Book extract: No Worries if Not by Lucy Nichol
A sample from a funny and feminist new rom-com by Newcastle-based author Lucy Nichol.
“Scuse me, but would you mind moving your knee a little.’ I said, still staring at my screen, jaw clenched, as if attempting to hold in every shade of emotion.
He didn’t say anything. And he didn’t move, either. I felt the bile rising up in me. Fifty fucking shades of putrid threatening to expel from my very core.
‘Sorry, but could you just move a bit.’ I repeated, still determined not to look at him. Nothing. FFS. Just moments ago I apologised for my skewed womb-junction and now, now I’ve just said sorry to a manspreader for daring to ask him to stop his ignorant man-spreading into my rightful personal space on the Metro.
I was a one-woman sorry machine. Emmeline Pankhurst, Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle . . . Madonna! It’s like I’m undoing all their good work, piece by piece, day by day. What if there are others, like me, who apologise simply for being a woman. For taking up teeny tiny amounts of space?
And who apologises for having a fanny?!
I could feel a rush of anger getting stronger. My foresisters were calling me. It was time to rise up. It was time to take my rightful place. It was time to unapologetically be . . .
Before I knew it I was out of my seat. Standing up on the crowded train, facing my nemesis – who was acting determinedly oblivious – looking down, staring at his phone, smiling, even. Prick!
My heart was racing, my mouth opened and, before I knew it . . . a screeching, scratching, hollering sound came hurtling from the depths of my stomach, releasing twenty-nine years of non-stop apologising.
‘WILL YOU MOVE YOUR FUCKING LEGS OUT OF MY PERSONAL SPACE?!’
He looked up at me.
His eyes locking into mine.
Blimey …oh God. He was fit. With a capital F …
No, Charlotte! It doesn’t matter. He ignored your polite request. Twice! His looks do not excuse him. Stay focused.
He smiled up at me, a warm, gentle smile. My stomach bile morphed into butterflies . . .
And then, he removed his AirPods.
‘Sorry? Is it your stop?’
He had no idea. He hadn’t heard me.
He hadn’t heard my polite requests.
Maybe he hadn’t heard my banshee scream either? Maybe this could be an opportunity. I could save this moment …think …
‘Are you OK?’ he asked.
I detected an edge. A tone in his voice. Was he patronising me? Was I letting his blue eyes distract me from standing up for myself?
Was I going to apologise for being a woman? For deserving to have my own space after enduring a fucking smear test. It’s not as if he has to do that. Or give birth, or, or …
‘Well?’ he asked.
‘Did you realise’, I said firmly, eager to push on despite his now obvious resemblance to Paul Mescal, ‘that you’ve been taking up all my leg space, that you’ve been . . . manspreading your legs wider than mine were at my fucking smear test just now. And I’ve got a tilted cervix,’ I added, just as the train slowed down enough for my last words to boom out louder than the station announcements.
He fucking laughed.
Jesus, Charlotte, what are you doing? It doesn’t even make sense. Stop talking. Stop. Right. Now.
‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ he said, desperately trying to stifle laughter. He moved his legs and gestured to the space next to him. Our eyes locked momentarily as I stood there swaying with the rhythm of the train, blood draining from my face in horror. What do you say next when you’ve just yelled ‘CERVIX’ at a stranger’s face?
His smile diminished as I did everything I possibly could to avoid looking at him. ‘Well,’ he said. ‘It was nice chatting to you.’ The train moved off again. He put an AirPod back in his ear and looked back down at his phone.
He was the epitome of calm. Meanwhile I, unbeknownst to him but very obviously known to the rest of the train, had just screamed like a particularly poor impersonation of Courtney Love, before announcing to half of Newcastle, and Paul Mescal incarnate, that I’d just had my legs akimbo for fanny prodding.
I realised at that point that the entire carriage was staring at me.
Watch the trailer…
Script/Direction/Bus Driver – Chris Connel
Director of Photography – Topher McGrillis
Charlotte – Chess Tomlinson
Greg – Dean Bone
Barista – Simon Trelfa
Extract from No Worries If Not by Lucy Nichol, published with permission from Harper Collins and Lucy Nichol.