It was mid-January and the snow was still falling. It had been falling since that night with Amelia on the Docks and how Britain groaned. Obviously travelling over Christmas had been a nightmare for all of them, but Harris had it worse. On the day he was going home for Christmas, his first two trains were cancelled and a following five trains were delayed or cancelled. He left Liverpool Lime Street at eight in the morning but didn’t arrive into London until ten at night. Safe to say, James had received a very angry and frustrated phone call, which had ended up in laughter once Harris had made his half an hour rant.
Amelia had gone home first so she could meet up with her best friend from home, Chris and they had started a relationship together. Apparently, she told James, it was sex every day and lots of laughs and deep conversations. Basically best friends with that little bit extra. James had been planning on heading over to see her, but the trains were a nightmare and they both decided it wouldn’t be worth it.
Shaun obviously didn’t have far to move as he already lived at home, but he started two new projects, which were a novel and a short story. He also played James at Pool before James also left for Preston. Safe to say that Shaun destroyed him at Pool, with a score of nine games to one (the one being a huge fluke that Shaun potted the black rather than any skill on James’s part).
James had planned on taking the train home, but Nathan had picked him up. They packed up his little silver Corsa and set off. The motorway was pretty clear and the drive was fast and fun, until Nathan tried to clean his windscreen. The windscreen spray had frozen, but the wipers still worked and they spread filthy snow across the window, blinding their vision. Minor panic would be an understatement. They opened their side-windows and frosty wind spilled in, nibbling at their skin. When they neared Preston, the traffic began to pile up because of a helicopter landing on the opposite side after what looked like an accident. The traffic stopped dead for moment. James saw a man further up the line get out of his car to look across at the accident, which was the very moment the traffic started moving again. They were still very close to blindness, except for the tiny spaces in the snow and the fact they kept poking their heads out of their side-windows. When they entered Preston, Nathan took a sharp left on a roundabout and quickly parked up in a side street. They quickly rushed out and scraped all the snow off the windscreen before getting back inside.
Later that night, once they’d dumped James’s bags off at his house, they went to meet Danny. Normally Danny would meet them on his motorbike, but with the snow covering the roads, even he had decided that it wouldn’t be safe to ride his precious motorbike (it was the thing that mattered to the guy, like Nathan’s Corsa). No sooner had he opened his door had he called shotgun, banishing James to the back seats…James knew he should be used to this by now, but he always cursed himself for not calling fast enough. When these three meet up, they always end up doing something their parent and their friends deemed to be insane and that night was no different. They decided to travel to the east of the country so they could watch the sunrise in Whitby. Nathan typed in the postcode and they set off. Their conversation veered around every spectrum of conversation from joking about girls (mostly Nathan’s) to heated debates about Britain’s foreign wars – Eighteen-year-olds deciding how the World should work.
They parked up on the side of the road after a few hours of driving because Danny had spotted a shape in the dark. When they got close enough to it, they realised it was a train. No, not a train, a sculpture of a train, made out of bricks. They looked at it, took photographs of it, chatted about it and moved on, still wondering why someone had sculpted a train out of bricks. They eventually reached Whitby and drove straight through it until they reached a little spot on the coastal road next to the beach. They still had a few hours until the sun would rise, so James spread out on the back seats, while Nathan and Danny lowered the front seats back to just above where James was lying and had a few hours sleep.
On those back seats, James dreamed for the first time in months. It was a simple dream rather than a tainted memory or haunting nightmare. He was lying on his back on the flat sofa. There was no one else in sight and the flat was quiet. He held his phone in front of him, flicking through Facebook when he heard the front door of the flat open and close. He didn’t pay much attention to it until Harris walked in the room. Skinny black jeans and buttons down shirt open at the collar. No words were spoken. Harris walked up to the side of the sofa and leaned in, until their lips met.
James’s eye snapped open. The image of Harris above him still painted on the front of his mind. He looked around to see Nathan and Danny still sleeping. Through the steamed up windows, he could see the faded colour of sun. He shook the other two awake and after moving the chairs back to their original positions, they climbed out into the frosted December air and watched as the sun rose behind the thin layer of cloud. It looked like pearl sparkling beneath the waves of the sea.
They’d returned home after having Whitby’s famous fish and chips. Nathan had moaned about being tired all the way back, but they had all agreed they wanted to do something like this again. James’s Dad had made a comment about how insane they had been to do it, but they all laughed it off.
It was what happened a few days later that changed his life. He’d been out in town shopping for Christmas presents and he’d met Jules, his sister-in-law in Boots buying shampoo and cologne. They talked, laughed and joked and she gave him a lift home.
‘So you found a girlfriend in Liverpool yet?’
‘No such luck yet.’
‘How about a boyfriend?’
James looked at her, astonished. How the fuck? ‘No. Why would I be after a boyfriend?’
‘Are you gay?’ She glanced over quickly before returning her attention to the road.
He hesitated. He could try to play out his straight act…but it wasn’t an act, he was straight… although clearly not the case with his past and his dreams…maybe Jules could help him…What the fuck was he to do? ‘I don’t know.’
‘It’s ok if you are…I’ve suspected since you were sixteen.’ Jules parked up slightly further up the street from his house.
‘Why?’ He was staring into his lap.
‘You never seemed interested in women and when you had a girlfriend you didn’t seem happy.’
He looked at her and realised that she was looking at him with concern. She actually cared for him and she didn’t care what he was as long as he was himself. He was such an idiot. Not everyone in his family would be against him.
‘I think I might be… I can’t keep the thoughts out of my head despite not wanting to feel that way.’
Her face hardened minutely. Her voice ever so slightly touched by anger. ‘Listen… This isn’t a choice, James. You cannot decide what gender you are attracted to no matter what anyone else says. If you attracted to men then accept it because there is nothing wrong with that.’
‘It’s funny. Everyone I talk to keeps telling me the same thing and I still don’t think its going in.’ He tried to smile at her.
‘Then you need to start dealing with the truth rather than trying to hide from it.’
He stared out of the window, watching the snowflakes touch the already white-covered ground.
‘Is there someone in Liverpool already?’
He didn’t speak for a moment. ‘Yes…well, sort of… I’m not sure. I like him, but I don’t know if he will wait.’
‘If he’s worth it, he may.’
She’d dropped him off at home and the rest of Christmas went without anything major happening. It was only when he returned to Liverpool that he realised he was too late. When they all met up at The Pilgrim, Harris announced he was in a relationship.