It was seven in the evening before Michael finally made his way to Debbie's house. He had decided it was probably better to have Debbie as a friend rather than an enemy and that perhaps it was true that he had spoken out of place in their earlier conversation. Michael wasn't convinced for a moment that Debbie didn't like Billy, she made it pretty obvious, but it seemed he'd hit a nerve of Debbie's with his question and it was probably best to apologize now, rather than let her stew on it and get even more pissed off with him.
Michael sauntered slowly down Debbie's street, he always felt out of place in her neighbourhood. It was a lot more posh than he was used to; all the houses were neat and almost pretty, they were all lined with well kept front gardens which were likely to be the pride of the man of the house. A lot of the houses had hanging baskets adorning their door and window frames, it was all, in Michael's opinion, very up itself. It was all just so fancy and proper, completely different from the streets that Michael spent most of his time in.
After dodging the neighbour's angry dog that always seemed to be barking at something or other, Michael made his way past the big Ford Granada on the Wilkinson's drive and up to their front door. He paused before rapping softly on the glossy dark brown painted wood.
A moment passed before the door opened to reveal Mrs Wilkinson, Debbie's mother and Billy's former dance teacher, standing in the doorway wearing an oversized, fluffy pink jumper and a pair of worn-out jeans. She studied Michael for a second with an air of surprise before taking her fag out of her mouth to say:
'She's not very happy with you,'
Michael shifted slightly, there was something about Mrs Wilkinson that made him feel slightly uneasy, it felt to Michael almost as if she could determine his thoughts just by looking at him.
She sighed and moved to the side, making room for Michael to enter.
'Come in then,' she said before taking a drag from her cigarette, 'She's in her room.'
'Tar,' Michael mumbled, as he entered the Wilkinson's home. The hallway was very artsy, which was only to be expected in the neighborhood the Wilkinson's resided in; the whole place was very 'artsy'. This led straight into their, also very fancy and (compared to Michael's own) very large kitchen. A big painting of flowers hung just above a neat wooden chest of drawers which had different pots and vases balanced neatly on top. Some of these contained flowers and others stood there merely for decoration.
Michael made his way up the stairs and onto the landing, looking about bemusedly at more sickly artwork as he did so, he'd never cared much for pretty romantic scenes or brashly colourfull paintings of flowers. He paced his way down the aqua blue carpeted flooring until he came to the door which had hanging on it: a little wooden plaque with the form of a ballerina painted neatly upon it, the plaque read: Debbie's room. Michael knocked tentatively.
'What Mam?' The sound of Debbie's voice came from the other side of the door. Although slightly muffled, Michael could tell from her tone that Debbie was not in the best of moods and, he mused, that it might be a good idea for him to come back another time when her mood had improved. But, he said to himself, he was here now, there would be no sense in backing out and having to explain to Debbie's mam just why he hadn't stayed longer than five minutes. That was a conversation Michael wasn't overly keen on having.
'It's Michael.' He said gruffly, feeling rather stupid talking to the door.
'Didn't I tell you to piss off, like?' Cried Debbie shrilly from the other side.
'Well, yeah but –'
'Don't, 'yeah but' me Michael Caffery,' she cried, her voice gradually getting higher as she went on 'Get the fuck out of my house!'
'Oi, your mam let me in!' Michael retorted in his defense.
'Does it sound like I give a shit who she lets in?' Debbie yelled 'Fuck off!'
'Debbie!' Mrs Wilkinson's voice traveled up the stairs 'Watch your mouth, my girl!'
A strangled, aggravated cry of frustration could be heard from Debbie's room and Michael listened to the thumping of Debbie's footsteps as she made her way to the door. She opened it just enough for Michael to she her face. She had taken down out her pigtails and her hair was now messily framing her face which was slightly red in colour from being so annoyed.
'Look,' she said in a hushed tone, 'Just go home, I don't want to talk with youze.'
Michael opened his mouth to defend himself but before he could speak Debbie had shut the door.
'Ah, Debbie, come on,' said Michael exasperatedly, he hated it when Debbie got up on her high horse like this, he always ended up begging for her forgiveness for the most minor of things, 'Look, I'm sorry, okay? I shouldnt've said what I did, like. It was stupid and I'm - I'm just sorry…'
'Well, you should be.' Said Debbie, leaving the door closed but lingering in the doorway, waiting for Michael to grovel some more.
Michael sighed heavily, looked up at the ceiling and mumbled 'Forgive me?'
'I said: Do you forgive me?' Michael said, slightly louder this time.
'What? Michael stop bloody mumbling I've told you so many times!'
