1 A.M

Luke works at the local grocery shop in the middle of campus every Monday night until 1 A.M. The job is usually boring but one night a girl comes in right before closing time with a pregnancy test package in her hand, her whole body shaking and a devastated expression on her face

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1. Emptyness

Luke glared tiredly at the empty shop in front of him, aisles filled with grocery and other products along with bright lights burning down in order to see everything. If he looked closely he could tell one of the lamps needed a fix. But he was too tired to even stand up from his red rolling chair.

A pencil was being swirled around his fingers while he scanned the book in front of him, the words becoming more slurry the further he stared down blankly. The Red bull next to him was almost tasteless, the effervescent completely gone now.

He had been sipping on it throughout the whole night while studying for his small test tomorrow. He had been working out the math examples easily but even if he knew he would be doing fine he was in fear of meeting something in the test that he hadn’t come across before.

It was a huge luck that he was having a night shift. People never seemed to swarm the whole place during this evening and it was even a Monday. People preferred to be at home and he worked in the middle of campus. He only experienced costumers if students wanted lame ass condoms or cheap beers down by the aisle with soft drinks.

That aisle was where he usually worked at the place. But it was getting tiring keeping on filling up the shelves with sticky cans and cheap energy drinks. He definitely preferred to sit in the check outs where he would easily have access to hide his phone behind the machine and just study a smaller bit.

It had actually been an easy day at the job. He had been serving an older couple and helped them around with their trolley to find the stuff on their check list. He normally didn’t get that into helping the customers but when nobody else was around and his boss didn’t overview he could almost do what he wanted.

Of course the old couple was grateful of Luke’s help. As they quoted, it was hard to find young people who wanted to help nowadays. But Luke saw it as an opportunity to do something else in the shop than he normally did. It was somehow a small getaway from the usually boring work.

The time was striking a quarter to 1 A.M, Luke could almost count the seconds. Even if the shift had been easy it didn’t take away the boredom of not doing anything. He fought the yawn to escape his lips while he opened a new page, scanning the words instead of reading them.

A ding from his phone seemed to be his source of relief of not having to go through the words exactly, and a small smile embraced his face when he saw a snapchat from his best friend Calum.

Unlocking the phone and opening snapchat immediately he pressed on the lilac square and was met by Calum filming a video at a party.

“We miss you buddy!” He yelled in excitement while bopping his head up and down to the beat of the music, people dancing around him with beer in their hands and happy faces.

Luke smiled softly by the snap and removed his finger when the ten seconds were over. It was a sweet thought of them. They always knew he was working at Mondays and sometimes it was sad that he couldn’t enjoy the parties but now with a test tomorrow he didn’t quite see it as something he would miss.

Besides, he would get a huge laugh tomorrow when the others would hang over their tables with leftover stains of beers on their t-shirts and hair all matted.

Drinking the last bit of the energy drink he threw it into the trashcan under his counter and bit his lip while debating with himself whether or not he should start sweeping the floors and locking up. During this time at the night he was the only employee around and his boss trusted him. He went home at least an hour ago to let Luke lock up. He was twenty after all.

Putting his phone back in his pocket he was ready to stand up but that was when he noticed a shadow cast over one of the shelves down by the closest to the checkouts. He furrowed his eyebrows confused, he hadn’t heard a sound or the automatic doors opening in the front entrance.

Taking a seat back on the red chair he rolled until his waist was touching the counter and raised his shoulders. Normally he hated having costumers show up right the second they were about to close.

But his thoughts were interrupted and a small frown appeared on his face when a girl showed up all so timidly.

Her hair was falling in front of her face messily; he could see how the locks had been curled. Stains of mascara were cornered around her eyes and he could easily tell how she had been trying to remove it with her fingers. She was holding a package almost shakily while looking down at her feet shyly.

Placing it on the conveyor belt Luke pressed down on the pedal until the box was in his reach. The frown only became worse when he grabbed the package and took a look at it before scanning it.

She was clear in shame, she didn’t even want to look at him even if she was aware of the fact that he had noticed it was a pregnancy test. People often bought it at this place but normally they wore different face expressions. This one was new to Luke.

