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Chapter 4 : Waves
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I don’t know what exactly is going on between Lily and me. It’s strange not to have any way of contacting someone and I don’t like it at all. I can’t find her on any of the social media I have. It’s making my uncomfortable, like she doesn’t actually exist somehow.
This also means that since I almost kissed her in the park, I have not seen Lily or spoken to her. She went home and so did I and that seems to be the end of it. I don’t want that to be the end of it. But what can I do? I’ve never been in such a situation before. I have very little experience with girls remember.
All in all I’m not in a great mood during the week, which means I’ve been moping most of the days. And Thursday’s the worst. Thursdays are always bad, even worst than Mondays. On Thursday I have practical training. I had been looking forward to that until I found out that, as first year medical students, being a trainee in the hospital means that you have to follow the doctors around, taking notes, while they treat the patients. You can not talk to the patients or touch them or anything and sometimes, if they don’t want you there, you have to leave and wait in the hallways. It’s extremely boring and with all the homework I have to do and tests I have to learn for it’s not a good way of spending my time.
Put this together with feeling anxious over a girl that you really like and you have a guarantee for a crappy day. I’m not kidding, my day was horrible!
With a loud bang I kick open the door of my locker in the changing room. Another useless day of watching doctor Patricks treat patients and trailing around the hallways. The most exciting moment of the day was a little girl with the flu, who sneezed so hard the nose started to bleed.
“This is useless!” I rant, while I’m taking off my white coat to put it in my locker.
“What is?” Joel asks. Joel is a trainee of doctor Patricks, just like me. He and I are teamed up for most of the projects because our last names are close together in the alphabet. So bviously we have become buddies, it’s only natural. Joel is a nice guy. He’s a little longer than me and has a big bush of brown curls on his head. We hang out together quite often.
“This whole trainee thing. It’s not like we don’t have anything better to do than follow a doctor around a hospital and bringing him coffee.” I say, kicking my hospital shoes of and putting my on own.
“Yeah, I know.” Joel answers quietly. “It’s a bit lame, but I bet it will get more exciting.”
“Oh sure. I can’t wait till they allow us to hand out the tissues and blow noses. That’ll be fun.” I’m ranting, I’m sorry, I’m not going to be reasonable today.
“Geez, Neil what’s got your boxers in a twist?” Joel teases, a grin twitching at the corners of his mouth.
“Oh, it’s nothing.” I grimace. Stupid Lily, why couldn’t she just be normal and have a cell phone? That would make my life so much easier. “Just… you know, girls are really difficult sometimes, aren’t they?”
“Girl trouble? Yeah that can be tough.” Joel says. “You know, when I first started seeing Sophia she was playing ‘really hard to get’. She had this philosophy that if I really liked her I wouldn’t mind. Now that I have ‘won’ her she’s almost clingy. Girls are weird.”
I have met Sophia once. She’s a nice girl, really pretty too. She’s got these big, blue eyes and long dark hair. She could be a model if she wanted to, I’m sure she could. But instead she wants to be a teacher. She says she likes working with children and educating is her passion. When she’s not studying she dedicates her time to this little charity shop and from what I understand from Joel she loves to paint. I guess some people just have to be perfect, just to make you feel guilty for not making as much of your life. How Joel keeps up with it is beyond me, maybe it helps that he’s so laid back. I myself find her a little intimidating with all her perfectness. But then again, look who I’m fancying. Not exactly the image of imperfection, is she?
“She doesn’t have a cell phone.” I tell Joel. “What good, self-respecting, 21-century girl does not have a cell phone? How do I contact her?” Ugh, it’s so frustrating!
“Good, old fashioned letter writing?” Joel suggests. I shrug, my hand writing is terrible, one of the things that will make me a perfect doctor some day. But it won’t impress a girl.
“You want to go for a beer?” Joel claps his hand on my shoulder and pushes me out of the locker room.
“Yeah!” That would help, beer always helps.
