Loner 2.0

Lionel

The room I was instructed to live in for whoever knows
how long wasn’t any improvement from the holding cell, and neither was the
building in its entirety. Not only that, but the key was taken away from me and
confiscated somewhere. There was some rule that you couldn’t be carrying
certain objects in your pockets, and I guess keys could be used to slit
throats. I’d definitely try it if I got it back; life had slapped me in the
face again, and it stung.

 Only one important possession of mine was allowed on the
premises. It wasn’t much… just the old violin I used to play. When Daniel left,
I considered investing my time into something that would take my mind off of
him. When Claudia left, my parents were more than happy to purchase a violin.
It was the best birthday present I ever got… I missed them… Mom and Dad. I
hardly knew them, but I knew them just as much at the same time.

 The orphanage contained a room full of musical
instruments lying around. Anyone that wanted to play one was welcome to. None
of the other residents seemed to want or know how to operate an instrument, so
I was happy to be alone to myself most of the time. Occasionally, the director
would check on me. He had a smile that burned into your skin because you knew
just how fake it was.

 For the first time in a while, I removed my violin from
its case. There are some special aspects of life that stick to you, and the
ability to play an instrument was one of them. My fingers wrapped naturally
around the precious object, and I wasted no time playing my favorite tune,
which, coincidentally, I composed myself. You could call that selfish, but it
was just a generally happy and catchy piece of music.

 I was so into my song, which went on for around twenty
minutes, that I didn’t stop playing it even when I was commanded to return to
my room. I didn’t question why, so I walked down the dark hallways to my
destination, the violin’s sound reverberating off of the walls. Many of the
kids looked out curiously so see what was happening and stared in awe; I was
the oldest at the place, so people usually looked up at me as a role model due
to my age.

 I opened the door, keeping the violin balanced and
continuing the sound, but what I saw almost made me drop everything.

 Claudia, wheelchair and all, was situated in the middle
of the room. Next to her was some individual unknown to me, her mom and her
dad. With a leap in happiness, I realized that the family had reconsidered
leaving me out for the ravens and bringing me into their midst. It was
certainly better than my other options, which consisted of staying here,
running away, or going to Daniel.

 Speaking of Daniel, he was nowhere to be seen, causing me
to smile. He must have finally stopped trying to make me his friend again. It
was about time that he stopped messing with my life. He blamed me for
everything; so what did I do? Oh, he offered me Claudia. I bet she would have
loved to be randomly forced upon me at the time. Oh, he peeked on Charles and
I. The little rat had to stick his head in to try and sabotage me.

 It was possible Claudia was seeing the light. I’d rather
see her go out with someone much more respectable and kind. The problem was, I
didn’t really know many people she would fit with except Charles, but that
would be difficult since he was gay. That made me wonder; was I still gay with
Charles? At this point I think we both decided to call it off.

 “Hi Lionel” Claudia offered me a shy greeting as usual.
Every time she came around me, it wasn’t all open and friendly, but shy and
cautious. The friendliness was still there, but the difference was quite easy
to notice and expose.

 “He plays music” Claudia’s girl companion observed,
nodding in approval. “I think I may like this one already friend”.

 After a few awkward looks were exchanged, I looked
hopefully at the family. The director of the orphanage entered the room and
clapped his hands in a mock-excited matter. He gestured to the family and then
back at me.

 “So, Lionel, you are in luck! We’ve got a very nice
couple here that has stepped up to the plate to adopt you, and believe me,
they’re very kind!” He pointed towards what little belongings I had. “You
should get around. They’ve asked to receive you as quickly as possible”.

 My mouth hit the floor, and I looked at the parents with
a new look in my eye. They could be family, they could be forgiven for
neglecting me. I felt like I could just sing a song right now and do some flips
across the floor.

 “Oh… oh my God…” came my shaky response. I looked over at
Claudia, falling to my knees. Never before in my life had someone shown such
initiative to help me out of the rut I had been stuck in for years. There were
friends… and I needed to keep them close. Daniel never would have done this for
me… I should’ve known Claudia was a much closer friend.

 “Thank… thank you all… so much… thank you!” I said
joyfully, almost jumping up and down in my place.

 “We figured out it would be best for us all if we took
you in” Claudia’s dad said, patting her on the back as she said this.

 “Welcome to the family!” the mom said cheerfully. I
guessed I would have to become used to referring to these people as my own
parents, and call them by what I would call my past parents. I still missed
them… I felt sad over their death once again. At least I was to be left in good
hands.

