Light We’ll See

Vince, age 9, sits next to the new kid in class, Howard, nearly 10. He takes it on himself to throw Howard a birthday party, and thus, their friendship blossoms.


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Light We’ll See by Colour_Me_Troll

Vince sat at his desk and stared blankly at the old and worn copy of Romeo and Juliet in front of him. His brown hair fell in front of his eyes and tickled his rosy cheeks, confusing the boy sitting next to him just enough that he smiled shyly at Vince, who grinned back, and whispered “Hey”.

Then the boy, who had just transferred to the school the previous week, saw Vince’s face. He briefly looked disconcerted, and his small eyes flicked back and forth before he buried his nose back in his text.

Vince rolled his eyes, and looked down at his desk, reading the years of carved-in slogans, messages and doodles instead of the long words on the page in front of him.

Under thick lashes, he glanced over to the new boy, who seemed invested in the book, his eyes sparkling as they flicked quickly left to right and he mouthed along, drinking in the play.

Sensing he was being watched, the boy looked up, and caught Vince’s eye.

“You like this stuff?” Vince whispered, leaning forward, his fingers toying with the bottom of his tie, which already hung trendily loose. The new kid’s tie sat stiffly at his throat.

“One day,” The boy whispered back, “I’m going to be Romeo. I’m going to say these words to hundreds of people, and they’re going to watch me with avid glee.”

“People are gonna watch me with advert glee too, one day,” Vince replied “Dunno for what, though. Probably for lookin’ really good.”

Vince opened up his desk to the boy, revealing his exercise books which appeared to be coated in reflective paper.

“Mirror-books,” he explained, winking.

Glancing up to make sure the teacher wasn’t watching them, the boy held out his hand to Vince. “Howard Moon,” He said, and Vince took the offered hand.


The bell rang, and everyone hurried out of the class. In the corridor, some kids beckoned to Vince, who waved them away, turning to Howard who was already walking the other way down the hall on his own. He hurried to catch up.

Flicking back his hair, Vince fell into step next to him.

“You look too old to be in year five,” he remarked.

“Well I’m not,” Howard replied irritably, with the air of someone who had said the same thing too many times, “I’m ten in nine days.”

“Cool,” said Vince.

Together, they walked out into the playground, and Howard sat down on a bench near the fence, pulling his metal Miles Davies lunch box out of his bag, and watching Vince suspiciously.

“Why do you sit all the way over here?” Vince asked, looking around as if expecting a throng of people, “Where’s, you know… your friends?”

Howard took a bite of his cheese sandwich, and shrugged, “I’m sure they’ll begin to accumulate soon.”

“Yeah, sure,” Vince said, sitting down next to him and crossing his legs, “but when are they coming?”

Ignoring the question, Howard scrutinised Vince, watching the way the boy seemed to bounce with energy even while sitting still, and the way his eyes focused on Howard’s own.

“Why are you sitting with me?”

A girl ran past, laughing as she was chased by three or four other girls with various numbers of pig-tails. Vince pulled his hair up behind his head with his hand as he watched them, and let it fall.

“Dunno,” he said, and rummaged around in his lunch box for a packet of jelly tots.

Swivelling around on the seat, he faced Howard and leant forward, grinning.

“Did you think I was a girl before?” He asked, clearly thrilled, running a hand through his long hair. Howard blushed.

“Yeah,” he replied, cutting up an apple and slipping the slices into his sandwich.

“Genius,” said Vince, and held out the packet in his hand “Jelly Tot?”

Howard took a handful of sweets and slipped them into his sandwich along with his cheese and apple, as Vince threw them up one by one, and tried to catch them in his mouth.

The morning wind was bitter; there was a general sense that it was going to rain soon, and Vince’s scarf flicked out behind him as he half skipped, half jogged to catch up with Howard, who was walking slowly to school a block ahead of him.

“You going to have a birthday party?” He immediately asked, before the tall boy even noticed his presence.

“Err, no,” Howard replied, looking Vince up and down, “what are you wearing?”

Vince spun in his sequinned raincoat and bounced on his heels.

“Genius, yeah?” He said, his gaze seeking Howard’s approval.

“I’m not sure you know what that word means.” Howard replied, and buried his hands into his coat pockets.

Either ignoring or completely missing the insult, Vince stepped in front of Howard, walking backwards to look at him.

“I hate school uniform,” He said, “It’s well boring. I like coats. And glitter. Glitter is cool, don’t you think?”

“I quite like the uniform,” said Howard.

