not to tell her about Judy and that birthday surprise she’d given me. It even shocked me and by then I’d known just how dirty a mind she had.
But it was fun at the time, even though I was still finding some of the mud in my ear several days later.
A very dirty mind.
‘You’re making it up,’ Sue said. ‘Anyway I’m not doing that. Not with these expensive clothes anyway.’
‘What expensive clothes?’
‘I was meaning to talk to you about that. I have a link to a website here. You could steal some of their descriptions. I know what you are like about things like that.’
‘I wasn’t thinking of you with clothes on.’ I saw that look again. ‘Well, not those specific clothes.’ I checked the prices on the website and was glad this was only fiction.
‘You could always help me take them off,’ Sue said with a wicked grin. ‘Maybe you could give me a dirty mind, after all.’