Chapter 2:

I Want to Feel For You, Idiot

With Oasis (Vol. 1)

I woke up that morning to the tune of Platinum Disco.

With my eyes only about a quarter of the way open, I grabbed my phone, turned off the alarm, and checked the time.

5:45 a.m.


Two days after Lou and I’s trip to the post office.

It’s never fun realizing that the weekend’s over and today’s the day you have to go back to school.

Lou and I go to the same high school: Stoneswan High. I don’t know what our highschool has to do with stone swans, but whatever. The only issue is— our high school isn’t located in our hometown of Charlais. Oh no, Charlais is a teensy barely-graduated-from-a-village that under no circumstances has enough teenagers in its population to be granted its very own high school. So instead, the teens of Charlais commute to Mullburg every morning; the town where Stoneswan is located.

Of course, Mullburg also just barely escaped village status, and honestly with its shrinking population it could turn back into one any minute, so it isn’t granted its very own highschool either. No, the true nature of Stoneswan high is that it takes students from eight different towns/villages. Mullburg, for some reason, is just the only one of these towns where the students can walk to school.

Lucky bastards.

I got out of my bed dazedly, accidentally knocking my blanket to the ground. My room was completely dark. The lights were off and the sun was still down, not to mention that I've designed this room to be as dark as possible anyway. I turned on my coffee maker, which I had put coffee grounds and water in yesterday evening, then slipped on my clothes: a white button up shirt and jeans.

I showered last night, so luckily I didn’t have to worry about that. Although, I showered a bit later than usual, so I ended up going to bed with wet hair. The tossing and turning of the night was unkind to my hair, so now I have bed head almost as bad as the type Lou has on a daily basis.

Luckily, my school doesn’t care that I wear bucket hats every day.

For those of us who live in any of those seven towns that aren’t Mullburg, we get treated to an hour-long bus ride every morning. Such is simply the norm when you live in the center of the heart of New Mexico’s most sparsely populated desert-esque mountainous regions.

So, I wake up every morning at an agonizingly early time.

I think this is why my caffeine addiction began.

I’m so tired… After getting dressed, I immediately flopped back down onto my bed and stared up at my bedroom ceiling, my coffee maker burbling in the background. I nearly fell back asleep right there and then.

My Mom works second shift, so she’s always still sleeping when I wake up, and she’s always gone for work by the time I get home, and she gets back from work after I’ve already hit the hay for the night. A nightmare schedule, in a sense. We still see each other on the weekends though. As for my Dad…

It should be obvious by now.

After downing my coffee, I put on my shoes, my backpack, and my bucket hat, and set out for the front door. But just as I grabbed the door handle, I hesitated. I hesitated, because I saw it. There was a note taped to the front door.

Have a good day at school



I left for my bus stop.

Lou and I both live in Charlais, and ever since we started dating, she’s moved from her stop to my stop. She’s always at the bus stop before me.

We talked a little this morning, but I was still pretty groggy. The coffee had yet to kick in, and I’ve built up an unfortunate caffeine tolerance.

Then, the bus came, and we parted ways. On our bus, the boys all sit at the front and the girls all sit at the back. The idea is that if the girls and boys are separated, it’ll reduce troublemaking, and that the boys should be sat up front closer to the bus driver and bus aide, on the assumption that they’ll cause more issues. Students both male and female have protested hard against this seating arrangement, but it never changes, and it probably never will.

Personally, I don’t care. I have no strong feelings one way or the other.

Actually, it’s a little relieving now that Lou and I are dating.

Lou really hates that we can’t sit together. But honestly (and maybe it isn’t good that I feel this way) I’m a little relieved that we aren’t together in the morning. When it comes to mornings, me and Lou are basically opposites. She can wake up, and without any caffeine, run a marathon with energy to spare. I, on the other hand, can’t function for about two hours after I first wake up. When I’m in this tired state, I have trouble coming up with suitable responses to things people say to me. And Lou, in the morning, would definitely say a lot of things to me.

In general, things are easier if we’re separated in the morning.

Once we actually arrive at school though, she gets drawn to me like a comet to earth. However messed up a person I am, we’re still dating, so I stick with her whenever I can at school. In the mornings, I walk Lou to her locker, then she walks me to mine, then I walk her to her first hour class, then I go to my first hour class by myself. It’s become our routine.