“You don’t mind if Sophia joins us, do you?” Joel asks when we enter a little pub near the hospital. I’m about to say I don’t think I can handle a girl’s presence right now when I spot her at the bar. She’s got three glasses filled with beer in from of her. She hands both of us a glass and then takes a long sip from the third one. Her blue eyes flash up at us when she puts her glass down. Joel takes this chance to lean down and kiss her. He must feel so lucky, being the one that is allowed to go and kiss Sophia Reynolds. I hope he realises he’s a lucky guy.
I take a big gulp of beer and look around for a table. There is a small booth in the back of the pub that will be fine. We push our way to the booth together. Damn it’s crowded in here, why is everyone standing in a pub on a Thursday afternoon.
Sophia takes Joel’s hand, she tells him all about her day. She had classes today, it doesn’t sound very interesting to me, but I’m not really paying attention. My thoughts are wandering, I’m thinking of Lily. Surprise!
What is she doing? Could she be thinking of me? Oh great, I’m turning into that guy.
Her smiling face dances across the inside of my brain. Along with things I don’t want to admit to thinking of. Let’s just say, they aren’t very clean thoughts.
“So Neil, how are you?” Sophia suddenly asks. I look up startled. Her face is drawn in a half worried, half amused smile.
“I’m fine, thanks.” I tell her. She does not look convinced.
“Are you sure, you look troubled.” She says. “It’s a girl, right? Who is she?”
How does she do that? I only nod to confirm she’s right. I don’t feel like sharing the whole story. Sophia looks disappointed, so Joel tells her all about Lily. I’m surprised he knows that much, I was not aware of telling him all that. Has he been spying on me? No, it must have been me who told him that, weird.
I get up to get myself another beer when the door of the pub opens. With a gush of wind a girl gets blown in. Her bright red curls are exactly the same shade as Lily’s, her freckled face somehow reminds me of her too. It’s like her eyes have the same shape, though they seem darker. It’s like every girl reminds me of her, I’m definitely in need of a beer now. I’m turning to the bar when a boy enters, I recognise him, it’s Hugo. He follows the girl with the red curls closely.
“A beer please.” I say when I reach the bar. “You know what, make that three.” I ad, Joel and Sophia might want another beer as well. The redheaded girl orders two coffee. I watch Hugo stand next to her, looking at his shoes. She puts her finger under his chin and pushes his head up.
“You know, Hugo, I can’t hear you when you mumble at the floor like that.” She says bossily.
“I did not say anything, Rose.” Hugo answers quietly.
The bartender hands me the beers, I’m smiling to myself as I turn to walks away. At that exact moment the girl called Rose picks up the coffee she ordered and turns to look for a table. She does not look where she’s going and ends up slamming first her coffee and then herself into me.
Aaahh, hot coffee! Bleeding hot coffee running down my front! Ow, shit it’s soaking my shirt and my trousers. Fuck that burns. Need to cool, need to cool! I put the remaining of the three beers against it. It helps, a little.
“Oh I’m so sorry!” The girls cries out. “Hugo don’t just stand there, ask for some ice.” She orders. The bartender hears her and hurries over with and icepack before Hugo has the time to go red. The damage is manageable. I’m not really hurt, only a first degree burn, nothing to worry about. No but seriously, my t-shirt and jumper are soaked and there’s a big stair on my trousers.
I put the spilled beers on the counter and shrug out of my soaking shirts when the door of the pub opens again. This time a far more familiar person walks in. Her red hair swooping around her head in the wind. Her eyes grow big when she sees me, half naked in the middle of the pub. A mischievous smile spreads across her face and she walks over. The twinkling in her eyes makes me nervous.
“How come every boy takes of his clothes in your presence, Rose?” says Lily, shaking her head amusement, “Hi Neil, nice to see you.”
But… hey! Wait… what? Her oblivious comfort with the situation is kind of shocking, as if she walks in on half naked co-waiters in random pubs on a daily basis. I mean, what? I’m feeling rather embarrassed here, thank you very much. My mouth is twitching nervously. Well, I’m the one standing in the middle of a pub with no shirt on, surrounded by a steadily growing crowd of onlookers. It’s my right to feel embarrassed.
