Lawrence woke in Eugene’s spare bed, next to his own. In reality it was just a mattress placed on the ground. As he woke, the migraine hit him instantly.
“Sweet Jesus.” Lawrence exclaimed as he brought his hand to his head.
“Hey, look whos up.” Eugene said as he came into the room smiling and wet from the shower he just came from.
Lawrence just looked at him with a mixture of annoyance, anger, and pain.
“Never again.” Lawrence told him.
“I’m sorry?” Eugene said trying to look like he didn’t know what Lawrence was talking about.
“Ever.” Lawrence continued.
“OK, whatever you say Lawrence.” Eugene said, laughing and smiling as he dried his hair.
Eugene then threw Lawrence a shirt and a bottle of Tylenol.
“Here, take a shower and some of those, then we’ll head off to school. You know what just keep the bottle, you’ll need it more than I do.” Eugene told him.
“Thanks, um, Colin won didn’t he?” Lawrence asked once he reached Eugene’s bathroom door.
“Ya, he won.” Eugene said, a smile’s still on his face.
Before Lawrence entered Eugene’s bathroom, he removed his shirt and threw it on his “bed”. Lawrence looked up and saw Eugene staring at his burns on his forearm.
“Dear Lord.” Eugene said in shock.
“Don’t worry, they don’t hurt. At least not anymore.” Lawrence said grabbing his forearm and trying to produces a smile.
After Lawrence took his pills and showered he went off to school with Eugene. As Lawrence walked out of Eugene's door the sunlight caused his head to feel as if it were being hit with a hammer.
“You got a pair of sunglasses?” Lawrence asked placing his hand infront of his face to block the sun.
“Ya, here.” Eugene said, pulling some Aviator sunglasses out and handing them to Lawrence.
As they walked Lawrence did his best not to talk, or move for that matter.
“So when is this dance?” Lawrence asked doing his best to keep his head down so he didn’t have to see the sun.
“This Friday.” Eugene replied.
As they entered the school, it was no less bright than outside. Lawrence slammed his head into the lunch table as he sat with Eugene. Not long after Tyler and Luke came up to them.
“Hey Eugene, Lawrence.” Tyler said as he sat down next to Eugene, “Lawrence you looked like you were just chewed up and spit out.” he continued.
“I feel no better.” Lawrence said with a grown.
“Ya, you don’t look to good Lawrence, what happened?” Luke asked with concern in his voice.
“I really would prefer not to talk about it.” he shot back.
Not much longer after that Colin came along looking no better than Lawrence, but his head was held slightly higher, knowing he had won the bet had lessened his hangover.
“Hey, Lawrence.” Colin said with a smile on his face, a smug, proud smile.
“Hey, Colin. Um, congratulations, I guess.” Lawrence said bringing his head up slightly.
“Thanks, I got to hand to you Lawrence, you held out longer than I thought you would.” Colin replied.
Luke sat at the table with a look of confusion, while everyone else laughed slightly.
“Well, at least I don’t have to dye my hair blue. Speaking of which, when are you going to hold up your end of the bargain Lawrence?” Colin asked.
“I don’t know?” Lawrence spat out annoyed.
“Well you better figure it out fast buddy because here she comes.” Tyler said pointing to Heather.
She walked in smiling at Lawrence, as if she knew what was to come.
“Christ, she can’t see me like this.” Lawrence said making his way to the bathroom.
As he entered the bathroom, Lawrence made his way to the nearest stall and vomited. The smell and taste of the liquor coming back a second time was something Lawrence had never experienced before, it was horrible. As Lawrence left the bathroom he saw Heather sitting with the rest of the group, her face had a look of both interest and confusion on it s she looked apon Colin. Lawrence slowly made his way over to them doing his best to hide his reddening face.
“Um, Heather, can I talk to you?” Lawrence whispered once he got within earshot of her.
Heather walked over to him and Lawrence led her a little ways away from the table his friends where sitting at.
