Every summer holiday Winston and I built a hut in my back garden. The men in his family worked in construction so he supplied the hammer and nails. The wood was sourced from gardens in the neighbourhood filled with rubbish – one mans trash really was our treasure. Old abandon wardrobes, planks of wood and old floorboards. All of these odd shapes and sizes were pinned together with nails to build what resembled a hut. The hut ended up being as tall and as wide as a room and we spent our summer chilling out in it with friends. At the end of summer the hut was always dismantled and the wood piled in a corner of the garden. It was left to await its fate come November 5th when it would be burned to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night.
Winston and I had been friends since birth. There was never anything to our relationship except friendship. During the Spring we both celebrated our 14th birthday and this particular summer our hut turned into ‘playing house’. We spent our summer playing ‘mummy and daddy’. We had chairs, made a bench out of planks of wood for our guests to sit on (although we never got round to inviting anyone in) and we even got hold of cups from our kitchen. When we could, as neither of our family were particular wealthy, we would take food out of our kitchen to eat in our hut. If we were feeling particularly brave we’d sneak out some of Winston’s dads Jamaican rum. The hut was usually built without a door. There was never any need to hide what was going on inside but this year we did and we covered the door from the inside using an old curtain. That way if anyone wanted to enter they had to open the door (which was stiff and made a lot of noise) and then come through the curtain.
I can’t remember how our friendship went from being friends to ‘experimenting’ but it did so with ease. We had our hut and the privacy of a door and curtain so it was easy to kiss and touch each other without being concerned about getting caught. This wasn’t my first sexual experimental experience. I had already engaged in some girl on girl action when my neighbour Lisa Prince wanted me to kiss her and suck her nipple. I wasn’t too keen on doing that but being shy and being raised to do as I was told I went along with it. I just felt more drawn to boys so when Paul asked me to kiss his ‘thing’ I didn’t imagine there was much harm in that and went ahead and did it. As we were in a cupboard at the time and I couldn’t see anything because it was so dark. I wasn’t too sure on what his ‘thing’ was but I kissed it anyway.
The first time I touched Winston’s ‘wotsit’ (I began to wonder why all boys had a different name for the same body part) it was warm and sticky. I never got to see what it looked like because we hid everything under a blanket. According to him this is what mummies and daddies do when they were in their room and the kids were asleep. In return for touching Winston put his hands in my knickers. His fingers poked about as if they weren’t sure what they were looking for and as I had no idea either I couldn’t do anything to help him so I just sat there. He told me he enjoyed putting his fingers in my knickers but mostly he preferred for me to be touching him. So I did.
Our touching sessions always started with a bit of imaginary play. I suppose we thought if we were pretending to be someone else then we didn’t have to face each other as friends knowing what we had just been doing. Winston would get the blanket out and sit down. That was my cue to go sit under the blanket with him. Within minutes the sweat was running down our face but I guess that was to be expected when you sit under a blanket in 70 degree summer heat.
On this particularly hot summer day Winston and I were under the blanket when my dad walked into the hut. Usually you could hear someone approaching; you could also see them through the gap that we had left as a window. If you missed those two then the door became the third and final warning that someone was about to enter our hut but this time neither of us heard the noise of approaching footsteps until it was too late. We were not quick enough to get out from under the blanket. It didn’t help that both of us had our eyes closed. It was Winston’s turn to leave his eyes open and keep watch but I guess it all got too much for him. By the time we were aware of my dad’s presence he was moving the curtain out the way. I wasn’t sure who was more surprised; him or us. Winston just had time to push his ‘wotsit’ back in his pants and I did my best to pull my dress down. We both appreciated the security of the blanket at that point.
My dad’s eyes went from me to Winston and back to me again. “What are you doing?” he asked. He didn’t wait for an answer. “Why are you under a blanket in this heat?” I was afraid of my dad. He had a temper, liked to use the belt as punishment and he was a huge strong man with a firm grip. I said nothing and he continued “I need you to go to the shop to get some bread for your mother. Go inside to get the money.”
I went inside. My dad followed me and told me to go straight upstairs. He handed the money to my brother and told him to go to the shop with Winston who was waiting outside. By the time Winston and my brother returned with bread in hand my dad had smashed the hut. He went out into the garden and broke the whole thing down. I looked out from my bedroom window and watched him. When Winston returned and came out into the garden I watched as his face went from laughing at something my brother had said to complete shock at finding the hut torn down and lying in ruins on the garden floor. Our hut was now a pile of rubbish.
My dad never told me off. He never told my mum, never spoke about what he saw or what he thought we were doing and he never mentioned it again. The next day he made me and Winston clear away the pile of wood and get rid of everything that was inside the hut. We piled it into a corner in the garden three weeks earlier than usual. On November 5th it was burnt to cinders.
I had built a hut with Winston every summer holiday for the past four years but I was never allowed to build another hut again.
The last summertime hut
was the very first edition of the flash fiction story I wrote which I eventually changed to The Last Hut