“Neil, maybe you should put your jumper back on...?” It’s Sophia. She has come over from our table, putting her warm hand on my arm. My bare arm, that is. Here fingers look really tan next to my ultra-white skin. “Come on, you’re distracting the entire pub.” She goes on. That’s a good point, I might be shining like that Cullen kid from those books my mom read to Amy. I lose my colour easily, okay!
I feel how my cheeks are steadily growing hot. Nice, now I’m blushing too. Lily is watching Sophia there is a strange gleam in her eyes. The bartender hands me a crew shirt and a rag to clean up the floor. The crowd of people is dissolving again. Cut and scene. Sophia turns to the bar and orders new drinks, Rose is ordering fresh coffee and I’m the one his knees on the floor, cleaning up a mess I did not even make. This must be my lucky night or something.
Out of nowhere a pair of delicate hands take the rag from mine and finish the job.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” Lily asks, wiping the coffee spatters of my sneakers.
“Who?” I ask. Does she means Sophia? She couldn’t, Sophia is not really a friend, I’ve met her only twice now. Oh yeah, Lily doesn’t know that, obviously. “Do you mean Sophia?”
She hands the dirty rag to the barkeeper and folds her arms over her chest. The look on her small face is kind of dangerous. She literally looks like she will bite my head off between now and like 20 seconds. This is not a time to play games, that’s for sure.
“You want a beer?” I ask instead. She nods and I order her a beer before gesturing for her to follow me. She turns and waves at Rose, who follows us as well.
“Okay, this is my friend Joel and his girlfriend Sophia.” I tell the three redheads that followed me to our table. “Sophia, Joel, these are Lily, Hugo and… I believe your name is Rose, right?” The girl who threw her coffee at me nods. Joel looks from me to Lily and back, then raises an eyebrow at me, an appreciative look in his eyes.
“I was meeting with Rose and Hugo, if you don’t mind us sitting with you...?” Lily says, though it could have been a question, it’s not really clear. What is clear is that I’m not going to tell her to sit anywhere else. I know, it’s sad!
“Sure sure.” Joel answers casually, pulling a chair over to our table. We all sit down, beer gets passed around, Lily some ends up right beside me, lightly pushing her leg against mine under the table. No I’m comfortable, really! There’s no tension here, how did you get that idea?
“So Hugo, how are you and Rena?” I ask to break the silence. Hugo goes form his pale, freckled colour to a bright red in less than a second, ducking his head. He mumbles something that sounds like ‘We’re okay’. I laugh a little at his reaction. He’s a cute kid.
“He and Rena are going to move in together in January. Did you know that Lily? I just found out.” Rose chimes in, her face looks scandalized. She probably didn’t hear it first.
“No I did not know that. That’s amazing Hugo, congratulations. How come you didn’t tell me?” Lily replies, an equally scandalized look on her face. Her eyes are ablaze, she’s damn pretty!
Suddenly I feel her hand on my knee. She looks at me and smiles. I’m sure I’m turning red, gah. Such a lovely gathering of red-faced people we are!
Somehow, when I was not paying attention to the topic (in my defence Lily is lightly rubbing her thumb against my thigh), the conversation changed to birthdays.
“Did you know Neil’s birthday is tomorrow?” Joel says, the mention of my name immediately catches my attention.
“I didn’t know that!” Lily says indignant turning to face my. “When where you planning to tell me? How will I find a proper birthday present if all you give me is a day’s notice? How old are you going to be, anyway?” She looks at me with her eyes half closed. It’s an endearing kind of threatening that I do not take too serious. It’s like looking at an angry puppy.
“I’m turning 20 tomorrow, I did not know you wanted to know and you don’t have to get me anything.” I answer her stream of questions. She seems satisfied so I take my chance, “When is your birthday?”
“In half a year.” She answers. “It’s the 8th of June. I have to be eighteen for a few more months.” She smiles, my insides squirm. Nothing new there. It’s always a little mischievous, her smile, as if there is something she doesn’t tell you. “Oh I know the perfect present for you!” She suddenly exclaims, rubbing her hands together in a way that suggests an evil plan. Is it bad that I’m scared?
