Perhaps you’re looking forward to the rest of December? Well, I’m not. I’ve been laden with far too much work and still without any the perks. Well, fuck you, 2016. I hope you rot and decay worse than some of the previous years.
Given my mood, I do actually wonder whether I should be embarking on this given that I feel the slightest thing going wrong could steer me into an abyss of God knows what, but fuck it, I always get a kick out of this, so I may as well.
For a bit of preamble, let’s leave this disgusting year and go back into the not-really-far mists of time, at some old comprehensive soon to be an academy and in an isolated room. Sunlight is peering in, dust gathering at the corners, but it’s two enlightened occupants don’t really notice. They are two 13-year-old boys, one who is weird and wiry, and another who is timid and tubby. Have those traits changed over the years…? I’ll let you be the judge.
The Timid Tubby One is gazing with a fierce passion at his tiny red netbook, looking at the plethora of words on the screen which is now known as That Life, and listening, with increasing indignation, at the words of the Weird Wiry One.
“I just don’t like Carol,” he was saying, looking down his un-snout-like nose and the plethora of words that contained the character.
“But why??” The Timid Tubby One demanded, holding his netbook in am embrace of maternal protection.
“She’s just boring,” The Weird Wiry One replied, not realising how much those words applied to every single character demonstrated in the plethora.
“Well,” the Timid Tubby One said, determined to call this mothereffer out. “Would you rather I gave her to Ryan?????”
“Actually, yes,” the Weird Wiry One replied seriously, which took the Timid Tubby One aback. He hadn’t expected this insolence. What did the Weird Wiry One know? He hadn’t even completed his story the lethargic bastard. And yet despite the maternal instinct the Timid Tubby One felt towards to this story, he also wanted to listen to this Weird Wiry One. He was very fond of the Weird Wiry One, and at a time when his self-esteem was virtually non-existent (a repeated trend, by the looks of things), he also really wanted to make him satisfied with the plethora he had formed. Then a beautiful, totally not rather forced idea occurred to him.
“OK,” the Timid Tubby One said. “How about I do this…?”
Real Life has a pretty persistent habit of writing the plot, and in the case of the Timid Tubby one, being timid and tubby was not without it’s downsides, and his need for friends and acceptance outweighed the desire to keep the story as it was. Besides, he thought to himself, it’s a good opportunity to hone in some different writing skills, right?
And so, in the days in which Timid Tubby is starting to rear his head again, how convenient that we embark upon Chapter Seven: A Weak End.
So, with the story still moving at a snail’s pace, we’re finally at the weekend, and despite it being only a four-day-week, everyone still feels so exhausted and shit, which, given they’re 13-14 and have just come back from the Christmas holidays, is actually fairly believable.
Ryan collapsed into the chair next to his six-year-old brother, Nigel, who was busy talking to himself. He groaned.
Oh, it’s a hard life, isn’t it Ryan?
“Mum, can’t you shut him up?” he whined.
“Can’t you shut up sometimes?” Olive replied, who was eating a grapefruit.
“Touché,” he replied, pulling a yoghurt towards him.
Gotta love some breakfast banter. Considering this is probably the least dysfunctional family in this story, I guess they’ve just got to go with what they’ve got.
Just a small point though – why is Ryan pulling a yoghurt towards him? Who keeps yoghurts at the centre of the table…?
Olive notes that Ryan seems a little subdued by something.
“What’s up?” Olive asked.
“Charlie,” Ryan replied.
Olive swore loudly. “He’s not texting you again is he?”
“No, it’s not that,” Ryan replied, shaking his head. “It’s just that I’m wondering if I should tell the police how he was involved with Aiden.”
“You truly are your father’s son,” she said.
Well, that came literally out of nowhere. It almost sounds as though Ryan was doubting his paternity. Not that Olive’s comment made it any less ambiguous.
“Yeah, thanks mum. But who actually was my father? Why won’t you tell me?”
“Because you will be even more of a laughing stock if everyone discovers you’re Mr Mothman’s son.”
“…….pass the bleach, mother.”
That was slightly darker humour than I intended…guess my mood is seeping through.
Anyway, we then get this very rushed backstory about Ryan’s father.
Even though he had never known his father, he having died when Ryan was only 18 months old, it was still a sensitive subject.
Why? Is Ryan so sexist he insists on having a male role model and blames his mother for his passing…? He had never known him – there is no reason for the subject to be a sensitive one…
Oh, and in case you thought you caught me out in a serious mathematical error (which isn’t difficult, to be honest as possible…) then we get the return of our old friends, the brackets, to hand wave in an explanation.
(Nigel was only his half-brother.)
Oh, that’s alright then.
Are we not going to engage in Olive being slut-shamed then, like we did to Carla in the last chapter? Who even is Nigel’s father? Is it Mr Mothman? Or maybe Charlie? Or given how this story is going, Seb Kythner? He’s probably secretly everyone’s father.
