"Azzopardi manages to channel young adults’ language, tics and behaviours, in a story as topical as they come. It’s written in an extremely casual, unstructured style, with short scenes that go back and forth across the timeline. The young adults in the novel live a life that most Maltese teenagers will identify with, and the protagonist’s reaction to having been fraped is one that could easily have been that of any of her peers given the same circumstances.” - The Malta Independent
Aileen has lost all her school friends because she has to work at her father's pastry shop all week. And now Ronald is trying to ask her out ...
When Ronald turns up, I’ve no room to even think. He just talks me out. Total verbal diaorrhea.
“So what about that bet, Ro? A hundred. I could ’and them over now if you want.”
“I think they went to the playing field.”
“So what’re you waiting for?”
“Nah, let it go. My uncle’s waiting for me. We got a couple of new cars today. We’ve got loads of work right now. Folk just keep crashing.”
I’ve known ’im since I was a little girl. Ever the talker. His mum says ’e was already blabbin’ away at four months. Completely useless at anythin’ else. Just eats ’is pastizzi and bothers me. Sometimes I don’t mind ’im, ’cause it does get pretty borin’ some days. At least when ’e comes over, the shop’s full of ’is hot air. Other times, I don’t want ’im around. Today’s one of those times. But I can’t drive ’im away. No way, ’e’s been ’angin about ’ere all ’is life! Who knows ’ow many times we played together with pastry balls and flour.
“Give us a pizza, Ai.”
“’aven’t you just eaten three pastizzi?”
“Yeah, but I’m still peckish. Those two, they’ve really turned me on.”
“Can’t understand why you’re still ’anging around ’ere, then.”
“Listen, Aileen, you wouldn’t want to go watch a movie one of these days, would you?”
“Will you listen to this guy today. ’e’s got nothing better to do, it seems.”
“Who d’you ’ave in mind?”
“You and me, obviously.”
“Weren’t you going to ask one of those two?”
“Oh, I can ask them too, later. Just thought I’d start with you, like.”
“Come on, just the once.”
“Cut it out, Ro, ok?”
“I ’eard there’s a really good one on.”
“Really? Which one?”
“’ow should I know? I’ve forgotten what it’s called.”
“So ’ow’re we gonna go watch it?”
“Ah, you’ve ’ad more school than me, you’re good at readin’ and stuff, right, why don’t you choose? One that’s got a lot of fightin’ and stuff.”
“Gotta ask da first.”
“Come on, forget about your da.”
“But why don’t you go ask those two ’otties?”
“Weren’t they ’eading for the playing field? It’s pretty close. Just go. And take your pick.”
“My, it’s late, ’e’s gonna kill me. Listen, so it’s a plan, right? You’re gonna ask your old man.”
And off ’e goes. Not in the direction of the playin’ field, obviously, but in the direction of the garage.
I don’t like ’im that way. I don’t like ’im at all. Bit too slow for me. And ’is fingers are always black. I’d go for someone better. Someone a bit less shallow. But whatever. When I was in my Fifth I’d hear ’em talk about the clubs in Paceville and so on. But my weekends were spent making pastry. That bastard always kept me ’ere. And then I lost everything. They all left. Some of ’em carried on with school and some of ’em got jobs. I don’t go with ’em to Paceville, do I?
Translated by Albert Gatt