A/N: Obviously I can't control myself, so here's the first chapter of my NaNoWriMo- story. It is, as you can see, a Young Adult-novel, and that's because I wanted to write something simple without having to worry about perfect prose... So here you go, a diary novel! I hope you'll enjoy it!
How to Get Nowhere Fast – or the Uneventful Life of Finn Williams
Current location: Finn's Room.
Yesterday, Mum took me with her to the pub for the first time. And I have to say that New Year's was a laugh when it wasn't just Mum and I drinking when it struck midnight. I have to wait until October until I can go there legally, but Mr Davis doesn't seem (of what I've heard) to be a blinkered one.
When we got home though, it turned out that had Frank gotten himself all pissed on the strawberry wine that somehow had spilt on the kitchen floor. And it really wasn't my fault, despite what Mum says. It was the plastic bags' fault, because they fell over when I left them unattended – obviously getting wine on the floor in the process. Mum does all the grocery shopping; I just carry the bags, and I've told her not to use the plastic bags (they're unsteady, they're bad for the environment and they hurt my hands) but it's an old habit of hers, so not much to do there.
However, I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty certain that Dalmatians and alcohol doesn't mix too well. Especially not since Frank has waddled around all day with no balance whatsoever. He almost hurt himself on the chest of drawers in the hallway when his sense of balance stopped working for the umpteenth time. Mum says he's going to be fine though; apparently gramps's beagle loves fermented apples and has more than once stuffed her face full with it. And she's fine.
He's sleeping now, but we're going to the vet the first thing tomorrow. I just hope that I have enough to pay for it.
Current location: The kitchen table
I forgot that everyone is still on vacation. The vet clinic doesn't open until the third. Mum is a bit too happy about it – she's just as hung over as Frank and hasn't moved from the sofa all day. I've done the dishes, carried out the trash and swabbed the floor, so she better be grateful.
I'm back to college in a few days too, and I don't know how I feel about it. I'm taking an extra GCSE this year with my A-levels because the school counsellor said so; it's good to have not just Maths-Statistics to flaunt with in later on when applying to uni. The fact that I suck at Maths didn't seem to matter. Up until now I've done well, but I think that's going to stop now. I just have to pass and everything will be hunky-dory… My last resort is that I always can ask Isaac for help when it goes straight to hell.
Current location: Finn's Room
Frank's fine. At the vet's they said that the amount of alcohol wasn't big enough to do any major damage to him. He's going to be hung-over for a couple of days though – until it's out of his system – I just need to get him to drink more water than usual.
Current location: Finn's Room
The first snow since Christmas came today, and it actually didn't melt away as soon as it touched the ground. I thought about taking Frank out for a bit, but then Mum immediately went on about how shovelling wasn't good on her back; so that I had to do it wasn't that much of a surprise, really. She did take me and Frank to the vet yesterday, so I guess it was the way to pay her back.
Current location: Living room couch.
Mum nearly killed me today. There's nothing else to call it. We were sitting peacefully at the kitchen table, eating dinner, when she put down her fork and said:
"Finn, I've gotten a promotion. And I'm going to get transferred."
I choked on my hash brown when she said that. There was a lot of coughing and bluish faces, but then she continued and said that she had been offered a better position at her company, but in London. Freaking London! I mean, sure I'm probably going to move away from here when I'm going to university, but moving to London seems a bit drastic considering that I've only got two terms left of college here.
"I'm only going to be gone for a year – and I'm coming back – so you'll be fine, right?"
I really didn't get it until then; that's she's leaving me. She's leaving me here. She's going to London and she's leaving me here because she doesn't want to drag me up with my roots; in about the same matter that she held me back when Dad left. But now she's leaving me, with Frank, to take care of this house for a bloody year! I mean, I can't even cook!
