[One Shot- We were perfect, we were nothing, we were forever… until you broke it.' When you're blown away by the boy next door...
This is actually huge so don't read it unless you have the time or whatever... I mean I do want you to read it and all but just a warning.
I was 9 when he moved in next door to me. I was the beginning of summer. I know that because I remember I was playing on the trampoline out back when I heard the removal truck pull up outside.
I carried on jumping. He would tell you I was acting like I wasn’t interested but I say different. I say I honestly was not bothered in the slightest. We’d lived there for 6 years; my 2 brothers my parents and me and had had just as many people move into that house next door.
So as they all piled out of the family car with new house excitement I carried on bouncing up and down, up and down and hummed the tune one of the songs a ska band had been playing at the free festival a couple of days before.
It had only taken him two days to work up the courage to stand on the garden table and introduce himself over the fence as I sunbathed on the trampoline. I sat up and said ‘Hi’ back.
We’d exchanged names; Olivia and Frank, and ages; we were both in the same year of school but I was 9 compared to his 10. My birthday was tomorrow I told him before disappearing into my house where my Mum was yelling at me about how sensitive my skin was to the sun.
I spent every day that summer with him. I have the photos in front of me now. It was easily the best summer of my life. Up until then I’d never really had many friends and the ones I did have always felt temporary. As if either of us could move onto better and brighter things any second.
Frank was different though. He already had Cds and tapes of the music I was just starting to get into and he was trying to teach himself how to play the guitar on his Dad’s beat up acoustic. He played a very good A chord and not much else but it was far more glamorous than my rendition on ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ on recorder.
That September we both started at the same senior school. We weren’t in any of the same classes so we made friends in different places. He buddied up with the guys who lived and breathed music and got into trouble frequently for writing lyrics instead of doing there work and for sticking band stickers on the front covers of their exercise books. I got talking to a bunch of girls who weren’t really anything. We were all pretty different and by all rights shouldn’t really fit together but we did. We weren’t known as freaks or anything but… well we just weren’t known full stop.
It didn’t matter though because he still came round every night after school and in Christmas day him and his parents came round and ate dinner with us. He bought me an old Smashing Pumpkins tape and I gave him a guitar book. Then we played board games with our families and watched Christmas films. We fell asleep head and tail on the sofa so they left us there until we woke up the next morning.
It was the best Christmas of my life.
When we went back to school things were different. Me and my friends weren’t so invisible and Frank and his friends started hanging out together a lot more. Me and Frank grew apart and the only time I ever saw him was when I was outside on the trampoline looking through his conservatory windows. I would watch him and his new friends watching old horror movie re-runs the way we would until my Mum shouted at me that it was raining and ‘was I bloody man? Did I want to catch pneumonia?’
You see my friends weren’t so invisible but I still was. Even to Frank.
Years passed in a blur and suddenly I had new friends and new confidence. I could make people laugh with my witty pessimism and guys liked me because I liked real bands and didn’t giggle hysterically at everything they said.
Girls liked me too because I didn’t try to steal their boyfriends and because they could talk to me about stuff that went deeper than hairstyles and boys.
Against the odds my social ranking rose and I was no longer invisible but was some that people would ask after if I miss school. Apart from to Frank. To him I was no longer his good friend Livi but ‘the girl who lived next door’. He didn’t even smile at me in the street anymore. I almost hated him for it.
Then one day I got a shock. It was 3 days into the beginning of year 10 and I was happy enough. Most of my best friends were with me in my classes and I had some pretty nice teachers. Then I turned up to science one day to find Frank sitting in the empty space that was usually beside me. I shared a questioning glance with Abi who just shrugged her shoulders so I did too. I spent the rest of the lesson wondering who had dropped this face from the past in front of me so readily without any explanation.
We didn’t talk even though he’d moved into my set from his and was now in nearly all of my lessons. It was awkward because up until now we’d basically ignored the amazing few months we’d spent as best friends but we couldn’t avoid each other now. He was there and he was real and he wasn’t going away.
It started with smiles. The next day when I walked into science, late as usual, I took my seat and smile a greeting at him. Natural as anything. He kind of grimaced back at me as if he thought I was mad but I didn’t care. He’d responded. I spent the rest of the lesson talking to Abi about some boy in my history class but I smiled at him every time I saw him after that. He smiles back twice that very same day.
This one day I was feeling pretty happy. I’d gotten really good marks in my English essay and it wasn’t raining and I’d finally shaken off a cold that had been haunting me for a week so yeah, I was pretty damn happy. I walked into science and took my seat next to Frank like normal ad just says ‘Hey so why’d you get moved anyway?’ I think he actually went into shock because his whole body froze up and he just sat there staring at me with his mouth slightly open and when he spoke his voice was all shaky. ‘They moved me up.’ I smiled and he smiled back and it all went on from there.
