Hi, Hey, Hello!
I am awful at beginnings (maybe just as bad with them as I am with titles) and therefore always talked about the beginning/meeting of these two in as abstract a way as possible because I didn’t even know where to begin with it. So I annoyingly built it up and then had to remember all the things that I had built it up to for when I inevitably did write the damn thing.
And well, here it is. I think everything is accounted for, I didn’t make too many references to it, other than the fact that their first meeting went down in a bathroom in all places (that’s what happens when a lot of your ideas come to you in the shower) because I like to at least keep some things simple for myself. As usual this kind of got away from as has this introduction now that I look it. Done talking.
Lizzy scooped water into her mouth and swished it around before spitting back into the sink. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and stared at her reflection intently. Her lipstick was faded and now faintly smudged across her cheek, her mascara was clumped together at the end of her lashes and her eyeliner was almost non-existent. Her pupils were dilated and her hair was beginning to stick to her temples, her throat felt dry and there were bright spots starting to cloud her vision.
As she blinked quickly and refocused she became aware of a slight ringing sound that was slowly building into screams. She leant forward and rested her forehead on the cool, but dirty, mirror and closed her eyes taking in three deep breaths as the noise outside got louder. When she exhaled for the third time she did so on a groan and stumbled over to the door to unlock.
As she yanked the door open she saw a guy looking frantically between his phone and down the hallway in the direction of the loud noise. He glanced upwards quickly and made eye contact with Lizzy.
‘Are you lost?’ She asked hastily.
‘Not quite lost, no.’ The boy replied, pocketing his phone and taking a step towards her.
‘Then what are you doing?’ She took a step further back.
‘I’m sort of hiding, if I’m honest.’
‘Is that noise your fault?’ Lizzy asked suddenly as she swayed on her feet slightly and gestured vaguely.
‘It might be, yeah.’ He admitted, reaching out a hand to try and steady Lizzy.
‘If you come in here, will it make the noise end?’ Lizzy almost whined. The boy quirked an eyebrow and a smile played along the corners of his mouth.
‘It might do.’ He shrugged and took another small step forward.
‘Then please do come in.’ Lizzy gestured behind her, stumbled slightly and moved out of the way to let the boy in. She locked the door behind them and rested against it with her eyes closed.
‘Are you okay?’ The boy asked. Lizzy opened one of her eyes and looked at hime where he was leaning against the sink casually.
‘I shouldn’t mix tequila and vodka.’ She confessed, letting her eye slip back shut.
‘Do your friends know you’re in here?’
‘Oh, I didn’t come out with anybody tonight.’ Lizzy said carelessly, keeping her eyes closed.
‘So you’re on your own?’ He asked cautiously.
‘That’s what I said.’ She nodded and giggled unexpectedly.
‘How are you getting home?’ Lizzy opened her eyes blearily and shrugged.
‘Well I’m either gonna call a cab or go home with this guy who has kind of been hitting on me all night.’
‘Is that the same guy who’s been plying you with tequila?’ He scoffed.
‘Yeah. He’s kinda nice. I dunno, he’ll pass I guess. All I really need.’ She shrugged again. The screaming outside peaked and someone knocked loudly on the door underneath Lizzy. She flinched slightly and the boy moved to pull her away from the door.
‘I’m Ryan by the way.’
‘Elizabeth. Well actually Lizzy. Everyone calls me Lizzy. You can too I guess Ryan.’ She stumbled into him hard.
‘That’s very nice of you. Now Lizzy as I am sure you have heard all that screaming has died down, so I think it’s a good time to leave. Are you going to come with me?’
‘Sure you seem nice enough.’ Lizzy shrugged, taking one final look at her reflection.
‘No, that’s not…where do you live?’ Ryan asked gently.
‘I don’t know hon.’ Lizzy giggled.
‘Okay Lizzy, I’m gonna be honest with you…’
‘Honest is good.’ Lizzy interjected.
‘Right yeah. I’m not leaving you alone right now. So I need you to come with me okay?’
‘Sure, yeah. That sounds good.’
‘You can walk okay right?’
‘Just put one foot in front of the other.’
‘That’s how it works.’ He smiled and unlocked the door.
Lizzy blinked awake slowly and was greeted by green sheets wrapped tightly around her. She startled in to an upright position and took a look around the strange room. The curtains were a dark green and had been hastily pulled shut, allowing a single beam of light to shine brightly though the middle of the room. There was an open, empty wardrobe directly opposite the bed and a chair nestled next to it. Lizzy saw her bag, clumsily dropped, in the chair and her shoes discarded underneath it. When she looked down at the side of the bed she saw her dress lying in a heap.
