"Oi Penny! I’m heading out for a while." I shouted to my roommate who was in her room studying for some exam.
“Just that late night cafe down the road. I need to clear my head if I’m ever gonna start this stupid book.”
For my college assignment we have to study this novel, watch the movie adaption, and then write a critical review on how well the story was transferred from book to screen. Stupid if you ask me…
“Buy me something!” She shouted from her room.
“Piss off.” I shuffled the draws for a jacket. They were all in the wash. Then again I only have about two. I shut the door behind me and walked out down the steps out of our apartment block and down the street.
I strolled up to the old late-night cafe that serves coffees and ice cream at night. It was already nine o’clock so there weren’t very many people inside.
I sat at a table with my book and ice tea bottle. This book would take forever to study, but I’m a total night owl so I may as well kill some hours with it.
Around me were a few other customers.
A family with two kids, who were yawning while eating their ice cream, a young couple, an old man, and then there was one boy sitting on his own.
I could only see the back of him, he had a black pea coat on and brown hair.
He wasn’t doing anything. Didn’t even have any food on his table and it looked like he never had.
He was just sitting.
Anyway I dove into the novel, reading for a good forty minutes.
The family left soon after I started reading- I guess it was bedtime for the kids.
The couple and the old man stuck around… and so did the boy.
Slowly my ice tea decreased more and more along with my attention span to the book until there was nothing left.
It was ten o’clock regardless so I decided to make my way back home but there was something still concerning me about that boy. He still hadn’t moved. Like not even an inch.
Was he okay?
I grabbed my book and empty bottle and stood up.
There was two ways to exit, one way past the table with the boy and one past the table with the young couple.
Stupid, I thought. It’s an exit- pick a way and get out!
I found myself strolling towards the door quickly, but I felt wrong.
Suddenly at the spur of the moment, I spun on my heels and walked straight up the boy’s table.
“You all right, mate?” I smiled at him. He didn’t look up.
“Yeah.” God dammit, I should have kept walking.
“Cause I mean, I’ve been here for almost an hour and you’ve barely moved a muscle.”
I stood there quietly for around ten seconds before he spoke.
“Okay… Not really.” He muttered.
I frowned and placed my shit on the table. I pulled up a chair.
…Hope that’s okay with him.
“What’s the story?” I asked.
He still faced the floor.
“A long one…. A complicated one.” He paused. “A stupid one to be honest.”
He chuckled lightly without smiling.
“Tell me. I’ve got all the time in the world.” I offered.
He didn’t say anything.
“I know I’m a complete stranger, but… that’s probably better because you’ll never see me again and at least you have it off your chest.”
Finally he looked up. The first sign of life since I’d first seen him.
He looked very familiar.
“You’re not gonna sell my story to the media? Or go and tweet lies about me?” He asked seriously.
“That’s the whole point, you see.” He frowned and looked at me. “I can’t trust anyone these days.”
Suddenly it hit me. I knew exactly who this guy was. …Well not exactly. I didn’t know his name; I’m not good with names. But I knew he was in that boy band. ….Definitely the hair that gave it away.
"What’s your name anyway?" He asked. "You’re pretty gutsy to come over here and sit down, I’ll admit."
“Rose. My name’s Rose Williams, what ‘bout you?”
He laughed quickly and shook his head, slowly folding his arms.
“Sorry, I really, truly don’t know.” I plead.
He looked up and stared at me for a good while. Then he finally cracked a smile.
“Harry.” He said and held out his hand. “I’m Harry Styles, nice to meet you Rose.”
I shook his hand and laughed.
“Look if it counts for anything, I do know you’re in that band…that I can’t actually remember the name of.. Something about numbers? -Well I mean I didn’t until I sat down. But yeah I’m not a complete idiot, I’m not going to lie and pretend I’ve never seen your face before.”
“Yeah well that’s good enough for me at the moment.” he shrugged and folded his arms back.
I fiddled with my empty bottle, playing with the lid.
“It’s One Direction by the way. The band I’m in.”
“Oh yes! Yeah that’s right; I told you it had something to do with numbers… in it…” I muttered.