Rose and Hugo leave first. Hugo looks relieved that he’s allowed to go home. He really doesn’t like meeting new people, that much is clear. He barely said two words all evening. I feel for him, it must be hard to be that shy, especially in a family where everybody seems to be outgoing and loud.
Not long after they leave Joel takes Sophia home. Sophia is giggling and looks a bit lightheaded from the beer. She’s only had three beers, but apparently she’s sensitive to alcohol. She seems to needs Joel to support her when she walks, or maybe that’s all show. At least she leans into him heavily, both of her arms wrapped around him. Joel puts an arm around her shoulder and smirks. He just might get lucky tonight.
Lily looks at me, her eyebrows pulled together as though she’s thinking.
“This was a nice evening.” She says softly. “I wish I could stay with you a little longer but Alice is home tonight and I don’t want her to be alone,” A deep sigh escapes her, “Can I come over tomorrow? For your birthday? Do you have plans?”
“Yeah sure! I don’t have plans. I was going to ask Joel for a beer, but…” I answer quickly. I prefer her company over Joel, sorry mate. It really would be awesome to see her again tomorrow and the day after that at work as well. This evening is turning out alright. “Yeah, come at 7, I’ll make you dinner.” I’m a brave but foolish soul, bless me.
“You sure?” Yeah Lily sees the problem too. “You think you’ll manage to make dinner without setting fire to your flat?” she teases. Haha, you’re so funny. I shove her away indignantly, but smile in spite of myself. She does have a point.
“I’ll try. Seven o’clock sharp. And you bring the wine.” I say sternly. Lily gives me a mock salute and stands up.
We leave the pub together, I hope she has to go left too. Alas, she has to go in the opposite direction. I offer to walk her home, I’m a gentleman like that, but she says she’s fine on her own.
Our good bye is short and a bit awkward. I don’t know if she wants me to kiss goodbye, last time she ran for it. I just pull her in a sort of one-armed hug. Lily smiles, waves and leaves. Just like that.
It’s about four o’clock in the morning when I hear my phone ring. Who in their right mind call at this hour? Seriously, who? I am tempted to ignore the damn thing and just go back to sleep, but it gets louder and louder with every ring. Groaning loudly I reach over to pick it up. The bright light of the screen makes it impossible to see who is calling before press screen to pick up.
“HAPPY BITHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRHTDAY TO YOU!!!!!” Comes the very loud birthday song from my speakers. It’s so loud it takes me a few minutes to recognise the voices of my siblings. When my eyes got used to the light of my screen I can see their smiling faces.
“Happy 20th birthday Neil!” Yells Amy through the phone.
“Yeah and good morning!” Thunders Owen, his voice a little thick. They are sixteen now, so his voice is breaking from time to time. I think he’s adorable, he thinks I’m annoying as hell. We get along quite well.
“Good morning to you too.” I say sleepily. “What are you doing up at this time of the night?”
“Wishing you a happy birthday, big brother.” Amy pipes.
“Because we luuuuurv you!” Owen puts in, with a wicked grin on his face.
“Thanks! You shouldn’t have!” I reply. “And I mean that!” I hear them laughing. That’s because they are annoying kids. But they are okay, as far as annoying siblings go.
“Hey Neil, we’re going to sleep now, will you come home this weekend? We’ve bought you a present.” Amy sweeps her long blond hair out of her eyes. It hits Owen in the face. He shoots daggers at her but doesn’t comment.
“Good night you guys. I hope you won’t be able to sleep anymore. I’ll call you in the morning.” I tell them. They laugh and wish me one more happy birthday before hanging up. It’s a shame I’m not going home this weekend, but my schedule and bank account just won’t allow it.
I can’t feel mad, they miss me I get that. And besides, you know, it’s my birthday!
A/N: I kind of own Neil and Joel and Sophia, though they are a bit their own in a way, but Lily and all that is not mine.
Again I edited the lot of this, the next chpater has the ost changes, keep an eye out for that update!
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