Asking About Alexandria

Who the hell is Alexandria? In this old, forgotten place the truth was never going to be simple.

Arty, a rebellious youth, doesn't care about other peoples problems -- he's go his own life to deal with. But, what will happen when every move he makes he accidentally uncovers another secret, another dilemma that needs fixing? When he starts working at Arkwright mansion as a gardener, he may get more than what he bargained for. He'll have to decide whether being a passive bystander is really the best stance for him to take, especially when he starts to care about sleeping beauty.


2. Monkey see, Monkey hear...

“To be a good gardener,” Uncle Lester would often say, “you have to know about plants.” He showed me all the ins and outs of plants as if I was a toddler. Honestly, it was frigging annoying. I didn’t need a 101 on “here’s how you fill a watering can.” But he meant well, so I rolled with it. To be fair, there was a lot for me to remember (with all the different types of plants and all), so it was probably easier for Lester to start from the ground and work his way up. The Arkwright’s had too many different kinds of plans in their garden if you ask me. I mean, who the hell needs bamboo, for Christ sake? But to each their own, I guess. He put me on the tedious jobs at first like watering and weeding. After almost a week at Arkwright, I was still doing the watering and weeding.

It was a Friday afternoon and I was giving the daffodils’ a shower with my three-litre watering can (yeah it was heavy). March was a killer that year, the sun was roasting me alive. I’d later find out that we were in the middle of a heatwave. A heatwave in spring, bloody brilliant! Lucky for me, I’d managed to negotiate my way out of wearing those heavy-looking dungarees and dying my hair back to blond. My natural hair colour didn’t suit me an inch. Instead I wore a navy green polo shirt, brown shorts, and a hat to hide my hair. I’d taken my hat off to give myself a bit of a waft with it, and that’s when I saw him for the first time. Watching me from the patio was a young man or a boy. He was short for a guy-teen, slender too. I immediately realized that it was Alexander because he was wearing a uniform. It made him look pretty good, with round shoulders and a thin waist... You know, I hated him from that very first moment. Even though he was younger than me, he was a lot better looking than me with gentle ‘pretty boy’ features and sparkly blue eyes. And he was probably much smarter than me too. You get the picture. When he didn’t look away, I gave him a wave and an awkward smile. In response, Alexander looked behind, looked back to me with a startled expression, and then straightened himself up whilst walking away. Now, what was that all about? I thought to myself.

“I just saw Alexander,” I said to my uncle when I ran into him at the garden shed.

“Oh yeah?” He chuckled while writing some labels at a small wooden table beside the door of the shed. “What’d you think?”

“He’s a bit… jumpy.” I smirked at him as I placed my watering can down on the table.

“Yeah, he can be a bit skittish at times. He’s a quiet lad too, but he’s alright.”

“Ri--ght,” I nodded. “Hey… is that a hose?!” I asked when I saw a long, green pipe rolled up inside a box. Lester’s eyes popped and slowly turned around to look at it.

“Oh, so it is.” He started to chuckle.

“Why you…!” I clamped my arm around his neck in a chokehold. At this point, I had warmed up to Lester a little. Well, a lot. Like I said, Lester was a bit rough around the edges. But just like a slightly well-done cupcake, he was soft and warm on the inside. Though, he did like to wind me up a bit too much. A week, a whole damn week he had me use that fucking watering can as well!

“You’re a hundred years too early to be taking me on, lad.” He jumped up, accepting the challenge from his young nephew. Since I was still skinny at this point (I grew muscles from the work soon enough though) he was able to lift me on his shoulders like a sack of potatoes pretty easily.

“Good gracious me. Put the boy down!” a worn voice came from behind. It was Deirdre. ‘A lovely old dear’ my arse-crack! Deirdre was sent from the devil himself. But one thing that Louise said that was true was that Deirdre was a difficult woman to handle. From day one she would check up on us, glaring with those beady eyes of hers from behind her parrot beak of a nose. She was a plump old lady, and she’d waddle around with her arms behind her back just looking for things to rant about.  With her arrival, the fun stopped instantaneously. Lester put me down and placed his arms behind his back. I quickly followed his lead. 

“Sorry, madam.” Lester apologised. Deirdre glared at us for a few moments.

“Lester -- ” she said.

“Yes, mam.” He answered.

“I’ve received a package. I need you and the boy to move it because it’s too heavy for the maids to carry.”

“Right away mam.” He nodded. When Deirdre turned around to leave, I rolled my eyes in a dramatic way at Lester, which he responded by pushing my cap down.

I went round with Lester to the front of the house to move the parcel. The old bag wasn’t kidding, the parcel was fucking huge! It was half the size of me and probably twice as heavy. We both took an end, and Anne came to help open the doors for us. It was the first time I saw that side of the house. The hallway was massive. Like, what was they going to do with all that space? I doubted they’d fill it with fifty shoe racks and coat hangers for the guests. The floor had the white tiles with the black diamonds in them. The walls had the white panels with old paintings decorating them. The staircase was those big wooden ones that were a little thinner in the middle. It was overkill, all right. I whistled one of those ‘wow’ whistles. You know, the long slow one Chunkie Chan does in ‘Around the world in Eighty Days’ and gets that inventor guy pissed for turning the lights off.

“Just up the stairs and…” Anne said whilst ushering us to follow her.

“You’re joking,” I said breathlessly. So we followed her up the stairs and down this corridor with more paintings, and ( can guess what?) some more stairs. By this point I wanted to give up on life, and yet I kept going anyway. What a trouper I was back then. When we made it to the top, Alexander was waiting for us. As if I wanted to run into him after just being ignored.

“Thank you. You can go after putting it down over there,” he said with a very nonchalant tone while gesturing to space out the way of the stairs. Alexander’s voice was a boys voice. It sounded like his balls hadn’t dropped yet. I laughed, but skilfully disguised it as a cough.

“Are you going to be alright with it? It’s very heavy.” Lester asked.

“Yes, I’m not going to be carrying it all at once. I’ll take what’s inside it out one at a time. We just needed you to carry it up the stairs for us.” His tone hadn’t changed. At this point, my jealousy inspired hatred, turned to outright dislike for the guy. Lester and I placed the box where he said and turned to the stairs. I gave another eye-roll to my uncle. When I got to the second floor, I heard Alex speak again. So naturally, I paused to listen because I was sure he was alone up there.

“You didn’t have to be so rude.” It was Alex’s voice, but it sounded a lot more feminine. It was high pitched and softer.

“I said ‘thank you.’ What more do you want from me?” It was Alex’s voice again, but back to the hard, airy tone.

“You know what I mean, Alex. Ugh, why can boys be such jerks sometimes?”

I blinked, shook my head, and followed after my uncle. Monkey see no evil, monkey hear no evil, monkey speak no evil. I just ignored it and went back to work.


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