Part 1       power, corruption & lies

Age of Consent

Lawrence had watched The Girl for a few days. Noticeable by her understated disregard for the people around her, she sat at the same bench each day in the park, reading or staring out over the pond. Her long legs, stretched out in the sunshine, gave him ideas. He wondered how best to approach. Walking past several times, she hadn’t raised her head to meet his eyes, but he’d hoped she had perhaps acquainted herself with his feet. The day he finally sat down and asked her what she was reading, her serious facade belied the fact that she had indeed paid attention. He listened as she talked about her favourite books, sitting close enough for thigh to flirtatiously touch thigh. His wedding ring, as usual, seemed to signify incentive rather than obstruction. His was not to reason why. His was to benefit and gather the experience he had lacked by marrying his first girlfriend when still a teenager.

The Girl had two weeks to wait until her sixteenth birthday. Every day of her fifteenth year she had woken up with a voice taunting the prediction: Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. Magazines declared an epoch of female empowerment so she decided to make sure her destiny was exactly her own doing. With no social life whilst boarding in a single sex school, she had tried hard to ensure the prophecy would not materialize. Kissing girls did not count. The teenage sons of family friends were unappealing and impossible to crave. But their fathers were tantalizingly nubile. Their carnal sophistication could teach her all she wanted to know.

The park was used as a thoroughfare and a hotspot for lunching businessmen, dog-walking males and unemployed men who she liked to think were struggling writers, artists or designers. Social or marital status was irrelevant when it came to attraction. Age however, seemed to be the pertinent factor. Some unknown internal organ that biology lessons had neglected to mention, came to life when someone with obvious sagacity passed by that excited her. It had lain dormant whenever she had met boys of her own age. The Man was immediately conspicuous and she positioned herself on a bench by the pond where she had a panoramic view. He walked by a few times, his good looks as discernible as the creases in his linen suit. His crisp, white shirt was open just enough to reveal a glimpse of hair, indicative of maturity rather than uncouth adolescence; giving the impression that the chest upon which it grew was urbane and self-possessed as opposed to puny and in need of urgent introduction to a good deodorant.

Lawrence congratulated himself at the uncanny coincidence of bedding her on her birthday. He had booked a room at a discrete hotel where his use of cash and a variety of names told the diplomatic staff all they needed to know. The Girl’s eyes, now known to him as a telltale barometer of her infatuation, lit up when she saw the champagne, room service dinner by candlelight and a bathtub filled with rose petals. Her inexperience had been touching and he delighted in his new role as teacher. Genuine surprise made way for conceited smugness when he saw the bloodstained sheet. Stifled heart failure gave rise to hasty plans of retreat when she told him that the birthday they had been celebrating was her sixteenth.

Yet there was no need for any careful extraction from what may have proved a problematic situation. The Girl appeared to want to let him go. His was not to reason why. His was to silently thank her by going home to his wife with expensive gifts and a renewed patience for his pugnacious teenage sons, grateful he did not have any daughters. The slightly unnerving yet highly satisfying interlude served to add caution to future entanglements.

The loss of her virginity coincided with the loss of her distaste for teenage boys. With her increased knowledge, The Girl was confident. She was liberated. She felt alive.