He wanted to ask her if she was okay but his shy part took over him. It would also be a stupid question, he thought. Of course she wasn’t okay. She looked devastated.

“That would be uh-, $16 please.” He stammered almost nervous after scanning the package.

She nodded her head slowly while searching for cash in her pants pockets, her arms shaking while she reached down.

“Are you okay?” Luke managed to question after debating with himself whether or not to do it. He couldn’t witness her in this state. It was almost hurting him in the heart.

“I’m-, I’m fine.” She replied ever so quietly Luke could barely hear her. His throat turned dry by her words and he wet his lips repeatedly while watching her trying to find her cash in her pockets.

His eyes widened and his eyebrows rose like anything couldn’t go any worse. All the money she seemed to be searching for fell out of her pockets in her jacket and down to the floor, loud thuds appearing in the otherwise quiet grocery store.

Standing up from his chair fast and walked around the counter he kneeled down to help her along. She looked pretty confused by his sudden act but regardless kept focusing on the ground and collected the coins. She literally had everything in damn coins but Luke shrugged off the usual frustrated state as an shop assistant who would hate this.

“Here.” He said softly when it seemed like all the coins was collected and he reached his hand towards her open.

She looked up shy by his help and reached out to take the coins in his palm. And that was when a tiny but still visible smile embraced her blushing cheeks.

“Thank you,-“ She paused to look down at his name tag and confusion was written on her face. “Lily.”

Her tone clearly tried to make it sound normal but in the end it sounded like a question. Luke looked down at his name tag like he had forgotten it was there and this time it was his turn to blush.

“Oh they ran out of name tags when we had to make new ones so,-“ He coughed lightly while shaking his head in disbelief by the story. “Lily was the only name close to mine I know it sounds ridiculous. My name is Luke.”

“Oh.” She responded with less confusion written on her face and stood up. “Thank you, Luke.”

He smiled softly by her polite tone and stood up from the floor as well, seeing as her attitude went back to the devastated one when she looked at the package. She seemed like someone holding in a breath while staring at it frozen, her eyes welling up with tears.

“What is your name?” He asked when he took a seat down on his chair and rolled forward. She froze out of her stare to look at him and placed the cash on top of the counter.

“It’s uh-, Amelia.” She stammered and looked back at her feet barely flicking a muscle. Luke nodded his head and started to count the money. There weren’t even enough coins for her to pay, whether it was because some had slipped under the counter or she didn’t bring enough he didn’t know. But he didn’t want to mention it and pretended not to know about it before he threw the coins down with the others in his box.

“Thank you.” She mentioned once again and shook her head when Luke lifted the receipt in offer. He threw it back in the trashcan and observed her as she went down to the end of the belt and grabbed the package timidly.

He bit his lip slightly while watching her take a deep breath and run her thumb over the font written with magenda over the package. It was like she could feel his eyes burn onto her small form and she looked up to meet his eyes carefully, the shine clear from the lights above.

“You aren’t okay.” He said in a sympathetic small voice while giving her a sad smile. Her face expression changed completely and she broke down, tears falling down her cheeks and her mouth pursing as she shook her head.

Luke didn’t even care if she was a complete stranger to him. He had never seen her around campus before, heck he hadn’t even heard her name. But she was all there, in the middle of 1 A.M and she needed a hug from someone.

She didn’t even remove herself or sting when Luke wrapped his long arms around her shoulders and cradled her crying body into his warm embrace. His heart quickened its pounds by having her so close to his chest and he leaned his chin on top of her messy hair.

It took her a few seconds to adjust to the sudden close connection of the two but then she also allowed herself to wrap her arms around his stomach and buried her crying face into his chest. The way she was shaking with scare and adrenaline affected him too. It was almost like he didn’t want to let her go and he didn’t even know her last name.

“It’s just really hard.” She breathed in a hiccup after a minute of silence, pulling away slightly and looked up at Luke with red puffy eyes. “I’m-, I’m all alone in this and I have no idea how to handle all of this and all I just needed was-,”

She paused and looked up at him almost defeated while letting her hands fly in the air to express herself.

“A hug?” He finished her sentence with a very small smile on his face and she nodded her head agreeing, feeling her cheeks blush again.

