Chapter Thirty Eight - Rescuer from Napetown.
It was the early morning when she woke me softly with a kiss on the forehead. She looked incredibly sexy with her sweet blue summer dress but I shook my head knowing that I'd have to get my head out of my pants and into what was happening at that moment. Today was the day we were saying goodbye. I only had enough time to go to the toilet before I was called to the driveway.
In only my pajamas, my hair was its morning mess. "Remember the code sentence so I can drag your ass back here." I told her with a smirk on my face. I used the smirk so the small tears in her eyes would falter instead of falling.
"I wasn't going to wait for the rain." She recited back to me as I admired every square inch of her face. I had no more time to run my fingers through her hair. I had no more time to caress her cheek when ever I felt like it. I found myself pulling her into a hug and holding her for one more time. I considered picking her petite body up and carrying her into the house, making sure there was no escape.
In the end I just savored the time I had left in holding and hugging her. She smelt like strawberries, ripe and fresh. When she pulled out my eyes saddened but then she did something that surprised me. She leaned up on the tip of her toes and placed a small, gentle and soft kiss on my lips. What surprised me was that she did it with her father watching.
The hardest thing was watching her reverse out her driveway. Her father's back stiffened as he slowly waved goodbye. I watched as her little head bobbled in the rear view mirror. I could feel the lump in my throat forming and I screamed at myself -mentally of course- for being such a girl. Then I felt as it descended slowly and agonizingly down my top cheek. My hand whipped up as fast as you can say go and wiped that tear away.
I looked back up to see if Al saw me, well I wouldn't say crying but yeah, if she saw anything. I thought I was in the clear so I took the time to roll my eyes at how girly I became. I mean really Luke? I would see her again its not like it was forever. No matter, it was much harder knowing the fact that I wouldn't be able to see her whenever I wanted. I remembered slipping my favourite navy blue jumper into her suitcase, I made it smell just like me so it would comfort her. I heard that girls like wearing their boyfriend's jumpers.
When her car was no longer in the driveway and the only evidence that her once presence was there at all was the smoke her car left behind. A pang in my chest erupted and I gulped audibly as I encountered this foreign feeling. I inhaled a shaky breath before Mr Binks captured my attention. "You should go Luke," he said, his voice also somewhat weak.
"Okay," I drawled as I spun around and advanced into the house. I climbed the stairs and imagined chasing Al up here, with me tickling her sides. I smiled at that thought. When I was successfully in her room, I gathered my things before taking a long hard look around her room. I hadn't been in here without her before. I mean I have but not without her being in the house.
I first took a seat on her bed. Her toy story pajamas that she was wearing this morning were sprawled out across the bottom end of the bed. I picked up the small fabric and held it in my hands. I felt like a complete creep when I held them to my nose and inhaled the sweet smell of Al. I couldn't really explain her smell except for saying that it's heavenly.
I leaned over and began straightening out her pillows. When I lifted the top one, I noticed a small piece of folded paper. Clearly curiosity took its toll as I held it in the webbing of my fingers. I carefully began unfolding it to reveal a couple of stanzas written in Al's perfectly neat hand writing. It was her poem. I felt like I was imposing on her personal space but she did say not yet, so really, yet had arrived. Her poem was so deep, it had me undone all over again. It was clear that I was only half a heart without her.
When we are generally a part, it kills. It hurts as though I were being stabbed in the gut several times. One can only imagine that I was currently being massacred as she was driving three hours away from me. My life was going to be hell on earth. I felt the sudden urge to call her, only to be greeted with her voice mail. That was Al all over: a safe driver with her phone turned off as she drove.
I laughed as I hung up. Raking my eyes over the room once more, it was to my dismay that it was practically empty. With a heavy head, I adjusted the strap of my Nike bag on my shoulder before making my way out.
I arrived home safely but I felt completely empty. What are you doing to me Al? I thought as I took camp on the couch. Several times I was pestered to get my feet off the couch but I wasn't in the mood to obey. Dinner was dull and boring. I stared aimlessly at the seat Al sat in when she had dinner with my family.
