Letters To Louisa (work in progress)

Alex is in love with Louisa, but there's a slight problem. Louisa is gay. Alex is learning to cope with wanting what he can never have, but what will happen when she is torn from his life in the most brutal way?

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2. Chapter 2

 

Chapter 2

The next day was a Monday, and it started much the same as any other college day, which is to say with skull splitting agony as my eardrums were pierced by the BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP of my alarm clock. I groped blindly for the clock and flailed at it with the ineptitude of the recently awoken until it shut up. I'm not sure how long I dozed between then and when my mother flung open my bedroom door and shouted, “get out of bed you lazy little git, you'll be late for college.”

I responded by groaning at her.

“Get up.” She said using that voice. All parents have their own version of it, and it is universally terrifying.

I dragged myself reluctantly out of bed, willing my eyes to open and my brain to switch on, neither of which happened until the freezing cold water of the shower hit me square in the face. I got dressed in the first clean clothes that came to hand, went downstairs and made a cup of tea. My mug was special, not aesthetically or sentimentally, it was a plain white mug that I'd bought myself. My mug was special because it was roughly the size of a large bucket, and I often find that a bucket of tea is the perfect pick-me-up.

“Morning, Alex.” Dad said. My dad was named Karl, he was forty three and had dark hair and hazel eyes, and he was a bit rounder in the middle then than he was in his wedding photos. It had been his new year's resolution for the past three years to get in shape. It never lasted past February.

“Hey, dad.” I said groggily.

“How was practice?” He asked. He'd been in bed when I got back, he was busy at work and it was taking its toll.

“It was alright.” I said, ignoring the very clear memory of how Cameron's hands were glued to various parts of Louisa every second she wasn't actually playing.

Dad was unconvinced. “You'd tell me if something was up, right?” He asked.

“Of course,” I said. I took a sip of my tea to try and appear nonchalant, it was like drinking liquid fire, I spat it back into my mug which ruined the effect somewhat.

Dad laughed. “I can smell the bullshit from here.” He said.

We both smiled at that. Mum didn't like him cursing so he swore as often as he could when she wasn't around. He looked at me for a second then said, “do you want a lift to college?”

“Thanks but I'm fine walking,” I said.

“Okay,” he said. He looked at me, a kind of deep soul searching look, then nodded to himself and left the kitchen. I felt bad for lying to him, but 'I'm in love with my lesbian best friend' isn't really something you could just drop into conversation. Besides, I'd been coping with it for over a year without telling anyone but Jason, I could continue coping.

I drank the rest of my tea in silence, leaving it as late as possible before I left for college.

 

Centralia, the building where I had most of my lessons, was about ten years newer than the rest of the college. It was a slim, tall building in the middle of what used to be a courtyard. It was surrounded on all sides by grass, and behind it a few feet beyond the perimeter fence flowed the river Leam. I was sat between the river and Centralia with Jason, who was pulling up fistfuls of grass and piling it up in front of him. I was expecting him to dump it on my head at any moment.

“So. Darcy.” Jason said.

I sighed, “what about her?”

“She sounds nice.”

I wondered what exactly Louisa had told him. “I only said about five words to her, for all I know she could be a bloodthirsty cannibal.”

“She's a Lynch Girl, that's just as bad.” Jason said.

I made a face. Jason was far more tolerant of the rivalry than the rest of the student body and even he wasn't impressed that I might end up dating Darcy.

“Yeah, Louisa told me that.” He said.

“Speaking of Louisa, where the hell is she?” I asked.

“No idea.” Jason said.

It was half ten, Jason and I had skipped first period Sociology as was our usual Monday routine. Louisa had a free period Monday morning and the three of us usually spent it together.

“I'm gunna call her.” Jason said.

I tried to think back, remember if she'd said anything that would explain her absence.

“No answer.” Jason said after a moment. “She's probably just ill.”

“She'd have told us.” I said.

“Maybe.”

“We should go see if she's okay.”

“I'm telling you you're worried over nothing.” Jason said.

“You've got a free period next, right? It's not like you've got anything better to do.”

“That's not true, I'm cultivating quite the grassy knoll here.”

“Don't be a douche.” I said. I got up, knowing that Jason would follow.