“Sometimes that’s the only thing that seems to make people carry on.” He shrugged while remaining the soft smile and she nodded her head slightly again and placed the package in a small bag.

Luke watched her carefully as she removed the tears away from her eyes and took a deep breath to calm herself down. Thoughts were racing around in his mind but he didn’t have control of the words leaving his lips. But somehow, he was happy that he had those moments where he didn’t.

“Nobody should go through something like that alone. No girls in the world should.” He nodded his head down at the pregnancy test carefully and she looked up at him somehow stunned by his words.

Her eyes went back to the package and she brushed her fingers over it again not being able to speak.

“Look Amelia, I know this is fast forward,” She looked back at him when he spoke, “And I know we’ve just met but as I said, I don’t think a girl should ever go through such fear alone. Better being with someone who can at least show some support. I have my own dorm a few streets away from here and my shift is over now. This is your own decision of course but if you want. You can take the test at my place?”

He was almost afraid to ask her this question but he needed the feeling of getting it out. He wanted to show his support even if she was a stranger. It didn’t matter at this point. She needed and sought comfort and he was the only person around. Might take it to the next level. Luke never liked seeing a girl cry, definitely not when she was so beautiful.

“That is really sweet of you,” She breathed and he almost feared that she was going to say no by the way she was looking down at her feet but then she smiled. And not just a small one. It had warmth, happiness and comfort all into one mix.

“That is really sweet of you, Luke.”

“We have a way of repeating our words, huh?” He grinned slightly and now it was his turn to look down at his feet shyly. He could feel his cheeks blush in a deep shade of crimson red, something he always did when he was complimented.

She nodded her head and wiped the last tear away from her face, he couldn’t point out if it was because of happiness or just one last thought about what had been hunting her all the way to this place.

An award-winning smile appeared on his face when she nodded her head again indicating that she wanted to take it at his place. And she almost had to hold in a laugh when Luke clumsily turned around and knocked himself into the bucket with dirty water and a mop from when he was cleaning the floors earlier, water drowning the tiles along with him almost knocking himself down too.

He looked over at Amelia shortly with wide eyes, secretly happy that he made her giggle but still mentally kicked himself for his embarrassing behavior. He was always hit by bad luck when it came to girls. Always seemed to make a fool of himself but they liked it.

“I have long legs they are hard to control sometimes.” He mumbled clearly embarrassed and almost wanted to throw profanities down at his long slim legs that was covered in his black skinny jeans.

Standing up straight to compose himself he grabbed the mop that had fallen down in the process of his foolish act and tried to swipe away the water. Amelia watched him the whole time as he in a hurry tried to get over with it and took a step back so she wouldn’t get her shoes too wet.

“You know I just need to finish this and lock the place then we are ready to go.” He mumbled while furrowing his eyebrows. He could have saved much time if he wouldn’t have to scrub the floors all over again. He didn’t even care about sweeping the place now. The check in area had gotten twice the cleaning it rarely god monthly.

Amelia watched him patiently as he finished removing the rest of the water and placed the mop into the bucket. Jumping over the counter he grabbed his phone along with his key and took a look around the shop. It was free to go.

The wind was cold and the rain was pouring down lightly in the dark night sky as they both walked out of the shop after Luke had shut down all the electricity. Fumbling around with his keys confused he plopped it into the hole and felt the feeling of being done with work for today, officially.

“I actually brought an umbrella with me on the way to work earlier.” He admitted while fishing out the huge navy blue umbrella from his bag. He could tell from the weather that it was going to get bad later on. He definitely didn’t plan on walking in the rain on his way home. That was not worth it a mile.

“That’s nice.” She replied with a sad tone as she was now staring down at the bag in her hand. Luke almost wanted to embrace her in his arms again or just a simple arm on her back. But he felt that maybe that would be too much, again.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” He hesitantly started and she looked up at him with shinny eyes. “What happened? I mean, I haven’t seen you around campus before so I assume you are new here?”

“Yeah, I started uhm-, I started two weeks ago so everything here is kind of new to me. I didn’t even know we had our own grocery shop.”

