Gervais stares at Blue in total shock and Blue can see he had no idea Blue would be here.
“I just came in for dinner. Can I join you?” Gervais asks.
Blue shrugs and Ocean feels torn he doesn’t want to share Blue but he likes it best when Blue and
Gervais are dating.
“Where have you been? Are you back? What about school? Why did you go?” Gervais asks in a tumble not sure what he needs to know most.
“Blue works on a farm.” Ocean says simply.
“I’m just back to sort the final paperwork for the house sale. Sorry I didn’t sell to you, it didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to think of you when I bought my next place.” Blue says.
“I thought we were back on track. I thought we were close. Robin, Andy, Chris, we’re all devastated.” Gervais says.
“I’m sure you barely notice really. You didn’t notice I’d gone.” Blue says.
“I noticed, I didn’t like my Blue being gone.” Ocean pouts.
“I know buddy. But we talk every month. More than in summer.” Blue says hugging him and nuzzling his cheek.
Cheryl comes over with drinks and sits down for a minute, its not too busy, the others can cover.
She slips her arm around Blue, checking he’s calm and giving more comfort.
“Let’s have dinner together and maybe you two can talk alone after, if Blue wants to.” Cheryl says.
“But I want Blue to stay over.” Ocean objects forcefully.
“Not tonight baby, it’s a school night.” Cheryl says firmly and Ocean sulks and snuggles Blue closer.
“I can’t stay too late.” Blue says calmly.
“Can I call Robin and Andy?” Gervais asks.
“Please don’t. I really wanted some quality time with Ocean and Cheryl.” Blue says and Ocean perks up.
“Okay.” Gervais says quietly, wanting Blue to himself more than anything.
Blue ignores the elephant in the room and continues to prompt Ocean for stories from school and gymnastics and Cheryl for updates on people from yoga.
They have a leisurely meal and Gervais soon relaxes and just enjoys the company.
They help Cheryl close up and Blue hugs Ocean over and over and promises to call him more often. Cheryl eventually plies him away and takes him home.
“Shall we take a walk?” Gervais asks.
“I need to go.” Blue says.
“Please Blue. You cut us all off without a word. You owe me an explanation at least.” Gervais says.
“Fuck you. I owe you nothing.” Blue says annoyed he’s been sucked in.
“Okay, okay. I get it. Let’s go for ice-cream.” Gervais says and grins and Blue laughs at how easy he is.
“Okay. I could go for a huge hot fudge sundae.” Blue says.
“With marshmallow fluff.” Gervais says and Blue laughs.
They drive over Blue grabs a table while Gervais orders.
“You didn’t tell anyone?” Blue asks when Gervais sits down.
“No. I’m totally selfish and happy to get some time alone.” Gervais says.
“Have you spoken to momma?” Blue asks.
“Yes.” Gervais says cautiously.
“Is she mad about the house?” Blue asks.
“She is shocked. She never thought you would do what you did. Said if it had been Chris she wouldn’t have had a moment’s surprise.” Gervais says.
“Is she looking for me?” Blue asks.
“Is this all about her?” Gervais asks.
“No.” Blue says.
“And you’re not going to elaborate. Where are you living?” Gervais asks.
“With a sweet old lady called Gladys, she’s 86 and I take care of the house and she lets me stay for a cheap rent. She loves telling everyone I’m her adopted grandson. I’ve been lucky. I have great living arrangements, I had work while I waited for the house money. It’s been great. A new start. College was a waste of money. I didn’t exactly learn much, academically in 2 years, not much that I hadn’t already studied and mom’s stupid rules set me back from doing what I wanted and I just wanted to get on with my life.” Blue says.
“My new school is hard work. I am about used to it now but it’s been tough to get into proper study mode. I love it and so does Robin. Do you want to know how the others are?” Gervais asks.
“Nah.” Blue says surprised he actually isn’t at all curious.
“Really?” Gervais asks.
“Really. I am glad to be out of the toxic drama. I am glad to be away from the insecurity and bitchiness.” Blue says and Gervais laughs.