It felt like my whole life was centered around Al, not that that was a particularly bad thing. It just made me hurt all the more. I found myself glaring at the clock and glowering at my phone. I imagined it calling and her name popping up on caller ID as she explained to me how much she wanted me to pick her up.
I couldn't sleep. It's not like I haven't slept a night before without her but something was keeping me awake. Maybe it was the feeling of alert that I was experiencing, waiting and hoping for her to call. Suddenly I was so consumed with that thought that I barely slept five hours that night.
School was worse than usual. I had walked the halls alone on several occasions but never had I felt so alone. No matter the amount of noise the basketball players made as a collective, no matter how crowded the corridors were between periods, I still felt alone.
I didn't attend any classes that day. I didn't feel the need. Instead I was aimlessly wondering the halls, hoping her bright and happy face would greet me but it never did. I took a seat in front of her locker, leaning my back against it. I opened my phone and shot off a simple three worded text that had more meaning than could be interpreted.
I miss you.
It was half way through lunch time when I received a reply: I really miss you too. Bec told me to cheer up and I quote that her parents will be back together before I can say the longest word in the dictionary, unquote. She didn't know the longest word in the dictionary. I responded, "It's controversial but it is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis." I learned that mouth tangler because of Al.
I kicked my heels in the dirt as last period came rolling in. I had health class. We had health class. I sat in the open area, by the willow tree. I gazed to where Al and I sometimes sat, our backs pressed up against the ancient bark. I would play with her fingers and she would lean into my body and tell me all about her day and her classes. I loved the glow Al had about her when she spoke about the things she loved.
I wondered what she was doing now. Sitting on her bed, my phone number on speed dial, ready for me to say the words to take her out of her misery. Or, she could be thoroughly enjoying herself, drinking coffee by the beach and not taking a second look at her phone. I felt like a complete mess but then something dawned on me. I realized that I felt just like the girls who I had been with. After one night, they spent days waiting by their phones for me to call them. This feeling sucked.
I wanted to go to every girl I'd been with and apologies, only I felt like more of a jerk because I had to admit, I wouldn't recognize half the girls I'd been with. I decided to get out of school as fast as possible. Throwing my bag in the passenger seat, I closed myself up in the car. Pressing my foot to the accelerator, I just drove. I didn't care where I went. I just needed to drive.
After a while it was unsuccessful when I found myself back at the Bink's residence, circling their block and just imagining her car pulling up in the driveway. During the time of the numerous hours I spent driving around her area, a few of the neighbours requested that I left because my actions were suspicious. Rolling my eyes, I turned down my windows and blasted what ever song was on the radio as I paraded around town.
By seven the air was fresher, there was still sunlight and I was parked in the exact same spot I parked in the night Alexandra Binks told me she loved me. Getting out of my car, I walked through the taller grass. It had reached just above my shin, so it was less than an easy walk in the park. I must admit that I fell once or twice. Then finally I reached the spot. It didn't look the same because Al decorated it but it was the place where I first felt love.
I probably sound like a girl, a poet or something but not Luke Brooks. What can I say? Al has changed me, but for the better of course. I sat on the rock for a while, just thinking about life, my family but mostly her. You know, the feeling of missing someone is something one cannot explain unless they have felt it. With Al, I feel as though not only a piece but my whole heart has been ripped out and I walking around with an empty chest.
I was no help at home. I was called a few swear words for not getting my ass off the couch and help clean up. It wasn't until mum sat down on the couch with me and broke down my walls that I actually started to talk. I rarely spoke to mum about Al, I'd always rave about little Al as I walked around the house but I never really told mum about her in particular. I had barely spoke at all today so it was pretty much a miracle how much I off loaded to mum.
"Something has happened with her," was my mother's opening line.
"You are walking around like you have been punched in the gut. Did she say something? Did you two fight? Did you do something you shouldn't have?" She hit the nail on the head with that last one. I shouldn't have let her go.
"She's gone." I whispered with my head low.
