After declaring their love for each other on Christmas Day, Simon Peters and Mark Smith settle down to a cosy life of domestic togetherness.
A new year brings new joys and challenges. Sam, a neighbour boy comes to stay for a few days and adopts Simon and Mark as honorary dads.
A promotion at work gives Simon more responsibility. Mark finds employment at the local café. The purchase of a car allows the couple to get out and about to explore the Yorkshire countryside.
Snuggle up in an easy chair and toast your toes in front of the fire as you read Simon and Mark’s continuing romantic adventures.
We’d just finished eating when there was a knock at the front door. I went to answer it.
It was Paul Bates and his fourteen-year-old son, Sam.
“Sorry to bother you,” Paul said in a rush, “but Helen’s waters have broken, and --”
“She’s early,” I said, then realised Paul didn’t have time to debate such things. “Sorry. How can we help?”
“Would you mind looking after Sam? My parents are on holiday and --”
“No problem.” I interrupted.
“Thanks.” Paul dashed back down the street, leaving Sam standing on the doorstep, not looking terribly happy.
I gave Sam an encouraging smile, then stuck my head out of the door and called, “Paul! If you need to stay with Helen overnight, Sam can bunk on the sofa.”
“Thanks.” He waved before disappearing into his house.
Turning around, I saw that Mark had come into the living room. “This is Mark ... a friend of mine.” I told Sam, beckoning for him to come inside. “Are you excited about having a baby brother or sister?”
“No, not really,” came the meek reply. Sam’s eyes were hiding behind long lashes, which I suspected many girls would be envious of.
“Why’s that?” Mark asked.
“He or she will probably cry all night.”
“But it’ll be nice to watch the baby as he or she grows up, starts crawling, walking and talking.”
“Suppose,” Sam said with little enthusiasm. “What happened to your hands?” he asked Mark.
“Someone I knew was playing around with chemicals, and things went wrong. I should be okay in a week or so though.”
“That’s good.” Sam smiled; he seemed to be warming up to Mark.
“Would you like anything to eat?” I asked Sam.
“No thanks. We just ate when Mum decided she needed to go to hospital.”
“What about watching some television, or maybe a video?” I asked, pointing at the shelves of tapes. I felt out of my depth, never having had to keep a teenager entertained before.
He shrugged and walked over to the shelves.
“So, Sam, what are you studying at school?” Mark asked.
He shrugged again. “Oh, you know, the usual boring stuff.”
I sighed. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“There must be something you’ve done that you’ve enjoyed.” Mark wasn’t giving up.
“We’ve just finished a project on 1930's Britain. The differences between those who had a job, and those who didn’t.”
“My grandfather went on the Jarrow March,” Mark said.
“Really?” Sam turned from examining the rows of video tapes. “Did you know the march was fifty years ago this year?”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah, 1936,” Sam said. “Did your granddad say much about the march?” he asked Mark.
“He said he felt betrayed.”
“Is your grandfather still alive?” I asked.
Mark shook his head. “He died a couple of years ago.”
“Sorry,” Sam said.
The subject moved back to the Jarrow March and Mark told us more about how it had affected the area where he’d grown up. “Basically the government couldn’t have cared less about conditions in the traditional industries.”
I had no idea Mark was so political.
“Things were a lot better for the newer industries like car making and electronics,” Sam said.
“But most of that was in the Midlands and the South,” Mark pointed out.
“That’s true.” Sam nodded.
The room grew quiet. Then Sam, who had gone back to choosing a film, said, “Can I watch this one?” He’d pulled out an action movie I’d bought for Mark but we’d never gotten around to watching.
“Of course,” I said. “Put it in the machine and come and sit on the sofa.”
Sam sat in the chair looking at first Mark then me.
“Is there anything wrong?” I asked.
“Erm ... I, are you ... I mean, do you mind me asking, is Mark your boyfriend?”
I looked at Mark. He gave a slight nod.
“Would it bother you if we were?”
“God, no. My uncle Steve is gay, he’s cool!”
“Do you get to see him much?” Mark asked.
“No, he lives in the north of Scotland. He doesn’t have a boyfriend though. How long have you and Simon known each other?”
“A few months, but we only became boyfriends yesterday.”
“Really? Wow, that’s great!”
“I think so, too,” Mark said.
I smiled, touched that Mark would say such a thing. But thinking we should change the subject, I said, “Shall we watch this film?”