“When you put it like that I get it. Robin loves you and misses you. We’re doing cheer together and he has a girlfriend he met in our gaming club. I am single, working on my therapy and trying to get over you abandoning me just like everyone else and trying to accept that unlike when everyone else left this time it likely is my fault.” Gervais says and Blue nods.
“Why did you fuck Spence? Why not come to me? We had a good time before I went to Australia.” Blue says.
“It’s never just s with us. We say that every time. Plus you and Will, you were so cute, you really liked him and he adored you. I thought maybe if Spence was distracted he’d let you two get on with it. I wasn’t ready for you. I am so, so much closer but I have a lot of work to do. I am so, so sorry. How did you find out?” Gervais asks.
“I came over, the door was unlocked so I came in and I heard you, and I heard Spence and I knew I would never get the respect from you guys that you demand from me. It was the last straw.” Blue says.
“We have all taken you for granted. Although I do feel like its only me and Robin who really miss you. Can I not ask him here? Please Blue he has been a great friend to you and he’s feeling pretty lost.” Gervais says.
“I need to get going soon.” Blue says.
“They’ve not even brought over your sundae.” Gervais says and Blue shrugs.
Robin is there within minutes, he isn’t sure whether to punch or hug Blue. But settles for a hug when he sees him. Like Ocean he can’t keep the emotion in and he and Blue cling to each other sobbing.
Then sit down, Robin orders a hot chocolate and grabs an extra spoon to steal some of Blue’s ice- cream. Blue tells them about his new life and they probe him with questions until closing.
“Don’t go to the motel, come back to mine. We can have a sleep over and talk some more.” Robin says.
“I want to get back on the road early. It was nice to see you both.” Blue says hugging them.
“Then we’ll come to the motel. That way you don’t need to worry about seeing the others.” Gervais says and Blue smiles knowing he’s defeated.
“Why are you staying in a shit-tip like this?” Robin asks as they go to Blue’s room.
“It’s cheap. I don’t make much money, my only job is now 2 days a week and I can’t guarantee that my income will increase much for months. Yes I will have the house money now but I can’t fritter it away.” Blue says.
“I’m so proud of you.” Gervais says.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t stay in touch with you two. I call Cheryl and Ocean every few weeks. I didn’t want anyone to talk me out of it or pile on the guilt.” Blue explains.
“I get it. You look good, your muscles are bigger than ever. I wish mine would pop up so fast.” Robin says.
“I am coming to you for winterbreak. No arguments. I love Clara but despite my own hand in your decision, I know she has a bigger one. If you are done with her I am too. I would go with Robin but I would like to know you’re safe and happy. I know how you can spin a shitty situation into something lovely.” Gervais says.
“I don’t want to mix my past and my future.” Blue says.
“Tough. I am both.” Gervais says with a grin.
“Maybe.” Blue says.
“My sisters are already planning their gingerbread creation if you would call them in the run up it would mean a lot. No pressure. My mom would be pleased to hear from you too, she’s out of her mind with worry.” Robin says.
“Unlike my own. I’m glad I got to spend time with your mom, she shows us all what a good parent is.” Blue says.
“Yeah. So weird we have one functional mother in our whole group.” Gervais says.
“Oh I think Dylan, DeShawn and George have great moms too but Robin hit the jackpot.” Blue says sadly.
“I have missed this. Gervais moved back in after you left and we share a room when I don’t have company but he’s little and skinny and not you.” Robin says snuggling onto Blue’s shoulder.
“It’s nice. I’m sorry I couldn’t face either of you. I was pretty stubborn about leaving everything behind.” Blue says.
“Its okay. You did what you needed to. I hope you finish college someday, you’re too smart to be viewed as uneducated.” Gervais says.
“I plan to take a class or two locally once I’m established. It will take a while but I will complete.” Blue says.
“I’m just happy to hang out with you. Gervais and I don’t mix with the others any more. Well DeShawn and Magnus as we live together. They are adorable together.” Robin says.
“DeShawn is such a good guy. We’ll miss him when he goes pro.” Gervais says.
“Timing works out with Magnus due to graduate.” Blue says.
“Yeah they have such cute plans. DeShawn is so happy. So are George and Dylan, they moved in with Spence but keep to themselves. Spence is…” Robin says.
