by Gaz Coward
College comes to an end and so does another part of my life....
| Most of the students who were planning on attending the prom night decided to skip most of their day classes so in aid of that the tutors decided it would only be fair to allow the rest of the students to go home and prepare for the night ahead. Instead of going home, I decided to go into town. Reason being, I needed something that made me look a lot older than I actually was because I didn't fancy getting stopped on the doors of my own college prom. I remember going into the local "Originals" store where I could get myself a brand new Rockport shirt and pants, the prices being too expensive though I decided on cheaper and I must say much nicer white shirt, black pants and shoes. The next stop on my afternoon shop was the actual club that the prpm would be taking place in. I'd totally forgot that I hadn't picked up my tickets from Laura back in college. Luckily, just as I was nearing the club, I saw Laura getting out of her car across the street, jogging over I called her name and she was surprised to see me. I told her I needed to pick up my tickets for the night.
"How many you need"? She asked.
"Five should do it" I insisted.
Five being tickets for my mates Tommie, Emma, Iain, Stuart and I, luckily she had some spare tickets and didn't question my big number as she handed them over to me.
By this point it was around six pm, the party would be starting at eight pm which meant I had an hour to get home, get changed, meet up with my friends, order a taxi and finally get into town for the night ahead. Making it home on my trusted moped, yes people, I rode a moped, it wasn't exactly restricted to the trusted thirty mph, it had been de-restricted meaning I could do a lot more than thirty but I think it'll be safer if I didn't reveal the speeds I reached when making the journey home, just for safety. All the nerves I had built up for the party ahead throughout the day were soon going to be blown out the window because not only did it turn out to be an amazing prom but probably one of the best parties I'd ever attended. Let's check out the party....
The clock struck seven pm, I was dressed and ready for the party, because of the trouble in high school my friends who had just arrived knew that this was my very first prom so they asked my mum if she would take a photo of our group so we could remember the night we went out sober and would be coming home legless. Before the taxi arrived we must have drank about two - three cans of lager each. This was normally the thing for teenagers to warm up before a party; my mum kept telling me to slow down because if I drank much more before the party I'd probably be drunk before reaching the actual club. When our taxi arrived, everyone seemed to lighten up a lot more as Emma was asking if there would be any fit single guys for her to meet and Tommie was asking if there would be any single girls he could get into. Iain turned to me and asked if I was still interested in Emmy? The girl I'd just so happened to tell him about, being totally honest though by this point I was kind of over her. I had retreated to the idea that she wasn't at all interested in me. Arriving at the club our taxi pulled up outside and we jumped out, luckily after a nice conversation with the driver he knocked ten pound off the apposed twenty pound fare and we only had to pay the remaining ten pound for the journey, not bad for someone who only makes money from the fares he takes throughout the night. After all, it was a Friday night so he was expected to pocket a great amount of cash when the fare was doubled from eleven pm onwards, the normal thing for a Friday night on the way to town as your transport. By this time the club was starting to fill up as we approached the main door, that's when the bouncer grabbed my arm and asked me for some I.D.
"Shit"! Went through my mind as I'd forgotten to bring it, how stupid of me!
"He's okay, I know him and he's in my class" Laura was on the door taking tickets.
The bouncer looked me up and down, like every bouncer I'd met in that past thinking he had so much more power over me because he was taller and bigger in terms of muscle. After a few moments though and thanks to Laura's continued insistence on who I was he gently let go of my arm and waved me inside, just as well as it was starting to rain. We handed our tickets over to Laura and made our way into the main building. The instant we walked in Andy and Stacey were already drinking the minutes away, although Andy was already starting to stagger, you could smell the vodka on his breath as he put his arm over my shoulder and escorted me to the bar. At that same moment my mind kind of went straight back to Emmy as I asked Andy if she had yet arrived, he mentioned she hadn't as I ordered myself a drink. Lluckily, I didn't have the same problem as I did on the door with I.D, me and Andy being skin headed he slipped me his I.D and I used it, to my surprise the young girl behind the counter didn't even question it. As the barmaid pulled me a pint of Carling we were joined at the bar by our tutor, she instantly picked up on the fact that Andy had slipped me his I.D card, then again she played the whole thing down by joking on what I was drinking.
