'The Divide.'

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'The Divide.'

Postby sirius631 on Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:16 am

'The Divide.'

David Lloyd, November 2012.

It was the end of another Thursday at college for Jess as she put away the materials and equipment for her ÔÇÿAÔÇÖ level art class. The following day, she would be putting together her portfolio for the final assessment; today she had been particularly careful to check over her work, to ensure completion. It was her turn to drive, so Chloe would be waiting, after having spent the last period in the library. As the weather was overcast, they had decided to go for the sauna around at JessÔÇÖs house rather than the Evesham Jacuzzi. Before getting in the car, Jess took her mobile phone and dialled the number for the houseÔÇÖs central control unit. Using a memorised number sequence, she commanded the sauna to start warming up in ten minutes time, so that it would be ready and waiting for their arrival.

As Jess pulled the car up to the gates, they and the garage door swung open, allowing access, and closed again at the press of a button on the key fob, which also gave Jess and Chloe access to the house. They made their way to JessÔÇÖs bedroom, where they disrobed and collected a couple of towels before heading back through the kitchen, living room and wet room to the invitingly hot sauna. They settled in to let the day evaporate from their bodies.

ÔÇ£Are you coming to watch Scott race in Bury on Saturday evening?ÔÇØ Chloe asked Jess.

ÔÇ£No, sorry I canÔÇÖt make it,ÔÇØ replied Jess, ÔÇ£Remember that I told you that Stuart and I are going double dating with Donna and Nick. I canÔÇÖt believe Nick talked her into visiting the Science Museum.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Oh, thatÔÇÖs a pity. ItÔÇÖs the one time that heÔÇÖll get to race so close to home. I said that IÔÇÖd go and support him, and then weÔÇÖd go out afterwards.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£How are things with you and Scott? It seems like an age since Stuart and I have even just hung out with you two.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Honestly, Jess, I donÔÇÖt know how things are. We may be at the same college, but with our different class schedules and with me working between different campuses, I hardly get to see him from one weekend until the next. Then, of course, there are his cycle races, which take him all over the country. He never stops over after a ride, either, anymore. When we have got together to study he remains dressed in his jogs, so when we do cuddle itÔÇÖs like I canÔÇÖt feel him anymore.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£DonÔÇÖt you go out riding together anymore?ÔÇØ asked Jess.

We havent been out on a ride together since the gang came over for the Easter holidays of year ten. My bike will be too small for me now. Besides, Scott is too strong a rider; it would be embarrassing to try to keep up with him. Chloe paused. Jess, Im afraid that Im losing him.

ÔÇ£Oh, no. That canÔÇÖt be! Why do you think that?ÔÇØ Jess said, taking ChloeÔÇÖs hand.

ÔÇ£As I said, I canÔÇÖt feel him when weÔÇÖre together, so maybe he canÔÇÖt feel me, either, and has forgotten how much we loved each other. IÔÇÖve also seen him holding hands with a girl in his cycling club. ItÔÇÖs like heÔÇÖs been living in two worlds, one for naturism and one for cycling. It looks like the cycling world is getting the upper hand, and IÔÇÖll lose him to that girl.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Chloe, arenÔÇÖt you putting two and two together and getting five? Come on, tell me exactly what you saw.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Once, when Mum was taking me over to Bolton to go shopping, I saw them riding together. Just before they parted company, they held hands, briefly. I meant to ask him about it then, but I chickened out and put it out of my mind.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£That could just be a friendly gesture. Now if they had stopped and had a good snog, then IÔÇÖd say you definitely had something to worry about. What you and Scott have, the trust and understanding, donÔÇÖt you think that that will override any slight attraction he might feel for another girl?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I donÔÇÖt know, Jess, maybe IÔÇÖve got it all wrong. What I do know is that if I feel this way now, just with the few days that we donÔÇÖt get to see each other, then weÔÇÖll not make it through university.