"How? Did something happen? Did she break up with you?" My mum was a bit off on a limb but I couldn't blame her. She didn't know about Al's situation.
I shook my head, "No, she is three hours away in Napetown. She moved." My monotonous voice left my mother without words. I wanted to break down but my manhood would be left for questioning. Turns out that Al brings out the girl in me.
My mum sat closer to me on the couch and then she put her arms around me and she just hugged me. This action made me feel somewhat better. "How long has she been gone for?" My mum asked, breaking the torturing silence.
"Thirty nine hours, twenty two minutes and fourteen seconds." I admitted with a second glance at my watch. My mother's eyes widened at my response. I sort of felt pathetic because I knew it down to the second. I was mentally kicking myself because I guessed Al wasn't counting like I was.
"Can you stay up and watch a movie with me?" I asked randomly but sincerely. My mum's eyes showed signs of gratefulness and she nodded immediately. My mum wrapped an arm around me as I leaned into her and we watched Anchorman. Constantly I glanced at my phone after texting Al good night but I desperately didn't want to have to fall asleep again without her.
Good night Brooks xx
I received this message after the credits rolled for the duration of a minute. For a further minute I spent just staring at my phone. I was mentally contemplating whether or not to call her. I didn't want to wake her. What if she was genuinely tired and then I woke her by calling her? What if she wasn't in the mood to talk?
"Go to her," my mother's words cut like a knife in the silent air.
"What?" I asked, averting my gaze to her tired face.
"I know I probably sound crazy but you're driving me crazy. And I know it's a school night, hell, call me irresponsible but get your ass in that car like you have wanted to do since she left and get your backside to Napetown." It took two seconds to register what my mother had said.
Probably the most important thing she ever did was knock some sense into me. I took a brief moment to kiss my mother good night before I grabbed my keys and took myself to the car. I shot off a quick text to Tara, requesting their address. Something told me that she caught onto what I was thinking because she replied: Boy, I wish there was one of you out there for me. 112 Sheppard Street, Napetown. See you soon :)
Plugging her address into the GPS navigator, I took a pit stop at McDonalds to get myself some caffeine for the long drive. In the meantime I thought of different ways I would greet her when I finally reached my bloody destination. Maybe something like, "Hello, I'm Zorro." Okay, clearly that was strange and misleading.
I shook my head at my absurd thought. Think Luke, think. Maybe recite the first sentence of her poem to her? No, she may get mad that I read it without permission. Enter by singing a song? By the time I were to reach Al it would be probably four in the morning, I mean realistically, no one wants to hear music at four in the morning.
I hadn't logically thought any of this out. I mean, what if I got there and she didn't want to go with me? What if my opening line wasn't captivating? What if she didn't appreciate me showing up out of the blue uninvited? Come on Luke, it's Al we are talking about here. The more thinking I did, the more I became frustrated with myself. By the time I was done yelling at myself, a brilliant plan came into mind.
What if I took us away for the weekend. Her, me, Bec, Jai, Lilly, Adam. Maybe it was the caffeine but a whole weekend without our parents, just our friends, maybe camping somewhere sounded like the greatest idea anyone has ever had. When I saw the sign Napetown my heart faltered. I had arrived and the feeling of worry consumed me. The GPS directed me to turn a few streets and then I was there. Only the street lights were on, the street was inactive. I pulled my car into her driveway, right beside Al's car.
We had now not seen each other for forty five hours and my heart was killing me. It was actually a physical pain in my chest as well as emotional. I wondered if this was heart ache and I wondered if Al was feeling the same way as I was.
Luke Brooks - Which window is hers?
Tara Binks - The one near the bushes.
Luke Brooks - Thank you
Tara Binks - Good luck
I started near the bushes and began running my hand through them to make her somewhat aware of my presence. I half expected her to be curious and come to the window but she didn't so I knocked on the cold glass window. I decided to draw a breath and speak my first words to her in a while, "Al, it's me."