That morning, Lou was talking to me about her sister. “I finally got Sasha into an anime!”

“Which one?” I asked.

“Serial Experiments Lain!”

“...Isn’t Sasha, like, nine?”

“Ten. But somehow, her favorite anime is Serial Experiments Lain.”

“The younger generation is beyond me…”

“Don’t say stuff that makes you sound so old!” Lou exclaimed. “Oh yeah, by the way… how does it feel to know that Sasha’s gonna eventually be your sister-in-law?”

I shrugged. “I dunno.” In reality, Lou, I wouldn’t count on that.

To be honest, I wasn’t really interested in the conversation.


"Yo!" Me and Lou both turned our heads left. From among all the students passing by us, hurrying to their respective classes, a male student called out to us. I didn't know his name. His face was the type that was impossible to remember.

He pointed to Lou and said "Nice shirt, dude!"

I hadn't really noticed until now... Or no, I noticed, but just didn't think of it as anything special. Lou was wearing a Hunter X Hunter t-shirt. Come to think of it, she's only started wearing anime t-shirts at school recently...

Lou's eyes, normally glistening and wide— well, gone was the light. She regarded him with a perfectly neutral, emotionless gaze.

Lou's mouth, normally in the type of smile most would consider 'adorkable'— flattened into a straight line.

Lou's posture, normally flowy and casual— became rigid and awkward.

Lou didn't speak to the passing student. The most acknowledgement she gave his compliment was a vague nod in his direction.

After the student turned away from Lou and resumed his trip to his classroom, Lou faced me again. At first, she looked up at me with a mildly concerned look, but she brushed whatever was concerning her aside and continued, with a somewhat dampened smile, "Come on, let's head to class."

Everyone has many different personalities. We talk to strangers differently from how we talk to our friends. But for Lou... 

The difference is so much more intense.

I dropped Lou off at her science class, before turning right around and heading to Mr. Alvizo’s room, where I had first period algebra.

There wasn’t much time until the bell signaling the beginning of first hour was set to go off, so the halls were mostly empty and quiet; a far cry from the ruckus of a mere five minutes ago. I was, for the most part, alone. It was just me, the odd person or two, and the lockers.

We aren’t allowed to decorate the outsides of our lockers. I guess the custodians got sick of wiping off tape residue from people who taped drawings to their lockers, or something like that.

Each of our lockers is identical.

Well, that’s not strictly true. Each of our lockers has a different number on it, as well as a different pattern of rust. So I guess the school didn’t manage to wring all individuality out from our lockers.

Still… the lockers. They lined the walls on both sides in nauseating repetition.

I made it to my algebra class with barely thirty seconds to spare— just like usual. As I entered the room, I looked out towards all my classmates. Well, I didn’t mean to look at my classmates specifically. I was really just eyeing my seat. But in the process of looking at my seat, I practically had no choice but to catch a glimpse of the rest of the class.

They have the same mood every day, and are always utterly uniform in expression. The same dead eyes, the same deadpan expression, looking dead-bored at the prospect of having to calculate variables. 

Some try to whisper to their friends quietly enough that the teacher won't notice. Most have given up on getting away with such things long ago.

Algebra class began, with the same teacher as usual. Mr. Alvizo. He took attendance in the same neutral tone as usual. “Rocco Fey?”

“Here.” I answered in the same dull tone I do every day.

Yes, my last name is Fey. Every day I curse the stars that I had to be born as a boy with the most feminine last name I’ve ever heard. But even still… Having a girly last name is the usual for me.

Then he began the day’s lesson with the same hollow enthusiasm all the teachers have.

I opened my notebook, just like usual.

Notebook paper. Always the same. Twenty-six blue lines equidistant from each other, all intersecting a single red line. To the left of the red line are three holes, and a perforation in case I want to tear the page out.

…Why am I describing notebook paper?

Because there’s nothing better to do when things are this ritualistic and pointless.

The popular kids always wear the same trendy clothes. The rest of us don’t really stand out.

Although I guess there is one unpopular kid who stands out to me now.

Lou Clemente.

She began standing out to me once we started dating.