"I take it your drinking cider tonight"? She asked.
"You know it Babb's"! I replied. Yep, I said Babb's, for the very first time.
Barbara's eyes lit up, I got to admit she scrubbed up very well for an older lady, if only I was ten or twenty years older, I would have so tried flirting with her for the value of trying to get that quick and easy straight "A". Quickly grabbing our pints we moved away from the bar towards the back of the room where Stacey was saving us the most comfortable seats in the house, for the first time in my life I felt like one of the popular students. Then again, I kind of was popular because Andy was already very popular, that was down to his wide sense of humour and attitude. Tommie, Emma, Stuart and Iain joined us as we all sat down, we all toasted to a good year of college, my friends happy I was enjoying myself. For the next hour or so we had a whale of a time, the drinks just kept coming, we must have been throwing the pints down us like water. We approached the light headed phase of drinking and the conversations got confusing and weirder by the minute. Two hours later and our group had slowly dispersed, Tommie, Emma and Iain had gone upstairs to enjoy the dance floor, Stuart and Andy on the other hand were standing on the ground floor, under the dance floor which was see through, yes that's right, I'll give you one guess as to what the enjoyment from that was. Me, I stayed with Stacey, back then lads could have girlfriends and not be dating them, even your friends trusted you not to make a move, you could have genuine conversations, and Stacey's choice was that of Emmy and me.
"I've seen you both, you know that"? She said.
"Excuse me, you've totally lost me"? I replied.
"I've seen you watching Emmy, I know you like her Gaz"! She insisted.
"What do you mean, you know I like her"? I asked as Andy and Stuart returned to the table.
"You know he likes who?" Andy said as he joined the conversation.
"Emmy, we know he likes her, don't we"? Stacey replied.
"Is this some sort of trick question"? Andy asked.
At that moment Stacey just stared at Andy, the two exchanging eye contact until they slowly broke into cheeky grins. Andy turned to me and explained things a bit better.
"Basically mate. It's no secret that you and Emmy have had a few quiet moments together at the end of the class? He said.
"Well yeah, but we haven't exactly been flirting with each other" I insisted.
What happened next really couldn't have come at a better time, Emmy entered the club and to my surprise she was on her own, there was no boyfriend on her arm, in fact she made a B-Line directly for us. Stacey stood and the two embraced in a friendly hug as Andy stared directly at me first making the joke on if we should hug or shake hands and then came those ever so dramatic words.
"It's now or never mate, you going to do something about her or what"?
I didn't know what to say but I do remember looking over the table at Emmy and getting a very cold shiver down my spine, no, it wasn't a shiver of coldness; it was a shiver of nerves and the feeling of wanting to grab and kiss her. I wanted to be her boyfriend, the one she should have walked in that club with and the one who should have been holding her hand. Instead of jumping on my feet and kissing her, I stood and asked if she'd like a drink, her reply.
"Sure, why not" With a cute smile and brush of hair behind her ear.
As I made my way to the bar, I noticed Stacey and Emma exchanged a couple of words, Stacey nodding about something as Emmy stood and followed me to the bar.
By this point Tommie, Emma and Iain had come back downstairs and joined Stacey and Andy again, while sitting down looking over at me with grins slapped across their mouths; I knew what they were doing. Basically, whenever they knew that I liked a certain someone they would either approach me or say something to drop me straight in the deep end or just stare at me in a way as to taunt me to do something about the situation. You see, when it comes to relationships I'm not really a fan of the P.D.A, EG: Public display of affection. No matter who I would date I just couldn't bring myself to kiss the girl in front of loads of my friends, it's wasn't because I wasn't attracted to these girls it just came down to the fact that I didn't really have much confidence when talking to girls in general. Upon ordering her first drink and what I'm best in just saying was my several drink, I had to find a way of keeping her away from my friends for a short while so I said the first thing that came to into my head.
"You look pretty damn sexy I must say" with a bit of cocky swagger attached to my speech, my eyes never once made contact with hers as she brushed a string of hair behind her ear again.
"I'm sorry but are you usually so forward when trying to talk to a girl?" She asked.
