My dreams are interrupted by the theme tune of Indiana Jones. I stir and try and push the sound away but it seems to only get louder. It's only when I feel a vibration near me I realise it's my phone. I stretch out my hand, far too comfortable nestled into the pillow to move but in the end I admit defeat and open my eyes. That's when I see that I was not in fact leaning on my pillow, it's actually Matthews chest. We are both sprawled out on the couch, his arm lazily leans above his head and the other holds the small of my back. I groan as last nights vodka makes my brain feel like its swimming but because the phone won't stop ringing I have to move. I slowly put my feet on the floor and then go into the kitchen 'hello?' I stumble around and pull open the cupboard door that contains painkillers
'Pumpkin, can you hear me?'
I swallow harshly, partly due to the fact it feels as though my mouth is full of fur so I turn the cold tap on, desperately needing water 'I can hear you. Is everything ok in the big apple?'
Silence on the other end of the phone grabs my attention and I turn the faucet off. 'Richard?' He lets out a long sigh, the release of breath he reserves for when he's really stressed
'I would be lying if I said it was good Sam. We had barely stepped off the plane when we were bombarded with questions from HQ. They really don't have a lot of faith that we are delivering our end, in fact, I think they are questioning Marks faith in me. I'm so close to a promotion too. I don't know if it's my age or what?' I can imagine him biting down on his thumbnail and I hate to think of him so anxious whilst so far away
'Richard you are a high achiever, you're amazing at your job, give it a few days and everyone else will see that too'
'You always know what to say, don't you' his voice is soft and it makes me smile knowing I have soothed away some of his self doubt 'anyway, I have to go. Have fun at Harry Potter world, take lots of pictures. Oh and Sam, I'm so sorry but think I'll be here until Monday at the earliest -' his voice continues down my ear but I'm too distracted by the time. I'm going to be late. I've well and truly bloody overslept!
'Richard that's fine. You have an obligation to sort out whatever is going on. I need to go, I'm going to be late for the tour slot. I love you'
'I love you too Sam' with that I put the phone down and turn the kettle on. When I go back in the living room Matthew is sitting up and he runs his hand through his messy hair that has made its way out of the hair tie
'Good Morning' his voice sounds hoarse in the morning, probably due to all the joints and cigarettes he smokes. I'm aware of how oddly refreshed he looks whilst I look like someone has dragged me through a hedge backwards
'Morning, I'm so late I need to get ready. My train leaves in ...' I look at my watch 'oh crap! Fifty minutes! I've put the kettle on. Make yourself a coffee or tea'
'I live next door, you don't need to be so polite' he stands up and stretches which gives me a glimpse of his tattooed stomach and I quickly look away
'Oh, right. Of course. I'm just going to have quick shower'
'Me too' he steps forward and I automatically step back. I think he tries to hide his grin but I can see it slowly forming on his lips. My eyes widen as his hands hold my shoulders and he hesitates for a moment before moving me to the left as he walks past me 'Samantha?'
'Have you already got your train ticket?' He stands by the door not facing me and it's kind of awkward having a conversation with another persons back
'No, I'm buying it at the station?'
His hand grips the handle and he opens the door
'Good, I'll meet you outside in thirty minutes'
I have the quickest shower ever. Lathering all the places that need cleaning and resorting to spraying dry shampoo in my hair as I know I won't have time to blow dry it. I am so tempted to wear my original outfit but I decide on converse, skinny jeans, my Gryffindor T-shirt, leather jacket and my Harry Potter scarf courtesy of Richard. I pack my digital camera into my bag along with the tickets and then go outside. Matthew has already changed into fresh skinny jeans, black converse that look new and a long sleeved Black T-shirt that looks more good than it probably should. He stubs his cigarette out under his shoe and stands up
'Thank you so much for giving me a lift -'
He raises his eyebrows and pushes his hands into his pockets 'you think I'm just giving you a lift?' I look at the car and then back at him confused
'Well aren't you?'
He smiles and then starts to walk down the steps before turning his head so I can see the side of his face 'No miss prim I'm doing more than that. I'm coming with you'
I wasn't quite sure why he wanted to go, that was until he said 'seems sort of sad to make you go alone when you have a spare ticket' and when I asked if he liked the films I got the reply 'kind of, I prefer the books I suppose' the drive is forty minutes away so I take out my tour guide that I bought off eBay and bore him with everything we are going to do
'We can have a glass of butterbeer! Maybe the icecream as well?'
'Does it have alcohol in it?'
I look up from the book and tut 'No! Besides you're driving!'
'I can have one, prim -' I sigh and close the book
'Why do you call me that?'
'Call you what?' He asks oblivious whilst changing the discs in the CD player
'You know what!'