He started talking to me in other lessons after that and even moved to sit next to me in RS where neither of us really knew anyone. He shouted over the fence to me to ask to borrow some of my CDs and my tape of ‘The Lost Boys’ and when his parents came round for a ‘few drinks’ with my parents on their monthly drinking night together he came around too.
Frank and I just sat blowing up zombies on my new PS2 game while our parents got drunk but it was just like before and when he left he said ‘We’ll have to do that again some time, maybe without the pissed parents.’ I hastily agreed and when he spontaneously hugged me goodbye I felt something reconnect inside me.
And so Frank and Livi’s friendship: Take 2 ensued.
He started seeing me at breaks some days and we’d go to town at the weekends and drawl over the guitars in the music shop. I was playing by then and when we were done window shopping we’d stop off at mine so I could grab my guitar and amp and then we’d go over to his and play together for a while. Then his Mum would invite me to stay for tea and I’d run next door to tell my Mum then run back and eat with them. Me and Frank would keep laughing as we remembered all the things that had happened that day and all the days beforehand.
Summer came round quick that year and as always I went to the festival that the local council put on at the beginning of summer every year. It was free and a lot of the local bands played. All the kids went it was sort of a ‘start of summer’ ritual. It marked the beginning of 6 weeks of freedom and ice cream and beaches. It was a guaranteed good time.
I went down with Frank and we spent the time flitting between his friends and my friends until we got bored of that and just stuck as a twosome. Fran managed to get some beers off the brother of a boy from school and we got pretty tipsy on them.
As the sun began to set I got cold and he lent me his hoody to warm up in. We stuck around for another few hours then began to walk home. It was a two day festival and we talked about the acts that were on tomorrow and rated the ones we’d heard of already.
‘Today was fun.’ He said as we neared our houses.
‘Yeah.’ I replied honestly and stifled a yawn.
‘Well I’ll see you tomorrow then… 11 o clock Ok?’
‘Sure!’ I agreed with true enthusiasm.
He walked a bit closer to me and I assumed he was going to give me a goodbye hug like he normally did when he was feeling a bit emotional. I smiled as I felt his strong arms encircle me and as his lips brushed against mine I realised that I’d been waiting for him to do that since we met.
‘Good night Livi.’ He’d said once we parted.
‘Yeah. Pleasant dreams.’ I’d smiled and we returned to our houses ready for what tomorrow was sure to bring.
He asked me out on the 2nd day of the festival. It was nice being with him. We actually went out to places together and hung out around each others houses doing things other than making out. It was a nice break from the other guys I’d dated who only seemed to know how to eat, sleep and make out.
I fell in love with his olive green eyes and his strong arms and his girly laugh. He fell in love with my smile and the way I’d call him short even though he was still taller than me. If I was feeling miserable he would actually sing Kate Nash at me, the song that goes ‘Your smile is beautiful and it makes me happy’. If he was feeling miserable I’d stare into those amazing eyes and tell him I loved him and that I’d always be there for him if he needed me. It’s a shame what happened later on. It really is.
When school started up again in September there was a new girl in town. She went by the name of Tanya and I took an instant dislike to her. She was in mine and Frank’s classes and after two days of her being around all the girls upped the security surrounding their boyfriends and everyone who was crushing on someone made a move on that person before she did. ‘Man eater’ springs to mind. So does ‘Selfish, lying, deceitful, manipulative, man stealing whore of a bitch.’ But that doesn’t have the same ring to it.
She was like me in many ways and maybe that’s why we ended up hanging around with her. She liked the same music we did and she even like The Lost Boys, a film no-one but Frank and I seemed to know existed. When I say she was like me I mean we shared a handful of likes and dislikes and had the same witty pessimism. That’s where the comparisons end though. Where girls liked me because I had strong beliefs on how girls should stick together and definitely not sleep with each others boyfriends she’s slept with 3 boys in her first night of being here. Where I’d made people laugh with my sarcasm and had aimed it mostly at teachers or bigots she made people cry with it. She tore people to the bone with it. I hated her. Frank liked her. I was stuck with her.
A few months later we went on Christmas break. Everyone I knew was looking forward to a break from the bitch known as Tanya. I knew I wouldn’t get one though. I was going to visit family up north for 5 days but when I got back she’d be there. Her arm around Frank’s neck looking at me, waiting for me to tell her she couldn’t get him so she could prove me wrong. Her eyes daring me to make one wrong move and risk loosing everything. I thought that if I never said anything she’d just keep on waiting. I put too much faith in her humanity.