“Yeah, I can tell.”

Vince seemed to be everywhere as they walked. Waiting at the lights, he perched on fences. While they were walking, he’d be in front of, next to, or behind Howard. Crossing roads he’d automatically reach out to take Howard’s hand.

“Don’t touch me,” Howard said, jerking his hand away.

Vince looked hurt, and a feeling of guilt quivered in Howard’s stomach.

“Oooooooh,” he said, as if he was joking, and held out his hand to Vince, who took it, his warm gloved fingers slipping between Howard’s, and didn’t let go for two blocks, at which point he happened to spot a particularly interesting cat.

The cat took an immediate liking to Vince, who crouched down and stroked it. Howard watched as it rolled onto its back and purred as Vince stroked its belly. Stepping forward, Howard knelt down next to him and nervously extended his hand. As soon as his fingers touched the soft fur, the cat scrambled to its feet, and hurried down the street, jumping onto a fence and disappearing amongst the shrubbery.

“Oi! Look what you did!” Vince snapped, glaring at Howard. Vince folded his arms, and sulked as they rounded the corner and approached the school. Ashamed, Howard walked a few steps behind him, and watched as he was pulled away by a group of friends.

Howard stood at the fence as they ran to the playground, climbing on top of the monkey bars as the talked and laughed. He saw Vince glance over at him, his face unreadable from the distance, before looking at the girl in front of him, talking to her animatedly, and fixing up her braids.

Howard walked into the school and sat outside his classroom, glancing at the clock. Twenty to nine. He sighed. For a moment there, it had looked like, for once, Howard Moon wasn’t going to have to wait outside class, alone, sorting out his pencil-case all morning.

“Easy come, easy go,” he whispered to himself, as he pulled out his colouring pencils. Reds at the far left, purples at the far right.

The bell seemed to take forever to ring, and Howard blended into the wall perfectly. Hardly anybody who wandered past seemed to notice he was there.

The second hand ticked around the clock, and, after rearranging his pencils twice, Howard gave up on this pointless task and resigned himself to watching the time tick away to nine.

Class was his favourite part of the school day. No one really noticed if you were sitting alone and silent, because in theory, everyone was meant to be quiet. People just thought you were well behaved and paying attention, a persona Howard thrived in. Occasionally he would even manage to garner some respect from the other students with a particularly good book report.

Though, unfortunately, not the sort of respect that extended to the playground.

Presently, the bell rang, and Howard was the first one into the classroom, sitting in the first row, and arranging his books in front of him.

He sat, still and neat, as students slowly began to fill up the classroom and stared at the blank black-board, and tried to ignore, nay pride in, the fact that no one was moving to sit next to him.

Eventually, when the room was almost full except for the two seats either side of Howard, Vince bounced into the classroom. He grinned at the three or four people who were trying to save spots for him, and, to Howard’s surprise, sat down next to him, leaning over and coiling a finger through his hair which was now tied in a side ponytail.

“So,” he said, “Are you having a birthday party, or what?”

There had been three occasions in Howard’s nearly ten years of life, when he’d managed to convince a boy from school to come round to his house.

This was the third, although, technically, Vince hadn’t needed convincing.

As they walked home, Howard, unsure whether the glittering boy actually lived near him, or whether he was just following him, watched Vince warily. Suddenly, Vince had stopped and grabbed Howard’s forearm, as if a brilliant idea had occurred to him.

“We should go to your house,” he had said, “listen to records. Do you like music?”

This was, as Howard was quickly learning, by Vince’s standards, a brilliant idea.

“I love music!” Howard had replied, slightly too enthusiastically. Vince wasn’t put off though, and the long haired boy just grinned wider.

Before long, they sat together on Howard’s neatly made bed, and Vince flicked through Howard’s record collection.

“What,” he asked, face slightly disgusted, “is this?”

Howard grabbed the record Vince was holding gingerly, and put it on.

“It’s Terry ‘the Duke’ Buckman!” He said, as the music began to spill out of the speakers, “One of the greatest jazz musicians I’ve ever heard. He can shear the sheep of structure with his jazzy chops.”

“Get it away!” Vince cried over the rising and falling notes of the saxophone, his hands pressed to his ears.

Howard turned the record off, and slipped it back into its pocket.

“You don’t like it?” He asked, looking down at a spot on his duvet which he started to pick at.

“It’s completely disgusting,” Vince replied, relaxing now that the music was safely in it’s sheathe.