He grins and then turns the volume down a little before he pops one of my ear drums 'because, you've just turned twenty and you act so formal, and prim' he turns and smiles whilst I narrow my eyes before looking out of the window
'I am not prim or formal!'
'I didn't say it was a bad thing, you're just different to other girls I've met who are your age' his voice is soft and I fold my arms before facing him again
'I'm sure most girls you know wear fish net tights with short denim cut offs with crop tops and say words like "oh cool man" or "roll me a joint dude" every two seconds!'
He presses his lips together before holding the steering wheel tighter as he laughs 'isn't little miss prim judgemental?' He looks at me from the corner of his eye and I'm tempted to flip him off but I don't
'Says the person who keeps calling me prim!' I retaliate before drowning him out with some Oasis.
It takes us twenty minutes to find a car parking space but finally we hand in the tickets and are taken to our tour guide. I bounce around like a child on one foot to the next and he pushes me away from him playfully, like he doesn't want to be seen with me. I stick my tongue out at him and then take off my scarf before draping it around his neck
'Are you actually kidding? I'm not walking around with this on!' He goes to take it off but my hands stop his from moving and that's when I realise I've kept them there a little longer than I should have. I step back and shrug off the moment
'I've got the T-shirt you have the scarf. We can look like two geeks together. Plus being here is my birthday present after all. We should embrace it'
He looks down at the wool and sighs 'fine, you didn't force me to be here I suppose!'
We wait for the tour to start and Matthew stands against the wall. A few teenage girls who are here with their parents look over at him, clearly blushing when he notices and they look away and giggle before looking at me and frowning. Charming!
'I think they are trying to work out why you are here with me' I whisper and he pushes himself off the wall
'Believe me prim, I've been asking myself the same thing'
The queue starts to follow the tour guide but I stay where I am, slightly open mouthed that he practically has gate crashed today and yet he has the audacity to be so rude about it. He looks to his right and when he sees I'm not next to him his eyes scan the crowd and he steps back, gently taking my wrist in his hand 'stop being so slow prim. I'm actually a little excited about this!'
My mood significantly lightens as we start the tour. I grab his arm too many times in excitement and insist he takes my picture at every opportunity. He complies without complaining and sometimes I catch him watching me with a smile as I run over to get a better look at something that has caught my attention.
'I need to have my picture taken!' We stand near to where you can have your photo taken on a broom and he frowns when he spots the guy working here clicking away on his camera
'You want to willingly pay forty pounds to have your photo taken on a broom? I have one at home you can pose on for free!'
'Oh haha! Is your broom a nimbus two thousand? I thought not! No, I'm having it done' he doesn't hide his sigh as we get closer and I shrug off my jacket and hand it him whilst one one of the staff hands me a Hogwarts cloak. It's my turn next and I give him a big cheesy grin before stepping on the box and holding onto the broom 'give me a smile' the guy behind the camera says and I suddenly pretend I'm midway through a Quidditch tournament
'Geek' Matthew shouts but I ignore him. I am utterly fabulous!
Five hours later we have looked at practically everything so we decide to head home. First of all we go inside the gift shop and against my protests Matthew buys me a hard back tour guide, the photo I had taken earlier, a mug and a new T-shirt. The carrier bag swings by my side and I look down at it as we walk towards the car
'Thank you so much, you really didn't have to buy these -'
'Yes I did, I didn't get you anything for your birthday' he shrugs and I don't say anything else about it. His cheeks slightly blush and I don't want to embarrass him. When we get into the car he turns the heating on as the October air has a crisp chill to it and he puts my scarf back around my neck
'Do you want to go for some dinner? I'm starved!' He puts the keys in the ignition and tenses
'I could do with getting back, I have plans later. A date actually'
'Oh' of course he has plans. With a woman. Why wouldn't he 'OK, that's fine. It was just an idea. Don't worry'
I hold the carrier bag in my lap and try not to sound disappointed that I will spending a night in front of the T.V alone whilst eating a microwaveable meal for one
'Lets grab something quick, I'm kinda hungry too' he nudges me and I have to bite down on my bottom lip just to hide the smile on my face.
We sit in McDonalds car park and I devour a McChicken sandwich whilst Matthew eats a Big Mac. He takes a sip of his chocolate milkshake and then turns in his seat so we are facing each other
'Bet this is new for you isn't it?' I wipe my mouth and look at him confused
'What is? McDonalds?'
A smile plays on his lips and he hesitates before continuing 'eating McDonalds in a carpark. I'm sure you and suit are used to the finer things in life, caviar, chilled champagne and oysters ...' He puts the straw to his mouth before letting out a small laugh but it's I who laughs the loudest
'You think I have money don't you? Or I'm from a family of money?'
