Theatre

Theatre

by

foxsch

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Act I

Chapter I

Resignation

That felt good.

Julian had handed his notice in at the Hospital and was riding home.

Both the head of department for Theater, and the Administrator of the Hospital had not wanted him to leave.

But he felt the time had come to move on.

He had seen enough of the insides of other people’s bodies to last him a lifetime.

The pay had been good.

But that had been down to the amount of hours he had had to put in, rather than the rate they had paid him.

Plus there was simply no such thing as ‘taking time off’.

He’d seen quite a few Theater Department Orderlies suffer the same fate during his time there.

They’d either; take the job too lightly, call in sick a few too many times, or ask for some revised work timetable so they could fit in some social life or commitment then bang…they’d come in one morning to find their papers waiting for them.

It was a small Hospital without an Accident and Emergency Department, and there were only a handful of people in the Theater team.

Julian was one of the three Theater Orderlies.

The hospital ran two Operating Theater’s, and subsequently needed at least two of the orderlies on staff to function at all.

…and if one didn’t turn up, and the third was not available…well you can imagine.

And Julian had had enough.

He was still young, and he had hoped that the hospital would provide him with some good references should he need them.

Julian was pleased to be in back in a position to look for work that he really did want to do.

He parked his motorcycle back at the house in the village where he lived and went inside and on up to his room on the third floor.

“How’d it go Son?” his Dad called out to him.

“I’m through” he called back “They didn’t like it, but they’re just going to have to accept it”

His Dad came into his room.

He was smiling, but his dad had a way of smiling while he was being deadly serious.

It was one of his ways of getting his own way.

What he was saying was: ’I am smiling; but listen to what I am saying and look at me’

‘You want me to stop smiling…?’

‘You don’t…’

‘So do what I say’

I guess some Dad’s are like that.

“So what are you going to do Son?” He said.

“I’ll come up with something” Julian mumbled.

“Just make sure you do Son…” and with that, he stomped off to do something that must have needed his most urgent attention, in the garden, or the shed, Julian wasn’t sure which.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter II

Applications

Julian immediately began applying for jobs.

He had landed the job in the operating theater more or less by accident.

It was one of the rules of the family house that; if you were going to be sleeping under the same roof, you needed to have a job.

His Father ran his own building company.

He employed a lot of people and the business was successful.

However, trying to place Julian anywhere in that environment would not be dissimilar to trying to teach a Walrus how to fly.

Julian’s main pre-occupation (outside of bringing home lots of money), was music.

He was a guitarist, and he was in a band.

In fact, a lot of the money that Julian had earned during his time at the hospital he had pooled, with the rest of the members of the band, into studio and recording space.

He had been playing guitar since he was 13, and he also had a lot of friends who played.

He was still in two minds as to whether he was ready to ‘sign on the dotted line’ as yet, but the band he was with were becoming serious, and he knew it would only be a matter of time before they would need to decide whether to begin sending out demo’s for contracts, or not.

Julian was reading the newspaper, enjoying some early morning coffee.

His Sister Lucy had crept up behind him “So what are you going to do?”

She had made him jump “Lucy, don’t do that!” he said.

She was grinning from ear to ear “Dad said you left your job”

He turned back to the paper “Yes I did”

“I thought you liked it there?”

Julian turned back to look at his Sister with an exasperated expression on his face.

“I only applied for it because I had never seen inside a real operating theater before”

“I hadn’t planned on spending the rest of my life there…”

Julian had been reading through the jobs section of the newspaper before Lucy had arrived.

“Listen to this…” he said

“’A large collection of antique handguns need cleaning, researching and labelling for display in the firearms and artillery rooms of the Royal Marine Commando Museum in Letchworth’”

“I’m applying” he looked up at his sister with a broad smile on his face.

“The pays better than what I was getting at the hospital” he went on “and I’ve worked there before, for a year or so a couple of years back…in the Motor Transport rooms”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter III

Royal Marine Commando Museum

Within a week of Julian sending off his application, a letter came through the post letting him know when and where he would be needed for an Interview.

“This is going to be easy…”

Julian was sat at the breakfast table with his Dad.

“What is Son?”

“I’ve got a job interview at the Royal Marine Commando Museum in Letchworth…”

Before he could go on, his Father interrupted him.

“Didn’t you used to work there before…on some trucks or something?”

“Yes I did Dad” Julian took a bite of his toast.

He went on “I‘m going to be interviewed by my old boss” He was grinning broadly.

“…we got on like a house on fire”

His Dad had already stood up “Well good luck Son!”

Julian didn’t have time to say thanks to his Dad (who rarely was to be seen stood still at any given moment); as he had managed to go through the front door, out to the car and was roaring away in a splutter of gravel by the time Julian had finished chewing his way through half a piece of toast.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter IV

The Boat Race

Julian was the only person in the house when the phone rang.

“Oh Shit” he exclaimed.

He now had to face hurtling down three flights of stairs to get to it before the answering machine kicked in; which would then set off the embarrassing message which had been recorded by his Mother.

Whoever it was that was calling would hear it, and it might be one his mates.

He got to it in time.

“Hello”

“Hiya Julian its Chris”

it was one of his mates.

“Oh Hi Chris What’s up?”

“What are you doing this evening? We’re all going down the pub and wondered if you wanted to ride into town and join us for a pint or seven?”

“Excellent idea, I’d love to…where are you starting?”

“The Boat Race”

The Boat Race was one of the coolest pubs in Cambridge.

“I’ll be there in about an hour”

“See you then! Cheers!”

Julian rode a Yamaha DT 400.

The DT 400 is designed as an ‘Off Road’ bike.

It has suspension that will absorb considerably rough terrain.

And tyres that will grip in the most slippery of conditions.

After any heavy snowfall, and when there were no other vehicles to be seen, Julian would take great delight in putting his bike through its paces by riding it around the roads as though he were taking part in an Ice-Speedway championship.

With only alternate legs, and his fore arm muscles holding himself and his bike from skidding out from under him, he would slew it this way and that, that way and this…

He kicked it over.

This wasn’t a bike you bought.

This was a bike you fell in love with.

As per usual it started first time, and he set off for the pub.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter V

Riding

Julian was an experienced motorcyclist.

One of the elder Brother’s of his best friend at school had sold Julian the DT400 for a fraction of what it was worth, and he was always on hand should it need a tweak, or began to leak oil.

He took the roundabout between Mill Road and East Road perfectly, at around about a steady 25mph and began to accelerate towards The Boat Race pub.

Just as he did so, a car pulled out straight in front of him from a hidden exit of an underground Car Park.

Julian slammed the motorcycle to the ground and slewed into a collision with the underside of the car.

The driver of the car was still apologising profusely when the street started to fill with blue flashing lights and sirens.

As the police approached, the driver rushed up to them exclaiming “It was my entire fault!”

“I just wasn’t looking!” He was gesticulating to where he had emerged from.

“I didn’t see him!” The police had calmed him down by the time an ambulance arrived.

The medic from the ambulance came over to Julian.

“Just your leg and some grazes on your chin you say”

One of the policemen spoke to Julian as the medic was examining him.

“He’s claiming full responsibility”

He nodded towards the car driver who was speaking to another policeman who was writing in his note book and nodding.

The medic helped Julian to his feet and helped him limp into the back of the Ambulance.

After some scans and some routine checks the hospital cleared him to go home.

“Is there a phone I can use?” Julian asked.

“Sure” the Nurse went away and returned with a payphone on a trolley.

Julian dialled home and waited…

“Hi Mum”

“Your never going to guess where I am…”

“Well tell me then”

Never a patient woman herself, at nine o’clock in the evening Julian’s Mother was definitely in no mood for any mind games.

“Hospital” The line went dead for a few moments “What’s happened…..?”

The sound of his Mother’s voice had changed abruptly.

“Don’t worry it’s not serious”

Julian was doing his best to break down what could sound like an emergency, into what it really was.

“Not serious! Julian tell what me what is going on!”

“I’ve been in a motorcycle accident but I am OK”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Act II

Chapter I

Argue

Julian’s Mother arrived at the hospital to take Julian home.

She asked his whereabouts at reception, and eventually found him reading a magazine in one of the curtained areas of the A&E at Cambridge’s main hospital.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

Julian looked up from the magazine he had been reading, and smiled “I’m fine Mum”

He stood up, picked up his leather jacket and crash helmet and said “just some bruises”

They walked out to Julian’s Mother’s car and set off for Shelford, the village where they lived.

They were passing through the centre of Cambridge when Julian asked “You know if it’s all the same to you and Dad could you drop me off in town and I’ll stay at a friends tonight?”

His Mum looked at him and smiled “Of course Julian”

“Here. Jump out here”

Julian got out of the car and waited till it was out of sight.

It had been hard enough disguising his limp getting from the hospital to the car, and he didn’t want his Mum to realise that it hurt like hell.

Julian was heading for a girlfriends house.

He wasn’t sure of the reception he was going to get, but whatever it was, Julian figured it was probably going to be less volatile than the reception he was half expecting from his Dad.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter II

Girlfriend

Some weeks before, Julian had been drinking with a friend of his in a pub in Cambridge.

His friend was a Hip-Hop DJ for a radio station in London, and he wasn’t able to get back to Cambridge very often, so they had a great deal to catch up on.

They were deeply into a discussion about forms of music; and how Hip-Hop was, or maybe wasn’t, the ‘new tide change’ of musical tastes which come about (on average around about every seven years, as ordained by HRH John Peel), when suddenly out of nowhere, Julian pipes up with “Oh my god look at that”

A little confused for a second, his friend follows his trail of eyesight to find that he is looking at a girl waiting at the bar to be served.