“Hey, Lawrence what’s up?” Heather asked as she moved her blonde bangs from her face and smiled.
“Oh, nothing, I was just thinking, well, the dance is coming. So I figured that, just maybe, you would like to go with me?” Lawrence asked seeking his now blank mind for words.
“I thought you didn’t like school dances?” Heather asked giggling at Lawrence’s nervousness.
“Well, I, I don’t, I was just thinking that we would could go and have fun, or something along those lines.” Lawrence said returning the smile to Heather.
“Sure, just two friends hanging out, listening to music, dancing. Sound’s like fun.” she said.
Lawrence’s heart shattered at that word, friend. Was Eugene right? Was Lawrence just Heather’s friend, was that he's sealed fate with her? Lawrence felt a pain worse than anything his father could do, but even though his heart was crushed Lawrence still managed to smile and reply.
Heather then walked off to class thinking everything was fine, after she left an expression of sadness which Lawrence never knew existed washed over him. Lawrence walked back to Eugene and Colin, then only two who were still standing around the table.
“Did she say no?” Eugene asked.
“She said yes, but she said we were friends.” Lawrence told them.
Both Colin and Eugene looked at one another, then Eugene went to place his hand on Lawrence’s shoulder to let him know he was there for him, but Lawrence shrugged him off.
“No guys, I, I um, needed to be alone with my thoughts for a bit.” Lawrence said starting to walk away.
“OK, but come and find us if you need us.” Colin said.
Then Lawrence walked off in the direction of the school’s back entrance. He had a spot behind the school, where he went to be alone.
Lawrence exited through the back exit of the school, he walked along the brick wall, until he reached a small box shaped attachment of the building. It was low enough for Lawrence to climb to the roof of the attachment, but not tall enough for him to reach the schools roof. No one knew about this place but Lawrence, being so he was able to make it his own. He place a multitude of blankets and quilts, he had a small makeshift night stand for a radio and lamp, Lawrence was able to even prop up a tarp for if it rained. It was a place Lawrence could go to be by himself, to escape the world. He found it one day after his father burned him, Lawrence felt that he needed to clear his head. He walked to the school and around to the back. He noticed their was an old parking lot that no one used, the overgrow was as if it never existed. The school had just finished and expansion to the main parking lot so it was no surprise to him that it was forgotten about. Lawrence then found the attachment to the main building. There was no door from the outside, Lawrence figured it was just a broom closet from the inside. He climbed on the roof of the structure and from that day on it was his own personal oasis.
Lawrence sat with his back against the wall, elbows dug into his knees and head pushed into his hands. He sat in deep thought, the only girl he had ever had a remote attraction to thought of them only as friends. He was crushed, beyond crushed, but he couldn’t tell her. How could she, she really didn’t do anything wrong.
Lawrence then placed his hand into his hoodie pocket and felt a small piece of paper, he pulled it out and unfolded it. On it was Lola Valentine's phone number. Lawrence stared at the paper and wondered if he should use it.
“Call her.” the numbers on the paper whispered into Lawrence’s eare.
Lawrence stared at the numbers pondering what could happen if he were to call her? Then as if Lawrence had no control of himself, pulled his phone from his pocket and started to dial the numbers. He sat in a cold silents, the month was still cold, almost like winter. Every now and again it would snow, this was one of those times. Small snowflakes could be seen falling to the ground, Lawrence inhaled deep the cold air filled his lungs and sent a chill up his spine. The sun was now covered by the clouds and a gray tint fell upon him. The other end of the phone was then answered.
“Hello?” the voice on the other end said. Lawrence could tell it was Lola, he voice was unmistakable.
“Hey, it’s, um, it’s Lawrence. You told me to call you if I ever got bored?” Lawrence said, his voice had no emotion in it, he found that odd.
“Well, took you long then I thought it would.” Lola said after a chuckle.
“So do you want to meet up of something?” Lawrence asked.
