The One Before the One

The One Before the One by Katy Regan Read Free Book Online

Book: The One Before the One by Katy Regan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Katy Regan
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance
looks like a mound of cow dung.
    Lexi moves in next to me, head cocked to the side, pretending to read the accompanying commentary.
    ‘Another hottie,’ she suddenly hisses into my ear. ‘Ten past two. Your ideal man.’
    ‘Soz,’ mumbles Lexi. We’re walking across the park towards the river now. ‘It just wasn’t my thing. When you said “art", I thought you meant proper art, like paintings, sculpture, something where they’d splattered paint on canvas and it meant “happiness” or “death” or something.’
    Half of me wants to protest. Half of me thinks: this
art, proper conceptual art, if you must know – not bloody Monet’s water lily paintings. You wouldn’t get this in Doncaster! Honestly, you try your best to show someone some real London culture and this is the thanks you get. I wasn’t sure Lex and I were really going to agree on much. However, I must admit that the other half of me did kind of agree –
Otherness. The Other. An Objective Study of Displacement
didn’t quite live up to my expectations, either, and, in fact, I’m wondering, if I took, say, a fork, bashed it about a bit and then wrote something about how this represented the domestic unrest I experienced as a child, I, too, could be an acclaimed artist with a ‘ground-breaking’ exhibition at the Pump House Gallery.
    Also, I think to myself as we walk across the park, dodging rounders’ teams and men in rugby shirts and cropped trousers attempting to light barbecues, we had to leave. I couldn’t have tolerated one minute more of Lexi’s ‘talent-spotting’.
    It’s all my fault. I should never have humoured her ‘Find Caroline a Boyfriend’ project, which was born last night, probably as a distraction from the Lexi Five Point Plan Project. (I wonder what Guru Wayne would make of
little manoeuvre.)
    I didn’t have the heart, when she was looking at sad dating sites where sad people gather to meet other sad people, to say, ‘Look, Lex, I don’t want a boyfriend, I really don’t. All that having to get your bikini line waxed and worrying if they’ll call. I just can’t be bothered.’
    We’re still walking across the park. Lexi won’t let the matchmaking thing lie. ‘He was your ideal type, though, wasn’t he?’ she says referring to the blond man in the gallery. ‘Tall, blond, handsome. He was well sexy, you should have given him your number.’
    ‘He was nice,’ I say, dodging a couple, their legs entwined on a picnic rug, ‘but like I say, I’m happy being single.’
    ‘If you say so. Although nobody’s really happy being single, let’s face it, not for long anyway. Wayne says single people suffer more depression than those who are attached, that it’s part of being human to want somebody.’
    Praise be to the God of Wayne! Maybe Wayne should write his own self-help book.
    ‘The most Carly’s gone without a boyfriend is twenty-five days and that was only—’
    ‘You’re single, aren’t you?’ I say, turning to her. It’s more of a question than a statement. Something boy-related is going on, I’m sure of that, but then something’s always going on in a teenager’s love life.
    We’ve stopped walking now, Lexi is looking at me.
    ‘Yeah,’ she says. ‘I s’pose I am. Well it’s a bit …’ She looks the other way, like she might be about to cry, and I have a sudden desire to hug her. Not that I did the whole messy teenage business of falling in and out of love, not even having a boyfriend until Martin at eighteen. But I recognize that if-you-prod-me-I-will-break look, so I smile.
    ‘It’s all right, Lex,’ I say. ‘You don’t have to explain yourself to me.’
    I’m about to carry on walking when my eyes are drawn towards the men in the rugby shirts trying to light barbecues. One man in particular looks familiar. It’s the legs that do it. Stocky, with no ankles. Those are
    Just as this thought sinks in, he looks up from the BBQ he’s poking, gives an

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