Throwing a fox in with the chickens.
That evening, just as they began to think that it was too late for her mother to ring, and that they should retire, the phone rang.
It disrupted the peace and quiet in their little world, but her mother had warned her that morning that her call might be late. She’d explained to Sheila that, sometimes, the meetings went on until much later in the day, but where her mother was, the time was well after midnight.
Peter had brought the phone into the living room with them in anticipation of her call, so that they would not have to rush to answer it as they’d had to do the evening before.
She should tell her mother now, about Peter, having left it far too long. She put it on speaker phone again so that Peter could hear everything that was said.
“I hope your day was better than mine, Sheila. This one was too hectic for me, but we should be able to talk for longer this time. What have you been doing? I hope you are not neglecting yourself."
“I’m actually enjoying myself, Mom. I even did some cooking today.”
“You didn’t go out?”
"No, I’m still resting up.”
“I hurt my foot when I was out on the fell earlier this week.”
There was a moment of silence. As a mother, she had to be able to decipher what she was being told, and what she was not being told.
“You didn't say anything about that in our other calls. I hope it was nothing serious.”
“Nothing serious. I sprained my ankle. It kept me home for the last couple of days, but I’ll soon be able to get out again. I’m walking normally now.”
“I knew there was something you weren’t telling me.”
“Sorry, I should have mentioned it.”
“How did it happen? I always worry about you when you go out by yourself.”
Sheila wasn’t going to get into that kind of a back and forth.
“There is something else, something more important you should know, Mom.”
“What could be more important?” She was almost afraid to ask. “I had a feeling you should have been telling me more than you have before now. I have only been away a few days and I feel as though something has changed between us, but I expect all mothers feel that way when they have to leave their daughters behind, or they see their daughters leave.”
“I wasn’t sure I could tell you, mom. It might not have gone as I hoped, so I held off. I was afraid you would be worried.”
Now her mother really began to worry.
Sheila took a deep breath.
“I met someone.”
Whatever that meant.
“Someone at university with me.”
“That’s nice.” She wouldn’t ask if the someone was male, or female. She’d deal with problems as they came at her, rather than walk right into them.
“Why are you telling me this only now? Why didn’t you tell me when you first came home from university? Are they visiting you?”
“Neither. I couldn’t tell you. I didn’t know we were at Manchester together until a couple of days ago when we first met and talked.”
Her mother had to think about that one. They had met only two days ago.
“Where did you meet him?” It seemed safe to assume she was talking of a male student. This was the first she had heard of it.
“On the fell… I met him when I sprained my ankle.”
Back to that again.
There was a long moment of silence as her mother waited to hear more, knowing the power of silence at certain crucial moments.
“I needed help when I hurt myself, and he was suddenly there, helping me.”
Her daughter was at home now, so it hadn’t been that serious an injury, and she’d not missed any of her calls.
“How badly hurt?”
“Pretty badly. I couldn’t walk at first, but I’m okay now.”
Her mother digested that, knowing that there must be more to come.
“He helped me get home. He was working up there, and I was not so far from him when I fell. He must have heard me cry out, but it was only a sprain and it’s almost totally back to normal now.”
It must have been more than ‘only a sprain’ if she hadn’t been able to walk.
“He got me home and I had to ask him to help with the calves and the hens as I couldn’t do it.”
“If you couldn’t walk, how did he get you home?”
“He carried me; piggybacked me off the Fell down to the road and the river, and then came back for my bike and got me home that way.”
“You should have asked Annie to help when you got home, rather than a complete stranger. She would have sent someone over.”
“She did, in a way. He was staying with Annie at the inn, so he told her, and then came over to help with the calves and chickens. He offered when he knew my difficulty.”
Sheila wouldn’t tell her mother anything about him checking out of the Inn and moving in with her unless she had to.
Her mother had an uncomfortable feeling about this. She would need to ask a direct question.
“And is he still staying at the Inn?”
