Every Day a Sundae
'I won't forget you,' he says.
And with those few final words, I am gone from his life forever.
But, wait. Let us start again. For this, our story, begins elsewhere.
Benedict Goodnight stands under a key-stoned archway in the cloistered quad of Wallsford Comprehensive and tries not to stare at Sundae Loving. He knows it is not polite to stare. Not that Mistress Loving would notice. Young Master Goodnight does not exist in her world. No more than we exist in his.
But all of that is about to change!
'Are you drooling, Goodnight?'
'You are. You're positively foaming at the mouth, boy! Are you ill?'
'I'm in love, sir.'
'Love, eh? I wouldn't know the first thing about it. But do carry on.'
That was Benedict's problem. He never had. Carried on, I mean. With anyone. And certainly not with Sundae Loving. His heart was pure, and his thoughts were chaste. She was his Earth and he was her moon. Constantly in orbit. Unable to move away, and equally unable to move any nearer. A satellite love.
'Try not to drown in your own saliva.'
Uncommon beauty is commonly overlooked. And while Mistress Sundae could not be considered a classical beauty, her whole was greater than the sum of her parts.
And Master Benedict? He was kind and honest. And the space between his ears was not an empty one. He was neither attractive nor unattractive, but your plain, ordinary, average boy on the street.
This is where I come in. My name is Giacomo Girolamo Casanova. And I happen to know a little something about love.
You will know, already, that I am dead. It happens. People die all the time. But death is not, necessarily, how you might imagine it. A life is not a candle to be snuffed out so easily. Sometimes a small wisp of smoke still lingers.
There are those who can hear me. Those who can see me. And those, though few, who can do both. Ben is one of them. As to whose shadow first crossed whose threshold, I cannot recall. It will suffice to say that we did meet, and were soon good friends.
One night, when he lay in his bed, and I was sitting in a chair by his window, Ben said, 'How do you get a girl to notice you?'
'Clothes,' I said. 'You must dress to impress!'
'Not helpful... Everyone at school wears the same uniform.'
'It is not what you wear,' I told him, 'but how you wear it. A tie is not a noose around your neck. A blazer is not a sack for harvesting vegetables.'
'Ok. What else?'
'Never tuck your shirt inside your underpants. Who taught you to do that?'
'I don't know. It's just something we do.'
'Who is we?' I asked.
'Guys, I guess. Boys?'
'A-ha! Yes! Little boys. Girls do not look at little boys. They cuddle them. They baby them. They bounce them them on their knees. Is that what you want? To be bounced?'
'Then you must be a man, and not a little boy. A young man, perhaps. But a man!'
'How do I do that?'
'First, you must think of yourself as a man. To think like a man, you must look like a man. Your hair. Your clothes. We will change everything! Trust me, my friend. You will not believe the difference!'
We began the very next morning. I laid out Ben's uniform while he showered. His body was nothing more, and nothing less, than I expected. Normal. There was nothing un-expected. The usual bits were in the usual places.
'Stand up straight,' I said. 'Do not slouch! Shoulders back! Chest out! Chin up! Now, repeat after me. I am a man!'
'I am a man.'
'You do not sound so sure. Say it. I am a man!'
'I am a man!'
'Better. A penis is not something to be ashamed of. Say it!'
'A penis - '
'No. No. I am a man!'
'I am a man!'
'Good! Get dressed. There is still much to do!'
When Ben was dressed to my satisfaction, I asked him if he was a sheep.
'So why,' I said, 'do you comb your hair over your eyes? Who are you hiding from? Use your fingers to brush it back from your face. Show the world you are not afraid!'
'You're wearing a wig,' he said.
'It was the fashion when I was alive,' I replied. 'It is not the fashion now.'
'But you still wear it.'
'It suits me to do so. And we are not concerned with my appearance. So, my young friend, what are you?'
'Yes, you are! And do not forget it!'
At Ben's school, I pointed out Mistress Sundae.
'You will walk past her,' I told him. 'You will catch her eye. You will smile. But you will not speak.'
He shook his head. 'I can't.'
'Her friends are there.'
'So? Are they gorgons to turn a man to stone? Go!'
And to his credit, he went.
He did the same thing the next day. And the next. Every day for a week. And what do you think happened on the Friday afternoon? As Ben was walking out through the school gates? She followed in the dance, of course!
Here is what I heard.
Her. 'You're Ben, right?'
'Do not slow down,' I said. 'Keep walking.'
Mistress Sundae has to skip to keep up.
Her. 'You look different.'
Him. 'Do I?'
Her. 'That's my bus. I have to go.'
Her. 'Will I see you Monday?'
Him. 'Sure... Maybe.'
'You were perfect,' I said.
Ben was not convinced. 'I dunno.'
'Wait,' I said. 'You will see.'
Monday morning came. Sundae was waiting at the school gates.
'I thought... When you said maybe... But here you are!'
'Here I am.'
'Cool. There's my friend Amy. Come and say hi.'
I never said the conversation was riveting.
On Tuesday they ate lunch together.
On Wednesday they held hands.
On Thursday they kissed.
On Friday they kissed again.
I did not stay to watch. I am not a voyeur.
On Saturday they met in a nearby park.
On Sunday -
Ah... Every day should be a Sundae!