Again I totally iced up; I really didn't know how to reply, that's when she did.
"Look, I get it; you've made it clear you like me so why not do something about it instead of wasting time and putting yourself in stupid situations!?"
At this point I was completely choked up, what the hell was I supposed to say to that, in fact, what did she even mean? Did she want me to grab her and kiss her right there? Maybe she just enjoyed the attention, but this was the first time I can honestly say a girl had confused me but then again she wasn't that easy to figure out to begin with. At this point I decided to head outside for a cigarette, don't get me wrong back then smoking was still allowed in most bars but I just felt more comfortable going outside, maybe I'd come up with some clever answer to throw in Emmy's face. While outside I bumped into Laura, I found her first words very amusing actually.
"Are you and Emmy together now then? I saw you buying her a drink" She said.
"You have seen me buying her a drink but did you stick around long enough to see what happened next?" I replied. I felt like I was back in my home village, you see... Hambleton is such a small village that everyone knows everyone elses business, this time I felt like maybe Emmy had said something that I hadn't heard, maybe she really did like me and the conversation at the bar was her way of letting people know that she liked me in her own kind of clever way. Whatever was going on, by this point I was revved up to try and find out. Finishing my cigarette and heading back inside I offered to buy Laura a drink for helping me get past security earlier, she agreed to let me buy her one and so I did. Looking back at my friends I noticed Andy tilting his head in Emmy's direction still trying to get me to make a move. Looking at Stacey, I noticed she mentioned something concerning me as Emmy and her looked over at me as Laura asked if I wanted to join her upstairs for a short while. I agreed because I thought that maybe trying to see if she would get jealous might cause her to make a move on me, going upstairs the place was like a brothel, girls were dancing on poles, it was wall to wall of pure dancing. Following Laura we made our way across the room as best we could trying not to get our drinks knocked out of our hands over to the rest of her friends who had reserved some V.I.P seats, now I felt like a very important person. (Laughing out loud) two drinks later and I was really starting to enjoy myself more. I was even getting some attention from some older girls standing by the dance floor, once again though I still didn't have the guts to make the first move and approach them to dance. I must have been up there for about half hour until Andy, Stacey, Emmy and the rest of my friends made their way up for their own dance. Now was my chance, now was my shot at trying to some how make it properly known to Emmy that I wanted more than to just buy her a drink and have the odd chat here and there, I gulped down the last of my pint and made my way over to the dance floor.
Making my way through the crowd, the music changed, no more techno or rave was to be played, the clock struck midnight, it was the hour that would end all hours, the romantic hour, and the hour that couples could enjoy a dance together. Could I have chosen to get up at a better time? I think not. Thinking back on this exact moment it again feels like something right out of a movie, again I'll reference my favourite film. In the film "A Walk to Remember" There's a scene where Landon & Jamie are out enjoying a romantic meal when Jamie asks Landon if he'd like to dance upon catching him watch another couple cuddling on the dance floor. Landon being the cocky teenager who was slowly falling for Jamie at first refuses to dance because he doesn't know how. Over the speakers I heard "I've Had The Time Of My Life by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes" Coincidently a dance from one of my mum's favourite films "Dirty Dancing" starring the late Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. I'm never surprised when my mum sees the film advertised and makes it known that it's her favourite because she used to find Patrick Swayze gorgeous and was a dancer herself back in the years when I wasn't even born. My mum being an ex-dancer means that if she wants to choreograph a dance for whatever it is someone is doing she has no problem coming up with the moves and linking them together like a professional, this and the fact she had taught me how to dance to the one song currently playing in the club, it was the perfect seduction song and my chance to shine. By this point, Emmy's standing on the edge of the dance floor against some metal railing, she's watching Andy and Stacey dancing a perfectly loved up couple as I approached her nervously. Reaching her side I held out my hand like any gentleman would, or should I say like any actor in a movie playing a gentleman does. She second looked at me, she didn't have a clue what was going on, you could have cut the tension between us with a knife.
"Would you like to dance Emmy"? I asked.
Again she looked me up and down, I don't know what was going through her mind because she must have stood there for a good minute or so not saying a word until....
"Why"? She said.
"Because I think you look really nice tonight" I replied.