About that…

I still don’t really know why we started dating. Honestly. It’s a weird story… and a lot more worthwhile to think about than math equations, at least by my calculations. Besides, Lou’s like, way smarter than me. She may be an idiot, but As and Bs come naturally to her. If I fall behind in class I’ll just have her tutor me.

Lou didn’t move into Charlais until we were both in seventh grade. However, we didn’t exchange a single word with each other until Sophomore year— this year.

From sixth through eighth grade, Lou was homeschooled. However, for highschool, Lou wanted to give public school another go. I don’t know why. By my assessment, public school is totally void of merit. I’d rather Mom teach me alone in the living room. But hey, different folks for different folks. Wait-

Even before we started going to the same highschool together, I at the very least knew of her existence. Like I said, Charlais is teensy. It’s hard not to notice when a new person moves in. But— I’m not really a people person.

There was a time all the way back in elementary school when I was, but nowadays I’d rather spend my time doing anything else. It’s not that I’m shy; I just prefer to be by lonesome. So, I never approached Lou, even though she was one of only a few kids my age who lived in Charlais, and even though my Mom was telling me “Oh my goodness gracious, the Clementes have a daughter that’s around your age! Are you gonna hit on her??” My Mom’s a sleaze like that.

She still doesn’t know she predicted the future. ...Well, actually, she tries to get me to hit on girls my age all the time, so I guess it was less a prediction and more an inevitability.

Lou never approached me either. Lou is… like me in that regard. It’s difficult for me to even fathom nowadays, but Lou isn’t an extrovert. She may act like one sometimes, but she’s not. She’s just as introverted as I am.

That’s why, when we saw each other on the streets in town, we didn’t strike up a conversation. That’s why, during our Freshman year, we exchanged not a single word with each other, despite sharing some of our classes.

Lou was, during Freshman year, known to be quite taciturn; rarely opening her mouth, only talking when prompted to. And even when she did speak, her voice was muted and deadpan. She spoke quietly, and communicated efficiently, seemingly so she could stop talking as quickly as possible. She had only one facial expression— one of neutrality. One that conveyed no specific emotion, which she wore constantly.

I think I could count the amount of times I saw Lou emote during Freshman year on one hand.

The way I saw her in Freshman year… I thought she might be the same as me. But even thinking we shared something in common, I didn’t approach her. To be the same meant we were never supposed to approach each other.

Summer passed, then Sophomore year began, and for the first month things were exactly the same as last year. We only share one class this year: history class for seventh period. During that class, Lou sits directly behind me. Always staring at me in that class, whether she wants to or not.

Something odd must’ve happened during that time she had me in her sights. I must not have seen it, since I was too busy looking at the board. But at some point during all that time she spent looking at me, she must’ve realized that the way she looked at me had changed.

It was the last day of Summer of this year: September 22nd. Even with the special occasion, I had a monotonous morning, one where I spent the bus ride looking out the window in silence, staring at oh-so familiar landscape. Then, I arrived at school per usual, and headed for my locker.

I couldn’t open my locker.

Leaning against its door was a girl wearing a light pink, beautiful summer dress, as if to commemorate what day it was. Her hair— usually untamed with like six ahoges or something… was only very subtly wavy. She had brushed it thoroughly. She had perfume on; a mature scent, like something a mother would recommend her daughter use during the kind of event where you dress to impress. Her lips were bright red— she clearly had lipstick on. I didn’t notice any makeup on her face, though I admit this as a guy myself, men have trouble noticing whether or not girls have makeup on.

She tilted her head up towards me as she noticed my presence. Her leaning figure went upright, in a neutral sort of standing pose, with her arms at her sides and legs positioned an inconspicuous distance apart— a pose that communicated no nervousness.

Well, I say her pose communicated no nervousness... but even in the moment, I immediately reckoned it was a facade. She had control over her pose, but what she couldn't control was her shivering. Her arms and legs, all four of them were visibly shaking. And although her pose was neutral by most accounts, it looked unnaturally stiff to me.

“Uh… Could you move?” I asked. “I need to get to my locker.”

And that was when Lou spoke her first words to me. Her eyes dark as the emptiness of space, her gaze thoroughly deadpan, her voice monotone as could be, she said it.

