Chapter 5: Damsel

My week had actually gone on regularly after that day. Homework was assigned and done, I hung out once with Beatrice, and I worked on song lyrics. I can't sing for the life of me, but song composition has always been something that I loved. As a kid I would pluck notes on my Dad's piano and make little tunes. I never really picked up the instrument after elementary school though, for whatever reason. Despite this, I still often sit with Musescore open and put my lyrics to music. Everyone has their secret pastimes, whether porn or a strange collection or two; mine just happens to be shitty lyric writing. Sometimes poetry, if I'm feeling really artsy.

I was taking a break from writing to check Facebook, and maybe play some Zelda, when I got a new message. It was from Darion. It was a message that I had been expecting with a mixture of butterflies and dread. Over and over again the events that had happened at his house replayed in my mind, and yet no matter how many cycles went by I still could not figure out how I felt about him. Did he deserve my pity? I suppose. Anyone going through such an awful situation does to some extent. But then there were the harsh words and contradicting apologies. There was also the extent to which he forced his parents to hide. It made no sense, after all people would already know that they were gay, it's not really something that people forget. There must be a reason for the change in how people treated him and his parents.

Despite my conflicting thoughts, I still had to work with him; the deadline for the project was next Wednesday. The timestamp on the message said that it had been sent the day before, a Friday, around 10pm. Begrudgingly, I replied.

Darion O'Neil: Let's finish this project. When are you available?

Lenette Dupont: I don't have anything that I can't work around.

In a desperate attempt to look like I did have something going on, I indirectly left out the fact that I'm always free. I had assumed that he wasn't on, but apparently I was wrong.

Darion O'Neil: Okay. Good. Does 5:30 Saturday work?

Lenette Dupont: Yes. Where at?

Darion O'Neil: My house again. I don't want to have to bring the bristle board around.

Great. As much as I didn't want him at my house, I still would have preferred being in a familiar area. There was another problem beyond my feelings though, because despite the fact that I did have my license, my family only had one car. My Mom needed it for an out of town business meeting. Maybe he would just take the backboard to my house and save himself the trips?

Lenette Dupont: I can't get the car. My mom's at a meeting out of town, sorry! It might be easier if we just do the project at my place.

Darion O'Neil: I'll just come pick you up. Try to notice when I get there.

I decided to ignore that remark. I could've just taken a taxi, but the taxis in our town are unreliable. Three in particular had been let off from impaired driving charges for an unknown reason. Since then, people use the taxis much less; some to aid the protest of firing the driver, others to protect their own safety. It's shocking that no one was killed, and yet the protests aren't making an impact.

Lenette Dupont: You really love the attention huh? Alright, see you then.

If he could be sassy, so could I. I gave him my address and then logged off. It's a shame that the projects couldn't be done individually. For whatever reason, Mrs. Vander seemed to believe that this project needed at least two people. In reality, I could have it done in two days if I hadn't needed to meet up with Darion. Still, Darion wasn't a bad partner when he was actually getting work done. He had stayed concentrated and seemed to know what information was important. Realistically, if the power hadn't failed we might have finished that night.

Being Friday night I went and texted Beatrice to see if she wanted to hang out, sadly her work schedule had been changed. Josey was also working. Every once and a while I would start looking to find jobs, but there were very few places to begin with in this small town. Most people just worked for relatives or knew someone that could get them a job. Otherwise you would have to go to another town, which was about an hour away, to find work. Maybe in university I would be able to find something; it was located in a much bigger town.

The situation being as it was, I continued to the plan that I had before Darion's messages: video games. For whatever reason, I was feeling a bit too impatient for any Zelda game, so I settled Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. A few quick missions would soon clear my head of whatever thoughts Darion had put there.

It was a half hour before Darion was supposed to come and pick me up. As much as I told myself that I didn't care what he though, I had still spent a ridiculous amount of time choosing my outfit. It was early spring, so the more risqué girls were breaking out skirts; I, however, am very easily cold. I have the worst skin imaginable: it shows off veins, turns red when I'm embarrassed, and purple when I'm cold. Because of this, I had settled for dark blue jeans rolled up into capris instead of shorts or a skirt. For a top I put on my favorite jumper. It was long sleeved, but very light so I could almost wear it all year. I also loved the huge white and gray stripes across the shirt, as it was my favorite colour combination. I added black flats, silver studs, and a bit of makeup. My hair was actually pretty good naturally, with only a slight wave. It was a long bob, with the shortest layers at my chin. Because of this, the top layer curled inward and the bottom curled slightly outward. With a bit of mouse it was tamed to my liking.