"Are you being serious, Gaz"? She asked.
"Yes I am, please, please, please would you dance with me"? I pleaded with her.
After a few short moments a smile stretched across Emmy's face as she placed her hand in my own and I led her across the dance floor, past both Stacey and Andy, into the centre and told her if this was going to work we should move closer. She continued smiling, gently placed her arms over my shoulders and around my neck as I placed by arms around her waist and held her lower back. The song that was now playing was "I'll Be Missing You by John Waite" As we held each other closely and softly I could smell the soft but ever so delicious scent of lavender floating up my nostrils from her smooth soft skin on the side of her neck. Her body pushed up against my own, her hands stroking my neck, I closed my eyes for what felt like a split second to just listen to the music and feel the moment. Gently opening my eyes again as we continued swaying on the multicoloured dance floor I laid eyes on Andy who was enjoying the exact same dance with Stacey. Making eye contact Andy shot me a nice wink and nod of the head miming. "Good on you pal". I can honestly with my hand on my heart swear to you that this moment was a moment of true happiness and satisfaction; I truly gave my heart away that night, I gave it to Emmy because I could feel her heart pounding as we moved across that dance floor, to me it was a match made in heaven. The dancing didn't end with that song though, the moment lasted for a good couple of hours, yes that sounds like a long time but to me it felt like five minutes, I guess when you want something bad enough and once you have it you don't want to let it go. The clock rolled over to one am and there we are still dancing, by this time Stacey and Andy had left the dance floor, in fact, if I remember correctly we were the last ones standing by the time the DJ cut off his music and the main lights came on signalling the club was getting ready to close. As we returned to reality and realised it was time to leave, we made our way downstairs hand in hand but we hadn't yet kissed so I had no idea what we were. When we got downstairs we was met by Andy, Stacey and the rest of my friends who had huge smiles on their faces, they asked if we was okay in which we replied.
"Yeah, we're fine".
Before they could ask us anymore questions Emmy's father entered the club, his car keys in hand ready to take her home, at that same moment she instantly let go of my hand. It was as though she was embarrassed to be seen holding it, a sense of feeling as though I was not good enough for her taking over my heart which sank into my stomach. Exchanging a few words with her father she gently nodded and smiled at me before grabbing her jacket from behind the bar and following him towards the door. Andy walked up and stood next to me.
"Sorry mate, I really thought you two was going somewhere" He said but at that same moment without any hesitation what so ever Emmy flipped round, looked at me with a blank face, no emotion, no nothing until suddenly jogging towards me as fast as she possible could, grabbed me by the collar and literally threw me up against the wall. She threw me that hard that the clubs security guard prepared to pick up the pace and run towards us to break up what he thought was going to be a fight. He was wrong, it wasn't a fight, Emmy was making out with me as though she had kissed me many times before. I wish I knew what was going through her fathers mind at that moment in time because this was like something I'd never experienced in my life; did he want to pull her off me? Did he want to cut off what ever he could get a hold of? As the kiss came to an end I couldn't move, I was frozen, my back against the wall and my friends just staring at me with huge smiles across their faces. Emmy's father said nothing; he never even looked at me or his daughter as he turned placing his hand on her back and ushering her out of the door and into the rainy street outside.
The weekend following the Friday night of the college party, I chilled out with my friends just wondering what was now happening between Emmy and me. I know that she kissed me but she never actually said what it meant. Thinking back on it, it could have meant anything, maybe she was just drunk and it was a spur of the moment type of thing, maybe the alcohol caused her to forget all about the kiss because I didn't hear from her all weekend. It was the following Monday that I got my answer. That Monday morning was the dampest start to the week, the rain was beating down and thunder ravaged the skies as I left my house, slipped on my helmet, started my moped and made my way to college. Halfway through the journey I had to pull over until the rain eased off, the reason being, even though I could have pulled down my helmets visor it was raining so hard I kept steaming up so trying to ride with it open caused the rain to hit my face straight on hard enough that it felt like I was being stabbed over and over. It must have only been a good five - ten minutes until the rain finally eased and I continued on my journey. Arriving at college, I pulled into the student parking and locked up my bike and made my way inside the building hoping I wasn't going to get crap from my tutor for being late. Rushing down the corridor it seemed time was on my side as my class was waiting outside our room leaning against the wall because our tutor was also running late. I exchanged a few words with Andy and the rest of my friends until laying eyes on Emmy as she slowly approached.
