It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against The World At An Extreme Time In History but let’s face it that would be a load of crap.
The real truth is that the war didn’t have much to do with it except that it provided a perfect limbo in which two people who were too young and too related could start kissing without anything or anyone making us stop. There were no parents, no teachers, no schedules. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do that would remind us that this sort of thing didn’t happen in the Real World. There no longer was any Real World.
For a while Edmond and I pretended that what was happening between us was totally reversible. We drifted around through the day not looking at each other and acting like nothing at all had happened.
But it didn’t matter. It turns out to be true that an Object In Motion Remains In Motion. Well thank you Miss Valerie Greene, science teacher back at dear old Nightingale-Bamford School For Girls. Whoever imagined anything you said would ever come in handy?
Now let’s try to understand that falling into sexual and emotional thrall with an under-age blood relative hadn’t exactly been on my list of Things To Do while visiting England, but I was coming around to the belief that whether you liked it or not, Things Happen and once they start happening you pretty much just have to hold on for dear life and see where they drop you when they stop.
In our case, Things Happened in spades.
The next thing that happened was we started sleeping most of the daylight hours so we could be awake at night when everyone else was in bed. Of course if you had to choose an audience for illicit love based on the people you’d least like to have hanging around, Piper and Isaac would win hands down. Isaac because he always knew by a sort of navigational instinct where Edmond was and what he was thinking, in case it wasn’t totally obvious anyway just by looking at us.
And Piper because she was so good and pure that when she was confused about what was going on she just stood and stared at your face until you either told her the truth or ran away and hid. Neither of us was anxious to tell her the truth so most of the time we hid.
Things were so intense I was sure that other people could hear the hum coming off us. Piper and Isaac didn’t say anything but the dogs were upset and behaved strangely, as if the hum and the smell of our skin made them anxious. Gin refused to leave Edmond’s side, wrapping herself round his legs when he tried to go anywhere, and crawling up into his armpit whenever he sat down as if she wanted to hide herself inside him. It got so bad that he had to be stroking her all the time or she’d start whining piteously until Osbert shouted from the other room Will someone make that dog shut up!
Some nights Edmond had to lock her in the barn if we wanted to be alone but secretly I felt desperate for her because I knew exactly how she felt.
Extract taken from How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, published by Puffin