 The parents were hustled off by the director to complete
the surprisingly difficult and tedious paperwork, leaving Claudia, her friend
and I alone. The friend looked curious, what with the boy-style haircut. I
didn’t approve of such things, but it looked like Claudia liked her, and I
wasn’t one to judge a book by its cover.

 “It took some convincing” Claudia said, glancing over at
her friend with a smile, “but my parents eventually reconsidered their earlier
decision. I’m glad they did… this place looks awful just from the outside
looking at it”.

 I couldn’t agree more. “Live in it for just a day and
you’ll be in my world” I replied.

 Claudia looked just as surprised as I did. “Lionel… was
that… was that a joke?” she said. Everything in the past few days had been
nothing but gloomy, persistent weather. It had been forever since I heard
something remotely funny.

 All of the sudden, we all started laughing. Slowly at
first, and then in an increasing volume. I thought it was about time for the
sun to shine upon me; upon all of us. I was eager to learn who this new friend
was and fill in to Claudia’s family. I changed a while ago… I as a new Loner.
It’s the 2.0 version now.

 Claudia noticed she hadn’t introduced the girl beside
her. “Oh, sorry! This is Eva. She’s an exchange student from Germany, and
she’ll be staying with us for a while. Our school’s been attracting a lot of
new students what with all of its opportunities”.

 I was going to say hello, but the girl said it for me.
“So you’re Lionel” she said, nodding. “It’s nice to meet you”. Her accent was
definitely German covered up by some flimsy English.

 “If you’re worried about things being any different, our
family doesn’t do much else that your family wouldn’t have basically. We’ve got
a pretty nice guest room that we’ll transform into your own”. Her eyes fell on
the violin. “I didn’t know you played?”

 I forgot that the instrument was still cradled in my
hands. “I used to… it’s only recently that I returned back to it”.

 She smiled eagerly. “Well, the folks are gonna be a
while… that paperwork looks dreadful. You wouldn’t mind playing a piece for us,
would you?” she requested.

 I grinned. I was grinning… the times were changing. “Who
am I to refuse such a great audience?” I prepared to restart my music I had
been playing prior to Claudia’s entrance.

 The music came naturally from the violin. The original
version I made of this piece had lyrics, and under normal circumstances I
wouldn’t sing, but I found myself doing so, much to the awe of Eva and Claudia.
Everything was pleasantly different. I was going to be with a close friend for
a pretty long duration of my life, and I’d be in a place where I belong; a
loving family. This new girl too seemed to be nice enough to hang around, so I
didn’t see myself complaining about her in the future.

 I wasn’t alone anymore, that’s for sure. These parents
weren’t the same as my old ones; they wouldn’t be constantly running out on
business trips. I had grown up without any siblings, but it looked like I had
two of them now, but that wouldn’t be hard to get used to.

 Eva excused herself to leave to the restroom, and I bade
her good luck in finding it; for some reason, it was buried deep in the
basement, a fact I found out unfortunately after my curfew. Claudia and I were
left alone, so I was free to talk about what I wanted without the German girl
picking up on anything.

 “Why didn’t Daniel come along? Are you two still okay?” I
asked her. It was a little too much of a personal question, but I had to ask.

 “I should ask you the same” came her response. “You two
fight all the time… it’s just…”

 “As far as I’m concerned, we’re just ignoring each other
now. If I’m a problem to him, that’s his own fault for caring” I stated simply.

 “He hasn’t stopped caring is where the problem lies,
Lionel. You both are right… I’d never say it around him… but you most of the
time seem… seem to have a point. The real focus here is that either you two
just tell each other you’re done or please, just leave me out of it”.

 I grimaced, not liking this conversation already. “Let’s
drop this for now at least… okay?”

 She agreed. “I wouldn’t mind at all. Really, I don’t feel
like talking about your complicated personal problems”.

 Silence rolled in and covered us like a cold blanket.
Another rare occurrence presented itself; I decided to break it and keep
talking. “What made them change their mind exactly? I don’t think they just
turned back for no reason”.

 Claudia smiled. “It took some convincing, but Eva and I
were able to bring them back to the option of taking you in. It was too hard to
imagine you living on your own…”

 “It’s not a good feeling… knowing that you don’t have
anybody” I said grimly. “I don’t think you truly realize just how thankful I
am. I was worried that I’d just be stuck here forever on my lonesome”.

 “I wouldn’t have left you behind. I would’ve… I would’ve
gotten you back… I would fight”. She laughed. “It’s funny… I always imagined
you as a brother to me, and now you actually are my brother”.

 I smiled. Reality was improving gradually, and maybe,
soon enough, something nice and new would happen to really repair my life. This
was definitely a step forward, but there were going to have to be more before I
was fully back to Earth.