"Miss me"? She asked.
"Er, yeah, you know I did" I replied.
Pulling her to one side for a few moments so we could be alone, I asked her the inevitable question.
"So, what's going on? Are we together now or what"? I asked.
"Is that what you want? Do you want to be with me Gaz"? She asked back.
"Course I do, I like you. I think I made that clear the other night" I insisted.
Smiling, she gently put her arms around me and slid her hands under my shirt and up my back as we made out much more slower than the first time round. As we kissed, I tried my hardest to ignore our group of friends but I could hear them chuckling at the back of their throats. I could tell they were both happy but also felt a little awkward watching us kiss right there in front of them, that was of course until Barbara stopped a few feet behind us and also just stared until we had finished. Turning back to our friends we double looked before eyeing up Barbara, it was such an awkward position that I still find it hard to describe to this day. I'm not going to bore you with the day to day schedule of the remaining few weeks of college because, for the first time I felt like I belonged with Emmy and in that class. Our relationship was a true romance, we held each other almost all the time as we walked the college corridors and even on the days we weren't surrounded by our friends we made sure we enjoyed our alone time together to the best of our advantage. I introduced her to my friends and she did the same with me for her family and friends. There was just one little thing that started to worry me the more and more our relationship developed. At the start of any relationship a couple is still in the process of getting to know each other and with that comes the slight moments of awkwardness and conversations where we had no idea what we wanted to say to each other. The thing is, as our relationship progressed the awkward moments of silence never really disappeared, they just seemed to always hang around. The more I got to know Emmy, the more I found her being quiet in class for the weeks leading up to me asking her out was how she was in all walks of her life. Her family living was normal, a full family, mother, father and a little brother, so why was she so quiet? That's one thing I never did find out, in fact it's the one thing that I never took the time to find out, the time had come for me to end things with her.
I know what's going through your mind.... Why was it time to end things with her if things were already perfect and you were happy together? It's for that exact reason why I wanted to end it. She'd done nothing wrong; she had made me happy for the first time since losing my father, the problem was, it was too perfect. That must sound so stupid, but it's true. I just woke up one morning and felt that it was time to end things. If only I knew how much she really cared for me. If only I'd taken the time to sit her down and discuss things properly. I arrived at college at around eight forty five am that morning, classes would be starting in just under fifteen minutes and I had only one thing on my mind, to find Emmy and end our relationship. Walking into college our tutor was running late, then again it was now the last week of the term so we didn't have much course work remaining; it was the week everyone was preparing to step out into the big wide world as they say. I walked into the main building and walked down the corridor. Emmy was leaning against the wall with Andy, Stacey and the rest of the class, as she saw me she stood up and approached me just like she would on any other morning but as she went to kiss me I pulled away. I witnessed Andy and Stacey both confused by my actions. Emmy was mortified. I requested that I'd like to talk to her in private away from anyone because there were a few things that we needed to sort out. At first she kept asking why we couldn't just talk inside but after I made it very clear that inside wasn't the right place she agreed to join me outside, away from our class and away from any prying eyes. Concerned for Emmy, Stacey wasn't far behind; she must have followed us at distance for a good five minutes until I nicely requested time alone to be with my girlfriend. Just saying the word girlfriend was so unfair because in less than a few minutes, she would be my ex-girlfriend. How nasty does that wording sound, huh? Our final destination was on the far side of the college campus; Emmy stopped just outside the reception area near to the tutor's car park and looked me in the eyes. I could tell just by looking in her eyes that she wasn't now just confused about what was going on but she was starting to fill up, her eyes becoming glassy. The selfish thing on my part was the fact that I wasn't feeling anything; I wasn't considering her feelings at that moment in time as I started to tell her that I wanted to end our relationship. My excuse for ending it was that I just didn't see it going anywhere. The truth is though the moments we had alone, I slowly and gradually fell for her, I could feel my heart connecting on a very deep level with her own.