“So, spill the beans on what’s bumming you out.” I said.
“I don’t know… you seem nice and all but I’ve seen plenty of journalists that have gone undercover.”
“Right. No I understand. That’s cool. I respect that.” I say and pick up my book almost getting up to leave. I didn’t want to pressure him or anything, I only meant to help.
“But… I still like the company. It’s a change from sitting on my own.”
I slowly drop my book back down.
“Okay, Well then… I’ll talk about myself for a bit and you can just listen and… enjoy the company.” I offered.
“Sounds good to me.”
“Hm alright. Well. Hi, hello. I’m Rose. I’m eighteen. I live in London, I don’t like loud noises and I am very afraid of whales..”
He lifted an eyebrow.
“Who knows what sparked it? Maybe it was a family outing when I was little and a whale got to close to the watching boat… or maybe it’s from the time I walked in on my uncle Toby in a bathrobe, who very much resembles a whale.”
He let out a laugh.
“I’m studying to go into the film editing industry somehow, but I am still working on that plan.”
He looked down at my book I had half hidden under my arm.
“What’s the book then?” He asked and picked it up.
“The Other Boleyn Girl. I have to read it and compare it to the film.” I sigh. “I tell you what though, the book is well dry.”
“Really?” He asked and quickly flicked all the pages in the book under his thumb. “At least you get to watch the movie version after.”
“Yeah.” I scoffed and rolled my eyes. “Not like I’m looking forward to that though.”
We sat quietly why he read the blurb on the back.
“Hey! I think I saw something about you on the telly today actually.” I spoke up.
“Yeah? What.” He asked flatly, not looking up from the book.
“It was a photo… and it was about a girl, who err, played….you…over…actually.”
It sounded worse when I said it aloud.
He looked up at me and gave me a look.
“Oh! OH! ….oh. Right, sorry.” I said suddenly realising the whole reason why he was here. “Really, I’m sorry about that…”
“Don’t worry about it. She’s just the latest in a long line that has done the exact same thing.”
“Let’s talk about something else!” I suggested. “Like… your pea coat! Where did you get it from, it suits you.”
“Are you trying to chat me up?” He smiled and gave a laugh.
“No!” I said abruptly. “I didn’t mean it like that. It just looks good on you. It gives you a mysterious look.”
“Right.” He laughed.
“Sorry I’m rambling, I really shouldn’t-“
“No it’s fine, I’m still listening, aren’t I?”
I checked my watch. 10:15. Still early.
My ice tea bottle rolled between my hands.
“So. What brought you to this cafe in particular?” I asked, looking at the roof.
“Uhm, I don’t know really. No reason in particular, it just looked uh… rustic.”
“Rustic? Hahaha, what!” I laughed. “You’re not one of those want-to-be-indie people are you?”
He gave a guilty smile.
“Oh no!” I laughed. “How bad are your crimes, let me check your instagram- what’s your name?”
“Wow, you really don’t know much about me do you?” He smiled.
“I know literally nothing about you mate.”
I opened up the app.
“HarryStyles, no space.” he said simply.
I searched it in.
“Which one are you? The grey icon?”
“Wow, 5 Million followers- nice! I have 23, so I’m… close.”
“Okay, let’s have a look.” I smiled widely. “Alright, first up: a picture of a traffic light box with a spray painted heart on it…”
I tried to stop myself from laughing.
“What!” He chuckled.
“Nothing! Nothing at all, I completely understand why you would take a picture of that. It’s just so, inspiring.” I gasp.
“Shutup.” He laughed.
“A picture with the San Francisco bridge with the caption:” I paused for dramatic effect. “Cool Bridge.”
“Oh my god.” He smiled.
I flicked to the picture of him with a napkin on his face being held on by his sunglasses. I held my phone up for him to see.
He rolled his eyes.
“It’s like talking to a brick wall.” I said and flicked to the next photo of him literally talking to a brick wall. “The fact that you have to ask someone to take these pictures of you is what makes it embarrassing.” I laugh.
