It turned out I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was in the kitchen when he rang me, and I completely freaked out. I hadn’t been expecting it. It had only been a day and he was ringing me already. I fled to the privacy and comfort of my bedroom and placed myself, poised and ready on my bed. I answered my phone as though nothing had happened.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Hey!” he answered, hyper-enthusiastically, “How’re you?”
“I’m good, thanks. A little bit coldy, but we’re all gravy.”
“Cool, so I just wanted to ring and say that I’m in London. I’ve done a couple of takes of the recording and it sounds really good, and I just wanted to see how you are.”
“Oh, well, that’s good,” I answered, cautiously.
“Yeah, I mean, you seemed in a bit of a hurry to leave yesterday, and I didn’t want to have scared you off or anything.”
“No. No, no. It’s all fine, I just… yeah.”
“Awesome, okay. Well, I was wondering if you were doing anything Friday?”
“Friday? Christmas Eve?”
I stopped for a minute. Christmas Eve. I was supposed to be going to see Mañana in Weston with everybody, but that could be the perfect cover. Friday.
“Yeah, I can do Friday,” I bit my lip as I said it. It meant I was blowing off Frankie – again – but he would understand, right?
“Awesome, well, we’ll arrange details later in the week, but sure thing.”
I sighed; “So! How’re you?”
“Yeah, I’m alright. I was thinking earlier. You’re eighteen, right?”
“And you’re at Sixth Form, so what are your plans for next year?”
I went silent. I knew it, he knew it; I had been caught with my foot firmly planted in my mouth. I could hear the ambient sounds of London as he walked around on the other end of the phone. He was waiting.
“Matt. How old are you?”
I sighed again. I slipped backwards off my bed, dangling in exasperation. I quickly realised what a mistake this had been. I was stuck. I could feel my head filling very rapidly with blood and began to suffocate on my own head. I couldn’t breathe or move without a potential almighty crash. Somehow, I managed to roll backwards off my bed and walk down the wall, placing myself very suavely on the floor, before clambering back onto the bed and recomposing myself. Matt, meanwhile, was none the wiser. As far as he was concerned, I was thinking about what to say, not dying by bed.
It was truth time; “I’m seventeen. My birthday is the thirteenth of February 1993.”
“Shit. Matt why? Why did you lie?”
“I didn’t want you to think I was a kid.”
“Seriously? You really think I’m that shallow?”
“Well, how was I to know what to think? I don’t know you!”
“Shit. You’re such a fucking idiot you know that?”
“I know, I’m sorry.”
Another silence. I didn’t know what was going on now. Why was he quiet?
“So, I’ve got something to tell you as well.”
I was quiet. He knew what I would say, so there was no point in saying it.
“I’m not 28.”
“No. I’m no.”
“How old are you, then?”
“I’m 30. My birthday is July 22nd1980.”
I didn’t know whether to believe him or not? Whether he was now lying to me to make me feel better. But this was something he couldn’t really take back. Lying about this now would just be immoral. Besides, why would he makehimselfolder? To what ends? I began to laugh. The whole thing was completely ridiculous.
“Okay,” I said.
“Friday?” he asked.
“Friday,” I replied.
“See you then.”