'Do you fucking forgive me?' Michael shouted at the door in a patronizing manner, aware that Debbie probably could hear his question, but was choosing not to acknowledge, just for the sake of humiliating him some more.
'Oh, for fuck's sake,' Mrs Wilkinson called up the stairs, 'Language!'
'Sorry, Mrs Wilkinson' Michael replied, slightly abashed.
At this point, Debbie opened the door again, obviously satisfied that Michael had learned his lesson.
'Well?' Michael asked her, huffily.
'I guess you're forgiven,' Debbie said in a coy tone.
Michael closed his eyes for a moment, sighed then opened them again. Debbie was still in the doorway, staring at him with a condescending expression.
'What?' he asked.
'Nothing, it's just,' She paused 'You are a funny bugger sometimes, Michael'
'You can talk,' Michael muttered.
Debbie glared at him, 'Well, what do you want then?'
Michael shrugged 'Just to say I was sorry, like.'
'Well, see youze then.' Debbie began to shut her door once more.
'Wait, Debbie!' Michael said quickly.
'What, like?' Said Debbie as she opened the door again.
'Don't you want to talk or something?' Michael said, 'Now I'm here and that.'
'Not really, do you?'
'Well – sort of, I guess.'
Debbie sighed 'Go on then.' She said.
Michael stepped past Debbie and into her room. The walls were still covered in the same old swan wallpaper Debbie first had put up when she was 8, though by now, it had seen better days. Her bed was covered in crisp white linen with a slight floral pattern (which was hardly detectable as it was also sewn in white) everything in Debbie's house seemed to have some kind of flower based theme to it. There were also still a few cuddly toys from Debbie's younger years still scattered on her bed and floor and even though Debbie had given ballet lessons up a year ago, her certificates still hung on the wall about her bed.
In front of her bed was a small cluttered desk with a chair and, next to it, a wardrobe where Debbie kept all her clothes. It was a very small but quaint room and despite the femininity of it all, Michael felt quite comfortable in there. On particularly cold days he'd often stay in Debbie's room for whole days at a time, just idly wasting time with her whilst it was too cold for them to piss about outside. They'd occasionally go round Michael's house, but Debbie always complained about how small it was or how there was nothing to do or nothing to eat. Michael couldn't help but agree with Debbie here, he enjoyed being in Debbie's room much more than he did being in his own and so, Michael was quite the regular visitor to Debbie's room.
He sat on the edge of the bed and watched Debbie as she moved from the doorway to sit down beside him.
'So…' Said Debbie, struggling to start a conversation.
'So…' Michael repeated, also trying to think of a topic.
Debbie laughed slightly and smiled 'How's life?'
'Not bad, yours?'
The pair fell quiet for a moment before Michael said 'You know Debbie, you can come and see Billy with me whenever you like I don't…'
'I know, Michael, I know.' Debbie interrupted, 'I just – I dunno, it's just so weird.'
'Billy coming home,' Debbie replied as she looked across the room.
She stopped for a moment; Michael watched her, waiting for her to continue.
'I never really got to say goodbye like, you know.' Debbie continued, talking more to herself than Michael, 'I wanted to, but, I dunno…'
Michael shifted uncomfortably; he wasn't used to being confronted with Debbie's feelings about Billy, or anything really. The conversations Debbie and Michael held never really had to deal with emotions and that was normally how Debbie and Michael preferred it, as neither really trusted the other with their inner most feelings. Michael didn't really know how to deal with the situation, she had caught him completely off-guard and he knew that if he said the wrong thing now, Debbie could quite easily hold it against him for the rest of his years. No, the best thing for him to do how was just to keep quiet and hope that Debbie changed to subject.
'I guess I was embarrassed or something, I can't really remember,' said Debbie, 'I just remember mam telling me Billy had left and that was it. I remember feeling well gutted…'
Michael avoided looking at Debbie, he could tell from her voice that she was upset and that maybe by asking her if she fancied Billy, he'd brought back some unpleasant memories for her. Michael felt bad that he might've made Debbie feel this way, it was never his intention to bring back moments Debbie'd prefer to forget – he wanted to say something, but he was lost for words, everyone knew that speaking wasn't one of Michael's strong points.
'So anyway,' Debbie said, sensing Michaels discomfort and quickly changing the direction of the conversation, 'How long is he staying here for then?
'I dunno,' Michael answered, he hadn't thought about that until now, 'He didn't say.'
'Well, you can ask him in your next letter then.'
'No I can't.' Michael answered quickly, 'There's no point me writing another letter, the 19th is in like, a week init.'
