WARNING: This includes sexually explicit material.
Please note any unfamiliar spellings and phrases may be due to the
fact I am English, not American.
I would like to thank Morgan for all his help
Any and all comments, including constructive criticisms, would be
most appreciated. Please send to email@example.com
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reposting on a website or to a newsgroup requires my permission
first (but I'll probably say yes). This should not, under any
circumstances be used to make a profit by anyone other than the author
This is set in the north-east of England so I thought I would
provide a few notes on the background geography I mention.
M5, M6, M1 & A1 :- These are major motorways (or Interstates I've been
told Americans call them) linking south-west England with the
north-east. I spent most of September driving up and down them and
that's when I came up with this story.
Metro Centre :- A large shopping centre south of Newcastle near the A1.
When it was built about ten years ago it was the largest in Europe.
Someone calculated that if you just walked along every hallway without
going into a single shop it would take over two and a half hours.
Quayside :- Part of the city of Newcastle near the river where most of
the pubs and clubs are.
Teeside Park :- Specially built leisure park just outside
Stockton-on-Tees. There's a 12 screen cinema, bowling alley, bar,
bingo, fast food places, gym etc...
W.H.Smiths :- A chain of shops selling newspapers, magazines, books,
music, cards, pens etc. Some shops have started an honesty box scheme.
If you are in a hurry instead of having to queue at the till to pay for
your newspaper you just put the correct amount in the box provided.
Also Ulrika Johnston is a well known personality in this country who
was first noticed when she was a weather-girl. Kate Adie is a respected
newsreporter for the BBC
REPOST NOTE: I started writing this after 'Back to Reality'. The
trouble was that life was being a bit of a nightmare. For six
weeks I spent every weekend driving the length and breadth of England.
I scribbled bits of this as I sat in traffic jams on motorways for
hours, with my husband snoring besides me. Not the best creative
enviroment. Then I got 'flu and my writing got worse as I felt rougher.
By the time I finished writing this I hated it and just wanted to see
the back of it, so I didn't go back and rework the middle as I orginally intended. I was surprised how many people liked this. One day when I have some spare time I may rewrite it.
There's nothing quite like the familiar feeling you get when you're
travelling home. Ellie always found it easy to tell when she was
nearing home. The roads became narrower, the weather colder and the
countryside wilder. After three years in the south she had become
accustomed to a gentler way of living. No one hurried or rushed to do
anything; they strolled along speaking slowly in their soft drawled
accents. The countryside consisted of curved rolling hills covered
with neat multicoloured square fields that gave it the appearance of a
partly downloaded picture. The roads were wide and spacious, the M5
and M6 three lanes wide and cutting as smoothly through the countryside
as a hot spoon through ice cream. Maybe it was the warmer weather,
which was evidenced by the plentiful palm trees and vineyards, which
made it seem almost like a different country, definitely a different
The further north she drove the more the changes became obvious. The
countryside became more vertical and unyielding. The fields were no
longer neat squares but haphazard shapes forced to fit the lie of the
land. The brooding outline of the Pennines and the bleakness of the
moors crowded along the horizon. The A1 was squeezed for the majority
of the way into two cramped lanes and compelled to twist and turn to
the dictates of the land.
When she stopped for petrol, people were speaking in the familiar
hurried accents of the north, clipping their words and talking on top
of each other, urgently waving their hands to emphasise their point.
The air was colder and fresher, with a sharp edge to it. She took a
deep breath and felt it burn down into her lungs. She was close to
home. She felt the tingle of excitement that can only be caused by
returning to the place you grew up.
She began to recognise the names on the signs and soon she was driving
down roads that she knew so well she could predict every curve and dip.
She swung round the last roundabout and through the double bends to see
the familiar view of her town.
Middleton was a mixed hodgepodge of houses huddled on a hilltop, like a
group of school kids watching a fight, with the half built housing
estate and the industrial park the new kids hovering on the edges.
Unfortunately the victim in the centre was the railway, once the
lifeblood of the local economy until it had been beaten down by
government cuts and recessions, eventually dying out altogether nearly
twenty years ago. The engine sheds, tattered reminders of the
past, were now home to various small businesses, which struggled
valiantly to succeed. In some ways they had been fortunate since the
railways had been the first of the north's industries to die. By the
time the shipyards and coal mines had also been closed Middleton had
already started to revive with the help of numerous grants and aid
schemes. Ellie could hardly remember the day the engine sheds closed
although there was an annual fete to remind everyone.
She followed the familiar route through the streets, noting small
changes along the way, and pulled into the driveway of her parent's
house. Before she had even had chance to put on the handbrake, her
door was yanked open and her two best friends were pulling her out of
the car. She was smothered by a big hug from them both and knew she
was definitely home.
"Do you know how long we've been waiting for you?" asked Beth, a big
grin on her face. "Lizzy here insisted we would be late so we've been
sitting in her car for the past hour. With only one tape to listen to.
