This is the prologue to one of my newest stories and also the back-story of the main character. I appreciate the helpful comments noting inaccuracies in the passage and encourage them but blatant insults will be ignored. Please enjoy the story ^u^

They met in college, both studying to be pediatricians. My mum told me all about it once I was old enough to understand. They fell fast and hard, the stress of the future not doing enough to discourage them. They didn't know it would be short-term and they didn't know how real the consequences of going for the cheapest condoms were. They didn't know I existed until several weeks after their brief romance had ended. My mum told my dad and he supposedly took responsibility for a few months but never went back to her. He met someone else and not even a year after I was born, he completely disappeared on us.

I say he completely disappeared. He actually just moved out of state and got married. My mum was upset about it. I vaguely remember having to move out of our apartment when I was two. We moved in with my grandparents who definitely weren't happy. If I hadn't been so cute, they might have let my mum deal with it. I guess I grew on them, though. They love me to this day. I'm their favorite grandchild. Well, I'm their only grandchild.

My mum dropped out of college a year before she would have graduated. She worked several jobs at a time and I did my best to make it easy on her…as much as a kid can stand to. It's not like any toddler gives their parents a free ride. They raise hell and cry too often over the smallest things. Sometimes my mum cried with me.

My grandparents announced their retirement around the time I turned eleven. They even pulled a double-whammy by saying they were moving to a small town in Wales where my grandfather grew up. It wasn't until the third surprise came that my mum got especially upset. They suggested I go with them.

After all of the arguing and raw comments thrown around during weeks I hardly remember as anything more than a loud blur, I packed my bags and went abroad. My mum gave me the only picture she had of my dad before I left. I wasn't really sure why at first. The tall brown-haired man dressed for a casual date in that picture was a stranger that I just happened to resemble. Honestly, I was too distant from that stranger to care what he looked like but it seemed important to my mum. She reluctantly stayed behind to continue college while renting a smaller apartment with the money that my grandparents called "advanced inheritance". It's not that we come from a rich family. My grandmother owned a small food factory before it shut down while I was still in fourth grade. I'll admit I'm a little spoiled but I recognize hard work just as well.

In Wales I made a few friends and delivered newspapers that people actually read unlike in America…usually. I got bullied, too. The name that seemed most popular was "The Bastard" which now that I think about it, was more like a title. I didn't even mind it. Growing up without even knowing the sound of my father's voice or how he wrote and walked and smiled in front of others, I didn't care much for him. I still don't. At least "The Bastard" separates me from the man who got a few glances of me and left.

Of course if they ever mentioned my mum, I would go a bit ballistic. An example would be Jeffery Hopkins. He called my mum a slut so I decked him. We were near the piers and he actually stumbled off the edge of the road and into the water. The police got involved but it seemed to boil down to the fact that it was okay because Jeffery could swim really well. I'll admit I was glad but I still feel a little guilty about it. I could have just as easily punched him over dry land.

When I was thirteen and Valentine's Day came around, I made a game of it. I had friends but I didn't have that sort of interest in any of them. They were mostly roughed up girls with ridiculous laughs and the messiest hair you'd see on an eighth grader, girl or boy. Since I didn't have the guts to give someone else a personal valentine, I just went around and dropped small anonymous valentines in students' lockers. My friends followed me as I did it, sometimes between classes. They said random things that I'd written up the night before. Things like "you smell nice", "your hair is cool", "I bet you can carry a tune", and my favorite: "you're kind of beautiful when you're happy".

I dropped them in almost every locker. That's until I ran out. They were written on copy paper with red ink and I wrote them all with my right hand despite being left-handed so they wouldn't be able to tell. My friends laughed about it most of the day but rather than join in on the fun, I was delivered a valentine of my own. It fluttered out of my locker smelling like vanilla and soft purple lace lined the heart shape; a legitimate, hand-made valentine. My heart sunk.