It's closing in on three am and I really can't sleep. Sure, I'm almost eighteen years old, but for God's sake, she can't just leave me without a bloody tip-off…
Current location: The bed
I took Frank out for a really long walk today to cleanse my head. Down to my old middle school, along the river, up the hills and then back home; taking the route through town. We went there for a bit because I needed batteries to my mouse – that flash drive-thing I bought like a month ago and that keeps disconnecting? Bloody annoying, but a boy got to do what a boy's got to do.
Anyway, since the bookshop doesn't allow dogs inside, I tied Frank outside – he's a good dog and nothing's ever happened – but when I got back out, he was blatantly chatting up this lovely little German Shepard. I actually thought he was going to tear his leash for a moment there. The funny thing is I don't even think she was in heat, but she seemed just as eager as Frank. He isn't the best at making friends – I've tried too many times to get him to play with the Labrador, Daisy, down the street, but I know she thinks he's cheeky, so no luck there.
We had to get going before the Shepard's owner showed up though. And that's too bad since it seemed like Frank liked her, and he needs a bit of a love story of his own. Not that I have one. Mine is and has always been non-existent, and well, nothing seems like it's going to change on that front.
Current location: Isaac's room
Mum called Dad today to tell him about her transfer. I overheard just a bit of their conversation when I came in from the garage, but it was more than enough. Because apparently, he wants me to come down and live with him and I can't for the love of God understand why.
He and Mary are both allergic to dogs, so I don't know what's happened. Because Dad ought to know there's no way I'm leaving Frank behind. He'll probably get all attached to whomever I'm leaving him with and then I won't be able to get my dog back when I get home. I mean, it's just mean to take him back if he's gotten used to his new home. He might be stupid for a Dalmatian (they're supposed to be bright, Frank's clearly not) but he's still my dog.
So I went over to Isaac's house even though it was raining – or sleeting is more like it– since I didn't really want to stay behind and listen to them trying to be nice to each other. It's still brilliant that they lasted as long as they did. I mean, for them, eleven years are a lot.
Isaac was cooking when I got there, so I helped out for a bit, until I almost set fire to the carrots he was frying. After that he told me to sit down on the kitchen chair so that we could avoid any more accidents.
Anyway, later, while we were playing video games, his littlest sister bit me. Not hard, but I'm pretty sure I still have indents from her teeth around my knee. She didn't even look sorry for what she'd done! Frank always looks like he's the guiltiest dog in the world when he accidentally bites me. But then he raises his eyebrows and you can't help but forgive him.
Although he doesn't deserve it one bit; getting bitten by Frank actually hurts.
Current location: The laundry room
First day of spring term is tomorrow and I don't know what to do. Why did I sign up for that GCSE? It's the one subject I can't do! I'm not going to get a grade, no matter how much help I get from Isaac.
Bollocks. Isaac, why can't I have your brain? You can have my hands in return.
I should have stayed with Psychology and taken four A-levels. Or gone with Art. Not that I need to take Art in school – three hours a week over at the culture department is more than enough – but if I did, I needn't worry about this! Besides, Charlie takes Art – I heard it from Julie, since I was certain he'd dropped it. But apparently he's still there and he's brilliant too.
So maybe it's good that I didn't take Art… It's enough that I get hyperventilating seizures when I try to talk to him. I guess he thinks I'm some shy nitwit. Which isn't that far from the truth, when you think about it…
Current location: Finn's Room
So I survived first day, although it sucked even harder than my maths skills. Academically, it was basically just the teachers taking roll and half of the lessons being cancelled. This meant that I had plenty of time to go to the counsellor's office and swap – or drop out off – my GSCE in Maths. Swap it to… a class like Psychology! Psychology was safe and I was pretty good at it. But when I got there – and she was actually free for once – she told me I can't. Everything was already done and dropping out was out of the question.
I wanted punched her in the face, which says a lot. I'm not a violent person. But I punched my locker instead, so I got a bit of aggression out of my system. Isaac met up with me during lunch and he had a look at it, though. And since he didn't tell me to go and see the nurse, it's probably just going to bruise.
