“You will be a good boy this term, won’t you Eddy?”
I was glad that, by this point, most of the others had ceased loitering near their parents and had boarded the train. I would have been there myself. If I hadn’t the mother with the iron limbs holding me in an embrace. Still, I was saved answering her with a, “Of course I will mother.”- My face being forced against her shoulder, I was in no state to say anything. I was fit only to stand, bones aching and tips of ears burning. I felt bitter and resentful. The situation was bad enough – it didn’t need Baldrick tittering in the background.
Finally I felt her grip loosen, and I squirmed out to a safe distance. “Don’t do that mother. I’ll be fine.”
Baldrick was still smiling. I could sense the little git.
“Oh, but you must be,” Mother pushed her way back towards me with a handkerchief waving threateningly in front of her, “Now hold still a moment, dear. If your father could see the state of you!”
“I’ll be fine, Mother! Fine!”
The handkerchief was already upon me though, and I gave up. It seemed a better idea to just wait it out. It’s a lesson that I seem forced to re-learn at the beginning of every new school year. Just wait for Mother to stop fussing – get Baldrick back later.
It wasn’t long to wait really. One last kiss goodbye, one last promise to behave myself, and I was free to walk hastily to the train.
I collapsed into a seat in an empty compartment. Baldrick squatted opposite me. It was the beginning of another school year, just like the last, until I remembered that something was wrong. ‘Well,’ I told myself, ‘he’s probably completely forgotten by now. It’s nothing to worry about.’ Nothing to worry about? That phrase was correct like it is correct that a brick is a penguin holidaying on the Thames.
Somehow I could sense him. Even before I heard the compartment door slam with a shudder inducing thud, I could sense him. And no matter how many times my mind chanted, “Go away George, please go away George” I could not repel the inevitable. George Colhurst St. Barleigh had boarded the train and had leapt into the seat opposite.
“What ho, Eddy! I was looking all over for you!”
He looked happier than ever. Was that even possible?
“George, why are you calling me that?”
“Well, you know, I thought it sounded more… intimate. Is that the word I want?”
“I would guess so, but why? Why should we be more intimate?”
He looked slightly affronted by this, “Well, after last term…”
I swallowed, it was what I had feared. After one night, no actual sex involved, he wanted a “Relationship.”
“I don’t think it’s that cold. Why are you shivering like that?” He didn’t stop to let me answer, “Oh dear. Summer cold? I’ll look after you! Look,” His smile was reappearing, “I thought that you could call me… ‘chipmunk’.”
“Pippin of an idea, what? I was quite pleased with it.”
“Chipmunk?!” I mouthed, “Why, George? Why?”
“It’s rather sweet, I think. I’ll call you Eddy, and you’ll call me Chipmunk.”
“No. I mean… What? Because…? It’s not all that uncommon a thing you know…”
“What – what we did you mean?” Suddenly he seemed very pale, “You mean you’d done it before.”
Suddenly I seemed very pale.
His face was pure innocence, as always. He has the kind of eyes that best suit young bush-babies. This was my time to escape. I had the terrible feeling that, if I stayed, I would be forced into explaining ‘the birds and the bees’ to a young man who makes bunny rabbits seem entirely capable of their sexual libido.
Fortunately all that was needed for this seemed to be a quick stroll up and down the carriage. By the time I returned to the compartment, his attention appeared to have led him elsewhere…