T H E  A M P  D I A R Y


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 baby.

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 Brixton.

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.

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