chapter one

"You what?!" Palesa thought 'Edith, one day my ears is going to fall off'. Edith was her youngest. Fourteen, and the only girl after four boys.
"Aw Mom. Don't pretend to be so shocked. You just want to hear the whole story again." Edith, or usually just Edie, was lying across the small comfy chair in the kitchen. Her head was hanging upside down so that her broad grin looked almost menacing.
Palesa closed her jaw suddenly. "Ha ke pretending. I know you's a wild child. Cos of all them brothers." Suddenly she smiled. "Ah, 'snothing wrong. Sometimes I think the world would be a better place if more women was like you."
Palesa bent over her stitching, concentrating for a moment and then broke the thread. She put it down and stretched back in her own chair. "You n da ol' man huh? How'd you manage dat. He must be about eighty already."
"Aw Ma. You know how's guys. The older they get the easier they are."
"You think? When your dad n I was just married, I was working in da kitchen up atta house. Mister Whitehead used to come in every evening for a cuppa tea and get warm by the stove. Okay I was a bit older n fourteen but still just as pretty. He was forty something already then. He never ever looked at me."
"Maybe you just never made it easy nuff for him."
"Edith."
"It's true Ma. Men are mostly shy y'know. I mean they mostly horny too but 'slike they don't want you to know. So, y'know it's my job to change all the beds n stuff. Well I can see that him n the missus never sleep together anymore n today she was out all day. So when I go in da big bedroom to take out the old sheets, I find him there scratching for something in the wardrobe."
* * * * * * *
"Oh, Mista Whitehead!"
"Huh? Oh, hello, Edith, isn't it?"
"Yes sir. You busy? I just need to take out the old sheets."
"No, go ahead. Don't worry about me." He looks at her. She's such a pretty young girl. Seeing his look she walks up to him and looks up into his eyes.
"You wanna help me? Or maybe I can help you too." She walks her fingers up the front of his shirt. She sees the surprise, almost disbelief, turn to glee on his face.
"Well, why not. Let's just shut the door shall we."
* * * * * * *
"An' when he was finished, aw it took him like three seconds, hee hee, he gives me this. He looks for his wallet n tells me anytime I feel to visit him I's welcome. An all he had in his wallet were these big notes, look Ma R200. Only thing is we never use a condom, so maybe he's feeling guilty. But he never comes outta his room an I never see girls going in there, hee hee."
"You must be careful Edie. He goes out every Tuesday night. To play poker with the Old boys' club, but you never know. An' what if you get pregnant."
"Aw Ma. I'm going clinic n getting injected every time so's I can't. Don't worry. Next time I'll ask the nurse to test me for HIV but I'm not worried. Listen, I finish to cook for us, where's Dan?"
"Leave your brother now Edie. He's chopping wood for aus'Beth and it's a big pile. Don't go distracting him now."
* * * * * * *
Much later.
"Dan . . . Dan . . . you awake?"
"Mmm . . . Edie. What you want?"
"You alone?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm alone. Jeez Edie, you never stop."
"What you mean? I never come to your bed all week."
"No, not in my bed but I remember one morning as you find me alone in the shed." Edie stifles a shriek. "Oh n what about Friday afternoon, remember? I just wanted summin to eat n you got me by surprise in da pantry."
"Are you complaining Danny? 'Twas you what showed me how much fun a girl could be having."
"I's not complaining but that new butcher boy okie was working right there in the kitchen wit jus da door between him n us n it weren't even locked."
"Sis, Danny! That butcher boy okie is my Salem. Da one I's gonna make him mine."
"That's Salem? The one you been going on about? Nay man sis, not him?"
"Aw Danny. You must just see the way he look't me."
"Nay, I don't even want to think about it." He rolled over and pulled the blanket over his head.
"No, no, no. Wait." Edie was dancing up and down. She did not want her brother to go back to sleep yet. She sat down on the edge of his bed.
"Dannny. I've got a story to tell you."
"Uh?" He uncovered half an ear and turned fractionally towards her.
"A true story," she intoned, dropping her voice melodramatically. "Something that happened today."
Daniel was used to her stories. They were the best thing about his sister. At the tender age of fourteen, she shared all her sexual exploits with him, and her story-telling had the ability to drive him crazy. On top of which their years of experience together made her capable of keeping him crazy into the small wee hours, when she would creep back home and leave him to melt into the mattress. If there was one girl in the world that Daniel loved it was his sister.
Although he was less than two years old when she was born, he could remember it well. He remembered feeling she was the best present his mother had ever given him. Although he had two big brothers for company, she was his baby. And he still remembered the inexplicable feeling that he had waited his whole lifetime (a whole nineteen months) for her. As if she was an old and dear friend he had been missing terribly. Now he reckoned he was the luckiest teenage boy ever.
"Lemme see," mused Dan. "D'ole lady only got back this evening so I don' fink you had time to make nonsense wit dem Masta Farleigh. And from what you say Salem is still da unconquered. Was there a delivery today?" Edie is grinning and shaking her head convinced that this time he'll never guess.
"I saw that ol' rond-looper round here today. You weren't feeling sorry for him maybe?" She hit him with a pillow.
"You pig. He's so ugly n I reckon he's already going vrot."
"I know," grinned Danny. "But d'you know he's younger than d'ole man. He was looking very happy this evening. I swear he had da twinkle of my li'l sister in his eyes."
She pouted. "You always guess right in the end. You always know, I'm sure of it. Just fooling me with all your guesses." By this time she was already in his bed and he had opened every button or fastener he could find in her clothing. That was all he ever had to do. He knew that by the end of her story she would have wriggled out of everything. He never bothered with pyjamas himself.

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