It turns out the middle aged man's name is Jackie and I remind him of one of his sons, which is why he pulled over when he saw me. He's a lover of baseball and all things fried, especially Oreos. "People think they sound gross but it's one of the best things you'll ever eat in your life." Or so he says.
When he pulls to a stop at a gas station a few towns away from where I live, he says,
"Good luck, kid."
"Thanks Jackie," I tell him gratefully. He drives off into the night and I pull my phone from my pocket to see if anyone has contacted me. There's a load of missed calls and unanswered texts from Will, saying frantic things like Where are you??? and Please answer me!!
He must be desperate to apologize for taking Louis home with him, but I'm not ready to talk to him yet. I might never be ready to talk to him. While Will sent me at least a thousand messages and called me a thousand times, there's nothing from Louis. Not one text, not one missed call.
Then again, why would he want to talk to me? My head is beginning to pound, the sure sign of a migraine soon to come. I go into the gas station and buy a soda and a bag of chips with the meager amount of money I have, then go across the street to a dilapidated run-down park. I sit on one of the swings. It groans when I sit on it and I'm worried it might collapse at any second.
This is it, I guess. I've hit rock bottom. I always kind of wondered what it would be like. When I lost my job, I thought that was rock bottom. When I got kicked out of my house I was sure that that was rock bottom. But no. This loneliness and this feeling of guilt is definitely rock bottom.
Even if something else went wrong in my life right now, which probably isn't even possible, it wouldn't feel as bad as betraying Louis' trust. I think back to Paris which seems like it was ages ago, centuries ago, but really was only a week or so ago.
The forbidden kiss on the train tracks. The police chase that ensued.
The scavenger hunt with Louis waiting patiently for me at the end of it.
The snowball fight that turned into our first kiss since we got back together.
The ticket that allowed me to stay with Louis. Good for one stay at the home of Louis Tomlinson.
The day we went ice skating and Louis insisted on holding my hand the whole time, even though by the end of the day he could skate better than me.
Each memory is like a punch to the gut. I miss Paris. I miss him. I miss us.
The sky is darkening rapidly and the streetlights are turning on. No one is outside except for me. Everything seems peaceful, still, and calm. The trees sway slightly in the light breeze and the abandoned swings next to me creak and groan quietly. The light of the moon illuminates the old rusty slide, highlighting each and every crack and flaw in the plastic material. An empty box of cigarettes, moved by the wind, jumps around the ground until it reaches my feet where it becomes still once more.
Louis. Billions of people in this world, and the only person I think about is Louis. No matter what I do or how hard I try, I can't get him out of my head. It's actually becoming a serious problem. I've been having this issue since I first met him in ninth grade. We were in the same chemistry class...
"Harry, there's a boy at the door for you!" my mom chirps from the foyer.
I stand up, setting my chem book down and wondering who it could be. When I reach the front door, I see Louis.
"Hey Harry," he says casually. "I just was, um, wondering if you could help me with the chem homework? Sorry to bother you...I don't have your number so I couldn't text you about it."
"Yeah, sure," I reply, holding the door open wider. "Come in." Louis steps inside and smiles at me.
"Thanks," he tells me.
"Anytime," I say, leading him to the kitchen table. "You can sit here, I'm going to go grab my book and papers."
Louis nods and sits down. I hear him start up a conversation with my mom.
"Oh Harry, he plays soccer!" my mom exclaims when I walk back into the kitchen with my things. "You should try out for the team!" She turns to Louis and says, "I've been trying to get him into sports since he was little, but he's not much of a sports person. Maybe you could convince him."
Louis grins at her. My mom is obviously charmed by Louis, but then again, who isn't?
"I can try to convince him," he replies cheekily. "We could always use more people on the team." He turns to look at me and I blush, looking quickly down at the table.
"Well I'll leave you boys to your studies," my mom says before hastily making an exit.
Louis pokes me. I look up at him, a little worried that my cheeks are still red.
"If you don't want to try out, I'm not going to try to convince you," he informs me simply. "No offense or anything, but we only want people on the team who want to be there, want to be playing." He pauses and clicks his pen a few times. "Not everyone's athletic," he adds.
"Yeah, I'm definitely not," I respond shyly. "So, what do you need help with?"
Louis opens his book. "Um, all of chapter three, really. I suck at chemistry." He sighs deeply. "I suck at school in general really."
"You can't be that bad," I say. "After all, they won't let you play sports if you have too many bad grades, right?"
Louis nods. "Something like that. The whole thing is dumb. I just want to play soccer."
"I know how you feel," I tell him reassuringly. "The only thing I'm really good at it is singing."
Louis looks surprised. "You sing?"
"Yeah," I say, my cheeks turning pink. "A little."
"I've never heard you sing," Louis says, and for a moment I'm worried he's going to ask me to sing for him. He doesn't though. "I'm sure you're amazing at it," he adds and opens his notebook to a fresh page. "So. Chapter three."
Thinking back to that night makes me realize I shouldn't have left town. I shouldn't have ignored Will. I stand up quickly and brush the crumbs that the chips left on my shirt off.
I know what I have to do now. I have to go home to Louis, and I have to talk to him. Even if he doesn't want to hear what I have to say, I'm going to talk to him. He needs to know my side of the story. All in all it won't matter if he believes me or forgives me. I just want him to know my side. Who knows? He might even stop hating me. And even if for some reason it doesn't work, at least I'll know that I tried.