Episode 7: Walking in the Cold and Being Alone
This week, there are one thousand tears on King’s Parade.
Read about last week’s catastrophe here
It got dark at 4:30 these days. Billy knew this because at 4:31 he was walking through Market Square in total darkness. It was so dark, in fact, that he didn’t recognise the two figures who had stopped a few feet away from him.
‘Jesus, Billy, aren’t you cold?’
It was Jed, wrapped up in his winter coat, holding hands with his girlfriend Serena from Girton, who he’d met on Tinder. That was classic Jed, wasn’t it? Lucking out on the dating front. Mind you, Billy thought, he wouldn’t want to go out with Serena from Girton. She was constantly on her phone, instagramming, tweeting and, strangely enough, continuing to tinder. Still, maybe Jed had been right all along, Billy mused. Maybe tinder had held the answer to his problems all along…
‘No? You’re not cold?’ Jed was staring at Billy, waiting for an answer.
‘No, I am cold,’ said Billy, tugging at the thin t-shirt he was wearing. ‘I’m only wearing a thin t-shirt.’
‘Where are you going?’
Billy shrugged. ‘Walk.’
God, Jed was in a persistent mood tonight, wasn’t he?
‘OK. Are you feeling OK, man?’ Jed himself was feeling bad. He hadn’t heard from Billy since yesterday morning – the morning after the bop – when Billy had simply texted him the words ‘It’s over.’ Jed had assumed Billy was talking about Anna, but looking at the state of him now Jed was more inclined to think that he’d been referring to his life dreams, or perhaps his habit of showering.
‘Because you don’t look OK.’
Billy shrugged again.
Jed tried again: ‘Are you still feeling hungover?’
‘Yes, Jed, I’m still feeling hunogver. And more than that, I’m feeling very, very embarrassed about the other night, and I’m feeling tired and confused, and I haven’t started my dissertation –
‘On prison architecture –’
‘On prison architecture, and no that doesn’t make you a good friend just because you remembered what my dissertation is about because you haven’t asked me once about anything, and I’ve been sitting in my room feeling shit, and I’ve – lost my coat!’ He glared at Jed, furiously. ‘Where’s my coat!’
‘Mate…’ But before Jed could offer anything more constructive, Billy, to the absolute horror of both of them, started to cry and now he was crying, actually crying outside Great St Mary’s Church on Market Square. Jed’s body froze in a mixture of sympathy and awkwardness. He considered making a joke about the song Boys Don’t Cry, but realised just how deeply unhelpful that would be. Instead, he simply put a hand on Billy’s shoulder, and with the other gently shooed Serena away, who’d been snapchatting the entire exchange.
‘You’re just hungover and muddled,’ said Jed. ‘You don’t know what you’re thinking.’
‘Get off me,’ Billy snapped.
‘Billy – ’
But it was too late. Bily was stumbling away, off down King’s Parade, dashing the tears away with the hem of his thin, thin t shirt.
‘Be safe!’ Was all Jed could think to shout after him.
‘I think it’s time for an intervention,’ Jed said, turning to Serena, who was feeling guilty and so had put her best listening face on.
‘Exactly.’ Jed got out his phone, ‘And I think you might just be able to help me…’