Read the rest of the novel so far here.
In light of the incident on the stairwell, Levi made a concerted effort to participate in the lunchtime gossip circle that convened in the break room. In the past few weeks, He’d had a distinct feeling that his title, “Levi, the quiet one who sits by the window,” had been converted to “Levi, the one who got dumped by Laura in HR.” It was a little too pathetic for his taste, and he needed to change the image somehow. Besides, people couldn’t talk about him if he was actually there.
The instant he was sat on one of the aluminium chairs, enveloped in the smell of stale coffee, he began to regret it. Whether it was the late intern, the new exercise regime of their body-conscious manager, the illnesses of their children, Levi felt trapped in a conversation where he had no place and nothing to contribute. He grinned and nodded in the right places, whilst his eyes darted to the clock on the right-hand wall. He internally cursed that sluggish minute hand, as it made its lazy journey from 12:30 to 1:00.
He was almost jealous of his colleagues. Their faces were so animated when they discussed this scandal and that titbit they’d heard from Fred in another department. Levi couldn’t remember the last time he enjoyed talking to someone as much they were relishing this gossip. He eventually ended up staring out of the window until it was finally time to go back to his computer, and the payroll numbers and emails which would keep him busy for the rest of the working day.
Levi supposed he only had himself to blame for the fact he was lonely. Perhaps it was fifty/fifty. His parents were dead and he had no family, which was not his fault. In fact, it was because of this that he’d grown up in an environment that had systematically prevented him from forming lasting friendships. Moved from pillar to post in an uncaring care system, he’d never been able to stay in touch with people he might have grown close to.
However, when he’d turned eighteen and finally inherited his parents’ money and house, Levi had no more excuses for his unsociability. For the first year of living in his own house, he felt like the silence was a greedy indulgence. Instead of getting to know other people on his university course, he rushed to his home and laid in the space that was his and his alone.
He explored the possessions of his deceased parents, and his resentment towards them for getting into that car accident slowly turned into curiosity. He’d felt no drive to discover anything about them before, but he noticed there were no old photos, no information about them before they’d moved here. He didn’t even know what they had done for a living, but the inheritance had been sizable and must have been built up somehow.
Levi’s encounter with Keats occurred within a year of him moving in to his parents’ house. It fragmented his life, and he would throw away the shards in an instant if he could know more about her. He would ditch the job he’d battled to get after his degree. He’d let go of the photos of his parents, and the questions about their past he was sure he’d never find answers to. He would take any excuse to run away from the acquaintances he’d failed to form friendships with.
Unfortunately, that trade wasn’t on offer. Levi had to make do with what he had.