Damn. Sheila hesitated for too long. “No, mom, he’s not at the inn. He’s here. I asked him to stay here, with me, while he was helping me. It’s also closer to his work on the Fell, so it works out better for both of us.”
Her mother groaned. Why were young women and girls always to gullible and foolish?
“How do you mean he’s staying with you?”
“He’s staying here. I told you, he’s helping me with the calves. I couldn’t manage them.”
There was a man her mother didn’t know anything about, staying (meaning ‘sleeping’, presumably) in her house, between her sheets, and alone with her daughter.” She tried not to panic but began to fear the worst.
“This is all very sudden for you, isn’t it, Sheila? You were never interested in boys before. When did this happen? How long has he been there?"
“I sprained my ankle on Monday. He’s been here ever since.”
That meant he’d been there two or three days already, and she was hearing about it from her daughter only now? No wonder she hadn’t been ready to tell her mother anything.
Peter was still holding her, able to hear most of the conversation with his head beside hers.
“Why did you leave it until now to tell me? Is there something else I should know?” She wouldn't dare ask if he was fucking her; a mother's worst nightmare for her daughter.
Yes. Too damned much.
“I waited until now, Mom, because I saw no reason to worry you, and I knew you would worry. I didn’t want to upset you.”
“Why would I be upset?”
Why would she not be upset, with her daughter hiding things from her?
Sheila knew that with that tone of voice her mother was upset. But there was nothing she could do about it now.
“Annie visited every day to make sure I am managing.”
“Where is he now.”
“This man that’s staying with you.”
“Now? With you now? In the house? At this time of night? It’s 11 o’clock where you are.” Her mother was suddenly concerned.
Sheila could see where this would go, but it had to be done.
“Yes, Mom, he’s here, sitting with me. He's staying here. Why would he not be with me?”
Sheila wouldn’t say anything about them both being stark naked, or that he was touching her intimately between her legs, or on her breasts, or kissing her anywhere and everywhere, setting her squirming and giggling, or that he was erect in a stunning kind of way that still fascinated her. She hoped her mother wasn't able to hear all of that on the open line.
“I needed him here to help with the calves and the hens. I told you all that. I couldn’t manage them by myself for the first couple of days, and I would have been in a real bind last night without him when they broke out.”
Her mother heard only what she wanted to hear and that, about the calves breaking out, did not register with her.
“Yes. That’s what I’m telling you.” She'd told her mother the same thing several times now. There was another long, pregnant silence.
“Where is he staying in the house? The settee?” She could only hope.
“No, Mom, not on that lumpy old thing. You should get rid of it. I made up the spare bed in your room.”
That wasn’t what her mother needed or wanted to hear. That was too close to her daughter; a mere hop, skip and jump away in theory from where Sheila slept, but theory and practical reality were leagues apart.
“You made a bed up for him in my room?” Her mother's brain had seized-up, and she was repeating herself, imagining... only the worst.
That room would never be the same for her now. Another man, apart from her memories of her husband would now intrude into her thoughts. It was to be hoped he was not intruding anywhere else, and not into her daughter.
She knew all about boys, and the things they got up to with girls, when the girls’ mothers were out of the way.
She’d better not ask where he was actually sleeping. She might find out, and she was not sure she could handle it. She asked anyway, but a lesser question than the one she ached to ask.
“So, he’s been looking after things in general then while you were laid up?”
“Yes, Mom. Sort of.” Whatever that meant and depending on how you defined ‘looking after’.
She heard her mother snort.
Sheila’s mother was wrestling with her own difficulties. She’d better not ask to speak with him, or she might become hysterical and lose it altogether asking him, what he was doing to her daughter, accusing him. Had he…? Males always wanted to. She couldn’t think of that happening to Sheila without panicking, yet it may already have happened. Had he fucked her? When had it begun? Monday? This didn't sound like Sheila.
He might tell her exactly what he’d done to Sheila, gloating about it. Men were not shy to speak out.
