I loved the pub. Several customers vied to buy me drinks. You didn’t mind. You were always protective but seemed to enjoy my popularity. Our visits started in early summer. The evenings were light and warm and we sat outside, drinking, chatting and tapping our feet to the jukebox tunes that drifted through the open windows of the Dog and Duck. Sometimes you would sing along. I swooned on hearing your beautiful voice.
We didn’t go every week. If we did it was usually a Wednesday, occasionally also a Friday. On each of these days I was breathless with anticipation in the hope you would take me out. I thought carefully about what to wear and, as if aware of this, you always complimented me on my choices and my style. I was new to this and gloried in your praise. I adored you and wanted to please you. I shyly accepted the attention I attracted from other pub goers but was only interested in you and what I meant to you. I was jealous of the time you spent talking and laughing in the group, but as long as you stroked my hair or rubbed my back I coped with not having your undivided attention. I knew if I made a scene you might not bring me back and I couldn’t risk that.
Often the evening went on too long for me and lulled by your voice and your caress I would drift off, waking as you shook me gently when it was time to leave. On the drive home I relived the evening in my mind. In between dates I savoured the memory of the last in case there was never a next.
The weather stayed warm into late September, even though the nights were drawing in. I dared to dream of cosy nights around the open fire in the snug and was looking forward to curling up against you on one of the tatty leather sofas. Taking it all for granted was my downfall. I dropped my guard and the truth came out. I was concentrating on something else – I can’t remember quite what – when a new hit came on the radio. ‘Oh I heard that in the pub last night’, I said and then quickly slapped both my hands over my mouth. The cross-questioning was gentle, but persistent and, to my shame, I betrayed you explaining that you and your boyfriend had been taking me out, once or twice most weeks, for months. After some recriminations and a tearful apology you were still allowed to baby-sit, but sadly we never went to the pub ever again.