The feeling was strange, even looking back on it now. I was kind of afraid. I'd been afraid of it for a while but I honestly didn't expect it to happen. Who had liked the scrawny brunet kid with the band of rough girls walking at his side constantly? Who had seen anything remarkable in this unreasonably tame thirteen-year-old boy with a sugar-sweet sense of humor and no real skill? Her name was Lucy Thomas.

The very fair baby doll that sat at the back of the classroom and twirled her long blond ponytail whenever she was anxious about something. When she smiled, her freckles would rise up and her blushed cheeks made it look like those light dots were sheep running down hills as they disappeared into her hairline. She wasn't one to make eye contact and while she smiled a lot, she'd do it at the ground. She was very shy and very sweet.

I felt absolutely terrified.

I avoided her for as long as I could and as guilty as I felt, I didn't know what to say to her. I was scared and confused. I felt trapped. Most of the other guys in my school would have loved to get a valentine from Lucy but there was something about her that I felt bad about. I didn't want her to know, either. She was a sweet girl.

My mother finished college and came to stay with us for a while. She was surprised to hear my slight accent in person. We'd only had phone calls and texts between us before and it's not like my accent is strong. It's still very American and more often gets mistaken for a Scottish accent rather than a Welsh one.

I didn't tell my mum about Lucy like I didn't tell my grandparents. I couldn't tell them either. I was scared of that too, even if I had no reason to be. It was just…scary.

For as long as I could, I pretended Lucy Thomas didn't exist. One day she tried to confront me and she even started apologizing for giving the valentine to me. I got glared at a lot after she was found crying in the bathroom. I hadn't spoken a word to her, just shook my head through the whole thing.

Lucy's older brother Mick came after me that same day after school. When I was walking home, he pushed me into one of the alleyways alone. It wasn't a very long alleyway but it was on an empty road. Nobody would hear me even if I screamed.

To be honest, I wasn't as scared as I should have been. Mick was a big kid for fourteen; very tall, football player with plenty of stamina to beat the bloody shit out of me. Still…it was Mick.

He shoved me into a brick wall and he could have done it harder but he wasn't a violent guy. He was confronting someone who had the nerve to string along his little sister while pretending she didn't exist. I must have made her feel terrible. I was the first guy she'd ever fancied.

I started crying in that alley before Mick could get more than two words out. They were silent tears at first and Mick looked confused and reluctant to keep being rough with me. I was a little kid. Maybe I was embarrassed to say something to Lucy.

"I'm sorry." I'd told him.

"You made my li'l sis cry." He glared but his hand on my arm was sweaty.

He looked so angry and hurt for Lucy and I wanted to hurt in both of their places. I wanted him to punch me. I wanted him to hurt me. For Mick to hit me would be the worst thing in the world for me and I deserved it. I accepted that. I knew then, too, that I wouldn't be confused after that. Lucy's first crush had hurt her. Why shouldn't mine do the same?

I watched him during lunch and always managed to spot him in the halls. He had the same blond hair as his little sister and he even had similar freckles that scattered his cheeks and nose. I never spoke to him. I didn't understand it, really. I kind of wanted it to not be true. I knew a lot of my friends excused the stuff I did and said "oh but he's an American" and it seemed to get me out of trouble but I was still scared. Having Lucy's valentine show up in my locker crushed me. It hurt because I didn't want her to hurt but I knew she would. I knew I wouldn't have the courage to tell her that I didn't like girls, let alone the fact that her brother was the one I had a heavy crush on.

Mick didn't know any of it but he knew something was wrong when I stopped crying. I straightened up with clenched teeth and stood back against the wall. His arms even weakened but I didn't run. He stared at me in confusion. Maybe he was giving me a chance to run away.

"You deserve it." he said in a harsh voice.

It was like he was trying to guess what was on my mind. He never would guess. I looked him straight in the eyes and spoke him a relieving truth.

"I do." I said.

He was angered by that and he even grabbed my shoulder closer to my neck. It was hard to breathe but I wouldn't have minded dying. It would be over then. I wouldn't have to face any of it. I didn't glance away or even blink then.

"…do it." I said. "…I can't change it, Mick."

