9 Liam Baird

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Theme: "Casanova Lament" by Frank Turner

https://play.spotify.com/track/0scWXqp8KiHqSOL6AKA0be

Liam stares at the ceiling, trying to find shapes in the popcorn ceiling and failing miserably. He looks down at the hand on his chest, gently lifts it off, and places it on the pillow as he creeps out of the bed. The sleeping girl repetitions herself but doesn't wake. Liam slips his white t-shirt and jeans on then opens the window. He asses the challenge: not too far down and there's a nice ledge he can use.

He lands gracefully on the ground. He's done it a thousand times before. Okay, so maybe not a thousand. He's not an STD hoarder. He shakes a cigarette loose from his pack and holds it between his teeth as he goes for the lighter in his pocket, which has sunken to the left corner making him work a little harder for it. He lights up, inhales his first puff of the day, and runs his free hand through his hair to make sure it's got the right amount of morning bounce. He feels numb, but the nicotine is finally starting to do its job. He close his eyes as the artificial life starts to flow back through him. He'd need at least one more cigarette to get him to okay.

Liam stares up at the window he'd just climbed out of. This wasn't working for him anymore. This used to be the part where he'd feel alive and victorious. He'd approach the day with a spring in his step. Now the sex is monotonous. Routine ruins everything.

~~

He walks to school from her house, not having time to change at home first, which was pretty much the norm now. He removes his shirt in the hallway and tosses it into his locker retrieving a clean one. A group of girls a few lockers down stare at him. He can feel their lust. He throws on the shirt and sprays himself with musk. No girl can resist a good manly smell. None of that Axe crap. That shit's for boys.

He shuts the locker and turns to the girls, offering them a wink before walking to class. A group of guys, witnessing the exchange, whisper to each other, jealousy seeping from their pores. How come girls never look at them like that? Liam offers them a quick shrug like I-don't-know-I-just-got-it and their green deepens into red.

In class he sits in his usual spot towards the back with his feet propped up on the back of the chair in front of him, annoying Freddie, who sits there every day and never says a word.

Mr. Hamlin eyes Liam from the podium, disdain in his eyes. It doesn't matter that Liam never causes any problems in his class and regularly gets Cs on his tests. Mr. Hamlin has looked at him with disdain since day one so Liam stays out of his way. He has nothing to prove to Mr. Hamlin or anyone else. They think what they think and he does his own thing, keeping mostly to himself.

~~

He steps out onto the sidewalk after school and starts towards his usual after school hang out, O'Brady's. He stops himself. Did he really want the usual? It was getting pretty old. Okay...but where?

There was a Starbucks across the street. He imagines the kind of girl who drinks a frappuccino instead of a whiskey sour. She wears glasses, maybe, and reads paperbacks by the window. She's not falling out of her shirt. She can probably even form complex sentences.

He laughs. Would a girl like that even look twice at a guy like him?

He walks inside. The room is much brighter and ten times cleaner than the bar. He immediately feels uncomfortable, looking around, trying to process it all. He looks at the menu finally. How the hell does a guy order off this? Caramel mocha frappuccino? white chocolate raspberry what the hell is this place?

"Sir, are you ready to order?" the barista asks.

"Uh...can I just get a black coffee?"

"You look lost," the girl next to him says.

"Is it that obvious?" he asks, looking at her now. No glasses, but a nice smile and a complete lack of sparkly or shiny anything tells him this is exactly the kind of girl he wants to talk to.

"Have you seriously never been in a Starbucks before? They're on practically every corner."

"Don't fault me for not being hip...did I just say hip? Please kill me," he says.

She laughs.

"Hey, what's your name?" he asks, feeling kind of weird asking this question for the first time.

"Chelsea, and yours?"

"Liam," he says, offering a genuine smile.

"You wanna sit with me?"

"I'd love to."

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