'Well aren't you?'
I sigh and play with the napkin in my lap 'actually it's the opposite. I work in a bakery to pay my half of the mortgage, my dad lives in the bad part of town but my mom has money, well she became wealthy a while ago due to my step dad. Richards family are well off, but that doesn't have anything to do with me' I shrug and then wipe my hands on the paper napkin. He doesn't say anything else, just eyes me suspiciously like he can't make out whether I'm telling the truth or not so I take it upon myself to change the subject 'thank you for today. I used to have this little bucket list, I know it's lame but I wanted to visit all the places that are associated with the films I love -'
'So I helped you live out a fantasy? Is that what you're saying?' There's something hidden in his grin, like its a smile that contains the broken hearts of girls that have fallen for him. I push my hair behind my ear and look back down at my lap
'Not a fantasy, more of an idea'
He turns the radio up a little and I think he's about to start the engine but instead he turns his attention to me again
'So come on, tell me. What are your favourite films?'
The atmosphere that was building up in the car shifts now the conversation has changed to something I feel comfortable talking about
'Well I like all different genres really. Horrors as well as romantic comedies. I like nightmare on elm street, Lord of the rings'
'Let me guess, you're a Legolas fan?'
'Who isn't? He's a badass with that bow and arrow. I really want to try archery' he laughs at my excitement and shakes his head
'Yeah yeah, and I'm sure his blonde hair and brooding looks were repulsive to you! Carry on, what other movies?'
'Well there's Shrek, four weddings and a funeral, Notting hill, obviously'
'So what did you think of fifty shades of grey?' I look at him bewildered and his laughter fills the car
'I didn't -'
'Oh please, every woman I know has watched that film. Or read the books at least'
'Maybe I break the mould Matthew?'
His eyes soften and it's almost like he's thinking about what I've just said
'Maybe you do Prim. Maybe you do'
There's something about the way he studies me, like he's only seeing my face for the first time now. His eyes leave mine, work over my cheeks and then eventually rest on my mouth. I'm about to say something, anything to break this moment but I don't need to, my phone rings instead. I look through my bag and find it concealed beneath the organised junk I keep meaning to throw out
'Sam, it's joy. Your dads had another bump. I've put a bag of frozen peas on his head but it won't stop the bleeding -'
'If his head is bleeding that bad he needs to go the emergency room, not rely on a bag of peas!'
'You know he won't go there! Stop being so bloody difficult and just help him' I end the call and contain the irritated sigh that has built up in my chest
'I have to go, thank you for today' I open the car door and as soon as I've shut it, I ring a taxi
'Samantha wait, what's going on?' he's standing in front of me before I even register he's out of the car and his hand softly pulls at my wrist, lowering the phone from my ear
'It's my dad, he's had an accident. That was his girlfriend on the phone. I need to go and see him -'
'Then let me take you' his voice is soft, the sort of tone that could reduce you to tears if you were close to crying, the sort of way I feel right now
'Matthew, it's getting late, you have somewhere to be -'
'I do have somewhere to be. Here, with you. I'm not leaving you here. Don't ask me to'
The rest of the drive is quite, my knees knocking together in anticipation. What sort of state am I going to find him in today? Last week he had fallen over and his hand had landed straight onto a glass, two weeks prior to that he had fallen over on the way back from the shops and had sprained his ankle. I shouldn't have to keep rescuing my dad, I'm still his child but after we lost Nan to cancer he vowed never to walk into a hospital again, which means the first aid I had to learn at work has really come in handy. But I know the story about the hospital was a lie. My dad was jumped by some teens a few months prior to my Nan passing on his way back from the off licence and my uncle Jimmy, who is a porter at the hospital soon told my family about my dad going into A and E drunk, how he fought with a doctor as they had to take the whiskey off him he was trying to drink whilst they stitched him up. My family was deeply embarrassed about what he had turned into, it only makes me hate them for turning their backs on him.
We pull up outside his house twenty minutes later and I can see the look of confusion on Matthews face. I'm not entirely sure he believed me when I said I wasn't from money, but the empty house next door to my fathers that is covered in graffiti clarifies that. As do the neighbours to the other side of his house who are sitting on the wall, drinking cheap beer out of cans. He turns the ignition off and walks around to open my door. I fumble with my seatbelt and step out, my body only centimetres from his. He looks at the strangers who are now staring at us and I see his jaw clench
'Thank you, for the lift. Have a good night, I'll be ok from here -'
He shakes his head and moves me forward so he can shut the car door
'Matthew, what are you doing?'