“Meet me by the coffee shop in town, The Hot Spot, you know it?” she replied.
“Ya, I’ll see you within the hour.” Lawrence said, hanging up the phone before Lola could respond.
Lawrence left the school half way through the day, he was sitting there for about two hours, he was amazed no one came looking for him, or maybe they did but didn’t find him. Either way Lawrence knew he wouldn’t get much done that day anyway so to him there was no point in staying, Lola was the type of girl who ditched school constantly so it wasn't like she was a stranger to it. Lawrence doubted she was a stranger to many things.
Lawrence sat at a table outside the shop, Lola was not far after him. A waiter came by before they could speak to one another.
“Hello, may I take an order?” asked the man, he was a young man, not much into his twenties, he had a strong British accent, a thick goatee, and a small tattoo of a skull on his right hand.
“I’ll take coffee, black.” Lawrence told him.
“I’ll have a white chocolate mocha.” Lola ordered.
“Very good.” the waiter said, then he went into the shop and placed the order form on the counter.
Lola and Lawrence sat for a moment in silents. Then the silence was broken by Lola’s question, “Why did you call me?”
“Like I said, I was bored.” Lawrence said with a slight smile. Lola returned the smile, “I also wanted to explain myself for rejecting your invitation to the dance, I meant no disrespect.” he continued.
Lola looked at him intrigued as she pushed her blood red bangs from her eyes.
“So explain?” she said.
“I just don’t like school dances, it was nothing against you, I mean it’s not that you're not beautiful or anything.” Lawrence said, as the waiter returned with their drinks.
“So why are you going with the new girl?” Lola asked after she was finished chuckling again.
“How do you know that?” Lawrence asked confused.
“Word spreads fast Lawrence. Especially if it’s about you.” Lola told him.
“Well, I lost a bet.” Lawrence told her, not realizing how bad the made the situation sound.
“Oh, can’t handle Jack straight can you?” Lola said smiling and taking a sip of her drink.
Lawrence was mid sip of his when she said it, he nearly spat out the warm coffee upon hearing it, “How do you know about that?” he asked after forcing the drink down his throat.
“Please Lawrence, I’ve seen and had my share of hangovers and you definitely have one, so I just figured.” Lola said still smiling.
Lawrence was about to respond when he looked into the window of the coffee shop. The waiter that had taken their order was in a heated discussion with what Lawrence could determine to be his boss. Lawrence couldn’t hear them, but he could tell that harsh words were being said. Then the waiter took off the apron he was wearing around his clothes and throw it at his boss. The man started to walk away, the superior started to yell pointing at him as he did, as the waiter walked out the door he pointed back, though not with his index finger.
The man started to walk down the street when Lawrence ran to him. He stopped and Lawrence placed a dollar in his hand.
“You forgot your tip.” Lawrence said walking back to Lola.
Lawrence didn’t look back at the waiter, but he hoped he had smiled. Lawrence went back to Lola, who had finished her drink. Lawrence finished his then said his goodbyes. She started to walk away, Lawrence couldn’t help but look back at the girl of mystery. At least that’s what he called her, she was that much a least, not much was known about her, besides that she never knew her real father. Every one in the town knew that. Lawrence wanted to know more, for some reason he couldn’t tell, he wanted to know more about her. maybe it was just the fact that he didn't know anything was what got his curiosity.
“Wait, Lola. I was wondering why leave so soon? Would you maybe what to walk with me?” he asked.
“Sure, that sounds nice.” Lola said with a look of surprise, as if that question had never been asked of her.
They walked down the main street of the town, just talking to one another and window shopping. Lawrence never knew a girl like Lola Valentine would be so interesting.
“So what kind of name is Valentine?” Lawrence asked after they left the window of a small clothing store.
“It’s the only name I’ve ever known.” Lola replied, a strange tone came over her voice, Lawrence could not place it at the time, “I never knew my real dad, just Mike. He’s nice and all, but I know I’m not a real Valentine.” she continued.
