That Life II Commentary: Chapter 5

OMG, it’s actually been a while!

Yeah…I guess returning to university just took over all of my senses, both the mental and the emotional.

Oh the turmoil! But I don’t have time for that now. I’m determined not to let myself sink into some horrible pit of despair so I’m embarking on this again. Hereon in there is a lot of stuff going on in this story, so much so that the this chapter is awfully clunky and full of crap. But what the hell? It’s fun to write about, so let’s get to it. Chapter Five: The Noble Purpose of Brothers. The first chapter, I think, with a multiple reference title.

And in fact, this chapter also starts off with a dream sequence…

Amber clambered out of the sea, the salt water still clinging to her.

OK, what is this story’s obsession with having Amber in bodies of water? The shower, the sea, the Thames…? This isn’t even a fetish I have, so it can’t of be the horny 13-year-old me wanting a bit of something…

She lay back onto the pure white sand, allowing the radiating sun dry her.
It wasn’t long however, before a pile of sand was kicked at her. She opened her eyes to see Nathan running away from her laughing.

OMG! RETURN OF A NAME FROM THE LAST CHAPTER…! To be honest, having sand kicked at you is no laughing matter…Nathan’s clearly a bit of a dick.

Also – radiating sun? Of course it’s radiating. What a pointless description. This is just a more pretentious way of saying ‘hot sun.’

Terry looked at the two of them running across the Mediterranean sand and turned, grinning broadly, to his wife Tabitha.

A change of POV mid-dream? OK…

“I sometimes can’t believe the two of them,” he chuckled, rubbing sun-tan lotion into his arm.
“We’re lucky, y’know?” Tabitha replied. “Most twin brothers and sisters hate each other’s guts.”

I’d be intrigued to see where Tabitha’s getting her information from. As far as I can see, Amber has every reason to hate Nathan, but why is it a general rule? Has she done a survey…?

Of course, this elusive Nathan being revealed as Amber’s brother does raise obvious questions. Something I’m deliberately keeping from the audience. It does intrigue me, because I can’t remember the moment when I consciously understood this element of storytelling. How did it come about…? Did I get a visit from an angel? Or better still, a Kyubey? Actually, what am I talking about? That’s dreadful…

Amber woke up, rolled over and sat up in bed.
Six years it had been since that holiday. She had never dreamt about it before. She guessed that Ross was bringing back the old memories.

But here’s the problem – Ross, her love interest, very closely resembles her twin brother Nathan…


I mean, it might not be all that. Some studies have shown that we’re likely to be attracted to people who resemble us or our parents, and indeed, even though twins of the opposite sex cannot be mono-zygotic, there’s going to be a resemblance there. But according to the subtext of this story, Ross’ resemblance to Nathan is uncanny – it’s even pointed out by Sofia later in a rather callous way, and furthermore, it’s not just his looks, but also his actions that remind Amber of her brother, such as doing whatever the hell he was doing to her after she’d fallen in the Thames. Now this is just too odd to think about…

Me writing incest subtext at 13…George R.R. Martin, eat your heart out.

How does Amber react to all of this…?

She sighed.

Of course she did. It’s practically her catchphrase.

Anyway, after her incident, Amber’s staying at home today, so we cut to the other unlovable rogues at Hyde Park Comprehensive.

Ruth was quite surprised to find that Amber had had hypothermia. As she walked into her form room, she hoped that she was alright.

She didn’t hope that when she first heard about it though.

According to Fraser, he and Ross had managed to sort her out.

Oh God, we’re back to that again. I don’t want to hear what Fraser said about Ross and him sorting Amber out, thank you.

So, trying to put Amber out of her mind, she went over to sit next to Naomi, who was chatting animatedly to Queenie and Carol about Toby coming to see her parents that evening.

Oh, they’re all gossiping about me! It’s not just Caleb I nurture as a Creator’s Pet then…

Naomi is of course concerned that Sean’s just going to be his usual self whilst I’m around. There’s no discussion about Naomi meeting my parents, because my parents don’t exist in this universe…

And then we cut to…

Jack meanwhile was talking to Ryan.

