It took William Hayle some time to organise his room, he did not have much to unpack but his anal nature meant that everything had to have a place and it was finding these areas that took up most of that time. He didn’t, after all, want his dorm to end up as it had before he returned to Happelingham. He found his room to be fairly large for him, like most it had a fairly large bookshelf and a small television that he supposed were for studying. A stout desk lay at the far end of the room and a double bed to the right of the door, all fairly generic to William. He had however requested that a piano be put into his room, which had been done to his surprise and he placed an open book of music on the stand in order to try and make the room look somewhat sophisticated and next to the piano he placed his violin, otherwise his belongings were spread across the room. CDs and books on shelves and his clothes in the wooden wardrobe in the corner, the room had a very old fashioned feel to it- especially with the wallpaper that William could only describe as vomit coloured; happily he eventually saw that the rest of the rooms had been similarly and hideously decorated.
After the hours of deliberation as to the location of his belongings, he felt like a walk. By this time the dimly lit day had become a fairly bitter evening, but still William gazed at the tapestry of stars above him- marvelling as his breath misted above him as he breathed. Unfortunately, as most people know, when one is looking up then where one is walking is rarely visible unfortunate also, was William’s lack of awareness and so he didn’t realise he was about to step into the busy high street until he heard a voice that, little did he know, would change everything.
"Stop!" Came the accented shout, and William snapped out of his reverie and turned to see a heavily dressed girl running towards him. But as she ran at him, she slipped on a handily placed frozen puddle and fell straight into William, throwing both of them into one of the many mounds of snow that were piled at the side of the footpath. In catching her William had managed to end up in quite a tangle, as they both lay in the snow they found themselves in a kind of embrace. His hands were placed on her sides whilst hers were wrapped around him where she had attempted to stop herself falling.
Presently she looked up at him, and her gaze met his as they both recovered from the shock of their fall and as her friends collapsed in laughter the just looked at each other and William took a breath as he looked into her stunning green eyes, of such a green that made his heart skip, a green that ebbed and flowed from pale to darkness. Her soft, scarlet lips were curved in an embarrassed and uncertain smile and her supple pale skin became rosier at her cheeks as they both began to laugh at the situation, her curled brown hair gently swayed above him as neither of them seemed to make any effort to get up. She reached for a red beret that had fallen from her head as she fell and as she reached William couldn’t help but notice her chest and in attempting to avert his gaze he looked away until he was looking straight up and saw the familiar face of Christopher Rundell above him.
"William Hayle, you dog!" The Australian shouted crudely.
"Oh God…" William said under his breath, which caused the girl to give him a surprised look. He carefully helped her up, and turned to look at Christopher who spoke to him through a poorly groomed beard as William brushed snow off the girl’s back and off himself.
"That’s right Will, come home and get some, eh?!" Christopher chuckled. He was every inch a rugby player, and even now in the evening he wore the school’s rugby jersey over his finely toned form. His dark hair was rough and unkempt in a similar manner to his beard.
"Don’t be crude, Creedence." He replied and turned to the girl. "Are you okay?" He asked sympathetically.
"Uh… Yeah I think so, thanks." She said, brushing the rest of the snow off her red coat and sending a sharp dagger filled look at her giggling friends. "I think I better be off, my friends are… annoying… Thanks for catching me, I guess."
"No problem… Thanks for trying to stop me… walking into traffic." He smiled. Trying to take in every moment of her presence around him, all the while Christopher was fighting back laughter.
"That’s okay, well… It’s been uh… surreal meeting you. Goodbye" She smiled and awkwardly waved at him. He tired to wave back but by the time he had recovered his breath and his heart had restarted she had rejoined her friends and sped off, to the sound of their hysterical giggles. William just stood, motionless, for a moment as if time had stopped all around him. It was if he had stepped into an old film, in which he had just met the girl whom he would ride into the sunset with at the end of the movie and he the found himself wishing that his life could be crammed into ninety minutes so he could reach that moment with her all the faster. As it was he didn’t even know her name.