“What about your mom, why not just use her maiden name?” Lawrence continued making sure to check Lola’s facial expressions, so he made sure he didn’t cross some sort of line.
“My mom’s name dosen’t have the best reputation around here, so I figured Valentine was better than nothing. So what about you Lawrence Walker?” She asked smiling slightly, he hair blowing in the slight wind.
“Well, I don’t mind my last name. I just keep a low profile is all.”
“So how do you live with?”
“My dad, my mom is, well she just not around anymore. I got a younger sister.”
“And an older one, in the hospital?”
“Ya, that’s right. How did you-”
“Like I said ‘word travels fast.’, so you never did tell me about what you hide under your sleeves.”
“That’s something best saved for another day.”
Lola was about to respond when her phone rang.
“Oh, that’s Mike, I um, should get going.” she said smiling as she walked away.
Lawrence waved goodbye for the final time then left for home, school had lead out by then and he wasn’t really in a mood to see his friends so he simply went home and avoided his father to the best of his ability. He layed on his bed, staring up at the ceiling trying to forget what he had heard, wishing it was all just a dream. Even so Heather said they were friends, he was happy they were that much.
Lawrence dozed off and did not wake until close to midnight, the only light in his room was that of the moon coming through his window. Lawrence laid his head back down and tried to sleep, but he couldn’t his dreams wouldn’t let him. He had nightmares of himself being lock in a dark small room, just him alone. Left with nothing but darkness and rats. Lawrence then saw a light, it was another room. As he got closer he could see his sister Claire, she had flatlined and Lawrence could do nothing to help her. He couldn’t move, or say anything. He had that dream three times through the night, by the third time it was morning. The moonlight had been replaced with the sun and crickets replaced with birds. Lawrence walked the road to school like he always did, bye then his hangover had long since vanished. Lawrence meet with Eugene, about halfway down the road from his house, as if he was waiting for him.
“Hey, Lawrence walk with me.” he said upon seeing him.
“Hey, Eugene. How’s everything?” Lawrence asked.
“Good, and you?” Eugene replied.
“I’m doing pretty good.”
“Ya, you are, you hound dog.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Word on the street was you were seen escorting a Miss. Lola Valentine around town.”
“How does everyone know this stuff about me?” Lawrence said, to more of God than to Eugene.
Eugene just walked along smiling waiting for Lawrence to answer the question.
“I just wanted to explain to her why I didn’t accept her invitation to the dance was all.” Lawrence continued now talking to Eugene again.
Eugene how now had his answer changed the subject and they continued to school. Lawrence knew he had to see Heather, to at least talk to her. If nothing more, just smile at her to show her everything was fine. Lawrence did just that, he smiled and talked to her when she got to school. As if nothing had happened between them and to Heather, nothing had happened. Lawrence didn’t pay much attention that day in school, he was too stressed about the dance to focus on anything his teachers were saying. Eugene who was no longer going did Lawrence the kindness of lending him his suit. It was slightly too big, but not enough for anyone to notice.
That Friday was the dance, Lawrence made his sister dinner, then left at six, he arrived at Heathers by six thirty almost a half hour before the dance was to start. Lawrence knocked and Heather answered, she was wearing the same clothing style she had worn to the lake when Lawrence meet her that day. Lawrence was shocked how laid back she seemed.
“Hey, Lawrence. Um, nice suit.” Heather said with a laugh.
“Hey, so you're just going like that? No dress or anything?” Lawrence asked.
“No, I don’t do dresses, if they don’t like it that’s their problem and I know you don’t do suits, so loosen up a bit.” Heather told him as she took his jacket and through it on her living room couch.
She then untucked Lawrence shirt and undid his tie. Lawrence just chuckled a little as she made him more comfortable.
“There that’s better, so let’s get going. By the time we get there we should be right on time.” Heather continued as she pulled Lawrence by his tie out the door, Heather then shouted goodbye to her mother and continued down the road with Lawrence toward the school.