Howard glared at Vince. “It’s sheer genius riding on the winds of music!” He said, needing to defend the jazz, “One day I am going to be a famous jazz musician.”

“Whatever,” Said Vince, and put his hands on Howard’s bare knees, “You’re funny.”

“I’m not funny,” Howard replied, somewhat nervously, “I’m actually more than averagely serious for a nine year old boy.”

“Yeah, I think that’s what makes you funny,” grinned Vince, “So are we going to have your party this weekend?”

“What party?”

Vince looked at him and tried to arch an eyebrow, but settled for just rolling his eyes. He shuffled up the bed and lay down, propping his head on his arm and looking at Howard.

“Your birthday party,” he said, “I’ll get everyone from school to come, it’ll be fantastic!”

Howard shook his head. “No one at school even knows who I am,” he replied.

“So?” Vince laughed, “They know who I am! They’ll come.”

Howard, unsure, looked down at Vince’s excited face.

He sighed.

“Yeah. Sure. Fine.”

“Awesome! Howard, you’re a genius!” Vince laughed, and threw himself at Howard, hugging him tightly.

“Don’t touch me,” he gasped, and Vince laughed, pulling away and squeezing his hand, his eyes sparkling.

Howard had never had a best friend before. However, as he watched Vince sleep on the floor of his room, tossing and turning on the camping mattress they’d dragged upstairs, he supposed that was what this brightly coloured boy was.

Sure, there had been Lenny Boot, who once said he’d be Howard’s best friend if he gave him his jam sandwich, but that interaction had really just left Howard slightly disillusioned and one sandwich shorter.

He rolled onto his back, and stared up at the roof as he listened to Vince move around in the sleeping bag.

Howard had always imagined that is he was going to have a best friend, it would be a tall, strong boy who was his intellectual equal. Someone he could sit in his room with, armed with a novel each, and just read to each other, then discuss the text.

He had suggested this to Vince, who had adopted a repulsed expression and offered to cut his hair instead. Howard had tried to resist, but now, in the dark, he pulled his hand out from under the quilt, and tugged at his slightly shorter hair. It did feel nice not to have split ends.

“Oi,” Vince whispered, and Howard jumped as he realised he was awake, “I’m un-comfy. Can I hop in with you?”

Before Howard could respond, Vince had climbed into the bed, courteously separating them by the thin sheet, and lay back to back against Howard.

Before five minutes was gone, Vince had slipped into comfortable sleep, and Howard could feel him breathing next to him. Awkwardly, he rolled onto his back, staring at the ceiling, and trying to close his eyes and drift off, as he lay closer than he had to anyone (except his mother) ever before.

Slowly, his own breath fell into time with Vince’s, and he felt himself drifting off, warmed by his presence.

It was Saturday morning, and Vince was still asleep when Howard climbed back up the stairs to his room, having showered and made cereal for the two of them.

He put the bowls down on his desk and looked at Vince who was in his pink pyjamas that he’s run home to pick up the night before, hair messily falling over one side of his face.

It really was no wonder Howard had initially mistaken him for a girl.

Unsure of the proper procedure for waking a friend who had stayed the night, Howard descended back downstairs to get some juice. That seemed a reasonable course of action.

In the kitchen, he got two glasses out of the cupboard as his father walked in.

“I notice you pulled last night.” The man said jokingly, pouring himself a cup of tea.

Howard rolled his eyes, getting the orange juice out of the fridge.

“Two things dad,” he replied, “One, I’m nine. Two, Vince is a boy.”

His father looked genuinely surprised. “Well now,” He said, “It’s getting harder and harder to tell these days.” And he grabbed the newspaper off the bench, and, tightening his dressing gown, walked into the dining room.

Howard carried the juice back up to his room, where he saw Vince was waking up. The boy yawned and grinned, grabbing a glass out of Howard’s hand.

“Thanks mate,” He said, and jumped out of the bed, sitting on the floor to eat his cereal.

Howard sat down opposite to him, and began to eat his cornflakes.

Never quiet, Vince began to talk, and Howard listened intently. Vince told him stories about the kids at school, talked about bands he liked, clothes he wanted, telly shows he thought were cool. Occasionally Howard would reply to something, but mostly he just sat and watched as Vince moved around the room, talking and picking things up, looking out the window, and sometimes touching Howard. Just a tap on the shoulder, or a ruffle of the hair, or a squeeze of the hands, but Howard was amazed.

“How do you do it?” He asked Vince eventually, as he sat on the bed, bouncing up and down.

