As They Say

by D K Daniels

Entry 36

The Good & Bad

7th July 1991

Yesterday and today have been mad. I have been scrambling all over striving to get most of the critical stuff done for Ross's big day tomorrow. The good news is I'm back talking to Carl; he came over to help sort out some items in my shed that I require tomorrow. I want everything to be handy so that when the time came on, all I ought to do is take the stuff out of the shed and set it up in the morning. I don't fancy Ross being around, so I asked Eli could he distract him for a couple of hours.

I could have left the boys to do the job on their own, though I wanted to make sure everything is perfect for tomorrow. I should've asked the boys to invite a couple of people they know. It probably would've been cool to have lots of people at a party just for Ross; it would seemingly make him feel super popular. Then again, I guess just a couple of us would be adequate for what I'm planning. Besides, I only possess enough chairs and so forth for the party.

Before I met with Carl around 8:30 a.m, I cycled to everybody's house and asked what food they liked. I know my mam has food in the fridge and all, though I want tomorrow to be legendary in a way for us, well I hope. So I took some of my allowance money, and I pleaded with my mam for some extra cash to buy some junk food and candied sweets. I split some of my own pocket money with any of the money that my mam had given me, and I bought the usual finger food that you'd see at most events.

I do hope Ross loves chicken because there is a lot of chicken. After I completed the list, I cycled on over to Carl who was my last addition to the order sheet. Plus I also wanted his help. Yesterday when I asked Eli could I have some cooperation distracting Ross for the day he said, "sure."

It's good to see that we're all talking again. However, with Emma not so much. She's still pissed at me, so I'm not confident how tomorrow's going to go about her coming. I feel incredibly shitty about the whole situation although what can I do if you won't accept my apology. I attempted again when I saw Eli yesterday, yet she still wouldn't have any of it, so I guess I'm going to try and stop now. Perhaps if I leave it to brew for some time, she'll come to her senses. Then I could creep back in trying to apologise again. Only it's sad to see that she won't turn up tomorrow for the sake of Ross. I mean if she was working to host a party for one of her friends and the two of us weren't talking, and I knew the other person quite well, I'd still turn up for the other person even if she were the host.

Anyway, the main point is Eli took Ross down to the GAA grounds. The previous day Eli organised a couple of people to get together so that they could all play basketball. That way it would keep Ross occupied for a couple of hours, or at least until brunch. I don't believe I've ever done so much running around in all my life or planning. I also went as far as to have my mam lie to Ross. I know it's horrible when I say it like that. I had her say, "Adam is grounded."

From what I heard afterwards from my mam, Ross asked, "how come?"

My mam simply said I got into a fight with my dad and that I said some things that I shouldn't have said. I guess foul language is a lifesaver in this instance. I asked my mam could she give Mrs Wilson the hint that I'm trying host a party for Ross only it has to remain a complete secret. So, I hope she bakes something for us tomorrow. It wasn't so much as if I needed more food. I saw it as a reward for all of the fucking running about I'm doing. I'm only kidding of course there for Ross.

As I was saying Carl and I headed into town on our bikes. Carl added a cart to the pegs on the back of his bicycle. Then when we were on our way back, it was so funny watching him go down potholes and ride over the rough sections of the road as the stuff jingled around in the back of the trailer. We should've brought a rope of some kind to tie things down though we were preoccupied with other things.

Now time for the big one okay. I didn't have enough money for what I wanted to get Ross. Except I tried to get Ross something useful and worthwhile. Consequently, I went all out honestly. I begged my dad yesterday to take me into town so I could sell a couple of old shit that I was too old for.

In all, I sold a decent chunk of crap, and I made about £50. Given with the fact the sum of money that I paid for food, I had to borrow funds from Carl and Thomas. I said that the present could be from all of us. So eventually Eli chipped in as well, and we all put our money towards getting him a Game Gear and Super Monaco GP. The entire cost came to just over £113 pounds. Even though we all put something towards it, I don't think I would have made it if I didn't sell stuff or had help from the guys. The present is from everyone; though when I told my mam about it, she almost hit the roof. She wanted me to take it back. I defended it with all my honour; though after a bit she finally let it subside. I officially have no savings left; an entire year and a half worth of savings is gone and well… I owe my mam some business.

