Never trust a tired mind. It speaks a twisted truth, every word lined in a bittersweet, false confidence. But there is nothing else to do at 3AM, but stay awake and listen. To the cars on the road, to the wind whistling through the trees, to the voic...
Never trust a tired mind. It speaks a twisted truth, every word lined in a bittersweet, false confidence. But there is nothing else to do at 3AM, but stay awake and listen. To the cars on the road, to the wind whistling through the trees, to the voices shouting out under his curly brown head of hair. A morning walk didn’t feel like morning when it was so dark outside. And it didn’t feel like May, the way the wind blew harshly across his body. The only light was from the yellow tinged street lamps above his head and the orange flames balancing at the tip of his lip. Taking a deep breath, he blew out grey smoke, and watched it blend with the night sky.
Using his free hand, he dug out his phone from his pocket. One ring, two rings, three, four, she picked up on five.
There was a crack down the line, and his spirits were lifted when he heard her voice, “Leo?” She questioned despite knowing it was him. Her tired voice spoke softly, like a melody to his ears. Even the wind seemed to stop when she spoke, “Leo it’s like three in the morning,” She yawned.
Leo kept walking, his toes becoming numb with every step, “is it? I thought it was earlier,” he hummed, wide awake.
Sitting in a dark bedroom she turned the lamp on to look at the clock on her wall, “ok smart arse, it two fifty eight,” she giggled, “but this doesn't explain why you called.”
“I needed to hear your voice,” he whispered in a much smaller voice than he first thought.
Letting out another yawn, she rubbed her eyes with the back of her hands, “couldn’t sleep?” She asked.
Leo nodded, not that she saw, “yeah,” his throat wet surprisingly dry.
“For the third time this week?”
“Oh Leo,” she sighed.
“Can I come to yours?” He asked putting a spring in his step.
This caused her to sit up straight, “of course.” This was all he needed to put spirit into his sinking heart.
“Thank you Sophia,” he ended the call. With frozen fingers he put his phone back in his pocket and dropped the finished cigarette on the floor at his feet. From his jacket he grabbed another one and lit it in one swift motion. Again the familiar taste lingered on his lips and danced down his throat until it came out as a dark breath.
Mindlessly walking his misadventure took him to Sophia's street. She lived in the last house on the lane; walking down it was nostalgic. Every step uncovered a lost memory from his childhood. Reminiscing running races down the path with Sophia made him smile to himself. A childhood best friend turned lover; if only she saw it that way too. He suffocated the thought with another puff on his cigarette and the illusion of happiness was shattered.
Finally reaching his, what felt, long awaited journey, he threw the evidence of the floor and knocked on the door. Sophia opened it seconds later and he was met with the smiley face he so desperately wanted to see. Her brown eyes twinkled with the light and her hair flawlessly fell over her shoulders in messy curls. She looked as if she had just woken up, but still looked like a piece of art. “I like your pyjamas,” He smiled at the grown girl wearing what looked like children's clothes. Sophia looked down, her purple trousers and top with a unicorn on wasn’t the best choice for company.
“You came quick,” she commented inviting him in.
Leo shrugged his jacket off his back and threw it on top of her's hooked on the wall, “I was already walking,” he spoke as if it was no big deal, to him it wasn’t.
She answered him from the kitchen, “why were you walking at three in the morning?” She asked taking two cups out of the shelf above her head.
“I thought we said it was two fifty eight.” His side comment wasn’t appreciated.
Sophia sat on the counter whilst the kettle boiled, “that's not an explanation,” she spoke like a mother.
Leo slumped in a chair, looking up to Sophia, “I couldn’t sleep,” he sighed.
She jumped of the counter and stood in front of him with wide arms. Without a second thought he walked into her and took her loving embrace. The smaller girl was engulfed by him, but it only made him smile, swallowing down the lump in his throat. It took every ounce of strength in his body not to cry there and then. Stroking down her messy hair, he wished time could stop. For a second all the ticks in his mind stopped and every thought became steady again.
“Oh Leo,” she spoke into his chest, “you smell of smoke.” She pulled away with a sigh. “How many?” Sophia asked.
Avoiding eye contact, Leo looked down and shook his head, “a few,” he didn't want to give a straight answer.
“A few?” She questioned.
“A lot,” he felt his eyes dampen so he quickly rubbed them with the back of his hand. “A packet in an hour,” he had a hushed voice, he wasn’t particularly proud of himself either, “sorry,” he whispered, eyes glued to the floor.