His friend looks back at Julian and then back at the girl at the Bar and then back at Julian.

He settles on Julian…

“Julian…” he says.

“Your dribbling into my Beer…”

“If your going to dribble, would you at least have the decency to do it into your own Beer, and not mine..?”

Julian snapped out of his train of thought.

“She’s got a friend with her…” he whispered “…”and Yes…just in case you were wondering…I do fancy yours” he coughed and grinned “much”

With that he set off to the Bar, in the hope that he would get to the two girl’s before they were served.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter III

Room for the Night?

Anna and Sophia had been friends since school.

They were so unalike how they’d remained friends for so long seemed like one of those peculiar foibles of nature you read about in the Sunday paper supplements.

Maybe that was why they had remained such close friends all that time; purely and simply because they had absolutely nothing in common…

You could have been mistakenly given to describing Anna as a ‘dedicated follower of fashion’.

She wasn’t, but often she might have appeared as though she was…

She enjoyed going to the pub (or parties), ensuring heads would turn in her direction to double check that she wasn’t so ‘n’ so from Quadrophenia or Sid and Nancy, or that she wasn’t that girl from Strawberry Switchblade, The Dolly Mixtures or one of the The Slits.

Although she never actually needed to, Anna thought it was cool and exciting to set off into town on a Saturday afternoon and go shoplifting…

She’d get home, with what would amount to a pile of incredibly expensive junk, and then buy a bottle of Vodka, and while she was drinking it, congratulate herself on how amazingly hard core she really was.

In her own way, she was completely nuts.

Sophia was a diametric opposite.

She loved quiet walks by the river, candlelit dinners and romantic afternoons in the park.

Julian had been drawn to her like a magnet.

He had only been able to call her up and be with her the once, since they had met with his friend in the pub.

So he was heading straight around to their place, with his built in excuse to spend the night.

It was quite late.

By the time he had been finished with at the hospital, and his Mother had driven him into town, it was nearly eleven o’clock.

With half a thought that he might not even get an answer, he rang the doorbell.

Anna answered the door.

“Oh Hi Julian” she said.

Julian was more than a little relieved that they were up and about.

“Hi Anna OK if I come in? I’ve been in an accident and busted my leg up a bit”

He lifted his bruised leg to demonstrate.

“Yay no problem…” She seemed pleased.

“Me and Sofia are working our way through a Bottle of Drambuie” she grinned “You can help!”

Julian limped up the stairs behind Anna into Anna’s room where Sophia was sat cross-legged on a scatter cushion “Julian!?” Anna got to it before Julian had a chance to explain.

“Julian’s been a prick and crashed his motorbike”

Julian just grinned and sat down, well the equivalent…

By this time his leg had started to stiffen up a bit, and he more sort of half fell, half gyrated onto the floor.

Once he was down, Sophia handed him a full tumbler of Drambuie.

He resisted the temptation to describe the drink as gooey gay girly crap because:

a) It was the only alcohol available and

b) Just at that moment he did seriously need a drink.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter IV

Bed

After an hour or so the bottle began to look perilously close to empty.

Sophia got up to make a move for the door.

“I guess I have to hit the sack…” she said.

“Is there any space on your floor?” Julian wore a pained expression on his face.

It was almost as though he were a dying animal, and all that Sophia needed to do to put him out of his misery, was stamp on his head.

“Yay sure” She said.

“I’ve got some spare blankets too…” she smiled and opened Anna’s door.

“Night you two” Anna had begun to choose which set of pyjama’s she was going to wear for the night.

Julian struggled to his feet and began the climb up the stairs to Sophia’s room.

He made it into Sophia’s room and sat on her bed.

Sophia was pulling open drawers in a chest “Aha!” she said after about the fourth.

“Here you go, Skin Up…” she said, and passed Julian a small tin.

Julian rolled an excellent spliff.

They had smoked most of it when Sophia said “I lied about the spare blankets you know…”

Julian turned to her and smiled.

“That’s Ok” he said.

“I lied about the floor…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Act III

Chapter I

The Music

”JULIAN!”

Julian’s Dad’s voice boomed up the stairs.

Julian had snuck in, and had crept quietly up to his room, but his stereo had given him away, and now his Dad required his presence…

“Julian sit down”

Julian’s Dad was wearing his ‘it’s time to talk man-to-man face’.

“Julian…” he continued “..you know you’re Mother and I want what’s best for you…”

He looked at Julian.

This look meant that Julian was required to agree in some way or another.

Julian nodded, hoping this would suffice.

He continued.

“Well, your Mother and I think that’s what’s best for you…” he paused to think.

“…..just at the moment..” he had obviously struggled with this context.

“..is for you……” he was still struggling again.

“……is for you, to branch out on your own” he seemed pleased.

He looked at Julian anticipating the agreement with what he had had to say…

“…you mean move out” Julian answered.

“Precisely…”

At this, his Dad grabbed his briefcase from the floor, finished his coffee, gave Julian a bear hug (which nearly choked him), grinned broadly at him and launched himself out of the house to tear off in his Porsche.

Julian sat and thought for a moment.

This he hadn’t expected.

His Dad wanted him out of the house.

And knowing his Dad, this could easily mean within a few hours…

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter V

The Best Laid Plans…

Julian sat in his room and wondered what the hell to do next.

Firstly, he had less than a week to come up with some other form of transport.

Letchworth isn’t that far from Shelford he mused, but the interview was for 09.15 sharp.

Julian just didn’t trust a bus to get him there on time at that time of the morning; he figured there were too many variables.

And he also now had to find somewhere else to live, preferably within that space of time.

“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, Shit” he said aloud to himself.

His Sister Lucy was passing by his door and overheard.

“So” she said, looking in through the door of his room.

“Brushing up on our Shakespeare are we…”

Julian and his Sister had, since a long time past, agreed to non-violently loathe one another with a vengeance.

“Lucy” Julian began.

“Yes Julian”

“I need your help”

“Oh Yeah” she said “Why?”

“Well, Dad wants me out and..” Julian was about to explain about his motorcycle accident predicament, but before he could begin, Lucy had seized on this golden opportunity: “I’m not bloody surprised!” she cried.

Julian visibly clamped down hard, on a metaphorical bullet in his mouth.

He knew that if he retaliated, he would not stand a snowball’s chance of any help whatsoever from the potential logistical lifebelt his Sister represented just at this point in time.

He glared directly at the pc screen in front of him, and braced himself for the tirade he knew was coming…

She began: “If it isn’t some goddawful racket from that hotch-botch of loonies you call a band…”

Lucy was warming to her task.

“…It’s you turning up at all hours of the day and night on that jazzed up chainsaw you call a motorbike!”

Julian winced at the mention of his now, dearly departed DT400.

He waited for a moment to see if it was over.

“I bet the final straw was not being able to keep a drinks cabinet…”

“..that was it wasn’t it?”

“All of our friends are able to keep a well stocked selection of nice bottles of drink in a nice plush cabinet…to be bought out on special occasions

“Xmas, birthday’s or social visits” she almost spat the word social at him, as though she were teaching him how to use the toilet.

“WHAT DO WE GET?”

“WHAT DO WE GET TO LIVE WITH……….EH?”

“A COMPLETE AND UTTER TOTAL PSYCHOPATH WHO SEEMS TO TAKE IT AS A PERSONAL INSULT IF HE IS NOT ALLOWED TO DRAIN EVERY SINGLE DROP OF ALCOHOL IN THE HOUSE WHENEVER HE WANTS!”

Lucy was red in the face, but she seemed to be nearly done.

Julian risked it “No…” he looked up at her and said quietly “I crashed my motorbike…” Lucy could swear there were tears in his eyes.

Lucy glared at him for a moment, then slammed the door in his face and stalked off down the landing.

Julian weighed up his situation.

He had no money to speak of, saving money was a wholly strange and exotic concept for Julian, he just didn’t understand it.

He had no way of getting from the village where he lived to anywhere.

And just as he was mulling over some of the more obscure way’s of getting around these difficulties, the telephone rang.

“Hello”

“Hi Julian”

It was Sophia.

Julian sat down on the chair at the telephone table “Hiya” he whispered.

“Julian, when am I going to see you? Can you come over?”

“Sophia…” Julian tried really hard to focus on the things he needed to sort out, as a matter of some urgency, he had the fingers of his left hand on his temple to help with the focussing task, while he held the telephone he was speaking to Sophia with, with the other.

But it didn’t work, beautifully hazy and fuzzy memory’s of Sophia were absorbing everything, rapidly.

“…this afternoon OK? I’ll have to get the bus, should be able to get there by about 3?”

“OK” she said “We can go out for tea”

“Excellent idea” He hung up. Julian felt he deserved some strong tea.

Lucy had snuck up behind him while he was speaking on the phone.

“I see you can still find time for sex then…” she said acidly.

Julian scowled at her, grabbed his jacket and went out to wait for the bus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter VI

Cambridge for Tea

Julian arrived at Sophia and Anna’s house at a quarter to three.

He rang the bell and Sofia answered the door.

Sophia had spent some time with Anna, talking about Julian.

As a result of the conversation, Sofia felt that it was wiser to take Julian straight out.

And not upstairs to where Anna was mixing cocktails…

“Where shall we go for tea?” Julian asked.

“I know a great place down by the Mill Pond” Sophia smiled.

As Sophia closed the door, Julian stopped her, put his arms around her and then moved in to snog her.

Which he did.

For like ages…on the lips.

“Come on then…” he said quietly.

She smiled, and they walked off arm in arm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter VII

Love

Sophia and Julian sat gazing at each other over a pot of Lapsang Souchong.

In that nauseating way that people who really are in love, and don’t realise that they are behaving like it, have.

