"Why do you put underpants over your stockings?"
There had been no words between them and now this. Bec found herself pausing, the stockings tripping at her ankles. Another boy would have been two shy to speak, but he was curious, this one. This was what she liked most about him. His sharp eyes. His inquisitiveness. She kicked the stockings away and felt somehow more naked, standing like this in her underpants with his question between them.
"It keeps the stockings up. Otherwise they ride down and I chafe."
He would be imagining her chafed thighs. She had betrayed herself. He cocked his head to one side, half listening, half a question.
"And then you have another pair of underpants underneath." He didn't touch her but she was suddenly aware of her second pair of underpants, the striped cotton things. These and the bra she was wearing. A black bra, unmatched.
"Everygirl you have been with has been your age right?" Bec asked him then, slipping her fingers under the waistband of her knickers, pulling them up slightly, hoping that this would hide the roundness of her belly, the stretchmarks, the very faint but also, she imagined, glaringly obvious age spots. Beneath her knickers, her pubic hair tangled like steele wool. She remembered a conversation between two of her students; 'Pubic hair? That's something you only see on fetish sites isn't it?' And then the general laughter that would be expected.
She was of a generation that still clung to their pubic hair as older ladies once clung to their beehives or blue rinses.
"Yes, I suppose so. Most people sleep with girls their own age."
She had moved on from her question and his answer startled her.
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, I suppose I am quite a contrast to them. I suppose my body is different, not quite as - tight."
"I suppose so. I haven't thought about it. It's not like I have a huge list of lovers to compare you against."
She had put the idea of comparison between them now and it could not be removed. She stood her ground, swaying slightly in her mismatched underwear, presenting her older, tireder body as if it were a challenge.