Despite what I may say about fashion trends and girls who spend hours on their hair, I love looking good as much as the next girl. I'm not one to spend hours, but I do put a bit of effort. Maybe it's because of my hate for disorder, but I have always wanted my clothing to be put together and at least somewhat fashionable. That being said, I've never been one to be called "cute", or anything similar by guys. I had assumed that it must be due to my contrary nature. I'm shy and easily embarrassed, yet a "stickler for rules" (as my Mom puts it) and hate putting up with bullshit almost as much as Beatrice. Not the most elegant nor fun combination of characteristics. I'm a tad more tact about it, though, and much more concerned about offending people. Beatrice has always told me that it was because I seem too smart and serious for guys to joke around with. So essentially, we came to the conclusion that I need to pull the stick out of my ass. Or at least make myself seem more fun to other people.

As I contemplated my personality and how I may make more friends of either sex, I sat on the window bench with my laptop open. I was mindlessly going over some facts that we could simplify and researching for some things that we could add in, waiting for Darion to arrive. Unlike last time, he arrived punctually. I closed my laptop and carefully placed it in my brown backpack's laptop compartment. I would have used my laptop bag, but I wasn't so confident about it staying on a motorcycle. It was a good thing too, as I heard Darion's two-wheel ride shortly before he pulled into the driveway.

My hands were shaking as I went to meet him, locking the house door behind me. I reminded myself that last time I went on the motorcycle it was okay and I was okay. Everything would be okay. Even my shaky nerves that came from being with him again would be okay, after all it was the same reaction that I had for everyone I didn't talk to often.

I looked at his bike more critically this time. It looked like a mix of parts, as the exterior of the motorcycle was made up of different shades of black. Maybe he had been in an accident? I tried to ignore the thought, but I couldn't not know. I was risking my life on a fast-moving object that if I got thrown off of would kill me.

"Have you ever been in an accident?" Internally I winced at the bluntness, but I was within my rights, right?

Apparently my wince wasn't so internal. When Darion replied it was with a chuckle at my expense, "Your face looks like it's in more pain than anything I've ever on my motorcycle. Relax, I have never been in an accident," though he still looked serious, the tone that he used was light and joking.

He then reached around into a compartment that was on the back of the bike. "Here, I should have given you this last time."

He passed me a leather jacket, similar to the one that he wore, and the same helmet that I wore last time.

"Thanks," again his words confused me. Was he a good guy or not? I always thought more guys should put safety first.

I smiled because of the strange disregard for rules. It was funny to know that while he was breaking the schools regulations, he still had some considerations towards keeping himself and his passenger alive. His priorities were in the right place, and yet it seemed contrary to try and keep people alive and bring motorcycle to school. During the first school assembly of the year, the principle always outlines how important the rules are and why they were created. The no-motorcycles rule came after a particularly gruesome incident.

However I felt about his rule-breaking on campus, my feelings about the motorcycle off school grounds were quite different. As I had noticed earlier, the bike was a few varieties of black, but it was also very well taken care of. It had no scratches, and both the outer shell and the metallic insides shined. I know very little about automobiles, but even I could tell that it took hours of work to maintain.

Darion snapped in my face, "Hey, anyone in there. Let's go."

What was I, a freaking dog? With an inner, and maybe a touch of an outer scowl, I got on the bike behind him. Although I hated being so close to him, this time I used the back of the passenger seat. I laid back into the seat, putting more distance between us, and held on to the bottom. My heart had lodged itself into my throat, despite feeling completely stable.

Though the speed and the lack of apparent safety scared me, I felt much more comfortable without being latched onto him. Soon, I got used to the movements that the bike made and began to look around and enjoy the whiplash of the wind. I don't know if the wind calmed me or the loud growl of the motorcycle drowned everything out, but I quickly stopped thinking about anything at all.

Too soon, Darion's house was appearing and everything that should have been plaguing me during the 15 minute bike ride began attacking. Will I embarrass myself as much as I did last time? It dawned on me what an idiot he must think I am. Would he mention his secret? Should I mention it? Sure, Darion had been silent for the whole ride, but we would have had to shout over the motorcycle to hear each other. I had a feeling that he would want to know more about me, not out of curiosity, but to know if his secret was safe. I don't know what happened to him before, but every time it was mentioned, he froze faster than a prowling cat.

So he only talked about "it" once, so I hold on to the hope that we can just leave it behind us. As much as I wish that, there is another part of me that wants resolution. Hiding his parents from everyone can't be a permanent solution, can it? But it is not my business and I don't know the whole story. So shut up brain.

"There, that should do it, don't you think?" I asked as I put the last picture on our poster board. He just nodded in reply, but he did look pleased.