She spoke with a voice like silk, “if you want to go to my room I can meet you there with tea?” She asked. Sophia always knew how he was feeling often before he did, and how to cope much better than Leo ever could. Nodding, he took himself off to her room to calm down. Her apartment was small, he only had to walk down the corridor, but still perfect. Sophia had lived here her whole life, it was all so familiar to him, like a second home.
As always her room was messy. Bed sheets crumpled up at the foot of her bed, clothes lining the floor and books piled up high, Leo thought it might actually kill her if she tried to tidy. He sat on the corner of her bed and picked up a cuddly toy which she slept with every night. A little penguin with a red backpack, the same little toy he had got her for her fifteenth birthday. For years she had kept it and slept with it; Leo hugged it close as a replacement for her.
On the floor he saw a familiar grey top. Picking it up and healed it out to his chest, “Soph,” he called down the hallway, “Soph, is this my top?” He laughed.
She walked in, holding two cups almost overflowing with tea, “yeah, I never gave it back, I liked it too much,” she handed him a cup and took the toy off him.
“Keep it,” He smiled. Holding it close he notices it smelled like her too. The comfort it gave him was all he needed to get him through the night.
Sophia smiled and kicked her legs onto the bed so she was facing him. Tea in hand, she began to talk, “so what’s wrong Leo?” She asked.
Looking up he was met with an optimistic smile, “it's complicated,” he sighed looking straight at the girl who was his reason to live. How did he get so lucky to know her? He asked himself that every day. Such a happy, beautiful, girl crossed paths with this wreck of a boy. Leo thought it sounded like a twisted love story, just with the wrong kind of love.
“I've got time to listen.”
Sighing, Leo looked down into his tea, “you don’t wanna hear it, i've woken you up at three, you don’t want to hear me complain. Why don’t you talk about something?” He loved hearing her talk, every word was so passionate. Sophia could recited the dictionary and he’d still be breathless.
At first she was surprised but took his idea knowing he needed this, “ok, but i’m sure you know everything already,” she trailed off looking round her room for inspiration, “Jordan and I are doing well,” her eyes lit up as she said his name.
Looking over, he saw a picture of them on his wall, “oh yeah?” He asked, trying to hide the pain in his heart. Leo told himself to let her be happy with him, but even the mention of his name made his heart sink. She looked so happy in the picture, with his arms around her and a smile plastered to her face. Leo wished he was in his place. He would’ve given the world to be him.
Sophia kept talking, “yeah, seven months yesterday. It's amazing, I think he could be the one,” this hit him like a tonne of rocks. Knowing that someone else made her happier than he ever could.
Leo nodded, his head feeling too heavy to be human, “of course, I forgot about that, did you do anything?” He asked, showing a shred of interest.
She shrugged, “I just stayed at his, but somehow it was perfect. Just being with him was enough. I had my head on his chest and I could hear his heart beating, Leo it was perfect. I swear time stopped, well it did for me. I couldn’t even hear the ticking of the clock on the wall. I didn’t want it to end, I wish it didn’t have to.” She spoke about him as if he was a god; she idolized him. She loved him. That was the most heartbreaking.
Sophia kept talking and Leo kept listening as his heart was breaking. With every word she grew fonder of him, gabbing on and on about how perfect he was, Leo even started to believe it. She could speak wild lies which would never be true, but something about her voice would make him listen and keep him intrigued like she was speaking gospel.
When she spoke her eyes lit up as if they were stars and the beautiful brown canvas laying behind was the night sky. Her mouth curved into a perfect smile, just making her flawless eyes seem lighter, adding to her beauty. Everything about her gave him butterflies. Everything about her was perfect.
Her voice became hushed as she reached out for his hand, shattering his vision. “You wouldn't understand, it's love, just love.”
“I’m in love,” Leo whispered into his tea. Taking a sip he savored the taste, it being the only thing he'd had all day that wasn't inhaled. Still warm enough to burn the tip of his tongue, he swallowed it along with all the words he wished to tell her. Words of love scratched down his throat, dampening his eyes again. “Are you tired?” He asked Sophia as she yawned.
Covering her mouth, she nodded, “well it is three in the morning. If you don’t want to walk home you can crash here,” she suggested feeling more tired by the second.
Leo leaped at the chance, “I'd love to.” He finished his tea in one big swig. Taking her cup, he put them both on the floor, adding to the mess.
Standing up, Leo kicked off his shoes and pulled his top over his head. It wouldn't be the first time this week he had fallen asleep in his jeans, but he didn’t think he’d get much sleep tonight. Just being with her had his heart racing fast enough to keep him awake.
