by Luke Gittos
‘I want to sex you. Sex me?’
The blunt and utterly unashamed sexuality of the letter that Anna found on her 9 year old daughter’s desk was terrifying, but also perhaps the most arousing thing she had read for as long as she could remember. It was written in the think black lines of those pens given to kids in the first days of learning to write joined up, but also managed to express the kind of genuine and pure desire that Anna remembered from the first days of marriage. The letter was signed ‘Alfie’. She remembered Alfie from her daughter’s class. She had always known the boy to be a walking test tube of chemically concentrated rape culture, the kind of kid that would grow into the kind of man who thought it was OK to single out the drunk ones in nightclubs, who thought it was OK to snapchat pictures of his cock and balls after a first date.
She looked around the room at her daughter’s things: scrunchies for her hair, too much glitter and small toy horses which looked passively camp. The letter didn’t belong here, among these artifacts of girlhood. She would keep it with her, safe where she knew where it was. By the time her daughter had returned to the room, the letter was stuffed into the deepest possible recess in the pocket of Anna’s jeans.
The next day, having delivered her daughter into the classroom of her primary school, Anna waited in the reception area for the little Lothario, who she knew had the kind of damaged confidence to walk to school alone. She could feel her daughter’s eyes watching her from the classroom as she lingered for too long whilst all the other parents left. When Alfie arrived, swaggering through the large green double doors like Danny Dyer, Anna pulled him aside with more aggression than she had planned and asked him why in god’s name he was sending letters to her daughter and whether he had a ‘crush’ or something or whether he was sleeping well or whether he was having problems at home or what exactly was it which made him think it was OK and whether he had issues with the amount of sugar he ate and whether he was getting enough sunlight and whether or not he prayed or was part of a cult or whether he followed football too closely or whether he had racist parents or whether he was addicted to something he shouldn’t be or whether he himself had suffered some kind of predatory behavior by a celebrity philanthropist whilst he was undergoing a period of treatment in a children’s hospital. Then her daughter arrived, having run from the classroom, and grabbing Alfie’s arm said:
‘Mum – go away.’
She pulled the boy back to the classroom. He had paled to the point of translucence.
That night, when her daughter came home, after she had thrown her rucksack down at the foot of the stairs and turned on the television in the front room, she shouted out so Anna could hear her from the kitchen:
‘I was only pretending.’
Anna stood over boiling Bolognese that she was cooking for two, and whilst she promised herself to learn the curves and protrusions of her daughter’s early handwriting, she also promised herself that this would be her last Christmas alone.