Since Mrs Catrick’s still on an ‘anti-satan’ crusade, I find myself resorting to cliches. A handful of gravel thrown at Mark’s window nice and early in the morning. A few seconds later, a bed-headed Mark looks out the window at me, laughing. And a few minutes later, he’s running out of the house and grabbing me for a quick hug before we run down the street together.
Later, we lie on the grass, side by side, holding hands.
“You know,” he says, looking at the clouds, “sometimes I wish I’d been born a chick?”
I raise myself on an elbow and look at him.
“Really??” I ask, feeling skeptical, “I’ve never heard a guy say that before!”
He snorts. “Not fashionable, is it? Being a man implies no regrets… God’s chosen sex, all that crap? But nah, I don’t mean I want a sex change – I mean I wish I had the freedom that girls do.”
“You feeling OK, bud? Freedom? Ever heard of pregnancy? Periods? Churches telling us to wear long skirts and obey our husbands even if they beat us?”
Mark laughs and finally looks at me. “Yeah, point, Dexter,” he says, “but seriously – if you walk into that church wearing men’s clothes, what will people say?”
I shrug, although I’m starting to see where this is going.
“Xactly. I walk in wearing a pink shirt and goth makeup and express an interest in fashion – what do people say?”
“’Are you sure you’re not gay?’”
“Uh huh – if I’m not a blokey bloke, then I’m secretly not a bloke at all. And if I decide fuck it, I’m gay – they kick me out. Bastards!”
“Yeah, OK, point taken I think – you’re saying girls can act blokey and no one really cares, but if a guy acts like a chick, he’s a gay paedophile who God hates?”
He mock-growls at me. “Well yeah – and thanks for the added bits, wench!”
I snicker. “So tell me – ARE you an evil gay paedophile?”
Mark shrugs and sits up, suddenly serious again. He grabs a blade of grass and plays with it like it’s the most intriguing thing since the rubiks cube.
“I might be,” he says, “Would you still love me then?”