Ryan actually objects to this comparison to his father.
“I’m not,” he growled. “Dad managed to woo you and about twenty other women before him and I’m pretty much the only one amongst my friends who hasn’t got a girlfriend.”
Before him? I’m pretty sure that’s a typo…
Still, glad to see Ryan’s mind is still where it matters. A character from That Life can’t stop thinking about sex! The world would implode! And Ryan’s aspiration is to become a Casanova like his dad…well…why not? With the comment about wooing women, it seems to me that he’s fully aware Summer’s flirting with him isn’t genuine. Everyone can see it…
Olive has the perfect words of comfort.
“You’ll find a girl for yourself son. And as for Charlie, you must do what you think is right of course.”
Right, here’s the question – why is up to Ryan, a 13-year-old boy, to report someone to the police? Olive is much more involved (or was anyway) with him than Ryan and she’s an adult. Why is she deferring the responsibility to him? Is it because she’s a woman? They truly are running a UKIP household there.
Ryan grinned sheepishly.
“Thanks mum,” he said, and ate a spoonful of yoghurt.
What the hell are you thanking her for? All she did, basically, was say, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll get a girlfriend at some point, no idea when, and I’m not going to help with this Charlie thing, you have to decide.’ I wouldn’t be satisfied with that answer.
And then, just to rub salt into the wound…
Then he spat it out again.
“Mum!” he complained. “I’ve told you not to buy prune yoghurts!”
OH THE WACKY HI-JINKS.
What scene’s next…?
Jack walked through Hyde Park with Carol by his side.
OH. MY. GOD.
OK, here it comes. First for a bit of backstory…
Going back to the tale about the Weird Wiry and Timid Tubby Ones, I actually had a moment of doubt, when coming to this scene, whether I’d be able to pull it off successfully. The answer obviously is no, but that’s true of every scene I’d written. But I had more crippling doubts about this one, and so I turned to my BFF, looked him dead in the
bloodshot eye and invited him to write this next, highly pivotal scene which I’m pretty sure you all saw coming. Afterwards I tweaked a bit of the words around and made a few improvements to the punctuation, but it’s virtually all his work. Bear that in mind.
As it was still early morning, there weren’t many people around. That was how he preferred it.
That sounds like he’s either planning murder or gratuitous sex. Or possibly both. Place your bets now.
Carol was slightly confused.
Yeah, so am I. Why did I feel I wasn’t capable of writing this scene, but perfectly capable of writing plenty of other scenes I botched horribly…? Either I wanted the Weird Wiry one to have some control over the process he had really wanted in this story, or the Timid Tubby is just incapable of handling these sorts of emotions…more so than others…?
Anyway, Carol’s reason for confusion is Jack’s silence, which believe me, is pretty unusual.
Normally the two of them would be laughing and joking about Mr Mothman, Whitney, Mr Mothman, Kurt, Mr Mothman, the current political situation and even Mr Mothman.
Yeah, let’s just laugh and joke about people behind their backs. Poor Mr Mothman…and when he turns back around, I bet they hit him with a briefcase.
So, Carol queries Jack on what this silent treatment is all about.
“I need to talk to you about something.” Jack’s voice was completely expressionless.
Oh God, he’s turned into a Cyberman!
All truth be told, I think this scene does highlight the different way me and my BFF did actually portray the characters we considered closest to us. Here, he portrays himself as dark, troubled, guarded and borderline Byronic, whereas my presentation of both him and myself was virtually the opposite. This isn’t to say the character of Jack couldn’t have been a generally laid-back zany thing, becoming distinctly and aggressively moodier when faced with emotional turmoil, but that’s clearly not the intent we were going with.
So, they sit down, and he BROODS over everything.
“I been thinking about the things you’ve told me recently,” he said finally.
I been fucking up my grammar, too. Looks like I failed a spot check there…
“Like how your sister slept with Kythner, how you feel et cetera. And I just thought to myself, ‘I’m not up to this.’”
Nice thing to let her know given how awful she feels about it. And I’m still not entirely sure why. It was a long time ago…and why should that bother him anyway?
“I’m not up to having a girlfriend who’s sister once slept with someone who would go onto to murder people and smoke crack…!”
“How do you mean?” Carol asked.
“Ryan on the other hand is,” Jack continued.
“Ryan’s way more equipped to dealing with a girlfriend who’s sister once slept with someone who would go onto murder people and smoke crack. You know his step-dad deals drugs? He’s got it all sorted.”
