Over the next couple of days, I didn’t get any better. And so, when Matt picked me up, from home this time, at ten o’clock in the morning three days later, there was very little of me actually in once piece.
Somehow, the truth about where I had been on the 19thDecember had come out on Christmas Day. Not quite the way I had planned at all. Pretty much everything had come out, bar the dirty tango on Christmas Eve. Surprisingly, the rents took it quite calmly. It was strange. Sure, they were disappointed that I hadn’t told them the truth, but I think deep down they understood why. There was no shouting, no raised voices. No condemnations and no punishments, just a;
“Tell us where you’re going next time.”
And so I did. Tell them. I was going out with Matt again on Monday.
“But we’re going to the Beadles on Monday evening.”
“I know, but I’ll be back before then.”
“Don’t you think you’d be better off resting, instead?”
“I can rest at Matt’s! It’s not like I’m going to be doing anything strenuous.”
My mum looked at me, seemingly a little bemused. I didn’t think she quite knew what to make of the whole situation, or quite how to react. Reluctantly, she agreed.
“Okay. But be safe, please. And be home in time to go to the Beadles.”
And so, here I was, in the car once again on the Monday. I sat in the seat and truly just wanted to die. My grandma had brought me the really thick cardigan for Christmas, which seeing aseverythingwas now absolutely freezing, I had decided was perfect. I was wearing it right now, and it was about the only thing that was keeping my tiny frame alive.
Matt was on the phone as I said, compulsively;
“Heya,” it was more of a croak than speech, but it worked all the same.
I quickly gathered that he was on the phone to his mum. I could hear her voice on the other end of the phone, she sounded lovely, but I detected something of a brave face in her voice. I waited until he finished the conversation before speaking again.
“Hey baby,” he said, as he put the phone down, “How’re you?”
“Not good,” I answered, honestly.
“Oh, sorry, babe. Are you sure you wanna do this today?”
“Yeah, of course, but I might just have to crash when we get back to yours.”
“That’s fine, I’ve got some stuff to do anyway.”
The remainder of the trip to Worle was practically in silence. I just didn’t have the energy to talk much and I sort of half hoped that Matt had picked up on this. It was still a little icy on the roads, but it was beginning to thaw out, which was a relief as the last time I had tried to navigate Matts drive I had nearly killed myself by slipping over with a handful of shopping – swiftly recovered, of course, so that he didn’t suspect a thing. I was suave like that.
As we pulled up to the house and onto the drive, I managed to successfully navigate the death trap and made it to the front door in one piece. As Matt let us in, I shed my shoes and traipsed into the living room, falling melodramatically onto the sofa. Matt followed me a couple of minutes later and sat down on the other end, just looking at me, as though he were worried that I was about to expire on him. I only had the flu, for Christ’s sake! I may have felt like I was going to die, but I was almost certain this was not going to be the case. He stretched out his arms in invitation for a hug; an invitation for which I was truly grateful. We sat like that for a couple of minutes, I clawed gently at his tee-shirt, searching for some comfort. He made a move to get up and announced he was going for a shower. I can’t say I was particularly disappointed. I had no idea what I would be required to do in the forthcoming hours, but I knew that right now I would be grateful for some rest. As he got up, I snuggled down on the sofa, slipping my hand under the pillow and curled up into the foetal position. He bent down on the ottoman and pulled out a blanket which he then draped over me. I shut my eyes and the next hour or so just vanished. I can’t really remember what happened after that. It was amazing, though. I really felt cared for, in a way that I couldn’t remember feeling before. Not from anyone. I was like nothing I can describe by writing down, so I guess I’ll just have to keep the feeling for a moment of ‘emotion memory recall’ in the future – Drama Specific Vocabulary! Sorry, inside joke, I should really know better.
The next thing I can remember is sitting on Emma’s bed at her house. I know I had done the dirty tango – again – but I can’t remember how I’d got home, what the details were or exactly what had happened in the four hours I had spent withhim.I felt a sinking feeling whilst I reflected on that day. I wouldn’t be seeing him again until at least the 7thJanuary. A whole new year away. I was going away from New Years with the Smiths and leaving him and all that came with him behind, for just over two weeks. I told Emma everything. I’m pretty sure it was everything. Amidst the coughing, the spluttering and the general dying, I’m pretty sure she was the first one to know the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me god. Yes. Help me god. This was happening way too fast. I was caught up in a whirlwind with no vision of direction; only flashes of wishes of things to come. It never occurred to me that everything always hung on the thinnest thread from a great height, waiting at any minute to snap and send entire worlds crashing to the ground. But hey. This was now, and right now, everything was perfect.
Travelling down to Cornwall and spending that time away, made me realise just how much he did mean to me. Even in the last days of my illness, possibly the worst I have ever felt in my entire life, he still managed to make me smile. And then, on New Years Eve, at just gone midnight, he phoned me up from wherever the hell he was and said to me;
“I promise you, with every fibre of my being, I will not be without you next New Years Eve.”
I have never forgotten those words. I probably never will. I couldn’t hold it together after that, I had to just take a moment and go around the corner into the kitchen and with that, I burst into tears. Georgia was the first one to find me, but Jade, James and Laura quickly followed. I told them why I was crying. What he had said to me, and I think Jade and Georgia melted in their shoes a little bit. Even James seemed impressed. Laura, on the other hand, just didn’t get it. Typical Laura.
The rest of the time away just flew by. I drove back with James, because we left the house early, I had decided that I was going to drop in on Matt that afternoon. I phoned him up on the way home…