Christopher had been talking the whole time, as at present laid a blow on William’s arm to snap him out of his reverie.
"Come on man, stop staring, she’s gone." He chortled whilst slapping William’s back.
"Who is she?" William whispered, almost to himself. "Tell me who she is…"
"I don’t know, mate." Christopher replied "Haven’t seen her before."
"You must do…" He looked at his friend pleadingly.
"She’s probably on holiday here, mate, you heard her- she was clearly foreign."
"I need to find her." William said, not really realising how weird he was sounding to his Australian companion.
"Just let it go man, she’s just a girl." Christopher consoled. "Would you like me to hit it out of you?"
"What?" William snapped out of it.
"I mean it, I could hit you so fucking hard that your mum would feel it in her womb…" He smiled, "It’d be sure to knock this sudden homosexuality out of you."
"My Mum’s dead!"
"Surely that makes the blow all the more impressive?" Christopher laughed, unbridled by William’s comment. "Come on, this is the first time I’ve seen you in years and I find you under some girl that you’re now obsessed with. So instead of being gay, come and get a drink!" He moaned, thumping William hard on the shoulder.
"You’re a crude fellow, Creedence, a very crude fellow." William relented, and embraced the huge man.
It was not that William disliked alcohol; indeed he quite enjoyed the taste of a fine beer or a sweet wine as much as most others, and it was not that he didn’t like pubs; their atmosphere actually appealed to him- something that would not be beneficial in later life. Neither was it that he did not, on occasion, enjoy the Australian’s company for, despite his regularly disgusting mannerisms. But he did not enjoy being in the company of a large group of people, all consuming alcohol and speaking in what mixed together became an intense, inaudible hum. Like they were communicating in some sort of hive mind complex, whenever William entered a public house a fight would inevitably break out- and he knew that with Christopher with him that that likelihood had raised something rotten.
To William’s surprise the night continued without incident though Christopher almost caused uproar when he attempted to talk to every woman at the bar, despite an awful lot of them being almost twice his age. William attempted to talk civilly to the muscled fellow, and Christopher shrugged off William’s questions of the girl he had met and tried his best to divert his attention from her by talking of what had happened in the years since William had last been in Happelingham. Most of which he already knew due to his correspondence with his sister, and then it came William’s turn to explain himself.
"He’s dying?!" Christopher exclaimed, taken aback.
"Cancer…" William lamented looking sadly into his glass. "He sent me a letter, requesting I return to Happelingham."
"For Jennifer?" Christopher now looked concerned.
"I think it’s more for him, there are a lot of things to sort out and I haven’t seen the old fellow in six years."
William sighed and looked around the room, seeing everyone moving about care free and he couldn’t help but think of a week or so before and then how quickly life can slip away. It all seemed like life was just an extraordinarily long game of poker, and in losing even a single hand one can find themselves in sheer misfortune, whether it be depression at losing or simply losing all of your chips and just acquiring a tumour. William wasn’t sure where tumours fitted into a game of cards, but the metaphor was always a loose one.
"I feel like William Bloom…" William said at length.
"Who?" Christopher questioned, his rudimentary rugby mind unable to think back far enough to books he had been lent by William.
"Big Fish… I mean I’ve finally come home for good, and yet I know all I can do wait for Alfred’s death."
Alfred Rigby was William and Jennifer’s adoptive father, an elderly kindly gentleman who devoted his time between two things. Writing and William’s sister, he doted on her with gifts and money and love. To William he gave a scholarship to one of the best public schools in England, but William wasn’t one to complain. He had always been grey haired since William had first seen him seventeen years previous, he was earnest and kind and despite his greying temples and dimming glass-aided vision he had always had an odd amount of energy and now all William could imagine him doing was sitting in his chair and reading waiting for his impending death.
