Leon was unsure on whether what he had told Alice was a good idea or not. It had already been two and a half months and nothing bad had happened, and Desmond still didn’t know (at least Leon didn’t think he did), but he still couldn’t shake that feeling of uncertainty; that feeling of anxiety. Although a strange thing had happened: after Leon confessed his feelings, he felt a lot better – like a weight had been lifted. He wondered whether or not he was still in love. At times it felt like he was but it mostly didn’t and he didn’t know if that was good or not. He tried not to think about it. He put all of his effort into programming his first computer game.
He spent every day that he wasn’t at school on his computer with a two-litre bottle of soft drink by his side. He rarely left his room at all because he found that channeling his energy into programming took his mind off of Alice. Plus now that he was eighteen he had a great new drinking game: every time you think of how great Alice is, you take a shot. But he wasn’t sure that alcoholism was a permanent solution. In fact he knew that it wasn’t.
“Leon, I’d really like it if you stepped outside of your room for something aside from school. You’ve been shut up in your room since early Friday afternoon,” said Leon’s mum.
“Mmm, and what day is it today?”
“Almost 3:30 in the afternoon.”
Leon kept unblinking eyes locked on his computer monitor, not saying another word. Then his mother continued, “Are you feeling okay?”
“There’s nothing happening at school?”
“Don’t patronise me, mother. Nothing is happening; I’m just really concentrated. This is my future here.”
His mother stepped further into his dark room and gazed upon the monitor.
“Your future is a bunch of ones and zeroes?”
“No, the ones and zeroes are—Oh, please get out won’t you.”
Leon ignored all of his mother’s future advances… until one afternoon when she opened the door.
“Oh mother, get the fu—Alice?”
Leon turned around while almost yelling but then cut off when he saw Alice. He wiped his eyes and gaped at her.
“Desmond is here too, Lee.”
Desmond and Alice walked in and turned around to shut the door.
“Thank you, Ms. Lopez.”
They sat down on Leon’s bed. They stared at Leon, waiting for him to turn away from his computer, only he never did.
“Leon,” Alice started, “you haven’t spent a second away from this computer apart from school which it’s become a wonder if you’ll show up or not.”
Leon still didn’t say a word. “We are all worried about you. You aren’t okay. Please talk to me.”
Leon just kept right at his work. This got a rise out of Desmond and he was sick of Leon ignoring them.
“God fucking damnit Leon, will you stop with that stupid computer?” He marched across the room and tore the power cable straight out of the wall and the computer shut off abruptly.
“Dude! What the hell is your problem?” Leon exclaimed.
“Listen to Alice for Christ sake.”
“Okay, Lee. We know you are having a rough time, but if we really talk about it we can get through it. We know this past year has been extremely tough on you, but the answer isn’t to sit in front of the computer and get drunk! It’s bad for your health.”
“Is this going somewhere—“
“Yes. And here is where it’s going: you see, I know perfectly well what’s troubling you.”
Leon panicked as he considered the possibility that Desmond will question her statement, but he just sat on the bed not saying a word.
“You do, huh?”
“Yes. But you have to know that these kinds of things always pass. You feel this way now, but it won’t last.”
“Damn right it won’t. I’ll finish programming my first game and give mum all of my revenue from the sales, and then it can all end.”
Alice’s facial expression dropped to one of concern. Desmond flinched and jumped up off the bed. He walked over to Leon, and with a high, firm hand, slapped Leon straight across his face. Leon held his cheek, now red and looked at Desmond, not saying a word.
“I don’t ever want to hear that kind of negativity from you again. It isn’t you! The real Leon – the one that will be back before long – doesn’t care about anything. You have a real talent and you want to squander it over your temporary feelings?”
Temporary feelings? He couldn’t possibly know…
“Listen, I have—WE have some news that will either help or hinder your feelings. I pray to God that it helps.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Leon, Alice and I are getting married.”
“Help or hinder…?” Leon was confused, terrified and nervous since Desmond obviously knew what had been happening.
“Yes,” Alice said, “we are. But you know, not until like, next year when we are nineteen. Since our birthdays are all near the start of the year. We know nineteen is a young age, but eighteen is even worse. Plus, we just know it’s the right thing to do. We have known for ages.”
“We just have been trying to find a way to tell you, Lee. We didn’t want you doing anything hasty.”
“So then, you know,” Leon said with simplicity.
“Yes, I do. Alice told me.”
Leon shot a look at Alice.
“Sorry!” She yelled, “but he had to know eventually.”
“So, Leon how do you feel about our upcoming nuptials? Do you feel better?”
Leon looked at his feet for a second before he raised his head back up at the two.
“Loads,” he said convincingly, with a smile, “thanks, guys.”
“Seriously…? I’m a little unconvinced,” said Desmond.
“No, really. It’ll help me get over this bout.”
It took another ten minutes to convince the couple that Leon was okay. He of course was lying through his teeth. The second they left Leon buried his face in his pillows and cried even harder, whispering “Why?! Why must you get married?! We belong together! WHY!?” He bashed his head into his pillows.
Then finally, Leon had thought of a solution – the only way he could possibly feel better. He looked toward his night stand at the full bottle of alcohol.