Episode 8: The End
It’s the finale of the Sunday Serial but will Billy and Anna end up together? There’s only one way to find out…
Catch up with last week’s episode here
‘It’s the end of term and I feel like I’ve achieved nothing.’
Anna stared at the words she’d typed into the google search bar, the cursor blinking, before pressing enter.
The first result was a link to a procrastination self-help leaflet. The second was an essay titled How I Stay Productive and Get Massive Amounts of Shit Done. The third was a bipolar diagnosis from the NHS.
Anna sighed, and snapped her laptop shut. Sometimes the internet wasn’t your friend and that was OK. She pulled out her phone. No texts. No missed calls. Not a single whatsapp. She scrolled through her contact list and hovered over the ‘M’s before making a decision. Her mum picked up on the sixth ring.
Her voice was giddy and Anna could hear a familiar roar in the background. She’d forgotten it was the weekend.
‘You’re at the garden centre, aren’t you?’
‘Um.’ Her mum paused on the other end. ‘I’m not not at the garden centre…’
Since her children had left for university Susan Duggins had found a new lease of life in their garden. ‘It’s nice to have something to nourish,’ she’d say carefully. ‘So I like to potter around pots…sue me!’
At which point her dad would usually chime in with the timeless comment: ‘Don’t you mean Susan – !’ At which point Anna would arch her back and promise herself that she’d never marry.
‘So I like to pot – ’
‘Mum! I don’t care about the garden! I’m feeling…’
‘What are you feeling?’ Anna could tell that her mum had gone to a quiet corner of the garden centre because the noise in the background had become quieter. ‘What are you feeling, Anna?’
What an excellent, on point question, Mum, thought Anna. What am I feeling?
‘Sad?’ she said. ‘A bit nothing? I don’t know.’
‘Please don’t get a tattoo!’
‘I wasn’t planning on it…’
‘Oh. OK well that’s a relief. We’re picking you up today, yes?’ Anna could tell her mum was losing interest. ‘Before five?’
‘Yes – but –’
‘See you soon then, lovely!’ her mum trilled. ‘Don’t forget to drop your keys back at the plodge, I won’t pay the fine this time.’
And with that cruel promise she was gone. Anna put her phone down with a sigh. What was wrong? God knows she was happy to leave Cambridge. But there was a niggling something…She looked back at her phone. She’d received a facebook message during the phone call.
Probably from…T-mobile or something, she thought, opening the messenger app.
She finished reading it a minute later, face flushed. It hadn’t exactly been from T-mobile.
‘You, my friend, might want to check your message outbox.’
‘Fuck off, Jed.’
‘Sorry not sorry.’ Jed plonked Billy’s laptop onto his lap and ran out of the room singing ‘It’s too late to apologise / It’s too late.’
Billy clicked open his outbox, and read his latest message. He finished reading it a minute later, his face ashen. Dumping his laptop on the ground, he scrambled out of bed, where Jed had found him prostrate with gloom only moments ago. What should he do now? He realised that he had no idea, and slumped back onto his bed. He had no idea what he should do.
Anna loaded the last of her boxes into the car.
‘Let’s go!’ Her mum called out merrily from the driver’s seat.
‘I’ve got to drop my keys off.’
‘That’s the spirit! Why don’t you run all the way there and back?’
Anna was too dazed to even scowl. Andy the porter noticed her state when she arrived.
‘Are you all right, love?’ He asked, as she pushed her keys over to him.
‘Yes…thanks,’ she said.
‘You have a good Christmas,’ he said with some doubt.
‘Thank you.’ She headed back outside towards the car. She spotted her mum at the same time as she heard her name being called out.
Her insides contracted. She turned around.
‘Hi,’ said Billy. ‘About the poem – ’ but all the apologies he’d had stored up in his head disappeared as he looked at her face which was apprehensive but also, also – was there a hint of recognition? Instead all he said was: ‘It’s my favourite Frank O’Hara poem.’
Anna paused. ‘It’s his most famous one.’
‘It’s his best,’ Billy said automatically. ‘But…I didn’t send it.’ She frowned. ‘Jed did.’
‘And why would he do that?’
Billy started to flush. ‘It’s pinned to my wall.’ She waited. ‘And I suppose he thought it might be applicable to you.’
Having a Coke with You is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
‘We’ve never had a coke together.’
Billy shrugged. ‘I’ve never been to Biarritz.’
I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
‘When I showed the message to Zoe she said that it was ‘fucking creepy.’’
‘Do you think so?’
Anna looked at him, and raised her eyebrows. ‘No, actually.’
‘I’m sorry if it was but I’m glad he sent it. I came here to apologise but I’m glad you saw it.’
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it
‘Anna!’ Her mum beeped the horn. ‘Leave that boy alone!’ She sniggered. ‘He doesn’t want to be your boyfriend!’
‘I should go.’
And Anna wanted to say that it was one of her favourite poems too, though she’d never told anyone because Frank O’ Hara always seemed a bit passé, didn’t he, and that the moment she’d read it her despondency had vanished in the clarity of something found, and that though she didn’t know why she hadn’t texted him back she knew that she was was sorry, sorry that she hadn’t, and the fact that he was standing here now made her feel…relieved.
Anyway, she didn’t say any of that. Instead for the second time in her life but, readers, certainly not for the last, she kissed him.
Anna’s mum dropped the newspaper she was reading in surprise. What a Sunday to remember.