The first woman I ever fell in love with was a private detective. She worked out of an agency in Los Angeles. It was a small operation, just two other detectives, an office manager and a boss she never saw.
She was smart and perceptive and beautiful. She knew how to handle herself and how to use a gun. She had the biggest brownest eyes I’d ever seen, the whitest teeth and a smile that, when it dimpled her cheeks, made my insides leap like a dog after a biscuit.
I used to gaze at her and feel my heart try to leave my body. It felt like my chest would open, my ribs would part and that bloody beating heart would tear free and fly through the air to be near her. It was an intensity of feeling I had never experienced before and it untethered me.
I could only see her once a week. Just one evening that I would think about constantly until the next. Sometimes the longing would be so great during the intervening days that I would say her name quietly to myself, as though I could conjure her. I would write tiny messages on small bits of balled up paper, reminders of how much she meant to me.
Part of the pain of it was always knowing how impossible it was. She lived in LA. I lived on a lower middle-class housing estate in England. She was a clever, beautiful woman with a career and a pistol. I was a skinny, lonely schoolboy with a dachshund and a retractable pencil.
She was a fictional character solving crimes in a pretence of real America. I was a real boy living a pretend life in a Britain largely of my own imagination.
It could never work.
But, gosh, how I loved her.