“Julian…” Sophia eventually managed to break the grid lock they had created for themselves.

“Yes Sophia” she held Julian ‘s complete attention.

“Is there any chance I can stay at yours tonight?” Julian was taken by surprise.

“Yes of course” He looked down at the tea cups, there was skin forming on top of the tea.

“We’ll need to sneak in though” He looked up at her “My Dad is going through one of his moods”

Julian had been hoping to broach the subject of having to move out of the house in Shelford, but now didn’t seem like the right time anymore.

It was late February, and it wasn’t long before the windows of the Tea Room began to darken slightly as night began it’s ominous journey across the sky.

“We should get going” Julian pointed out “…the last bus to Shelford sets off around five”

Sophia smiled and took her jacket from the back of the chair.

“Do you need anything from yours?”

“I should be OK” she said “It’s just for one night…”

They left the Tea Room and set off for the bus stop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter VIII

Shelford

Sophia and Julian got onto the bus to Shelford.

It was already pitch black.

They sat near the back and as they took the seat, Julian took off his coat “It’s still quite warm isn’t it” he pointed out.

Julian insisted on the window seat, so Sophia snuggled up beside him.

Just after the bus had set off, Sophia began picking at Julian’s zip fly.

She was grinning up at him.

He covered her head with his coat.

He kept his arm around her covered shoulder the whole journey.

“Hey” Julian said quietly “We’re nearly there”

Sophia popped out from under his coat, grinned up at him and licked her lips.

They got off the bus and started the short walk back to Julian’s house.

The house had a longish tree-lined drive and they were struggling to see enough not to trip over stuff, as they made their way up to the house.

Once they had got near enough to the house to see lights in some of the windows, Julian guided the way around to the right of the house to a small set of doors, set into the footings of the house.

He lifted one of the doors and pointed down some steps “Shhhhhhhhh” he said.

Sophia carefully picked her way down the steps and Julian followed, closing the door behind him.

He fumbled around on a shelf and eventually shook a box of matches.

He lit one, and then a candle.

“This way…” he said in a very quiet voice.

They followed the passage up some more steps and eventually came to a wooden door.

“Hang on a sec” Julian creaked the door open and walked in a step.

“OK Quickly” He said, and led Sofia up three narrow, winding steps of stairs and into a darkened room.

“This is my room”

Julian had relaxed his whispering a little, but he was still speaking quietly.

Whilst Julian had had a smooth journey home on the bus, he had arrived home in his room feeling rather challenged.

Sophia had her back to him, and was standing less than a foot away from the foot of the bed, admiring a poster that was hanging over the head of it.

Julian reached down below the hem of her dress, which was trailing on the floor, and using the outsides of her legs as guidance, he slipped his hands slowly up to her knickers and then slid them down.

Sofia kicked them away as Julian lifted the full length of her dress up over her back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter IX

Quiet Night?

When Sophia woke up, the sun was streaming in through the window.

Julian was snoring in the bed next to her.

She rolled over, put her head on his chest, and smiled to herself…

If she put her ear into his chest, she could hear his snores rasping in his lungs.

She looked up at his face, and wondered how she should wake him up.

Looking around the room, she spotted a tall glass of water on one of the bedside tables.

As gently as she could, without disturbing Julian’s slumber, she reached over and picked it up.

She sat up, with her legs wide open and tucked up under her thighs, and then threw it, full in his face.

He spluttered his eyes open.

“…wake up bastard” she said quietly, and smiled.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter X

Good Grief Charlie Brown

“I’ll walk you to the bus stop”

Julian had managed to sneak Sophia out of the house without alerting any of his family.

It was a huge relief for him.

The thought of his having to stand next to Sophia whilst his Sister let rip, or worse still his Dad threaten him with eviction (or worse), had been plaguing him since they had begun to get dressed.

Julian just did not want to introduce these things on to the agenda he had in mind for Sofia.

He waved her away as the bus pulled off, and then turned resolutely, to deal with what needed to be dealt with.

He now had just two days before his job interview in Letchworth.

As he went back into the house via the conventional route, through the front door, he spotted an important looking letter in the letter rack.

It was addressed to him.

He opened it on the spot and began to read.

“Oh wow” he said out loud.

It was from the motorcycle insurance company, and there was also an insert from something called a ‘Criminal Injuries Compensation Award Scheme‘.

He wondered if he had won something from having his accident…

He went through to the kitchen to read through them properly.

He was doing so at the kitchen table when his sister Lucy walked in and opened the fridge door.

“Your still alive then…” she said, taking out a huge flagon of Orange Juice.

“Only just” he mumbled.

“What’s that then?” she said, referring to the paperwork he was reading through.

“As far as I can work out…”

Just then his Dad appeared.

“HA! Julian” he said, as though he had caught him red handed stealing from the safe in the garage.

“Your still here then”

“Just sorting out somewhere now Dad” he lied “I’ll be in my new place by the end of the week”

His Dad grunted, it was somewhere between approval and disappointment.

Julian surmised he approved that he was going, but was disappointed that he hadn’t caught him out napping, and unprepared for the great upheaval.

“Well gotta go” his Dad said, and trudged off down the garden.

After he had gone, and Lucy had diplomatically stopped grinning, she said “So where are you going to move to Julian?”

He looked up at his Sister “All in hand Lucy. All in hand”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter XI

Farewell Brave Sir Julian

Julian picked up the phone and dialled.

“Hello” Julian sat down.

He had begun to realise a strange affliction.

Whenever he spoke to Sophia on the telephone, he had to be sitting down.

He made a mental note to work out why this was at some future point in time.

“Hi Sophia, it’s Julian”

“Hi Julian”

“Sophia, I need to speak to you. It’s important. Are you busy this afternoon?”

“Well I hadn’t got anything planned. It isn’t bad news is it?”

Julian thought about this for a moment and decided he couldn’t answer it honestly.

“I don’t want to say over the telephone. Can we meet up?”

Sophia was quiet for few moments then said gently “Of course, where?”

“How about the Jamaica House at the Botanical Gardens. Say around half two?”

“I’ll be there”

“Excellent. See you then” He hung up.

Julian spotted Sophia as he made his way past the Glass Houses at the Botanical Gardens that afternoon.

She was clutching a small handbag and looked very tense.

He waved over as he got a bit nearer and she spotted him, smiled and began to walk towards him.

She did look concerned.

As soon as they were close enough he kissed her and said hi.

“Julian what’s this about?”

Julian looked around and spotted a neat tuft of smooth lawn they could sit on and talk, and led Sophia to it by the hand.

They both sat down cross legged facing each other and Julian took both her hands in his.

“Sophia” He was looking her in the eye with what he hoped passed as deep sincerity.

“Sophia, how do you feel about moving out of yours and Anna’s place, and sharing somewhere with me?”

Sophia seemed quite taken aback “Julian…” she managed eventually “This is a bit sudden…”

Now it was Julian’s turn to feel a bit on the spot.

He wasn’t sure which was the best way to approach the idea.

He was sorely tempted to explain that his Dad was expecting him to be gone by the end of the week, just to give her a suggestion of the edge that he was feeling quite acutely.

But although he wouldn’t have said it out loud, in some post-juvenile way of his, he was actually realising that he was falling in love with Sofia, and the thought of living with her was a very attractive prospect.

There were further complexities he hadn’t even begun to think about telling Sofia as yet. But as she seemed to be spending a good few moments alone with herself, thinking about what Julian was suggesting, they began to surface in Julian’s mind…

He could more or less guarantee, as long as he made the interview, that he was going to secure his new job in Letchworth.

To travel from Cambridge to Letchworth, would be a considerable further journey than if he…Sofia interrupted his train of thought. He suddenly realised that he had been staring at her all this time; with what had to have to have been, a completely blank expression on his face…

“Julian that’s a beautiful idea…”

“I’d love to”

For the first time ever, Julian suddenly became aware of how it must feel when you are about to faint.

Julian was convinced that if he hadn’t been sitting down…He tried to snap himself out of it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Act IV

Chapter I

Letchworth

Julian realised again that he was staring, and that he hadn’t said anything for; well he wasn’t sure.

What was worse was that it wasn’t just that he was so pleased that Sophia had actually accepted his offer, and that they were going to be living together…

It was also the various other factors that were involved in his first asking, so soon into their relationship.

He was having a little difficulty keeping those suppressed, as he made for his response.

He did, what any ordinary chap in his position would do.

He suggested that they go for a cup of tea.

They ordered, and took their tray to one of the better tables, near to the magazine rack.

“I’ll be Mummy” Julian said as he poured the tea.

Julian was on his second cup when he began to realise that he did want (and need, to a certain extent), to stretch his offer just a little bit further.

They were sat in one of the trendier places in the centre of Cambridge.

Where the hip and foremost, would gather in the cellar rooms to get as high on caffeine as possible.

Before destroying what was left of themselves on alcohol, as the evening wore on.

They were surrounded by posters of bands dressed in ripped jeans, with guitars slung around their kneecaps and girls, wearing make-up designed to absolutely terrify any admirers.

He knew, better than most, that what he needed to ask, was going to be difficult.

“Sophia..” He began nervously.

He was already extremely excited about the prospect of waking up with her in a place of their own, and now he thought he might be going to jeopardise the progress he had made.

Although Julian wouldn’t have been able to spot it, Sofia was over the moon about moving in with Julian.

In her mind she had already begun arranging their new home.

She battered her eyelids at him “hhhmm?”

“Sophia, this place of ours…does it have to be in Cambridge?”

“Well where do you suggest?” there was a slight trace of cynicism in her voice.

