The park is empty; we have the swings to ourselves and can make ourselves nauseous on the roundabout. We lie on our backs on the cut grass and squint into the sun.
“It’s snowing!” G calls gleefully, waving her arms in the air. Against the blue, drifts of dandelion seeds are parachuting on the breeze. There are thousands of them.
The park is full of spent dandelions and I try to recall who first showed me how to carefully pick the flower head and blow away its seeds to tell the time. One, two, three o’clock… I explain to my daughters and we sit in a circle, picking dandelions and blowing the seeds towards each other. It is fortunate we are alone in the park; the girls are only two and lacking in refined pronunciation. They shout “cock, cock!” at the tops of their voices and giggle contagiously. Their own efforts at telling the time are ineffective and they become my runners; piling dandelions next to me and making me blow again and again until my lap is filled with white down.
It’s time to go. We leave the park and stop off at the supermarket. Standing at the check-out I can’t help but notice the man behind me in the queue. Little more than a bo
y, really. Barely in his twenties, he has teamed low-slung jeans with an Abercrombie t-shirt and a blazer. It’s a little too Esquire for my liking – you’d find yourself jostling for position by the mirror while he slicks Vaseline on his eyebrows – but the overall effect is… well, it’s really rather delicious. He has far-too-long dark hair in a mussed-up, just got out of bed look. Gosh, I shouldn’t have thought about beds. Oh my goodness, now I have the most outrageous image in my head – oh God, make it go away… I try to shake the image out of my head by doing my nine times table in my head; two nines are eighteen, three nines are… oh bugger that, I bet he’s got a really big penis. I blush and realise I am inadvertently caressing the shaft of a cucumber. I hastily drop it onto the conveyor. What on earth am I doing? I’m a married woman with three children, I’m not the slightest bit interested in anything extra-curricular, so why am I getting hot under the collar over a young, viril, toned…. sorry, what was I talking about?
The cashier is struggling with the bar code on some value mushrooms. Blimey, I’m going to need to have some sort of cold shower when we get home. “Look, don’t worry about the mushrooms”, I say. “I’ve got the wine, that’s the main thing”.
“Glad to see you’ve got your priorities right” says The Adonis. Oh that’s done it now. I had just managed to banish my improper thoughts by giving him an imaginary lisp. And adenoids. In fact his voice is languid, confident… incredibly sexy. I imagine him lying next to me, feeling his hot breath in my ear and his hands… Oh my God this is ridiculous – will you just snap out of it, Emily? The cashier finally succeeds in scanning the curled up mushroom label and I fish in my bag for my purse.
E smiles winningly up at The Adonis. I hope she doesn’t turn out to be a tart like her mother.
“Mummy blow cocks” she imparts.
Oh no. Oh E, really. Did you really, really have to say that? I wonder wildly if there’s any chance of her learning to say the letter L in the next, oh, five seconds.
“Mummy blow lots cocks” G adds, in case he didn’t get it the first time.
The corners of his (quite perfect) lips start to curl and he suppresses a grin, holding my gaze as my cheeks burn and I make pathetic efforts to explain my daughter’s outrageous claim;
“We were er in the park… um… the dandelions… they can’t say their Ls, you see…”
He is dead-pan, the smile now under control and his eyes still locked on mine.
“I hear that sort of thing can make you go blind”.
“Don’t be ridiculous”, I snap primly, “you’re thinking of something quite different”. I hand my switch card over to the cashier and will the machine to work fast.
The cashier squints at what I’ve handed him; “I think that’s your library card, actually”.
“You see?” says The Adonis.
I think we’ll go back to the park and blow some more cocks.