“Fine, whatever.” I turned and started towards the car park. “Hey, Alex” Jason called. I turned around and was rewarded with a face full of grass.

 

As usual it took a while to get Molly started, Jason even resorted to begging before she finally got going.

“So. Darcy.” Jason said again once Molly was running.

“What about her?” I asked with more than a little impatience in my tone.

“You gunna call her?”

“Maybe,” I said, though in reality I had no intention of calling her.

“I know that maybe.” Jason said, “that's the same maybe my sister gets when she asks for a pony.”

“What if it is?” I asked, getting annoyed.

“I want my friend back.” Jason said, slapping the steering wheel in frustration.

“I'm right here.” I said, perplexed.

“No, Alex isn't right there, instead I've got some imposter wearing your body. For the last God knows how long you've done nothing but brood over Louisa, that's not my friend. I want the Alex back who pulled a Red Bull fuelled all night Halo sesh with me. Not the Alex who pulled a misery fuelled all night whinging sesh. I've had enough of him.”

“Oh.” I didn't know what to say, Jason was a placid guy, he must have been really pissed to lose control like that.

“Call Darcy, get over Louisa. I'm sick of hanging out with a zombie.”

“Okay.”

“You will?”

I nodded. “After we've checked on Lou.”

Jason sighed. “That will have to do I guess.”

 

Louisa lived in a residential estate, the kind of place that seemed to be designed with the sole aim of making the road layout as confusing as possible. She'd lived there for three years, but Jason and I still only found her house more by luck than judgment. I think maybe it was modelled after the Labyrinth, and in all honesty, it wouldn't have surprised me if the Minotaur leaped out of someone's hedgerow. It was that kind of neighbourhood.

After a lot of guessing and a coin flip at a T-junction we finally found Louisa's place and Jason parked Molly using the technique 'fling it at the curb and hope it lands somewhere close'. He practically ran up to Louisa's door, knocked very lightly, waited perhaps an entire nano second, then turned to me and said “she's not in, ring Darcy.”

I contemplated punching him but instead I just rang the doorbell. I heard movement behind the door and a moment later Louisa appeared holding her purse.

“You are definitely not the pizza I ordered.” She said after a moment's hesitation.

“They were all out of chillies for your spicy veg so they sent us instead.” Jason said.

“Whatever. I guess you want to come in, right?” Louisa said, she stepped away from the door and gestured us inside.

“Not yet,” Jason said. He grabbed my shoulder, “Darcy, now.”

“Oh, this is a good idea.” Louisa said, “in fact, hey, Jason, come on in.”

Jason grinned. “Don't mind if I do,” he said. He pushed me hard enough that I only narrowly avoided falling on my ass. By the time I regained my balance the door was locked.

As I was wondering if I could hot wire Molly my phone beeped. It was a text from Louisa saying 'the door opens when you have a date.'

I replied with, 'she'll be in class now you asshats.'

Their reply was, 'and not a single crap was given that day.'

So I sat down in the middle of Louisa's front garden and waited, it only took five minutes for Louisa's pizza to turn up. I paid for it and got about half way through the first slice before they let me in.

There was a slightly awkward silence while Louisa ate her pizza, which by the way she still hadn't paid me for. Jason was tapping the beat to one of our songs on his knees and I was enjoying five minutes passing without Darcy's name being mentioned.

“So why'd you skip college today?” Jason asked.

“Mental health day,” Louisa said, her mouth half full. “Which is posh people talk for 'I could not be arsed.'”

“See, told you we shouldn't have bothered.” Jason said.

“You probably shouldn't have. I mean, you two could be doing something productive with your life right now, like making a friend other than me.” Louisa said. I couldn't decide if she was joking or not, her voice said joking, her face said not. I didn't put much thought into it, I'd long since stopped trying to figure out Louisa's cryptic comments.

“Speaking of people other than Louisa.” Jason said.

I swore. Repeatedly and fluently. “If I call Darcy will you please just not talk for a while?”

“Scout's honour.” Jason said.

“I make no such promise,” Louisa said as she picked a mushroom off her pizza.

“It's been a long time since either of us believed we could get you to shut up.” Jason said shortly before having a mushroom thrown at him.

