~ 。Δ 。Δ 。CHAPTER 2 。Δ 。Δ 。~


Today's word of the day is 'serendipity'.

Serendipity means a chance occurrence of events that have a beneficial outcome. It's like destiny, or fate. When Louis left his home for school that morning he wasn't aware that events were conspiring to put themselves in his favour, but he was pleasantly surprised. Louis's parents owned one of the nicest homes in the dreggiest of towns. Tuttle Town was not a beautiful place. It was a run-down desolate hole filled with unlikeable characters and illiterate graffiti. It also perpetually smelt like fish.

As he carefully stepped down the slope of his family's long driveway he waved politely to the neighbour, Mrs Moeller. Her and her husband owned no less than six cats, possibly more, Louis couldn't be bothered keeping track of them. But their loud cat-fights tended to permeate his bedroom window and shock him awake in the middle of the night. They were like a gang of furry roof-jumping mobsters. It was a warm spring morning and the various colourful blooming flowers left his nose in a state of constant redness. But that didn't make Louis self-conscious about his looks.

Because Louis knew that he was gorgeous.

He had outgrown blonde hair and almond-shaped eyes. The strands of his hair were the exact hue of gold and thin enough to rest closely to his head and down his neck. His skull was long and narrow with Nordic features. He was feminine, but not flamboyant. Refined. Elegant. There was a discipline and grace in all his body movements that could only be attained through years of strict dance practice. He had a slim built frame and was almost the average height for his age. Louis didn't cuss, and as he made his way down Tuttle Town's finest street he waved to each and every neighbour who was out and about this morning. They all recognised him and waved back.

He was a pretty boy, and yet his beauty was frequently marred by suspicious bruising.

Louis may have successful parents and a moderately wealthy lifestyle, but even charmed families rarely show what's going on under the surface. Louis's life was less than perfect.

On his way to the bus stop he had to wait for the morning traffic before crossing the road. An elderly man paused at the turn-off with the indicator of his green Volkswagen flashing. Through the gaps in the passing traffic Louis could tell the man had already been given several chances to turn off, the blonde boy's teeth ground together but he smiled politely. His wife was talking at him from the passenger seat while the man concentrated forward – she was probably saying the same thing Louis was thinking. By the time he finally went three cars had lined up behind him in his place with their blinkers flashing for left as well.

In aggravation Louis stepped away, did a full circle and then faced forward again. He tried to look patient because above all Louis cared what people thought about him. That was why he knew everyone on his street despite the fact his parents were anti-social recluses. It was why he was on good terms with everybody at his school – with the exception of the sporty popular idiots of their year and the pool of pretty girls that they dated. Everyone liked talking to Louis because you could tell he genuinely cared about other people. It did drag him down though: pretending he was interested in the lives of others and what they had to say. Honestly, even though no one at school would guess this, he preferred to be alone.

Louis was just not as social as he outwardly faked being. He tried too hard to get everyone to like him and he often worried that it felt forced and awkward. But it was a compulsion. Sometimes he felt like he was just spreading his arms to everyone he passed in life and saying 'Nice to meet you. I'm the doormat. Feel free to walk all over me'. They'd smile, a little gratefully, and use him to dust off their shoes.

He reached the bus stop enclosure and took a seat, extremely relieved no one else was here today. Otherwise he would've forced meaningful conversation and taken it upon himself to brighten their day. Louis wasn't in the mood for patience as it was, but he was always giving a hundred and twenty percent of himself at any moment. It was exhausting.

A mother duck emerged from the plumbago shrubbery nearby with her parade of little ducklings by her feet. On the nearest telegraph poll was a yellow duck crossing sign. Tuttle Town had quite the array of aquatic birds. The mother wagged her tail as she waddled onto the street, only to start quacking nervously at the oncoming traffic and retreating the way she'd come. The ducklings stumbled as they fell over the curb after their mother. Louis smiled to himself, and then as usual bus number fifty-eight came spluttering over the hill and into view. Good old Mrs Ritchie, always on time. She was an exemplary model for public transport drivers everywhere. Standing up from the bench he took a few graceful steps towards the side of the road and the bulky yellow vehicle rattled to a stop. The door screeched open and as Louis stepped in he was wearing one of his hearty caring smiles.

"Good morning Grace, how are you?" he was sweet and attentive, with just the right amount of humble.

"I'm very well thanks, Louis." she spoke through a throat abused by decades of smoking "Yourself?"

"Oh I'm very good thanks, how's the grand-kids?"

"They're well. Milo had to get a tooth pulled on the weekend, balled his eyes out" the doors closed and the bus started moving again, Louis held onto the bar and stood behind the yellow line.

"Poor boy!" he answered her, raising his voice to the correct pitch for concern "I'm absolutely terrified of the dentist." That wasn't true. Louis had perfect teeth.

"Took him and his sister to Maccas afterwards, that calmed him down." she liked him, he could feel it. And he wanted to keep it that way, for everyone.

"Nothing like rewarding a trip to the dentist with sugary fast food," he joked and she gave an appropriately short laugh at the appropriate time.

"How're you doing with your HSC marks?"

"Well, you know, it can be hard to concentrate but I'm still managing to scrape high marks and maintain my average."

