فصل 14

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فصل 14

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Happy Christmas

Well, it’s Christmas Day. I’m at my parents’ house (as usual). We’ve just eaten a huge Christmas dinner: roast turkey, carrots and potatoes (as usual). We’ve sung some Christmas carols together (also as usual).

The one very unusual thing is that Barry’s here with us. He’s sitting between Mum and me on the sofa. He arrived about ten o’clock this morning with a huge bag of presents, and spent the morning helping Mum with the dinner. I could tell Mum was a bit doubtful at first. But that was because she’s used to my Dad and my brother being so hopeless in the kitchen. Barry’s actually quite good.

Anyway, me and Dad could hear Mum and Barry chatting away in the kitchen as they worked, so maybe she doesn’t think he’s boring any more. Besides, I think she’s missing my brother a little this year. He’s fallen in love with a girl in Scotland called Sky, so he isn’t with us this year. Sky! Remember I told you he lives on the Isle of Skye? Very appropriate.

Any moment now we’ll start opening our Christmas presents, but before that, let me tell you what’s been happening over the past few days (apart from me rushing about doing my last-minute Christmas shopping).

I read in the newspaper that the man who gave Brad that black eye has been arrested, so presumably Brad returned to the police station to look at some more photographs. I don’t know if Tania went with him, but I do know that she and Brad are engaged to be married. In the circumstances, because Tania is (a) difficult (b) unpleasant and (c) impossible to please, I don’t think I can say that Brad’s story has a happy ending.

As for Christopher’s story, his parents were so grateful to me for looking after him they sent Di round with some Kiss Flowers (my third bunch in less than a week!).

And me? Well, Barry took me to a salsa dance the other night. I couldn’t do the dance properly, but it was very nice to be held as closely as that. We’re going to go to lessons together in the New Year.

Also, you’ll be very glad to know that as well as the shopping and the salsa dancing, I have found the time to read through my story again. And I still like it. Straight after Christmas I’m going to start typing it up.

‘Time for presents!’ Mum says now. ‘Here you are, Barry dear. A very Happy Christmas to you!’

‘Thank you, Willow!’ he says and opens the package she hands to him. Inside is the brightest shirt that has ever been made anywhere in the world, ever. No chance of anyone accusing Barry of being boring in that!

I give Barry a painting - a painting of a bridge. Well, he does like bridges!

‘Did you get this from the Courtney Art Gallery?’ he asks me, smiling.

‘No! Definitely not.’ I laugh. Brad would hate this painting. It looks like a bridge, you see.

‘Well, I think it’s beautiful,’ Barry says. ‘Thank you, Alex. Thank you very much.’

Then it’s time for me to open my present from him. Whatever it is, it’s in an excitingly large box. Carefully I open it and put my hand inside. I touch something that feels like … a shoe.

‘Ski boots,’ Barry tells me, smiling. ‘I thought you could use some to go with this.’ He hands me an envelope. Inside there are two plane tickets to Austria.

‘I thought you might like to go on a skiing holiday,’ he says, and then I’m screaming and kissing him both at the same time.

By the way, that’s another thing I’ve changed my mind about. Barry can be as nice to me as he wants to be!

Later on me and Barry leave my Mum and Dad playing a game of cards and go for a walk along the seafront in the dark together. ‘Barry,’ I say to him, ‘when my fortieth birthday comes round, do you mind if we just stay in together and watch television?’

He looks surprised. ‘No, of course not.’

‘No balloons? No songs?’

He laughs. ‘Was it that terrible?’

I nod.

‘Sorry. I just wanted you to be in no doubt about how crazy I am about you. But I promise. When you’re forty we can do whatever you like.’

When I look up at Barry, he bends to kiss me.

I’m kissing him back enthusiastically when suddenly I hear a crashing sound behind me.

‘Look out!’ Barry warns me, but too late. Sea water falls from the sky and lands on both our heads.

‘We forgot to play the running from the waves game!’ I cry, rubbing the water from my eyes, and Barry grabs my hand.

‘Well, let’s play it now then!’ he says, just as another wave bangs against the wall and shoots up into the air.

‘Yeeess!’ I scream, and we run madly along in the darkness, racing the wave. And after that one, we do it with the next one. And the next.

And yes, I’m very wet and very cold, and yes, it’s a crazy kind of thing to do on Christmas Day. I’m certain my parents have done it many times. Oh, and of course I’m not wearing the right shoes for such an activity.

You didn’t really think I would be, did you?

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