Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Savage Writing: Sunglasses like he was James Dean or something.

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Inspired by a picture of a young boy sitting in a cafeteria, wearing shorts, jacket and sunglasses. The picture was from Yorkshire but I got an American vibe. Third piece I presented to the Savages. Got a pretty good response 🙂

Stupid kid. Wearing his sunglasses like he was James Dean or something, walking around the food court like he owned it. Yes, my younger brother had discovered “cool”, and was trying his hardest to personify it: leather jacket, slicked hair, and shades indoors. And with that, he had replaced his boring birth name of “Sean” for something more dangerous, more animal, more “cool”: Sharky.

He didn’t look like he could bite anything, let alone tear it apart like Jaws. He hadn’t even been able to watch the whole of that film with me, and had spent most of it cowering into my shirt sleeve. But still, he said, sharks were cool, and “Sean” was stupid, so he was Sharky.

I, as his older sister, was placed firmly in the “uncool” category in his eyes, just as he – the little blonde dork in the sunglasses, leather jacket and shorts – was firmly my own “uncool” category.

‘Shorts aren’t cool,’ I’d said to him on the way there.

‘Are so,’ he’d said, pushing the too-big sunglasses up his nose.

We hung about in the food hall, not eating – we didn’t have the money – and not doing anything. Sharky would wander around the tables, nodding at girls like he was hot stuff, and looking away just before they laughed at him. Me, I couldn’t move from my seat. I kept gripping my bag as if it might run away, looking around the place, watching every person come and go and twitching whenever someone middle-aged and male entered.

Eventually, after over half an hour, Sharky finished his circuit and returned to me. I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

‘He said he’d be here at two,’ I said. The clock minute hand was past the point where I could say it was “closer to two than three”.

He pushed the sunglasses up his face again.

‘A man can be as late as he likes,’ he said, trying and failing to lower his unbroken voice to an acceptable leading-man pitch.

‘Shut up,’ I said, nerves making me sharp. It had only been a few months since we had last seen him, but in that short amount of time he had become a stranger in my mind, and now I was as frazzled as a girl on her first date. Another girl, not me. I never had a true “first date” – I would hang out with boys and only realise later that I’d been on a date. The first time I’d realised it during a date – at the roller disco with Peter Howden – I hadn’t been nervous at all. I’d tried to go all willowy like Jerry Hall and show that I didn’t care, wasn’t fazed, but being willowy is not a good idea on a roller rink and my knees had felt it the next day. It got me some time in Pete’s arms as he tried to hold me up, though, so it worked out in the end.

Sharky pulled himself up onto the table in front of me, bare legs dangling off the crumb-laden top. I tried to gauge his expression, but those stupid shades hid half of his face. Surely, I thought, you’re a young kid and you’re younger than me – surely you must be feeling worse than me?

Five minutes ticked by. The queues for food thinned and the number entering dwindled. Sharky’s feet swung back and forth, back and forth like a pendulum.

‘Can you stop that?’ I finally snapped. He turned and looked at me, and didn’t say a word. ‘You’re driving me crazy. Take off those stupid glasses and come sit next to me.’

He leant back on his hands, facing the ceiling, and swung his legs more.

‘Cool men don’t need to do what uncool people say. They don’t understand.’

‘Stupid little boys need to do what their big sisters say,’ I said.

‘Yeah,’ he said with an infuriating smirk, ‘but I ain’t stupid, am I?’

“Ain’t” was another “cool” word that he had picked up.

‘Yes you are. Get off the table. What’ll he think if he sees you like that?’

‘He won’t think anything,’ my brother said.

I bit my nails, too tired to argue. Five more minutes ticked by. The clock minute hand told me it was far closer to three than two. When I turned my eyes away, I saw a tall, brown-haired figure entering the court. I inhaled and jumped up, straining my eyes to see him against the bright sun outside. Broad shoulders like him, strong walk like him –

And then he caught the light and I saw the fuzz on his face. Great ugly sideburns, fluffed out like a chick’s down, running down to his chin, unattached to any redeeming moustache or beard. My father had a huge brush of a moustache, running right over his lips so thick you could never see any skin underneath, and he’d never get rid of it, I knew it.

The stranger walked to the other end of the hall and met a woman who was standing there in a miniskirt shorter than my own. And my brother just sat and watched them in vague interest, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

‘I can’t stand it, Sharky,’ I blurted out. ‘He’s not coming. He was never going to come. He doesn’t care now he has his new family. He doesn’t care anymore.’

I sat back down and gripped my bag as if I was trying to strangle it. Sean had stopped swinging his legs. Five more minutes we sat like that, the clock said: nearly three pm. As soon as it ticked five minutes to, my little brother swung himself off the table and put his hands in his jacket pockets.

‘Let’s go home,’ he said, in a tone that almost hit the leading-man mark. I sniffed and stood up. We walked out of the court and into the harsh sunlight, and we looked around for any sign of the man that had been so familiar to us a few months before.

Sharky looked up at me, as if telling me to move when I wanted to stay there and wait forever.

‘He’s not coming,’ I said, trying to convince myself. ‘Let’s go home.’

We walked home together, holding hands like dorks, and occasionally my little brother would put a hand to his face and – while pretending to push the glasses back up his nose – wipe away the very un-cool tears that kept slipping down from under his shades.

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Written by G.J.

14/06/2012 at 7:35 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Savage book that we’ll be publishing soon. (The other pieces I submitted for the book were this, this and this). I decided to do something a little different from normal, and realised it’d […]


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