“I don’t want to know. I’m sorry. I really don’t want to give headspace to anyone. I love that DeShawn is happy but the rest can burn.” Blue says cutting Robin off.
“You really have moved on.” Gervais says.
“I have and I’m glad you two have each other. Have you made friends at school?” Blue asks.
“We have, we have our friends at cheer and gaming but they are activity friendships we don’t see them outside, but might sit together for lunch if we see them.” Robin says.
“Yeah we have a few study groups that we see more, we host them at the house on weekends as Robin’s is the nicest place and Magnus and DeShawn are not usually around.” Gervais says.
“Gervais bakes or we make your paella which goes down well. We bought one of the giant pans, well not like huge street size but a really big pan.” Robin says.
“Classes are hard so we study together and then game together and eat and its really good. It suits us as a pair of nerds.” Gervais laughs.
“That’s it, we’re finally having the college experience we both wanted, not the one we thought we should have. I didn’t apply to tech as they didn’t have an option for Jenna and Gervais didn’t have the grades but it is exactly the right place for us and we are so lucky they took us both.” Robin says.
“I’d not thought of it like that. Yeah we’re happy being nerdy and surrounded by our people, a few who also happen to cheer. We got our fresh start and its working out. We’re both far happier in our headsets than in the clubs, we loved those nights but I love my life right now.” Gervais grins.
“We just miss you.” Robin says.
“I am glad you’re both happy. I am so glad that you’re in the right school for you now. Gervais I am so happy that your shitty high school didn’t stop you from ending up in the right college for you. I am so proud of you both.” Blue grins.
“I’m going to come up after Christmas. Lets see in the new year together.” Robin says.
“You two are determined to not let me move on.” Blue says.
“You don’t get to move on from us. We love you and we care about you and we’ve both fucked up a lot in the past and you let us back not because you’re weak but because you wanted us to be better. We’re a trio, a weird, sometimes dysfunctional, sometime co-dependent, amazing best friend trio.” Robin says.
“We are and you know it. We’re not going to hold you back. We are going to cheer you on.” Gervais says and kisses Blue.
Blue can’t help but smile. He calls Gladys in the morning to say he’ll be back Sunday. Gervais checks them in to a nice hotel and cancels the study group. They spend the day together catching up, ordering room service and watching silly movies. They have a lovely time. Robin and Gervais minds are at ease. Blue is fine without them and they have to accept that and Blue has to accept there are some friends he just can’t shake off.
They bid a tearful goodbye. Blue promises to call and to think about winter break. He doesn’t feel pressured, he knows Gervais would have a lovely time with Robin’s family and could visit with W and family to not outstay his welcome. It depends if he has a place by then, it’s not long away.
He gets home and Abby is waiting with Gladys and he grins.
“Shall I make coffee?” Blue asks.
“That would be lovely.” Gladys grins.
“I want to ask about your plans. Gladys has given me the outline but I need to hear it from you and then you can drive us over there and tell me what you’d do with it. And thank you for the cookies, I appreciate good food but can’t manage much cooking these days.” Abby says.
“Blue has me spoiled. Best thing I ever did offering him a room.” Gladys says.
“I am always grateful. Surprised you want me to find somewhere else.” Blue grins.
“Oh I know you won’t abandon me and you can’t get by on casual farm work. You need to get on with your dreams.” Gladys says.
“So my ultimate dream is to produce wine. I spent last summer visiting vineyards in Australia. I know I can’t start there, its hard to start small unless you buy in grapes and that doesn’t interest me. So I will start with a market garden. I have been around farms all my life and grew up on a smallholding. I’ll specialize in weird varieties of vegetables. My friend sold purple cauliflower and black strawberries and the like this summer and they flew off the stands for a premium when they cost no more than the regular sort to grow. I have other money making options in between. The plan is to be as self-sufficient as possible and save for more land so I can get on to the wine.” Blue explains.
“With the cost of land it might take 50 years.” Abby says.
“Sure but I don’t need to be in as expensive an area for the grapes. As a small producer I need to be near an active market.” Blue explains.
