Secret - 'Everybody's Got To Die Sometime'

October 1962

The World hangs on the precipice of annihilation. Russian weapons on discovered on Cuban soil. The world holds it's breath as the United States squares up to Russia. It seems we are only seconds away from destruction.

Meanwhile in North Yorkshire, Tom and his Dad are facing life without Toms mother. Meanwhile the new early warning buildings are rising up from the moors above their home. Do they provide security or threat ? Threats seem to be both near and far and dark days roll across Tom's world. His world has been turned inside out leaving him a short step from disaster.

As Tom's Dad says "Everyones got to die sometime".

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8. Truancy

October 17th 

Scarborough 

 

Scarborough is a place which always puts you in a good state of mind. It's a happy place, bright and brash and full of holidaymakers determined that their week off school or work is going to be packed full of fun and excitement. Music playing from everyone of the many amusement arcades on the front mixes together to create a cacophony of sound. The bright lights, even during the day, make it feel a place of happiness, the place to visit. 

Even when you come into the town feeling down or depressed, within a few hours the atmosphere of the place starts to seep through your skin. Brightness and happiness absorbed through the pores slowly transforming your mood from black to grey, from grey to technicolour. It's as if it has the ability to switch on your own internal sun. Seaside towns have this ability, a kind of magic that fizzes in the air, infecting everyone it touches. Instantly. 

We wandered down through the town, October isn't the busiest month, but it would be half term next week and looking at the procession of younger children I guessed that somewhere was half term this week. Their cheerful voices full of excitement filling the air as we passed them. I was still seething inside after Billy had riled me so much. I shouldn't let him get to me. I was eighteen for gods sake, not some ten year old. Why should I be affected by bullying now?  

We'd wandered around in silence for a while, Joyce doing her supporting role as she normally did. I was lucky to have Joyce. She'd been at my side ever since I'd started school. Always the strong one, she'd protected me from Billy for over ten years. At times I was embarrassed that I had to rely on her, but at others grateful. In the past few years people assumed we were more than just friends. Our parents were always making jokes about us, assuming we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We weren't, although maybe at one time we came close.  

We sat eventually on the harbour wall, our legs dangling over the side. 

"He's just pond scum" 

"Eh?" I replied 

"Billy. While ever he has a hold on you, he'll keep at it. You have to stand up to him" 

"Yeah... And then he'll knock the crap out of me" 

"Tom, he's just a bully. Sure he's big but all bullies will collapse if you stand up to them."  

"Oh yeah, it'd be me who collapses not him," I replied looking at her. 

"Yeah maybe..." She said patting my leg, "maybe just avoid him. When you get to Hull you won't see him." 

"Yes, " I said, "and I won't get to see you..." 

I shut my eyes, the words sort of came out inadvertently. I didn't mean to say them or maybe I did.  I felt the anxiety build up in me once again. I was going to miss seeing Joyce everyday when university started. Although I was excited to go, a fear hung over me that our friendship would slowly unravel. The strings that held us together were strengthened by seeing each other all the time. With meeting other people these might slacken or even snap when we were apart. I pushed to the back of my mind any romantic attachment with her. She was like a sister to me, although was that where I was pigeon holing her? 

"Don't be silly," she said, "We'll still see each other. Going to university in different places won't affect anything. You think you're going to escape me that easy, you have another thing coming. Anyway I might still go to Hull." 

I turned in surprise to look at her. 

"But... you’ve an offer from Cambridge... surely you're going there?" I asked.  

She sat quietly swinging her legs. 

"Who knows?" 

We sat in silence for a few moments letting the onshore breeze run its cool fingers over us. The warmth of the sun still kept us warm even though it was halfway through October. We watched the fishermen tending to their boats alongside the fish pier. Not as busy as Whitby but still a few. A ship was unloading timber on the goods quay, the noise of the engine on the crane reverberating at times as it took up the strain on the white wood planks. Tourists skitted along the promenade behind, occasionally stopping to watch the wood being loaded onto the wagons. 

"There's that girl and her mum and dad," Joyce suddenly said pointing to by the lifeboat station. 

I looked across and saw them. The man and woman were in front and looked like they were arguing. Lily was following behind skipping as she went. 