 “And listen, Lionel… whatever I did… whatever I said…
that made you feel bad… about being who… who you are. I apologize. I don’t care
too much on what you are so long as you’re you” Claudia said out-of-the-blue.

 I realized this was probably about her discovery about me
being a gay individual. “Actually… I’m pretty sure that after today I can’t…
can’t be like that. Charles would say the same. Neither of us would want to
risk any rumors floating around that could compromise us” I replied honestly.

 She looked happy about that, which was a curious emotion
for realizing I had to give up a pretty big aspect of my life, but I dismissed
it. “Sorry to hear that… when did you start playing that? I forgot to ask”
Claudia said, bringing back the subject of my violin.

“When you left…” I responded shyly. It had been a while
since I admitted anything like that to her, but it felt letting her know. “It
was something that could clear the mind and make me distracted from life”.

 “What song were you playing earlier?” she asked me.

 “I… I made it myself” I answered. “The lyrics too”.

 She smiled. “I thought it was nice. Really nice”.

 The parents finally returned, Eva tagging along behind
them. My belongings were all arranged and prepared. The director gave us his
final words, and then departed. The family beckoned me towards them, smiles
shining.

 “Let’s not waste any more time!” Claudia said. Eva walked
over to push her wheelchair along, but I took up the offer instead. I followed
the family down to their car and eased her inside. This was my car now I guess.

 I situated myself next to Claudia and then looked out the
window as we pulled out of the orphanage’s parking lot. It was quickly
disappearing behind me, and I wished it would blow up in my wake; it wasn’t
even close to a nice place to live.

 Claudia elbowed me. “You’re with us now, and we’re not
going to leave you. Alright?”

 I nodded, but said nothing. I guess this was acceptance
then. The drive to the house was relatively short. Before we made it, I took a
sideways glance at my old place of residence; nothing had changed except for
the ‘For Sale’ sign in the front lawn. Luckily, I had salvaged what I wanted
from the area, so I was content letting it go now.

 I didn’t want to wait, so as soon as we made it to the
house I sprinted to the front door and opened it up. This was my house, my new
life, and I loved it already. I took the stairs two at a time and reached the
guest room, piling my entire luggage inside of it.

 By the time everybody had settled down, dinner was
approaching. Claudia and I were hanging out upstairs with Eva and having a fun
conversation. I finally felt as though my emotions weren’t going to be kept in
such a flux anymore.

 Our talking was interrupted by the sudden ringing of the
doorbell. I ran downstairs to get it so as to not inconvenience Claudia. My
violin was becoming a common object to be seen with me, and already I had
practiced for a solid hour today.

 I swung open the door to see who was outside, and I did a
double-take, as did the person at the door.

 “What are you doing here” I asked in more of a statement
form to Daniel.

 “Could ask you the same” was his simple answer. That may
be the most we could say to each other right about now.

 However, he kept going. “I’d just like to let you know…
Claudia is mine. I don’t like how you’re trying to win her back and getting all
emotional over her all of the sudden”.

 I was taken aback by his sudden barrage of displeasures. “The
point of you coming here being…?”

 “I want to talk with her” he said. He pointed at me. “And
you… stay away from her. Okay? I don't even know why you're here...”

 “So you’ve certainly done well not caring for me. What do
you think I was doing, kissing the floor she walked on? She’s your girlfriend,
and I respect that; she’s also my friend. Friends can get emotional. If you
want to get so territorial about this like a rabid dog, go take a piss on her
then. Here’s a though; why don’t YOU stay away from ME. That good enough for
you, or are you still going?” was my retort.

 “What is up with you? I offered you friendship, family,
even Claudia for God’s sake, and you shoot me down?”

 I had already prepared to shoot this argument down. “I
bet Claudia would love being forced onto me, hmm? She’s love-struck by you, and
you think I was going to break that? When your family was offered, it was after
you decided to spy on Charles and I. Thanks for spoiling our relationship by
the way!”

 “Enough!” I thought that came from Daniel, but I turned
around and realized it was from Claudia.

 “Why is he here!?” Daniel shouted, pointing at me. I
guess he though Claudia could back him up on getting me out of the way or
something of the like.

 “We adopted Lionel. He’s my family now. I’d appreciate if
the bickering stopped, okay?” she said, her voice steady and angry.

 Eva appeared next to her. “Why don’t we talk then? I’ve
got a headache and I want it away”.

 Looks were exchanged in the silence that followed the
German’s statement. No one made a move except for Claudia, who was coming down
the stairs towards us. I guess if we didn’t want to talk before, we were
talking now.

The End

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