Getting up and into school on Monday morning is never easy, but I kept telling myself it's the end of term very soon and the holidays, it cheered me up a bit, but not much. I was still trying to figure out how Matty and me could get some time alone. I was searching hard for an answer that I just couldn't find.
Brandon caught me up as I went through the school gates and was crossing the car park. "Have you heard what's happened?"
"No, what?" Something stupid no doubt, but whatever, he snapped me out of my morosity. Still, I had no idea what he was talking about.
"They caught the guy," he continued. I still wasn't really with it.
"Caught the guy?" I repeated inanely like an imbecile.
"Alex, Alex, what's with you? Yes they caught the guy dealing drugs."
"Oh good," was all I said.
"You're looking down in the dumps mate. I know it's Monday, but snap out of it, the hols will be here soon enough." He was trying his best to cheer me up, which was nice. He deserved a positive response.
"Yeah you're right sorry, just a lot going on right now."
He punched me in the shoulder playfully. I gave him a half hearted smile.
"That's better... see you later." He was off, heading across and over to the science lab. We weren't in the same classes Brandon and me.
First thing before lessons began that Monday morning our teacher announced the news officially. The police had made an arrest over the drugs affair which should be an end to the matter, but he added we should always be vigilant and never ever get involved in drugs.
I was glad when the day was over and I was on the bus home, except who did I see on the same bus, yep you guessed it, Ryan. That was the last person I felt like meeting. Like usual he was staring out the window. Normally I would have gone over and sat next to him, but I didn't, I sat on the opposite side of the bus right at the back. He probably saw me avoid him, but who cares.
* * * * * *
Lying down on my bed I picked up the phone and called Matty. "Hi Alex, what's up?"
"Nothing much... you know... just wanted to talk to you and maybe see when we could go see Jake."
"You sound a bit down, can't just be because it's Monday, the day's almost over. You're not upset about me and Jake are you?"
"I don't know, Matty. I'm depressed, because we can't be together. Then... well you and Jake, it was odd, I don't know what to think about that." I told him the honest truth. I was feeling a bit lost. Like I had started a voyage with a storm, but I'd made it through to calmer waters. The problem now was what might be lurking beneath the surface of these calm waters and there was no land in sight.
"Alex, you don't have to worry about us, because I love you. Things happen sometimes. Maybe things you don't expect, but have a little faith." He sounded like he was older than me listening to him talk and not that it was the other way around. I couldn't shake my feelings of apprehension, or my gloomy mood, so I just ignored them for a minute.
"I was thinking to call Jake and say we could see him Wednesday or Thursday. After school. What do you think?"
"Thursday is better, Alex. See what he says. But it can't be for too long."
"No, I know. I'll call him and text you later."
"Okay, bye then, Alex. And... please try to cheer up."
"Yes, Matty. Bye." I ended the call, put the phone down and started thinking about Jake. About Jake and Matty, about seeing him again. I knew it had to happen, I just fantasised that Matty and I could sail off together into the sunset. Oh yeah, I thought that would be the best ending ever. But real life is not like an American movie, it doesn't always have a good ending.
I put off calling Jake until late, just before going to bed. When he answered all I could hear was a lot of noise. "Jake, can you hear me? Jake?" Then I just made out his voice. The background noise had got just a little less loud.
"Alex, hi. I'm out on the town. It's mad here tonight... A birthday party."
"I wanted to ask if we, Matty and me, could come round on Thursday?" The noise had picked up again.
"What? Wait, wait a minute. I can't hear a thing."
I thought this is impossible, I'll call him tomorrow maybe. Then the noise faded a lot. Finally I could hear him. "Sorry, Alex. I'm at a birthday party. Can you hear me now?"
"Yes, it's fine now."
"Jonathan says hi. He took me out on the town. To this party. And well, you can imagine. It's pretty lively."
"Yes. I can hear it in the background. I just wanted to see if Matty and I could come round on Thursday? After school."
"Yes. That would be great."
A door must have opened and closed. Suddenly there was a wave of noise which disappeared as quickly as it arrived.
"Okay. See you Thursday. Enjoy your party. Tell Jonathan hello from me too."
He hung up and I thought, so he got back with Jonathan. I'm sure just as friends, but that's good if Jake's got a friend.
* * * * * *
Wednesday morning, who was on the bus as I got on? Ryan. I thought I'm going to have to sort things with him. I can't keep avoiding him. So I went and sat next to him.
"Morning, how's things?"
He looked at me and he didn't look happy. I thought he can't still be pissed off about the thing in the showers, can he?
"You're a vindictive little bastard, Alex." He growled out the words. Which shook me and completely surprised me.
"Why? What did I do?"
"You know perfectly well what you did. I could quite easily smack you in the mouth if you keep this up."
He was angry, very angry. That much was clear.
"Okay, you're angry. I'm sorry, but I don't know what the fuck you're talking about. I haven't done anything." I thought he might actually hit me.
"I'm talking about you telling your cousin. You fucking little shit! That's what I'm talking about" He literally spat the words at me.
"Ryan, the last time I saw Mathilde was over two weeks ago. We don't talk on the phone. So we haven't spoken since then."
"Well... " He paused. He was thinking, what to say. "If it wasn't you. Then who the fuck was it? You must have told someone."
"First up, Ryan, explain what you're talking about."
"Mathilde dumped me. She heard about me and you in the showers after the match."