She wouldn’t ask Sheila that question, though it rattled around her mind. Annie would have asked. She went in a different direction.
“What’s his name? I hope you at least know that about him.”
‘A woman should know the name of every man who gets into her panties and fucks her. And preferably before he gets into her.’ Another piece of Annie, wisdom.
There was so much her mother wanted to ask but couldn’t.
“Of course I know his name, mom. Peter. Peter Walker. He’s going into his third year.”
“But what do you know about him?”
“He’s at university with me, Mom. I told you. I know what I need to know.”
That was also not what a mother wanted to hear.
She wouldn’t dare tell her that they were in love, or her mother would be on the next flight home.
“He has four sisters and…”
Her mother stopped listening about then, and her own frustrations of the week began to catch up to her.
There was another voice in her mother’s head, telling her that it wasn’t all that different from what had happened to her when she had met Sheila’s father. The way her own mother had responded to that had built a wall between them for years. Did she want the same animosity from her own daughter?
She had to rethink this one, and was not in the mood to be rational about anything she would say. It would be safer not to talk.
She’d better call Sheila back in the morning when she’d had a good night’s sleep and was able to calm down. By then she would be able to ask various questions in a more rational frame of mine. She could do nothing about anything where she was, or at this hour, though she would worry all night that he was fucking her daughter and filling her with his eager erection, and keeping her topped-up with his sperm.
Mrs. Wheatley hung up abruptly, without asking Sheila what she, as her mother, most needed to know, unable to listen to any more, with her mind launching off in so many different directions.
Her mind returned to earlier conversations. Just what had Sheila meant about something boiling over, when they’d spoken earlier? She’d been hiding something even then. Was that some reference to him and what they were doing together?
Sheila had had three days to tell her mother about him and spraining her ankle, and had kept it to herself until now. There was a lot more happening to Sheila than her daughter was telling her.
It was not something a mother needed to learn about with so many thousands of miles between them.
Some of those other noises during earlier calls began to make sense now. There had been someone with her in the house, but Sheila had denied it, blaming the noises on other things like the rain, or the wind.
She’d hung up out of a combined sense of self preservation and frustration, letting the line go dead for Sheila to puzzle over.
Sheila was uncomfortable too, the way her mother had abruptly rung off. This was not how their conversations usually went. She should have told her mother nothing, and let it all be a fait accompli for when her mother got home and found out then.
Hell! If her mother didn’t trust her judgement by now, at this age, she never would!
Peter kissed her on the neck, bringing her back down to earth.
“You should have let me speak to your mother. She could have asked me anything and I would have told her the truth.”
That was the problem. Her mother might have asked, and he would have told her, and Sheila couldn’t risk that.
“She could have taken shots at me, instead of you. I wouldn’t have minded.”
He stood up and helped her to her feet into his arms, bringing her closer to him; her breasts touching at his chest as his hands fell, to stroke over her cheeks with the lightest of touches, feeling a delicate suggestion of gossamer-soft hair, as on a peach, and pulled her close to him as she directed him between her legs again.
“Come on, let’s go to bed and talk up there while we see what other mischief we can get up to. She won’t call back now.”
“I suppose not, but I didn’t want to mislead her. I wish I hadn’t said anything now.”
He kissed her and stroked her face. “Don’t worry about it. You didn’t mislead her, you just didn’t tell her what she most needed to hear. I thought she was building up to ask if I had violated you yet; taken your virginity, but in more graphic language.
“Tell her in the morning. She’ll have had time to think about it by then, and we can decide what to tell her without upsetting her even more.” If that were possible.
Sheila might not even be a virgin by then, the way things were going, in which case there really would be something worthwhile to tell her mother.
“Mom. Your congratulations are in order. I got well and truly fucked last night! Peter did me at last, and we did it three times!”
That would be sure to go over big.
“Really, my dear? I am so happy for you!”
In a pig’s eye!