'Coming in with you. Get this over and done with'
I use my key to open the door and the sound of wham fills my ear drums. I walk into the living room, mortified that Matthew is behind me and find Joy, bottle of vodka in hand dancing along to the music, dad slumped in his chair, bag of peas on his head laughing at her bad movements. I walk over and pull the bag off his head and he winces
'Really dad? What the hell!'
He huffs and folds his arms over his chest 'I fell in the kitchen, no big deal! Is it bad?' Dad asks and then looks at the stranger standing in his living room 'who is this?'
'This is my friend, Matthew. We were out when you called'
Dads face falters and he returns his attention to me 'I'm sorry Sam, if I've ruined your day'
'You're always sorry dad' I sigh as I walk out of the room and go and grab the first aid box that is seriously running low on all the things I use to fix him.
I ignore how he drinks straight from the bottle of vodka as I apply some butterfly stitches to his forehead and I roll my eyes when Joy sits next to Matthew, her saggy breasts almost spilling out of her market stall velour tracksuit. She offers him a drink but he politely declines, telling her that he's driving and soon he has dads attention
'So your Sams friend? How did you two meet?'
'I'm actually her neighbour' dad scoffs at his answer and then pours some more vodka down his throat
'You don't seem like one of those suit wearing stuck up arseholes from over the other side' I apply more pressure than needed to dads head and he grunts
'I'm just staying there for a few months, I'm in a band and management got us some accommodation whilst we finish our album'
'Do you play an instrument? Have I heard of your band?'
Matthew smiles, clearly flattered that even an intoxicated man seems interested in his band 'I play guitar, and no, I doubt you've heard of us. Maybe one day though'
Dad nods along, clearly impressed he has a rock star in his living room and I finish the stitches
'Makes a nice change that my daughter is hanging round with normal people. Not those posh wankers -'
'Well it's true. You aren't like them Sam. You never have been'
'How would you know?' I mutter like a petulant child and he folds his arms defiantly
'Because Sam, I might be a let down. But at least I know who I am!'
Matthew is polite enough to stay for a cup of tea but it's getting late and I really just want to go home. We say goodbye and I promise to come back and see dad in a few days. Matthew is quite in the car, keeping his thoughts to himself but if I'm honest I don't want to talk, I'm embarrassed enough he's just had to see that. In my head my dad is healthy, he likes to play golf on weekends, he wears polo shirts and shiny black shoes. In reality I have to remind my dad to wash and shave, I have lost count of the amount of times he's worn the same shirt two weeks in a row and the closet thing he owns to shoes are tatty slippers. He has money, obviously the state pays for him, but instead of using that money to clean himself up, he uses it to slowly kill himself. There's only so much one liver can take
'Samantha, talk to me, are you ok?'
I hold in every emotion before shifting in my seat so I'm facing him, the street lights that we pass softly illuminating his face
'Can we just pretend we are a guy and a girl who are on their way back from a really great day. That the day is ending on a high note. Not like this?'
'Of course we can. Regardless of it all I've had the best day with you Samantha. I mean it' we pull into our street and as we get closer to home Matthew mutters under his breath 'shit!'
'What is it?' I follow his eyes to where he's looking and sitting on the wall that separates our houses is a girl, early twenties I think? And she looks utterly pissed off. He turns off the ignition and doesn't take his eyes off her
'Your date has come to you?'
He looks at me and shrugs 'something like that, just wait here a second' I don't have time to reply as he gets out of the car and climbs the steps two at a time. There's raised voices from both of them, she points at the car, presumably at me so I take out my phone and scroll through today's gossip column, seeing what drama celebrities are causing. After a few minutes I look back up and she's calmer now, laughing softly, he lets her inside his house and once the door is shut he comes back to the car. He opens the door and takes my hand as I step out. His finger tips feel rough, probably from years of playing guitar, and I quickly withdraw my hand from his. He hides the disappointment of it well
'Sorry about making you wait, she can be a little ... Confrontational' I wave my hand dismissively and pull my bag over my shoulder
'It's ok, really. It's fine'
He walks me to my door and patiently waits whilst I find my key. I slide it into the lock and reach in to turn the hall lights on. I step over the threshold and watch as Matthew leans against the doorframe
'Thank you for today, This evening, the lack of judgment. It means a lot'
He looks at the ground and hesitates 'you know Samantha, someone like you, They only deserve to smile. You know that, right?'
'Thank you' my voice is barely a whisper as his eyes meet mine, confusion, unknowing, that's all that fills my mind. He entered the part of my world I keep so safely hidden and yet if he has any judgements he hasn't shown them, just kindness
'Are you coming?!'
I don't see her but I know she's standing at his front door. He straightens up and heads for the wall