“Right and you can grow some grapes, you need a few seasons before the fruit is up to it, make a dozen bottles a year and work on your vines, which you can later transport. Come on lets go.” Abby says showing there’s nothing wrong with her brain. She walks with a stoop but isn’t slow. Gladys comes along for the ride.
“I can’t afford this.” Blue says as they get out the car in front of a beautiful two story stone farmhouse.
“We’ll see come on lets look at the land then the house, it looks like rain.” Gladys says who is never wrong about the weather.
Blue steps out and the two women watch as he explores first the kitchen garden and then the two fields wither side. One is just overgrown grass and the other has two huge polytunnels, in a state of disrepair but the structure looks fixable to Blue. He loves it and knows it would be perfect. Mike would lend him the equipment to get things started Blue thinks then stops himself. There is no way he can afford this. Not without feeling guilty at leaving Abby short.
Rain begins to fall and he runs over to the old ladies and they go into the house. The kitchen though dusty is not in bad shape at all. It’s a glorious open space with a huge oak table.
Blue explores the rest of the house while Abby and Gladys find some safe chairs to sit on.
“What would you do with the house?” Abby asks when Blue gets back.
“The kitchen is in good shape needs a good scrub and the floor needs repairing. I’d get a bathroom done, they all look like they need replacing and I’d live in the lounge for the first year, again it just needs a good clean and the chimneys need sweeping but once that is done I can use the fireplace and not worry about the heat for a while. Then fix up the other rooms as I go. Some of the floors need replacing upstairs, it’ll take some time and money.” Blue says and looks up to see two women grinning.
“You’d love it and restore it and live in it?” Abby says.
“For sure, it is a beautiful house. A little big just for me but in time I could offer rooms. The kitchen is the priority so I can get going with some sort of catering.” Blue says.
“Yes I have booked you in to some local Christmas fayres. Don’t look at me like that boy you will bake at my house and at Abs, we’ll help with the stalls, us and the others. You’ll sell your cakes and take orders for Christmas pies. We have a few craft bits we sell too.” Gladys says.
“But I can’t afford this place. I have a budget and I couldn’t give you a good price and certainly not have enough to do the renovation too.” Blue says.
“My boy you are the first person I have shown round who talks one lick of sense. 10 viewings and they all wanted to raze this house as being too old and too cold. You know the value in this building and you would make it a home. My sister raised her family here and had 75 good years here. Hearing your passion and plans make me determined you shall have it.” Abby says.
“But I only have the money I have. I won’t be able to get a mortgage.” Blue says.
“Write it down, what you can afford and still have enough to get the kitchen and bathroom working.” Abby says pushing a piece of paper and a pencil at him.
Blue thinks of what he has, calculates his living costs for the year and the cost of a new kitchen and bathroom and writes down the rest. He got a good price for his house, the value had gone up due to the school finally being approved but he knows it would barely cover the house here, even in this state. Reluctantly he write it down and passes it over.
“Well you can half that and we have a deal.” Abby says.
“No!” Blue says.
“Young man if you buy this place will you visit me regularly? Check I’m alright? Bring me those lovely cookies?” Abby asks.
“Of course, even if I don’t.” Blue says.
“And you’ll do the same for Gladys?” Abby asks.
“Of course, she knows she’s stuck with me.” Blue laughs.
“So you’re saving us from expensive home help. Oh we both know we’re not too far away from needing it, probably should have had it years ago. There are days we can’t get up or manage to turn on the stove or the faucet. Gladys nor I have children, and my feckless niece and nephews wouldn’t think to pick up the phone.” Abby says.
“But they exist and I don’t want to be sued for depreciation of assets or something. You need a letter from your doctor that you’re of sound mind. And I promise to visit you both and bring you meals or cook in your home. I can batch cook and we can swap portions between you.” Blue grins knowing he has again had a huge stroke of Blue luck.
“Told you he’d cave.” Gladys says.
“You need to give me more information about these holiday fayres too. I don’t know two old biddies running my life.” Blue grins.
“You have a gift and need to use it. You’re a good boy and you’ve brightened me up no end. If I can help you out I will.” Gladys says.