Suddenly I heard activity from inside the room. I heard noises like footsteps, advancing closer to me. My heart was racing as I thought of the consequences but then I observed as the blinds were opened and my heart stopped and all my concerns slipped my mind. She was there, standing so flawlessly in my jumper. She didn't look tired, she looked surprised, relived and just like her heart was thumping out of her chest.
I pressed my flat hand on cold glass as I smiled at her sweetly. One small hand of hers was pressed on the glass, on the opposite side. She smiled back at me, a smile which convinced me that I made the right choice. "Sorry Al," I began to apologize as she placed a hand on my forearm and helped me through the window, "I wasn't going to wait for the rain."
And just like that, she fell into my arms and squeezed her eyes shut. After hugging me she pulled out and began hitting me. "You're such a fool, you scared the living day lights out of me." She complained and I began to laugh. But then something odd and terrifying happened, she just burst into tears.
"Don't look at me with utter concern Brooks, I'm fine. These are happy tears, sincerely. It's just, you came here and recited a line to me just so perfectly making me fall helplessly further in love with you. Why do you have to be so bloody perfect?" I didn't know how to respond other than by thinking that my girlfriend was an utter yet adorable mess. I found myself chuckling at her and she hit me further.
"I was in hell without you." I freely admitted and she nodded.
"Same, like literally. I was on the verge of calling you but you said that I should give it a week. You're so impatient by the way. How long was I away?" Apparently her question was rhetorical because we both answered in unison to the millisecond just how long we had been away from each other.
"Looks like you missed me, didn't you Al?" I teased as I placed my hands on her waist.
"You missed me too Brooks, don't hide it." She played with the hem of my t-shirt which was something she knew that I love.
"I will scream it if you want me to express just how much I missed you." I said confidently but she placed a single thin finger to my lips.
"Shhh, my mum is sleeping." She explained and I nodded and began to whisper.
"But in all seriousness Al, I cannot survive another night without you. You can't be here and me all the way over-" she shut me up by placing her lips to mine which I found incredibly sexy. With my hands on her waist, at four in the morning we were just expressing how much we missed each other -a little too much maybe.
"Brooks, I want to go with you." Those seven words seemed to make everything in my world perfect. I couldn't wipe the smug smile off my face and I didn't try. Some how she convinced me to get some sleep because I looked knackered. I tried my best to convince her that this was as good as I ever looked which made her laugh.
I woke up with her in my arms and it was the best feeling to have her there with me again. I allowed her to take the reigns in explaining to her mum and Tara why she felt the need to go home. Her mother didn't argue, she simply kissed Al and wished us the best. Just like that, with a small stop at a fast food industry to grab breakfast, we were on the road again.
She wriggled into her car -after breakfast- and I called her on the phone. With both our phones on speaker and her car following mine, it was just like we were in the car together. "So I have this idea Al, what if we go away for the weekend. You, me, Bec and Lilly, Jai and Adam. Doesn't that sound like fun?" I asked with a worry and nervousness dripping off my tone.
"That sounds perfect and I know just the place we can go. As kids, Bec, Lilly and I would always drive down with Bec's family to Lakes Entrance. It's beautiful up there Brooks, it's the perfect place." Al continued talking about how beautiful this place was and I was listening. I was listening to the perfect hum of her voice and was just enjoying listening to her. I had no objections to Lakes Entrance, by the way she was describing it sounded just like the place I imagined.
She told me that I should leave it to her and the girls to get it all organized an sorted. Once again, I had no objections. All I had to do was to get the boys to come and bring the alcohol. I was thinking that this weekend away would be the greatest thing for us. After half an hour of talking my phones battery died abruptly. Considering I had no charger in my car, it was going to be a very lonely drive.
By the end of the trip, Al took over - practically cutting me off - as she took the lead and zoomed to her house. I followed behind, desperate to see her again. I noticed Al was extremely excited about this trip because the moment she got inside, she raced to her bedroom and called Bec before calling her father to let her know that she chose to come home. I took the liberty of carrying her suitcases into the house while she was on the phone.
