Saturday, 31st March
They are sat together, pondering the evening ahead, when she says,
“I know. Let’s watch ‘Attack the Block’! Yeah?”
“Yeah, alright,” he replies. It takes her a while to, first, find the film and, then, put it on the nearly defunct DVD player. This was largely due to the Earth Hour, when every light in the house was off in a bid to save the planet. She could’ve waited five minutes, until 8.30, when the lights would be back on, but in a life lacking adventure, this was extreme.
“We’ve still got to watch all the trailers I’m afraid. Bloody thing won’t skip, pause or allow me to scroll.”
“Never mind. It makes a change to watch trailers.” She wasn’t listening.
“Let’s have popcorn! I’ve got some kernels in the cupboard.” So, in the kitchen, in the dark, she roots around the cupboards for the kernels, a large bowl and the novelty duck popcorn maker. Quest achieved, she goes back into the living room, sets it all up and settles down to the film. “Gabe saw this at the cinema, I think.”
“Mmm. When does he want picking up?”
“Well, he said 11.30 but I’ll check.” She picks up her phone, sends a text and then discards it again in favour of the film.
At 10.45 she sends another text.
Do you still want picking up at 11.30? Dad needs to know, as he’ll have to leave in a minute.
No reply. “I’ll try ringing.” No answer. She redials almost immediately. There’s still no answer. “Come on Gabe, for fucks sake! I hate this,” she moans to him. He says nothing, sighs a bit but doesn’t really stop watching the film.
“Ah!” She grabs her phone,
Hi mum. Sorry I forgot to say, I’ll be staying at Dec’s tonight.
She reads it out loud and then says, “That’s not right is it?”
“ ‘Hi mum’? When did he get so considerate?” He laughs. “No really!” She re-reads it and types one back,
Okay. Be good xxx
“That was quick!” Too quick, she thinks, and unnecessary. She reads it,
I will x
“A kiss? Since when does Gabe sign off with a kiss?”
“For God’s sake, relax! You want him to text and he has.”
“I know but it doesn’t feel like him. What if someone’s nicked his phone, or he’s had an accident or, well, anything!” By now the film’s finished, Harry’s gone out and they’re putting the cats out for the night.
“You’re stressing over nothing. He’s stayed at Dec’s before. He’ll be fine.” He sets the computer up, “The Walking Dead?” he says.
“Hmm? Yeah, cool. Is that the zombie thing?” She climbs into bed.
“Perhaps he’s drunk and a mate’s sent the messages for him.”
“A girl, obviously.”
“Why a girl?”
“Who else would start, ‘Hi mum’?”
“True. Relax. Let’s watch zombies!”
Sunday, 1st April
At 6.30, quarter of an hour before the radio alarm goes off, the phone downstairs rings. She leaves it, knowing that she’ll never get there in time. Not without breaking her neck on the stairs anyway. Shortly afterwards, her mobile phone beeps. It’s right by her side, so she opens the message.
Are you up?
“It’s from Gabe!” she says, even though she knows he’s fast asleep.
She is just about to send a reply, when it rings.
“Hey Gabe. You okay?”
“Um, yeah. Can you like, come and get me?”
“Of course. Right now?” her heart pounds a little, anxiety creeps into her head.
“Err, yeah. If that’s alright.”
“No problem. Wait out on the pavement, where Dec was when we dropped you off. I’ll be with you by quarter past.”
“Cheers.” She’s relieved. At least he’s okay. At least that was actually his voice, even if it is stupidly early. She pulls on a dress that’s been lying on the floor for over a week now, finds some shoes and heads out to the car. Before she shuts the door behind her, she calls out, “Put the coffee on then!”
The roads were gloriously clear. She wasn’t panicking as such but she did know that speed was of the essence and so possibly drove a lot faster than she should have.
Half an hour after leaving she’s on the road where Dec’s mum lives. She pulls in, grabs her phone so as she can let Gabe know that she’s there. There’s another message.
Can’t you get here earlier?
“Bloody hell Gabe, I drove hell for leather as it was!” Instead of messaging him back, she rings.
Just moments after that, he appears, sort of limping along the lane, lip swollen, nose bloody and white t shirt covered in his (or someone else’s) blood. His vodka eyes say it all. She says nothing, watches him struggle to get into the passenger seat. He looks at her, those still beautiful eyes betraying a rueful smile that his mouth is struggling to show. “So, what exactly happened here then, Gabe?”
“Apparently I fell down. A lot.” She nods,
“Fell down. Sure?”
“Yeah, that’s what Dec said.” She looks at his face.
“So you weren’t punched?” He looks shocked,
“No! I definitely wasn’t punched.” She looked closer. They were definitely grazes and not punches. With that cleared up, she starts the car and sets off for home. “What were you drinking, vodka?”
“Were you doing anything else?”
“Just drinking. Lots and lots of drinking.” We’ve all been there, she thought.
“Where were you when you fell over then?”
“Well, we wanted to go to the pub but we all got so drunk. We didn’t even get as far as Asda.” She laughs, then asks,
“Was it you who text me last night?”
“Nah. It was Chelsee.” She smiled, knowingly.
“Text your dad. Tell him to run you a bath.” It takes him four attempts but the message is finally sent.
As he makes his way upstairs, his dad throws him an enquiring look.
“Don’t ask,” he replies.
She sighs, “Did you run him a bath?”
“Never mind.” He never reads his bloody messages, she thinks, turning on the taps and pouring in lots of Radox.
“He’s thrown up in the car,” she calls down to him.
While Gabe’s in the bath, she drinks her coffee and relives her morning for her husband. “I honestly thought I was watching The Walking Dead when he shuffled out of the trees!”
Three hours in A & E soon sobered her boy up. Although it was exhausting for them to be sat there too, she felt it was an important lesson for him and, anyway, despite her cleaning it, she could not make his nose look right.