Oh, this should be fun…

The two of them were trying to keep their voice calm. Their friends had challenged them to go the entire school day without snapping at each other at all. Jack eventually got fed up of this and went over to Toby.

Well, so much for that…ah well, at least we get a heart-to-heart between two BFFs!

And it’s a surprisingly realistic heart-to-heart. I mean, considering we’re the only people from real life here, that’s not all too unbelievable.

“Hey mate,” he said, “How’re you doing?”

OK, I take that back. We would not say mate to each other. We’re far too erudite.

“I can see you’re worried about this evening. Don’t. I’ll come over there myself.”


I dismiss this idea though and decide to point something else out to him.

“And anyway, you’ve got your own problems.”
“Like what?”
“Carol,” Toby replied grimly. “The two of you don’t seem to be getting on as well as you normally do lately.”

Oh the woes of romance that don’t make sense…

But hey, continuity! Whatever issues Jack and Carol are having, it’s here for the long run. OOOH, I’M SO EDGY SOMEHOW.


We get a rather pointless scene with Amber, who’s beginning to pen a novel, because of course she is. She’s – in a strange sort of a way – an author avatar of mine. Bet it’s even crapper than this one. Actually, it’s never referenced again, so…

We then cut to an assembly, where Mr Ealing gets to deliver a speech. This should be fun…

“But I would also like to mention something. When the Easter term started, we had one less student. His name is Aiden Gorse.”
A shiver swept through the assembly hall.

Sorry, there is absolutely no way I can take this seriously. I mean, were they paid to shiver on cue? Mr Ealing needed to find some way to make the threat of Aiden even bigger. Why not a death metal dedication?


Yeah, well…you get the idea with that…

But Mr Ealing’s description of Aiden is pretty amusing anyway…

“Aiden was a druggie,” Mr Ealing continued.

Really? You couldn’t have used a more professional term? Drug pusher? Drug dealer? (Everyone’s favourite bogyeman, that, anyway…)

“And a vandal, a thief, a bully…and a sociopath. He was arrested before the last term ended. He eventually set fire to the school and kidnapped a student. I am happy to say that this student is still in our midst. But I must warn you all that I will not tolerate people like that in our school.”

No shit.

Well, unless he was referring to people like Naomi rather than Aiden, which seems a bit unfair.

“How dare you get kidnapped! That’s far too cliché!”
“It’s not my fault. My boyfriend was the one who wrote it, including me getting knocked out and tied up. Dirty bastard.”

So, anyway, we next get a scene with Caleb (THE SUAVE AND MAGNIFICENT) who accidentally walks into someone. Clumsy oaf.

“Sorry,” he apologised. He caught a brief glimpse as he walked past him…
And stopped dead in his tracks.
He turned back to the boy he had just walked past.
It couldn’t be.

It’s none other than KODAKA HASEGAWA, or Taka, as we like to call him…

“Kieran?” he asked. “Is that you?”

Bloody hell, this story already has more surplus character introductions than A Song Of Ice And Fire.

So, this Kieran kid seems very alarmed to see Caleb and insists he doesn’t know him…the first person who’d want to deny a connection with the suave and magnificent, no doubt, but the scene pretty much ends there. So, who is this kid?? The answer is rather disappointing…

We then get yet another cut, this time to Aiden, who seems bored with being incarcerated and has a flashback concerning Russell. Again, it has a date stamp, but there’s something a little more intriguing about this one. Possibly.

“And this,” Seb smiled, “Is where we get it all!” Aiden grinned nastily.
“So, we’ll get all of the pot from here?” he asked.

He literally just said that’s where you get it all, Aiden. Were people really afraid of this guy? He’s an idiot. Well, actually, that probably makes him more dangerous…

So, Seb, Aiden and the rest in this flashback are engaging in their only passtime, possessing and smoking cannabis. I think these guys really need to be introduced to TV Tropes. It’ll kill so much time.

