Tuesday 28 August 2001
One hand on top, just below the tits. Another underneath, just above the
groin. And inbetween: it. The bulb. The bulge. The curve. The lump. The
The body wins. Though Charlie would do everything in her power to not
be just another girl: stripping, carpentry, S Club 7 videos, tattoos,
a wedding in a church - the body says: fuck that. The body says bollocks
to unconventiality. The body says I'm your boyfriend now. The body says
I own you, girl. And then the belly swells. Tuesday night, there she was:
bulging out, just like another girl: making jam, just like another girl,
arching back, just like another girl; stroking her tummy, just like another
girl. Atta girl. Anygirl. Charlie.
I had never seen it so close. Pregnant women pass like ships in full sail:
complete, smug, unassailible. Smock tops ruche over navel-tipped domes;
hipsters lie low beneath mountainous lumps; tight tees stretch unreadable
across bellies that surely must hold a small car, probably a Beetle. You
want to rub like a Buddha for luck, but you wouldn't dare. Who'd risk
a slap from a hormonal stew? Yet still, heads turn, mouths grin, minds
marvel; but not mine. Not till now. Not till Tuesday, in a kitchen in
I stroked it and it was taut. Her never-pierced navel had flipped inside-out:
flesh once hidden safe and soft was tightly on display, shading to pink,
though the rest was white. The ghost of a foot slid under the surface;
kneeling to listen meant heartbeats and breathing and a kick in the head.
It's hard. Press it. It's round. Stroke it. It kicks. Feel it. It wobbles.
Watch it. It lives.
Tom put his hands on it and I felt left out. Once upon a time, my mind
thought, bad mind, secret mind, wild girl mind: once upon a time you weren't
here. Once upon a time it was me and her and a boy who didn't care; wouldn't
sex her, let his log-like penis go to waste. Me and her, drinking and
dancing, propositioning, curling our mouths round cigarettes, strutting
through Soho. I was there first: revelling in our redheadedness, enjoying
the stares, dancing back to back, cupping her hips. I watched her then,
entranced, as she enchanted shopkeepers and conjoured free drinks from
thin air. I shook my head till the past disappeared, and placed my hand,
next to his, on the shelf of her.