“We’ve got a lot of things here.” Luke smiled and avoided the puddles of water that was cornering the sidewalks down to his dorm. Branches on the trees were heavy with water and posts lamps were reflecting down at the puddles.

“I can tell. It took me around an hour to even find my dorm.” She replied and jumped elegantly over one of the puddles to avoid getting her shoes wet. All-stars weren’t really the best attire for this weather and she wasn’t even wearing a coat. She must have been in such a hurry and desperate to get to the shop earlier.

“It can be kind of difficult to find around but once you’ve gotten used to it, it’s easy.” Luke agreed while nodding his head and looked down at her softly. She smiled up at him in response and looked back at her feet.

“I-, uh-, I’m not really good with alcohol yet.” She suddenly admitted after a minute of silence. Luke looked down at her with a quivered eyebrow wanting her to continue.

“I was invited to this party by a guy I met down by the library that is down there I think,” She paused to point behind them towards a place and even if Luke knew that she was pointing in the complete opposite direction he stayed quiet and wanted her to continue.

“He seemed really nice and all but clearly he wasn’t. He made me drink this thing at the party that literally tasted like lemonade or something. I definitely couldn’t taste the vodka in it but of course it was filled with it and I barely remember any of the night. I woke up in the morning in his bed and it was all messy and I was in clear pain and god-,”

She stopped in track even though it was raining and hiccupped slightly. Luke felt a gutted feeling run up his spine and he bit his lip while watching her almost on the edge of tears again.

“I couldn’t even get the words to slip past my lips of course I knew what had happened and I could figure out that a condom wasn’t being used. God, I was so stupid it was my first day and I already ended u-“

“Hey, hey, shh.” Luke shushed and instantly wrapped her arms around her again to calm her down. He leaned his chin on top of her hair while swinging her around slowly, the rain totally forgotten.

“The guys here are dicks okay and you weren’t aware of that. Don’t blame yourself for this. What did he look like?” Luke moved down to her height and placed his hands on her shoulders. She looked at him weakly and shrugged her shoulder, looking defeated and tired.

“Did he have curls? Was his hair bleached? Please tell me he wasn’t one with tattoos and dark hair?” The questions seemed to flutter out of Luke’s mouth and he could feel his veins burn with fire. He was getting angry. He knew that the boys around here were horrible but if one of his best friends had treated her like this he was ready to break all 206 bones in the person’s body.

“I don’t-, I don’t really know.” She hiccupped while looking down, feeling her eyelids getting heavy from the crying. Luke understood that, if she had been drunk he could almost picture everything. He did remember there was a huge party a few weeks ago but he didn’t attend it because he was at home visiting his family during the weekend.

“But he definitely didn’t have any of those things you just mentioned.” She mumbled afterwards while trying to calm her breath but she kept panting and shaking all over her body.

“Well that’s great for starters. My best friends tend to be very happy when it comes to ladies but they do have their respect… Sometimes.” He had to add it because if Luke thought back to times where they would attend frat parties the boys would go all crazy. Luke didn’t want to be a part of that but they were his friends. He would usually focus on drinking games instead and dancing funnily.

She nodded her head while listening to his words and stared at him with wide eyes. The rain was drowning their clothes down to their underwear but even if it was windy they couldn’t feel it. They didn’t take the slightest notice.

“And if you ever see him tell me and I’ll beat the shit out of him.”

“Violence isn’t always the answer.” She responded back quiet while trying to avoid looking into his eyes but she kept being drawn back to them. The way his eyes turned into midnight blue by the dark night surrounding them. It was beautiful.

“It is when someone doesn’t know how to treat a lady right.” He replied back with a small smile and removed some of the drops of water from her hair. And even if she knew that it still wasn’t right she smiled and nodded her head.

“We’re here, also…” He added and nodded his head towards the small dorm house next to them. It wasn’t until now he realized how much time they had wasted outside when they could have been talking inside with roof over them instead of having the rain pouring down.  

Luke’s eyes widened almost like he had forgotten how much of a mess his dorm room actually was. The second he had locked the door open they were met by a huge mess of old newspapers and flyers cornering the whole door. He had to use his foot to remove it all and looked down at her apologizing.

