Chapter 7

Copyright© 2016 by MichaelT65

The alarm woke me up from a deep sleep. I turned towards the sound, slamming my hand onto the snooze button to turn it off. I started rubbing my eyes, then blinked a couple of times so my vision could focus. Looking at the clock, it was 6:00 am. Then I remembered I had my driving test today. The test was at 9:00 am near Waltham Cross industrial estate, only a ten-minute drive from where we live.

In a week’s time, Emma and I would start university. Our plan was to live at home and drive there and back. Thankfully mum and dad had bought me a Ford Focus to get around. All I needed now was my driving license. If I pass my driving test today, it will save us a lot of money on fairs and time. Driving to Hatfield, where the University is situated would only take twenty minutes. With public transport, it would take over one hour.

I was going to take my test in my car. Initially, I began lessons with a driving instructor; once I became comfortable with driving, mum taught me the rest. I preferred mum to dad; he didn’t have much patience.

Mum drove us to the test centre, parked the car, then told me to adjust the seat and mirrors to be ready. As we arrived a little early, we made our way to the waiting area.

Mum looked at me saying, “You’re looking nervous, Jack.”

“Wouldn’t you be, mum?”

That’s when she opened her bag to pull out a Tropicana Orange Juice with a Mars Bar.

“Have this. It will make you relax before your test.”

Finally, it was my turn for the test. I sat in the driver’s seat while the Examiner sat on the passenger side. He was a big man, around fifty. He looked like the actor who plays Fred in the Flintstones movie, what’s his name. I’m sitting there; instead of concentrating with the test, I’m trying to remember what the actor’s name is. Got it, “John Goodman.”

“When you’re ready you can start your engine, Jack, I’ll instruct you from there,” Fred said. When I took my foot off the clutch, the car started moving, how much I wanted to shout out, “Yabba Dabba Doo!”

I drove around following the instructions Fred was giving me. To my knowledge, I did everything perfectly. But just seeing him write something down every time I did something made me more nervous. After about half an hour of driving, we started to make our way back to the centre; that’s when I knew it was nearly over. Fred told me. “If you can park the car anywhere you find space please, Jack.” When the car came to a halt, he took off his seat belt off. Then he started to write again.

He then looked at me and said. “Jack I am pleased to inform you that you have passed your test. Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” I wanted to scream out, “Yabba Dabba Doo!”

The following week we started University. It was different from school. In school, everyone was much younger, at university, everyone was over twenty. Some students were twenty-five or more. At school, everyone knew that Emma was with me, but here all the males were hitting on her. They saw we would be together during recess but still, they chased after her when we weren’t together.

The second week of our classes, guess who rolled into my class: Tony Giordano. He was all tanned up, ready to start his classes. I guess the gossip about him going to Italy was true. When he saw me, he tried to stare me out, but I just ignored him and carried on with what I was doing.

The first term until Christmas went very quickly. I had to study more now. The professors here explained the basics to students. With Emma, we kept on arguing about guys wanting to get into her pants. I guess I was overreacting to all these changes. I was under a lot of pressure as well due to my workload; I wasn’t seeing much of Emma all week, except for weekends.

Tyrone and I kept in touch daily through Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media. We would Facetime each other every couple of days to chat. I was glad I had him as a friend. He was a good listener; I would always speak to him about any issues I had with university work or Emma. He would always bring my morale back up; he would tell me I was underestimating myself. Regarding Emma, he assured me that it was me she loved.

During the Christmas holidays, I sat down with Emma so that we could talk. We both agreed that we would try to spend more time together, and also study together on our free time. Tyrone surprised everyone by turning up on Christmas Eve. He spent Christmas Day with his parents and the evening around my house. I got to see Emma more during the holidays; we did more things together, went places. Tyrone and I trained together every day before he had to go back. Emma was always by my side encouraging me.

Once the holidays were over, I agreed with Emma that, since we were nearly eighteen, we ask our parents if we can stay at each other’s house overnight. After the New Year and before the start of the new term, I would stop over a few days around Emma’s, or she would stay around mine. We carried on like this; everything seemed OK. I noticed that we started getting closer again. Our lessons were becoming easier as well. It seemed like everything was going back to normal.

By the end of the second term, before Easter, my academic reputation with the other students was having a positive effect. Even students who were a few years older than me would come to ask for help in their lessons. Emma was also progressing in her class, getting very popular with her peers. I still wasn’t thrilled with the way some of the other students approached her, but I understood and trusted her.

A month before the end of the year I noticed some changes in Emma. She started to become very distant with me; it was like she was holding back on telling me something. She was like this for a couple of weeks; she would sit there staring out into space and not say anything.

One Sunday evening out of the blue she told me, “Jack I think you need to go home tonight. I have to finish off some essays I need to hand in by Tuesday.”

I told her, “I promise I would not disturb you.”

To my surprise, she was suddenly angry shouting, “I need to study, Jack!”

I put my head down while I made my way out of her house, got in my car and drove home.

The next day I messaged Emma, “What time would you like me to pick you up?”

She messaged me back, “My dad will be taking me this morning, as he is going that way.”

I quickly messaged back, “OK.”

For the rest of the week, we just avoided each other.

Around noon on Thursday, I was in the cafeteria having lunch when I spotted Emma sitting alone. I picked up my tray, went over to her, and asked her if it was OK to sit with her.

She looked up. “Sure.”

I sat down and picked at my lunch. After a couple of minutes of silence, I asked. “Are you going to the end of year party at the Forum tomorrow?”

“Maybe,” was her only word.

She had her hand on the table, so I tried to put my hand on top of hers. As soon as she noticed what I wanted to do, she pulled her hand back. I glanced at her, then got up and left.

The following day I didn’t have any lessons, so I stayed at home. I was in my room lying on my bed, reading the latest novel by my favourite author. I was trying to concentrate, but I was just going over the same paragraph again and again. I looked over at my desk. Sitting there was a picture Tyrone took. In it was me, Emma, Sarah and Pete. Straight away my thoughts went to Pete, how we lost contact. I grabbed my iPad logged onto Facebook; I found Pete’s profile, clicked on it, then realised he still had me blocked. Why did he block everyone? From the day they suspended him from school, no one saw or heard from him again. We tried to contact him, but after a month of the summer holidays, his family just moved. None of us has seen or heard from him since.

I immediately thought, just sulking around will not help much. So I quickly jumped out of bed, put on a pair of trainers, stretched a bit, then started to jog towards Ley Valley Park. While I was jogging all the fresh air began to fill up my lungs, and I began to think more clearly. I said to myself, “I will go tonight, if Emma is there, I will straighten all this out.” Into two miles of jogging, I noticed my breathing was getting heavier, that’s when I knew I had to get back into training.

Later that night, I entered the Forum. I walked around, looking to see if I can see Emma anywhere. I saw a group of girls I recognised from her class; I went over to ask them if they had seen her tonight. They said that she was around somewhere. I walked around the Forum a couple of times, as I was ready to leave, I spotted her.

Sitting on a stool with a drink in one hand while the other on the tall round table, she was talking to some guy. He suddenly leant over and kissed her. I just turned around and started walking towards the exit.

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