Sally was about twelve when her mum started to see Aidan. I remember being quite charmed by him. He took Sally and me to the Dome ice-skating a couple of times and seemed to be making a real effort getting to know Sally. I thought it was really nice that she might be getting a new dad. Her real father had disappeared when Sally was five. When I say disappeared I don’t mean literally, of course. He just decided he didn’t want to live with them any more. Sally hasn’t seen him from that day to this and I know it hurts, so I was really happy for her when Aidan started seeing her mum.
I remember one particular occasion when we went to the Dome. Aidan took us for an ice-cream sundae afterwards, and to this day I’ve never seen a sundae the size of that one! It had five different flavours of ice cream – one was pecan and I’d never tasted pecans before. The whole thing was smothered in cream and toffee sauce and all sorts of sprinkles and it was just heavenly. It arrived in the most enormous glass dish with three spoons and we all just tucked in.
Sally was so happy that day and I was happy for her when I looked across at Aidan as he put his arms around her, hugging her to him. He called her his ‘best girl’ and now I think back I did wonder why she seemed to pull away from him, but at the time I just thought she was embarrassed by such a public display of affection.
It wasn’t until we were having a discussion about Adam that she told me.
‘Why do you treat Adam so badly?’ I asked her. ‘He seems like a nice guy, and he’s really fit!’ I could still appreciate a good looking man even though I was starting to have doubts about my own sexuality.
We were enjoying one of our sleepovers and had shared a couple of bottles of wine between us which was a little unusual. Sally had certainly drunk more than usual and she started to cry.
‘Oh, don’t cry,’ I called out, slightly alarmed. ‘What have I said? What’s he done?’
‘It’s not Adam,’ she said.
And then she told me.