Chapter One

The Shortcut

The sound of the alarm blares in the background as I make my third attempt to get up, it’s 7:00 A.M; school starts in an hour and thirty minutes and I need to make breakfast. I turn to the side of my bed and stare at the array of collectable items on my desk, my batman figurine, a collection of Descender comicbooks stacked neatly by my computer, my notes about water and human survival scattered somewhat in order of study, a picture of me and mum, the ray of sun that protrudes through my bedroom window hits the picture ever so slightly to block out my face, showing mums radiating smile.

I can’t remember the last time mum was that happy, probably because dad was still around and not out drinking as he is now, maybe because Zane was still around. I miss him, Zane, my older brother, mum said he was so happy when she told him that he was going to be a big brother, that he made sure he got everything ready for me, for when I arrived.

Dad always said “Son, if you were half the man like your brother is, you will make a great man someday.”

What would dad know anyways? All he knows is drinking alcohol, hurting mum and gambling the rent money.

It was never like this though, I remember volunteering at St. Matthews church to help with the gardening, while Zane helped with the maintenance and cleaning, he told me, “Rio, it’s always important to give back a little of your time to people that need it, because one day, when you’re stuck and you need someone to help you, there will be someone around for you.”

Oh how I wish I was still that naive to the world, I’m almost 18 now and even though I’ve lived a very brief life, I know that it doesn’t work like that, well, from what I’ve witnessed anyways.

I muster up all my feeble strength to get out of bed, it’s now 7:44 A.M; and I take up my usual morning rituals, pee, shave, shower, brush my teeth and sometimes, depending on my mood, I would put a little gel in my hair.

Today is the first day of the new school year, I hadn’t really done much for the summer, well, besides hanging with my best friend Willie. Him and I used to hangout alot more when we were younger, but nowadays, I guess we both have very different lives.

8:20 A.M

The hallways of Rosey Institute is now filled with adolescents, the hustle and bustles of delighted teens fill the air. Some talking amongst there peers, some laughing at there friend showing them videos on there phone, some minding there own business as they gather things before the bell.

I walk down the hallway to meet with the student council. I hate meetings, sometimes they’re informative, but recently no one can ever agree on anything, and to be honest, i’d rather be in the library writing. As I reach the door to the student council room, I hear a voice in the distance call my name, “Rio! Wait up, please!” I stop and see who it is, its Veronica running down the hallway jagged without a shirt on, hair blowing crazily around in the wind, her bag by her side, “Can I wear your shirt please!?” she forces me into the student council room. “What happened to your shirt, why are you like this?” I exclaim, being very confused as to both the situation, and predicament we are both in, “Can you please let me wear your shirt, I can’t be in my Bra all day!” she pleads, “Fine!” I say as I proceed to take off my shirt. I realised, I to would not have a shirt to wear. “Wait… what am I suppose to wear!?” I said, finally coming to the realisation of my decision, “I don’t know! But please before the rest of the council members arrive.” “Fine”, I take my shirt off quickly and give it to her, her face is filled with relief as she puts on my shirt.

I realise how big my shirt is compared to her. How it covers her skirt, only showing an inch of it, almost makin-g it look non-existant.

“Wow! You smell really good!” she blurts out, I was taken aback by the comment, “ah… thanks, I use soap and cologne.” I reply quite awkwardly, “So, are you always that muscly, or do you workout?” she enquires “Wait what?” I didn’t quite understand what she was trying to imply, “I’m not quite sure really” As I reply, I move to my seat and take out my equipment in the same order I put them in.

“Veronica?”

“Yes, Rio?”;

“May I ask why you didn’t have a shirt on?”

I was hesitant at the answer I would receive. “It’s really not that important Rio” she replys, “I understand”. I continue to unpack my Items. As I get my notebook out, I hear sniffling coming from Veronica, she’s crying, but doing her best to be as quiet as possible, probably for me not to notice, or, she was just trying not to disturb me. I’m not to sure how to act in these situations, so I grab the box of tissues that was placed in the back desk by the window, “Here, you may want to use this.” I toss her the box of tissues.

“You know, it was a good idea you got out of that situation, when you had the chance, that makes you a strong person for saying No.” I exclaim without a second thought. I knew exactly what had happened to her, but, I only wish she would’ve told me, but then again, it wasn’t my place of business.

“How did you know? She replys trying to fight her tears, “he wanted to have sex with me, but I didn’t want that, he just kept insisting and persisting” she continues: “I told him, ‘I’m not comfortable with this’ but he just couldn’t take the hint”. She wipes her cheeks, reveling the redness in her eyes and nose.

“I’m sorry” she mutters under her breath. I wonder if she will see this boy again, even though mum used to get hit by dad she would always go back to him, i’m not sure why, but I guess thats how girls work, I hope not though, just doesn’t make any sense.

“But, how did you know?” she asks again, I take a deep breath as I put down my pen.

“You see, your hair is always tied in a ponytail, but today, that was not the case, first, I assumed maybe you were late and forgot, but that didn’t seem to be true, especially when you have a hickey on the left side of your neck, so naturally I assumed you were with your boyfriend. Secondly, upon second glance, I did notice that you have red marks, on your legs and wrist where he grabbed you quite firmly. Thirdly, I also noticed that your shoes were not on properly making you run awkwardly, I’d have assumed someone had entered you by force…”

“STOP!”, Veronica shouts abruptly, she maybe does not appreciate my astuteness.

“My apologies, I did not mean to offend you.”

“It’s fine, I’m just a little shocked at how much you noticed.” she said, while attempting to fix the collar of my oversized shirt.

“Understood”