It was the second of July, two thousand and twelve. We were staying in a place called Bledford Mills, Surrey.
It was five to ten. I don't know why or how I remember that, like the time was that important. Then again I'm not surprised, I always remember the truly important things.
The Biology trip was starting to drag me down. Sure it was fun and all, but I still had plenty of reason to hate it.
One, back home I lived no more than four minutes away from school, and since registration didn't start until eight-forty five, I didn't need to get up until eight. Here we had to get up at six-thirty, that was one and a half hours less sleep per day. I had lost six hours of sleep. Too much.
Two, I was the new guy. I know, surprising maybe, you would have thought perhaps that living only four minutes away from a fairly successful academic grammar school that I would have gone there first. Instead, until last September, I'd been going to Cedarwood Comprehensive. Why did I choose to go to one of the worst schools in the area you ask? I was young, eleven, most of my friends were going there, so what if I was the 'third best student in the class'? That didn't matter, my friends mattered, not feeling out of place mattered. Overtime (and especially around the time of my GCSE's) I realised that I couldn't have felt more out of place at Cedarwood. I knew I would probably be an average student at a grammar school, but here it was like I was a frickin' genius. Some kids couldn't spell the word illiterate, ironically enough, and the amount of sex, drugs and bullying here was staggering. I'd had my fair share of homophobic bullying in my second and third year...
Oh yeah, where was I? In summary I was new. Entering a new school half way into the year to not only be in a completely alien environment but also to be thrown into a group of people no bigger than twenty that did a completely different type of qualification here (known as the IB or International Baccalaureate), was fairly daunting. Nobody knew me, the 'IB gang' as they liked to call themselves were all such good friends with each other that they couldn't help but be nice to me as well. But I found it all so surreal, I tried hard to smile along, laugh at inside jokes I knew nothing about, try and fit in as best as I could.
But in truth, being here in the middle of nowhere where everybody was so...clicked, made me feel even more cynical and miserable than I possibly could have been.
None of them actually knew me, and neither did I.
So, seeing as I felt so rubbish I decided I needed some caffeine, something to shake off the doubts and pretend that everything was all hunky dory again, I went to the classroom to make a cup of tea.
Moments later, when the kettle had almost finished boiling, one of the girls came in.
Oh and three, I was the only guy.
"Hey, Mike! Come for some tea?! My God we are so in sync!"
I rolled my eyes, this was the crazy one, the one who always had to move, had to do something funny with her tone of voice, had to be melodramatic twenty four-seven hours a day. She had mid-length chestnut hair, vibrant green eyes, and a cute chin. Yes I know, strange to notice the chin out of all things, but I was strange myself, just introverted. Out of all of them she seemed strangely to be the nicest, so crazy that she could only be genuine.
"Are we though? Really?" I desperately tried not to cusp my mouth with my hand in surprise. I didn't mean to have said what I was thinking out loud.
She paused after having turned the kettle back on (I had only put in enough water for myself), and turned to look at me. I couldn't tell what facial expression she was trying to conjure up this time, but to my surprise it grew into a sort of natural, simple smile.
"Once I'm done do you want to go sit out on the bench?"
I paused. I don't know why I paused, I should have just given a straight out no. I wasn't in the mood, I was weary, shattered, but I enjoyed appreciating the warmth of my tea.
I lowered myself carefully onto the left edge of the bench while she plopped onto the middle, spilling a drop of tea on her 'jeggings' in the process.
"Ouch!" And then she laughed. I didn't get this girl, then again, I didn't get any of this lot.
"Ha ha! That was silly of me!" She exclaimed. I smirked in response.
She caught me.
"Hey, I saw you smile! What's so funny, huh?" she demanded whilst smirking too.
"Nothing, nothing." I hastily replied.
"No, no. come on. I know you're thinking something so tell me. I like it when people speak their mind, speak the truth."
My ears perked up at that, like a dog hearing the word 'cheese'.
"OK then, I think you could have avoided the wet leggings if you'd have sat down more carefully."
"Touche, but just to let you know, they're jeggings, 'cause they look like jeans."
I had no response to that. I could only snort my amusement.
"How come you have so much more energy than even the rest of this lot, yet your work is a mess?" I asked, signalling over to the heaped pile of textbooks, data sheets and her laptop that were sprawled across two spaces worth of desk. She blushed in response.
"Come on now that's not fair! I'm very organised, Mike."