"They're not her real parents," I said. 

"Ah?" 

"She told me the other day that they adopted her." 

"What do you make of them?" Joyce asked. 

"Lily's nice but the man and women are not as good. There's something about them, can't put my finger on it but I wouldn't trust them as far as I can throw them." I replied. 

"Yes I know what you mean, the woman's a bit of a snob but HE seems a real bully." Joyce said emphasising the he. 

"How do you know them?" I asked. 

"Saw them in the village last night. The woman was all la-di-da, sounded like she had a reet plum in her voice. The man was scolding the girl. I thought he might hit her at one time."  

"He was shouting at my dad last night," I said. 

"Why?" 

I quickly filled her in about the events from last night after I got off the bus.  

"Why do you think he was doing that?" She quizzed. 

"No idea, dad didn't talk about it, just changed the subject."  

"Come on, let's go and have an ice cream," she said hoisting herself up and dusting herself down. 

I stood up and we wandered back towards the town. At the end was an stall that sold candy floss, rock and ice cream. Bags of candy floss hung from hooks on the front. It was manned by a bored looking boy, about my age. His eyes lit up when he saw Joyce wandering towards her. 

"What can I get you gorgeous," he said lecherously.  

"Two ninety nines" she replied. 

"How about meeting me later tonight at the fun fair darling," he said whilst he scooped the ice cream into the cones. 

"No thanks," Joyce said. 

"Are you sure? I could show you a good time," he said winking. 

"I'll be back home tonight," she said taking the cone and passing it to me. 

"You don't know what you're missing, how about another time?" 

"Maybe," she said smiling. 

"I've given you extra," he said smiling, "see you soon?" 

"Maybe..."  

She licked the ice cream seductively before turning away and wandering off. I followed as did the lads eyes. I felt strangely jealous as though I wanted to wipe the smile across off his face. 

"Will you meet him?" I asked. 

"What that idiot?" She laughed, "no way, but I did get extra ice cream." 

She looked back though and was smiling. Jealously was usually alien to me. Joyce had had a couple of boyfriends but each time I'd got a little jealous. The last one had been a couple of years back and when it had ended I'd smiled to myself, even though I could see how heartbroken she was. Maybe I did really like her? 

"Tom" a girls voice suddenly broke through my thoughts. 

"Hi Lily" I said. 

"I thought you were at school today," she said cheerfully. 

"Ah we're wagging it,' I said. 

"Is this your girlfriend?" Lily asked, her face frowning as she looked Joyce up and down. 

"No, my friend," I replied. 

"Ah... OK," Lily said. 

"Ah Lily, come along my dear, we really must be going to meet your father's friend." The woman interjected. 

"Aww mum, that will be boring. Can't I go off with Tom and his friend?" Lily said. 

"Lily, you must come with your father and I. These... children," she said with distain looking in our direction, "can't look after you." 

I felt about two feet tall and angry. How dare she say we weren't good enough to look after her. I could feel the anger rising in my head but as usual I kept quiet.  

"Mother, I'm sure I'll be OK. They can take me to the funfair. You don't want to go there." Lily replied. 

"Well dear, you shouldn't go on such dangerous rides." 

"Oh mother, pleaaasssseeeee" 

"Oh I don't know," Lilys mother said dithering. 

"I think that would be a good idea," Lily's father said, "We must hurry Petunia if I am to meet … my friend." 

"Well if you are sure." Lily's mother replied. 

"Here,' said Lily's father thrusting two pound notes into Lily's hand, "for you and your little friends." 

"But Bernard, Lily must come with me," Lily's mum said. 

"Nonsense Petunia. The girl will be better off with these people," he said with a hint of disdain, "I'm fed up with the girl moaning and pouting behind us." 

He turned and led his wife away. I saw Lily push her tongue out at his back. I smiled to myself. I'd hardly known the girl but there was something endearing about her. She was like the little sister I'd always wanted but never been blessed with. A spunky little girl who didn't let anything get her down.  

"Come on then Lily," Joyce said, "lets hit the funfair." 

I wandered a little way behind them, watching Lily skipping along next to Joyce. Her animated manner betrayed her happiness at that moment in time. 

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