Sequal to The Teen Years
[exclaimation mark button is still broken, why I do not know. Imagine it people, imagine]
Josh walked into the arrivals lounge pushing a trolley on which were his bags. He hadn't been home in 8 years, it was a weird feeling. He felt like he had never left.
''Joshua'', someone called.
He looked in the direction of the voice and smiled, his Mother ran towards him, her arms outstretched.
''Oh Joshua I missed you'', she said giving him a hug.
His Father came over and patted his back.
''How are you son?'', he asked as they walked towards the exit.
''Fine'', Josh answered, ''wrecked though, glad I have time off''.
''You deserve it, you've been working so hard'', his Mam said linking his arm.
They reached their car, Josh and his Father threw his bags into the boot and shut it. They climbed into the car and started off in the direction of Hilltown. Josh sat back and watched the familiar scenes of Dublin pass him, he took a deep breath. He wasn't sure what Hilltown would be like, or who was still there. He had promised Chleo he would call in, and that was first on his list.
Josh must have dozed off because they had just pulled into the driveway. They unpacked the car and went inside, chatting about mundane things like weather and his work. He wanted to get to his room, he was curious to see what it was like. He took his bags and bounded up the stairs, he fumbled with the bags trying to open his door. When he finally did he almost cried, it was the exact same. His mother hadn't changed anything, he smiled and flopped on the bed, which creaked a little, like it did before. His walls were still blue, his furniture was still the same, even the photos were still there. He went over and looked at them, his photography skills had improved immensly since then, but still they were nice to see. He took out his phone and dialled Chleo's number.
''Hello'', an aggitated voice answered.
''Chleo?'', Josh asked.
''OH MY GOD'', Chleo responded, ''Josh. You're home, oh my God''.
''Yeah I'm here, I was following up on my promise do you still want me to call around?''.
''KATIE, LEAVE RYAN ALONE'', Chleo suddenly yelled, ''sorry, yes of course call around whenever, I'll be here no worries...Ryan if you do that again I will kill you...I have to go Josh, sorry, don't have kids. Bye''.
Josh smiled as she hung up, she sounded the exact same. They had stayed in contact after he left, emailing and sometimes ringing each other. He hadn't met Ryan and only saw Katie once after she was born but he sent them presents every Christmas and birthday, and he was dying to finally see them.
Josh stood outside Chleo's house looking around, she had moved into a nice area, quite posh, an estate full of detached red brick houses, nice gardens and expensive cars. He rang the bell and heard feet thundering up the hall to the door. A face poked out from behind the curtain at the hall window. A little boy with curly brown hair and chubby fingers, his face was covered in what Josh presumed to be chocolate. The door opened and Josh smiled, Chleo hadn't aged at all, but her hair was long now, past her shoulders but she still looked 18, her lips were still plump and red and her eyes still retained that cheeky glint.
''Josh'', she said giving him a hug, ''I'm so happy to see you''.
She led him through the house, kicking toys out of the way as she went.
''Sorry about the mess, Dan is away so I've got the two of them on my hands'', she said as they reached the kitchen, ''tea? Coffee? I seem to remember your taste for JD?''.
''Haha, tea is fine'', Josh replied sitting on a stool.
''Who aw you?'', came a little voice.
Josh looked down and saw Ryan standing there staring up at him.
''I'm Josh'', he smiled, ''who are you?''.
''Wyan'', Ryan answered pulled at his sleeves, ''I got a Thomas''.
Ryan nodded and stared at him with big green eyes.
''Thomas the Tank Engine'', Chleo explained handing Josh his tea.
She lifted Ryan up and he cuddled into her, he looked nothing like her.
''He's like a mini Dan'', Josh said.
''Oh I know'', Chleo smiled tickling Ryan, ''this is your Uncle Josh, who sent you the Transformer''.
Ryan's face lit up. He kicked to get down and ran into another room.
''He loves that Transformer'', Chleo said sitting beside Josh, ''so, how are things? Glad to be home?''.
''Everything is fine'', Josh said, ''yeah it's good to be back, haven't been home in, what eight years?''.
''Yup'', Chleo said looking a bit sad.
There was a bit of an awkward silence between them. Josh put his tea down.
''How's Katie?'', he asked.
''She's great'', Chleo smiled, ''she's at ballet at the moment, she's a fantastic dancer. She is really excited to see you''.
''Yeah, you're the infamous, mysterious Uncle Josh'', she said, ''you're like a superhero''.
''Superhero'', said Josh nodding, ''I could live with that''.
Ryan came running into the room, Josh smiled, it was more like a fast waddle. He had a toy in his hand, he held it up so Josh could see.
''This is my twansfowmer'', he said squinting his eyes as he thought about his words, ''and sometimes he hits Thomas, but that is when Katie plays, will you play?''.
Josh shut the front door quietly and dragged himself to bed, when Ryan said play he thought he meant play, not wrestle for 2 hours. He lay down on top of his bed covers and shut his eyes. Chleo was doing really well for herself, she seemed happy. Even if Katie had taken up the habit of saying 'jeeesuuuus' to her. Josh smiled, they had chatted for hours about everything, Chleo mentioned Billy was still living in Hilltown and teaching in their old school, he still couldn't believe it, but he was happy for him. His phone buzzed, a text from Jane.
''Miss you babe, ring me in the morning yeah? x''.
He closed his phone and shut his eyes again. He couldn't get her off his mind.