13th June 2009
I was still bubbling with anger when I descended the stairs a few minutes later, dressed in jeans and grabbing my waterproof to put over my jumper against the drizzle. The occasional splashes of freezing water against my face only managed to annoy me further so by the time I had reached the shore I was fuming. I would have gone to the cliff again, but I was worried I might throw myself off it, just to spite my father and brother.
Instead I took up a handful of pebbles and began hurling them one at a time at the waves crashing up the beach. I imagined each one was someone I couldn’t stand and threw it as hard as I could, trying to get them as far away from me as possible.
‘Am I ever going to find you doing something normal?’ I turned around and saw, the smiling face of my new friend, Lewis. He was dressed, like me, in jeans and a waterproof, a large camera case hanging from his shoulder.
‘In my life this is normal,’ I said, bending down to pick up some more stones. ‘I’m guessing there isn’t a lot of sea where you come from.’ I saw him shrug as I threw my next pebble into the never-ending mass of water.
‘You’d be right.’ He bent down, copying me, and picked up a small cluster of stones, feeling them with the tips of his fingers. ‘But my dad used to take us to the seaside when we were little,’ he paused to throw one of his stones, ‘but only if we were very good.’
‘For me it was the other way round,’ I smiled. ‘If we were good we might get some time away from the stupid sea.’
‘Why do you hate the sea so much?’ I was stunned by this question, not knowing how to answer it.
‘I don’t hate it,’ I said dropping carefully onto the ground, picking up some stones thoughtfully and letting them run through my fingers. ‘It’s just…’
‘It’s just what?’ Lewis sat on the patch of beach next to me, his arm pressing against mine.
‘I don’t know. It’s never felt much like home.’
‘Even though you’ve lived here most of your life?’ I nodded in agreement. ‘So where is home?’
‘I guess,’ I said slowly, thinking hard about the question, ‘I guess I just haven’t found it yet.’ There was a silence that engulfed us for a few moments as what I had said sunk in. ‘So where’s home for you? It feels like all we’ve done is talk about me.’ Lewis shifted uncomfortably, his body leaning closer towards me.
‘My life isn’t that interesting.’
‘Try me,’ I said, leaning back on my hands so I could look at him properly. After a few minutes of eyeballing each other he gave in and began to speak.
‘Well I was born in Keighley, but we moved Sheffield when I was three because of my father’s work.’
‘So you’re a northern lad,’ I said in my worst Yorkshire accent, laughing at my own lack of talent for regional accents.
‘I guess you could say that,’ he chuckled, whether it was because of my accent or if my laughter was contagious I wasn’t sure, but I suspected the former. ‘But I the place I think of as home is London.’
‘Do you live there now?’
He nodded. ‘I’ve lived there for five years now.’
‘See,’ I said, ‘your life is just as interesting as mine.’
‘If you say so,’ he said. There was something funny about his tone that I couldn’t place, but before I could ask him what was wrong he had pulled out his camera and begun snapping pictures of me. ‘Come on, smile.’ I laughed for a reason I couldn’t explain. ‘That’s it!’
12th June 2010
I still have some of those photos in frames around my new home. Of course I have other ones too. Some of Rupert, quite a few of my new friends, but most of them are of Lewis and me laughing, high on being alive. It’s strange to think now that the story he told me that day on the beach was a lie. It wasn’t his fault, but I still don’t know what made me choose to trust him after I found out the truth. I suppose love is mysterious that way.