Clear Night (Freddie, Part 4)

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‘What did I do?!’ he says.CC Image courtesy of juicyrai on Flickr

‘You want a list?!’

‘Yes!’

Oh.

‘OK – a list….’

I wait whilst he unlocks his bike.  Straightening up, he says with a smile:

You took my arm the other night.’

‘And then you offered me your arm!’ I say.

Freddie laughs. ‘But I offer my arm to anyone!  My friends, my sister, my mother…’

‘Well, you shouldn’t!  And – well – I didn’t know that!’

Neither of us speaks for a moment.

‘What else?’ he says.

I laugh.  ‘This is weird!  OK err… eye contact?’

He looks at me blankly.  I can see I’m going to have to come up with something more concrete.

‘OK, the other night, you insisted I bus back with you.  What was up with that?’

He looks puzzled.  ‘When?’  

Tuesday.  You were taking the bus, and you insisted I take it with you, even though it made more sense for me to take the tube.’

He frowns.  ‘But I took the tube with you, and I had my bike.’

We’ll get to that.

‘No, not that night, the other – oh, never mind.  Also, Beatrice noticed.’

He rolls his eyes.  ‘Argh there’s always a third party involved.’

‘Not just Beatrice – others.  It was obvious!  From your behaviour.  Like on Valentine’s Day.’

‘What about it?’ 

I sigh.  ‘Never mind.’

‘I still don’t understand,’ he says.  ‘When did I take the bus back with you?’

‘No, you didn’t – you tried to persuade me to, but I took the tube with Beatrice.  I don’t know, perhaps you’d had a bit to drink or something…’

CC image courtesy of quimby on Flickr‘No, because I’d given up alcohol for Lent.’

‘No, Lent hadn’t started…’

Shades of beige t-shirt here.

‘… I remember you saying that was the last night you could drink.’

‘Oh.’

‘But anyway, it was more just a general impression I got.’  I give him a nudge.  ‘You should be more careful!’

He looks sheepish.

‘Sorry,’ he says.  ‘I suppose I thought, that because we’ve known each other as long as we have, I could behave that way and you wouldn’t think it meant anything.’

‘But does having known someone a long time necessarily mean nothing can happen?’

‘Yes – in this instance.’

I suddenly feel very sad.

‘Well, I guess – I didn’t realise that,’ I say quietly.

We walk on in silence for a minute or so.  When conversation resumes, it’s about the weather.

‘You don’t have to walk me,’ I say, as we approach my stop.  ‘It’s the wrong direction for you – seriously.’

‘No I will.’  He laughs.  ‘So long as you don’t read anything into it!’

I laugh, in spite of myself. 

Crossing the road, he says, ‘I remember now, when I insisted you take the bus.’

‘So,’ I say, ‘why did you insist?’

He thinks for a moment.

‘I don’t know.’

The bus comes into view.

‘I’ll probably be home before you!’ he says, mounting his bike.

‘Probably,’ I say, ‘since I’ll walk the last bit.’

It’s a clear night.

CC Image courtesy of Greg Balzer on Flickr



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