"There wasn't any me and you after the match. Besides I haven't told anyone. Why would I?" But actually I had. I told Matty. Although I wasn't about to tell Ryan that.
The bus pulled up at our stop. Getting off gave both of us time to think. We let the rest of the kids, head off towards school. Then he started up the conversation where we had left off. "There was no one else there. Just us."
I was thinking hard what to say. If no one else was there, then that meant I told someone. He would want to know who.
"Are you absolutely sure there was no one else around?" I needed to sow the seeds of doubt. It was the only escape route. At the same time I felt like smacking Matty myself, for opening his big mouth, when I told him in confidence. Jeez, I thought, how many people has the little idiot told. I know he told Jake, but obviously Jake is not the only one. I was pretty damned angry with him.
"I definitely never saw anyone," Ryan replied. " And anyway, how would it get back to Mathilde?"
"I don't know Ryan. But it wasn't me." We had arrived at school and dropped the conversation to head off for classes.
* * * * * *
I sent Matty a text message to meet me on the way home after school. I was cross with him. I was waiting for him by the gates at 4 o'clock. When he arrived about five minutes later, I told him we needed to talk. We walked to the benches in the nearby public garden. Like usual we had the place to ourselves, nobody was around.
"What's so important that you brought me here to talk?" Matty asked.
I had no idea if he felt I was angry or not, but I was about to change all that.
"Matty, I told you in confidence. What happened between me and Ryan. I didn't want you to go mouthing off like some stupid little arsehole kid. Telling everyone. Why the fuck did you?" Now he knew I was angry.
We were sitting side by side on one of the empty benches. He was looking down at the ground in front of his feet. "You're not just talking about Jake are you?" He kind of mumbled those words like a scolded child.
"No! I'm not just talking about Jake."
He started playing with the corner of his school jacket. Aimlessly moving it between his fingers. There was a long silence. I was waiting for him to explain.
"I didn't think about it very carefully," he said.
I was tempted, very tempted to shout at him. No, actually to pick him up, and shake him. But I controlled myself, just about.
"I thought Ryan had treated Brandon badly. Telling lies to take Mathilde from him. My school friend, Edmund... Well, his sister goes to the same school as Mathilde. They're not in the same class. But she knows Mathilde. So I told Edmund to tell his sister to tell Mathilde. I thought Ryan deserved it."
"You thought Ryan deserved it! Why is that? Is that really because of Brandon and Mathilde? Or, is it because you wanted to punish Ryan. For coming on to me. You know, Matty, basically, you were jealous." He was still looking at his feet and fiddling nervously.
"Alright, I was... I was... Jealous."
Now I thought for a moment he was about to cry.
"Because of that Matty, you've created a shit storm. It's hurt Ryan. Probably done nothing for Brandon. That was over before it began. Worse still, you hurt me. Especially if your little school mate does just like you and starts telling people." I was still being very stern with him. Venting a lot of my frustration over the whole mess he'd created. Who knows where it could end.
But for here and now it ended with Matty crying. Yep, he started sobbing staring at his feet, his shoulders making little movements up and down. Of course, I'm not so heartless as not to realise he was sorry. He didn't have to say it, that much was obvious. Jealousy can be a terrible thing. All things considered, that is thinking about me and Jake, it was easy to understand that Matty felt hurt. He wanted to strike back at someone who might be stealing the guy he loved.
I put my arm around him and hugged him. Hugged him real close to me.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Yes, I know you are. It's okay. I'm sorry too. I was angry," I squeezed him closer. I realised in that moment that Matty was still a child. Sometimes we do idiotic things, without ever thinking about the consequences. He stopped crying and took a hanky from his pocket to blow his nose and wipe away the tears.
I lifted him up from the bench, made sure there was no one around, and kissed him on the cheek. "Come on. Let's go home. You can come home with me. Mum said you're always welcome. I'll say we're finishing that school project."
We started back to the bus stop. "Give your mum a call. To let her know."
Matty took out his phone and called his mum. He told her he forgot about finishing the school project with me and was it alright if he had super at my place.
"It's fine," he told me. "She said that she needed to pop round to see her sister. She probably wont be there when I get home. She’ll be back a bit later. By ten she said."
Matty was back to his old self, explaining everything. So cute. I don't know why, but suddenly I was happy.
When we got in I told mum Matty was staying for supper. Then we went up to my bedroom. I shut the door behind us, threw my bag in the corner, flung my arms around Matty and kissed him wildly on the lips. I would have desperately loved to have made mad crazy passionate love with him, but instead we just passed our time kissing, touching, and hugging.
Michael knocked on the door to say supper was ready. He didn't even bother to open the door, or come in. A bit odd, but I paid it no attention. I didn't even pay any attention when he said over supper, "You two look pretty happy." It was just so nice being together with Matty. Supper over, and as he was leaving to go home I told him I'd fixed Thursday for Jake. As I opened the front door to let Matty out I realised Michael was standing in the hall. "Bye Matty," he said with a big smile on his face.
"Bye Michael," Matty replied. Then he was through the door, and off on his way home.
I turned back to Michael. "What's up with you tonight?"
"Nothing. But you two make a nice couple." He smiled at me, looking shy. I grabbed him in a playful headlock and messed up his hair before I let go.
"You're a cheeky little brother. But I love you... most of the time."
"Don't go all soft," he replied. Then still smiling he whispered softly, "Me too. Most of the time." He turned and disappeared up the stairs before I could say another word. I was just thinking, for a completely disastrous day, it's ended pretty well.