When I found her, she was sprawled out on the cream carpeted floor, her head resting on her shoulder as she listened to Bec's voice and she had her laptop in front of her. I jumped on her bed and leaned over her shoulder to see that they were booking accommodation. On a pen and paper beside her she wrote down that Adam, Jai and I would be sharing room 451 and Bec, Lilly and Al would be sharing room 461. She also wrote down that the doors were across from each other.
With Friday already close, we had little time to make preparations. I sent out a group text to Jai and Adam, requesting that they joined us and within five minutes I received two happy confirmations. Al was gushing to Bec about all the great places they could visit and all the cool things they could do, as well as winding down. I loved listening to Al ramble.
I heard the sound of the front door closing so I took my opportunity to do what I was most nervous about. Logically, I can't just take Al away for the weekend. In this instance I can't just take her away like Peter Pan and take her to never land - well in this case Lakes Entrance. So I took the initiative and worked my way down those steps to greet Mr Binks who arrived home from work.
"Luke, what are you doing here?" He asked with a scratchy voice.
"Mr Binks, Sir, I brought Alex home, according to her wishes. But sir, I have something important that I would like to ask you." My voice was strong and brave. If Mr Binks wasn't so tired I'm sure that he would be rolling his eyes right about now. Undoing his tie slightly, he grunted at me, gesturing for me to follow him.
I walked through a corridor of the house that I have never been to. He walked into a room, leaving the door wide open for me to step in. The room resembled an office, he took a seat on the fine Italian furniture and motioned for me to sit down. The leather seat squeezed against my jeans and settled when I stopped moving. Clearing my throat, I mustered enough courage to ask for his permission.
"Sir, as you may be aware, Alexandra means a lot to me. More than any other girl I've met. I'd like for you to consider something and then maybe give me your permission to allow Alex to attend Lakes Entrance with me and her close friends. I assure you that I will not let anything harm Alex, keeping her well away from danger." I took a breath and then his booming voice sounded.
"I don't think that that's a good idea. You see, I was once a teenage boy so I know what's going on in your head. Take her away to Lakes Entrance so then there are no parents so can stop you." I was personally offended and was taken aback.
"With all do respect Sir, that is wrong. I have no intentions of being anything but a friend to Alex on the weekend. I won't be trying anything on her, I assure you. This is just a trip with our friends, it's just a weekend away and nothing will occur. Please Sir, Alex deserves a break. All she does is work hard, work harder and she gets nothing in return. So do I have your permission to be her guardian for the weekend, if you do allow her to come?" I requested with hope.
Mr Binks leaned back in his chair, took off his glasses and glanced at me with a stern look. I could tell that he was taking his time to suggest because he rolled his fingers on the table, slowly torturing me as the suspense suffocated me. Placing his glasses back around his ears, he said, "I want phone numbers to the place you stay and a phone call every night. Do you understand?" He asked me.
"So is that a yes, you will allow her to come?" I clarified, my fingers digging into my palms.
"Yes Luke, you keep a watchful eye on her though." He said firmly as I nodded and thanked him.
"I won't let you down." I confirmed and left his office with a big smile on my face. I was on my way back into Al's room to tell her the good news when I heard the door bell ring. I was about to continue walking past the door to allow Mr Binks to answer the door to his own house but his voice called for me to get it.
So I obeyed what he said and turned the knob on the front door. Clearly I was more surprised than the already surprised visitor at the door. "Mikaela?" I said with disbelief and what also surprised me was that she was shy in waving a hello to me. Mikaela has been nothing but confident around me so it was strange to see her behave in this manner.
"Tara isn't here, she moved to Napetown..." I assumed as I trailed off.
"Actually," she said tugging a fallen strand behind her ear. "I came to see Alex, but if she isn't here either then I'll be on my way." Mikaela began progressing down the porch when I stopped her with a confused look.
"No, no, Alex is here, I'll just get her." The single thing running through my mind was that after all of what happened, what could Mikaela possibly want Al for? What ever it was considering it was Mikaela I assumed for it to be no good so I would be right by Al's side.
No. Matter. What.