“I’ll be like Mary Quant,” Sophie said. “I’ll be a natural. They’ll see it from the start. I’ll have the most amazing shop this city’s ever seen.’
Their mother sighed.
Sophie watched her back stooped over the sink and wondered at the incongruity of the delicate bow which fastened her apron strings. The delicate-seeming bow and the crooked back. The evening had already blacked in the windows and the small room was steamy from the stove and cluttered with the heavy-breathing man in his vest at the table and the dirty washing piled up in the corner. Sophie felt a tightening in her throat.
She was conscious of a vast world out there waiting for her and she knew instinctively that she would feel as at home there as in the city which had always been her home. It expectantly awaited her arrival. She saw herself riding there behind Geoff. He wore new, shining black leathers and she a yellow dress with a kind of cape that flew out behind.
Her father grimaced. “Where’d you hear that?”…He muttered something inaudible and dragged himself round in his chair. “This another of your wild stories?”… “One of these days you’re going to talk yourself into a load of trouble,” her father said aggressively.
There was a wooden bench beneath a solitary elm where lovers sometimes came. She sat down to wait. It was the perfect place, she had always thought so, for a meeting of this kind. For those who wished not to be observed. She knew he would approve.
I remember Geoff saying he would never come, and how none of them believed me when I told them. I wonder what will I do, what can I tell them now if he doesn’t come? But we know how it was, Danny and me — that’s the main thing. How can you help what people choose to believe? But all the same, it makes me despondent, this knowing I’ll never be able to show them they’re wrong to doubt me.
“Excuse me, but aren’t you Danny Casey?”
Coming through the arcade she pictured him again outside Royce’s.
He turns, reddening slightly. “Yes, that’s right.”
“I watch you every week, with my dad and my brothers. We think you’re great.”
No taller than you. No bolder than you. The prodigy. The innocent genius. The great Danny Casey.
And she saw it all again, last Saturday — saw him ghost past the lumbering defenders, heard the fifty thousand catch their breath as he hovered momentarily over the ball, and then the explosion of sound as he struck it crisply into the goal, the sudden thunderous eruption of exultant approbation.