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He hooked his arm around my shoulder suddenly and pulled me to him.
“Thanks mate. It means a lot, you know.” He said gruffly. I went red.
“I’m gonna stick with you, you know that, right?” I asked him.
“Aye, I do know that.” He replied, “I’ve known that from the start.” He stood
“I want t’ go down to the river. Y’ coming?” he asked, indicating the keys to
his motorbike. (He knew how much I loved to go out on the bike, especially when
I went out on it with him.) I nodded. I was unsure whether it was a good idea,
because of him being so ill, but he seemed okay with it so I didn’t actually say
anything. We got our helmets and sat down, ready to go. I grinned.
“What? Aren’t ya getting into ya leathers?” I asked, not really expecting an
answer. To my surprise, he laughed.
“Ha ha. You were hoping I would, weren’t you?” he asked. I went bright red.
“Well, not today. Let’s just get out of here.” He told me. We yelled a quick
goodbye to his brother and before he could stop us, we were out of the door and
onto the bike. With a roar that resembled that of a lion, we sped away from the
kerb. This was magical.
As we were roaring towards the river, I thought about the “circumstances” remark
he’d made earlier. Yeah, he was ill, I thought, but that doesn’t mean that
people should treat him differently. On the contrary, that’s the worst thing you
can do. I just acted the way I always had with him;
A) Because I’m no good at acting out anything other than how I really feel, or
how things really are
B) Because he’d see right through it if I tried to put a “front” on
C) Because, to me, he was the same friend as I’d always had.
We arrived at his favourite spot on the river and he turned off the ignition. We
walked until we came to a bench, then we sat down.
I noticed that my friend seemed to be out of breath.
“We’ll sit for a while. Let you get your breath back.” I told him. He looked at
“I reckon that’s a good idea.” My friend paused. “So, did y’ enjoy the ride?” he
asked, smiling. I grinned.
“You know for a fact that I enjoyed the ride.” I laughed. My friend laughed with
me until we were reduced to gasping for breath.
“We’ll wait a while then I’ll be ready to go.” He gasped, still short of breath.
I rested my head on his shoulder. After a little while, my friend seemed to have
his breath back.
“Hey, we should be getting back.” He told me. I nodded. I was actually quite
happy to stay there, escaping from reality, for a long time. But sooner or later
I knew that we’d have to go back, to all of the uncertainty, to the awful
possibility of… you know.
“What you thinking about?” my friend asked.
“You know, just stuff.” I told him, aware of how much nonsense I’d just spouted.
He raised his eyebrows.
“You were thinking about ‘it’ again, weren’t you?” he asked quietly. I nodded,
regretting the fact that I’d ever brought the subject up again.
We just sat in silence for a while until the rain started to fall heavily.
“Damn. We could have seriously done without that!” I exclaimed. My friend
nodded. He took his jacket off and draped it over my shoulders.
“It’s okay; I don’t mind getting a bit wet.” I told him. He shook his head.
“You’re okay mate. Keep it on.” He muttered. I slipped the jacket on properly
and I was startled at how well it fitted. Before, on the one occasion I’d had to
wear one of his other jackets, it had been way too big. (He’d never been fat, in
fact, he used to go to the gym every day.) We walked as fast as we could to the
motorbike. Without even telling him why, I got on to the front. I drove the bike
to my friend’s house, hoping that the rain wouldn’t get worse. When we got
there, I saw him through the front door and ran to my own home. It was only when
I got back at I realised that I still had his jacket. Oh well, I thought, I’ll
give him it back when I go round the next time.
A couple of days later, I was sitting watching T.V in bed when the phone rang.
Odd, I thought, it’s my friends number. I answered.
“Hi.” I said, unsure why he’d rang at 20 past midnight.
“Katie, is that you?” a growling voice asked.
“Yes, it’s me.” I muttered. Now I was scared. It wasn’t my friend on the phone.
It was his brother.
“It’s…It’s Ricky. He’s been admitted to hospital.” He stammered, clearly upset.
“What the heck happened?!?!” I exclaimed, leaping out of bed.
“He got worse about an hour ago. I didn’t want to hang about, so I called an
ambulance. Just before they…took him, he made me promise to get you. He pretty
much shouted it and, in the state he was in, it must’ve taken a lot.” The poor
guy was almost in tears by now. “I promised I would. What else could I say?” he
asked, now actually crying.
“You did the right thing.” I told him, quickly pulling on whatever clothes I
could find. “Come and get me. I’m ready to go.”
“I’m on my way.” His brother told me. He hung up. As soon as I knew he’d gone, I
started to cry. Oh pull yourself together, I thought; you can’t cry now, you
need to keep it together. I pulled my shoes on and, with a lurch of my stomach,
I realised I’d automatically put Rick’s jacket on. Well, I thought, I might as
well leave it on. I was just walking to the front door when the bell rang. I
tore open the door and, together, Rick’s brother and I ran the whole distance to
Part 1 --
Part 2 --
-- Part 4
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