Sophia had thrown the covers over her shoulders and was looking up at him, “get in,” she patted on the side closest to him.
He lifted up the covers, careful not to touch her, and slipped in. Turning, Sophia faced the wall leaving Leo looking up at her ceiling. They lay in silence for a few minutes, Leo listening to her calm breaths push past her teeth. Him, on the other hand, was breathless. Counting each escape of air was calming, just being with her was relaxing.
Leo rolled over so he was facing the back of her head. She looked so at peace when she was asleep, like nothing in the world could hurt the delicate girl next to him. “Soph,” he whispered hoping she would reply. Her response was a mumbled yes. She spoke with shut eyes and through a closed mouth but it was enough to keep Leo talking, even if she was half asleep. “I love you,” he muttered. The words came so naturally to him.
Sophia faced him, eyes still closed, “I love you too Leo,” she spoke with a rough, tired voice.
Leo reached out for her hand, “no, I really love you, like what you see in the movies, or how those singers sing about love.” He traced circles around her palm, “I can’t stop thinking about you. Every morning, every night, at two fifty eight, it’s constant. And it hurts that you don’t see it, because I do, believe me. I sit awake and wonder what to do with myself because you’re not with me.. I’m in love with you Sophia,” his voice became shaky as his breaths became weaker. Pouring his heart out was harder than he thought.
Her eyes flickered open; she was lost for words. Looking into his eyes she was stunned, “Leo I love you too,” she could see his eyes glistening with tears, “but not like that. I didn’t think you liked me like that. I-” her voice trailed off as her words got caught in her throat. “But Jordan-”
He dropped her hand, “it’s ok, I get it,” he sighed. Like that his heart was broken. His eyes stung with tears but the last thing he wanted to do was show it. “It's over,” he choked closing his eyes to stop tears from flooding out.
“Leo, I didn’t mean it like that.” Sophia reached out just to be met with a deafening silence, “Leo please talk,” she begged, desperate for him to do something.
How could he be so stupid?! A girl like that would never go for a boy like him. He should’ve kept his mouth shut, or never called her in the first place. At least then his illusion of love would still be in one piece, at least then he wouldn’t feel painfully numb.
He shook his head, too scared that if he opened his eyes he would cry, “no, you talk,” he whispered, voice breaking through tears.
She nodded but was not sure what he wanted to hear, “the stars look great outside. I can see them from the slit in the curtains. They look so bright, like tiny little light bulbs flickering. And the moon is perfectly round. I can’t see the grey in it, but I know it's there,” she didn’t want to stop talking, but her eyes became heavy weights desperate to close.
“I could get you the moon,” Leo murmured.
“I could get you the moon,” he swallowed his doubt and opened his eyes, “say the words Soph and I’ll tie a blue ribbon round it and pull it down for you,” he spoke so confidently for someone who had just had his world brought down.
Sophia opened her mouth to talk, but nothing came out. They were left staring at the ceiling both trying to break the silence but too scared they would say the wrong thing. “I don’t want the moon. I just want to fall asleep with you next to me,” her wish was simple, something more achievable for him.
Leo turned around, carefully placing his arm over her, “you’ve always slept better with someone next to you,” he spoke into her neck.
She nodded, taking his warm hug, “I like the white noise.” But he already knew that, he knew everything about her.
Little breaths escaped her mouth as she dreamed. Sometimes they would speed up, and her hand would shake under his. It made him laugh to himself and wonder what she was thinking about. Was it him? Of course not, she could be flying with the stars and the moon in the sky, she wouldn't be dreaming about ordinary Leo.
“Soph,” he whispered, moving his arm ever so slightly, “Soph, are you asleep?” He asked.
No reply. He figured it would be so, but wanted to make sure before he moved.
It was stupid of him to think he’d get any sleep. Moving away, he kept talking. “I was serious. I would find a way to get the moon. Anything to make you happy Soph.” Gently, he placed the covered back over her dainty body. She looked so pure, almost childlike when she she was asleep. “I guess I just couldn’t make you happy enough,” from the corner of her room he picked up his top. Shrugging it over his shoulders, he reached down for the cups, “goodnight princess,” his last words were whispered into her cheek, followed by a light kiss. She moved so slightly, but was trapped in a dream.
Walking away was the hardest part. Nothing inside of him wanted to leave her, but he knew he had to. Turning around at the door, he took one last look, leaving the girl of his dreams dreaming about a different prince.
He glanced at the wall, three fifty eight already, overstayed his welcome again.