by Andrew Foote
I admit it, I'm a geek.
I've always - ever since I can remember had an interest in the Solar System and how it functions. I would be caught by my parents, long after my bedtime, looking out at the night sky from my bedroom window and wondering what it all meant.
I got my first telescope when I turned nine years old, a gift from my folks, it wasn't very powerful but it further fuelled the flames inside me to understand more.
My Father used to be First Officer on HMS Repellent, a state of the art destroyer which used to run out from Devonport but latterly Grangemouth in Scotland.
He was involved in an accident at sea with him being lost overboard in the Barents Sea.
He was rescued but never made it back.
Hypothermia took him or so I'm told.
I'm an only child. When Mum was taken into labour, complications meant that she had to undergo a hysterectomy making me the end of the blood line and rather than venting her frustration on me, she cared for me as if I was the most important part of her life – not that I was ever spoilt but discipline was fair and my memories of childhood are happy.
Following the death of my Dad, Mum rescued the village pub from closure with help from the insurance money so here we stay.
We live on the Cornish peninsular, a tiny fishing village that only features on Ordinance maps and with just one unclassified lane accessing it, makes it remote, beautiful and unspoilt by tourism.
It opens on a Friday night, Saturday lunchtime and evening and also Sunday lunchtime but at all other times it doubles as a general store.
That doesn't sound too exciting but, come the weekend, it's the centre of our community and unserved by the police, late nights or early mornings are not unknown.
Me? I stayed at school until I'd sat my 'A' levels then left to help Mum run the pub, the other kids here are schooled at Cambourne High School or at the Primary school in the same town.
This can be an interesting trip as whilst we almost never get snow, we get more than our fair share of rain, floods and landslides……. most families own 4x4's…… most, if not all families own boats, our family included but my main preoccupation is star-gazing. Boats feature, especially ours as does driving our ancient Landrover as it allows me to drive up to the highest points above the village, pitch a small tent and watch the sky at night.
I'm happy enough.
If all this makes me come across as a recluse, then you're wrong.
I have friends in the village and at my old school, both boys and plenty of girls but I sort of gravitate to girls mostly as they're more interested in nature – the lads are more interested in girls if you get my drift.
I can be friends with girls, I mean, real friends.
We can walk the cliffs and relax whereas the other lads want to go there with them for other reasons, - not that I blame them, I'm just not built that way.
Cathy is my number one favourite.
She lives next door to us and she's lovely.
Sixteen years old, an hourglass figure, very pretty but…… we're friends.
We walk the cliffs, walk the harbour walls, sometimes hand in hand, sometimes arm in arm but neither of us expecting anything else.
I'd kill for her if anyone so much as upset her but that's where it ends.
During the summer months we go swimming off her Dad's boat or if he's out fishing, off ours.
We go out with ours quite often during the summer.
Cathy and I hug our good-nights, maybe a kiss on the cheek but that's it.
"Rob Adams wants to date me."
"And are you going to accept?"
"I had thought I might, he seems nice enough."
"So you wouldn't mind then?"
"Why should I mind? So long as I still get to see you then go ahead."
"Not jealous then?"
"Why should I be jealous Cath?
We're friends, you and me."
"Maybe you're jealous of me ha-ha…… Sorry."
"I said he was cool, not that I fancied him?"
"Yeah…… I know."
"You think I'm gay don't you."
"I honestly don't know what to think, It's just…… you're just too nice to be straight."
"I'm just me and just because I'm not chasing around trying to get laid means nothing."
"So you do fancy girls then?"
"I like girls…… I love girls. I'm just not ready for…… whatever."
"Asking such personal questions of you."
"Don't worry about it.
You know I don't mind, and you know I'll always be completely up-front with you.
You can cope with whatever the answer is.
We're friends after all."
"The very best of."
No, I wasn't upset about Cathy's questions but it did make me think about where I stood.
On the one hand I did like girls yet on the other, I had no ambitions when it came to losing my virginity.
No, I didn't think I fancied any of my friends so I decided I was non-sexual, maybe a modern day eunuch or something.
I could live with that.
Anyway, what's so wrong about being gay?
I don't believe I'd be too upset if that's how I discovered myself but at seventeen…… I really should know which way the pendulum swung by now except…… I don't…… mine doesn't seem to be in a hurry to swing at all.
Cathy's and Rob's dalliance was short-lived.
On the evening that she told him to take a hike, she came to the pub to find me but I was out star-gazing.
It didn't take her long to find me as the weather was awful so all she had to do was follow the tyre tracks over the fields to the clifftop.
She arrived soaked to the skin poor thing, so I took the rug from the back of the Landrover, pointed her in the direction of the tent and told her to strip out of her wet clothes – I'd wait in the vehicle.
She told me there was no need as I'd seen pretty much everything except those bits that were partially hidden by her skimpy bikini on more than a few occasions but I didn't feel comfortable…… even though she was right.
"My brother's coming to live with us."
"I never knew you had a brother. You never talk about him?"
"When my parents spit, he went to live with Mum while I wanted to stay with Dad.
They live in Penzance now but he had a bust-up with Mum – something to do with her new fella so he's coming back here for a while and maybe help him settle in.
You'll like him."
"Well if you do then I suppose he must be okay."
"He'll need a friend if he's to settle back in.
He's a bit…… wild!"
"How do you mean? Is he some kind of Hells Angel?"
Cathy laughed at this remark. "No!! He's……alternative, different to most guys his age…… or most English guys of his age should I say!"
