You Really Should Get Out More

The differences between them sometimes matter, sometimes don't.


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New Years Eve finds him alone in Noel’s kitchen. A few hours into his solitary confinement, Julian realises that the tap is broken again.

Drip, drip, drip

The night presses against the window, turning it into a black mirror in which Julian sees his reflection. His reflection is more bedraggled and pale than he really is because of the harsh white light. Eyes screaming. He feels static and fuzzy.


He has been sitting here ever since Noel left in a whirl of musky, chocolatey cologne and silver glitter. I’ll be back before you know it. Yes, well, that was two hours ago and Julian is already feeling the loss.

“Only a couple of mates,” Noel had said. “Come with me, nobody’ll mind.” But the idea of hanging around with Noel’s arty mates unsettled Julian, and Noel went without him in the end. So Julian sits in Noel’s flat, empty, and waits for midnight.

It had been the briefest of moments, less than thirty seconds. The cast and crew were getting tetchy as the scene dragged on, hampered by the weather. The rain was beginning to permeate the air with a delicate, earthy smell and the cameras had turned away from Noel and Julian. They stood under the leafy canopy watching the others start their scene again.

They rarely worked on things that they hadn’t written, but Surrealissimo appealed to them both in a way they couldn’t explain. It was weird not to be doing things on their own terms. The hand-holding was even worse.

Clutching nervously at the hem of his beige suit, Julian began to feel flushed. That familiar panicky feeling began to flutter in his chest and he jerked away from Noel, dropping their linked hands. Why he hadn’t bothered to let go earlier was beyond him. What was wrong with him?

Noel looked down at their hands, then up at Julian in confusion. Questioning. The spring air began to close in on Julian and Noel’s presence seemed to fill his lungs. Shit.


Julian finally managed to make eye contact, realising he was betraying something he himself had no name for yet. Just a feeling.

It dawned on them both at the same time and Noel’s eyes fluttered shut. “Oh,” he said quietly, feeling his entire body come alive. “I never realised before.”

Julian smiles briefly at the memory, and then remembers that he is in the flat being anxious and neurotic while Noel is out getting drunk. Why is it always this way, why is Julian always the pathetic one? He wonders if he should call some friends and go out, but then what if Noel comes home early and Julian isn’t there? It shouldn’t be a problem, but somehow it is.

So he sits at the kitchen table and waits for the telephone to ring. Noel will probably ring quite soon.

Drip, says the tap, and Julian glares at it. You really should get out more.

Putting his head on the table, Julian shuts his eyes and imagines where Noel might be right now.

It’s one of those pubs that’s so trendy/quirky that it’s always full of people, especially on New Years Eve. The chartreuse, amber, violet fairy lights cast a sexy glow on those who have chosen to stand outside with their drink. Noel and his mates have a stretch of wall all to themselves, dimly but colourfully lit and overhung by the boughs of a lime tree that the Borough of Westminster Council (in their infinite wisdom) have planted on the street corner.

They’re all laughing and talking about music (not in the way Julian talks about music, but in that fashionable, connoisseur-of-the-obscure way). “Noel,” someone says loudly, “Just how many more indie bands are you going to shoe-horn into your show?”

Noel shrugs laughingly and leans back languidly on the red brickwork, graced by the dance of the fairy lights and the magic crackling in the air. His face is blissful. His hand clutches a fizzy green drink. “There’s room for a few more, I reckon.”

Suddenly, the countdown rumbles in the streets of Soho, dissonant and resonant as the different pubs start at different times.

“5, 4, 3, 2,” Noel shouts along with the crowd, lost in the neon and glitter of Dee’s embrace. She gently mouths along his neck, tender, and together she and Noel are mirror images of each other, right down to the jet black hair. He looks different with his new haircut, even more like her. She did it for him. With a pudding bowl. Julian knows this because he watched.

The fireworks fizz and bubble above them, a supernova of colour. Everyone shouts and streamers fly across the street, undulating in the air. “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

The clock ticks and the tap drips.

The phone will ring soon, and Julian tenses in anticipation.

“No, wait, Ju, stop!”

Julian slid off of Noel’s body. Naked and sweaty and still a bit shy, they shuffled apart underneath the covers. Julian didn’t know what he’d done wrong, and was too awkward to ask. Noel stared at the ceiling, regaining his breath.

“Sorry, it’s just-” He stopped short, searching for words. “I don’t want… Can’t we do it the other way around?”

Feeling his chest constrict anxiously at the thought, Julian shook his head. “Noel, I can’t!”

“Why not?”

“It’s…I don’t want to!”

“So why do you expect me to be alright with it then?” Noel knew his voice was rising in pitch, about to crack like his heart, but he couldn’t help it. “Fuck you.”

“No chance,” Julian snapped.

Finally, the buzz of his phone on the sideboard explodes in the silence. Julian shuffles over to answer it, heart pounding having been interrupted thinking about that. “Hello?” His voice is choked and rough. He hears cheering and shouting and music, muffled. “Hello?”

“Happy New Year!” Noel says, shouting to be heard. “You wouldn’t believe the fireworks. We can see ’em from here!”

Julian tries to inject a smile into his voice, fighting off the words “where have you been?”

“Really? Sounds good.” It’s a banal answer and they both know it. “Happy New Year, by the way. Any resolutions?”

Noel huffs, and the sibilance crackles in Julian’s ear. “I’ve maybe got one or two,” Noel says enigmatically. “Get drunk less, tell fewer lies-”

“Lies are the main component of your dialogue. What would you have to talk about if you didn’t lie about any-”

He isn’t listening. Even as Julian speaks he can hear the person talking to Noel, saying they’re moving to a different pub. “Listen, I’ve got to go, Ju. See you back at the flat? Bye.”

Before he has a chance to answer, the phone call ends.

Drip. Drip.

End Notes: This isn’t real, never happened and I’m not earning money from it.