T W O
Love has always been a touchy subject for the lonely Brit who had had a grand total of two meaningful romantic relationships in his life. While the first had been when he was only eight and had kissed a girl in the forest by his childhood home (and he knew technically did not count a "meaningful relationship"), the second was when he was sixteen and on the verge of something great. He hadn't known what it was then, but he thought that everybody felt powerful and immortal at sixteen, at least much more so than at twenty one. At twenty one, he had already given up on that magical life full of passion and wonder, and was completely fine with living a monotonous life that left him completely and totally unfulfilled. He was fine with being the baker boy, the completely oblivious little baker boy who loved to write poetry and was constantly found with his nose in a book.
But upon looking into the face of the strawberry girl, he couldn't help but want more. He wanted that feeling he had at sixteen back. All it took was one glance from her, and suddenly he felt as if he could turn his whole life around.
'Strawberry girl?' he pondered, smiling at how perfect that was for her. And then he shook his head, ridding himself of the thoughts running rampantly through his mind.
It was rubbish, and he knew it was. The fact that he wanted to change for someone, to believe that he could change simply because a girl had smiled at him. Then again, he knew she was not just any girl. He knew that she was the girl. How he knew? He had no bloody idea, but he knew that the strawberry girl's presence would linger in his mind for nights to come.
How he wished he had gotten her number, or at least managed the balls to ask her name. He verbally assaulted himself for being such an idiotic twat for hours after their first encounter, and prayed to any and all gods that they would cross paths once more.
"I swear, I won't be a tool. I will ask for her name, I will ask how her day has been, I will fucking speak. I will not be a mute." He whispers under his breath as he cleans the kitchen.
"Harry! It's nearly closing time, why are you still here, darling?" Barbra calls as she walks into the miraculously pristine kitchen. It may have only been a mere bakery job, but Harry took pride in his work.
"I'm leaving, I promise." He says, walking past Barbra, giving her shoulder a squeeze, and taking off his white apron.
"Oh Harry." She says shaking her head. "I wish you could do much more with your life."
"And leave you behind? Don't be mad."
"Why don't you meet a nice girl, Harry? Make some friends?"
"I have tons of friends."
"The drunk Irish boy, the other two at Uni, and the artist? That's it?"
"They're all a boy could ever want." He replies with a cheeky smile.
"But is that all you'll ever want. Isn't it time for you to follow what you want?"
"I don't know what I want." He says, almost in a whisper.
"Then find it."
He doesn't dare argue with her, and instead nods solemnly "I will try. And when I do, you will be the first to know."
"Good. Now go home. Have some fun. You're still a young boy, act like one, Harold."
As Harry leaves the bakery and steps into the unusually humid twilight, he can't help but wonder why it smelled so strongly of strawberries. He turns to look at the display Barbra had put up and glared, it was a tribute to the summer fruit. It was truly beautiful. But was it possible to be able to smell it outside of the shop? He sincerely doubted it, but still the fruity smell permeated the air.
He believed now, more than ever, that he was going mad.
But somehow, that only made him smile.
Upon arriving at his dingy flat, he found the door unlocked and his ever cheerful flatmate sitting at the kitchen table, glass bottle of beer in his large hand.
"Hey, mate." Niall says taking a swig from his bottle and busily tapping away at his mobile phone.
"Hey. What's up?"
"Mia's running late."
"Oh, how unfortunate."
"You know, you could drop the condescending bullshit and try to enter the human realm for once."
"Realm? That's a rather choice word for you, Niall." Harry smirks at Niall and Niall's face drops into a grimace.
"This is why you have no friends, prick."
"Hey now, we're friends."
"But..." Harry starts, putting on his best pout, "I thought you said you loved me."
"I was drunk."
"That's the problem with this relationship!" Harry says walking over to Niall, "You're always afraid to admit that what you say when you're drunk is what you feel when you're sober."
"I'm never sober."
"I know." Harry says in a flat voice.
The both look at each other and somehow end up erupting in laughter. This is what Harry enjoyed the most. When he could laugh freely at some bullshit Niall says, or the way that his mate Louis always managed to know when he was feeling down, or even the way his sister Gemma could sense he was about to go off the deep end again and needed someone to reel him back.
"So, tell me more about this Mia." Harry says sitting down across from Niall.
Niall looks at him wearily, "Do you actually care or are you just making conversation?"
"About half and half."
Niall sighs, but begins regardless of his friend's blatant disinterest and poor attempt at making small talk, "I met Mia about six months ago at that little pub by the corner."
"Do you want me to continue or not?"
Harry waves his hand, urging Niall to continue.
"It was open mic night, so you know I had to bring my guitar."
"Well she was there that night, came up to me after my performance, and told me I was bloody awful!"
"No. Really?" He couldn't imagine a girl actually saying that to Niall. Niall had all the girls swooning with his guitar playing, and well...that's why he played it in the first place.
"Lot of guts that one. Anyways," He takes a swig, "The next time I saw her was with you. Same pub, another open mic night."
"I don't remember that."
"Of course you don't that was your fucking Poe phase. At least, I think it was the beginning of it. I think you were reading The Case of M Valdemar or whatever the fuck it was called."
"How do you even remember that?"
"Because you wouldn't fucking shut up about it!"
"Anyways, she came over to say hi to us, and you waved her away. You were too into that book."
"Is that all you can ever say?"
"Whatever. Anyways, Mia always hangs out there. We became mates her and I. Can't really see her as a woman really, much too much like a sister to be honest. She's always talking about bloody poetry and making bets she can't ever win. Oh and of course, she fancies you." Niall tips the bottle towards Harry.
"She only saw me once, and apparently half my face was covered."
"Yes, but she fancies the idea of you. Doesn't remember you face, but always remembers that stupid book. Not the title, or who it was by, but the fact that you were reading it in a pub. She thinks you're bloody amazing."
"Why the hell she would fancy you is beyond me. Doesn't even know your twatish face. Only knows that you like books and that you don't like people."
"You told her I don't like people?"
"No. Not particularly."
Harry sat back in his seat at this newly found information and couldn't help but think if this girl was as infatuated with him as he was with his strawberry girl. Of course, she didn't have much to go off on, she could call him "book boy" or "hipster man" or maybe "indie kid"? He wasn't quite sure. But he shook off the thought anyways, if he didn't recall meeting her then maybe he wasn't missing much.
"Ah, she's here." Niall says with a smirk as his phone vibrates upon the table. He looks at Harry with a furrowed brow, "Make yourself useful, then. Go help her with her bags, she's gone grocery shopping."
"Oh, alright." Harry says, getting up from the table and pulling down his vibrantly colored shirt. He noticed that the rip in his skinny jeans had gotten wider and silently reminded himself to fix them.
He made his way out the door, and down the stairs, to see a figure in a cotton dress carrying bags that covered her face. He came towards her saying, "Wait now. I'll get those." He takes the first two bags out of her hands and manages to meet her eyes, the blues coming in waves like the ocean he loved to go to when he was a child.
'Strawberry girl?' he thought, dropping one of the bags clumsily.
She met his gaze and he watched as those eyes opened in surprise. She smiles, unsure of what else to do. "Hi." She mumbles.
He doesn't say anything, doesn't dare to. He only bends down to pick up the bag. But then so does she without him noticing, and by the time he goes to get up, she doesn't get out of the way in time.
She yelps as his head hits her chin roughly, and is thrown off balance from the impact. He grabs her pale porcelain arm, and she is able to steady herself.
Before he gathers the strength to look at her, he busies himself by looking at what is in the bag she had dropped. He smirks unabashedly at the contents.
Two cartons of strawberries.
Poetic justice at its finest.