“Do what?” Vince replied, picking up a pillow and hugging it. By the time his overly tactile new friend went home, Howard had a feeling that everything in his room would have moved.

“Keep going. Constantly. You’re like a bunny on a sugar high.”

Vince laughed and shrugged.

“How do you sit there and not say anything?” He replied.

Howard looked vaguely ashamed. “I’m just not one for mindless jabbering,” he replied.

Strangely, Vince quietened. Howard watched him out of the corner of his eye, and he could see that his friend was watching him surreptitiously, his large blue eyes flicking to glance at him every few second, while he ate his cornflakes.

As he watched, Vince reached over to the bookshelf, and grabbed the first novel he could find, a collection of Science Fiction stories. He then, much to Howard’s bemused amazement, flicked it open and started to read.

He watched Vince’s eyebrows furrowed together in concentration, as he slowly worked his way through the pages.

“What are you doing?” Howard finally asked, and Vince immediately looked up.

“Reading,” he replied, “D’you like it?”

Howard stared blankly at Vince, who stared back, his gaze requesting acceptance.

He laughed.

“Come on, Vince,” he finally said, “Get dressed and we can head up to the park.”

Relieved, Vince grinned, and bounded over to Howard’s wardrobe, shimmying out of his pyjama pants and climbing into a pair of jeans. He hadn’t had time to bring his normal clothes over and he’d worn his uniform the afternoon before. He couldn’t wear it on the weekend, of course.

The sun was high in the sky, and Howard and Vince lay on the roundabout staring up at the clouds as it span slowly to a stop.

If it had occurred to him to think about it, Vince would have wondered why he liked Howard so much. They didn’t really have much common ground, unless you counted Howard’s obvious need for someone to cling to him like a limpet and force his shyness out of him, and Vince’s natural ability to cling like a limpet.

But, as it happened, it didn’t occur to Vince to think about this, and he just jumped up, grabbed the rail, and began to run in fast and faster circles through the grass, as Howard stared up at the sky, and watched the white of the clouds swirl into the blue.

Vince’s bedroom looked like it was covered in 100s and 1000s, for all the colour everywhere. He almost blended in with the floor, which was covered in unsorted clothes, in the same way a splash of mud may blend into camo gear.

He would be indiscernible from his surroundings, if it weren’t for the rapid movement of his hand, as he and a purple ball-point worked their way through a stack of cards.

“To Leroy,” The first one read, “You are cordyally invited to HOWARD MOON’s (the one wif scraggy hair and tiny eyes) 10th birthday party.

Oh yeah, there’ll be a bouncy castle too.

Luv, Vince.” After which, he doodled a series of swirls, stars and love-hearts, and dropped it onto the pile of written invitations.

He looked up as he heard someone knock on the door, and rolled over, grinning, as Howard walked in, trying to adjust his eyes to the colours.

“You weren’t at school today,” he remarked, sitting on the floor between a long red pleather coat and a pile of Beano comics.

Vince shrugged. “Told me mum I felt a bit sick,” he said, “But look what I made!” He held up his half written invitation, the sparkle embedded paper glinting in the light. Howard glanced at it.

“What is that?”

“They’re your birthday party invitations,” Vince announced proudly.

“Oh,” said Howard, and averted his eyes, picking up a comic.

Vince pouted as he put the invitation down, and crawled across the floor to Howard.

“What did you come over here for?” He asked, leaning over to read the comic upside-down.

Howard looked at him, confused and, in a rare moment of clarity, Vince realised what a stupid question he’d just asked. Not stupid in his usual way, like “Does Germany have rivers?” but stupid in a whole new way, where there just wasn’t an answer.

“What’s happening in here?” Howard asked eventually, gesturing around the room, “Did a rogue Jackson Pollock sneak in one night and decide to go at your walls?”

“A rouge what?” Vince laughed, leaning back onto his elbows.

“Jackson Pollock? You know, convinced everyone he was a genius by slapping paint on giant canvases.”

“He sounds cool. That’s kinda what I’ve got going on in here. Except with clothes, not paint. And the floor, not a canvas.”

“You need to learn how to be more organised, Vince. You’re bedroom is a reflection of your personality.”

“Is that why your bedrooms really boring looking?”

Howard glared at Vince.

“What do you mean ‘boring’?” He said, standing up. Vince tugged on his sleeve to sit down again and rolled his eyes.

“I mean you’ve got a lot of books,” he said.

“Reading is a gateway to depth,” Howard replied haughtily.

Nodding sagely, Vince replied, “And depth is a barrier to fashion.”