"How’re you going to tell Jennifer?" Christopher interrupted.
"I doubt it’s my place, I think that’s up to Alfred." William said sadly, "After all she didn’t take too kindly to me telling her about our real father and the money he had left us."
"Looks like you’re in a bit of a mess, mate." Christopher gently chuckled.
"Yeah, good to be home." William returned the laugh.
"What about the girl?" Christopher asked, they had since stopped drinking and their beers were slowly growing warm as the night drew on.
"I got the impression you changed the subject before…"
"Yeah, well it’s less depressing than talking about your Alfred." Christopher said "So what’s the big deal with her?"
"I just feel that I need to find her." William again looked solemn.
"Well she was hot." Christopher beamed, William seeing how lecherous his face had become and new exactly what he was thinking. In all honesty William had similar thoughts; he couldn’t help thinking of her kissing him her green eyes staring deeply into his, with love and passion. He grasped at visions of her from his limited meeting, reaching deep inside his thoughts to gaze into her beautiful green eyes for as long as he can, before the image faded. He went through the scene in his head over and over, even as he spoke to Christopher. How tenderly he had held her as they fell together, how striking her beauty had been to him the first time he truly looked at her, how soft her coat had felt in his hands as he held her, how her clothes had creased in his soft grip, and how heavily her heart had beat within her breast as if it were attacking his which had seemed to simply stop in the moment.
If he’d realised how excited his heart was to be near another at last, he may have been more worried by it’s shyness and it’s stoppage as it was he passed it off as some undeveloped form of love. As he thought of her his heart would jump, when he thought of her cooing at his imaginary kisses and he felt an unfamiliar feeling in both his heart and stomach as if butterflies were flitting around his abdomen and his heart was being lightly stung by bees- butterflies and killer bees he mused. This he blamed on the alcohol.
"It’s more than that…" William said
His heart leaping once more as the image was conjured again.
"I felt something different."
"As well as something familiar, eh?" Christopher rudely commented.
"No." William gave him a harsh look.
"So you didn’t give her a bit of a poke?" Christopher genuinely looked shocked. "I’ll be honest, mate, you seemed quite unsure if yourself in that situation."
"Well I wasn’t sure." William looked out of the window into the wintery evening outside, snow gathered around the edges of the small glass squares. "It’s not everyday a girl falls on me."
"Let me ask you a serious question Will, as a friend, joking aside- how much experience do you have with women?" Christopher looked at his friend gravely. "I mean, you went to a boarding school girls there must have been gagging for it?! Or did you go to one of those all boy schools? Y’know, the ones that breed a certain type of upper class homosexuality?"
"There weren’t that many girls at all actually, in the school or with me." William responded, ignoring Christopher’s lewd suggestions. "And what’s the difference between regular and upper class homosexuality anyway?"
"Well upper class homosexuality generally involves digestives…" Christopher scoffed, as if it was an obvious and well known fact. "Will, you have to get out there. Forget this girl, find some others and have a bit of a ruck."
It became clear to William that his friend was beginning to get drunk, he could tell quite easily by the fact that he was now injecting rugby terminology into the conversation in lieu of regular language.
"I’m not interested in sex." William replied soberly.
"No, because you haven’t had a proper relationship!" Christopher now raised his voice. "You’ve been cooped up in that fucking public school of yours with a bunch of fellas and queers!"
"I figure I should point out that not everything revolves around sex and rugby, Creedence."
"It really does, mate." He smiled, drunkenly.
"It doesn’t, and you are really becoming quite drunk and thus incapable of conversation."
"Whereas you’re sober."
"Yes." William said "I remain in sense."
"Well, then may you lead the forces of sobriety in rebellion against my drunken and jovial ways. Christ, lighten up. The reason you’re sober is because your conversation is so damn sobering. You probably haven’t even drunk enough in your life to get anywhere near drunk!"
"Hey!" William interjected harshly. "I was damn tipsy once."