When I got back to the house, I made sure all the food was put away so that it would not spoil. Ross's gift is at the bottom of my wardrobe safe and sound. I'm too spent to wrap it now really, so I'll cover it in the morning. I'm so grateful that the guys were all around to help me out. I'm glad to everyone's back on talking terms. I would've been sad and disappointed if everyone just bailed out on me because of my recent shitty behaviour. Then again, I don't think I correctly blamed them if I'd been acting this way. I hope nothing goes wrong tomorrow. I'm a little bit nervous because well, of course, I want the day to go perfectly for Ross. Knowing me after having planned out the entire day, I hope it goes accordingly. I still don't know what to do about Emma though. I'm torn whether I should head over to her house early tomorrow before the party goes off and try and apologise again. Though then still when I realistically think about it, I guess it's better to maintain distance.

By brunch, we had pretty much everything wrapped up, and Ross came home. Luckily, he doesn't seem to know anything about the party, and nobody alerted him to the what we were doing. When he asked me, "hey you're out? I thought you were grounded."

I merely said, "I charmed my way out." And Ross just giggled and laughed, and I think the boys caught on about how he seductively responded to my gesture. It just slipped out, and there was nothing to it. The boys gave us questioning eyes. Eli stood contemplating, and then again Eli knows nothing about Ross and me so yeah. For the majority of the rest of the day, we hung around my house. There wasn't anything worth mentioning other than that everyone was happy and if everyone else's getting along fine then, I'm delighted.

Tomorrow morning is going to be pretty hectic I imagine. I was run off my feet today. No joke my feet were burning me by lunch. On top of that, it feels like my knees have been working for hundreds of years. I haven't got the foggiest idea of how much land I covered cycling today; only I imagine it was a goddamn lot. Anyhow, my eyes are getting the little stinging sensation in the corner of my eyes. I guess I should head to bed because I assume I'll need plenty of rest for tomorrow. – Night Adam.

8th July 1991

I have happy and sad news. The good news is that Ross enjoyed his birthday party, you should've seen his smile. Though I'll get to that in a minute, first I want to say the sad bit.

After the party concluded, I've been sitting here since I found out. It was increasingly hard to try and party when all I could think about was the sad news. It responds like the centre of my chest is caving in. I was getting comfortable, and then all of a sudden Ross's parents say that it's time for him to come home. Though not immediately, they said that they worked out all the problems, or so they say.

So that's the sad news; Ross is going home on 18 July. That is only two weeks from now. I already feel like shit now; I can't imagine what I'd do when he's not here. I understand it's funny to contemplate that even before Ross was here, I was able to live without him. However, I'm not too sure because well... Ross changed me somehow or another. This is not the news I precisely desired to hear; I'm not sure how I should feel because anytime I try to feel anything I draw a blank. I'm powerless; I don't want him to: except, of course, his parents have first preference. Ross, on the other hand, he appeared a little bit chirpy concerning it. Or perhaps it was because of his party, yet maybe it was his party because when I met up with him earlier on, he was on a downer.

I seriously want to cry because it's so sudden; I didn't think that anything like this would happen so soon. I don't want him to go. I want them to stay.

Sorry just give me a minute, I need to get some tissue. All I could think about all day was the announcement. Everyone kept inquiring if I was okay and I did was nod and say "yeah." It got to a point where I began to get a little bit frustrated with people asking. Is this because I chose to not apologise to Emma. Is it because I turned down Thomas? I've never really believed so much in God but if there is one: if you made Ross stay longer, I promise I'll believe. I do anything. I don't want to end up alone. How could we make that work if he's living in England? I don't think I can wait days at a time now to receive a letter from him.

I picture already; my parents would say. "you have to stop calling Ross you're running up our phone bill."

Whatever it is that I have done I'm sorry. I beg whoever can make this thing stop, stop. I didn't even have the heart to clean up after the party. Instead, I left everything the way it was. I have that job now to do in the morning. It seems like that I have to get up and get on with it. Not that I want to, but that's the way it appears.

The lads were to arrive around 2 o'clock; we would spend the day barbecuing in the back garden, playing a couple of games and then maybe head off for a bit before returning for other games and whatnot.