“I’m bit of a mess sometimes, I’m sorry.” He flicked on the lights and hurried towards the window to open it. Did it always smell like this? Luke had gotten used to it because he always spent time here but now after a few hours out he suddenly experienced the contrast between fresh and old smells.

“I’m not used to having people over unless it’s one of my best friends for a video game and they rarely shower so they don’t take notice. And I am definitely not used to girls, too.”

“It’s okay I’ll just uhm-,” She paused while looking around in the small room trying to find a place to take a seat. Luke noticed her eyes scanning the area and in one swift movement he knocked down all the books on his bed and down to the floor, using his foot to push them under the mattress.

“Here.” His hands rose in the air to show the now available spot and she smiled politely and took a seat down.

Luke looked around somehow confused to where he was going to sit now and he brushed one of his chairs by his rather small dinner table and took a seat down.

“Do you want anything to drink?” He offered casually, half mentally kicking himself for sitting down before asking her but to his luck she shook her head.

“No thank you, I’m fine.” She nodded her head with pursed lips and looked down at the papers that were stacked around in messy piles on his coffee table. It was hard to even point out what was what, some even had pizza stains and coffee prints.

“Are you good at math?” She questioned while observing some of the books that he had tried to push down under the mattress too.

“Well I wouldn’t call myself goo-“ He stopped in track when she lifted up one of his old midterms from the floor, 98% being written in red on the top page. She quivered an eyebrow and glanced back at him.

“Okay maybe I’m brilliant at math.” He pulled at his t-shirt by his neck and felt a blush creep on his cheeks. He always felt judged by his intelligence when it came to hang around with his friends. None of them really cared about college even if the majority of the time was spent studying and going to classes. It was all about frat parties and hockey.  

“That’s pretty cool.” She admitted impressed and a surprised expression came to Luke’s face. He cracked a shy smile by her words and looked down at his table while biting his lip. It was rare he heard that come out of someone’s mouth especially a girl. His friends would usually joke around with him being the geeky one.

“I uh-,” He giggled, not really knowing what to respond besides giggling. “Thank you.”

She smiled back at him while stretching her arms between her legs and took a look around his dorm. It wasn’t that styled if Luke could judge himself. The place was pretty decent with IKEA furniture in white and black style and because it was only a dorm room it wasn’t that big. His kitchen, living room and bedroom were in one small piece. But apart from that his bathroom was huge and lovely to use.

Silence fell upon the two and Luke fiddled with one of the spoons that he had forgotten to clean up from his breakfast this morning. His eyes glanced back at Amelia who looked down at her bag nervously, probably debating with herself whether she should do it or not.

“The bathroom is over there.” Luke nodded his head towards the only door that was in the room besides the one from the entrance and Amelia glanced towards it shortly. She lost her breath while looking down at the bag and nodded her head silently before standing up.

He watched her carefully as she slowly headed towards the bathroom and locked the door. The silence had now turned intense and he had to stand up in his chair. Of course it would have been too weird if he was in there with her but somehow he wished that he was. To show that she wasn’t alone, that he was there if she needed someone to cry in his shoulder.

He could just imagine how horrifying it must have been to have the feeling of being late or in a fear of being pregnant. Men had such easier life when it came to that, it was almost sad to think about. It was a total life changer based on whether that stick would have one or two lines. He couldn’t even imagine all the emotions going through her body but he knew it would be many.

He paced around in the 49 square meters room while scratching his light stubble. He should have shaved this morning but was in a hurry because of forgetting to set his alarm at the right time. Occasionally he would hear puzzles come from the bathroom and he would turn around fast. But she wouldn’t come out.

The rain hadn’t seemed to stop; the streets were completely covered up in puddles. It was amazing to see that thunder hadn’t appeared yet, it was common around this place in the city. Sometimes it would get so bad all the electricity would disappear around campus and everyone would have to meet up at the front office down by the grocery shop in clear confusion and all wet from the rain.

Luke was so caught up in his thoughts that he barely heard the lock to his bathroom click and when the sound of the door opened he turned around fast with wide eyes.