Julian paused for effect “It’s just that I’m going for a job interview this Friday and the job is in Letchworth, and if I get it…” he grimaced “it would be easier for me to get to it from somewhere like a village a bit nearer?”

It was over, he knew it.

You couldn’t tell someone like Sofia that she had to become a ‘country girl’ and get away with it.

Unbeknownst to Julian, Sophia immediately began to review what she had been dreaming about.

Whereby, where she had begun to place her belongings tastefully around a smart second floor city flat, with a balcony and window boxes, she now began arranging the rooms in their rose covered cottage.

She had begun planning a small vegetable plot when she realised that she had been staring at him for a while, and hadn’t answered what he had said.

“Anywhere special in mind?” she said.

“No, not really…” he said “You choose”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter II

Lucy

Julian climbed the extended ladder up to his Sister’s bedroom window on the second floor.

It was dark, but it was only a few hours until daylight.

Julian had realised, when he had tried to sneak in at 3.00am the previous night, that his Dad had discovered his covert method of getting in and out of the house undetected, when he found the door’s down to the cellar triple padlocked and bolted.

Lucy” he hissed, tapping repeatedly on the window pane with his fingertips.

Lucy, open the window

Eventually, Julian saw a light come on in the room.

Lucy said rather timidly “Who’s there?”

Count bloody Dracula, who do you think….” Julian answered back “Open the bloody window

Julian had started to regret asking Lucy to do this.

Whilst it was bloody freezing at the top of a ladder at 6 o’clock in the morning, it could get worse.

If he was unlucky, Lucy would swing open the left window, and not the right, which might knock him off the ladder and send him flying to the ground.

He was in luck.

“Julian, what the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” she said.

“Lucy, I need a favour”

Lucy had gone beyond what she had, up until now tolerated, with Julian’s behaviour.

She now knew that she had moved into a whole new phase and she realised immediately that it was going to threaten her sanity.

She just moved her head around in random directions to signify that she had heard what he had said, but that she was just not coping with it…

“Lucy I have to be in Letchworth by 9 O’Clock” He was watching her face but was rather confused by the way she seemed to be having trouble keeping her head still.

He went on “Can you give me a lift?”

His Sister owned a black Mercedes 500SL, which she would take great pleasure in driving around on hot days at high speeds, with the soft top down.

In it, she knew that she could be a boy magnet, but so far she hadn’t found anybody rich enough to warrant her serious attention.

She was still randomly moving her head in odd directions.

This new threat to her sanity had seemed to have jolted some hitherto unrealised mental mechanism’s, as without even a second thought she said (as though in a dream state) “Give me a few minutes to get dressed, and I’ll meet you outside…”

Julian was completely taken aback, but was wise enough not to make any cynical remarks “OK” he said.

He began to descend the ladder.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter III

Spring

Julian and Sophia were enjoying a stroll along the Backs.

At long last the weather was getting warmer and there were several blooms they hadn’t seen for a long while, eagerly poking through, to wave their happiness at the passersby.

“Julian” Sophia asked as they stopped to study an unusual stump of a tree.

“Does it bother you that I don’t work?”

Julian thought about this.

“More importantly, does it bother you?” he said.

Sofia sat down on the stump and was looking around to see how many people she could spot nearby.

“Well yes I suppose, in a way it does…it does just seem so…..” she seemed stuck for the right word “…..traditional?” she attempted “for you to have to pay for more or less everything” she seemed satisfied that she had put that the way that she had wanted Julian to understand it.

“You mean the Emily Pankhurst in you is screaming for release?”

“Or perhaps you’re just worried that you might be losing control over your life, and you will end up living in the bottom of my pocket?”

Julian could also be deadly serious when he wanted to be, and rightly or wrongly, he chose just then to show this side of him to Sophia.

She wasn’t startled, but she had suddenly been made aware of the perspective they were putting themselves in.

They hadn’t settled on where they were planning to move to as yet, but both of them must, in their quieter moments, have been realising that in some respects, it was a big step.

“Julian…” Sophia took hold of Julian’s thigh “there’s one more thing you need to know”

He turned to look at her.

She lean’t over and whispered in his ear “If I don’t bring you back, so that Anna can do what she wants with you, before we move in together…

She moved back to sit up “She said she was going to trash my room…”

She picked up, and threw a stone into the river.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter IV

A to B

Julian and Sophia had decided to eat out.

They were ordering, when Julian looked up from the Menu “I have to get another Motorcycle” he looked back down at the menu “I’ll be getting an insurance claim on my last one…and I might be getting a payout for the bang on my leg” He was deciding between Bhuna and Vindaloo “It won’t be a lot, but it’ll cover a new bike” he grinned.

As he caught her eye, her lash batted once, and she looked down at her menu.

“I’m thinking about another DT400…but I’ll have to talk to Simon” he was obviously pretty excited about the prospect “to be honest whatever he’s got, I’ll take it”

“Simon knows his bikes, you know?”

Julian took a long swig of his Tiger Beer.

“I’ve seen him turn a complete wreck into a dream bike”

Julian looked wistfully away for a moment.

“Hey! Maybe he might be able to fix up my old bike…”

“I didn’t have the heart to get it out of the police storage yet”

He looked intently down at the floral tablecloth “I don’t want to see it like that…”

Sofia had had enough “Julian” she said abruptly.

Sophia waited for moment.

She was thinking that if she didn’t lay down some law now, right now, she might not get the chance again in the future.

She was about to speak when a waiter came up to the table, notebook in hand.

After they’d ordered, Sophia went back on the attack.

“Julian, are you seriously expecting…” she stopped.

She had suddenly begun to find it difficult to cope with what Julian was planning…

Julian looked up semi-startled.

Sophia looked at his big dumb black eyes, as if for the first time.

“What?” he said, innocently.

Sophia took the napkin she had laid out on her leg, stood up and threw it on the table.

She glared at him for barely a second, and then turned and walked towards the door.

She had gone through it, and was outside into the busy Saturday night street, in the centre of town, before Julian had had any time to react.

He broke his shock and stood up, put some money on the table and ran after her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter V

Mates

Julian was stood at the door of Chris’ house.

Chris opened the door “Hey! Hi Julian” Chris was chuffed to see him. It’d been a while since he’d rung him up about meeting up the pub, and he hadn’t heard yet why he never made it.

“Hi Chris”

Julian walked past him, threw his leather jacket on the floor and sat into one of the beanbags against the wall.

Chris turned the TV down, went out into the kitchen, brought in a can of beer and offered it to him.

“This’ll cheer you up” he said and grinned down at him.

“Cheers Chris…”

“Come on Julian…what’s wrong?” he went on “You look like your Cat’s just died…”

Julian sniggered and opened the can of beer, he raised his can to Chris, and took a drink.

Chris and Julian had been mates for years.

Chris was the Percussionist in the Band, Julian played Guitar with.

Julian did look miserable; his eyes were lowered and he was sat on the cushion like a forgotten rag doll.

“There’s a girl…” Julian began and looked up at Chris.

Chris nodded respectfully, and also began to look down at the carpet.

Chris could be a bloody good mate.

Julian knew that a lot of guys would have just shrugged, pointed out some obscure sexist rubbish and told him to forget her, but not Chris.

“Well actually, as of yesterday…” Julian rolled his eyes “…two girls…”

“Whew! Complicated!” Chris said sarcastically “So what’s wrong?”

“Well…” Julian had no compulsion to try and beat about the bush with his mate.

“I’m in love with one of them…”

“We were having a curry tonight and just” Just then there was the sound of approaching feet in the gravel leading up to to the back door.

A girl’s face appeared at the window.

“Three girls” Julian said.

Chris turned on him with his brow knitted in anger.

Julian’s jaw had dropped. Chris lean’t over and put his finger under Julian’s chin, and closed Julian’s mouth with his forefinger.

“That’s my Sister Julian…” he pointed out sternly “She’s come up to stay for the weekend”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Act V

Chapter I

Weekend

Chris got up early and went downstairs.

Julian and Emma were still fast asleep.

They were entwined around each other on the beanbags on the floor, and nude.

Chris tutted quietly to himself.

Then climbed over them to the kitchen to put the kettle on.

It whistled.

Why Chris insisted on a kettle that whistled was anybody’s guess, and plenty of people had.

Among the suggestions were:

a) a 1940’s fixation.
b) something to do with the earlier episodes of Coronation Street.
c) the sound resembled that of a Steam Train about to leave the station…

Chris kept them guessing.

Chris kept the real reason to himself, and it was that Chris got stoned that much, and so often, that he knew that one day he would put the kettle on, and then completely forget he had done it.

The kettle would boil dry, and something terrible might happen to his kitchen.

So, purely for health and safety reasons, he insisted on a kettle that whistled.

Knowing that the whistling kettle would have woken his Sister and Julian, Chris called out from the kitchen “You two can go upstairs to my bed now if you want to…”

Chris heard the scurry of feet going up the stairs, and went into the living room to enjoy his tea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter II

Emma

Emma was a very quiet girl.

She rarely spoke.

When someone asked her a direct question she would always reflect on what they had said, before she replied.

Julian was mesmerised.

At first he had been angry, Chris had never mentioned that he had had a Sister before, and Julian had somehow evaluated that Chris had kept the existence of Emma from him on purpose…

To trick him.

And Chris was by no means a fool.

Besides playing Percussion alongside Julian in their Band, Chris had always been the guy who assessed what was worth doing, and what was a waste of their time as a working unit.

It was Chris who always came up with their best gigs.

In a way, he acted as their manager, it was just the way he was.

But now Chris had introduced Julian to his Sister.

Emma was slightly taller than Julian.

She wore long blonde hair, and she was pretty in a way that had absorbed and redesigned some important part of Julians mind, here she had found a permanent home.