ÔÇ£I think youÔÇÖre wrong,ÔÇØ said Jess. ÔÇ£I may not know Scott intimately, like you do, but I know him emotionally almost as well as you do, and from the very beginning of you two being together, the trust that he has in you has been of paramount importance to him. You just need to make time for each other; youÔÇÖll see. Look, youÔÇÖll have to give up on your horse riding anyway when you go to university, so why donÔÇÖt you pack it in early and make that quality time together with Scott?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£YouÔÇÖre right. My horse riding has been getting in the way just as much as ScottÔÇÖs cycling, but my riding has only ever been about having fun, whereas Scott has his heart on a career as a professional racing cyclist. IÔÇÖll have a word with Emma tomorrow, after the eveningÔÇÖs lessons. IÔÇÖm sure sheÔÇÖll understand.ÔÇØ



That same evening saw Scott completing his last training session before the weekendÔÇÖs racing. With his exams complete, he was free to do whatever he wanted, but it seemed to him that it hardly ever tied in with ChloeÔÇÖs wishes or plans. Chloe would be at the riding school, no doubt, either helping Emma with lessons or practicing for herself. Once showered and changed, he sent Stuart a text message to see if he was about. Stuart soon replied that he was in and not up to much, so Scott borrowed his mumÔÇÖs car and drove over to Heywood.

ÔÇ£Hey, you arrived quickly,ÔÇØ said Stuart, as he opened the front door to Scott. ÔÇ£Not on the bike, I see.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£No,ÔÇØ confirmed Scott, IÔÇÖve already done my training for today, and I need to rest properly ahead of the carnival circuit race in town on Saturday.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Okay, do you want to get rid of your stuff and see if you can finally beat me at Grand Prix racing on the Xbox?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£The Xbox sounds good, but unfortunately IÔÇÖll have to remain dressed. My base layers are what are called compression clothes, and they help reduce muscle damage and aid recovery after hard training sessions. I need to wear them until I go to bed. I heard some coaches recommend that their charges sleep in them, but IÔÇÖm not going that far. I need the jogs because, for some reason, I really feel the cold when IÔÇÖve just got the compression gear on. I almost feel like partying when itÔÇÖs a rest day and I can be totally nude again.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Oh, right,ÔÇØ said Stuart. ÔÇ£Anyway, I set the console up ready for your arrival, so weÔÇÖre ready to go.ÔÇØ

They started the game, but it didnÔÇÖt take long for Stuart to realise that ScottÔÇÖs mind was elsewhere.

ÔÇ£WhatÔÇÖs the matter, Bud?ÔÇØ Stuart asked, as he paused the game. ÔÇ£You donÔÇÖt seem to be yourself.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs Chloe,ÔÇØ said Scott, releasing a shuddering sigh. ÔÇ£I think sheÔÇÖs getting ready to dump me.ÔÇØ

Stuart didnÔÇÖt say anything as they got up off the floor and moved to the sofa, but Scott knew the questions were there.

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs like she has no time for me anymore, what with all the horse riding sheÔÇÖs been doing. I know my program is pretty full-on now, but whichever days I have as rest days, when I can be with her properly, she seems to be invariably over at the riding centre. Not long after we started going out, she took up cycling just to be with me, but we only rode together that one time since the accident. ItÔÇÖs a shame, because before, she was a strong and confident rider, and she really did enjoy it.

ÔÇ£When we used to hold each other, sheÔÇÖd smile and I could see a satisfaction in her eyes. Now, I can only see sadness. There is something missing, Stuart, and I just donÔÇÖt know what it is.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Bud, itÔÇÖs not me that you should be talking to, itÔÇÖs Chloe. YouÔÇÖve got your race on Saturday, after which you said you would be going out with her. Make the time to have a good heart-to-heart talk together.ÔÇØ



Scott was buzzing. It was his first win in a circuit race against such highly ranked senior riders, with the added bonus of it being organised by his own club, around the streets of Bury town centre. On top of that, heÔÇÖd outsmarted the reigning British circuit race champion, as he had needed to, since he didnÔÇÖt possess the same finishing sprint that some of the other riders had. Scott was also at a physical disadvantage, with his nineteenth birthday falling late in the year, it meant he was in the senior under-23 category for the best part of the season whilst he was still only eighteen.