I also saw Julie briefly, and she told me that Charlie has bleached his hair. She didn't tell me how much – there's a distinct difference between "a tad" and "platinum" – and I haven't seen him, but it's still bad news. I don't know if black is his natural hair colour (it probably isn't) but if it is, then I'm going to be gutted.
Current location: The bed
Charlie's a brunet now. And he has a buzzcut, which doesn't suit him at all. Or who am I kidding? He looks fit in everything; I just like his hair too much.
Also, Mum is leaving next weekend. She says that she's sorted everything – bills and stuff will be sent directly to her flat in London, so I don't have to deal with that – but I still don't think it is alright. I mean, a tad of a tip-off would've been brilliant.
Anyway, I'm not going to be all alone, because she has apparently asked Mrs Anderson – our seventy-something neighbour, whom I've seen a total of maybe nine times – to keep an eye on me so that I won't die. She's going to come over about once a week and to be honest; I don't look forward to it. I mean, she may be an old lady, but what I've seen of her, she's not a nice old lady. It's more likely that she has a cricket bat than a bowl of candy in the hallway. But I guess I'm easy.
I'm mostly worried about the "cooking-my-own-food"-part. Because there's no way that I'm going to live of take-out for a whole year – Mum has given me a food-budget and I actually want to try not to extend it. And that's exactly what'll happen if I don't learn how to cook properly. I know what to do in theory, but it's when I'm supposed to do it in practice I somehow have a tendency to cock-up and almost set things on fire. Isaac says it's because I don't pay attention, but the thing is that I do.
Mum has also called Jake and he says he's going to visit me as well. I don't know if he's gotten any better at cooking since he moved, but even if he hasn't, he's got to be better than me. He's got less money than I do, so he's even more cornered than me and that says a lot. For the sake of food and survival, I hope he comes by soon though – he only ever comes by on Christmas otherwise, but he ditched us for Dad this year. Jake has always had a better relationship with Dad than I ever did (probably because he is actually good at sports and has thought about joining the army).
Current location: The laundry room
Maths are going to be the death of me, I'm not even kidding. My brain was fried by the time they let us out and I'm gutted. Julie takes it too, but I haven't talked to her yet so I don't know what she thinks, but I'm… I don't understand! I don't understand what the bloody fuck I am supposed to do! I mean, when I took my Statistics, I only had to study like I normally do. Do the exercises until everything made sense and then just remember it until the test came and then it was over and done with. But with this? No way. Even Frank notices that I'm getting my knickers in a knot and that's saying something.
For a dog, he's unusually blind to my emotional turmoil sometimes.
Current location: The living room
Today, Mum and I had a bit of a farewell party – or the two of us having a date night is actually more like it. We went for a drive, got Chinese take-out from the restaurant down by the station, rented a film and then we cuddled up on the couch and watched telly. She even let me have a beer with her – because according to Mum, one should drink beer when eating Chinese noodles– and I'm pretty sure she at least got a tad bit pissed, because she started going on about how much she loved London already and how it was going to be so lovely to get me off her back for a while.
I pretty sure she wouldn't have said that if she'd been sober.
She also told me how sorry she was about leaving me, but that it was good practice for me since I'm going to get a place of my own soon and that Mrs Anderson was going to be so much help for me since I didn't know how to take care of my laundry. She's actually wrong about that – I can take care of it perfectly fine, she just hasn't been around to see it – but I guess that if Mrs Anderson is going to be around as much as Mum was implying, I have to get to know her.
And she's one scary lady too. I have a problem talking to nice people my age, so I don't know how it's going to be with her. We'll see.
Mum has passed out on the couch now and I'm scared out of my mind of what's to come. It's probably going to be fine, I tell myself, but who am I really kidding? I haven't been home alone for more than a couple of days at a time and even then, Jake paid me a visit.
She's leaving tomorrow; the bags are already packed and I don't have a say.
Current location: Finn's Room
Today, Frank nicked Mrs Anderson's newspaper.