I got up early like I said I would. I happened to be full of enthusiasm this morning. I dragged out the tables and chairs all on my own, and I set everything up. Everything looked so cheerful and… It was remarkably nice. I deem it one of the proudest achievements I have accomplished. I grasp all the running around yesterday was exhausting. Except, to view everything coming together and finish, I don't think a trade that feeling. I chose I'd go hang out with Ross for a little bit before the party because I didn't have anything else to do. I had taken care of all my chores that my parents wanted me to do and everything was pretty much ready for the party, and the last thing I needed was Ross coming into my house and finding out the surprise.

When I knocked into his grandmother's; she said Ross was out the back. So I went wandering around the side of the house and down by the shed. The sun happened to be high in the sky. I perceived it was going to be a beautiful day and maybe on the off chance we could even go swimming.

Ross was standing by the farm fence rail with his arms perched across to the other side. He wasn't even aware of my existence. I thought that I'd give him a little jump scare, and like that, I crept my way up behind him. I reached out and placed both my hands firmly down on his shoulders and leapt up. Ross's reaction was spontaneous of course; he was startled. Then when he noticed it was me he just he gave a roll of his eyes and then grumpily shoved me in the shoulder.

"Don't do that," he said glumly.

Ross suddenly turned his attention back to the field full of cows, and I felt a little bit guilty for actually scaring him. I quickly apologised. I was like, "okay I'm sorry." Though I was expecting Ross to turn around and say, yeah... its okay," although he didn't. Alternatively, Ross kept his attention directed towards the cows in the pasture. Something was getting him down, and well I had to know what was.

Rather than diving headfirst into the discussion, I placed my arms on the edge of the rail and leaned forward, looking out toward the calves in the field. They were doing nothing other than eating grass, which I guess that's what they're supposed to do. The stillness continued, and it matured a little bit until it grew disturbing. That's when I finally asked, "you sure you're okay."

A second silence bestowed the both of us and then Ross said, "my mum and dad want me to go back home."

Ross didn't even hold back; he bluntly let it out. At first, I considered he was joking because you know. You know what, I don't understand why he would mess about that. A slight twinge tweaked within my heart, and somehow without actually having to ask for an unfeigned response, I knew that what Ross had said was true.

Sigh… We are not doing anything wrong. Why does he have to go now? Couldn't Ross just stay a little longer; like until the end summer before he has to go back to school? Perhaps I could get in contact with his parents and ask. No wait that might be out of place.

"You're going home," I asked sincerely. I glanced across at Ross to see if it were true, I wanted him to look me in the eyes if he said it. And if it were the honest truth then at least the burn would come directly from him.

"Yeah…" Ross said.

While on the spot I attempted to conceive a reasonable excuse as to how I could get him to stay in Ireland longer. Therefore, I said, "well… maybe- maybe you can ask your folks can you stay here for a little while longer."

Ross came back with, "I got my plane ticket in the post this morning. And then just after breakfast, I called them to see what it was all about and they told me that they had sent it on Thursday. The reason it didn't get here was that there was no post on the weekends."

I'm so crushed. You know if I had saved the money that I had bought Ross's birthday present with I could have possibly purchased him another ticket, and the other pass would've been able to go to waste. Sigh… Never mind its wishful thinking. Then the two of us stared back out and took in the sight of the cows munching on the grass.

"But… you can't go," I mumbled.

Ross glanced across at me and tired a meek smile. "I don't want to go either; though at the same time if it stops my parents from wanting to get a divorce then… then Adam…" Ross couldn't even finish his sentence. All he could do was drop his head to his arms beneath on the fence, and he cried in a stressed manner.

"Urghhhhhhhh…"

The sheer silence proved too much to me. The sun beaming down on us, the relaxed demeanour of the cows in the field. The day appeared to be off to a good start; only with this sad news, it didn't seem to hold its shining glimmer much longer after that.

Ross's disappointment was not only heard when he expressed himself earlier; I too could feel the stigma in the air. It was like a fresh Púca would arrive and stalk awaiting to pounce. The sharp ragged breathes; the intentional lurking in the shadows only to lead to the final unsuspecting prey to where it would be disabled, then killed. That's how I feel about now; like I've had all my dreams built up only for someone to lean across and cut the link that is lifting me up, as if like a balloon with a dangling string.

