Version 2 (April 2020)
“Here. It’s this one here.”
Astrid’s had a lot to answer for. Her wine bar had given Jerry the courage to act, but at this late hour, the combination of alcohol and adrenalin was to prove his undoing. How they had managed to walk back to his flat, his arm around Donna’s shoulder, was a marvel of drunken coordination, though attributable mostly to the fact that she was doing all the steering. She guided him through the garden gate. A garden gnome with insolent finger pointed the way to a front door still adorned with fairy lights. Donna brought them to a standstill on the mat, then let him go to see if he could stand up straight enough to embrace her. He could.
They spoke no words, but smiled. He leaned towards her, and she to him, each closing their eyes as their lips met. Donna’s tongue searched for Jerry’s, but his remained behind closed teeth. He stepped back slightly, surprised by this unusual move.
“Eh, what’s that about?”
“Don’t you know?”
“I wouldn’t ask-“
“Do you trust me?”
“Do you trust me?”
“Then bloody give in,” and she pulled him towards her. He gave in, feeling her warm tongue turn around his. His, tentatively, pushed back, into her mouth. He felt dizzy with delight, his heart engulfed by this new experience. Just as he relaxed into her, she withdrew.
“Mustn’t spoil you. Time to go.” Jerry was dismayed, but joked.
“Going so soon? Just as we were getting to know each other! Come back for tea tomorrow?”
“Of course.” She turned to walk back down the garden path, Jerry’s stomach seemed to simultaneously swell and shrink. He must tell her now.
Afterwards, he declared to his mother that this was the moment, the exact moment when he realised he loved her, but the truth was that his mind seemed quite unaware and his body took over, completely. So completely, in fact, that in his hurry to regain her embrace, he stumbled over the garden gnome, its erect finger snagging in his right turnup. He tried to shake off the offending digit, but only succeeded in hopping ungainly off the path and into the neatly, but deeply cut lawn verge. His left ankle twisted in this treacherous gully. With both legs now failing him in the very moment when they should be standing tall, Jerry completely lost control and fell backwards, crashing his head on the edge of the stone bird bath on his way down. He lay spread-eagled and silent
“Jerry!” Donna nimbly avoided the laughing gnome and crouched down beside him. “Are you alright?”
Jerry couldn’t answer. Whatever protestations of love he may have intended would have to wait until he regained consciousness.