This had not happened to Julian before, and the likelihood was it would never happen again.

Chris explained that she was living in a place in Milton Keynes, and that she held down a job as a librarian.

With these little golden nuggets of information, Julian had begun to silently tot just how much she might’ve been able to save during the time she’d worked there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter III

The Lion and the Unicorn

Julian woke up next to Emma.

He felt nervous when he looked down at her.

It wasn’t just her beauty that unnerved him.

He was also a bit nervous that when Emma left to return back to Milton Keynes, which was going to be in a few hours, Chris might turn on him.

Julian had already considered that Chris might have been pro-actively keeping Emma away from him, and he began to remember how the evening of the night before had begun, what he had had a chance to say to Chris before Emma had arrived.

Julian was mature enough to admit to himself, that if what he thought had been the case, then it was merited.

And here he was in bed with her…

Chris might well go utterly frigging berserk.

And Julian knew it.

Emma started to stir.

Julian’s heart was literally in his mouth.

He really was hoping he wouldn’t blow it.

‘Julian’ he said to himself ‘Don’t, and I do mean DON’T say anything ridiculous………..OK?’

He was ready.

She opened her eyes and he smiled down at her.

“What time is it?” she asked.

“About two…” Julian said “…did you sleep OK?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter IV

Train of Thought

Julian walked back to Chris’ house after seeing Emma on the train home to Milton Keynes.

“Do you fancy going down the pub for a beer?” he said as Chris opened the door for him, and gestured for him to go inside.

“Now there’s a bloody good idea” Chris said as he got his jacket.

They set off for the nearest and dearest.

Chris bought the first round and they quaffed.

Julian broke it.

As for rapidly approaching Icebergs, Julian felt that he had the edge with his ice-pick.

And now he was going to use it “When’s your Sister coming back up to Cambridge?”

He looked at Chris with a wide-eyed innocence, his fingers crossed and hoped…

He wasn’t getting off that lightly.

Chris looked at him with a puzzled look in his eyes “Julian…” he said.

Julian swallowed hard, reached for his beer, thought better of it and shook his packet of cigarettes.

He took one out and lit it.

“You said only last night that you had fallen in love with someone…”

“I mean, you were in a right state when you turned up”

“…..could you tell me…perhaps, just a little bit about that?” Chris looked at him.

Julian was puffing away intently “Julian!”

“We were getting along fine…”

Julian had settled a bit, well his hands had stopped shaking.

“She’d even agreed to move in with me” He looked at Chris to show him he was being genuine.

He needn’t have done, but just at that moment Julian was feeling that being mates with Chris had suddenly developed into something a little more complex, and he was still feeling his way.

Julian swallowed about a half of his pint.

“…and” Chris was wondering whether to buy him another, or tip his own over his head.

“Chris, I don’t know!” Julian had bought himself some more time.

Chris caught up with Julian beer wise, and said “You said something about a curry…”

Chris was looking at Julian suspiciously, he was determined to get to the bottom of this.

He finished his pint.

“…well we’d ordered, and we were talking…then all of a sudden, she stood up, threw something at me and stalked off!”

“I ran out after her, but she’d gone” Julian finished his pint “…same again?”

Chris nodded.

Julian got up and went to the bar.

By the time he had got there, Chris had formulated a theory.

He wasn’t sure Julian was going to like it, but Chris knew life wasn’t always a bed of roses, it can be tough.

And that was what mates were for…to be there for each other.

When some of the tougher lessons needed to be taught…

He knew what to do.

Julian returned with the beers.

“Julian” he said, he was looking forward to putting Julian straight, after all he was his mate.

Julian nodded while he started his pint.

No mean feat in itself.

“You had to pay for that curry didn’t you…” Julian spluttered into his beer and nearly a third of it went flying over the table.

Just then, Andrew, the drummer of the band came over “Drink problem Julian?” he said.

“Hello Andrew” Chris said “I’ve just been teaching Julian about some of the meaner bees in the hive…he had girl problems…”

Andrew looked as though he was about to say something, then thought better of it.

Instead he said “Just get myself a beer, be right back”

While he was at the bar Chris looked at Julian, he looked shocked and crestfallen.

“Hey Julian cheer up you stupid bastard”

Julian smiled weakly.

“If you must know she’s coming back up in four weeks time, for the weekend again” he winked and finished another beer.

When Andrew came over with his pint and sat down, Julian said “sorry guys, gotta go…”

“Starting a new job next week, and I’ve got to find somewhere else to live”

“Dad’s had enough…” he grinned and walked off.

When he’d got outside he looked left and right, nothing.

Then he remembered that there was a telephone box just around the corner…

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter V

What was That…?

Julian had put enough money into the telephone box to speak for an hour.

He knew that what Chris had suggested was behind Sofia’s sudden attack was wrong.

He hadn’t said so, but if the truth be known, he had realised that he had been awarded a massive sympathy vote.

A sympathy vote that he didn’t deserve…and a sympathy vote that should never have been awarded in the first place.

But it got him off the hook during a sensitive, and potentially messy situation.

The problem was, Julian still had no idea what he had done wrong to provoke the reaction in Sofia that sent her running off into the night.

“…hello?” Sophia had answered.

Julian was relieved. He wasn’t sure whether Sofia was actually speaking to him at all, and he thought that if Anna had answered, and Sofia wasn’t speaking to him, he might not even get the chance to try…

“…..Sophia, it’s Julian…” he waited.

He was biting hard into his bottom lip.

“…Julian I’ve been calling you…didn’t you go home last night?”

Julian didn’t answer that.

Sophia had been worried, and she had been feeling a bit foolish.

She had been berating herself that she hadn’t been able to hold her temper long enough to point out to Julian that riding pillion on a motorcycle, was just not her idea of the best way to get around.

Particularly if they were going to be living out in the sticks.

“Can we talk about this…?” Julian asked.

“Yes please…”

“Martha’s in about half an hour?”

“OK”

Julian hung up, and ran…

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter VI

Martha and Scones

When Sophia came into the Cafe, Julian was already sat at a table.

He got up and went over to her.

“I’ve got a spare cup…” he explained “…and what’s left in the pot is still hot” she smiled and went over with him to his window seat.

He poured her a cup and sat for a minute, just enjoying that she was there.

Eventually, after what must have been an age, Julian said “…say it then”

Sophia looked up.

They had been sat there in what could have been an awkward silence, except that they hadn’t really been experiencing that.

They had both been sat in respective warm glows; happy again to be in each others company.

“Julian, living in the country…well, it’s going to be an isolated experience…” she went on “particularly for me…if your out working every day” she looked hurt.

Julian still didn’t catch on.

He began to be concerned that Sophia had agreed to meet up with him so that she could tell him that she had changed her mind.

Sophia looked at his blank expression and realised that she would need to draw him a picture, she went on “We’re going to want to come back into town to go out sometimes…”

Julian looked around and was thinking about the clues, something began to dawn on him, he thought he’d got it.

“Your going to want, no need, a car” he was nodding profusely in agreement, but he still looked as though he wasn’t that sure he’d hit the nail on the head.

“Julian, I can’t drive!” Sophia laughed.

It had the opposite effect on Julian, if that wasn’t it, then he was still in the dark.

And he was getting ever more worried.

He looked sadly at the nearly finished pot of tea.

“But you can Julian…” she reached over and held his arm.

BANG!

Like a light bulb being switched on in his head, Julian had got it.

Julian did his best to hide a huge sense of joy that had suddenly washed over him.

“Do you like Scones or Sconns…” he quipped happily.

‘nobody’s perfect’ he thought to himself.

For some reason, Sophia let him get away with it.

“Scones” She said.

“Right” he said “…with jam and whipped cream coming up…” he went on “we are going to need them” he was gradually regaining his composure.

“…because we need to go and sort out somewhere to rent”

He got up and returned with a small tray of Cream tea scones “Raspberry tipped OK?” he asked.

“Raspberry is fine” Sophia said, and began to tear her first one apart “they’re warm…” she smiled at Julian.

“Just how much stuff have you got?” Julian was remembering Sofia’s room and desperately trying to hold his second sight memory on what possessions were in there.

He was struggling; every time he saw either the size of her record collection, or how many pairs of jeans she had, his mind slipped back into bed with her, and his second sight was filled with visions of smooth legs.

Julian was not so bad, as he thought so himself, at organising things.

In his mind, he had already borrowed David’s Van to help with the move out into the villages.

David was the Bass Player in the band, and he also doubled as the ‘provider of transport’ for gig’s, and shifting their considerable entourage and equipment into the studio, for sessions there.

Julian chewed his way thoughtfully through a scone, but didn’t spot that he was pouring a pink liquid stream of jam and cream onto his trouser leg.

But Sophia did.

She moved her chair a little closer, and one of her arms disappeared under the tablecloth.

“Your trousers are all wet…” she explained innocently.

“It happens…” he said philosophically, grinned and winked at her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter VII

Night Out

Sophia and Julian spent an hour or more, in the dwindling March daylight, staring through Estate Agent windows at small cottages and large flats in the South Cambridgeshire area.

Nothing came even close to what they wanted to find.

As the evening wore on it was getting colder.

Sophia tugged at Julian’s arm and asked “So what are the evening plans?”

Julian had no intention of (once again), descending on another of his friends for the night, whilst he and Sophia were going through such a romantic episode.

Although he had spent quite some considerable time between the sheets, with a fair number of girls in his time, this was the first time he’d ever gone ‘home hunting’ with one.

Julian considered the options.

Going back to Shelford was not really a viable option.

Dad had sealed his only way into the house, and it was not at all likely that he would open the door to him unless he had a police escort.