He nicked it from under her broken mailbox (some kids had probably bashed it yesterday; I was awake and it sounded like there was an aggro going on) when I let him out to piss. And it had been one thing if he'd just nicked it, but no, he had to chew it– something that he hasn't done since he was a puppy. I mean, Frank, come on! I've raised you better than that!
So I had to scrape up some courage and apologise to her (plus offering our newspaper in return). And God was she angry when she opened the door; she wouldn't even let me explain myself. Well, she thought I'd come to apologise for the mailbox so I got myself a wigging about how young people nowadays really should stop drinking and vandalising other people's property. And I was actually right about the cricket bat; she had one leaning against the wall in the hallway.
Then she discovered Frank. He did his eyebrow thing, and I got my chance to explain everything. I'm pretty certain a little light went on in her eyes when I was done, so I guess we're on good terms again. She's coming by tomorrow, as a thanks for borrowing the newspaper.
Mum left today, too. It was kind of teary on her part, and she went over everything with me one last time (what to do if the heater decides to strike, if there's a fire, if something short-circuits and all that stuff…) and told me to send on everything that wasn't addressed to me, plus that I should try to apply for a work, somewhere. I know she meant the grocery store down the block – I've been meaning to apply for some time now – so I'm going there on Monday. After that she almost started crying again, told me to be a good boy and that I could call her anytime.
I probably won't, but she doesn't know that yet.
Current location: Finn's Room
Mrs Anderson is the only reason I didn't set myself and Frank on fire yesterday. I was going to make pancakes and we didn't have any liquid margarine, so I thought that some rapeseed oil would work just as well. Except that it didn't. Mum should really have warned me about the rapeseed oil.
I left the pan unattended for about two minutes, and when I got back, there was a real do going on in the kitchen. The oil had caught fire, the smoke alarms had gone off and Frank had spilled the pancake batter on the floor in his haste to get away from the noisy inferno. To say that I panicked as well is sort of an understatement, because I actually don't remember what happened between the moment I saw the utter disaster in the kitchen and the moment Mrs Anderson decided to burst through the front door all flustered and angry after hearing the commotion – thank God I'd left the window open due to the hot-as-hell-kitchen.
And on the contrary to me, she didn't go all stiff when she saw what happened. Mrs Anderson is actually a very cool lady, so she just got the fire extinguisher from the hallway and literally saved the day (and the house from burning down).
The fire didn't leave any permanent damage, thank God, but I did earn myself another fierce wigging about cooking safety. But she also told me that I'm more than welcome to come and eat dinner with her whenever I want. Which is pretty brilliant, since I really don't want to try out my cooking skills any time soon… it's like playing with death, for God's sake!
Also, note-to-self; Frank isn't afraid of the hover when Finn is doing the cleaning.
Current location: The cafeteria
Charlie's taking Maths as well. I have no idea how I missed out on this precious piece of information. He's chosen the seat right in front of me, so if there was a tiny hope for me actually passing, it's gone by now. I mean, if I can stare at his awful (but not really) buzz cut and neck and shoulders and profile and upturned nose and smile and chapped lips, then there's no way I will ever be able to pay attention to what Mr Kelley is saying. And considering that I understood quite nothing last week (and then I actually listened) this seems to be going straight hell from now on.
I should set Frank up for a play date with the German Shepard.
Current location: The kitchen
Frank and I went by the grocery store after school today since I'd spent all yesterday touching up my résumé. I've actually done my fair share of jobs, such as selling strawberries for gramps's farm and I helping out at the culture department during the summer – it wasn't a big deal since I got it thanks to my art teacher, and I just helped out with an exhibition. We put it up every other day, and took it down just as often, since that was a part of the message. That everything fades away, but that it usually resurrects, just in a different shape in a different place.
Anyway, the manager said that I was lucky since they wasn't really hiring, but this lad had just said that he was resigning to go and live with his girlfriend a few towns over, so they had a post free now.
He's working this week and next, but then I can start.
