James woke up feeling groggy. His mouth was dry and his body felt stiff. The room was dark. He rolled over and grabbed his phone off the bed stand and found he had three missed calls and five messages from Xander, Harris and Amelia. He texted them and Shaun, asking them to meet at the Metropolitan Cathedral in an hour. He climbed out of bed, stripped down and took a long, hot shower before dressing in his grey jeans, blue t-shirt and leather jacket. He looked at his watch and noted that it was half seven and that he’d slept most of the day. He slipped his pen and pad into his satchel and left the flat. He nipped to the Tesco and bought two Monster Energy Ripper drinks, stuffed one in his bag and clicking open the other and set off.
The wind was cold, whistling around him. The sky was clear with the small sight of twinkling stars above. Five minutes later he had arrived at the steps of the Cathedral and sat on the top step, drinking his can. His body wasn’t stiff anymore, but alive with nervous, caffeine induced energy. He still had half an hour before the others would arrive so he wrote out the letter again. This time with no changes except that it looked neater on the page. He texted Nathan, explaining what he planned to do and asked whether he thought it was a good idea?
The group arrived together. They must have met or been together when they received his text. Xander reached him first, hugged him around the neck and sat behind him, keeping him close. The rest spread out around him on the steps. He explained his plan to post the letter to his parents and to remain in Liverpool until he received their response. He passed the letter to Amelia to read first. Before anyone could say anything, his phone vibrated, indicating a text had arrived. It was Nathan.
“Mate I cant tell you what to do. It could mean having to move out and getting a job to support yourself. I mean you can live here. Mum and Dad are cool with that. Dad has said he’ll even drive to yours and get some of your stuff. It’s up to you mate, but I’ll be here if you need me.”
James smiled at the message. He loved Nathan’s family like his own. The letter was passed around with no one saying anything until it reached Xander. James tensed slightly as he read the letter.
‘I think it’s a mistake,’ Xander said.
‘So do I.’ Shaun nodded.
Amelia and Harris stayed quiet.
‘Why?’ James asked.
‘I think you need to be more secure in your life before you throw it out to them.’ Shaun shifted on his step. ‘How can you support yourself if they reject you?’
Before James could respond, Xander cut in. ‘I think it’s the right thing to do but the wrong way to do it.’
Everyone looked at him.
‘A letter can only do so much. They won’t see how it really is affecting you.’ He hugged James. ‘You have to tell them to their faces otherwise they will not understand.’
‘I agree with Xander.’ Harris said. ‘If you are going to do it, it has to be face to face. That’s how I did it.’
‘You think I should go home and tell them?’ James hesitated.
‘They’re your parents.’ Amelia said. ‘Do you really think they will?’
‘No, but I have no fucking clue how they’re going to react.’
‘If you’re going to do it, then I’m with Xander and Harris. You have to tell them in person.’ Amelia smiled warmly.
He pulled out his mobile and texted Nathan again, asking how he thought he should do it. It occurred to him that whenever he had a decision to make that could be life altering, he always checked it with Nathan first. Without realising he did it as if his subconscious knew that Nathan would have the answer. They sat in silence, the others waiting patiently while he tossed and flipped ideas around as if he was searching his room for a hidden book.
‘Fine. I’ll do that.’ He buried his face in his hands. ‘Fuck knows what they’re going to say.’
‘I’ll come with you.’ Xander hugged him and kissed his cheek.
‘No,’ he said, causing the group to stare at him. ‘It wouldn’t be right for them. Telling them would be one thing. Apparently rubbing it in their faces would be another.’
Xander pulled away, a look of offended hurt on his face.
‘I don’t mean it like that.’ James said realising what it sounded like. ‘I will introduce you, just not when I first tell them. Give them space to get over it.’
He stood up and slowly the others followed. ‘I need a drink.’