“Will you go out with me?”

Her voice was monotone, but unlike her usual quiet tone, this was a declaration, and one with power behind it.

Needless to say, I was surprised.

What?? What???? This is… happening?? But I’ve never even talked to her before! We barely know each other! Why would she ask me out? Why me?? Is she simply desperate for a boyfriend; any boyfriend? Do I just look like an easy yes to her?? Or does she genuinely like me… No, no way, how could she like me without talking to me? And in the first place, if she talked to me, she’d pretty quickly realize she doesn’t like me. Then, is this just an elaborate prank? Is she willing to put her dignity on the line to mock me?

I had all these questions, all these protestations, but…

A single realization cut through the layers of questions in my head.

I don’t talk to people. I’m as misanthropic as they come. I don’t even like talking to people. I’ve never had a girlfriend, and at this rate, I probably never will… Or at least, ‘probably never will’ should be the ending of that sentence. But through some sort of miracle, some oddball piece of plot armor, a girl who I’ve never talked to before wants me to be her boyfriend.

This is my only real shot at romance.

And with that realization, my answer was easy.

“Yes,” I said, in my own version of a deadpan voice.

And that was that. If it was some sick prank, I told myself, I’d just have to roll with the punches.

I realized pretty quickly it wasn’t a prank.

Upon my saying yes, Lou's posture visible relaxed. She let out the softest sigh of relief I've ever heard; hell, I almost didn't hear it at all. I may have even just imagined it. Her shivering began to die down.

Then, Lou turned around towards my locker, and smacked her hand onto it. Palm against metal, fingers spread wide. I was confused for a moment, but when she dropped her hand back to her side, all was made clear. There was now a red, heart-shaped sticker on my locker.

Lou then faced me again and held her hand out towards me. In her palm was another, identical, heart-shaped sticker. “Here,” she said in that same deadpan voice. “My locker number is 80. Could you put this on there?”

But it’s against the rules… is what I’d say if I weren’t a delinquent. But quite frankly, putting a heart sticker on a locker was such a mild breaking of the rules that it barely even registered to me as anything bold or daredevilish. “Alright,” I answered.

“Do you want me to lead you to my locker?” she asked.


Along the way to her locker, she asked me another question. “Do you want to sit at my lunch table?”

“Who sits there?” I asked.




“Just you?”

“Just me.”

I briefly thought it over, then— “I guess I’m alright with sitting there.”

Once we arrived at locker 80, Lou fetched from her locker whatever belongings she needed for first hour, and then closed it, moved out of the way, and let me put the sticker on.

I put the sticker on like a normal person instead of Lou’s smacking the locker like a bongo drum.

And that was the first time me and Lou ever broke the rules together.

We’ve been dating for a little over a month at this point, and a lot has changed.

News of our relationship spread through the school quickly. It’s not like we’re popular or anything. We’re actually quite the opposite. But the stickers on our lockers, however small they were, shattered the uniformity of our lockers that the school so desperately wanted to maintain.

We were only able to keep the stickers on for a single school day. When we arrived at school on September 23rd, the stickers were gone, and later during first period we ended up getting called to the office together and told off for our misbehavior. In the end, the infraction was minor enough that we served no detention. Our only punishment was a scolding. Actually, getting scolded was more of a reward than a punishment in my eyes. Getting to skip most of first hour in exchange for a good twenty minutes of wondering when we’d be dealt our punishment? That thrilling buildup was worth far more than any math class ever could be.

That deadpan expression Lou used to alway wear… those sentences expertly crafted for efficiency, like the prose of a novel… they quickly got replaced— with the smile she wears today. Slowly but surely, emotion seeped into her emotionless tone. Cheer and jokes and weirdness replaced what was once a normal quiet girl demeanor. Within a two week’s time, she was telling me to have a microwaveable monday and a schmorbop schmursday.

But here’s the thing. I don’t really get it, but Lou only behaves so bubbly when she’s in my presence. Around anyone else, she becomes taciturn once more, and loses all of what I now consider her usual personality. All semblance of that silly smile gets chucked out the window and replaced with the face of a girl who’d rather be chucked out a window than talk to anyone.

Something about me caused her to change, and I’m the sole witness to that change.