He began to have visions of the band turning up at the house, piling out of the back of the van with sawn-off shotguns, and breaking the door down.

But thought that maybe this was a bit extreme, under the circumstances.

He could suggest that they stay the night together at hers; but that could mean either:

a) sneaking quietly past Anna’s room.
b) or; both of them spending the night in Anna’s room again.

Both of these options seemed perfectly reasonable to Julian.

He decided to test the water with the only realistic suggestion he had so far come up with.

“We could stay at yours?”

“Why not yours?” Sophia replied, quite reasonably.

Julian had hoped to avoid this.

If he had to explain to Sophia that his relationship with his Dad had deteriorated so far, as to the point where his Dad had told him to find some place else to live, she might start to think that this whole ‘let’s find a place to live together‘ scenario, had only come about as a result of what he was having to go through at home…

“I’ve had a row with my Dad…” he began.

He knew that with some careful grammar he might get away with this “…and he’s also blocked off the cellar door” Julian rolled his eyes a couple of times, just to show Sofia how utterly ridiculous and unexpected this had been.

He went on “…there’d only be a scene if we went back there tonight”

Sophia had started to feel a bit sick.

She knew she couldn’t insist that they go back to Julian’s.

Julian’s Dad was a well known character around and about, and she knew that his ‘darker moods’…well she certainly did not want to experience one of them first hand.

Sophia also had something that she did not want Julian to find out about.

After Sofia had gone back home, the night she had stormed out and left Julian in the Curry house, which had only been a few hours after the three of them had been having sex together in Anna’s bed, Anna and Sofia had had the most blazing row.

Sophia knew that if she took Julian back there, it would spark another.

They looked at each other.

“How much money have you got?” Sophia asked “I’ve got some, we could get a B&B…”

Julian almost choked on the idea, it certainly wasn’t one he would have had himself.

But in Sophia’s presence, it did seem an almost ‘natural’ thing to do; a logical option.

His mind adjusted to it, and he said “…well I’ve got enough for a B&B”

Sophia almost jumped up with excitement “Well, what are we waiting for!”

She grabbed his hand and began pulling him down the street.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter VIII

Dad

The next morning; after they’d eaten their way through a mountain of Croissants and Apricot Jam, drank way too much fresh coffee, and left their room suitably uncared for, they set off to find something to do.

They were stood watching the trains at the bridge on Hills Road, when Julian suddenly had a flash of inspiration.

He was going to ring his Dad.

He was getting tired of being a fugitive in his own home town and he was getting worried that he might begin to lose a grip on Sophia as a result.

“Come on…” he said to Sophia “work to be done” he pulled her by the hand and they set off for a telephone box.

Sophia waited outside while Julian rang home.

“Hello” Julian was a bit apprehensive; he hadn’t seen, or spoken to his Dad, for a few days at least and he was wondering what sort of reaction he’d get.

“Hallo Julian” his Dad answered brightly “What can I do for you?”

“Well I’m having problems finding somewhere else to live..” he went on “I’m moving in with my girlfriend d’you see, and…well, it’s tricky…”

Julian waited.

Finally, his Dad said “Yes I noticed your stuff was still in your room…”

Julian flinched.

“Well whereabouts are you looking to move to Julian?”

His Dad was more than painfully aware that Julian and his friends were firmly rooted into the Cambridge music scene, because Julian’s Band could sometimes get clearance from him to practice in his house in Shelford. So he was completely taken aback when Julian said “Well I got that job at the Royal Marine Commando Museum so we were hoping to get some place near there…”

“That’s Letchworth way isn’t it?”

“Yes Dad, in the town centre”

“Will Wilbraham do you…?”

Julian was trying to figure out what his Dad was getting at.

“Look Son, I haven’t got all day…is Wilbraham OK!?”

“..yes…Wilbraham’d be fine” he said, still confused.

“Well we’ve just finished a little place just outside of Wilbraham, you can have that…”

Julian’s Dad’s patience often involved seconds, if not fraction’s of a second “come on Son, take it or leave it…”

He was getting impatient.

“That’d be great Dad..” Julian was extremely pleased, to say the least.

“You’ll need to pay the mortgage mind…” his Dad reminded him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter IX

Dave’s not Here…

David; the Bass Player and Van Driver for the Band, lived in a tumbledown place just outside of town.

David was quite a bit older than the rest of the Band and he lived as close to an organic nature as was humanly possible.

He grew his own food, brewed his own alcohol, baked his own bread and had friends who lived in villages nearby with whom he traded some of his produce for clothes they had made, using materials they had gathered from livestock and plants they kept themselves.

David didn’t really do shopping.

He did, on occasion have to go into the capitalist whirl he despised, to get absolutely essential supplies.

Such as Rizla; and he’d often fire up his Van for a jaunt into Cambridge to stock up on wholefoods he couldn’t grow or sprout, like Oats, and dried beans.

David’s place was where the Band would meet up to practice; if they didn’t require a mixing desk, engineer and recording facilities and Andrew’s extensive and complicated drum kit was more or less permanently set up there.

There were a few slave amps and cabinets scattered around, which always proved useful for when the others came around with their respective equipment.

One of David’s pride and joy’s was his Van.

In it; ‘Wild Hooch‘ (the name of the band), would travel to and from pubs, halls and festivals, to play live.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter X

Love Nest

Sofia and Julian had got the bus out to Wilbraham to have a look at the place Julian’s Dad’s building company had built.

It was at the end of a narrow cul de sac, of other; brand new, two story, detached houses.

“…it’s horrible” Sofia said.

Julian had; for some reason, not envisaged somewhere that was going to look so brand spanking new.

It wasn’t just that.

The house was more or less completely square in shape, and there didn’t seem to have been any consideration whatsoever of architectural style involved during it’s gestation period.

The small garden at the front of the house was similarly devoid of features.

The consideration seemed to have been for angular accuracy, and symmetrical uniformity.

In some ways it was quite frightening.

“I could have done better with my Lego set” Julian eventually managed to say.

He had been dealing with the fact that he had promised his Dad that they would move in to this neatly designed box, and when he had first caught sight of it…

Julian eventually turned to look at Sophia, she had gone quite pale.

He put his arm around her and said “we could find somewhere else, but we need somewhere right now

Sophia looked up at him with a rather wan smile and nodded.

As he had said it, she had begun to remember the terrifying animal her friend had become after Sophia had told her that she’d fallen out (perhaps permanently), with Julian.

It wasn’t just that she’d never seen that side of her before, it was also that Anna had obviously got it in to her head, after one torrid episode, that Julian was in some ways as much hers…

Sophia wasn’t really taken with this idea, and she was kind of hoping that Julian might not press the point.

He didn’t seem to be, he hadn’t actually mentioned Anna, and they had spent the night at a B&B, rather than go back to hers… Julian cut short her train of thought “…the rent isn’t that much”

Sophia looked at their new home, then back at Julian.

She had now decided that anywhere would be preferable than facing Anna again.

“Did you say you could borrow your friends van?” Sophia asked.

“Well, I haven’t asked him yet…but I’m sure he’d lend it me for a day”

Julian looked at Sophia, she was smiling again at last.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Act VI

Chapter I

Furniture Van

Julian was stood with David, just outside David’s place in the Green (Muesli) Belt of Cambridge.

The Green (Muesli) Belt began just south of Trumpington and extended in both directions in a ring, more or less all the way around Cambridge, in a similar way to how the M25 runs around London now.

The ‘Belt’, as local people referred to it, was where a lot of the people who had made Cambridge their home, after ‘making it big’ lived.

Pop stars, actors and actresses, famous celebrities and some ‘ever so slightly richer’ eccentrics of all kinds lived around the ‘Belt’.

It was where David fitted in, and where Julian and David were both now stood, admiring David’s Van.

David’s Renault Master (with Luton cab) really was something to see.

If you studied it long enough, you would have realised that originally, it had been an Emerald Green in colour.

But that was a long time ago.

Over the years, David and his friends had ‘decorated’ the Van.

Often David would get up in the morning, after a particularly successful party, and go out to his Van to find a whole new stream of inspiring and artistic graffiti emblazoned across the hood, or the back doors.

“…that’s beautiful man” he’d say, or just “…wow”

“I should be able to get this done and get it back to you within a few hours” Julian said.

David looked at Julian with concern and pain in his eyes “Just be careful with it Julian man…”

David passed him the keys.

Julian headed off in David’s Van to collect Sophia and the stuff from her flat.

Whilst Julian had ridden in the windowless back of the Van; to gigs or just out on trips, he’d never had the experience of driving the thing down the road before now.

It wasn’t a difficult Van to drive; Julian found it responsive and agile at the controls.

What was remarkable about David’s Van, was the amount of attention it attracted.

As Julian was driving along into Cambridge, he began to think more about what he was actually doing.

He began to think about Sophia.

She had readily agreed to move out to somewhere neither of them found particularly attractive, in a small village miles from anywhere either of them would find familiar.

Julian found this incredibly flattering…

It had complicated what he’d already been feeling about her and in lots of ways he just looked at her differently now, he thought.

She’d already changed her details with the DSS in Cambridge.

She’d signed that she would have to pay a rental rate, which Julian had calculated would cover nearly the entire monthly mortgage, for their new home.

Asking Sophia to chip in in this way, had been by way of a little white lie; which Julian had justified to himself, in the name of ‘cool’.

He’d decided on this the second his Dad had mentioned the word ‘mortgage’, when he’d offered them the place.

He began to think about ‘Wild Hooch’.

He decided that he’d need to call a Band meeting.

