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Five Years Ago

John studied his reflection in the bathroom mirror critically. It was hardly there now, just a slight red mark where it had healed. That would have to be alright. Wouldn’t do to turn up at Ruby’s house looking like he’d been scrapping. Never mind that, he couldn’t turn up to the Star Search show with a split lip either.

They’d entered the competition twice before in the past but come nowhere. This year they’d made the final, even though they were currently lacking a drummer. Of course it was just John’s luck it would be the same night Ruby wanted him to go round to hers; the BIG meet-the-mother-tea-and-scones event. Ruby was making such a thing of it, he was slightly regretting suggesting it. Especially when it was the talent show he should be worrying about. The winners were guaranteed a TV appearance. It could finally be their big break.

Still, tea at four, charm Ruby’s mother, out the door by half five, six at the latest, then train up to Manchester, win the talent show and hop back to Liverpool on the last train from Piccadilly. 



He splashed some aftershave on his neck. A new bottle he’d liberated from a local chemist earlier. He sniffed his hand. He probably should have tested it earlier. It was overwhelmingly lemony.  

Making his way downstairs, he grabbed his jacket off the bottom of the bannister, where it was waiting with his guitar and the paper bag for Ruby. John eyed the guitar questioningly, picking it up and then putting it back. It, too, had been liberated from it’s previous Mancunian owner and to take it back to Manchester seemed like he was tempting fate. Tonights performance would consist of only two guitars. 

‘John?’ Mimi called from the kitchen.

‘Yeah?’ he yelled back, knowing it would annoy her. 

She came to the doorway, drying her hands on a red and white check tea-towel. ‘You’re going out?’ 

‘Yes, it’s the Star Search final, in Manchester. I told you before.’ 

‘You’re leaving early?’ 

He nodded. ‘I’m going round Paul’s first,’ he lied. Mimi would be the last person he’d tell about Ruby. She wouldn’t like her. She didn’t like any of his friends, so he could only imagine what her reaction to a girlfriend would be.

‘What time will you be back?’

‘Dunno. Late. We’ll get the last train back from Manchester.’ 

Mimi considered him suspiciously and John cursed inwardly. How did she always know when he was lying to her? Even when it was just a little white lie like this one. 

‘What’s in the bag?’ 

He tucked the brown paper bag into the inside of his jacket. ‘It’s nothing.’ 

‘Let me see.’ 

‘No,’ he said indignantly. ‘I’m going, Mimi. I’ll be late.’

‘Late for what? Paul? What’s in the bag, John.’

‘It’s nothing. It’s private.’

‘Hand it over.’ 

‘Mimi --’ 

‘Now, please, John.’ She held her hand out to him expectantly. 

With an exaggerated sigh he took the paper bag from inside his jacket. Mimi took it from him and looked inside as he waited. 

‘A record?’ she said, drawing out the 45 vinyl from inside. 

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