Amelia looked like she was on the edge of tears again. Her cheeks were flushed in a deep shade of red and the bags under her eyes told him that she had been crying during the process of the test, too. She was holding the stick in her hand, her whole arm shaking and when Luke took a step closer she spoke up.

“I uh-,” She hiccupped while looking down at the stick again almost like she didn’t believe it. Luke’s jaw fell slightly while he stared at her, desperate for her to continue.

“There’s-, there’s only one line on the test. I’m-, I’m not pregnant.” She admitted in a shaky breath and broke down, dropping the stick in her hand and held her hands in front of her eyes.

It was almost like a rock fell down from Luke’s heart in relief. She was crying both in happiness but also from the fear of maybe risking being pregnant. It was a huge relief to them both and Luke felt how his breathing suddenly started to turn into pants.

“Ca-, Can I get a hug again?” She hiccupped while trying to dry off her eyes.

A small smile played on Luke’s face and he didn’t hesitate to take the three large steps until he was right in front of her and reached his arms forward. Leaning his cheek against her head he wrapped his arms around her and pressed her into his chest.

Luke couldn’t point out for how long they stayed in that position but he honestly didn’t want to let go. They swung around slowly while holding each other, and even if Luke tried not to he took her all in. The way her hair was so soft against his skin. The way her scent was so fresh and enjoyable it almost became his new favourite smell. Her sweater was also soft against his fingers it was almost like one of those fancy towels his mum had brought him for the day he moved into his dorm.

When everything had calmed down and Amelia wasn’t shaking anymore she pulled away but still remained her arms around him. Just the way she was looking at him he could tell that she was thankful. Not just thankful for the hug but also for the fact that he was there for her, and they had literally just met. Not anyone was like this and Luke felt happy and proud by himself.

“You’re really sweet, Luke.” She admitted and pulled away to grab the test from the floor and placed it back in her bag.

“Thank you.” He responded a bit dazed from the hug, feeling the sudden coldness overwhelm him. He watched as she headed towards her all-stars and pulled them over her feet. She took a look outside the window with a small grimace but when she looked over at him the smile was back.

Luke almost didn’t want to say goodbye but he knew this was the end. She looked between the door and him somehow confused whether she would leave or not.

“I’ll see you around?” She smiled sadly and he nodded his head and leaned his arms on the chair behind him.

She nodded her head just like him and was ready to grab the door handle but the she turned around and looked at him.

“Do you have a marker?” She questioned all of the sudden and Luke’s eyebrows rose stunned. His lips parted slightly while he made a small sound as he was thinking, trying to scan his table until he found one.

“Will this one work?”

She nodded her head happily and walked forward to take the pencil from his hand. Reaching her hand forward she grabbed his arm and pressed down on the marker so she could write. Luke watched her with his lips still parted as she started to write a number on his arm, and when she was done she made a smiley face.

“Give me a call if you want.” She giggled and placed the marker back on the table. Backing away from him she headed towards the door and opened it, watching as Luke stood somehow frozen with a goofy smile on his face.

“You don’t want me to walk you home?” He offered but she shook her head in decline yet remained her smile.

“No I can find my way back. Hopefully.” She giggled by the last part and waved at him before walking out and shut the door.

Luke stayed in that position even when the door was closed and it took him some seconds to register what had just happened. Turning around to grab his phone from the dinner table he felt a shock go through his body when the door was smacked open again.

He turned around in one swift movement to see Amelia run towards him and wrapped her arms around his waist the second he was in her reach. Luke’s eyes widened by the sudden movement but regardless wrapped his arms around her too. He giggled slightly by the affection and swung them around one last time, looking down at her to see her already stare up at him.

“I just needed a goodbye hug. Goodbye, Luke.” She giggled and backed away again and hurried towards the open door.

Luke smiled goofily by her small gesture and lifted his hand in the air to wave at her lightly. She was so amazingly sweet he almost felt butterflies erupt in his stomach. Even if he had no idea where she lived around campus of course he would find out. Not because he had gotten her phone number but because that smile of hers was so memorizing.

He placed his hands in the pockets of his black skinny jeans and bit down on his bottom lip with a huge tired smile.

“Goodbye Amelia. Sleep tight, beautiful.”

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