A breakaway had formed, grouping many of the key riders together. Scott waited for the gap to grow until all others would have thought that closing it would be impossible, before setting out in pursuit. He had timed it perfectly; catching the group with enough laps left for him to be able to recover and launch an attack of his own, further away from the finish line than the sprinters would have preferred to put in their efforts. Another non-sprinter had set out to track down Scott, but had faded before the capture. Those with a strong finishing sprint had all looked at each other, not wanting to be the one to sacrifice their chance of victory by expending their energy too soon. Perhaps, as well, they dismissed Scott because of his youthfulness. In the end, the sprinters were left kicking themselves because the best of them could only finish two bike lengths behind Scott.

As Scott slowed to a halt, he received slaps on the back from his opponents, in appreciation of being beaten by a tactically astute performance. Scott shook hands with each of the other riders, accepting their congratulations with humility. On hearing the result announced on the public address system, his club-mates gathered around him in the pits, to bask in the glory. As he set his bike aside, ready to set up the turbo trainer for his warm-down routine, he felt a firm tug on his shoulder. Turning, he was met with a full kiss on the lips. Chloe? No, this was a girl from his club. Scott was taken aback for a second before he pulled away.

ÔÇ£Alison, that was a bit much!ÔÇØ exclaimed Scott, in surprise.

ÔÇ£Oh Scott, I was only wanting to congratulate you, you stick-in-the-mud!ÔÇØ she said.

ÔÇ£Okay, weÔÇÖre friends, but my lips are for my girlfriend alone. Got it?ÔÇØ

Oh, youve got a girlfriend. Im sorry, I I didnt think I mean, youre so dedicated to your riding.

ÔÇ£Please, donÔÇÖt be embarrassed,ÔÇØ said Scott. ÔÇ£She and I have been together for a long time, and we share something that I donÔÇÖt think I could explain to most people.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£But IÔÇÖve never seen her at any of your races, even those of the local mid-week league.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£WeÔÇÖve both been busy with our ÔÇÿAÔÇÖ level studies, and she has her own interests, so IÔÇÖm not going to demand that she come and watch me race. She is here somewhere this evening, however.ÔÇØ

Scott mounted his bike on the turbo trainer and began the routine to flush the lactic acid from his muscles, as Alison left. Where was Chloe? She said sheÔÇÖd be there for the finish. She was there earlier. He would have called her, but his mobile phone was back in his kit bag at the leisure centre that served as race headquarters. The plan had been that the two of them would go out immediately after the race, to celebrate the end of their A level exams, but where was she?

As Scott completed the nine minutes of warm-down, Mike arrived to congratulate his son and to take ScottÔÇÖs equipment back to the car. Scott checked with his dad, but he hadnÔÇÖt seen Chloe either. They were about to move off when Scott spotted the national junior squad coach passing by him.

ÔÇ£Hey,ÔÇØ called Scott, irritated by the manÔÇÖs lack of grace in not offering his congratulations.

The man stalled and turned.

ÔÇ£This isnÔÇÖt my terrain,ÔÇØ continued Scott, ÔÇ£but this makes the fourth time IÔÇÖve stuffed guys from your academy program, both on the flat and over hilly courses. I want to know why I never received a national junior squad call-up.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Lowry,ÔÇØ began the man, ÔÇ£we looked at your results and found that you went missing mid season. If you were serious about a national squad place then you needed to be available.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£IÔÇÖve been doing ÔÇÿAÔÇÖ levels at college for the last two years,ÔÇØ returned Scott, ÔÇ£during which time IÔÇÖve been training and racing independently. Summer holidays have been very important to me, because they are the only time I get to spend time with my family and friends. If I had been asked, maybe I would have rescheduled my priorities. But, no, you didnÔÇÖt ask. Well, IÔÇÖm in the under-23 category now, so you missed the boat. I think that my results over the last two seasons speak for themselves.ÔÇØ

August, you just needed to be available in August, the man said, turning and leaving.

Scott rolled off at walking pace; his dad beside him, carrying the folded turbo trainer.