No, of course what Jack’s referring to is being able to handle these matters emotionally…which makes even less sense. When has Ryan ever shown a sign of being an emotionally dependable person? He’s obsessed with being a Casanova, reacts to minimal foreign mentoring with racist rhetoric and can’t seem to handle being constantly texted by his stepdad with any maturity other than just sending him witty remarks all the time about how he’ll never get his mum’s number…? Ryan is nothing more than a hot-headed, slightly racist and philandering immature teenager. I know Jack isn’t much better, but it’s clear he does at least care…
Well, what else should I expect from a forced plot-point…?
How about some purple prose?
He forced himself to look into her eyes: Her beautiful, jade-coloured eyes.
That shouldn’t be funny, but it is.
“I hope we’ll still get along after this. I really like you, Carol. But like I said, things are kind of getting out of hand.”
What? That’s not her fault, you fucking prick. Forget what I said about him caring…it was four years ago! Just let it go…!
“Sorry, but if I had known you had a sister who had slept with a murdering drug dealer, I never would have even found your gingerness attractive.” It got out of hand FOUR YEARS AGO, past tense!!
And given that everyone seems convinced that this was the reason her parents abandoned her and her siblings, Jack doing a runner from Carol when the going gets tough is rather a little more conveniently cruel.
Carol didn’t really like the direction the conversation was going, so she decided to play stupid.
“Is this something to do with your blog?” she asked.
Well, yeah, I mean, that really is playing stupid.
“Yes! Toby’s secretly been filming you this entire time, and like a true Yoda impersonator, will stroll forward after I leave making suggestive gestures to you…”
What sort of call back is that…?
“Carol,” Jack interjected. “I’m breaking up with you.”
Just in case we hadn’t got the point.
So, with this bombshell dropped, Jack decides to leave, with these rather empty parting words:
“Sorry,” Jack said. He turned to look at her. “But you really don’t need me anymore. Go and see Ryan. He’ll help. Well…I’ll see you around.”
OK, first of all, does it not occur to him in the slightest that Carol doesn’t want to wail into the bosom of someone who has an established crush on her mere seconds after she’s just been broken up with…? Why has Jack suddenly decided to pair these two up anyway?
Secondly, Ryan will help…? Are you serious? He’ll help himself, certainly,
probably to a piece of Carol’s ass.
Anyway, the purple prose soon returns.
She couldn’t stop herself. The tears flowed like a burst pipe out from her jade eyes and down her face.
I can’t possibly take that seriously.
This scene probably counts as a piece of character development, given that Jack has spent so long being a loggerheads with Ryan over an indifferent Carol’s affections. Now, he’s the one to break up with her and even actively invites her to go and see him. Now, arguably, this could look as though he’s maturing and has come to realisation that he fell for her due to her looks but can’t find the romantic chemistry to continue, but that’s certainly not what I was going for. It’s, ‘hey, I don’t like this ginger bitch.’ ‘Fine, I’ll write in a break-up for you.’ I mean…it could have gone worse, but…
We then cut to our de jure protagonist, because we need her to feature at least sometimes.
“…and if Whitney finds out about Nathan, she’ll never stop insulting my name and his until she’s dead. And if I had my way, that wouldn’t be very long,” Amber said.
“How very immature of her. She has no heart at all.”
Distant cries of shock came from the other end of the field.
“Oh, who’s Rocket got now?” Sofia grumbled.
“Dunno. Whoever it was they’ve scarpered pretty quick.”
It’s really weird – that was actually genuinely pretty funny…
Amber is relaying her experiences of Hyde Park Comprehensive (the, what, three days she’s been there…?) to her BFF and debating whether she finds it that bad at all. Of course, what we opened up on suggests that she’s involved in a most terrifying bullying campaign, though I can’t imagine Whitney doing anything genuinely horrible, considering she just doesn’t seem to be very good at it. Amber’s threat to kill her seems very sincere either way…
Then we get this small development…
“Well, I’ve been thinking Amber,” Sofia went on. “I’ve made all the necessary arrangements and its fine.”
“I’m going!” Sofia replied, grinning.
“Yeah! To Hyde Park Comprehensive to keep you company!”
Amber tried to imagine Sofia in her form room. This thought cheered her up, and so she said,
“C’mon, let’s go to Thornton’s.”
Ah, Thornton’s. What better a haunt to give you diabetes.
Nevertheless, although myself and Jack seem to dominate the Heterosexual Life Partner scene, it’s clear that there’s some sincerely strong friendship going on here too, with Sofia so desperate to help her BFF out that she actually changes schools. Bless her. Is this is a set-up for another obvious event…? Obviously! But it gives a poignant image nonetheless.
Going back to Hyde Park, Ryan ends up finding Carol. How small did I think Hyde Park was exactly…? Either way, Carol spills the incident and Ryan is royally pissed off. Why…? I don’t know really what is problem is. She’s available now, isn’t she?
But Ryan’s first call to action is to pay Jack a visit. Back to the homoerotic tension. Took them a while, but…
Jack was pacing up and down his hallway, thinking about what he had just done.