"At my future. I'm going to get a 7 for Biology, hopefully a six for chemistry, maths and english, a five for history and german and three points for my EE and TOK. That'll make a total of thirty eight points, which means I can get into Oxford University, there I'll study micro-biology and get a degree within five years. On the second year I'll meet the man of my dreams in the apartment building I'll have moved into, and fifteen months after we've both finished our degrees, we'll have our first baby.
The first will be a girl. We'll call her Esmeralda. Now I know that it might sound a bit like a fairy tale name, but if she doesn't like it she can shorten it to Esme, pronounced es-may, which is what makes the name so perfect. Three years later, we'll have our second baby, a boy this time, we'll give him a name belonging to one of my future husband's ancestors, but if we don't find one that we both like than we'll call him Harry, not just because I love One Direction, but I think it was already a beautiful name even before Harry Styles came around. I mean come on! Harry ____, there aren't many ways the kids at school will be able to make fun out of that combination!
Oh and three months before Harry's born, we'll place the deposit for our first home. My future husband will have paid for most of it of course, seeing as he's the main one working, but I'll have paid for some of it too; partly because I'll have found a job working in a consultancy position for a bio-pharmaceutical company that pays well and allows me to work from home, but also because my future husband will have taken his paternity leave the day I started work, so that I could get on-site training before I continued from home. Now the home, or hopefully cottage, won't be very big of course, but my husband's father will be a tradesman of some sort, so we won't find it too expensive to fit in a new kitchen and make the place look really nice.
When Harry turns two, and if, and only if, Esme wants a dog, we'll get one, preferably a golden retriever, they're beautiful animals. I'll start working full time and our combined income will be just enough to have a comfy lifestyle. You know, nice car, nice family computer, the money to save up for university funds for both my kids, days out almost monthly. When Harry's about to turn 11 before the next school year we'll move to a much nicer, secluded, bigger cottage. It'll be near a really well-renowned international grammar school where my kids can study the IB just like we are right now. When they finish the IB and move off to university, I'll switch back to part-time and we'll start getting a few animals because we've got enough space. It'll also give me more time to spend with my husband. I mean if I didn't prioritise my first love over my job eventually I'm pretty sure divorce would follow suit, and I will not let that happen!"
"Shit!" I managed to exhale. "What happens if your plan doesn't follow suit?"
"Oh it will." And boy did she mean it. "There's only one thing I still haven't planned actually, my contingency plan."
"What do you mean by contingency plan?"
"Well Godparents of course. What happens if me and my husband die in a car crash or something. I'm going to need friends so dedicated to my children that if I died, they would be able to pick up the pieces and make sure my kids would grow up right. You know what I mean?"
I nodded. Wow.
"What's your plan for the future?" she asked. "Do you plan on having kids?"
"Hell no!" I retorted. "I would mess up their lives so bad. I'd probably teach them bad things like being an introvert isn't dangerous to your mental health and other psychological bullshit. Kids would be nice, but I'm too afraid to bring lives into this world only to make it harder than it needs to be for them. I wouldn't mind being an uncle though. I'd like my brother to have kids. Because as a young adult I don't want to devote all my time to just my kids, I want to have fun, travel the world, experience global religion and culture, come back a better man. I could be the crazy, eccentric yet loving uncle, who, when having come back from his latest adventure can tell his nephews and/or nieces all about it and then celebrate seeing them by taking them to Thorpe Park or something..."
I stopped myself. Why was I coming out with all this...truth. Then I realised, it was her. She had made me feel comfortable in my own skin, a person who didn't have to hide behind total niceness. I could be as selfish as I wanted, so long as it was the truth, she wouldn't care.
"Mike? Do you want to be the Godfather of my future children?" She had swiveled her head to look at me in a dramatic fashion and this look of pure adoration shone in her eyes.
"You're the most true person I've ever met. You're kind, yet you think about yourself just as much as you do everyone else. You're perfect for the role. In fact, right now, or even in the future, I don't think I'll be able to find anyone quite as right as you."
I found myself in an empty black space. She wasn't around, nor was the bench. I figured I was inside my own mind. Right before me, my life as the Godfather of her children rushed before my eyes. I saw her kids, I watched them grow up, their smiles and their personalities develop. I discovered that I had fallen in love with them, and that I couldn't help myself from saying anything else but-
The hug almost knocked me out.
And her name. That girl who spewed out that entire planned future to me was of course your mother. I wish just as much as you do that Wendy Heffen wasn't now a name engraved onto a porcelain gravestone.