Damon Ludwig was the love of Alex’s life.
Of course, she did not tell him that. She barely looked at him, barely glanced in his direction when he greeted her. Covertly she admired him, though.
Damon Ludwig was the boy next door. Of course he had to be; Alex snorted at the ironic cliche of it all.
She couldn’t help herself, though. Damon was a very handsome lad, but it wasn’t that, really. She knew as well as the next person that just because somebody was handsome doesn’t mean they were very nice.
He was full of energy, is how she would describe it. He was constantly on the move. Lifting and carrying and bringing in mysterious logs through the front of his house. She would hear his mother berating him for getting mud and splinters all along her newly washed floors. She knew he made things out in the back garden shed, which had been converted to a personalised workshop. He made chairs and carved ornaments, most of which his mother lovingly displayed around her house.
He was funny. And laughed a lot. His laugh was swelling, coming from deep within him, so you knew it was genuine.
When he wasn’t carving, Damon was reading. He read everywhere. In trees, behind bushes, on the garden wall, lying precariously with his solid edges spilling over the sides, in his carpentry shed, on the gentle slope of the roof of his house.
And when he wasn’t reading, he was mowing old Lady Redmond’s lawn down the road or clipping the hedge for Mr Mason whose fingers were riddled with arthritis. He always had time for everybody, and with a cheerful smile he would help them. Sure, sturdy and confident.
She watched their faces when he left them; always smiling. It was like he was the sun and he left his glowing rays wherever he went.
She loved him. But of course, she would never tell him that.
She would carry on in her silent Alex way. Watching when he wasn’t looking, burying herself in her studies, taking care of things as best she could. Her little sister Lem was always in and out of the house next door. She envied her her childish confidence. She would come back with tales about Damon and even though Alex pretended to be nonchalant and dismissive she wanted to hear every detail.