The trip away was good. The break from a certain person was nice and Frank called me every other day so I didn’t miss him too much We had an early Christmas dinner at my Gran’s house like we did every year and traded gifts that we would save until real Christmas. When we left I was sad to say goodbye. My little cousin started crying and I gave her my bracelet to look after until next time I saw her. She clutched it to her chest and nodded determinedly even though I knew I’d never see it again.
We left late and I had napped in the car along with my Mum and brother while my Dad drove us home. I opened my eyes as we turned the corner into my road and watched the familiar houses pass by with sleepy eyes. I saw my house sitting next to Frank’s house as always. Frank’s bedroom is at the front and I noticed that his bedroom light was still on.
As I helped my parents unload the Christmas presents while the boys slept I look up at his window again. I really want to see him and my sleepy brain forgets about parents and curfews and wants to go around and see him.
On my third trip out to the car to take some more stuff inside I see Frank’s silhouette in the window. I stank in my drive looking up at him and will him to look down and notice me so I can tell him to come down and welcome me back. Just as I’m about to give up on my obviously lacking telepathic skills I see another silhouette appear at the window. It looks like… but it can’t be…
The figures grew closer until they were joined as one at the mouth. The space between them disappears and Frank’s hand reaches out to draw the curtains before I’m sick in the flower bed.
My welcome homes always suck. I never take ant infestations or break ins so badly any more.
I avoided him for a few days but on Christmas eve my family were scheduled to go round to theirs for a few drinks and mince pies to help get in the festive mood. I went as slowly as possible but when someone only lives next door it’s hard to drag it out.
The next thing I knew I was sandwiched between him and his Dad on the sofa being told a load of stories about him as a kid. What made it worse was that he didn’t know I knew. So he put his arm around me and kissed me goodbye and I never once said anything to him because what could I say? I loved him.
Christmas day I drank a lot of wine. I shouldn’t have really because I always get gobby when I’m drunk and I knew Frank and his parents would be coming around as usual but I liked the freedom and the feeling that it gave me so I drank it. Then I waited until me and Frank were alone together in the front room before taking a deep breath and plunging straight in, head first.
Well I was all set to but he got a phone call. He answered it and it was obvious he didn’t want me to over hear but there was no where he could go and I’m not going any where.
“Yeah it was good fun. No I don’t think that will be possible. Yeah she’s back now, I’m with her tight now actually. Our parents are mates we always meet for Christmas. I live just next door to her. No she was away I told you that. Is this conversation going anyway? What?! No! I love her. Please don’t. You bitch… Merry fucking Christmas.”
He hung up and ran a hand over his now tired looking face.
“Who was it?”
“No one seemed to piss you off quite a bit.”
“Yeah. No one’s a bitch.”
“3 guesses who ‘no one’ is then.”
“Don’t be so harsh on her Livi.”
“She’s a boy stealing whore.”
“Yes I know you’ve told me.” I had. I told him at every opportunity because I thought it would make a difference. Maybe he wanted to be stolen.
“So was she a good shag?”
We argued that night. We didn’t shout because our parents were in the next room and my brothers were just outside in the hall playing darts. It went something like,
“You what?” That’s Frank playing dumb.
“You heard me. I saw you in the window. You must have seen my car when you looked out but you didn’t see me. She stayed all night. I watched her leave. She was doing that walk like she does when she gets he way. She hates me. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice? I live next door to you for fucks sake.”
“I’m really sorry Livi. I just… you were away and I was lonely and she was there and I still love you. Don’t let her ruin us please?”
“I was only away for 5 days and she never ruined us. You did.”
“I’m only male Livi.”
“You’re a wanker.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. But that’s never enough.”
“Please give me a second chance? I’ll do anything. I’ll beg you. Look at me Livi. I’m begging. I’m down on my fucking knees and everything. Please? Please don’t do this.”
“I thought you loved me.”
And then I cried.
I don’t see Frank much anymore. I’m out with my friends a lot trying to regain the friendships I discarded while I was with him. I’m not much older, just a few months, but I’m wiser. Just because a boy tells you you’re beautiful doesn’t mean he won’t shit on you like the rest of them. They come round for a BBQ the other day and he bought her. I mean how heartless. I left after an hour and went to Abi’s. We made muffins and ate ice cream and slagged them both off. It made me feel a bit better but I still love him. I still watch through his windows when I’m on the trampoline and the days when I see him sitting home alone and dead miserable are the days I’m most likely to smile.
We may be friends again some day. We may have Frank and Livi’s friendship: take 3, but I don’t know.
He’s embarrassed and I’m angry and there’s not a lot you can do with that except argue. He gave me all my CDs back the other day and I cried. I have him his necklace back that I borrowed long term and his guitar book.
Their house is up for sale now but he isn’t moving far. Just a few streets because his Mum is pregnant again and wants a bigger house even though there’ll still only be 4 of them.
I won’t miss him being there. I doubt he’ll miss me either.