I had dinner at Mrs Anderson's house today, and she's getting less and less scary for every time I see her. Not that she'll ever be non-scary, but I can actually look her in the eyes now.
She'd made potato gratin and some sort of meat that tasted delicious (especially after three days of noodles and meatballs) and told me that when I had the time I should come by and let her teach me how to cook some simple things. She definitely made a point of the importance of not leaving anything unattended – no matter how long it seemed to take. Leaving things, she said, that you could do when you knew what you were doing. Which I blatantly don't.
I think I'll pay her a visit next weekend, because my art class at the centre starts on Wednesday and with my Maths (shit! I forgot the homework!) I don't think I'll get any free time before that which I don't want to spend with my friends.
Current location: Isaac's Room
I did get some unplanned (but very welcome) free time today, since our History class was cancelled, so Julie and I went to the rink to meet up with Isaac and do some ice skating. I haven't skated since… I don't know when, so I fell. A lot. Definitely more than thrice. To be honest, I lost count on how many times I fell, but my bum is really sore - it feels like when I broke my tail-bone when I was ten. I hope I haven't done that though, because if that's the case, then it's going to hurt for weeks (or even longer).
But the worst wasn't the tail bone-part though. No, because of course Charlie had to be there. With some girl. Some cute, black-haired girl with an identical, striped muffler that I've had for ages.
And you know what? That's not even the worst part either. No, the worst part was that Julie tried to make us leave when they got there, but Isaac was too much of a twat to get it and wouldn't let us. But I do wish that I had left, because he kissed her. In public. On the lips. With his tongue in her mouth and his hands on her hips.
My chest definitely hurts more than my arse, that's for sure.
Current location: Finn's Room
We're having a maths test in two weeks and I don't even understand what we've done up till now. I'm so screwed it's not even funny; not even Isaac will be able to help me now.
Charlie was absent today, though. I don't know if I'm easy or annoyed. Probably both.
Current location: Finn's Room
The German Shepard's name is Tess and she's four years younger than Frank. If they'd been human I wouldn't have approved of their relationship at all – I mean, he's twenty-eight years older than her and I don't think that's ever been looked good upon by I set them up for a play date on Friday anyway.
Her owner's name is Matt, and while he seemed to think of me as nothing but a really dodgy kid, (I have no idea why; I don't have any tattoos or piercings and I sure as hell don't look like I'm tangled up in some wonky business) he did agree to let them play. Apparently Tess gets bored since he only ever has time to take her out for simple walks and maybe play with her on the weekends.
Some other good news is that my art class started again today and apparently we're going to focus on figure drawing. Like, with living models and everything. And I'm scared. Because the majority of the people in that class are… well, women, and they're all at least fifteen years older than me. The teacher doesn't know I'm gay, so I don't know what I'll do if she presents me with some really hot, naked guy for three hours every week. I want to be professional about it, but… well; the disaster will show itself next week…
Current location: History class
Last day of January and it was as cold as ever. I was tempted to take the bus to school today, but I need to be careful with what I spend my money on until I get my wage. Then, I can do whatever I want. Or so I think – I'll probably just stash it away somewhere anyway.
I also got paired up with Julie for that group project in History. And while I probably should have focused on, you know, the task at hand, I asked her if she knew Charlie's girlfriend (or at least her name). She said she didn't, but I'm pretty sure she actually lied to me, because she did that thing when she tries to pull hairs from her eyebrows. It's her tell, but she doesn't know that.
But I don't have the foggiest why she'd lie to me. It's not like I'm going to hunt the bird down (if Charlie thinks she's good enough to be his girlfriend, she must have some good qualities) or start crying. I just want to know her name.
I bet it's beautiful.
A/N: This idea came to me while I was home alone for about two weeks. Since NaNo had just started and I'd always wanted to write a diary novel, I thought "why not?". It's not the best I've done, but it's finished and updates will come regularly. I like to think that I've done thorough research about England's school system (and about British slang) but if there's something that's a blatant mistake, don't be afraid to tell me!
- Jill Montino