'You know,' she said, suddenly dead serious. 'Like us.'
We had married young. Gina was three months pregnant with Pat on our wedding day and it was, by some distance, the happiest day of my life. But nothing was ever really the same again after that day. Because after that there was no disguising the fact that we were grown-ups.
The radio station where I was working gave me the week off and we spent our honeymoon back at our little flat watching daytime television in bed, eating Marks & Spencer sandwiches and talking about the beautiful baby we were going to have.
We talked about eventually taking a proper, grown-up honeymoonone where we didnt just stay home watching television and eating sandwiches in bed. But by the time there was a bit of money and a bit of time, we had Pat and the course of our lives seemed set.
Gina and I found ourselves separated from the rest of the world by our wedding rings. The other married couples we knew were at least ten years older than us and friends our own age were still in that brief period between living with their mother and living with their mortgage. Our little family was on its own.
While our friends were dancing the night away in clubs, we were up all hours with our babys teething problems. While they were worrying about meeting the right person, we were worrying about meeting the payments on our first real home. Yet I didnt regret any of it. Yes, we had given up our freedom. But we had given it up for something better.
I loved my wife and I loved our son. Together, the two of them made my world make sense. My life without them was unimaginable. I knew I was a lucky man. But I couldnt help itlately I found myself wondering when I had stopped being young.
'I just really hate the way that life starts to contract as you get older,' I said. 'The way your options narrow. I mean, when did owning a car like that become ridiculous for me? Why is it such a joke? I would love to know. Thats all.'
'The Force is strong in this one,' Pat said.
'A red sports car,' Gina said to herself. 'And you dont even like driving.'
'Listen, I was just looking, okay?' I said.
'Happy birthday to you,' Pat sang, smacking me across the ear with his light saber. 'Squashed tomatoes and glue. Youlooklikeamonkeyandyouactlikeonetoo.'
'That's not nice,' I told him, as the traffic ground to a halt and my ear began to throb.
Gina put the hand brake on and looked at me, as if trying to remember what she had liked about me in the first place. She seemed a bit stumped.
I remembered what I had liked about her. She had the longest legs that I had ever seen on a woman. But I still didnt know if that was the best basis for the love of your life.
Or the worst.
Copyright Tony Parsons, 1999. All rights reserved. Reproduced by the permission of the publisher, Source Books.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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