No doubt, Kythner’s entire gang would be of an obsolete size to get all of the cannabis, so he has most of them stationed outside.

“Caleb, Kieran and everyone else, stay out here and make sure nobody comes poking around. Aiden and Russell, you come with me.”

Oh, look! Mystery solved! Kieran was an old accomplice of Aiden and Kythner too! What another pointless connection to make! Like seriously, there’s no need to establish another person who knew Kythner at this point. We have Caleb (TSAM), Aiden and Russell, all of whom are going through some pretty hammed up personal drama. Kieran’s literally just been dropped in suddenly – and for some reason Caleb never noticed him at the same school before? Presumably in the same year?

But by far the best thing about this is how Kythner just decides to name only the plot-relevant members of his little gang.

“Caleb, Kieran, and all of you other nameless, faceless mooks who don’t need identities because the author fucking hates you can stay here.”
“Umm, I don’t like the sound of that. I don’t have a name or an indentity. I’m going to die, aren’t I?”
“No, you’re just not going to do anything except in this scene.”
“Oh…but it doesn’t even pay well. And I want to be suave and magnificent!”
“God, no wonder we’re all hooked on cannabis…”

So, Kythner, Aiden and Russell make there way into a highly convenient warehouse to pick up some of the cannabis, and then we get a fine show of Kythner’s awful strategy.

“The point is,” he said, “They’ll notice if it was all nicked, wouldn’t they? Unless of course, you have something bigger to distract them with.”
“Like what?” Russell asked.
Seb grinned even wider and nastier than he usually did.
“We’re gonna torch the place!”

How does this even make the slightest bit of sense?

  1. Arson is a much more severe crime (I think?) than just stealing some class B drugs from a warehouse. And in any case, it’s the owners of the warehouse who are much more likely to be landed in it by hoarding all this stuff in the first place.
  2. Don’t nick all of it then, you idiot! We’re not told how much cannabis there is here, but if it’s being stored in a warehouse, one would have to imagine that it’s quite a bit. A later line indicates that there’s still some left over when their pockets are full, so…? Just take enough for yourselves and no one will be any the wiser.
  3. I’m sure they’ll fucking notice if you set fire to the place, and you’re much more likely to be landed in it by torching the place than just stealing from it, as I’ve already pointed out.

I mean, Aiden might be an idiot, but this guy’s hardly better. And what’s their obsession with fire?

So, after pouring petrol on the stuff and lighting it, we get this…

 “Right,” Seb said, turning to Russell. “You stay here just long enough to check that it all burns properly, and me and Aiden will go get the others.”

Russell actually obeys this command, so he’s an class A idiot too. Also, ridiculous lie on behalf of Kythner – ‘check it all burns properly.’ This isn’t a camp fire you’re making here, even if you don’t burn down the entire thing, this level of damage is enough to prove you were here and perhaps disguise the fact that you stole drugs…but as I keep saying, that’s like committing a double homicide to disguise the fact that you stole a bar of chocolate (preferably Bourneville).

So, once Kythner and Aiden are out of the room, Kythner bolts the door. With what, fuck knows.

“What did you do that for?” Aiden demanded.
“Simple,” Seb replied. “We need to have a victim of this fire, so it looks realistic.”


I’d say fire is a pretty good indication of a realistic fire. Again, going back to our analogy about committing a double homicide to disguise your chocolate theft, you go on a killing spree to give yourself a record of murder so that the fact that you committed a double homicide is more believable…? Even though there are two dead bodies…?

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it does prove that Kythner is very fond of sadistic felonies.

Aiden is in fact quite pissed that Kythner left Russell there to burn, bizarrely, and so Kythner knocks him over and legs it. Aiden frees Russell (Russell’s reaction to this isn’t recorded), and they split from Kythner thereon after, as does Caleb too, apparently.

Aiden reflects on this, and we get this bizarre insight –

Aiden may have set fire to the school, but he didn’t put anyone directly in the line of it. He doubted that even he would stoop that low.