Finally, I asked, "do you think you'll ever come back to Ireland?" While I idled for Ross's response, I was secretly hoping that somehow in the future that no matter what ways the both of us would have to go that he would eventually, or I will find a way to get to see each other again.

"I don't know..." Ross muttered from within the confines of his arms.

"Maybe next summer," I offered with a dash of hope.

"Maybe..." Ross gravelly added, lifting his head he glanced out toward the field again.

The notion of travelling to London again arose in my head, and at that point, it seemed like a logical conclusion to draw that I could fly to London providing I saved up all my allowance all year. Not that that is something I'd regret; if I have to endure a painstaking year just to save up a lump sum to be able to visit Ross, I guess it would all be worth it.

"Perhaps I could visit you in London," I said.

Ross kept his attention glued to the critters in the field and this time with a shaken voice, "yeah... Though I don't know if we're living in our old house anymore; my parents were having financial trouble, that's one of the reasons why they were always fighting. One of the reasons..."

I didn't know what to say to that, so I remained silent and listened to the birds cawing. I was anxious that the gross neglect of being able not to find a solution of what to say to Ross would be an even worse reality than having to ask him a question. Only before I could ask him anything; a cow had wandered up to the side of the fence.

The grumpy, dissatisfied manner that Ross had been in, dissipated in a matter of seconds and his soft side returned. The cow was right in front of us; Ross held out his hand beckoning the animals to come closer. I remained mute. It seemed imperative to Ross that this animal made it to his side. And like that eventually Ross's hand brushed up against the snout of the cow, and he started lightly stroking it with the palm of his hand in downward motions.

As I observed Ross caressing the cow, I had an epiphany of sorts. It wasn't the fact that he was going away but it was to do with the animal. It was like Ross was using the cow as a form of distraction, and that diversion was damn well working. The overwhelming urge to want to pet the animal as well drove me to the near brink of insanity that I reached out towards the cow, and the two of our hands occasionally tipped off each other as we both coordinated our hand motions snout. I got so caught up in the current task I was performing that I spaced out for a moment and somewhere within that second Ross had ceased his show of affection with the cow. Ross's hand had stopped atop mine, and his thumb lightly stroked my knuckles. I peered across at him, and Ross gently showed smirk of appreciation. He looked so goddamn beautiful.

I aspired to keep it a surprise. However, I tried to cheer Ross up. So I let the cat out of the bag early that I had made arrangements to throw him a party. Therefore, I said, "you know what today is right?" I suggested in an animated tone.

Ross gave me a quizzical expression, wrinkled up his forehead and then said, "no... what's today?" He said innocently.

"It's your birthday!" I added teasingly. Like that, I reached out and clenched onto his shoulder with my free hand and smiled. Ross broke a white-toothed grin back at me, and that made my heart melt. I felt all gooey on the inside; like the internals of a heated-up chocolate muffin.

Ross offered, "oh shit." He stopped himself for a moment and then said, "I forgot all about my birthday."

If the timing wasn't any better then, the cow that was standing right beside us made the perfect choice mooing because we still had our hands on his snout and we had stopped petting.

The two of us broke into a little bit of a chuckle. And somehow the discussion of Ross leaving was left to a minimum thought-out the rest of the day.

When the party got started, Ross couldn't believe what we had got him. I was hyped up by the time that I gave him the present that I wanted him to open it there on the spot. Of course, Ross did it to please me, though his face lit up in disbelieve when he saw what we had got him. At first, he said, "guys… I can't take this…" After some prodding and encouragement, Ross finally relented.

Now when I think of it; I'd rather see him smile than not see him smile at all. As much as it hurts to think that I could have tried to buy a plane ticket for him; somehow the present held more value.

As the evening progressed, Ross kept glancing across at his present which sat on a table across from everyone. It's good to know that we surprised him and we got him something that would be beneficial in the long run. At least he can buy more stuff for it. And he will always remember that we bought him something costly. The party was really good. Everyone turned up like he said they would. The environment was not like anything I can describe. I thought the answer to the party would've been more people however I was content with just a small group of bodies. It made it all that more special and sentimental. Anyhow, the good thing is that Ross seemed so grateful for what he was given today and I hope whatever happens over the next coming days that he'll be able to look back on this part of his life forever and remember me.

Well, I'm knackered – night Adam.

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