“Now I’m only at the farm 2 days a week how do you feel about a yoga class at the community center? I’m not expecting hand stands just some gentle stretching and deep breathing. We can work on something seated for those who use wheelchairs or can’t manage to stand for long.” Blue asks.
“Sound good. We used to do the aqua aerobics but I’m blowed if I can contort myself into a swimsuit these days.” Gladys says.
“Yes its alright for those in their sixties. There is a ballroom class but I can’t abide it. You being your mumbo jumbo class and we’ll get the girls along. You can get started here right away no need to wait for legalities.” Abby says handing Blue the keys.
“Oh Abby you only met me today. How do you know I wouldn’t sell it?” Blue asks open mouthed.
“You loved it as soon as you saw it. You had the same look my sister had when she was first married and making this place a home.” Abby says with finality.
“Now we need to find you a nice young man to share it with.” Gladys says.
“I had a happy marriage but I tell you I married my husband for his farm and to make me respectable. We were great friends, we knew we both went the other way but it was never spoken of. He had his dalliances and I had mine. I envy you the chance to be who you are from the start.” Abby says and Gladys turns pink and does an impression of a goldfish.
“Well she never admitted it out loud before.” Gladys says once they are back home after dropping Abby off.
“She’s a great woman.” Blue says.
“She ran her farm for years, her husband was never in to it and was glad she took the lead. It wasn’t the done thing to walk away from a family farm back then, he and Abby were a perfect match that way. Abby sold it to the neighboring farm when she turned 75 and moved to her cottage. She’s not short of money so don’t you worry, she never expected to inherit from her sister. She likes you. I knew the minute I turned up with the cookies this deal would happen. She loved them. Too sweet for the rest of us mind.” Gladys says.
“You liked the honey cakes though.” Blue grins.
“Oh we did. You’ve made me very popular. I like your exercise class idea. Good way for you to meet everyone who will be helping with your stalls. No one wants paying before you start, a pie or plate of cookies we agreed on as a fair price.” Gladys says.
“How much do the stalls cost? Are they church fayres or crafts?” Blue asks and they spend the afternoon talking through Gladys plan.
Blue’s days are full at the farm, baking, his new class and making a start on the house. He hasn’t much lead time before the first fayre but he has any number of willing helpers and he rotates where he bakes each day. Knowing they all love the company. Not all of them are alone like Gladys and Abby. He has several concerned children and grandchildren, all older than Blue, drop in during his sessions and he starts to make a few friends.
Up at the farm he spends lots of time mending fences and clearing the aftermath. Mike works him hard but he loves it and knows Mike is a vital contact for him. He thinks the guy just likes the company more than needing the help. It seems Blue’s ability to be good company has really worked out.
The first fayre goes well and he sells out quickly. It’s a craft fayre with a few baked goods stalls. Gladys and Abby both come to the first one, selling knitted items alongside Blue’s cakes and cookies.
To the second he takes a large cheesecake and sells it by the slice. He sets the price high which Gladys and Martha his helper for the day question, especially when he is slow to sell the first slice.
Once he does he sells out within minutes. Can’t serve it up fast enough. Martha scoops a few crumbs from the empty plate.
“You’ve been sneaky. You could have charged double.” Martha says smacking her lips.
Gladys not happy to be out the loop runs a spoon over the plate and takes a taste.
“My goodness. You kept that hidden.” Gladys says.
“Too much to make one for the two of us. And you’re not keen on the too sweet.” Blue says.
“Son you better not only leave me crumbs next time. Next fayre bring two.” Gladys says.
“And I want to order one for Thanksgiving. Will you have time?” Martha asks.
“For you of course, instead of a pie for today?” Blue asks.
“Oh Blue no this is worth far more than a pie.” Martha says.
“You tell everyone about it and get me a few Christmas orders and we’ll call it commission.” Blue grins.
Ab’s deal has left Blue better off than expected. The house will take up most of his money but he can afford to give away a few cheesecakes. He has a feeling they will sell year round and he can make a lot more on one than he can on cookies, however good they taste.
Frank asks Blue about thanksgiving when he is at work the next day.