And do you know what that was?"
"Abba!" laughed Ellie.
"Exactly. I thought I was going to go insane."
"You just don't have any musical appreciation," Lizzy said, trying to
sound indignant. "Abba are one of the pioneers of modern pop music
"Oh no, I don't believe you're still saying that. Three years at
Cambridge and you haven't changed at all."
"Yes I have. I've got a degree. So now I'm officially a computer geek
with the qualification to prove it. Anyway you can't talk. You've
hardly changed, either."
"I'm an inch taller and I am now qualified to use the English language
and watch TV."
"And it took three years for you two to prove you could do that. I
don't know, kids today. They've never had it so good," laughed Beth,
rolling her eyes.
"Be quiet grandma and help me get unpacked. You wouldn't believe how
much junk I've managed to pick up in the last three years. Hey why
were you lot sitting in the car? Surely you weren't too scared to
spend an hour with my parents." For the first time since she had
arrived her friends stopped grinning.
"Um, they're not here Ellie," Lizzy said.
"They went off on a cruise, up the Nile I think," Beth added.
"Oh. It's a good job I've got a key then, isn't it." Ellie smiled
brightly, trying not to show how she was. Her friends knew her
too well to be fooled but they also knew better than to offer sympathy.
"Fish it out then and lets get on. We've got plans," Beth said,
smiling again. "We have to celebrate the three of us being back
"So what's the plan?"
"We thought we'd wait until tomorrow to go into Newcastle and see how
many of the gang you remember. Tonight we're going to dump your
clutter, whip round to Lizzy's to pick up a specially prepared take out
with all our favourites, then we're going to all crash at my place,
just like we used to."
"You mean sloppy videos, popcorn, chocolate and gossip all night."
"Well what are we waiting for. Grab a box."
* * *
Some hours later Ellie was drowsily sprawled on Beth's bedroom floor
thinking once again how lucky she was to have two such good friends.
From the first day of school when they had discovered they all had the
same name they had been fast friends. She dreaded to think how lonely
she would have been otherwise. She had been an unwelcome surprise to
her parents, who had presumed that when her entered the
menopause they no longer needed contraception. They had taken care of
her physical needs generously but had seen no reason to alter their
retirement plans. All of Ellie's happiest times had been spent either
in Beth's cluttered council house, fighting and playing with her four
brothers, or in Lizzy's flat, helping to prepare food for the take
Both Beth and Lizzy had to work the next morning so Carl, Beth's
younger gave Ellie a lift back to her empty house. Dreading
the sterile silence, especially after the chaotic noisiness of Beth's
house, Ellie made him come in and have a cup of tea. He had grown
since she had last seen him and started to fill out.
"How tall are you now Carl? You're taller than me so you must be
somewhere around six foot."
"Six one last time I was measured. I've been taller than Beth for
about two years, and of course I've been taller than Lizzy since I was
about fourteen, but I've been looking forward to being able to look
down on you. Thought I'd never get there."
"Well don't get too cocky. I can still remember helping to bathe you."
"Do you? Well anytime you want to refresh your memories you're welcome
to scrub my back." Ellie laughed at him, slightly surprised to realise
he was flirting with her.
"Do you remember when we used to baby-sit you?" she asked.
"Of course. Talk about child labour, you three used to make me wait on
you hand and foot."
"That's not how I remember it. We used to have to bribe you to do the
slightest little thing. Some of the things you asked for were
ridiculous and you always wanted them in writing. Do you remember when
you wanted me to teach you how to do handstands and you ended up
putting your foot through the window?."
"How could I forget? Mum was furious and because you took the blame
you made me run around after you all for the rest of the week."
"So you did. You made a pretty good slave once we trained you."
"Thank you, I think." He hesitated for a moment, turning slightly
pink. "I don't suppose you remember this bribe do you?" He handed her
a tattered square of paper. On the front in faded crayon were
printed the letters IOU.
Memories came flooding back. They had been sitting around one
evening, experimenting with make-up and talking about as usual.
They were having an intense discussion about how to tell when to have
sex while they painted their nails. Carl had been helping out with
cotton wool and getting drinks. As serious as only as only a
twelve-year-old can be he had announced that he didn't think he would
ever have sex. Trying not to laugh at him they had discovered that he
had tried to kiss a and she had pushed him away. It had been
enough to convince him that he would never have a girlfriend. As
seriously as they could they had assured him that they would never let
that happen. Ellie clearly remembered personally guaranteeing that he
would have sex by the time he was eighteen, and him solemnly replying:
'Can I have that in writing'
Opening the square of paper she saw her own teenage writing, with all
the unnecessary loops and curls she had thought looked so grown up: 'I
promise that if Carl Robinson hasn't had sex by the time he is eighteen
I will go to bed with him. Signed Elizabeth Hawkins.'
Copyright 1998 Vickie Morgan