It was a brief journey to Tuttle Town High School, regardless of where you lived in this pathetic little place. On the way Louis spotted Mr Anderson, the town drunk, lying in the gutter outside the corner store with his bottle a few centimetres from his outstretched hand. His beard was grey and thick, he was wearing tracksuit pants and a beanie. Louis also saw Mr Thompson, the town crazy person, feeding ducks by a park seat. He was a balding man with a barrel-shaped stomach in a green raincoat, and he was mumbling to them under his breath. Neither of them were allowed near the school, it'd make folks nervous.

Tuttle Town High School was first built in the 1920s, the original building was now just the library. The academy had been remodelled several times after that, the most recent upgrades took place in the early twenty-first century. It was still a grey colourless place, the bare stone and buildings seemed to suck creativity out of the air instead of inspire it in the students. The school crest was visible on the stone arch entryway, a mermaid in front of a shield the colours grey and indigo. Everyone said their uniform was indigo but in Louis's opinion it was more of a royal blue.

He picked at the frayed edge of his blazer as the bus stop pulled into its park, then he farewelled Mrs Ritchie and was the first one off. The crowd of students chatted loudly on their way into the old school, Louis maintained his innocent expression as he responded to several more greetings from the various students that passed him. Boys and girls, fellow twelfth graders and juniors waved. They all knew Louis who had the masterful social grace of a butterfly. He fluttered between the multitude on his way inside and shot courteous smiles to all. Sure it was draining, but to soak up all this positive energy was worth it. They all knew his home-life and his story. That's Louis, poor guy. He absolutely loved it.

Serendipity first came a-knocking at recess. During lunch break Louis spent time with the school councillor, but at recess he spent it with his school's Gay Straight Alliance. In a school of three-hundred in a town as small as it is, it was a miracle they had an LGBT student group at all. Louis had of course been one of its founders and the faculty representative was their bisexual art teacher Ms Nepezelli. She looked young for a woman in her forties, with bronzed skin and an accent that hinted at some kind of foreign ethnicity – but Louis didn't have a clue what it could be.

There were seven teenagers all up, the only other student in Louis's year was a dark-skinned chubby lesbian named Zali. Everyone was talking loudly to be heard over everyone else and Louis made sure to be a good listener as he heard the theories being touted around. Ms Nepezelli had just shown them the last of the LGBT movie they'd been watching and now everyone was discussing their thoughts on it.

"I think the movie had a very negative take on stereotypes," Zali called out through her black lips to be heard.

"That's cause stereotypes are true," a younger lesbian with spiked hair turned from the front row.

"All of the gay people in the film were unattractive and unlikeable," Zali argued fiercely "Then you have the popular straight American stereotypes and you've got the bullying jock and snobby cheerleaders."

"Well," Ms Nepezelli raised her hands from the front by the VCR "Lets see what everyone has to say about the movie. Everyone should get a chance to voice their opinion."

"I'm entitled to my opinion," Zali muttered.

"We were hearing your opinion all through the movie!" the other lesbian snapped and received narrowed eyes.

"Louis," Ms Nepezelli pointed to the politely quiet boy "What did you think of it?"

"I think the point of the movie was that it wasn't glamorising young LGBT people. To me the characters were vulnerable and real, it could talk about real life issues and gave the film a refreshing air. For gay youth there's more struggles than just family and finding someone to date, there's the stigma to fit in and be society's idea of attractive."

"An excellent opinion," she praised and Zali sighed from beside him.

"But I have to say the romance was so cliché-" a boy in a nasal voice started before there was a knock on the door.

"Why do you think that?" the teacher asked on her way to the door. She opened it.

"Well the-" he stopped and they all stared at the two people standing awkwardly outside. Louis's eyes almost popped out of his head.

The beautiful Mackenzie King stood with her curtain of black hair swept over her shoulders. She was one of the popular girls, fashionable and desirable. What was she doing here? Beside her was her sporty boyfriend, none other than Jesse himself. He was one of the stars of the school's basketball team, the team that'd gotten to the regional semis last year. He was also absolutely hated by everyone in this room. Hated by most of the school, but no where more so than in this room. Even Ms Nepezelli knew of the bullying Jesse had been responsible for.

Jesse Rockland was a no good typical dough-brained sporty asshole. He was attractive too, although very aware of it. Him and Mackenzie had been dating since the dawn of time – that is to say the beginning of Year Ten. Jesse was about as disliked by the majority as Louis was liked. This seemed to come as a surprise to him though as he recoiled unexpectedly from their hostile looks.

"Yes?" Ms Nepezelli asked curiously and Mackenzie hesitated before speaking.

"I came to join your group. This group."

"Why?" someone blurted. That younger lesbian hadn't been wrong about stereotypes being true. The other members were gangly, overweight and not-very-appealing versions of tomboys and tomgirls. Louis might've considered himself very attractive, but while he could say he wasn't flaming he was definitely not masculine. He was too delicate. But these two fit the stereotypes of the mockers in the film they just saw as opposed to any of the main characters.

"Because I think I'm bisexual," Mackenzie confessed with a sigh and Louis recovered.

"Come in you two," he welcomed warmly and they all turned to look at him briefly, taking it as an okay signal to let Jesse inside. Jesse noticed him then and his expression went blank as if he was now remembering all the things he'd done. The blonde boy smiled, serendipity.