“I uh, I never celebrated it. I thought I’d cook something nice for Gladys and Abby. You’re welcome to come. Will your sons be home?” Blue asks.
“No they both tend to wait for winter break rather than make two trips.” Mike says.
“I understand I used to do the same. What do you usually do?” Blue asks.
“Last year I was too under the fog of grief to do anything. Before that my wife would ask everyone who had no one to the farm and we had a grand old time. I know you’re vegetarian but if I brought a bird would you manage the rest? I feel like I need to move on but I loved her traditions, I’m not up to hosting.” Mike asks and Blue is forming a plan.
“My kitchen will be done by then, its close now. You bring the bird and invite anyone who might like an invite, I’ll get Gladys and Abby to do the same and we’ll have a grand old time, a housewarming for me and thanksgiving for the rest of you.” Blue says.
“It might sound daft but you remind me of my wife. Don’t worry I’m not about to come on to you. But she had a knack with the elderly and the lonely and thought nothing of cooking for twenty or thirty, friends, family, strangers, everyone was invited.” Mike says.
“That’s how I imagine my home. Always a dish on the stove and an open door.” Blue says blushing a little.
“You’ll get there.” Mike says.
Blue looks around the mess of a farmhouse. Mike’s grief might have lessened but his housekeeping skills have not returned.
“I don’t say this to insult you. But how about for the next few weeks and while your sons are home instead of working outside I do two days a week housekeeping here? I can clean. Get some meals in the freezer and frankly make things a bit more homely. I know you’re doing your best but your sons will stay longer if the house is welcoming.” Blue says bluntly.
“Thank-you. I’ve had offers of cleaners but I felt too ashamed of the mess and worried about gossip. It’s better than it was, I’m showering for a start. You’ll not gossip about me and no one will know but the boys. Thank-you Blue. I don’t know who sent you to my farm but you are a blessing.” Mike says and they share a hug.
Gladys and Abby are drinking hot tea when Blue gets home. Abby is a more frequent visitor knowing Blue is on hand for a ride home.
Blue explains his and Mike’s thanksgiving plan.
“Count us in. We’ll report numbers in a few days.” Abby says.
“I used to love thanksgiving up at Mike’s farm, his boys would ferry us all up there so we could enjoy a few glasses of wine. Such a shame about his wife. Shouldered on in pain until it was far too late. Then gone not a month after seeing the doctor.” Gladys says sadly.
“She was a fine women. Good to hear Mike is healing and ready to face people again.” Abby says.
“I will want to move over to the farmhouse now with kitchen and bathroom are well on the way. I think you two should consider combining homes.” Blue says catching Gladys and Abby on the hop.
“He’s right.” Gladys says.
“Are we both not too set in our ways?” Abby asks.
“We have the same ways, we’d be company for each other and when we’re tired of each other we go out or have someone else round.” Gladys says and Abby nods.
“You’d move into my house?” Abby asks.
“Yes and I’d rent this one out as its closer to town and more modern.” Gladys says.
“Better than the elderly living place Rita has been looking at. Young man you’re a fixer just like Gladys here.” Abby says far less insulted than she imagined she might be.
“Easier for me to keep track of you both in one place.” Blue grins.
“You’ve made me feel younger and older at the same time being here.” Gladys says.
“I thought you’d both be more resistant. I think I’ve just shown you both you don’t need to put up with the bad days. I bet Mike’s wife used to help you out some. I think she probably organized people to visit you and the others without families and without her to co-ordinate things have got a bit lax. I can see up at my place your sister had some help keeping the garden going until the end. You just needed some outside eyes to notice the gaps.” Blue says.
“You should have been a preacher, not for the god stuff but for the community work. That’s the gap you’re trying to fill. You’re right Gayle, Mike’s wife did a lot of that sort of thing. Or sent the scouts round when her boys were members.” Abby says thinking.
“Between the farm, the baking and the renovation I’ve not had much time but do push me at people who need work doing. Mike’s boys might like some work over break too.” Blue says.
“Slow down boy. You don’t want to keel over. You need some leisure time, with people your own age.” Gladys says.
“I need to work and make something of myself and then find him.” Blue says quietly.