My voice cracked and my eyes filled up with tears. Mick looked almost like he was scared. The cold February air was lost on us and voices in the distance were nothing but bird chatter that hardly reached my ears beyond that bend of the alley.

I felt the warmth on my lips before I even saw Mick lean in. With the sound of faraway thunder masking any noise I'd made, I had my first snogging with my first crush beside a butcher's shop. It was good. He tasted like candy.

It was awkward after that and had it not been for the sudden rain, it would have been even more awkward. He ran his way home without a word to me and I went mine alone without an umbrella.

My grandmother complained about the rain I brought in with me but I was too dazed to be worried. I didn't even know what to do. I didn't know why Mick even kissed me. That night I couldn't be happy about it while I was too confused. Still, I felt some hope. Either way, I never found sleep.

The next day I contemplated going to see Mick since it was a Saturday and I was still confused. I was tired but leaving it alone meant abandoning the opportunity that he could feel the same. One foot out the front door, I spotted Mick walking down the sidewalk toward my house.

When he saw me, he immediately turned around with an embarrassed look on his face. I ran after him and got in his way so he couldn't ignore me. His face was nearly the shade of a strawberry and he couldn't meet my eyes.

"You came here for a reason." I reminded him while also feeling embarrassed.

"…I'm sorry for what I did." He said quietly without looking up from the space between us. "Please don't tell anyone."

I was hurt by that but even then, I didn't lose hope.

"Is that all?" I asked and he shook his head.

He finally met my eyes. I could almost feel how nervous he was. It made me nervous. When he spoke, his voice was even quieter than before.

"I…I'll pay you." He said. "I'll pay you if you'd snog me."

Needless today, I was stunned. I felt separated from my body for a moment and Mick looked more embarrassed than ever. I don't know why I even answered him. I guess I was that desperate.

"…how much?" I asked.

If I knew how things would turn out, I would never have said those two words. It would have saved me a lot of trouble, a lot of heartache, a lot of disappointment.

"Three pounds?" he asked me.

"Three pounds to snog me?" I replied.

I was actually shocked that he'd give me money and kisses when I'd be lucky just to feel any fraction of his skin again. He took it as me being unsatisfied and raised the amount to five pounds.

"Six pounds." I said.

He seemed surprised, almost like he never expected me to agree, but he looked the slightest bit relieved despite the new anxiety I saw in him, the nervousness of someone who's never intentionally snogged another boy.

Mick agreed to six pounds and started digging through his pockets, having brought money with him. I never learned if he planned on buying those kisses. Maybe he wanted to ask for them because of me, not because I was a boy and he was confused.

I had to stop his riffling hands before he brought out the money as other people passed by on their morning walks. I then took one of Mick's hands and turned to lead him back to my house.

My mum was still asleep and my grandparents were out at the market so I didn't have any trouble getting him to my room in secrecy. I locked the door and turned to find him sitting on the bed where I slept every night. That small room felt so much smaller then. I didn't want to hesitate. Whatever money there was in Mick's pockets meant I wouldn't have to.

I came into him cautiously at first but after our lips brushed a few times and his breaths became audible enough to beat on my eardrums, he pulled me in. His kisses were needy and desperate at first but as more of them were exchanged, some sense of security and a blatant desire was evident. My body felt hotter. I felt like I could float away or hit the ocean floor with equal effort, the very minimal sort.

Mick held onto me. He even let me sit on his lap and grab at the back of his shirt. I'd never been so enraptured. It felt like I was breathing for the first time. I felt powerful, even. My dignity wasn't at stake because I was doing it for money. Even if Mick had rejected me after, he'd think I just wanted spending money, not him. That's probably where the problem started.

After several long and tender moments, we heard my mum moving around the house. I walked Mick out with a brief introduction to my mum. On my front porch, he asked me if we could do it again. He offered to pay for it. That's when he pushed the wrinkled notes into my right palm. They were warm off his body. I agreed to give him service again. I didn't realize then what my decisions would lead to. Mick knew, though. That's why he was so jumpy as he left me behind on his way home.

