Penelope’s heart felt altogether lighter when she saw the familiar figure slumped against the low wall round her front garden after school that day. She sprang lightly into the air before him, twirled in a mid air pirouette and landed in an elegant pose. He laughed and gave her a brief hug.
She stared into his eyes for a moment then turned away. She began chattering about school, how depressing everything was and how boring it all was. She could feel him watching her carefully as she swung her bag and ranted on.
She could feel herself blushing. He was obviously crazy about her, but she daren’t show anything, in case he thought she was too keen. That had happened before.
‘So.’ She said eventually. ‘How was your day, Taylor?’ He grunted at the use of his name- he hated it.
‘One,’ he told her playfully, glancing cheekily from under the brim of his NY cap. ‘You call me Ty. Two, I’ve joined a skating gang. You know, this crew of other punk guys. We hang out round the old skate park down behind the old cinema. Hey!’ He jumped up, as if struck by a sudden thought. ‘I’ll take you along!’
Penny bit her lip, but didn’t want Ty to think her a wimpy posh kid, so she stuck out her chin, sat up straight and tossed her head. ‘Sure. I’m up for it. Are you?’ she asked mischievously, winking at Ty.
He grinned and took her hand. He started to ask about her ballet, how it was getting on and everything. It was amazing that he understood when she went into ‘ballet phase’ as he called it. She would rant about all sort of complicated things. He would eventually stop her, and call her little ‘twinkle toes.’
It was a long walk to the skate park and by the time they arrived Penny’s shoes were rubbing and her hair was frizzing in the humidity of the August afternoon.
She hung back as they approached the gates. She could see long haired, baggy clothed teenagers clattering about on skateboards. As Ty approached they whooped and did some complicated handshake with ended in them slamming into each other.
They gradually noticed Penny, hanging back still, nervous and shy with all these much older boys, who looked very tough and rough and world wise.
The leader of the crew bounced over. ‘Hey. Your Ty’s gal aren’t ya. What’s your name then Missy? ’
Penny looked up at this oddity of a skater. He really was weird, she thought, with his yellow and black jacket, safety pins in his jeans and bits of his hair highlighted green.
She decided to play it dirty. ‘Wouldn’t you just love to know, Bouncer?’ She laughed her flirtiest, prettiest laugh and winked at Ty.
The skater looked a bit dumbfounded. He scratched his head while the rest of the crew fell about laughing.
When they pulled themselves together, they politely shook her hand and told them her names. Jay, Emmet, Lizard, Al, Kirk and Zeke all nodded and winked at her. The last one to come up, the big leader she had called Bouncer just grunted at her.
‘He’s Gordon.’ Emmet sniggered. Emmet was at least 6 foot five and towered over the others.
‘We call him Ickle Gordy when he’s getting on our nerves,’ mocked Kirk, flicking his long blonde hair out of his eyes.
‘No, he’s King Gord. Don’t you think?’ butted in Lizard, cracking up with laughter, his nose stud flashing in the sunlight.
‘Hey, guys, come on…’ Gordon tried to regain control of his skaters but they were in full flow now.
‘What about Big G?’ queried Al, feigning puzzlement. His purple Mohawk showed his true individuality in the group.
‘No, I got it!’ yelled Zeke. ‘Daddy G!’ Zeke was the only one in a hat apart from Ty. It was a designer, lime green one too.
‘Daddy G!’ ‘What a hoot!’ ‘Yeah, Daddy G and his crew, got a ring to it dontcha think?’
The voices grew loud, merging together into a cacophony of Gordon nicknames. Gordon sighed.
‘It’s just Gord. You guys know that. Now lets sk8!’
It was like someone had flicked a switch. Instantly, every boy had a skateboard. They were flicking, flipping and whirling over the ramps, down, up, round and round. The crouched low, hair flattened, grinning and laughing and joking as they went.
Penny settled on a heavily graffitied bench, looking around the park. Flats towered on one side, the back end of ‘Greasy Joes Café’ complete with overflowing bins. On the other side, however, she could glimpse St. James’s park where all her school buddies hung out.
Crossing her legs she admired Ty’s skill to distract her from her surroundings. He flipped and skidded all over the park. She didn’t know that he was this good at skateboarding.
As time went by, Ty propped up his board and sat next to her on the bench. Putting his arm round her shoulders, he stared up at the sky. Penelope watched him, totally content with admiring the way his eye brows scrunched together when he was thinking, or the way his eyes sparkled when he looked at her.
It was only when the sun was getting low in the sky that she made her move to go. Ty stood too. The rest of the crew laughed and joked with Penny and she smiled, and realised that she was enjoying herself for the first time in ages.