"He's not English?"
"As much a pure-bred Brit as you and I are but with a difference."
"Cath? I love you to bits but sometimes you can annoy the life out of me so tell me.
What makes him so different…… like maybe I don't want to know."
Have you got time to hear it?"
"Your kit is going to take an age to dry so at the very least you might be able to get past the credits, if not begin the film?"
Mum and Dad had this deal going like they only wanted to raise one child and that was, for all intents and purposes me, but they obviously weren't very careful as it became evident that another issue was on its way, that issue being Sam.
Okay so far?"
"Okay so far……"
I was too young to remember the arguments but apparently Dad wanted Sam aborted but Mum was having none of it like the baby wasn't at fault and also, it was against her principles as a Doctor to terminate the pregnancy.
By all accounts, it got really ugly culminating in Mum walking out of our lives.
This might sound harsh but I can totally understand her reasoning.
Back then, Dad was a drinker of monumental proportions. He'd give vent to his anger if things weren't exactly how he'd planned but for all that, I love him and I needed him."
"Yes, I buy all that but what about this Sam kid?"
Cathy's face flushed then she yelled at me.
"That SAM kid as you put it, has a name……!"
"I know. It's Sam. You've told me three times already?"
Cathy's mouth hung open as she absorbed my last remark then reached over and hugged me.
She felt nice. No denying the obvious but other than that? I wasn't in anyway aroused which again set me thinking but my thoughts were short lived as she continued her monologue.
"So there you have it. A potted history of my sad family.
After Sam was born, Mum took a year out from working then flew to Brazil as a Doctor working with the UNHCR so Sam's education and upbringing was part European part Brazilian.
At age twelve he was tri-lingual, English, Spanish/Portuguese and whatever the language that was spoken in the rain forest where they lived.
His perception of a modern civilised society scares him. He's used to the wild side, hunting, fishing and…… whatever, so cities bother him, he feels boxed in, herded into a corner and that's where the fight started between Mum and her new bloke.
Her bloke couldn't take Sam's attitude is the bottom line."
"So if they were so happy living in the jungle, why come back to England?"
"Mum's tenure was up.
The authorities only allow for a maximum stay of thirteen years. She was invited to apply for a dual nationality thing but by then she'd met this bloke Jerry who persuaded her to come back to the UK.
Sam has dual nationality - Mum made sure of that just in the event he decided to return but he's still only fourteen, an adult in their tribe but a minor over here."
"He was adopted as a member of the tribe Mum worked amongst.
He was taught to fight with spears, blowpipes, bow and arrows and also how to survive in the rain forest without getting eaten alive.
He can handle himself…… trust me on this!"
"I warm to him already…… not that I want to fight him but if he loves the great outdoors? I reckon we'll be okay?"
"He'll need friends and well…… you know how it is around here……"
"How is it around here? Am I missing something?"
"Probably not. You just choose not to look at life, like real, everyday life. Head in the clouds, serene, not in any way concerned about stuff that really matters."
"So…… tell me what really matters Cath?"
"People matter. What is happening around you. What's happening to our planet and stuff."
"I'll buy that people matter – no problem there but as far as what's happening around here? Give me a break? NOTHING EVER HAPPENS!
We live boring lives, folk come to the pub as friends, get wrecked and leave at 2am as enemies until the next time Mum throws open the doors at which point they become friends again – this scene getting played out on a weekly basis to the point where it makes me want to vomit. What else happens around here Cathy?
The men go out fishing and barely catch enough to feed their families and then, whatever is left over they piss up against the wall over the weekend. The women struggle to keep a roof over their heads…… little wonder there are so many villages being abandoned.
It's a lost cause."
"I don't believe that that's how you see the future.
Statement, not a question.
You look through that telescope of yours and see a different picture."
"Different, but something that happened tens of millions of years ago.
Most of those stars got burnt up, imploded on themselves before mankind even existed. They represent how things used to be before the dawn of time, not how they are now and definitely not our immediate future?"
"Don't they though?
If you follow that logic to its conclusion, then that's our destiny isn't it, even if we won't be here to witness it?"
That is the very end of everything as we understand it. It's bound to happen if way beyond our lifetime.
Our sun will run out of fuel and shrink to the point to which it squeezes itself into a little ball in order to maximise its energy, and it is at that point where its magnetic pull becomes so unbelievably strong, it'll suck all the planets in our solar system towards it, eventually consuming them all in its thirst for energy and…… once depleted…… black hole, oblivion, our legacy for what it might be, annihilated in one massive firework display with no one even aware we ever existed."
"'Cept for some geek on a distant planet in a different solar system, billions of lightyears into the future, watching through his telescope who witnessed it all and saying,
'Wow! I bet that hurt!'"
I suppressed a giggle.
"You're probably right!
Come on. Your clothes must be dry by now so let's get back to the pub and have a nightcap."
We had our drinks and at 1am I walked Cathy the 500 yards to her house where we said our good-nights with a brief hug.
"I can't believe the other girls at school take my word for the fact we're not screwing each other?"
"The boys are convinced we are - despite whatever I say.
Is that what you expect of me Cath?
Is that what you need from me…...?"
"No. I love you on a different level.
Love affairs go wrong - marriages break up but we will always be solid.
You're very…… special."
Attached to the original chapters one through five were various photos of the main characters as I perceived them. However, it was decided that these, nice as they were, weren't allowed but should anyone like me to send them, please ask. Nothing inappropriate, there is no nudity therefore no risk to you!
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