'Haven't you got his phone number or something?'
'Nah, I never asked for one like.'
Debbie sighed, annoyed, 'Michael you really are stupid sometimes you know.'
'Thanks for that, Debbie.'
'Well, it's true.'
Michael sniffed and grinned at Debbie
'What are you laughing about?' She asked, frowning.
'You never get bored of nagging me do you like, Deb?'
Debbie rolled her eyes at him, 'For gods sake Michael, how many times do I have to tell you, I'm not nagging – merely suggesting things that you could change…' she paused, realizing she'd let the wrong word slip out 'Improve about your personality, is all.' She paused and added maliciously 'And since when have you started calling me 'Deb'? I'm sure I've told you I don't like that name, you never listen to me like, do you?'
Michael laughed out loud this time, Debbie was just so clueless to how intolerant of him she was sometimes, he pushed Debbie slightly. Debbie, being as over-dramatic as usual, rolled off her bed and onto the floor, Michael laughed even harder at her and she lay sprawled out of the floor, looking up angrily at him, her cheeks flushing.
'I'm glad one of us finds it funny - you woman-beater!' She said as she grabbed hold of Michael's trouser legs and gave them a great yank attempting to bring Michael to the floor with her. However, as Michael was pulled off the bed his trousers also gave way and ended up dangling below his knees. Michael fell to the floor as he aimed an intangible string of swear words at Debbie. The couple then became awkwardly quiet, breathing hard, Michael pulling up his trousers and both of them blushing profusely.
'Nice boxers,' sniggered Debbie, after the initial shock of the incident had died down.
Michael looked at her, shocked for a moment and then laughed along with her: 'Next time one of us pulls something like that' he said 'I get to see your bra.'
Debbie smiled, 'It's a deal, Michael' she said whilst sitting up and adjusting herself.
It was then that Debbie's room door was swung open by Mrs. Wilkinson; Michael sat up quickly, hastily checking that his trousers were where they were supposed to be.
Mrs. Wilkinson looked at him and said, 'I don't know what you two've been playing up at up here, but all I've heard all bloody night is foul language, yelling and a lot of god damn banging.' She turned to Debbie, 'Next time this one comes round' she nodded her head towards Michael, 'I'm expecting to have none of the bother I've had tonight, otherwise he won't be able to come round again - you got that m'girl?'
'Yes mam…' Debbie droned with a heavy sigh.
'I don't know, I've never heard the like! I dunno what the hell has gotten into you two tonight' she ranted 'It's been driving your bloody father up the wall, ranting and raving about how he's always said you're too irresponsible to have a frigging boy in your room, ' she said shrilly, 'As if your father isn't enough bother for me already with him moaning at me all night it's like blooming hell on Earth I tell you.'
'Sorry mam…' Debbie said monotonously, it was obvious that she got this kind of lecture quite a lot.
Michael began to feel extremely unwelcome and uncomfortable in Debbie's room and took to looking directly at her floor again.
Mrs. Wilkinson then addressed him 'Michael,' she said, still sounding annoyed but in a more comforting tone, which eased Michael into making eye contact with her, 'It's eight 'o' clock now, love. I think you should be getting home.'
Michael nodded and stood up, 'Thanks for having me Mrs. Wilkinson, sorry for being so loud.'
Mrs Wilkinson glanced over at Michael, looking him up and down quickly 'Yes, well...' she said swiftly, in that tone adults use when they're trying to politely and subtly point out that they're pissed off with you. She then added in the same tone:
'I suppose you'll be wanting a lift back then, will you?'
'No,' said Michael quickly, thinking that the walk home would most likely be less cold than the conversation between him and Mrs. Wilkinson during a drive back to his house. 'It's alright, I'll walk.'
'Suit yourself, love.' Mrs. Wilkinson sighing, as she opened Debbie's room door as a signal to Michael that it was time for him to leave.
'See you tomorrow, Debbie.' He said, with an awkward wave and a nervous glance at her mother as he got up from the floor. Personally, he thought it was absurd that Debbie's father thought anything, well just anything, would happen between Debbie and him. Michael thought it was clear as day that Debbie and himself were hardly up for going out with each other.
He walked out the room and Mrs. Wilkinson shut Debbie's door, Michael heard a faint 'See you, Michael' come from the other side of the door as he made his way down the stairs.
He smiled to himself as he waved goodbye to Mrs. Wilkinson, apologizing once more for being such a nuisance. As much as Michael hated to admit it, he'd actually quite enjoyed talking and pissing about with Debbie that night – maybe she wasn't all that annoying after all.