Julian knew that after he’d left Chris and Andrew in the pub the other day, that they would have at some point, talked some more about where the Band was heading, and at this point in time, that would’ve meant the ‘put up or shut up’ decision that needed to be made, and soon.

They’d played too many gigs for beer money, spent too much of their own money putting together demo recordings that they’d never sent out to anyone, and they’d also got at least two albums worth of bloody good material, not collected together in a format they could make any money back on.

They were all feeling the same way about the situation, but that feeling was ‘indecisive’.

Julian had to admit to himself, that when push came to shove, what he thought it would be like, living life as part of a ‘signed’ Band, just made him cringe.

He just didn’t like the idea, and he owed it to the guys in the Band who really did want a contract, to let them know how he felt.

Julian also had his new job to consider.

Now that was exciting he thought, as he swerved to avoid (what must’ve been, by all accounts) a very drunk cyclist.

Julian was a ‘sixties child’.

And as such, even at the age of 22, he’d think nothing of tearing off down to the shops on his motorbike to get himself (and build), a ‘ready to assemble’ plastic model kit.

His room reflected the historically unique period he had been brought up in.

There were, what amounted to several squadrons of aircraft of various nationalities along most of the horizontal surfaces in his room and also, dangling precariously from the ceiling.

Julian had always been a military buff.

He disapproved of war, he was anti militarist by nature, but he had had a life long fascination with all things Khaki.

The thought of going back to work at the ‘Royal Marine Commando Museum’ excited him a great deal.

He had considered it prudent to leave his Air Force at his Dad’s house, when he was packing the boxes that he was hoping, were currently safe and sound in the back of David’s Van.

He was driving as safely as he was able.

Julian felt rather proud of himself as he resisted temptation’s to slew around corners, in order to create the sounds, and the black road trails of rubber, that he enjoyed during episodes of ‘The Sweeney’.

Soon he was pulling up near to where Sophia and Anna lived.

He honked the horn, and in a minute or two Sophia appeared, and waved him to come over to the doorway where she was stood.

Sofia seemed breathless, excited and exuded a certain sense of urgency “Anna’s gone for an hour or so…” she exclaimed, wide-eyed.

She grinned “I told her that Boy George was in town signing autograph’s at Heffers Bookshop…”

She seemed quite delighted that the ‘move’ was going to take place without Anna realising until she had returned, possibly disappointed, from her dash into town “…we’d better hurry!” she said.

Julian piled Sophia’s stuff into the back of David’s Van, alongside the boxes he’d collected the day before, and they drove off out of town.

Julian parked in the driveway in front of their new house, and they both sat quietly in the cab for a little while.

Julian was a little worried, but he tried to reason with himself over it.

Sophia had said it would do for a stop gap, and besides…well besides he wasn’t quite sure at the moment, but just for now…he snapped himself out of it.

“I guess we ought to get to moving our stuff inside…”

It had been difficult to hide the sense of resignation in his voice.

Sophia turned to look at him and smiled.

“Come on Julian…” she said “…it isn’t that bad”

She did sound quite convincing Julian thought, he cheered up a bit and they both walked up to the front door.

Julian pulled out the keys for the place, and opened the front door.

As Sophia began peering inside “Wait!” he said, holding up his arm in a full display of dramatic significance.

Sophia looked at him, a little confused.

Julian then gathered Sophia in his arms, and carried her in to the hallway.

Sophia tucked her head under Julian’s chin and rested there, while he carried her around the ground floor, pointing out the various key elements of the rooms.

He would’ve shown her the upstairs, but they had left the Van’s back doors open, and he just didn’t trust himself with Sofia, whilst they were looking around bedrooms.

He put her down at the back of the Van, and they began relaying their stuff into the new house.

When they’d done, after Julian had locked the Van back up, they sprawled out on some bean bags and tried to figure out which of the boxes and cases might have a kettle inside it…”That one…” Sofia seemed pretty sure. Julian wasn’t entirely convinced, but he went over and opened the case and started throwing out the scrawled up newspaper that was hiding whatever was in it “…plates, cups…this is one of yours” he said “…is it worth me digging any deeper?”

Julian looked over to where Sophia was sitting, he realised that he wasn’t going to be able to keep this ‘hunt for the kettle’ up for much longer.

Firstly, he didn’t really need a cup of tea, they’d grabbed some thick shakes from a garage where they’d stopped to fill up with petrol on the way.

Secondly, a cup of tea was not going to make the odious task of unpacking all these crates and boxes, and trying to find homes for everything go away; and thirdly, Sophia had started to unbuckle the back of her boots.

He sat up, wrapped his arms around his knees, and waited until Sophia had unzipped her final boot, and slid them off her legs.

Julian kept his voice steady, he knew that if he didn’t, they’d both be heading upstairs to the bare mattress, and this was somehow a special set of moments for both of them, he thought “I don’t need to get the Van back to David until tomorrow…” he hinted.

Sophia smiled “Come here” she said.

He made himself some room on Sophia’s Bean Bag and laid his head on her belly.

Looking up at the ceiling, he started to visualise how they could maybe paint some sort of quasi-universal roof mural.

Then remembered that a friend of his, who worked in the Green Bookshop in town, had already done so and it looked…well, he had to be honest, crap.

He was still ruminating on how gloss purple and silver just do not go together, like at all…anywhere, when Sophia stopped twiddling with his hair and said “Do you like Cats or Dogs…?”

That was an easy one, Julian thought “Cats” he said emphatically.

He was waiting for Sofia to point out that she liked Dogs, which would’ve complicated things as Julian would have to admit; the thought of sharing their space with one…he didn’t want to think about.

He waited.

He wondered if he was ever going to get an answer, and also maybe, that Sofia was a dog lover, and that possibly dog lovers, being a little bit different by nature…he decided to play safe “…I’ve never kept pets” he said diplomatically “…although we did keep a couple of rabbits in a hutch in the garden once…” he felt that he also needed to stress that he wasn’t averse to keeping pets.

He waited just a little bit longer, Sophia had begun twiddling with his hair again, and he was about to add something about them having a small garden when Sophia said “…you weren’t thinking of getting one where you?”

Julian felt that he had covered all the bases in his own mind, around keeping a pet, and he also knew that he hadn’t had any thoughts to introduce one into their environment “No” he answered absent mindedly.

The time was heading towards late lunch, getting on for half two “Do you want to go up to the Pub?”

Julian had already made a full reconnaissance sweep of the village, and the only blips on the radar he’d made notes on, were: the one pub, and a small rickety village hall, in what seemed to be either a playing field, or a football pitch, he wasn’t sure which “…it’s got Oak Beams, and they do food…”

Sophia wrapped her legs around Julian, and dropped her head down next to his “I’m not sure…” she said into his ear.

Sofia had also decided that what with everything becoming a bit strawberry whirlwind; the escape from Anna, living with Julian in a new house in the country, and all the unpacking to do, that this was a particularly special experience for them, but that they needed to get some priorities sorted out, and immediately.

“You realise that when we get back we’ll still have just a mattress upstairs?” she patted him on the head “If you can’t find the kettle, the least you can do is dig out some bedding” she stared into his eyes to emphasise how serious this was “…before we go to the pub” she fluttered her eyelashes, and smiled at him. Julian got up, and set about finding a Quilt…and all that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter II

The Village Pub (1)

Julian had found the bedding and several other absolute essentials they might need while they arranged the house as they saw fit, during the first few crucial days.

He had made the bed (with ‘hospital corners’), and they set off to the Village Pub; to acquaint themselves with what would become their local, have a few beers and possibly something to eat too “…do you know what I’ve always wanted?” Julian said.

Sofia smiled “Go on…” she said.

“…a Grandfather Clock

Julian had made even the existence of such magnificent, and powerful items sound so…significant, Sofia began immediately to wonder why owning a ‘Grandfather Clock’ could be so important to him.

She looked at him sideways “why…?” she asked.

For some reason she had begun to think of some form of ‘Tolkienesque’ magic that Julian could perform if he were given access to a Grandfather Clock.

The idea began to take root, and she waited impatiently, and almost nervously, for what the answer would be to the rationale for wanting one…

If there were some esoteric, or even sinister, ulterior reason that made Julian want a Grandfather Clock, he didn’t let on “I just like the sound of them…” he said brightly.

“tick..tock…..tick..tock” he explained, using his arm as a pendulum to illustrate the grandiosity of the ticking of a Grandfather Clock.

Thankfully, the regulars in the pub hadn’t noticed Julian’s demonstration of theatrical illustration.

Sofia knew this, as she had immediately scanned the bar just as he had begun to go through it “…well, as long as it isn’t in the bedroom..” she said, but Julian interrupted “Yes, but they’re so expensive” he went on “It’s incredible, you won’t get one for less than a few hundred” he looked glum.

Julian took a swig of his pint.

He’d brought up the subject of money, and in a way he thought it might be a good idea to extend the conversation into some ‘Brass Tacky’ type areas “Well it’ll have to wait until I can get us a car…” he still looked a bit glum “I have to say I’m not looking forward to going to work next week on the bus…” he almost shivered with disgust as he said the words and had to take a long pull on his beer.

Then an idea seemed to occur to him, it must have been a good idea, as his eyes lit up.

Sofia had not seen the suggestion coming, and she happily sipped away on her Vodka and Lime while she thought about what sort of car Julian would ‘look good’ driving, and also what sort of car he might actually want to drive.

“Julian…” she asked, as the alarm bells started to ring.

Julian looked up from juggling in his mind various ways of asking Sofia to join him on the bus to work in the mornings; he hadn’t been getting very far.

“Yo!” he answered, as if she had called him to attention.

“…what sort of car had you been thinking of getting?” the question took Julian a little unawares…only in that he hadn’t really thought about it until now.