After we had pulled into the driveway we entered his house, set up in the living room, and finished our project with no notable events. Our progress had actually saved on the computer, so we actually had to delete information, rather than add it. About two hours later, with only talk about the project and school to fill the gaps, we started printing and posting things on the board. Surprisingly, Darion actually had a bit of an eye for arrangement, so our project resembled a modern art twist on Biology… Not bad for a backboard at all.

I started cleaning up in silence, as we hadn't stopped once to make a pile of the confetti that remained. It was everywhere! I originally intended to put everything in a bag, but I didn't ask for one or know where anywhere. So in my zealousness to get cleaning I had forgotten something: I was in Darion's house and had no idea where the garbage can was. And the paper was beginning to resemble a waterfall out of my hands.

"Darion?" I asked, much less tentative than I would have been yesterday, "Where is the garbage can?

He smirked for a moment, and then his face went completely blank, "it's in the kitchen, just through the hallway under the stares, under the sink," he told me, while concentrating very hard on something.

What's that face for? The least he could do is grab some paper and help clean with me, not stand and watch me with that contemptuous look! The last thing I wanted to end today on was Darion suddenly getting serious and then angry. I really don't want him to get angry, but that must not have been what his face was showing. He had no reason to be angry. After all, the project had gone well and I was cleaning up after him! Well, both of us I suppose.

I thought back on the past few hours as I walked into the kitchen, was there something that I had not noticed? Sure, we weren't friends now, but we had kept it friendly and he had seemed almost like a different person. He had not been completely nice, occasionally making a comment on how I did something or said something, but it was all jokingly and never made me feel uncomfortable. He also seemed to be in an alright mood, except…

…Except when I glanced at him around 7:30. In the few times that I was around him, I noticed that he stared into space a lot, yet this time was different. The blank gaze was not simply bored, but a complete lack of expression. It was chilling when I saw it, now that I think back. I had forgotten about it because of how well the evening had gone well compared to any other time we interacted.

My eyes scanned the room, looking for the garbage can. There was nothing in open view. Oh! In my absent mindedness, I had forgotten where Darion had said the Garbage can was. I looked on the other side of the fridge, but there was nothing but a few photos… Darion smiling as a kid. My mind wandered back to the face that Darion had made… but I shrugged it off. There was nothing to be done, except to get the garbage can and clean up. I opened up the cabinet under the sink. Bingo. There was the garbage can. It was a bit far back, so I bent down and reached my hand to grab it.

"What's taking you so long?"

Darion's voice cut the silence and startled me. My head flew up.

"Mother fucker! Damn it!" My head smashed against the stone marble counter tops, "Shit… I don't feel so good." My strength was leaving me and my vision blurred. I fell to the ground.

"I'm going to bring you to the couch, lean on me," Darion had lifted me up, and was dragging me.

Each step he took caused my head to bob, my legs still incapacitated. My stomach protested at the movement.

"Stop! I think I'm going to be sick!"

"It's alright, you're at the couch now. Open your eyes. Don't fall asleep. I'm going to grab you a bucket and an ice pack. Don't move" Darion was giving me instructions, but the words were blurring together, not making much sense. I did manage to keep my eyes open, despite my nausea and pain.

I was sitting on the floor, leaning against the couch, with my head resting the crook of my arm when Darion came back. I don't know how long he had left for. My mind swirled with pain, sickness, and sleep fighting for control.

I heard a sharp intake of breath, "Are you still awake?" A pressure on my shoulder.

"Yes. Advils." Was all I could get out. Pain was winning.

I felt his hands on my head, slowly lifting it so he could see. My vision blurred.

"you're bleeding. I am getting you to outpatients. Stay awake," Throb. Throb. Throb. I could hear Darion speaking, but the words meant nothing to me.

Soon, I hear a card door shut by my ear. Throb. Throb. I put my hand to my head. There was something blocking me from touching. A clothe? Throb.

I was being guided into a building. A hospital, that's what Darion had said. We were admitted right away. I lied down on the bed, Darion sat on the stool beside. He was speaking to me, urging me to stay awake. I no longer felt like I was going to pass out, but the throbbing prevented me from speaking.

We waited like that, the two of us. Knowing a doctor would be in soon.

Authors Note: I'd like to think that I'm getting better, but to be honest, right now I'm just trying to get past their initial relationship. I'm really sorry for the lack of flow in this chapter, but keep in mind that this is the very first draft of a story, and a lot of elements should be popping up later. I'm also ridiculously busy with university! I'm in English because of my good essay skill, not my fiction. But this is an exercise to see if I can stick with a story, and I will succeed!

Thank you those who've stuck with me so far, I hope to put out some content that will make you glad you kept reading one day! Please review and leave any suggestions you have, so that I may improve!