When I was a kid, Sam and I’d wedge a hockey stick across the doorway of his garden shed to create a chicken limbo line, and down, down it’d go until we were on our backs shuffling under the line, our ears flat to the floor, shoulders back, our tummies pulled tight.
I’d started getting these plum-stone breasts and started wearing bras my mum had bought me. I blushed when they wouldn’t fit under the lowest limbo line and told Sam to go to hell when he started laughing. I didn’t talk to him for a whole week. I wasn’t much competition for Sam soon after that, and he needed a longer hockey stick which we knew wouldn’t wedge across the doorway anymore, so we stopped playing the limbo game. After that, we started drinking cheap lager in the shed and spent hours trying to sober up before our parents came out to see how we were doing.
Sam stopped laughing at my body. We’d play cards in the shed while he taught me to roll cigarettes, and as I rolled he’d watch my fingers on the tobacco and then the flat of my tongue against the paper. I’d slap him on the back and tell him to get a grip. He’d stare at my chest like it was the latest computer game, and I threatened that we’d have to stop playing cards and drinking lager. After that, I started wearing baggy shirts.
When Sam’s dad died, we snuck away from people discussing what they’d miss about him and went back to the shed. I’d never seen Sam cry before. I didn’t know what I should do, so I kissed him, and the quick flick of his tongue against mine made something inside me tighten and pulse like cello strings. I told him to lift my shirt up.
We lay in the cool, dim light afterwards, his head tilted back into my breasts, and I admired the shapes on his body. I chose not to tell him how I wished my body were like his, how there just seemed to be so much more of him than me. We slept in there that night under oil-stained sheets. In the morning, we made a pact that we’d still be best friends no matter what.
We did it again and again until Sam told me he loved me. I told him I did too, but didn’t tell him I never wanted to be a mum. Years later, he proposed and I said yes. Dad looked at me like I was a princess when we walked down the aisle. I had to pretend my dress was like the head on a well-pulled beer.
When I’m in the shower, I imagine I’m an old man, with curly eyebrows and a long beard. I imagine my beard getting wet, the water collecting as small glistening marbles amongst the hair, and I wash my chin with shampoo. It lathers and froths up big and white like a wizard’s. I grin at how my swimming costume makes my body flatter. It squashes my breasts and enhances my pubic bone and for a second, just a second, I can believe I really am that old man. I imagine myself and Sam stood side-by-side in matching suits, he with his white beard, and I with mine, our fingers interlocked.