ÔÇ£What he said about August,ÔÇØ said Scott, to his dad, ÔÇ£that was an excuse.ÔÇØ

ÔÇØYeah,ÔÇØ said Mike. ÔÇ£You know that all the academy riders came through the track program. Perhaps you should have swapped the Tuesday night circuit racing league for the track league at Manchester Velodrome.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I donÔÇÖt know,ÔÇØ said Scott. ÔÇ£The thought of close proximity racing on bikes without brakes makes me slightly uneasy, and I didnÔÇÖt want you to go to the expense buying a bike specifically for the track for me.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Well, youÔÇÖre due another upgrade on your road bike. Perhaps we wonÔÇÖt have to worry about the expense, if you land a domestic professional squad contract for next year.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£True, just a few more points on my licence and then IÔÇÖll be in the elite category. IÔÇÖve already had some positive comments from the managers of some of the smaller squads, but IÔÇÖd have to have a serious talk with them about what support IÔÇÖd get; that is if they actually make a formal offer.ÔÇØ

On reaching the leisure centre, Scott went to retrieve his racing licence before getting showered and changed, whilst Mike loaded the bike and turbo trainer into the back of the people carrier and waited, since Scott would now be going back with him.

Scott had to dry himself well after his shower; the tight fitting lycra compression top and longs that heÔÇÖd have to wear were a pain to put on whilst the skin was even slightly damp. He would have preferred to lounge around in the nude, once back at home, but these garments were something heÔÇÖd just have to put up with. Again, he overlaid the compression gear with his jogs in an effort to prevent him from shivering like mad in twenty minutes time. Finding a moment as he walked back to the car, Scott pulled his mobile phone out of the kit bagÔÇÖs end pocket and dialled ChloeÔÇÖs number.

An automatic message began, ÔÇ£The number you are trying to call cannot be reached at this time. Please try again later.ÔÇØ

Chloe often forgot to charge her phone or put credit on it, but Scott was worried because of her disappearing act. He tried to call her again as they were half way home, and again when they reached the house; both with the same outcome. Once inside, he decided to try a different tack and dialled JessÔÇÖs number instead. There were a couple of rings before an automatic message kicked in.

ÔÇ£Hi, this is Jess. I canÔÇÖt talk right now, so leave a message.ÔÇØ

Scott waited for the beep, ÔÇ£Hi, Jess, this is Scott. I couldnÔÇÖt find Chloe at the end of my race today. I was wondering if youÔÇÖd seen her. Give me a call back, please.ÔÇØ

Mike had undressed and had begun to help Beth prepare dinner, but on overhearing ScottÔÇÖs phone call, he picked up the landline phone and dialled the direct number for Susan and MarkÔÇÖs house.



ÔÇ£Hello Susan, this is Mike. Look, Scott missed Chloe after the race. Is she there?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£...ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ThatÔÇÖs okay then. Scott was worried; sheÔÇÖd just disappeared. IÔÇÖll tell him. Okay, bye.ÔÇØ

Just then, ScottÔÇÖs mobile rang and he could see JessÔÇÖs name on the display. He accepted the call.

ÔÇ£Hi, Je-ÔÇ£

ÔÇ£You idiot!ÔÇØ screamed Jess. ÔÇ£DidnÔÇÖt I tell you, at the very start, not to hurt her? Well, guess what; kissing another girl was a sure-fire way to do just that! You total prat!ÔÇØ



It had been an hour since Chloe had returned home. She had grabbed the family photo album and ran straight to her room, slamming the door behind her. When Jess came over to see how Scott had got on at his race, she found Chloe crying on her bed, amongst a large number of torn photographs. As Jess touched ChloeÔÇÖs shoulder, Chloe flung herself into JessÔÇÖs arms and fell to pieces. Several minutes passed without words before Chloe broke through the tears and composed herself.

ÔÇ£I saw Scott kissing that girl from his club. I said that heÔÇÖd been living in two worlds, one for me and naturism, and one for his cycling and her. Well, his cycling world has had more pull on him and sheÔÇÖs won. But look what he made me do.ÔÇØ

Chloe held out one torn photograph to Jess. It was of Chloe, Scott and George together. In tearing though Scott, Chloe had inadvertently separated herself from George as well. Jess knew that that had hurt.

