)))):&lt

So I’m laughing because

1. Didn’t we all call a very public club night at some point this week?

2. How did stalker fans magically know to go to cirque tonight in order to see Louis going in?

3. Oli just magically appeared outta nowhere.

4. Danielle wasn’t even near Louis at all in any of the snapchats Lottie or Tommy posted. You’d think Lottie would have posted one with her even but nah.

5. Paps.

Eta: 6. The only pic of Danielle even near Louis inside was posted by none other than Annas lmao
Retrograde - Part 2

I wake up with an aching neck from leaning into my bed. Why am I so tired? I look at the low sunlight coming through the window. Shit it’s getting late. I drag myself up, leaning with both hands on my bed, hoping my hips can straighten. My back cracks as I stretch my arms above my head. I shuffle out of my room, the worn wood floor pulling at my frayed pants. I look down the dark hallway at that room… at his room. I haven’t gone inside in years, not since my, well, our fifteenth birthday.

I exhale and move toward it, resting my hand on the knob before turning it as silently as I can. The door creaks and I freeze. Nothing. I step into the room and look around. A twin bed in the corner in front of me, underneath it are a pair of sneakers several sizes too small. Ragged posters of Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan cover most of the pale blue walls. A new poster for every hole. I walk toward his desk which sits under the window. He was never much for school, but he loved to draw. His desk is still cluttered with dried up pens and pencil shavings. I look up and see a hole in the wall he hadn’t had a chance to cover. I trace it with my finger as I remember the last time we were in this room. We used to spend all our time here.

We had just left school and he looked terrified. I couldn’t get him to tell me why on the bus. He wouldn’t stop fidgeting, twisting his knuckles in his hands. We came in the house silently, listening at our mom’s door. Derrick was snoring. We gave each other a relieved look and I grabbed Lau’s wrist, pulling him to our (well, his) room as he tried to protest silently. I pulled him in the room and shut the door.

“Larry what are you doing? Let go!” He whispered harshly, yanking his arm out of my grip.

“That’s actually louder than just talking, Lau,” I said in a level tone. Rubbing my hand down my face, I looked at him, “When are you going to tell me what happened today?”

He looked away.

“Laurent.”

He slumped on the bed, still staring at his hands. “I got suspended today.”

“Oh shit. Shit Lau. How?!” I stared at him, trying to control my outburst. He tensed and his eyes immediately fixed on the door. When no one came crashing through, he went back to studying his hands.

“I didn’t show up for any of my detentions. Ms. Arnest kept giving me more for being late to class, then more for not going to those detentions. Now I’m supposed to be out all week.” He fell back on the bed, his lungs deflated with a noisy sigh.

He looked at me, his eyes wide and his hand shaking as it pulled at strands of his afro, his old nervous habit. “What am I gonna do, Larry? I can’t be alone here with him all week. And if he finds out they kicked me out-”

“No. He’s not going to find out. Just come with me to the bus stop like normal, then hide out somewhere until I get home, ok?” I sat beside him and pulled his hand from his hair, hoping he could calm down.

I made him get out his homework, trying to make sure he didn’t fall behind in class on top of being suspended. Neither of us could focus though, and it felt like moments had gone by when we heard our mother get home from work four hours later.

We came out of Lau’s room and I dropped my book bag into my room, even though it looked more like a bare spare room with how often I used it. We came to the kitchen to find Derrick had decided to wake up. As usual, it was just in time for our mom to not know how long he’d been passed out. She unpacked a greasy bag of tacos on the table, and he leaned in to give her a peck on the cheek as he grabbed a few and settled in.

“Hi boys!” she smiled at us but spoke breathlessly, wiping imaginary sweat off her brow. “How was school?” she asked, handing each of us a taco.

“Fine,” we shrugged in unison, trying to avoid the subject.

“Boys,” Derrick looked up at us with a cold stare “Don’t you think your mother, who works so hard for the food you’re about to eat, deserves more of a response than that?”

We glanced at mom but she quickly chuckled, waving her hand aimlessly “Oh it’s fine, I wasn’t that interested in telling my mom my business when I was their age!”

“Why should their age matter?! They’re twelve, Shandra. They’ll be teenagers soon. We have to cut off disrespect at the root.” Derrick barked as he glared at us, then turned toward mom. Usually he would soften with her. In that moment I wasn’t sure he would.

“We started reading The Outsiders in English class!” I quickly offered. Everyone turned to look at me, but I was staring at Derrick with wide eyes. Please just calm down.

“Huh.” he grunted, finally looking away, and busied himself with his food.

I felt Lau’s hand loosen around my wrist, I hadn’t noticed he’d grabbed it, but now I felt a light bruise beginning to form from his grip on the bone. We both sat at the table finally, trying to show interest in our mom’s attempt at small talk. But I was constantly glancing at Lau, wondering what he was thinking, and he couldn’t stop watching Derrick with a gaze that radiated hate and anxiety.