“You have to impress! Being Indie is totally the ‘in’ thing right now.”
“Plus it’s the little things that stick out when you travel the word over and over again.”
“Well I wouldn’t know, I’ve never left the United Kingdom. Always wanted to travel though.”
“I recommend it.” He nods and pauses. “I’m not keeping you am I? You don’t have anywhere to be?”
“Oh no, I’ve watched Doctor Who at 7:40 and now I’m free for the rest of the night. I can never get to sleep until at least 3am anyway.”
“Doctor Who? That show is still around?”
“Excuse me, it is a very good show!” I protested. “… Well it did get cancelled once but it came back in 2005!”
“Isn’t it all nerdy?” He said pulling a face.
“Oh yeah, it sooo wouldn’t be up your alley. Only geeks watch Doctor Who.” I rolled my eyes. “It’s a hard show to explain without making it sound incredibly weird but, it is very good.”
“Isn’t that actor, uh.. Tennant? in it?”
“He was. But he quit a couple years back. Now Matt Smith is the doctor. I like him better though. Although… now he’s leaving at the end of this year, god dammit.”
“How can they leave? I mean don’t people notice when a character changes actors. And that show’s been around for ages!
“Yeah so, don’t people complain that The Doctor Who guy always looks different when a new actor comes in?”
“No because that’s the whole point, he regenerates- He’s an alien!”
“Okay, I’m totally mind fucked now.” He admitted.
“Haha, I told you it’s hard to explain. …I only like the most recent series though, from David Tennant’s onwards.”
“Well I guess it can’t be that bad if it’s been running for what, did you say 50 years?”
He nodded and laughed.
“Nothing just, look at us. I did not expect to be sitting here at 11 o’clock on a Thursday night talking about Doctor Who to a girl I’d only just met.”
“Well, life can be that way sometimes.”
“Obviously.” He smiled and began to speak again.
“Did you know that I’m-” Suddenly he was interrupted by a very loud noise that sounded like a gun fire.
“Oh my fuCKING GOD, WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!” I shouted and covered my head.
I did NOT like loud noises.
We looked over and saw it was the female from the young couple laughing so hard that she snorted really, horribly loud.
Harry was laughing so hard it looked as if he was almost crying.
“Are you fucking me! I thought we were going to die!” I panted.
The girl had noticed us laughing at her and shot us the biggest dirty.
“We should probably get out of here.” Harry suggested.
“Yes please, I would very much like that.” I whispered quickly. I grabbed my book and chucked my bottle in the bin and scurried out where it was raining.
“Fuck.” I sighed. “And I have to walk!” It was already cold and I was wearing a thin sleeved shirt.
Harry came up beside me.
“Wow. I’d offer you a lift home, but I walked too.”
We stood in the rain. Silently. Slowly getting drenched.
“Here Rose, take my coat. I don’t need it.”
“Don’t be stupid. Yes you do.”
“I swear I don’t. I don’t get cold easily, and plus you said you liked it.”
“On you mate!” I laughed.
He shrugged it off and placed it over my shoulders.
“….Thanks.” I muttered, teeth chattering.
“It suits you.” He smiled. “I should probably head off. I have a heap of interviews tomorrow.” He said quietly.
Oh right, I forgot I was chatting with an A-Star celebrity.
"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea."
“I really did enjoy talking to you Rose.”
“It’s good to talk to people sometimes. Anyone.” I looked out across the road into a small park.
“Changed my life.”
“Okay. I’m sure it didn’t mean that much.” I smiled softly out into the distance.
I felt a warm hand take hold of mine and I turned to look at him. That’s when I noticed I’d never really looked properly at his face the entire night. And I could see the sadness and regret and lost hope.
It took me a while to notice he was squeezing my hand very, very hard.
“Thankyou.” He said and I nodded.
He slowly let go of my hand and put both back in his jean pockets.
“Bye Harry.” I told him, hoping my encounter with him was worthwhile.
Slowly I turned around and began to walk off in the direction I came from.
Maybe it was just the rain, but I’m sure I didn’t hear him start walking.