ÔÇ£Well,ÔÇØ said Jess, picking up her mobile phone from ChloeÔÇÖs bedside table, where she had put it, ÔÇ£IÔÇÖve got something to say to him!ÔÇØ



Two hours had passed by since Jess had called Scott, during which time he had tried several times to call her back, but evidently she had blocked his number. Again, he had to change tack, so he dialled StuartÔÇÖs number.

ÔÇ£Hey, Scott. How did it go?ÔÇØ asked Stuart as soon as he answered.

ÔÇ£I won, but thatÔÇÖs not what I want to talk about now,ÔÇØ said Scott.

ÔÇ£Oh? WhatÔÇÖs up?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Oh hell! ItÔÇÖs all a mess. At the end of the race, one of the girls from my club came up to me and gave me a big kiss to congratulate me. Honestly, I didnÔÇÖt ask for it and as soon as I pulled away from her I told her that the kiss wasnÔÇÖt welcome and that I had a girlfriend. But it was too late; Chloe had already seen us. Now neither she nor Jess will speak to me.ÔÇØ

Holy sh

ÔÇ£Can you do me a favour? Talk with Jess and tell her what IÔÇÖve told you. The only way IÔÇÖll get Chloe to listen is if I get Jess on side first.ÔÇØ

Sure, said Stuart, Ill give you a call back as soon as Ive talked to her Hey, what about this summer? We cant have you two fighting for two weeks while were in France.

ÔÇ£Well, itÔÇÖs coming up to the end of June now, so hopefully I can get Chloe to see reason before then, but I might not be able to make it anyway.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Oh?ÔÇØ questioned Stuart.

ÔÇ£Yeah the B.C. junior squad coach has pretty much said that the reason that I was never called up for international junior squad duty is because I go missing in August. If I want selection for the under-23 squad, IÔÇÖm going to have to show that IÔÇÖm there.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hell, Bud, August and France are your reasons for living.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I know, I knowÔǪÔÇØ said Scott,ÔÇØ but things are changing for us all. ItÔÇÖs bad enough that weÔÇÖve had to restrict ourselves to two weeks in order to call the universities as soon as we have our results. That Sports Science degree course at Loughborough is very popular, so I need three ÔÇÿAÔÇÖ grades to have a chance at getting accepted, thatÔÇÖs if I donÔÇÖt land a professional racing contract.

ÔÇ£Say, to change the subject, are you still going to apply to the police force?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yeah. IÔÇÖve read enough accounts of misuse of the law. I reckoned that itÔÇÖs best to try to change things from the inside. IÔÇÖll go find a job in the meantime, and wait for my application to be processed.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs a pity that Jess didnÔÇÖt want to follow Eddie into the legal profession,ÔÇØ said Scott. ÔÇ£Still, I think sheÔÇÖs got a gift for the artwork that my dad had her do for the naturist club. Did she tell you that heÔÇÖs got her in as an office junior at his firm?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yeah. SheÔÇÖs well cuffed with that. Anyway, IÔÇÖd better go and call her, and see if we canÔÇÖt sort this mess out.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Cheers, Bud. WeÔÇÖll talk soon. Bye.ÔÇØ



Sunday was a well deserved rest day for Scott. Still, he needed to get out on a ride to improve his day-to-day recovery rate, so he opted to join his clubÔÇÖs regular Sunday social ride, which started from outside Bury town hall. As was usual during the racing season, the number of riders that morning was reduced, with a group of twelve heading out on the long climb to Heywood, on to Rochdale and out into West Yorkshire, with a stop for lunch in Bront├½ Country. The return journey took in a few tough climbs through the Pennines as the group passed back into Lancashire. Even with Scott taking it easy, the others had to make an effort to stay with him on the climbs. Descending from the West Pennine moors, Scott chose to peel off and head for Edenfield. Passing around the outside of the group, Scott shook hands with all his club mates, before turning off.