There wasn’t a reason Howard was in Vince’s bedroom right at that moment. It wasn’t even that there weren’t, Vince noted, a million other places he’d rather be. But it’s where Vince was, so it was where he’d stay.

Not that he’d ever admit that.

The next day, Howard walked to school in the rain. Vince didn’t. Vince walked to school between the raindrops.

Incredulous, Howard tugged at his friend’s hair.

“How do you do that?” He stammered, “It’s not even damp!”

Vince shrugged and laughed, pulling his long fleecy coat tight around him.

“Dunno,” he replied, “Rain doesn’t really affect me. No idea why.”

They rounded the corner, and Howard tried to squeeze the dampness out of his hair futilely.

Grabbing Howard’s hand, Vince bounded through the school gates, pulling him along with him.

“Don’t touch me…” Howard muttered, knowing it wouldn’t make any difference, as Vince pulled him towards a group of giggling sixth year girls.

“Hi Vince,” they chorused, and a brunette whispered something to the tallest girl, who blushed.

“Hey girls,” replied Vince, “You guys know Howard, right?”

They all shook their heads, eyes intent on Vince, the odd titter escaping one of the blondes as her friend nudged her.

“Well this is Howard,” Vince said, lifting up his hand, which was still linked with Howard’s, who was, by know, blushing furiously and staring, speechless, at the beautiful and mature eleven year old girls.

“Where?” One of them asked, as the others looked around, some glancing over their shoulders, trying to see Howard.

“Right here!” Laughed Vince, letting go of Howard’s hand, and grabbing his waist, pushing him closer to the group.

“Hi,” said Howard, holding out his hand rigidly.

“Oh,” said the girls.

“It’s his birthday this weekend,” Vince continued, handing an envelope to each girl, which they clutched to their chests desperately, “You’ll come, yeah?”

“You’ll be there?” One asked breathlessly, and Vince nodded.

“We’ll come,” they chorused, and Vince and Howard turned to leave, the girls giggling as Vince slipped his hand back into Howard’s.

It was Saturday, and Vince was dashing down the street as fast as he could in his new shoes. It was dark, and his curled hair flicked out behind him in the cold breeze.

“Don’t be late,” Howard had told him a couple of hours as they sat in his room, “Please don’t be late.”

Vince had laughed at Howard’s social anxiety, but he wasn’t going to let his friend down. Leaving Howard alone with a group of kids he barely knew didn’t seem like a particularly good idea anyway. Especially since those kids would associate this party with Vince.

“Don’t worry,” Vince had replied, rolling his eyes, “I won’t be late.”

He was late.

He was huffing and puffing as he turned into Howard’s street, pausing to pant, and try and regain his effortlessly cool appearance.

He could hear Jazz playing close by.

Taking off his heeled shoes, he ran the last few blocks.

“Ouch,” was all Howard could mutter, as he lay on his back in his garden, staring up at the night sky. As he watched, a balloon detached itself from the fence, and floated away into the distance.

Vince stood at the fence, taking in the nibbles spread across the grass, Howard’s battered and bruising body, and the pathetic Jazz spilling out of the record player.

In the distance he could hear the raised voices of their departing school friends.

“….Can’t believe that twerp Vince didn’t even bother to show up…” someone said extra loudly, a few doors up.

Vince climbed over the fence, and knelt down next to Howard.

“They beat you up?” He asked.

Groaning, Howard pushed himself onto his elbows, glaring at Vince.

“Not as such,” he answered, “They were under the impression there would be a bouncy castle.”

“Oh,” said Vince, quietened for once, “Sorry.”

Howard pushed himself up so he was sitting properly, watching a bruise form on his fore-arm.

“You could’ve told me to hire a bouncy castle,” he groaned.

Suddenly Vince threw himself at Howard, hugging him tightly.

“I’m really really sorry,” he said, and it sounded like he was on the verge of tears.

Howard let out a deep breath, and looked down at Vince’s impossibly big blue eyes.

“I should be the one crying,” he said, but patted Vince’s head awkwardly.

“Are you… are we still friends?” Vince whispered, his tears dampening Howard’s brown shirt.

He just couldn’t understand why Vince could possibly need his friendship as much as he seemed to. After all, he had an adoring crowd that followed his every outfit, what more did he want?

“Yeah,” he replied, despite this, and pulled Vince out of the hug to look at him, “Of course.”

And suddenly, Vince was grinning again, and Howard had a feeling he would never be able to get rid of that smile.

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