Time went on and we continued that business I was too fond of to admit. Mick eventually brought up the idea of doing more. Little by little, I worked my way closer to being something I never expected.

Kisses on the cheek were free. Kisses on the lips were two pounds each. Six pounds meant ten minutes or so of snogging. Ten pounds meant me giving him a handjob. Fifteen pounds meant a blowjob. A few weeks into my second year of high school, Mick offered thirty-five pounds for my body. I still liked him then. I think I was even in love. I refused his money but told him I wanted to sleep with him anyway. I told him it was because I was a virgin and didn't want my first time to be money-based. I lost my virginity at fifteen to the first guy I ever loved. It was the most painful thing I'd ever experienced.

After the first time, Mick paid for my body. We kept our distance in school like he wanted but not even a year after we first slept together, someone found out about us. It was an accident and Mick didn't mention us sleeping together. He told his best friend that we'd fooled around and that he was spending a lot of money on me. That friend then approached me between classes in the washroom.

He came on strong and I could tell he was straight but he was a very desperate virgin. He wanted me to name a price and when I said I wouldn't do it, he said he'd have sex with me either way, that I might as well get paid for it. I charged him fifty pounds and we did it right there in one of the stalls. It hurt like usual but he didn't even use a condom. I went home early that day with a shameful twenty pounds in my pocket.

Somehow, students learned about what I was doing. Because of the danger of getting caught, Mick stopped buying me. I was approached by more guys wanting my services and even when I told them I wasn't interested, they tormented me until I accepted the fact that I'd become a whore. I was a slut for money and consent wasn't my privilege. The body I kept alive day after day didn't really belong to me.

I went to Mick's house one night after a particularly traumatizing experience but it was Lucy who answered the door. I broke down crying in front of her and started apologizing. She tried to help me and get me inside but I didn't move from their doorstep. I admitted to her that I didn't like girls and in the process, told her that I had slept with her brother for money.

She didn't say anything. She stared down at me for a long while before closing the door and leaving me out in the cold. I got sick that night and stayed home the next day but when I returned to school, Mick confronted me in the hallway. He shoved me and started yelling something about how he shouldn't have trusted me and how his whole family found out.

The only reason I was never approached by the police was because Mick's family was too ashamed and half the boys in my year had slept with me. There weren't enough of them that knew about me that weren't guilty of buying my services. That didn't stop them from constantly whispering slurs under their breaths as I walked through the halls. My band of rough girls no longer walked with me. I'd become something they hated.

Sometime near the end of my third year, my mum suggested moving back to the US. I agreed without hesitation. I still kind of loved Mick even though I didn't like him anymore but I knew leaving was best. I packed my things and moved without a word. I only regret it every once in a while.

My fourth year began and ended rather quietly in America. I didn't have many friends and I didn't have any customers. I thought I was done with the whole thing, that I would never do it again. I thought that way until my first year of college. I realized how expensive it is to live, even when you're better off than most. I knew the quickest way to make money, something I'd be good at, something I didn't need a boss for necessarily. I started hanging out near gay bars and clubs while taking some advice from one of the guys in my class, wearing a black bead earing in my left earlobe to signal that I was selling.

It was slow at first like I expected. I was new and nobody really wanted to touch me but I was eventually picked up. I kept my phone with me, always used condoms, and even started taking some martial arts lessons that included online self-defense instructions. I used one of my friends to help me practice since she was interested in self-defense too. I didn't tell her what I needed it for, though. She doesn't know what I do. I've learned from my mistakes. She wouldn't be okay with me selling myself.

After twenty years, I am where I am. I'm stronger, smarter, tougher, wiser, and a lot more damaged than I began. It's for the best, though. Nobody lives a truly happy life in this world. Even when you follow the rules, you're just an ant marching next to people who would only trust you because they had to and you feel the same. The only thing I can do is live my life and try not to let it screw me too far into the ground. I want to die doing what I want. Whether I'm remembered or not doesn't really matter to me anymore.