He knew Chloe wouldnÔÇÖt be at the naturist club as he waved his membership card over the reader and opened the gate; she would be accompanying a horse riding group up the valley with either Emma or Jocelyn. It seemed like Chloe was spending all her free time at the riding centre these days. Still, Jess would be there and Scott needed to know if Stuart had managed to speak with her. Max always let Scott keep a small kit bag under the counter in reception, containing a clean change of kit, toiletries and a few other things. He grabbed the bag, headed towards the showers and was in the process of stripping off when Jess caught up with him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

ÔÇ£Oh, Scott, why didnÔÇÖt you say something?ÔÇØ she asked.

ÔÇ£I seem to recall it being a very short, one-sided conversation, yesterday,ÔÇØ replied Scott.

ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm sorry. I had thought that she must have been jumping to conclusions, but she was adamant, especially since she saw you hold that girlÔÇÖs hand before.ÔÇØ

What? I never When did she say she saw that?

ÔÇ£She said that she saw you two riding together and that you held hands briefly before going off in separate directions.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Oh, flipping heck! That wasnÔÇÖt holding hands. That was a handshake. We always do that at the end of a group ride, to thank each other for the company on the ride. ItÔÇÖs a tradition passed down from the older members.

ÔÇ£Anyway, did you manage to speak to Chloe again after Stuart called you?ÔÇØ asked Scott, stepping under a shower head, flannel in hand.

ÔÇ£No, it was late last night when Stuart called me, and Chloe was out early this morning, so I didnÔÇÖt get chance to talk to her.

ÔÇ£Here, let me get your back for you.ÔÇØ

Scott handed the flannel over to Jess as he picked up his bottle of shampoo. He worked the shampoo into his hair as she lathered from the small of his back to his neck. They were still talking about how Jess should approach Chloe as they dried off and headed back out into the sun. Scott took a large blanket out from his kit bag and spread it out on the ground. He and Jess took their positions, with Jess offering to apply sun cream to ScottÔÇÖs back, just as she had washed it for him.

In the meantime, Chloe had arrived back from the trek and was feeling in need of some company. Knowing that Jess would be in the naturist club, she unlocked the gate with her card and entered. Immediately as she rounded the end of the privacy fence, she spotted Jess working on ScottÔÇÖs back.

As Chloe turned around to go home, her movement caught JessÔÇÖs eye so Jess jumped up and gave chase, but Chloe was out into the textile part of the riding centre before Jess could catch her, and Jess couldnÔÇÖt pursue her further. Jess slouched her way back to where Scott was sitting.

ÔÇ£Things are going from bad to worse!ÔÇØ exclaimed Jess.

ÔÇ£Look, Jess, IÔÇÖm sorry. I shouldnÔÇÖt have come here this afternoon,ÔÇØ said Scott.

ÔÇ£No, youÔÇÖve got a perfect right to be here. If sheÔÇÖs going to dump you based on a misunderstanding, then that is her look out.ÔÇØ

No, Jess Please go after her. Even though shes mistaken, she needs a friend. Go tell her what youve heard and that I want to talk to her, to explain. Call me later to tell me how things go.



June turned into July, and the situation hadnÔÇÖt improved between Scott and Chloe. Jess did patch things up with Chloe; however, Chloe had insisted that Jess wouldnÔÇÖt mention his name again. Jess had protested, stating ScottÔÇÖs case, but it had fallen on deaf ears. Scott had even spoken to ChloeÔÇÖs parents, who thought Chloe would come around eventually, but nothing seemed to move her.

Scott began to find it hard to keep up with his training routine. He had a goal; three hundred points would see him gain his elite category licence, which would have put him in line for a contract with one of the smaller U.K. based professional teams, but his heart wasnÔÇÖt in it anymore. His results began to fade, despite additional training sessions. His coach ordered him to take a rest, telling him that he was over-trained. Scott cut the workload right back for a whole week, thinking that a complete rest would ease the fatigue. However, on returning to the routine, Scott found that he just wasnÔÇÖt motivated.

