Super powers (2): The x-ray specs

Sometimes, when she’s dressing, Jennifer, who in her fifties is still a handsome woman, holds up the shirt she’s about to pull on. ‘Henry,’ she says. ‘How do you explain this.’


As a boy I couldn’t imagine any girl ever wanting to share a room with me wearing anything less revealling than Eskimo clothes. To have found, in Jennifer Peterson, one who actually liked spending time with me was earth-shatteringly fantastic enough. I lost a lot of sleep thinking about her.

She came round after school because I’d told her Mum would be out. Now we were in my room. She was asking me about things on my shelves—model planes, my telescope, a signed football—they were all so lame but she seemed genuinely interested.

‘Oh, wow, Henry,’ she exclaimed. ‘Are those what I think they are?’

‘Yep. Genuine X-ray specs. The ad said I’d be able to see girls’ underwear.’

‘Well you don’t need them anymore,’ she said, and before I knew what was happening she was handing me her top.

‘Henry?’ My mother’s voice shattered the moment.

Jennifer squealed. The doorknob turned. Suddenly I was alone. The next moment, with a breeze wafting through the open window, I was joined by Mum, who was eyeing the lace-trimmed shirt in my hand.


2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (