Andrea watched Keith lift a cardboard box. She giggled coyly at his strength, but concentrated first and foremost on the task of making sure that her possessions stayed in one piece.
Keith was concentrating on keeping a balance of the broad box. His eyes slid over the large pile still at table-height and taunting.
"And how many more do you have?"
Andrea laughed, tossing her amber curls back as her head shook lightly.
"You're living with a woman now. Surely you should know by now that we come with a hefty price tag and boxes and boxes of shoes."
"Yes, but you're not any woman, dear Andrea."
"Aww, Keith," Andrea chuckled, blushing, "You're too sweet on me."
Keith blushed too, playing the exact reflection of his girl.
Outside, the rays of buttercup sunshine trickled through the half-open olive curtains of Keith's house. It was mid-morning, but the sun had risen late in Lansdale and would have to work hard to compete with the clouds that had snuck into the clear blue canvas. Also, Keith's happiness overwhelmed any that could be brought by another kind of nature.
Andrea stood with her hands placed gently on her hips as she looked around her new home decisively. The white paste on the walls bored her, and she would willingly throw out that leather bulk of a coach for something close to her comfortably paisley, but aside from its faults, the townhouse was a rather charming place, with golden lampshades and warm chocolate mats adorning the place. Keith had a way of being super tidy, and with it he had made his abode very à la mode.
Keith began to strip the cellotape from the box that he had finally managed to move to the kitchen (because the appliances inside were mainly associated with that certain room). It was one of the final boxes of Andrea's 'stuff', which had, in the end, taken a full three days (and a fair hour of Andrea apologising to Alexis for skipping work once again) to shift everything that Andrea wanted to keep with her as she moved into a new era of her life. Throughout the chore, Andrea had put on a brave face for Keith, but her mind was tormented by the mad glory of Lucas being around, and their growing attraction to one another that may have already led to something that the philosophers would call a relationship.
But Andrea bit those words from her mind, as she bit the confessions away from her lips, knowing that living a hyperbole would ultimately drive her to negative passion.
Driven by herself to utmost anger, Andrea fought the restlessness inside no longer, and remarked:
“I’ll get the last boxes. I’ll be back soon.”
Rummaging around in her flat, and preparing the remaining two boxes for travel, Andrea heard a tiny, yet sharp, sound, like pebbles colliding exactly with a windowpane.
Andrea turned sharply and peered out, shocked at the light-coloured figure who was standing floors below her window.
Once she had jogged down the stairs and swung open the large communal door, he greeted her with a neat-toothed grin. Unfortunately for Andrea, that destroyed any possible chance of him being there for anyone else.
“Lucas!” she exclaimed, “What are you doing here?”
“Checking up on you,” he continued grinning madly, as though he was a young man back in school, vying after a particularly good-looking teacher’s attentions.
“You can’t…but...what?” she gasped back. Finally, Andrea gave up her attempts to be truly angry, and began to be impressed.
“I can’t believe that you hit my living-room window from here," she shielded her eyes from the sun as she peered up the three stories.
“Well, I did.” And to prove it, Lucas threw another stone, which landed- ‘chink’- up to Andrea’s front window.
“I’ve never been particularly good at many sports,” he said, in way of an explanation, “But I have my way with badminton. Throwing stones is just the same principle.”
Now Andrea couldn’t believe her ears! She’d always loved badminton, until she had permanently injured her right shoulder playing it, and then was put off sport all together. Of course, she wouldn’t let Lucas know that they had another thing in common, another link…not yet anyway.
Having dismissed his jokes, and ventured back upstairs, Andrea packed up, into her little Opel car, the final of her sturdy cardboard boxes, these containing the little amount of rather personal items Andrea had, including some birthday plans, and a photo album of Alexis and herself. Lucas followed, like a lonesome puppy, and suddenly she spotted him snooping about in one.
“Hey…” she started, but stopped herself, not because she didn’t want to cause a scene, but because she felt that Lucas was allowed (and the only man to be) into such a box of her treasures. She grinned a sly grin as she imagined him as an eager child, unwrapping a gift with a similar kind of haste.
“Now, this is cute!” he exclaimed suddenly, pulling out a limp, one-armed teddy-bear, complete with little splits across its fur from living through many years.
“It is- was mine...” Andrea blushed, “Lucas, please put it back.”
He lifted the bear’s remaining paw and made it give a clumsy wave to Andrea. She was not impressed- and suddenly the full extent, and consequences, of his rooting through her dear possessions hit her.
“Lucas, we’ve got to stop this, okay? I’m with Keith,” she said, as though persuading herself of the matter too. “Why can’t you understand that?”
She felt a frustration bubbling up inside her breast, but knew not why he aggravated her so. A couple of days ago they had been as much the best of friends, as close as possible. Too close, in fact...
Half Andrea’s heart begged to be fed his affections, and was still being tugged towards him by way of bond created from the smallest nothings of similarity, but the other half felt the duty of keeping some loyalty towards Keith, her actual partner.
“Keith-” she stuttered, “I mean, Lucas, I can’t do this. I don’t... I can’t betray... I... Why?”
And suddenly, she ran out of things to say.
Having replaced the teddy, Lucas held his hands out in some sort of robotic shrug. She narrowed her eyes as much as her heart saw fit.
“You still refuse to tell me the whole truth about yourself. Okay, so everybody makes silly mistakes, but nothing is adding up in my mind, especially in the way you treat me- the way you have acted since I met you. What is it that you’re not saying? There’s even more each time we meet.”
The soft curves of Lucas’ pointed lips pursed into a thin, unhappy line.
“There are some things that I can not disclose, Andrea.”
“I’m just sick of lies!” she cried.
Lucas finally lost the entire rainbow of patience he owned, and his voice broke into a shout as he stood in the centre of the dark road, feeling more alone than ever.
“Fine. Andrea, you want one truth? Who am I to stop you from knowing my vault of secrets? Yesterday, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. Now I feel that everything must be perfectly ordered, everything has to be right.
Including my life.