Come the end of July, Scott found himself writing to his friends to say that he wouldnÔÇÖt be able to join them on their holiday; the first time in eleven years. He needed the time to race, to pick up what points he could. Mike and Beth had opted to cancel the whole trip and have a stay at home holiday instead. Not only was Scott desperate to gain more racing points, but Mike was really busy and Dawn wasnÔÇÖt quite old enough to appreciate the holiday. Plus, since Dawn was two years nine month old, Beth would be a stay-at-home mum until Dawn started attending school in a couple of yearsÔÇÖ time, and the family finances could do without the drain of foreign holidays.

By the middle of August, Scott found himself reflecting on circumstances, as he read a fairytale to Dawn, lying together in a hammock, in the warm sun. His little sister was almost a carbon copy of Anne at that age, judging by the old family photos. As Dawn drifted off to sleep, cuddled up against the bare skin of her brother, Scott was able to fully turn his mind to his options. His dreams of making it into the professional ranks were slipping away; he couldnÔÇÖt cope with the workload and he simply didnÔÇÖt love riding any more. His ÔÇÿAÔÇÖ level results would be out the next day, so heÔÇÖd soon know to which university he could be going.

As Beth came to wake Dawn to take her in for her tea, Scott went upstairs to his bedroom; he had made a decision. Taking his cycling shoes from under the bed, he found their box and put them away in the wardrobe. He took all his cycling gear out of the draws, loaded it into a storage bag and stowed it away in the loft. His eyes then alighted on the Road I.D. bracelet that Chloe had bought him for their first Christmas. He picked it up and sat down on his bed, all his emotions knotting up in his chest. Eventually, he took a deep breath and wiped his eyes, before putting the bracelet away in his sock draw. Next year, heÔÇÖd be going to university, with no time left for cycling.



The following morning, Scott borrowed his mumÔÇÖs car and drove down to the college to collect his results. Nick, his friend from his school days, was already there waiting for him when he arrived. Having already been to collect his results, Nick was pleased to have secured a place on a mechanical engineering degree at UMIST in Manchester, so wouldnÔÇÖt be moving too far away from home. Scott gave Nick his congratulations and headed upstairs, in the lift.

As he entered the room where the results were being handed out, Scott could see many students either celebrating with each other or commiserating. He joined the short queue, collected the envelope with his results and joined a group of his college friends. He took a hold of the tab and pulled, then retrieved the slip of paper from inside. He cast his eyes over the slip. French: A, Biology: A, Applied Mathematics: A, Physics: A. He had everything he needed and would be calling Loughborough to accept his place and arrange accommodation for September. His friends celebrated with him for a short while, before he departed.

Before returning to the lift, Scott had to pay a visit to the toilets. As he finished up and washed his hands, he regarded his reflection in the mirror. He didnÔÇÖt really feel like celebrating; his exams felt somehow meaningless. There was a hole in his life, and he felt the void. Next year heÔÇÖd have to concentrate; no distractions. Scott dried his hands and exited for the lift.

The lift soon arrived and Scott entered with a few others. Just as the lift doors were about to close, a hand stopped them. It was Jess, and Chloe was behind her. Chloe looked at Scott, turned away and ran. Scott barged his way out of the lift and set out after her. He caught her at the bottom of the flight of stairs on the next level down.

ÔÇ£Chloe, wait!ÔÇØ shouted Scott, as he grabbed her by the shoulder.

ÔÇ£Get your hands off me!ÔÇØ she yelled back.

ÔÇ£Listen. YouÔÇÖve not spoken to me since the day of that race. I need to explain.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I know what I saw; you kissing that girl!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ThatÔÇÖs not how it was,ÔÇØ said Scott, lowering his voice.

ÔÇ£It sure looked like it from where I was stood.ÔÇØ

I thought we trusted each other, said Scott, but this is the very first time that Ive had to call on that trust. Yes, its the one and only time, and what happens? I discover you dont trust me after all and to top it off, you wont even listen to reason. I know that Jess has told you what I said to her, but I need to tell you how it was for myself, even if youre not going to listen. That girl kissed me; it was unexpected and I told her that it wasnt appropriate, as I already had a girlfriend. It has taken this long for me to be able to talk to you, and if you cant believe me now, despite all the time weve been together and everything weve shared, then his voice cracked, then Ill have to accept that its over.
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