Except for the fact that he locked most of the doors to prevent anyone from escaping, pretty much the same as what Kythner did. The fact that they both knew that there were people locked in a burning building puts them rather on the same level, and in the case of Aiden, it was actually a lot more. He even reflects on the fact that Russell might be one of those victims and decides he doesn’t care. This a very different Aiden to the one witnessed here, and it obviously shows a bit of character derailment. I’m not against redeeming antagonistic characters at all, but you’ve got to choose your battles, and a completely irredeemable arsonist, kidnapper and grievous bodily harmer is not a good choice for such a redemption arc. Why not someone like Whitney or Summer…?

Why was I Draco In Leather Pantsing one of my own characters? God, I was weird…

Caleb catches up with Kieran, and we get this pointless exchange.

“Kieran wait!” Caleb called after him. Kieran shook his head violently.
“I can’t be seen with you, not after that announcement.”
“Don’t worry,” Caleb said. “It’s all over now. Did you leave same time as I did?”
“Well, actually, no,” he replied. “But I really think you should just leave me alone now, OK?”

All over now? Caleb was all for angsting over it earlier…well, never mind. Bye Kieran, we won’t miss you because we barely know you.

We then cut to (look, I’m sorry there are so many changes in perspective in this story, it really is turning into ASOIAF, but without the good stuff) Amber again, who’s succumbed to a bit of writer’s block and determines that she needs to get out of it somehow, but is distracted by a ringing of the doorbell. And it’s none other than her mother…

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH, I hear the crowd go. What’s this…? Well, we don’t get to find out then and there, BECAUSE WE FUCKING CUT AWAY AGAIN, JESUS…

Sean was absent-mindedly doodling in his book, hardly listening to a word Ms McGriffin was saying about GCSEs and A-levels.

Sean, I don’t care, OK? Your laziness is distracting a perfectly decent (well, by the standards of the story) scene concerning a bit of insight into Amber’s family life. Why should I care about your doodles in the slightest?

He was dimly aware of the fact the most of them seemed to be of Toby with some sort of negative expression on his face.


Well, Sean’s back to wanting to kill me again. Wonderful. We don’t get much insight into the nature of these doodles, sadly. What are they? One where I’m getting decapitated by a stray shuriken (that’s a brick joke that’s lasted YEARS), and the other where I’m getting raped by Yoda for being an impostor?

So, his good friend Alexis (who’s barely appeared in this story at all, actually), asks him if he’s OK, which is a perfectly reasonable question considering what he’s drawing…

Sean reveals he’s pretty worried about having me coming to meet his family.

“I really don’t know how Toby will act. If he does anything to my little sister-”
He shook himself slightly.

Reflecting on this, it’s odd now how much I seem to empathise with Sean…but never mind that now.

After the lesson, Alexis does try and speak some sense into him, considering I’m only 13 and he can overpower me with ease, and promises that she can talk to him about how it goes. It’s a surprisingly genuine and realistically touching scene, and I’m not quite sure where the inspiration came from, given that, at least back then, I didn’t have quite as close friendships as I enjoy now. We also get something else from Sean which sets him above the rest of the cast:

Sean found the urge to kiss her overpowering, but he kept his mind where it mattered.

See? If Sean can keep his hormones in check, so can the rest of you filthy pervs.

So, we cut back to Amber and her mother Tabitha, and it’s odd, given that how Amber was defending her as being such a perfect parent earlier, apparently her opinion of her has changed.

“Yeah, you left after…what happened…and you clearly loved Nathan more than me.”


Surprisingly, Amber actually keeps her anger in check, and decides instead to ring her dad to inform her of this development.

We then get another flashback which reveals what we already knew really – Nathan was involved about four or so years ago in a car accident, leading to his untimely death. This eventually led to the break-up of Terry and Tabitha’s marriage, something that Amber is allegedly still very bitter about. To be honest, I’m more concerned about her incestual desires.

