Chapter 4 : Waves
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I don’t know what exactly is going on between Lily and me. It’s strange to have no way of contacting her and I don’t like it at all. This means that since our almost kiss 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, but what can I do?
All in all I’m not in a great mood during the week, which means that 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 de hospital means that you have to follow the doctor around, taking notes, while he treats the patients. You can not talk to the patients or touch them and sometimes they don’t want you there so 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 the anxious feeling over a girl that you really like and you have a guarantee for a crappy day.
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. 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 Patrick, just like me. He and I are teamed up for most of the projects because our last names are close together in the alphabet. Joel is a nice guy. He’s a little longer than me and has a big bush of brown curls on his head.
“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 own shoes on.
“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 will be fun.” I go on. I’m not in a mood to be reasonable today.
“Geez, Neil what’s got your boxers in a twist?” Joel teases, a grin playing 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? “Just, 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 really hard to get. She had this philosophy that if I really liked her I wouldn’t mind. Now she’s almost clingy. Girls are weird sometimes.”
I have met Sophia once. She’s a nice girl, really pretty. She’s got these big blue eyes and long dark hair. She could be a model if she wanted too. But instead she wants to be a teacher. 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 live as them. I don’t know how Joel keeps up with it. I myself find it a little intimidating.
“She does not 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?”
“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!” Is all I can come up with. Such a well thought up response.
“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 girls 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’s a lucky guy, because no one can just go over and kiss Sophia Reynolds on the lips. Only Joel is allowed to do so.
I take a deep drink from my own beer and go find us a table to sit on. Joel and Sophia follow me shortly. Sophia has taken hold of Joel’s hand and is now telling him all about her day. It does not sound very interesting so I’m not really paying attention. Instead I think of Lily. What can she be doing today?
“So Neil, how are you?” Sophia suddenly asks. I look up a little startled.
“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.
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 the exact 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. I’m about to turn to he bar when a boy enters that I recognise as 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, deciding to take some beer for Joel and Sophia as well. The redheaded girl orders two coffee. I watch Hugo stand next to her, looking at the bar. 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.
I get my beers at that moment and I’m about to walk away at the exact same moment that the girl called Rose picks up her coffee and turn to look for a table. She does not look where she is going though and walks, head first, into me. Bloody hot coffee spills all over my front, soaking my shirt and pants. It burns on my skin and I put the remaining of the three beers against it to cool it.
“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. The damage is manageable. I’m not really all that hurt, my t-shirt and sweater are soaked though and there’s a big stair on my pants as well. I put away the beers and am just getting out of my shirts to get the worst of the stains out 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.
“Rose, what did you do?” says Lily in an amused voice, “Hi Neil, nice to see you again.” I’m kind of shocked by her obvious of comfort with the situation. I myself am feeling rather embarrassed and more than a little nervous. But than again I’m the one standing in the middle of a pub with no shirt on, surrounded by a steadily growing crowd of onlookers.
“Neil, maybe you should put your sweater back on...?” It’s Sophia. She’s come over from our table, putting her warm, small hand on my arm. “Come on, you’re distracting the entire pub.” She goes on. I feel how my cheeks are steadily growing hot. Lily is watching Sophia with suspicious eyes. The bartender hands me a crew shirt and a rag to clean up the floor. The crowd of people is dissolving again. Sophia continues to the bar to order get three new beers, Rose is already ordering fresh coffee and I find myself on my knees on the floor, cleaning up a mess I did not even make. 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, her voice sounds sceptical.
“Who?” I asks, playing dumb. I know perfectly well she means Sophia, but she’s not really a friend, I’ve seen her only twice now. “Oh you mean Sophia?” I decide the dumb will do for now. She hands the dirty rag to the barkeeper and folds her arms over her chest. There is a dangerous look on her face. I decide playing dumb is not the smartest strategy anymore. “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 too.
“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, Rose and Hugo.” Joel looks at the two girls, then raises one eyebrow at me, questioningly.
“I was going to meet with Rose and Hugo here but if you don’t mind us sitting with you...?” Lily says or asks, it’s not really clear.
“Sure sure.” Joel answers, pulling a chair over to our table. We all sit down and Lily makes sure she’s right beside me, pressing her leg against mine under the table.
“So Hugo, how are you and Rena?” I ask. 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. So does the rest of the table till Rose speaks up.
“He and Rena are going to move in together in January. Did you know that Lily? I just found out.”
“No I did not know that. That’s amazing Hugo, congratulations. How come you did not tell me?” Lily answers. Her face is bright and het eyes are shining. I’m marvelling at how pretty she looks when all of the sudden I feel her hand on my knee. She looks at me and smiles.
Somehow, when I was not paying attention, the conversation changed to birthdays.
“Did you know Neil’s birthday is tomorrow? November the 9th.” Joel says, immediately catching my attention.
“I did not know that!” Lily says indignant. “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?” She looks at me with her eyes half closed. It’s an endearing kind of threatening that I do not take to serious. Instead I laugh a little at her.
“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’m now exactly 18 and 5 months .” She smiles her wicked smile again. It’s a little mischievous, as if there is something she does not tell you. “Oh I know the perfect present for you!” She suddenly exclaims.
Not long after this Rose and Hugo leave. Soon after that Joel takes Sophia home. Sophia seems to be a little lightheaded from the beer, she needs Joel to support her when she walks. Joel puts a protective arm around her, gives me a meaningful look and leaves. 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?”
“Yeah sure!” I answer quickly. It would be so nice to see her again tomorrow. “Come at 7, I’ll make you dinner.”
“You sure? You think you’ll manage to make dinner without setting fire to you flat?” she teases. I shove her away indignantly, but smile nevertheless.
“Seven o’clock sharp, not a second later. And you bring the wine.” I say sternly. Lily gives me a mock salute and stands up. I leave the pub with her, but she has to go in the opposite direction I go. Our good bye is short and a bit awkward. I don’t know if she wants me to try and kiss her again, so I pull her in a short 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 calls me at this hour? Seriously, who? I am tempted to ignore the damn thing and just go back to sleep, but the thing 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 I accept the call.
“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 trough 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.
“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 luuuuuv you!” Owen puts in 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 long as they don’t do this more often.
“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 face. It hits Owen in the face.
“Maybe. Good night you guys. I hope you won’t be able to sleep anymore.” I tell them. They laugh and wish me a happy birthday before hanging up.
I can’t feel mad . Hey, it’s my birthday after all.
A/N: I kind of own Neil and Joel and Sophia but Lily and all are not mine.
I have the feeling my story is picking up and I'm getting really enthousiastic. Let me know what you think.
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