I Never Said I Loved You

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 1

He wasn't someone you would forget in a hurry; Andersson. Did I say 'wasn't'? Don't worry, he's still with us is Anders. Very much so. But he wasn't for a long time.

I'm going back to Teignmouth, a seaside town in Devon, England; the year is 1986. Every morning we, Andersson and I, caught the same train to school in Exeter, a journey of less than twenty minutes. Then, if you add on the ten minutes taken to walk to Teignmouth station [and not be late], walk another twenty minutes from Exeter S. David's Station to my school, the whole journey amounted to the best part of an hour. That's not excessive for many English schoolchildren, some of whom probably use up much more of their time than they would like, travelling from home to school, and back again. Still, I would rather have done that than live in one of those places like a couple of my friends do. One of them, John, said he would write a book about it one day, spending day and night at school. Some years later he did write a slim volume on the subject, and it now sits proudly on my bookshelf, a testament to one boy's courage and resilience, determined to be himself and be proud of it. Good on yer John! I am sorry now that I wasn't there with you. I think I might have liked it.

My charge on the school journey was the boy Anders, short for Andersson, who was pleasant company for more than one reason. The boy's walk to his smart Junior School, some clever boys in clever uniform, filled originally with a few elite pupils but now expanded [no doubt for financial reasons] and filled with a couple of hundred more boys, lesser mortals, less godly, whose people could pay for such exclusivity. Anders' walk was a much shorter stroll from the station than mine. He's acquired the nickname Kipper [he told me], or Kip, presumably because his last name is Van Herrin. Herrin…..the fish, herring…..and its smoked form being a kipper. So he's Kip. Obvious isn't it? As for me, I'm Rufus, so I might have acquired the nickname William, or Bill, after William the Second of England; but I didn't. My last name is Toque [pronounced Toke and probably Belgian] which the other boys and some masters wrongly and lazily pronounced as Tock, hence my nickname of Tik. Tick tock tick tock went the clock. Fortunately my close friends and family stuck to a shortened version of Rufus, Roo. All very confusing I know, but there it is. One doesn't get to choose these things.

My mother and Kip's mum had met doing some activity in the town, pilates or something, they got on well and became friends. Comparing notes as mothers do apparently, it was decided between them that I should act as responsible person to and from school, when possible, for the reason being that, and here comes the tricky bit for me, I am a couple of years older than Kip, therefore a responsible person to watch out for the younger boy. Why tricky you ask? Well, that may emerge as an account of seven days in our lives might emerge, or perhaps sooner than that.

We are not at all sure of our family heritage, but both my elder sister and I have inherited our father's colouring, having very dark hair, dark brown eyes in my sister's case, and dark blue eyes in mine. I think I look distinctly odd, but others say it's strangely 'alluring', whatever that means. Dark brown hair and eyes go together, but dark hair and blue eyes, with a greeny-brown ring around the edges? The rest of me is more or less normal for a fourteen-year-old boy, apart from one thing. That 'thing' apart, it's ditto for my sister. When the telephone rings, the chances are that it's yet another boy wanting to talk to my cute sister Julia. As for Anders, his appearance is in sharp contrast with me, his travel minder. He's the typical blondie, and as his names suggests, Andersson Van Herrin, his heritage lies in the Netherlands or Scandinavia somewhere, or both.

When my mother asked me to 'look out' for Anders on our daily trips to Exeter and back, whenever practical, I experienced a very odd feeling in the pit of my tummy. Aged eleven or twelve even, I'd had those feelings before in other situations, sometimes at school, but when it happened, I didn't immediately understand why it had. But by thirteen I realised why I got these very odd sensations. Shall we just put it down to a growing awareness of a new world around me, and what delights it might have in store for me? The other thing that happened when my mother put the question to me about 'minding' Andersson was my acute embarrassment with manifested itself in a very pink and warm face.

'What's the matter darling? Have I said something?'

It wasn't until that moment that the thoughts I was having about Anders had really come to the surface. During daily exchanges with my mother, how things were going and so on, I tried to play down my role as minder to Anders on our daily journeys, brushing it off with comments like 'he's ok', and 'yeah, I don't mind him'. What I actually thought was different, but there was no way my mother was going find that out any time soon. I think that mothers will always 'wonder' about their teenage sons. Will he be this, or will he be that? All that stuff.

'You will look after him won't you Roo?'

'Yes mum.' I answer sharply, quickly turning my head away.

Anders had called at our house the first morning of a new term, with mum in attendance, as my mother asked me that question. I looked straight at Anders. I shall never forget that face; and how I felt at that moment. It was an odd mixture of pride, exhilaration, and just a tinge of animal lust. The bare legged boy, fresh faced, beautiful pink mouth open just for me.

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