So, Terry arrives home, and he and Tabitha begin to argue. Amber, deciding to be out of the way of this, takes Yeti out for a walk…

So, she’s well enough to go outside then? In the freezing January air? Little truant…

But with Rocket not around today, presumably because Sofia is at her school, Yeti ends up bothering some people. But, as Amber drags him away, little did she know…

If Amber hadn’t been so preoccupied, she may have noticed that the cigarette the man was smoking was actually crack, or that the two men he was talking to looked like they were the mafia leaders.

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that these guys are, umm…oh, I dunno…antagonists?

Yeah, it’s Seb Kythner. One has to wonder what the hell he’s doing in broad daylight given that he’s on the run after being imprisoned for a string of offences, but we’ve already established he’s not the most intelligent individual in the world.

It turns out that the two men Kythner’s talking with are called Dirk and Phil (why?) and that they actually happen to be acquainted with Charlie, Ryan’s old step-dad, drug-dealer person. Oh, the connections. They’re afraid that Ryan might be about to dob him in, so remember that…

When Amber returns to the house, her parents are still arguing, and so she just goes back to her room. So much for that story thread…

Then finally, we get the long awaited meeting of me and Naomi’s family. Oh, the hi-jinks that will ensue! Actually, it’s disappointingly tame…

“Hi Toby!” said Dana.
“Hi Mrs Adams,” Toby replied.
“Please, call me Dana!”

She’s probably enforcing this given her habit of changing her name. Let’s just pray she’s not drunk.

But what’s Sean’s reaction to me showing up?

Sean forced a smile on his face and said,
“Hey Toby. How are you doing?” He clapped a hand on his shoulder.

He didn’t even have a knife in said hand. How boring!

Anyway, Sean eventually goes upstairs to revise for some GCSE mocks, but he finds it pretty difficult.

Sean tried hard to concentrate on his revision, but it was difficult. He was listening out for anything that might tell him that Toby had done something wrong. He almost had a heart attack when he heard Naomi laugh.

I want to get some insight into Sean’s imagination. What does he suppose I’m doing…?

Apparently, Naomi and I are gossiping about people we know.

They were discussing all sorts of things, such as Mr Mothman:
“…what a nutter…”
“…he should be retired all ready…”
And Amber:
“…she just doesn’t want to get on with us, that’s all…”
“Yeah, she’s really quite nice…”

Yeah, I can imagine these particular conversations could go all sorts of places…

“Caleb is so suave and magnificent. It’s kind of annoying.”
“Y’know, even though Ian’s back from America, he still seems absent…”
“I totally saw Whitney and Summer fucking behind the bike sheds…”
“Ryan’s got a drug-dealing ex-stepdad. LOL!”

I start reflecting on the very shallow feelings I’ve had for Naomi all this time, and it culminates in a big damn kiss…although it does beg the question whether this is the first time we’ve kissed, considering the build up. You know what? Never mind, because of course, Sean walks in on us. He quickly leaves.

Resisting the urge to march back in and throttle Toby[…]

Love it…

So, he calls up Alexis, being a little distressed about it, but amidst some awkward flirting, she advises he behaves normally. Nothing much of note happens for the rest of the chapter, but I was intrigued to find this little bit, when Quentin prompts me about my comedic so-called talents over the dinner table.

“Come off it,” Toby said. “Jack’s a lot better at it than I am.”

What can I say? I’m just bursting full of compliments and self-depreciation…which might be something I need to examine at some point…

The chapter ends with Sean finally seeing past his over-protectiveness and actually apologising for his behaviour. It’s rather brief however – unlike this chapter which took AGES.

I don’t know if I’m going to have to start splitting these chapters up like some movie studio desperate to make more money from an adaptation, but I’ll see how long the next one is.

What’s intriguing is that the title can actually refer to the action’s of three brothers – Nathan as Amber’s brother, Aiden as Russell’s brother and Sean as Naomi’s brother. For me at that age, it’s remarkably erudite. Looking back on this has been an interesting experience, for both my writing and my personal life, and maybe I’ll delve into that more later…anyway, there are a few more chapters to go, so stay tuned for them and thanks for reading…