Because I Hear the Voices

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First Christmas

The day that they announced the OP results had Devlin waiting at 8am outside the house on the footpath beside the letterbox. I had to be there with him because he whined that he would have become bored if I hadn’t come, but in all seriousness, I really didn’t care too much for finding out my result.

When the postman finally arrived, at around eleven o’clock, I could barely keep my eyes open, but Devlin raced excitedly over towards the postie, hands held out in earnest.

“What do you mean I have to read it?” I asked bewildered.

“I just don’t think I can,” Devlin whined, “Please Sean.”

“Fucking idiot,” I mumbled bad temporally, before snatching the envelopes from his hand. I carefully slit open the side, drawing out the letter, before trailing my eyes down the page.

“OP 9,” I stated clearly.

“WHAT?” Devlin screamed before reaching across to tear the letter from my hands.

“Oh god that’s terrible! What am I going to do? What am I going to do?”

“Actually I thought I did really well. I was expecting at least a 12.”

Devlin froze as he registered what I had just said. “You? That’s your result!” he asked through gritted teeth.

“What, did you want me to look at yours too?” I asked innocently. He flew at me then, throwing punches at my head, shoulders and stomach.

“ARE YOU INSANE!” he screeched!

“Ok, ok, I’ll open yours too,” I said through my laughter and whimpers of pain.

We fought then for the possession of the envelope, with Devlin only letting go when we heard the unmistakable sound of paper tearing. I quickly peeled open the envelope took in the first sentence, before turning to him, my face beaming with pride.

“Summers comma D. OP 1.”

“Holy shit,” Devlin mumbled softly before his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he fainted.

* * *

In the many years that I have known Devlin, he has always wanted to decorate his house for Christmas. While my parent’s brought out their plastic tree to decorate and set up their nativity set with care, Devlin’s parents had always paid for the tree, as well as all the other decorations, to be put up by a professional decorator. Ever since I went to school my parents had dropped me off at Devlin’s house on Christmas day so they could spend the day with their friends. This had suited Devlin’s parents as well, because if I were there to entertain Devlin, he wouldn’t come and interrupt their own party. Consequently Christmas to both Devlin and myself was never seen as a family occasion, as it is to other people. All that was going to change however, because for the first time since I’d met Devlin, he was actually looking forward to the seasonal holiday.

We had gone out two weeks before Christmas and had raided all the cheap junk stores until we had enough Christmas decorations to decorate the street. Devlin had bought a live tree and stuck it in the living room and had spent hours decorating it with candy canes, balls, bells, plastic Santa’s and all manner of bits and pieces. On top of the tree was a gold star that had to be secured with a rubber band because the tree leaned dangerously to the left, and at the bottom of the tree were our hurriedly wrapped presents.

Along the hallway where banners proclaiming ‘A Merry Christmas’ as well as miles and miles of tinsel held up with sticky tape, which I had objected to, but Devlin had simply stated that the paint was shoddy anyway so it hardly mattered.

All through the house were plastic blow up reindeers and Santa Claus’ and to make matters worse the outside of our house managed to look like a beacon for an airport with the 1,200 fairy lights that Devlin had strung across the eves, around the window sills and door frame, and even in the shrubs underneath his bedroom window! Some of these lights even flickered on and off, or went around and around, so that when someone looked at them for a long time they began to feel quite queasy in the stomach.

And the preparations hadn’t stopped there. Devlin had gone to visit his parent’s housekeeper Mrs. Jacobs for Christmas recipes, and had put together a roast turkey, roast pork, roast vegetables and a Christmas pudding with extra custard, for the special day. And to top it all off he woke me up at five o’clock Christmas morning.

“Santa’s been!” he announced joyfully throwing his pillow down on top of my sleeping form.

“What time is it?” I managed to reply after several failed mumbling attempts.

“Five AM,” he declared delightedly as he went to my window and threw open the curtain to let in the already brilliant light of a new day.

“Fuck off!” I stated heatedly before burying my head under my pillow to block out the Christmas carols that I could hear blasting out of his stereo system in the lounge.

“Come on Sean, Santa’s been!” he laughed delightedly and threw a plastic bag on my bed before skipping out of the room.

Curiosity of course, managed to get the better of me, so by the time he had gotten back with a tray and two bowls of breakfast cereal I was sitting up in bed with a smile on my face, trying to free my remote control car from its box.

Devlin put the tray on the floor and hopped on the foot of my bed.

“I see you like your toy,” Devlin smirked.

“You know this idea of yours to put kid stuff in the stockings was pretty neat, now I come to think of it,” I laughed as I finally managed to release the car from its confines.

“Breakfast?” Devlin asked as he scooped up the heaped plate and held it out to me.

“How come I get breakfast in bed?” I questioned quite astonished, because this was the first time I had ever received breakfast in bed.

“I woke up this morning and found several of my favourite films that I loved when I was a kid, in my stocking, so I figure its time for a celebration.”

“Yeah well after breakfast I think we should open up our presents, race the car and then spend the day watching some old favourites, what do you think?”

“I think, that I should be the one that drives the car first,” Devlin replied smiling wickedly at me.

“Hell no!”

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