You’ve watched him for a couple of weeks now, ever since you and Bruce started going to The Bell. You’d heard the jukebox was good. That’s how you and Billy started talking. He’d just put a song on and you made yourself brave and went over to ask him who it was. He grinned at you, told you it was The Yardbirds, Jimmy Page on guitar. You liked Led Zep, and you told him so. He asked you what your favourite album was. You said Zep Four and he smiled, said Yeh, me too. Billy then said him and his mates were going for a mooch around the village. He asked if you wanted to come. He smiled when he said Come, and you laughed. Bruce didn’t feel comfortable with Billy and his mates. He told you this as he walked you home that night. He said they were trouble. You told him that you thought they were a good laugh. Bruce just said, Idiot piss-heads more like. Then he said something about Billy. You could feel Bruce looking at you when he said Billy’s name. You kept your eyes on the street ahead, then said something about not looking forward to work tomorrow… The Wednesday after the Friday night, Billy called into the estate agents where you work. Your heart started beating faster when he walked in. The shop was empty so you both went and sat in the back. You made a pot of tea and you listened to the new ZZ Top album on your tape player. Billy said he preferred their older stuff, and asked you if you’d heard Tush. You said you hadn’t and Billy said it was a song about girl’s bits. You laughed. Then you kissed. Billy started touching your breasts over your blouse. Pretty soon he was under your bra but you didn’t stop him. It excited you to think that the shop doorbell could ring at any moment. He put his hand up your skirt and touched you over your pants. Things were moving too fast but you told yourself to relax. He put a finger inside you, and you unzipped him, wrapping your fingers around him. It was only four-thirty but you closed the shop. You made love in the back. You didn’t come. You showed Billy how to touch you right two weeks later, that first night when he stopped over. You’d finished with Bruce the Friday before, but you and Billy were still keeping things quiet. It was too soon after, and you didn’t want to hurt Bruce anymore than you already had. Bruce cried when you told him. He kept saying Why, Sarah? and you kept saying that you wanted to have a break for a while, that you didn’t want to be tied down, that at twenty-two you were too young to be engaged. Bruce said Please, and Let’s just be boyfriend and girlfriend again and not be engaged. You said No, that you needed space to think, and that you were sorry. Bruce stopped crying then. He just said Fair enough. You looked at him for a moment and thought how pathetic he looked. His moustache too neatly trimmed. His hair too tidy with its nice side-parting. His jeans too new and blue and clean. His tee-shirt from a Def Leppard tour he never went to see… Back then, you were still living at Janice’s, renting a room in her house, and you knew Janice wouldn’t have liked Billy. Janice was good to you when you needed to leave home. You didn’t want a scene with her. You felt you owed her.

You and Billy took each step of the creaky stairs together so it sounded like it was just you. You showed Billy to your room and sat him on the bed, put a finger to your lips in a shush, whispered to him to wait while you had a few minutes with Janice in the front room. Janice was blind in one eye, but you still thought she looked at you funny when you said Goodnight. When you opened your door, Billy was already in your bed, grinning like a devil. You lit a candle, took your clothes off slow, got in beside him. You kissed and touched each other for a while, and then you sat him at the end of the bed and told him to watch. You played with yourself, showing him the little circles. He shuffled forward on his knees, wanking himself. You both kept on, not touching each other. You came quite hard and felt his come hit your legs and belly. You’d never done anything like this before, but it felt right with Billy… didn’t it. He laid on top of you, wriggling about, his semen all slippy between you. You giggled, trying not to in case Janice heard. You both smoked a cigarette then Billy got hard again. You made love, Billy sliding his hand between you both, making the little circles like you’d shown him. You both came together. Then Billy whispered in your ear that it was great to be with an older woman to show him the ropes. You play-slapped him on the bum, whispered Hey, it’s only four years.

You both moved into this terraced house in July. You’d only been going out with Billy for six weeks but it felt right. The rent was cheap and you did the place up for next to nothing, everything painted Co-op magnolia. Then Billy painted a big black star on the floorboards of the spare bedroom, and all these weird words on the wall. He told you he got the words from a book on witches, and that this would be the party room. You thought it was a bit nuts but you just laughed and said Okay, because Billy is funny, isn’t he. The first party you had was a house-warming. You invited some people back from The Bell. You lit candles in the party room and listened to Zeppelin and Hawkwind, The Doors and Black Sabbath. At midnight, Billy took all his clothes off and sat cross-legged on a beanbag in the middle of the star. His mates laughed but some people left. Billy put some of his clothes back on. He said it was the best way to sort the wheat from the chaff. Before too long there was only you, Billy, Tom, and Karen left. You smoked some resin and danced to Bachman Turner Overdrive, you and Billy yelling B-B-B-BABY YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN YET! and Tom and Karen laughing, and everything felt great and you knew that life would always be a dance with Billy, and there would always be laughing, and there was nothing to feel bad about anymore because all the bad stuff had gone, and then Billy put Tush on, and was shouting SEE! SEE! IT’S ALL ABOUT FANNY!... Then, you and Billy made love on the floorboards and so did Tom and Karen, and it was fun and exciting watching them do it while you and Billy were doing it, and you’d never imagined yourself doing such a thing but you did it, didn’t you. Then Billy said you should swap. This made you feel awkward. You didn’t want to do it with Tom. You told Billy as much, and then he yanked himself out of you real quick, and said if you didn’t fuck Tom then you were JUST NORMAL AND FUCKING BORING LIKE EVERY FUCKER ELSE! He sounded really spiteful, and you felt your belly go heavy like you were falling from somewhere high up to somewhere under the floor. Tom and Karen had stopped what they were doing, and they were watching you. The music had stopped too, and you remember the needle on the record player going chk chk chk at the end of the record, the arm not lifting to go back to its resting place, just that static tap of little commas. Billy stood up, and you watched as Karen watched Billy walk towards the record player, still stiff, now lifting the arm off the record, leaving nothing but the sound of Tom and Karen moving against each other, and you remember how cold you suddenly felt as you rolled over onto your side to face the wall, the words that made no sense flickering in the candlelight to the sound of soft guitar like spots of rain on a pond, Billy now back beside you, warm against your back, whispering Crosby Stills Nash and Young into your ear, and I’m sorry, Sarah, I’m an idiot sometimes, and now he’s back inside you, soft kissing your neck, moving gentle, careful, now some joke about having the Devil in him, and Tom and Karen laughing, now stepping over you and filling the gap between the words on the wall and you, and even though you don’t really want to, you kiss with Karen, touching her breasts while Billy and Tom tell you what to do, your dad’s whisky breath still burning behind your closed eyelids as he breathes Sarah, Sarah, do you love me?