October 28th, 1989
Ben rang first thing and asked if we could meet so we could talk. He said he’d come over but there was no way mum, or dad for that matter, would want him here, so I arranged to meet him.
Walking across the street to the shops, I couldn’t help but notice the vibrancy of the Autumn colours, almost at their peak. I felt nervous and excited at the prospect of seeing Ben and when I spotted him standing by the phone box, my heart did a little flutter but it was his smile that just about finished me off.
“Hey you,” he said, quietly.
“Hi,” I breathed.
“It really is.”
“Would you like to go for a walk?” he asked.
We headed in the direction of the bike path, an all too familiar place for us. At the spot where we almost kissed for the first time on a wintery night, many years ago, I felt tears spring to my eyes. Fortunately, Ben was forging ahead and didn’t notice. The more we walked, the easier it was to talk and by the time we reached the city centre we were actually laughing over goodness knows what.
“Are you hungry?”
I smirked. “When am I not hungry?”
“Common bond,” he said, laughing.
After gorging on Italian food, Ben asked if I was ready to go home. Knowing dad was with mum, I didn’t feel the need to rush home so I said, “Not really. How about you?”
He shrugged and said, “Dead Poet Society’s playing at The Point.”
“Is that the film with Robin Williams?”
He nodded, yes.
“I figured with this being a Saturday, you’d have plans for tonight.” I was referring to Mandy but I didn’t want to bring her name into the conversation.
“Nope,” he said. “I’m game if you are.”
In three seconds, I went from wanting to say, “Ok, let’s go,” to “No way,” to “I’d love to.”
The thought of a miserable night in with mum and dad (mostly dad, mum is still in bed) prompted me to say, “Sure, let’s go and see it.”
The film was excellent and afterwards we had a quick drink at the bar. When we stepped outside, the air felt crisp and much nippier than earlier but we instinctively started walking home.
The conversation flowed and half an hour later, as we neared my house, Ben blurted, “Maybe we can be friends after all.”
I felt myself smiling, inside and out.
And despised myself for it.