That Going to the Zoo Thing
Short story (extract)
Winner of the Chester Prize 2009
Published in the short story anthology Zoo, ed. Emma Rees;
Chester Academic Press 2010.
[…] I met him where you’re supposed to meet boys, at a bus stop. I’d been going there for months ever since I’d found out that was the right place. I went after my shift and stayed until the last bus went. He got off the C56 one night while I was away in the bushes taking a pee and I had to run to catch him up. It was pretty dark and I made a little grab at him as he crossed the road and next thing he’s holding out his wallet and screaming: take it take it don’t touch my glasses!
I knew right away that’s the kind of story the best man tells at the reception. How they met, Jude and Gerard. There’d be a line at the end I hadn’t worked out yet, something like: and she’s been jumping on him ever since!
That was the way it was supposed to go. But it must’ve gone another way because here we were going to Chester Zoo to do the breaking up thing. Even so, I was getting pretty excited. I’d never actually been to a zoo. Mother said she was allergic to them, that’s why we had to go to church instead. Come Saturday I’m lining up jokes connected with animals in case they come in handy. There’s the cheetah/cheater joke and the constipated elephant one, which Gerard had to explain to me the first time. It seemed unlikely he’d want to hear the same joke twice but you never know. I’m counting up the positives as I’ve already said. Another thing I’m doing is skipping up and down the landing. I do this to wear myself out so I don’t do silly immature things which are beneath me, like that business with the revolving doors which I won’t go into now.
So then I’m ready.
As I said before, it can go one of two ways at this point. In Version One Gerard doesn’t turn up. Dumping me outside the zoo would be like a kind of code. One of his little thoughts. In that version I’d wait all day then I’d go home to bed and stay there for months trying to crack the code, and end up in a mental home going la la la to the wallpaper.
But Version Two is what happened. […]
© tessa sheridan