I took my phone from my pocket and scrolled through my contacts until I got to Darcy's number. I didn't have to scroll far, a social butterfly is not something anyone would describe me as and my contacts list reflected that. I didn't press the call button straight away though, because, well, I just didn't want to. Part of me, the logical part, knew I had to get over Louisa, she and I would never be more than friends, my gender made sure of that. But there was another part of me that kind of liked where I was. While she and I had nothing, I didn't have to acknowledge it. If I got involved with Darcy I would have no choice. Jason soon took the decision out of my hands, literally. He snatched the phone from my grip, hit the call button and handed it back to me. I got up and walked through to the hall, I didn't really want to have this conversation in front of Louisa.

It occurred to me on the fourth ring that Darcy was probably still in class, but I knew if I hung up without even talking to her Jason would force feed me my phone.

“Hello.” Darcy said, sounding unsure.

“Darcy, hi, it's Alex.” I said, I was pacing up and down the hall, it was a habit of mine when I was nervous.

“Alex?”

“From the café, with the pushy red headed friend.” I said.

Darcy laughed and said, “oh, Alex, yeah. Hi.”

“I didn't interrupt anything did I?” I asked.

“I'm on a self-study period, so no, no interruption at all. If anything I should thank you for alleviating some of the self-study boredom.” She said.

“Don't mention it,” I said.

“So to what do I owe the pleasure of your call?”

I figured it would be best not to mention the fact that I had been forced into calling her by my friends, so instead I jumped right in. “Are you free at all this week?”

“I can't do tomorrow.” She said.

“Neither can I.” I said. “I have a thing.” I never liked using the words show or gig or performance, so I usually ended up using thing. It was nice and non-committal so I could avoid telling people I was in a band. 'I'm in a band' usually has one of two responses, one is something along the lines of 'huyk huyk I bet you're rubbish' and the other is 'oh my God oh my God musicians are cool'. I hated both of those, though I got the impression I would have received neither from Darcy.

“A thing, huh? Sounds interesting.” She said. “I'm free Wednesday if you want to do something then.”

I sat down on the stairs and said, “yeah, Wednesday's good.”

There was a slight pause, then she said, “so what do you have in mind?”

“I haven't really got that far.” I admitted.

Darcy laughed, then said, “you were talked into this weren't you?”

“Is it that obvious?”

“Kinda.” She said. “Though if I'm being one hundred percent honest with you, I was talked into giving you my number too. Well, it was either give you my number or get set up with Sabrina's brother Jeff.”

“Sabrina? There's an actual person who's not a teenage witch named Sabrina?” I said incredulously.

“Oh no, she's definitely a witch.” Darcy said, and I couldn't help but laugh. “Okay, how about we just get a cup of coffee or something. That way if it goes badly we've done enough to get our friends off our backs and not wasted too much time or money.”

“Are you usually this pragmatic about your dates?” I asked, despite the fact I was looking at a date with Darcy as more a duty than an honour I was kind of hurt that she was doing the same with me. That probably speaks volumes about my arrogance or vanity or something.

“I wouldn't know, this is going to by my first.” She admitted.

“Mine too.” I said.

There was a short silence before Darcy spoke again, it wasn't at all awkward, just a moment of quiet. “I know an adorable little place above a photography shop.” She eventually said.

 

“You're taking her to your place of work for your first date?” Louisa asked, she seemed stuck somewhere between disbelief and hysterical amusement.

“You romantic bastard.” Jason said.

“Yeah.” I said. “Why the disbelief?”

“It makes you seem a little cheap don't you think?” Louisa said. “Going somewhere you can use staff discount on a first date.”

I shrugged. “She suggested it.”

“Alex,” Jason said, “I think you may have found the one woman in the entire world who worries about money.”

Louisa threw a cushion at him. “How, how is someone like you such a lady's man?” She asked.

Jason put the cushion behind him and lent back on the sofa. “It's a gift,” he said.

“He's a romantic vulture,” I said, “he picks off the stragglers in the herd. He's a character from a sitcom. He's Barney Stinson but with less class.”

“Oi,” Jason said. “I'll have you know that I'm a deep and sensitive guy who attracts women by being caring, adorable and undeniably sexy.”

“And modest.” Louisa said. 

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