As if.

Things are never so romantic in real life.

Well, it still holds true that she only behaves that way around me (and her little sister Sasha, I guess, judging from how Lou talks about her), and towards everyone else she’s very reserved. But we talk at school together. We talk during lunch, during seventh period history class, in the hallways, and basically anywhere, any time we happen to be in the same room together. We’re practically glued to each other at school, or at least as glued together as two people feasibly can be when the fact we go to different classes is constantly ripping us apart.

And the other students have certainly noticed. I’m not really the ‘sole witness’ to this supposed change. They’ve seen us talk, and they know that when she talks to me she seems like a completely different person.

The rumors that are being spread are twofold.

To some, I fixed her; changed her for the better.

To others, Lou is putting on a mask in order to make me more attracted to her, and is some sort of slut or something.

The actual truth, at least in my view, is that… well, I guess I’ll say first that I doubt she’s putting on a mask around me. For that to be true she’d have to be an A class method actor. But more than that, I don’t think I fixed her. I don’t think I changed her for the better. I don’t even think she changed at all.

People's entire personalities don't change that drastically within two weeks. She must've always been bubbly deep down.

She simply is who she is. I have nothing to do with it.

It didn’t take long for Lou to find out about my delinquent activities. I mean, if you’re dating me, and around me all the time, it’s hard not to find out about them.

I certainly wondered how Lou would respond to finding out I’m a delinquent, though if she ended up being the type who was a stickler for the law and was willing to tell on me, I honestly wouldn’t have minded. Having someone who knows about my illicit outings and who also disapproves of them seems kinda fun, like a tense situation I’d need to navigate myself out of with wit and charm, or something.

But no. Lou had the opposite reaction. It wasn’t just that she was okay with my delinquency; it was that she actively wanted to be a delinquent with me. She wanted to be a “bad girl”, as she puts it.

I didn’t want her to do crime with me at first, but eventually I caved in, and let her join me in spray painting the caravan of a crotchety old geezer named Mrs. Bauernfeld.

She had a lot of fun.

And the rest is history. Lou became my partner in crime. Nowadays, I don’t do anything illegal without Lou coming with, and she’s constantly asking me when we’re next gonna do criminal stuff together. Every day, she goes on and on about how she’s a “bad girl” who I “brought to the dark side” and how I’ve “so thoroughly ruined such an innocent young woman”, all with a delighted smile like she’s having the time of her life.

On the one hand, I find her desire to be a “bad girl” incomprehensible and stupid. But on the other hand… I kinda get it, in a certain regard.

Delinquency isn’t as simple as just committing a crime. You need to have a plan, and a thorough one, else you’ll get caught instantly. You need to know the location where you’ll be committing the crime in and out, and you need to know each step of the plan like your left hand. It takes planning, time, and effort.

Then, when you actually commit the crime, it’s tense and exciting. It’s the kind of thing that gets your adrenaline pumping and keeps you on edge in the best way possible, wondering if you’re gonna get caught, calculating the million different little things that could do you in. It’s an involved process, with a huge climactic finish.

It seems like the kind of thing most people would consider fun. Rewarding, even.

That’s part of why delinquents exist in the first place.

It’s why I became one.

Although, I never considered delinquency or being a “bad boy” a part of my identity. Lou seems to want to make it a part of hers. So perhaps we have different end goals with this whole crime thing.

Throughout the past month, I’ve begun going down the list that everyone ticks boxes on during their first relationship. It started with sharing our first hug. Then, we began holding hands whenever we walked the halls together. Then, she layed on me. She sat on my lap. We cuddled together. She let me use her thighs as a pillow. I got her in a goddamn bridal carry. I gave her a piggyback ride. We haven’t kissed yet, but I have no doubts that we will some day. But…

Well, I was the one who got us to hug. At every point after that though, it was Lou who had to progress things. She’ll probably be the one who initiates our first kiss.

To be honest… I don’t really feel emotions. It’s a bit of an inaccurate way to put it, but it hits the closest to what I feel deep down.

It started in fifth grade, really. It was around that point that I really began thinking about the world. I thought about the mechanism that drives everything in our reality. I began philosophizing… well, as good as a fifth grader can philosophize, anyway. I began thinking about important things.

