Franny

Fuss, fuss, fuss. Same thing every week. My first marriage was a disaster.


‘Nobody else’s husband comes to the ante-natal clinic.’


‘I’d like to hear what the doctor has to say.’


‘If there’s anything different I’ll tell you.’


‘Will you though? Wait inside then. The driver will come to the door and don't go wandering around on your own.’


'Stop being so bossy.'


'Somebody needs to be responsible. Where's my football kit?'


I sat outside and waited for the hospital mini-bus. Nige, the driver, was dead cheery. We drove past Brixton Market. Daloris and Serena, the two Jamaican women who attended the clinic were always talking about their bargains. I wanted to go there.


I saw Dr Singh right away. He patted my hand. ‘No more seizures. Wonderful. Not long to go now. ’


So nothing wrong with me but I was expected to hang around the hospital for hours reading the bloody Forsyte Saga that Brian’s mother had foisted upon me.  I left a message to say I was being picked up and set off across the Common. What a glorious day. Warm but there was a breeze. I remember that because a man’s hat blew off and two wee kids chased after it with their mum chasing them. They were all laughing.


I caught the 137 bus, it wasn’t so pleasant. Not a breath of air. I got off at Streatham High Road outside The Red Lion. I’d never been in a pub on my own in my life but I opened the door. It was dimly lit and a bit smelly. It was almost empty. I put my handbag on the bar and clambered up onto the high stool. A man at the bar slid along beside me.


‘What're you having, love?’


‘Oh, I’m ok’


He called to the barman ‘A pint of bitter, Ed, and whatever the young lady’s having.’


‘I’ll have a brandy, thanks. I’m pregnant.’


‘So I see. I’m just being sociable. Always liked the Scots. I’m Bill.’


‘I’m Franny.’


He showed me photos of his grandchildren. 'One of each. Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?’


‘I have a feeling it’s a boy. I have a lot of brothers’.


I told him about how I missed my family, my friends and my job, about the hospital and getting the bus.


‘I’m in insurance. Are you insured?’


‘I don’t know. Brian would take to do with anything like that.


When I made to leave. He asked if I lived nearby.


‘I’ll drop you off”


Dear God. Brian would kill me if he knew. Bill waved cheerio and drove off.  I looked in my bag for my keys and then remembered I'd left them inside in my jacket pocket. The back window was open but I'd never manage to climb in.  I sat on the bench and closed my eyes. I got the fright of my life when I heard screaming coming from the back garden. I walked along the path and saw a figure in white dart out from behind a tree. He had ginger hair and was wearing a martial arts outfit.


‘Hi,’ he said, when he spotted me.  ‘Hope you didn’t get a fright. I’m Eric. I live upstairs. I’m making a film.’


‘Hello. I’m Franny. I’ve locked myself out.’


‘That’s hard lines. Can I get you a drink of water or some tea?’


‘No thanks I’m fine. But you could climb in and open my door? I'm locked out.’


It only took him a jiffy.


‘Thanks so much.’


‘Could you do me a favour now? I’d be ever so grateful.’


He wanted me to hold the camera. It was so funny. He threw himself into his Kung Fu role with gusto. I followed him around with the camera trying not to laugh at the spectacular finale, when he fell dying with fake blood spurting from his mouth.


‘That was great.‘ I said.


I was glad to get into the flat. I made myself a cup of tea. I put some eggs on to boil for a salad.


Brian dropped a kiss on my head.  ‘How was your day?’


‘Fine, yours?'


‘Our team won the five asides. I scored.' He chatted about the Tottenham v Arsenal game as we ate dinner. He didn't ask about the hospital.


‘What on earth?’ He said, when the doorbell rang.


‘Who was it?’


‘Some guy trying to sell insurance.’


We were just finishing our ice cream when the bell rang again.  I recognised Eric's voice.  Brian brought him in.


'Come up and see the movie and have a drink.’ he said.


'What movie?' Said Brian.


'I helped Eric with his movie. I'll explain later, Let’s go, it’ll be a change.’


‘Yeah, come on, man, a chance to get to know each other.’


Brian shot me a look but I followed Eric upstairs.


Mae, Eric's girlfriend, showed us into the lounge. We sat on a sofa in front of the screen on the wall.  She offered the guys beer and she had a gin and tonic. I had water.


Mae giggled and ruffled Eric’s hair as we watched the movie. Brian said nothing. When the film finished they said to hang around and see another film.


I said OK.


It was a blue movie. I've forgotten what it was called but it made me want to laugh. The minute it finished Brian nudged me.


‘We should go.'


He never got to lecture me. I had my first contraction on the way downstairs.


personal rebellion, assertion, relationships