Suppose – John Holland

What if we lived by the sea? Went swimming every day. Threw rocks at the gulls. Leapt off the pier, so people shouted at us. Ate gritty chips from paper. Or lived on a farm. With cows and chickens, and I’d help my dad shoe a horse or shoot a fox. I’d wear a hat. And have a piece of milky grass in my mouth. Slap the cows on their big behinds. Feed corn to the chickens. Chase the fat fuckers round the yard. Get warm eggs. Boil them up. Stick pieces of bread in. Feel the warm salty yellow on my tongue. Lie on my back in the hairy barley and look up at the blue sky. Stare at the big golden egg yolk sun. Until I can’t see anything anymore. Nothing at all.

– I’m not looking after him, Gordy.

– You’re a girl though, Char.

– Der! He’s your brother.

– He’s no trouble, Char. You’re no trouble are you, Billy?

– Doesn’t say much, does he, Gordy? You don’t say much, Billy, do you?

– He’s three, Char. What do you want him to say?

– I dunno. Looks about as stupid as you. Let’s go nicking in the mall.

– My mum’ll kill me.

– Ooo, your mum’s gonna kill you, is she?!

What if I had an older brother? Someone like Carl at the garage. Yeah, this is a carburettor, Gordy. Yeah, you’re right it is cool. I’ll show you how to fit it. Supe up the old motor. Do you want to drive? Round the car park or somewhere? One day you’ll have a car like this. We can race. Yeah, this is my kid brother, lads. Yeah, he is cool, isn’t he? Hey, Gordy, get me twenty fags. Thanks Gordy. Are you hungry? Shall I get us some chips? We can eat them together. In the car. Tell me if anyone gives you a hard time, Gordy. Anyone at all. You just say. What, that fat kid? Leave him to me.

– Look at that bag. I could have that.

– Char, don’t.

– Yeah, yeah, Gordy. Do you want to fuck me again?

– Course I do, Char.

– You weren’t much good last time, Gordy. It’s small, yours.

– You’re no shakes, either.

– Well, you were, like, the worst ever.

What if I’d been with a girl from the big houses on the avenue, instead of Char? Like that stuck up Juliette. Come in, Gordy. Do take a seat on the sofa. This is my mother and this is my father. Would you like some tea? How do you like our 60 inch 3D TV? I’ll just finish my AS level psychology home work. Yes, you can help. Do you think personality is more nature than nurture? I think that you’re right, Gordy. You’re so clever. Yes, you can ride Eloise ‘round the paddock. Be careful. She’s headstrong. That’s it. You’ve got the hang of it straight away. You’ve tamed her. I think Eloise loves you, Gordy. Yes, you can stroke my naturally blonde hair. Do you want to brush it too? You can touch my breasts – if you want to. Yes, you can kiss them. Gentler though, Gordy. No further. I said no further. Not till we’re married. When mum and dad will be dead and we’ll move in here. Run my dad’s business. Drive the Beamer. I love you, Gordy. Do you love me? Say you do and I might let you.

– Let’s do it then, Char.

– Yeah?

– Yeah.

– You got a condom, have you, Gordy?

– Sure.

– I bet! Show me.

– Don’t need to.

– You do if you want a fuck.

– Let’s go in the bog.

– The bog? What do you think I am? What about your baby boy Billy then?

– He can wait outside.

What if I’d been a monk? Or born without a cock. Like a freak. What if my dad had never met my mum? What if my mum loved my dad? And they didn’t fight? And mum didn’t have those men round – with their stary eyes. And their jackets over the chairback. And go, “If you say anything I’ll fucking kill you.” What if she had fucking killed me?

– He’s not here, Char. Billy’s not here.

– You bastard, you never used a condom.

– Where is he?

– I don’t know. Probably met a mate.

– He’s three years old, Char. He hasn’t met a mate.

– He’ll be somewhere.

– For fuck’s sake. Look for him, Char.

– Don’t panic. Look, there he is. Over there, by the railing. Just standing there. Staring into nothing. Nothing at all.


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 JOHN HOLLAND is a prize-winning short fiction author from Gloucestershire in the UK. He also runs the twice-yearly event Stroud Short Stories. Website –
Image: Dean Moriarty via pixabay



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