Dakin Remembers

Everything always came easily, you understand. Everything. Writing essays for Totty, reciting for Hector. Playing football with the lads of a weekend. Convincing Fiona to go out with me -- all right, there I did have the occasional setback. She was quite happy to snog for hours, but make one move toward her knickers and that was the end of things for that night. But on the whole everything came easily. Not that I didn't value the worth of what I achieved, but perhaps that was why I couldn't get Irwin out of my head.

I'd never fancied a man before, not that way. I suppose that was how Posner felt about me, come to think about it, but we always treated it as a joke, Posner mooning after me with his puppy-dog eyes. I liked him all right, but never had any interest like that. Only gave him the one embrace because, well, we were all in high spirits that day, so why not?

Irwin was different. Older, for one thing, if not much, and although I was fairly sure that he looked at me with more than professional interest, he would never do anything about it. Quite unlike Hector. Well, we all knew how to manage Hector; he never did try for more than a bit of groping, after all. But Irwin was strictly hands-off, and he didn't play favorites. Not that any of the teachers did, not really, but you could tell who they liked, and who they thought had done well. Not with Irwin. Irwin pushed. Nothing was ever quite good enough for him; he always wanted more. Perhaps that was part of it for me too. Whatever I did for the others was enough, too much sometimes in Fiona's case. I started to wonder if Irwin would have that same reckless intensity in bed, once you got past the layers of privacy in which he wrapped himself. He loved history, you could tell that, but that love was all in his head. I wanted to know if he would batter at me in the flesh as well as the mind.

And so I'd made my offer, no, my demand that he should come to me. And he accepted it, eager behind that studied reluctance. Then, of course, there was the motorbike accident, and Irwin was injured, and Hector was dead. So it never happened. And I've never wanted anyone in quite that way since. I used to think about him afterward, studying. I half-hoped that he might turn up one day, appear beside me in the library, ask how I was getting on. But after I went to university I never saw him again, not in person. Now he's on the telly with his history programmes. He looks startlingly the same. I wonder, if I rang him and asked, would he go for a drink as he once said he would?