The next morning we made sure to be up on time, getting ready for school quickly and racing to the bus stop before the sun came up, in case Derrick wanted to discuss our less-than-smooth dinner. Mom waved at us on her way to work, as usual. As we watched her taillights turn the corner and disappear, Lau sighed in relief. He turned and hugged me.

“Uh. Okay man? Got everything?” I asked as I raised my arms around him awkwardly. His arms became crushingly tight, and I let out a nervous laugh. “Okay! Okay! Let me go!” I chuckled, pulling back.

“Yeah I got everything,” he smiled, raising his gym bag, “I filled this with snacks” he grinned hard, tying it onto the strap of his backpack.

I grinned back at him, “Good idea. Go to the library or someplace, okay? If they ask why you’re not at school just leave and go to a park. I’ll come straight home after school.”

“Yeah, I’ll see you.” He gave me another one-armed hug and started walking down the street just as the bus pulled up. I watched him go for a moment, but the doors opened and I had to get on board. I still remember his grey backpack with his green gym bag hanging from the side bouncing with each step he took, and his brown afro coming over the top. That was the last time I saw him. That was five years ago.

***

I’m pulled from my memory by a shuffling sound outside the room. I blink and my hand falls from the hole in the wall, where it had been chipping away at the broken plaster. I look at my hand, covered in light powder and wipe it on my jeans. I walk down the hallway and look around the corner just far enough to see Lau. He’s still sleeping on the couch, he let himself fall into a more comfortable position, his head now on the armrest, but his legs are still pulled close to him. He looks small. Almost how I remember him. I wonder how strange I must look to him? I don’t know how to handle any of this. My mom and her husband won’t be back until Monday, and I don’t know how mom will react to him. I turn and go back to my own room, fishing my cell phone out of my jacket hanging on the door. I close the door quietly and sit down at my desk. I unlock my phone and pull up the first and only number on my favorites list: “Marienne.” I grab a pen, scribbling swirls on a scrap of paper as I wait for her to pick up. When she finally answers, her voice is groggy.

“Man I was wondering if you’d even be functioning today! Aren’t you tired? Because I thought we had an unspoken rule not to call each other the day after movie night. I was napping, son.” She chides playfully, and I can hear her voice begin to brighten as she wakes up.

“Hey, sorry Mari.” I take a heavy breath. She notices, her tone losing all light.

“What is it, Larry?”

“He’s…” I pause, looking down at my hand. My swirls had changed to jagged scratches on the paper. I drop the pen to rub my hand across my forehead. “He’s back,” I finally let out.

“Your stepdad?!” She asks, definitely fully awake now.

“No.”

“Oh. Then… OH. Larry. Oh my god. Come over, right now. He can come too.” her voice is laced with so much care and concern it makes me feel more alive. Like my blood runs warmer just hearing it.

“Thanks Mari, I was just about to ask if that would be ok,” I say with a small smile.

“You kidding?! Of course it’s ok! Now hurry up and-no. You know what? Get ready, I’ll be there in ten minutes. I know how slow your lazy ass is. I’m coming to get you,” she says it with finality, which isn’t even necessary, I’d never try to argue with her anyway.

“Ok, ok, we’ll be ready. Thanks Mari.” I say as my smile breaks out for real. Marienne is the only person who seems to let it out anymore. She hangs up and I grab a bag, shoving a few essentials in it and pulling my sneakers on. I begin to head down the hall but turn around. I go to Laurent’s room and open his desk drawer, taking out a small bundle wrapped in a handkerchief and tucking it in my bag. I leave the room and move quietly past Lau sleeping on the couch, into the kitchen and shove a bag of chips, some apples, and a box of cookies into my bag as well. I go back to the living room, sitting down beside him.

“Lau.” I rest my hand on his leg, near his ankle. “Laurent?” I say a little louder, pushing him gently.

Suddenly his leg jerks away from me and he lets out a pained cry. He curls in on himself and I swear I hear him whimper “Please no.”

Shit he must be having a nightmare. I want to shake him awake but I don’t think I should touch him. I try again, “Laurent, Lau! Wake up, please!” I call out, probably too loud, since I’m sitting right beside him. His head jerks up and he looks scared until his eyes adjust and land on me.

“Larry.” he stills, looking over my face. He sits up. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sleep. Do you want me to go?” he looks at me like a rabbit staring at a fox. Like his life is in my hands.

“No… I just. I don’t know if you can be here. We’re going to my friend’s house. Do you need anything before we go?” I look at him and he shrugs, shaking his head. I nod and we both stand. He walks ahead of me out the front door, retrieving the bag he’d dropped there. I lock the door behind us just as Marienne pulls up.