Jean Green

What happens when you kiss a soldier?

Tamsin plays her guitar near the entrance to the fairground every day. She looks sweet and cool in her long dress down to her ankles and her sandals and her hat with daisies and a red ribbon around the brim. A brace of young children stand watching her, fascinated by her fingers as they dance along the strings.

Tamsin watches them with affection but knows that they are not likely to put any money into the open guitar case standing hopefully near her feet.  It is just as well that her father gives her a good allowance or else she would starve and maybe have to live in a garret. She always liked the idea of a garret. Artists are said to starve in them. Although at the age of 15 she doesn’t really know what a garret is.

On this particular day her thoughts are a little muddled. She’s been trying to smoke pot recently and although it makes her dreamy eyed and gives her day dreams she doesn’t really like it and her father would freak if he ever found out. But she needs the sense of peace. It allows her to feel detached from the noise and heat and movement of the fairground. But today the fairground noises flow around her as if they don’t exist. She seems not to hear the shouts, the calls of the stall holders, the organ grinder, children’s laughter or even the screams of fear from the high and wobbly rides.

Tamsin comes here to get away from her parents who really don’t know what life is all about. They really don’t understand her music or even why she wants to dress in flowing clothes, have people admire her voice and the way she strums the instrument. She loves that guitar and she loves the songs she sings. They are all about the senselessness of war and the stupidity of young men who choose to become soldiers. Tamsin despises soldiers,

This is the way she has been feeling this week. But there is a disturbing thought in her mind. She had wandered around the stalls and performers yesterday and seen the Greek belly dancer. She loved what she saw and even found a moment to chat to Nadia – that was the belly dancer’s name. The lithesome movements, the secretive smile, the lowered lashes were things she would love to possess, to be able to use to get people to admire her.

No matter that the belly dancer wasn’t really Greek but just a local girl like herself. This makes Tamsin think that just maybe it would be possible for her to become a belly dancer. She flicks her hair back, closes her eyes and visualises herself with a jewel in her navel catching the light and winking as she moves her hips to the sensuous music.. She realises that somewhere in amongst her songs about war and death and love gone wrong she is strongly attracted to being a belly dancer.

Tamsin shakes her head impatiently and strums out a tune.  She strums a little harder on her guitar, raises her voice a little to make the children who stand solemnly watching her get a good hold of her message about loving your fellow man and the world they live in. Despite her love for the songs so critical war she wonders if the children wouldn’t enjoy a belly dancer more. There had been lots of children watching Nadia. Tamsin’s voice wavers and her fingers falter on chords she has played hundreds of times before.

Suddenly the lights in the fairground seem to dim. The noise level rises. Tamsin sees people running towards the Ferris wheel and then notices that all the lights around the wheel have gone out and it is no longer turning.

People are running towards the wheel, some shouting and screaming. But the fiercest screaming comes from those who are sitting in the cages now stuck at the very top of the wheel. Tamsin moves with the crowds towards the big wheel and as she draws close she sees a man and a little girl in the cage at the very top. The little girl is crying, screaming really, and the man has his arm around her.

She runs back and fetches her guitar. Returning to the base of the wheel she looks up and sees that the man is wearing a uniform. He is a soldier. Tamsin calls up to him: “Hey soldier! Can you hear me?” He nods firmly and she begins to sing for the little girl.

“Once I had an elephant…”. Her voice is sweet and she makes it up as she goes along. The child starts to laugh and the worry on the man’s face is replaced by a slow smile.

Soon the lights come on again and the wheel turns slowly disgorging its occupants onto terra firma. She runs up, embraces the child and then reaches up and kisses the soldier firmly on the lips.

Tamsin turns away and drifts towards the little three-legged stool she sits on to play her songs about love and peace. The weather seems warmer, although a cool wind is starting to blow. She picks up a shawl and draws it around her shoulders. She picks up her guitar yet can’t bring herself to play those anti-war songs and after a few bars stops her strumming.

She can feel the warmth of the soldier’s lips upon her own and she sits quite still realising that if she could kiss a soldier she can surely learn to belly dance.

No matter that her Dad would not approve. Maybe the little girl and the soldier might even have preferred a belly dancer.

Tamsin gathers up her things and leaves the fairground  not quite sure of what exactly she is going to be tomorrow, or even the day thereafter. But it really doesn’t matter – life is so full of promise when you are only 15.

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