She swung her legs onto the floor, slipped into the dress and collected her almost dying phone from her bag before she slowly opened the door of the room and looked both ways along the hallway. She tentatively stepped out of the room, roaming the hallways until she came to the stairs and spotted what looked like a kitchen at the bottom. She headed straight for it and quietly started looking for a glass.
After opening and closing four cupboards she found glasses and took one over to the sink.
‘If you want Nurofen there is some in the cupboard next to the fridge.’ Ryan’s voice broke the silence and caused Lizzy to jump and almost drop the glass.
‘I’m good thanks, just dehydrated.’ She filled her glass up and started gulping sips back. When she drained the glass she filled it up again and turned around to look at Ryan.
‘Holy shit.’ Lizzy’s eyes widened in recognition and her grip loosened almost dangerously on the glass.
‘So the penny finally dropped.’ He nodded, almost sadly.
‘I’m gonna be perfectly honest here dude I though I had made it up.’ She laughed taking another glug of water.
‘You have a habit of waking up in stranger’s houses?’ He inquired.
‘Not so much anymore.’ She shrugged and put her glass in the sink.
‘How are you feeling?’
‘I’ve had worse hangovers.’ She crossed her arms loosely around her waist.
‘Are you hungry? I can make you a sandwich or something.’
‘Are you not busy?’ She asked, almost harshly.
‘Not until later this afternoon.’
‘I don’t want to impose.’
‘Is it an imposition if I offered?’
‘It’s an imposition when you feel obliged to take in a stray out of fear they can’t take care of themselves.’ She spat out.
‘But I still offered to do it. I was a willing participant in the whole being responsible thing.’
‘Why was that?’ Her arms tightened around herself.
‘I have a thing for strays.’ He tried to joke.
‘Yeah, so I’ve heard.’ Lizzy muttered, but not quietly enough.
‘Sorry. I don’t actually pay attention to any of that shit. I mean live your life how you want. That was mean of me, sorry.’ Her arms dropped heavily to her sides.
‘I want to make you breakfast.’ Ryan replied sincerely.
‘I need to call my brother.’
‘What to ask him if somebody you don’t really know can make you breakfast?’ He joked.
‘Yes, he’s my keeper,’ She deadpanned, ‘no, but I need to let him know I’m alive.’ She continued as she picked up her phone from where she’d thrown it on the counter.
‘What is that a regular concern for him?’
‘It is when I’m crashing at his.’
‘You live with your brother?’
‘Is that judgement I’m hearing?’ She quirked an eyebrow before looking a her phone screen.
‘Not really, just curious.’
‘No, I don’t. Not really. I’m there because my actual place is getting a new kitchen and it’s too noisy to concentrate. Plus I need to be fed sometimes.’
‘Concentrate on what?’ Ryan moved to lean against a counter, looking at her.
‘How old are you?”
‘I dunno. You said school.’
‘Yeah school, uni. Same thing, don’t worry, you’re safe.’
‘I wasn’t thinking that.’
‘You were a bit.’ She smiled gently.
‘Maybe. It’s a habit.’ He admitted sadly. Lizzy looked up from her phone and at him.
‘Hey, no judgement. I get it. Gotta protect yourself.’
‘I am quite good at that. So, uni?’
‘That’s where I’m at.’
‘Guess.’ She propped her elbows on the counter and looked at Ryan with bright, wide eyes.
‘Not even close. Humanities.’
‘Does law fall under that umbrella?’
‘I would say no, but you’re closer.’
‘History.’ Lizzy gently shook her head.
‘More arts based.’
‘And we have a winner.’ She smiled and stood up right.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Why, when asked at 18 what you wanted to do did you pick English?’
‘Why at 17 did you think “I want to be in a band”?’ She retorted.
‘Because performing was the ultimate rush for me. Because I wanted something I had written to be someone’s favourite song. Because my most vivid dreams when I was a kid involved standing on a stage and having people shout back my own lyrics at me. Because I was in the right place at the right time with two of my best friends and we were done with being at school. Because I knew without a shadow of a doubt that when I look back on the moment I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I said no.’ Ryan let out a loud breath and stared Lizzy down. She took a deep breath and shrugged.
‘Because words hold a power over people like nothing else in this world and there is no such thing as a misplaced word in good literature. Because literature transcends time, I mean Shakespeare is still relevant hundreds of years after he died. Chaucer had flashes of brilliance that apply to now. 26 letters, the same 26 letters that everyone is equipped with from day dot can make you laugh, cry, angry, hold your breath, frustrated, wait impatiently for more. Because there are tons of books that I haven’t discovered yet and I love that possibility. In fact those possibilities may be my biggest cause for stress in my life. Because no one person ever truly feels the same way about one book. Because when faced with 3 years of only one subject to spend all my time with, nothing appealed to me as much as spending my time surrounded by literature.’