I would have loved to get an insight on what these thoughts contained.
“Dammit! I should have left her some crack as a parting gift. Just to remind of why I broke up with her.”
Then, there was hammering on the door. Jack opened it, and the next thing he knew, he was being dragged out of his house in a tight headlock by some unseen attacker.
Happens to me daily.
Yep, it’s Ryan, and Jack is rather rightly confused.
“I spoke to Carol earlier,” Ryan explained, his face still contorted with rage.
“Oh,” Jack muttered, realising what this was about.
“She didn’t deserve that,” Ryan snarled.
“Exactly. She didn’t deserve me. I’m not good enough-”
“Don’t give me that,” Ryan growled. “She absolutely adored you, and all you can do is this?! Fed up of her were you?”
See, it’s weird. Both of them have surprisingly decent points on their positions. Jack could have been a lot harsher, without doing her the decency of breaking up with her face-to-face, and given what a low opinion he has of itself, it might have been for the best. As for Ryan, given everything she was going through (not that he was to know this), Jack’s timing wasn’t exactly on point. But here’s the thing – when has this ever been about Carol’s well-being? From the beginning, both of them were just fixated on her looks (hell, for a while they weren’t even fussy between her and Queenie), and got into scuffles without consulting her on her thoughts. Why is it suddenly all about her? I would have Ryan would be ecstatic.
Then things start to get even more ridiculous.
“Look,” Jack growled, his own temper flaring up. “Who taught you to be this judgemental? Was it that useless mother of yours or-”
“LEAVE MY MOTHER OUT OF THIS FENTON!!!” Ryan yelled.
Oh God, this is hilarious…
See, it’s never been about Carol. These two just needed an excuse to sabre-rattle. And Jack starts off with a ‘yo momma’ line, essentially. Brilliant. He’s probably never even met her.
“Oh no, of course not,” Jack continued. “It must have been Charlie; you’re just like him-”
That did it.
Ryan ran forward, driving his fist with all his strength right into Jack’s stomach, yelling,
“DO NOT COMPARE ME TO HIM!!!!”
So, they start their hammed-up fight, and it’s not like their previous scuffles that were mainly for comic relief, I meant this as a very serious matter, and it had a lot more detail to it, rather like Summer and Amber’s fight earlier. I felt like describing every frame of this fight.
Then Jack retaliated with a punch in the face. Ryan staggered backwards, as Jack advanced on him. Then Jack grabbed Ryan’s neck and twisted him into a headlock. Driving him into the wall, Jack said,
“What’s wrong Head? All out Charlie’s techniques?”
Ryan grabbed Jack by the throat and slammed him into the wall.
And then he kissed him passionately.
Actually, what Ryan does do next is even weirder.
“You know,” Ryan said. “That still-born baby your mother had must’ve died because it didn’t want a brother like-”
Jack kicked out, forcing Ryan to let go of him and go reeling.
….what? Where the fuck did that come from? So, after having no family mentioned whatsoever in this story, Jack suddenly has a still-born sibling and Ryan knows about it, deciding to use it as leverage in this fight…? I honestly don’t know what to say about that…
Ryan manages to get a few more good kicks and punches at Jack…
As Jack was doubled up, Ryan pushed him into the floor, kicked him, and walked away, thinking he had won.
So, you just came round here to beat him up? Not to make him change his position on having broken up with Carol, not trying to talk sense into him for his ridiculous reasons for breaking up with her, just beat him up. Fine, it’s the way Ryan does things. If UKIP only has one rhetoric, why shouldn’t he…?
Then something heavy collided with the side of his head, causing him to fall to the floor and almost knocking him out. Stars winking mockingly in front of his eyes, he turned to see what had hit him.
Jack was standing over him, holding a cricket bat and with a look in his eyes Ryan had never seen.
JESUS. The briefcase was one thing, but this…? Why has Jack suddenly become a psycopath?
Anyway, Carol suddenly arrives and insists Jack should stop. He stops short of just killing the guy, at least. However:
He threw down the cricket bat and turned to walk back into his house. But just as he was about to walk through his door, he turned to look at Ryan.
“If you ever come near my house again, I’ll resume this, and this time I won’t stop-” he glanced at Carol “-for anyone.”
Then he strode into his house and slammed the door.
Well, Jack’s straight-up admitted to being willing to commit murder. Umm…our heroes!
Now, I do believe that last bit was also written by the Weird Wiry One, which explains Jack’s very severe personality swings. Sort of…oh God…
Well, there was that chapter. What can I say? Did this kind of drama entrance me? I suppose, but I’d hardly say it was a reflection of real life. Here’s a lesson for you, Timid Tubby one. Emotions are so much more complicated, and interactions so much more heart-breaking than you could have possibly realised…