"I'm sorry Emmy, I can't pretend we're good together when we aren't" I told her as she instantly broke down in tears. I could tell at that exact moment that she had truly and madly fallen in love with me because as I got ready to leave her side she grabbed my shirt and pulled me close, her body rubbing against mine as she put her hands under my shirt, her cold hands caressing my back. I had Goosebumps all over. She begged and pleaded for me to stay, she even begged me to skip the day at college just so she could have the whole day alone with me because her parents were away and her house would be the perfect place to go. Her grip got tighter and tighter the more the tears flowed down her face, her eyes so red my guilt was growing stronger by the minute. I couldn't stay there, I couldn't be so close to her and continue looking at the tears rolling down her face and soaking my jacket. That sounds so nasty, there she is crying and all that's going through my mind "You're soaking my jacket" how self fucking centered is that!? Again, I tried to leave as by this point students were starting to look over at us trying to find out why Emmy was crying so much and why I wasn't showing any kind of remorse in her presence. That was it, I couldn't take much more as I ripped off my jacket and threw it on the floor at her feet before storming off back towards our class building just hoping that she wouldn't follow and slap me hard.
Maybe the reason I hoped she wouldn't follow me and then slap me across the face was because I didn't have enough confidence to be able to look the on looking students in the eyes after such an event. Leaving Emmy by the college reception, I stepped back inside the building and made my way towards class, by which point they had all gone into the room. Entering the room, everyone looked directly at me, Stacey was the first to break the silence.
"Where's Emmy"? She asked.
"She won't come in, she's outside somewhere" I insisted.
"You just left her outside"? A girl, Amanda sitting at the front of class asked.
"Yeah, so"? I asked.
"Are you fucking stupid Gaz"!? She said.
"Oh, give me a break!" I said rolling my eyes like some spoilt child as I reached into my pocket and pulled out my Mini Disk player. Sticking the earphones in, I turned up the volume up, blanking out any future comments from other students.
Looking back on the situation, I think the reason for my childish behaviour and the way I handled the break up was down to Emmy being the older partner in the relationship. I saw her as the adult at seventeen and I saw myself as a kid at only sixteen. Over the years though, I've come to learn that age is just a number, you should never put a number on your life, live each day as they come and enjoy the moment while it lasts. That's what I should have done when me and Emmy were together, instead of ending the relationship myself I should have let it run it's course and end on its own terms.
Listening to my music, ignoring the looks from fellow students, I just sat at the back of the class minding my own business. Barbara slowly stood up and left the classroom. She must have been absent from class for over half an hour until returning and requesting that I joined her next door. Standing, I turned off my music and left class, following Barbara into a vacant room down the corridor. Sitting in the corner of the room wearing the same jacket I had previously thrown at her feet was Emmy, tears still rolling down her face, so much so my jacket was now even more soaked. The look in her eyes still wasn't of hatred. I didn't understand why at this point she still didn't hate me, she should have done, right? Sitting down, I was positioned opposite Emmy with Barbara to the left of us, it was the simple counsellor chat set up. I knew from the moment I agreed to join her in this room that she was going to try and make me spill all and explain as to why I had ended the relationship but then I found out it wasn't Barbara that wanted me in that room, it was Emmy. Turns out she had asked Barbara to get me in the room so she could watch over the conversation, Emmy just wanted answers and it was only fair she got them. The conversation, full of tears and explanations must have gone on for about an hour or two. It didn't seem like we was going to reach a moment of clarity until Barbara decided that the conversation had to end because it was the last week of college and as a class we should have been having fun reaching a point in which us as young adults were ready to face the world outside. Did you hear that? Barbara said adults, we weren't kids anymore, and so we had reach the conclusion of college. Looking back on that year I can say with my hand on my heart I made some amazing friends, met an amazing girlfriend whose self esteem and confidence I ruined because I let the old argument of age get in the way of enjoying a relationship, a relationship in which a beautiful girl who was only ONE year older than me fell in love for the first time. To this day, I still wonder and ask myself one simple question.... "What if I had never ended the relationship?" There could be conclusions to that question but the main one being another.... "Would we still be together if we had made it through college as a couple?"