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There Was A Time
Jen Silver

First Scene

 

There was a time when you could meet a woman in a pub, back when you could smoke indoors, ask for a light. There was a time when you could go home with more than a fantasy playing itself out in your head. There was a time when you could fall in love.

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Fin, surname doesn’t matter, everyone in the village knows me as Fin. I’ve worked behind the bar of the Golden Dragon for thirty-two years and no one has needed to know my surname. I’m just Fin. My parents named me Faith. They were serious people, and believed naming a little girl Faith would make her a believer too. I guess I should be grateful they didn’t call me Charity or Grace. Anyway it didn’t work. I put up with being called Faith through the early years of primary school. But by the time I went to high school I had my friends trained to call me Fin. My parents persisted in calling me Faith but I eventually trained them too. I just didn’t answer to Faith.

Usually it’s the kids who move away, but in my case, my parents left. Either they’d had enough of living in a small remote village or they’d had enough of living with a faithless daughter. Whatever the reason they left when I turned eighteen, moving to a religious community in Suffolk—three hundred miles away, might as well have been the other side of the moon. We didn’t even exchange Christmas cards.

I almost made it to the end of Year 11 with thoughts about doing an agricultural course at the community college fifteen miles away but ended up behind the bar of the Dragon for the summer and never left. I liked the work. It was undemanding, leaving me plenty of time to dream. Every morning of my life I’ve been woken by the sound of the seagulls screeching as the fishing boats return to the harbour. It’s an early wake up call, and I often lay awake dreaming of the women I would meet from my safe place behind the bar. I could pull pints and polish my witty repartee along with the glasses. Only problem is, the words stayed in my head.

During the summer months, the population of our village quadruples. They come from the cities, from the colder climes of the North and the East and disturb the tranquility of our tiny community. But that’s when my dream world expanded. The women in their skimpy outfits, climbing awkwardly onto the barstools, giving me a full frontal view, nothing left to the imagination. I was in heaven. And the images sustained me through the long, lonely winter months.

Before you leave off reading this thinking I was just a lonely saddo wanking off to lesbian porn in my spare time, I did have friends. And after my parents left I acquired a canine friend, Kaylee. Yeah, I know, a stupid name for a fox terrier. But she was a rescue dog and that’s the name she came with. Most of my high school mates moved on, getting jobs in London, Bristol, Manchester, anywhere to get out of the village. They’d come back to visit their families and we’d hang out, catch up—although I didn’t have much to offer in the catching up department. Mostly I listened to their tales of life in the city, the clubs they went to, the parties, the costs of commuting and the problems in the office. When they got married, their visits became less frequent. And when they started having babies, well that was it.

So, what happened to change my life? Don’t be so impatient. Time moves slowly in a village. Think Miss Marple.

I had one friend who, like me, stayed in the village. Tyler. He was a car mechanic, worked for his dad after getting kicked out of school in Year 9. He’d always known about me and my preferences. Although he could be a macho git, he wasn't afraid to stick up for me when the other boys teased him for hanging out with that weirdo, Fin. He wasn't a homophobe—he figured that me being gay just meant we had something in common. We both lusted after women and there were many nights in the pub when he’d sit on a stool at the end of the bar and play the numbers game with me.

“She’s a definite ten,” he’d say, eyeing up a busty brunette who’d just walked through the door.

I would look over and say “Your standards are slipping, she’s only an eight.”

 

Summer romances came and went. It was always fun at the start of the season, like an incoming tide, it could be overwhelming. All this new talent suddenly on show. Lazy summer days on the beach, late night swims, campfires, singing, dancing. Yes, these city folk knew how to party. And then, just as quickly, they were gone. Back to their normal lives, their jobs, their loved ones. We were just a diversion.

The end of September was the worst time. Unless there was a warm spell when a few stragglers would stay on for another week of fun in the sun, the tide withdrew and didn't return until the following year. Easter could be good sometimes but it did depend on the weather.

 

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