‘Damn.’ Ryan whispered.
‘What?’ She shot back.
‘Nothing. Just you care.’
‘Why wouldn’t I?’ She quirked an eyebrow and checked the battery on her phone.
‘You’d be surprised.’ He mumbled.
‘I somehow doubt that. I really need to call my brother.’ She waved her phone around and Ryan nodded.
Lizzy dialled her brother’s number and waited for three rings before Dylan picked up.
‘Heyo hon, what? Yeah I’m good. I mean I have a hangover but I’m good…oh I ran into someone on my course…ended up going back to theirs. Ummmm I’ll be home early this afternoon I guess, gonna get some food in me before I brave the tube. Yeah, yeah I’ll pick it up on my way back. Okay cool, love you. Bye.’
Ryan laughed quietly as Lizzy hung up the phone.’
‘Did he actually buy that?”
‘Probably not, but it’s not like the truth is much more believable.’ She shrugged and dropped her phone on the counter.
‘Are you gonna tell him the truth?’ He asked warily.
‘Eventually yeah. Why do you not want me to?”
‘No, it’s not that, it’s just…’
‘Can I stop you there. I’m not gonna sell anything if that’s what you’re worried about. And nor is he. Frankly we are both too busy to bring that kind of attention into our lives. Nor do we want it. I’m sorry that you’ve been jaded by people for doing it to you in the past, but I’m not going to. One because currently all you’ve done is make sure I was safe and tried to feed me so anything I tried to say would be a total lie and I am terrible at keeping track of lies, and two because I have no interest in my 15 minutes. I’ve got essays to write and books to read.’
‘Sorry I shouldn’t assume thing like that.’
‘I get it. Gotta protect yourself. I’m not offended, but you’re safe. I hate to break it to you but you’re actually quite boring.’ She smiled, forcing a short laugh out of Ryan.
‘But I make a great bacon sandwich.’
‘Prove it.’ Lizzy challenged
90 minutes later and the pair were slouched on the sofa and blinking heavily.
‘I really need to get going now. I have to pick some stuff up for Dylan and the shop I need to go to closes at 3.’ Lizzy broke the comfortable silence sleepily.
‘I can give you a ride.’
‘Remember that thing I said about not wanting to invite that kind of attention in my life right now?’ She lifted her head and looked down at Ryan’s profile.
‘Well you giving me a lift would probably somehow do that.’ She smiled softly.
‘No, hey. I appreciate the offer, but not today.’ She poked him in the ribcage playfully.
Ryan pushed himself up to look at Lizzy, ‘Hey I don’t think I thanked you.’
‘For what?’ She frowned.
‘Saving me from the noise.’
‘Oh, well you’re welcome.’
‘No, I want to thank you properly.’ He almost whined.
‘How are you gonna do that?”
‘You said you need to eat right?’
‘Yeah, most people do.’ She laughed.
‘What did I just…’ She started before Ryan cut her off.
‘No, I’ll cook. You can come back here sometime and I’ll cook.’ He ended definitively.
‘Wait, are you saying yes?’
‘I might be.’ She shrugged and ran a hand through her fringe.
‘No, sorry. Standing brunch date with the parents that always runs for hours.’
‘That’s nice. Monday?’
‘Who organises a date for Monday?’ She laughed.
‘I don’t recall saying the word date?’ He deadpanned.
‘Oh…ummmmmm..’ Lizzy stuttered before Ryan’s face broke out into a grin.
‘I’m joking. It’s a date. Something to make Monday’s brighter.’
‘I don’t have uni on Mondays they are already pretty bright.’
‘Fine make my Monday better. I have interviews all day. They can get pretty repetitive.’
‘I suppose I can fit you in my Monday schedule.’
‘That’s very kind of you.’ He smiled.
‘But I really need to go. You have a pen?’
‘You might need this thing called my phone number.’
‘Oh right yeah, let me get one.’ He hurried off the sofa and disappeared from the room.
‘You know I had fun. This is one of the more enjoyable hangovers I’ve endured.’
‘Glad I could help.’ Ryan said as he opened his front door and looked around warily.
‘Yeah, so am I.’
‘So I’ll see you on Monday?’ His gaze finally returned to her.
‘You will.’ She smiled before turning around and walking away.
See you tomorrow!
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