The Manchester Review
Rachel Seiffert
Extract From A Novel-in-Progress
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        Graham was seventeen and rubbish at talking to females. Even some he'd known for ages, like his brothers' wives. He'd been out with girls, slept with them, and hardly exchanged a word. Everyone in the band was aware of this inability, so when they were out in the Ulster wilds, it was Graham they dispatched to get the lunch, because it was a girl he'd have to talk to at the burger van. Her cousins were frying and Lindsey was taking the money; getting the cans of juice out of the fridge behind her, and adding up what was owed in her head. They didn't have a till, just a cash box for the takings, but there was a calculator for when things got complicated. Graham was ordering for most of the band, or at least that's what it felt like, and then a couple of them kept changing their minds - to wind him up, Graham knew that - they were chopping and changing between burgers and bacon rolls, calling across from the grass where they'd spread themselves out to rest, so Lindsey gave up on subtracting and started again from scratch. The queue behind Graham was grumbling by this stage, but Lindsey just told them all to watch their manners and got him to go through the order again, roll by roll, burger by burger. She wasn't teasing him either, she knew he was embarrassed, that he was shy, but it didn't seem to matter. He watched her fingers on the buttons, her narrow lips, repeating what he told her; that smile turning up the corners, the pink tip of her tongue and all her freckles, not just on her face and hands, but also down her neck and up her arms. They were all wearing the same T-shirts on the van, oversized with what looked like a lodge number and today's date printed across the top of the chest. They had aprons on too, so the rest was covered, but Lindsey was wearing her T-shirt back to front, and knotted at the side, so when she turned round to get Graham's change, he could see the Red Hand printed on the cloth, and the freckles across her hips too, above her low-slung waistband. After all that, she didn't have enough coins left in the float, and promised to bring it over later, before the speeches were over and they went back up the road.
        Graham watched her while he was eating, from the safer distance of the damp grass on the other side of the field. She was the same with everyone she served, smiling, familiar, and he was gutted, thinking he'd just imagined it, that kindness. He'd been so sure of it, up there at the van, that she fancied him. He fancied her. He tried to work out how old she was; no telling, could be fourteen, could be eighteen; he hoped she wasn't older than him.
        She did come over, when they were making ready to go, and she gave Graham the coins she owed. He had his drum back on already, and his gloves, so he pulled those off to take the money, and then she stayed there standing next to him while the rest of the band assembled. He didn't look at her then, but he was certain again.

        He hadn't gone to Ireland thinking this might happen. He'd gone to play and put away a skinfull, and he did all that, but then he got to fuck her twice as well. The first was out the back of the pub, when it was just getting dark, and he'd already been drinking for a couple of hours. He'd been waiting, sure that she'd come, certain he'd never have the nerve to go and look for her if she didn't, but then there she was. Coming through the bar, and looking for him, he knew she was, because when she saw him she made a bee-line through the crush. Same shirt on, and still knotted, so now he could see the skin on her belly, and it was all he could do to stop himself putting his hands there when she got next to him. One drink later they were out the back and walking. Going past where the empty barrels were stacked, and on, with the sun going down behind their shoulders. They walked the length of a tumbledown wall until it got low enough for them both to climb over, and behind that was a hidden spot with enough grass for her to lie down on.