He began to.

He soon ran into difficulties as he realised that most of the car’s he liked, Sofia might not consider ‘ordinaire’.

And it was Sofia who had persuaded him (he was honest with himself, it hadn’t taken much) to buy a car, and not another motorbike.

The most refined Julian could narrow down his idea of a car he liked, involved ‘five slot’ wolf-race wheels, a V8 engine, and if at all possible, General Grabber tyres (for the rear wheels).

He needed some pointers from Sofia “…not sure really, have you got any ideas?” he said.

Sofia shrugged “..oh, I don’t suppose it’s that important” she said.

Julian agreed, and they both went back to studying the pub around them.

Over time; they had begun to spend less of their quieter moments gazing at each other, and had begun to spend more of these times, taking in their surroundings as well.

Although these comfortable silences could still go on for a long time.

“How about a Ford Capri?” Julian burst out with suddenly, then added in a slightly more subdued voice “and you can choose the colour…” he waited. Sofia quickly suppressed a giggle by drawing Vodka and Lime through the bendy-straw she’d insisted on at the bar “…fine!” she said, by speaking through the side of her mouth as she sucked.

Julian was impressed by this display of novel ingestion, and made a mental note to challenge Chris to do the same, the next time they were out for a beer “Ford Capri it is…”

He began to imagine a Ford Capri with wolf-race 5 slots all round, a V8 and a slight jack for the rear wheel general grabbers, he finished his beer “Stay for another one?” he said.

Sofia looked at her watch, it was nearly half past five “No, let’s get back…” they did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter III

Like the First Morning…

Sofia woke first, and the first thing she noticed was the heat in the room.

Julian had pointed out the central heating controls on a tour they’d conducted before going to the pub, and he had diligently set the timers, temperature control, and so forth, and had obviously thought that they might freeze in the night and had quite clearly set everything on full blast.

Sofia thought that the temperature in the room must be in the 80’s at least, and it wasn’t a pleasant heat either. It created a sort of dry and hollow sensation.

She slid out of bed and opened one of the windows slightly, gulping in the refreshingly moist early morning air.

She hadn’t woken Julian; he had managed to get through two pints for every Vodka and Lime she had managed in the pub the afternoon before so, she reasoned, it might take some more serious noises or disturbance, before he’d join her in the land of the living.

She looked at him and slid silently back into bed.

She had never heard him snore, and watching him just now, laying on his back blissfully unaware that he had been at risk of dehydration if Sofia had not realised the dangers and opened the window, and remembered that if a person was going to snore, they were more likely to do so if they were sleeping on their back.

She felt quite relieved that it was now highly likely she hadn’t moved in with a man who might keep her awake, or worse, wake her up in the middle of the night, with the sound of distant thunder, or dysfunctional farm machinery…

Sofia began considering a number of subtle, yet guaranteed ways of waking him.

She finally settled on something a little ‘daring’, something that might not work (in that she might get discovered as she was laying the final preparations), but something that was definitely worth a go.

Sofia lifted the quilt slightly and began sliding beneath it, taking great care not to touch Julian anywhere.

She had just begun to move under it when she heard Julian sniffle and almost mumble something out loud.

Sofia thought she’d blown it, but realised a second or two after, whilst remaining completely still, that Julian must’ve been dreaming, and that she hadn’t in fact woke him up.

She had her head down by his feet, and she managed to lift her leg completely over him without touching him.

Complete success, she thought.

Then very gradually, Sofia began to slide backwards towards him on the bed and as soon as she thought she was near enough, she closed in for the kill.

Completely enveloping his nose and mouth Julian murmured something, but he was a bit tongue-tied.

There was only one drawback to how she woke Julian up in the mornings, Sofia thought to herself a few hours later, and that was that it could delay whatever else they did during the day, by quite some considerable amount of time.

When Julian began work…Sofia didn’t want to think about it.

She finished making Hot Chocolate, grabbed the chilled Apple Juice and Plain Chocolate Digestives and set off upstairs with them on a tray.

Julian was rolling a joint.

Julian looked up at Sofia “Are you going to be OK tomorrow?”

Sofia had put the tray down, and she wrapped her dressing gown around her as she sat down on the bed

“..what do you mean?” she said, she seemed a little bit confused “why wouldn’t I be?”

Julian smiled and passed her the joint “You won’t get bored while I’m at work” he said.

Julian had in mind that his first day back at work at the Royal Marine Commando Museum, starting tomorrow after a short bus journey, was going to be one of the best days of his life for him so far.

He really was that excited about it.

It wasn’t just the money {although that helped}, he just thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by period military ephemera, and that was what his new job was.

Julian had worked at the Museum about three years before. At that time he had joined a team who were renovating {to display condition} a flat bed lorry that had been used during World War Two as a travelling, hoisting and securing platform for Barrage Balloons.

As far as Julian knew, once the project had been complete, the Museum had swapped the flat bed for one of the earliest surviving examples of a Royal Marine amphibious raft, which was still on display at the museum.

His boss at that time, a Peter Johnson, had in fact interviewed Julian for the job, as Julian had been expecting, and naturally enough, recalling Julian’s diligence and enthusiasm, gave him the job, over and above several hundred other applicants.

Peter had shown him around the small warehouse where the vast number of multifarious firearms he would be expected to work with were stored. They were loose on shelves, some were still boxed, and some looked as though they’d been removed from aircraft or vehicles they were so large. It was going to be a long and arduous task.

Sofia had to think for a little while about what Julian had asked.

It had occurred to her quite a few times since the plans that they were now living inside of, had begun to take shape. In a way it had sort of become the ‘One Million Dollar Question’, so she took her time over answering.

Would she get bored?’ she thought.

Would being in an isolated house with nothing but the now vastly extended {with Julian’s contribution} LP collection, the telephone, the TV and a sporadic bus service to keep her in touch with more populated areas, send her completely mad?’ Sofia noticed that Julian didn’t seem to be in any hurry to hear her answer, he was looking at her with real concern in his eyes.

She felt that maybe Julian too, had spotted that this was the Million Dollar Question himself, and that he loved her enough to allow her to consider it carefully, and answer him honestly. She began also to think about the pile of boxes downstairs, he would probably now leave her to unpack “what” she said “with all that stuff downstairs still in boxes…” she didn’t give him time “…are you taking the piss?” and with that she began whacking him around the head, with one of the pillows she’d been quietly pulling towards her whilst she’d been thinking.

Julian curled his arms around his head; to avoid serious harm, and also to hide his laughter.

He felt any outward display of amusement on his part, would only provoke Sofia.

Julian let her exhaust herself, after all, he thought, in some respects she was right.

He had wanted to spend their last day together, before he began his new job doing something other than unpacking boxes and ‘moving in’.

Sofia had relaxed with the pillow, and she sat cross-legged and out of breath on the bed “I’m going to miss you…” she said sadly.

Julian thought for a short while, dispelled any feelings he knew he could not afford to linger on and said “If we stayed up all night, you could sleep while I was at work…then we could get on with the unpacking when I get back…how’s that?” he seemed serious.

Just at that moment, Julian seemed to become very suddenly aware of something.

His face went white as a ghost, and his eyes snapped into a sort of semi-conscious blank stare.

Before Sofia had had the chance to ask what was wrong with him, he seemed to snap out of it as quickly as this bizarre state had come over him.

He turned to face Sofia “What day is it?”

The gravity with which Julian had asked, had Sofia thinking all kinds of crazy, nonsensical notions, most of which thankfully she was able to dismiss from her mind as fast as they petered through her schemata “..Friday .”

Sofia’s nerves had started to fray, and some of the insane notions she had been having as to why what day it is was very, very important to Julian just at that moment started to creep back, as she realised that she might actually be wrong.

“…possibly Saturday…?” she offered timidly.

“Oh my god” Julian was still staring right at her.

“Julian stop mucking about – why is it so important?” she pleaded.

“We were invited to a Party . .”

Julian seemed to be relaxing a bit, and went on “..but if it is Saturday, then I think we’ve missed it …”

He finished speaking and sullenly looked down at his legs.

Sofia didn’t know how to react; She was relieved, confused and a bit angry all at once.

What was refreshing was the thought that they had been invited to a party, and that the invite must have been very important to Julian. A pleasant sense of curiosity dispelled the ridiculous notions she had been having.

She decided she was pretty hungry.

“What’s in the kitchen?” she snapped at Julian.

Julian was in no way particularly surprised that Sofia was feeling a bit tetchy.

The last week had been a complete nightmare for both of them at times, and the miracle had taken them both by surprise.

“There is Jam, and I think there are a few slices of bread …” he tailed off.

Sofia went off into the kitchen.

“There’s been something I’ve been meaning to tell you for ages…”

Sofia shouted from the kitchen.

Julian didn’t answer.

“…All this sex we’ve been having” statement not question.

Julian’s eyes went blank and he looked up, into the empty space before them.

“I’m on the Pill. Have been since we’ve been having it”

The sentence ended rather abruptly for Julian but he had not time to digest whatever importance he supposed he had been expected to understand from the comment.

Sat staring off into space, he only just heard, a quiet tap on the door.

Sofia wouldn’t have heard it, so he didn’t shout out they had visitors, and got up to answer the door.

It was Anna.

“Hello Julian” Anna said matter-of-factly.

Not quite sure how to react, he just stood there.

Thankfully for him, he didn’t have time to think.

“I’m pregnant” she said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prologue

Julian took Anna by the arm and said, as he walked her towards David’s van

“Don’t say anything, and don’t turn around”

He got into the driver’s seat and opened the passenger door for Anna to get in

“Hurry!” he hissed at her.

She got in, and with a crunch of gravel he drove away…