Soon enough though, I grew tired of the humdrum, shallow conversations of daily life.

They weren’t important.

They weren’t interesting.

Who cares about the weather outside? What does it matter if Jasmine’s haircut looks cute? It’s all nonsense compared to religion and politics.

I grew bored of people. So I stopped talking to them. The spiraling tangents in my head would keep me company.

But soon I grew bored of not just people but everything I once loved. Video games? Books? Anime? Manga? Nature walks? My Mom taking me places on the weekend? It became rote, meaningless; a complete bore. None of it was important. Until eventually—

I lost the motivation to go down those spiraling tangents that once took up my free time. Because I realized…

It’s all meaningless. Nothing I do has any more meaning than anything else I do. It’s all equally unimportant. Breathing is dull, experiencing is trite, life is mind numbing.

Romance, too, is meaningless.

Secretly, when I said yes to Lou asking me out, I was hoping that romance would be the key to fixing my life. Having a girlfriend is, like, the ultimate goal of almost every high school boy. Climbing the ladder of love is supposed to be one of the most exciting, heat-pounding, and fulfilling activities out there. That’s the image that we’ve created for high school romance. I thought that maybe romance would give me something that I wasn’t bored by. It’d give my life some sort of meaning.

So, on the second day of us dating, at my (now our) bus stop that morning, I went in for a hug, and Lou hugged me back. I climbed the first rung on the ladder of love.

Even though Lou was still in her deadpan phase at this point, she smiled upon being hugged by me.

I didn’t.

Then I realized I was supposed to be smiling, and put on a fake smile so that Lou wouldn’t catch onto the fact that I still felt bored.

A week later, we were sitting together in the commons at school— skipping class together. It was that day, together in the commons, that I experienced my first time having a girl lay on me, and she experienced her first time laying on a guy. Lou rested her head against my chest, and I draped my arms over hers. Yes, my arms and hands were touching her chest. I wasn’t grabbing it or anything, but still, this is basically any high school boy’s dream, is it not?

It should’ve been exciting. The way her hair spilled onto my legs should’ve sent my heart into overdrive. This situation should’ve gotten my blood pumping and my libido surging and the urge to hug and kiss filling every limb of my body. I should’ve been going haywire with emotion.

Or, no, maybe that puts my expectations too high.

Maybe I should’ve felt just a tiny, delightful spark in my soul. 

That would’ve sufficed.

Just something, anything.


All I felt was a vague sort of boredom that filled me from bottom to top. It was horrifying. My hands were against her goddamn boobs and it didn’t even register as sexual to me. I could feel her heartbeat and it didn’t even register as romantic to me. It felt just the same as religion and politics.


Every once in a while, I hope to finally feel something from my relationship with Lou. I hope to have a fire ignited in my heart, or to have fun with her, or to find her smile endearing. But every time, that hope quickly shatters once I do something intimate with her and feel just the same as always.

It’s not like I hate being intimate with Lou. I’d rather be intimate with a woman than not. But… it just doesn’t bring me joy.

I’ma be honest. I don’t think me and Lou will last.

And I think she’ll be the one breaking up with me.

After all, there has to be a point where she gets tired of dating someone who’s so apathetic.

Well, I say all this, but there is one thing that gets me haywire with emotion.


No, not the board game. I mean the concept of risk.

Earlier I said that planning a petty crime is something most people would consider fun… but the only part of it I truly find fun is the climax. The part where the crime is committed. The part where the stakes are high and the tiniest slip up can cost you everything.

To risk so much… to have that pressure on you… it’s enough to light a spark not just in my soul, but every centimeter of my body. It’s the closest I’ve felt to happiness in a long time. I like other kinds of risks too, but right now, delinquency is the main one.

Well, delinquency and-


It was at that moment that a piercing, high pitched beeping noise echoed throughout the entire school. The bell signaling the end of first period. In three minutes, it’d ring again to signal the beginning of second period, in all its irritatingly loud glory.

I didn’t pay attention to algebra at all, did I? You know, I initially was only gonna think about me and Lou’s backstory, but by the end I was kinda just venting about my life, wasn’t I?... Haha…

Sometimes I still get stuck in mental tangents, I guess.