Had to delete and reupload this because docx file I uploaded apparently wanted to change itself into some strange code.

Chapter 1

The beginning of the end to Serion's life as he knew it started just like any other day: with the sound of a school bell ringing, which caused Serion to jolt awake with every muscle in his body tensing up and his heart pounding against his chest. He looked down at his desk to see an assignment laying there and cursed silently to himself. The bottom left corner of the paper was damp with what Serion suspected was drool. He hadn't meant to fall asleep in class but after another sleepless night it only took him until second period English to crash.

His classmates were already grabbing their things and bolting out of the door in a hurry to get to their next class. In the rush of things, some of them kicked Serion's backpack on their way by, knocking it over and causing the contents to spill out of the half-opened bag. Papers scattered into the isle and were quickly trampled on.

"Hey!" Serion's voice cracked a little, sounding hoarse, as he tried to get the attention of his classmates. He had hoped that some of them would at least have the courtesy to step around his belongings, but he was ignored.

"Can you please not step on my things?" His voice sounded a little better this time he spoke but his classmates still ignored his pleas. Serion just sighed and brought his hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache coming on, throbbing just behind his eyes. The lack of sleep combined the position in which he had fallen asleep on the desk was getting to him.

Serion chose to wait until everyone had exited the classroom before accessing the damage. He slid out of his seat and bent down onto one knee, scooping his papers into a pile. Almost all of them had dirty shoe marks on them and some were either crinkled up or torn. He pushed them back into his backpack and stood back up, hoisting the bag over one shoulder. The weight of the textbooks inside weighed the backpack down, causing a slight ache.

Serion grabbed the assignment off of his desk and glanced at it. At least he was able to finish half of the questions on the paper before he had passed out. He turned to where his teacher was sitting, his legs feeling like jelly. Shakily and slowly, he approached her desk hoping they would be able to reach an understanding or he would be cut some slack. Though Serion somehow doubted that. This was the third time this week he had fallen asleep in her class alone.

Serion cleared his throat a little and tried to find the right words to say. His teacher had already looked up from whatever she was doing, glaring at him from over her glasses. "Hey, uh, Mrs. Rowan can I speak to you for a moment?"

"Is this about you falling asleep in my class again, Mr. Blackbane?" Mrs. Rowan asked. The English teacher placed the pen that had been in her hand back onto her desk and focused all attention onto Serion. She was one of the older teachers in the school, having taught at Hollyview for thirty years. Her hair was grayed, showing no hint of the color that it once was and her blue eyes showed tiredness. That didn't stop Mrs. Rowan though. She had always taught her class with energy and passion, but even the kindest and most passionate of people can run out of patience and Serion could tell that he was wearing her's thin.

"Yeah, about that." Serion rubbed the back of his head, ruffling his hair. "I'm sorry I fell asleep in your class again. I know this is the third time this week but is there any way that I can make it up the assignment?"

Mrs. Rowan sat back in her chair and sighed. "Mr. Blackbane, it hasn't been just this week you have been falling asleep in my class, and it isn't just my class either. I've spoken to you other teachers, and this has been going on for months now. Is there something going on you would like to discuss?"

Serion just shook his head. It was far too complicated to explain to her, or to anyone else, what was going on. Serion had convinced himself that there were some things best kept secret. "No ma'am, there isn't anything going on."

"If there is nothing going on then why have we been falling asleep in class?" She leaned forward, placing her hands onto her desk and intertwining her fingers together. "Mr. Blackbane, at this rate you won't be able to graduate in spring. Aside from me not wanting to see my students struggling to pass, I don't want to see them struggling with life either. I have taught you for four years now and I know you're a bright kid. Just know that if there is something bothering you or you are struggling with anything at all, you are more than welcome to reach out to me or our school's guidance counselors."

Serion felt a pang of guilt welling up inside of him and a lump appeared in his throat, making it hard to breathe. He swallowed and tried to remain composed so that he didn't give anything away. "I appreciate that, Mrs. Rowan. I promise you that there is nothing going on. About the assignment, may I please make it up?"

The old teacher sighed, not saying anything for a few moments. "Mr. Blackbane, I-" the bell announcing that students should now be in class or they would be late rang, interrupting what she was going to say. "I would like to have a word with your mother. I'll be giving her a call this evening to plan a time for you both to come in."

Serion's heart dropped at that. Any teacher calling to speak with his mom was the last thing Serion wanted. "Ma'am I-"

"Please get to your next class, Mr. Blackbane." Mrs. Rowan cut him off, giving him a sad and concerned look. "We can discuss this later. Right now I've got a class to teach."

Serion looked behind him to see the class was filled with students, all with their eyes on him. He bit his lower lip and wanted to sink into the floor. "R-Right, I should be heading to my next class." He turned and walked out of the classroom, his head down where he couldn't look anyone in the eyes.

Shit, what am I going to do? Serion wondered to himself as he walked through the halls of the school. He was already late to class so he decided to walk slowly and allow himself time to think. Mrs. Rowan or anyone else calling home was the last thing that Serion needed. He lived alone with his mother, a crude woman who only thought of herself. Serion had taken care of her since his father passed away when he was ten. For the first few years Serion moved from place to place. His mother delved in illegal substances and never could keep a job for long.

She would always get clean for a bit, or at least long enough to find a new apartment or home to rent and a new place to work. She would always promise him that she would do better, that things would be okay. The first few times Serion would believe her, but she would always relapse, stop going to work and get fired. Then they would run out of money and get evicted.

Once Serion turned sixteen he himself got a job. At first he would walk to work every day after school until he got his permit - and later his license - and saved up enough money to purchase his own car, which ended up being a little beat up sedan with chipped paint and rust dotted all over it. Serion didn't complain though as it got him to and from where he needed.

Serion worked whenever he could, even trying to pick up extra shifts on weekends when everyone else would be out hanging with friends or partying. Outside of his retail job, Serion also did any other odd jobs that he could find. Mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, dog walking, even the occasional babysitting job. Serion couldn't afford to turn any of those jobs down, needing every bit of cash that he could find. There would be school nights that Serion would be out, trying to earn enough money to keep the bills paid and to keep a roof over his and his mom's head.

So far the school hadn't caught onto what Serion was doing or how his mom was. He would rather not anyone - whether it be teacher or student - to know what was going on. Serion had done a good job with hiding it so far, or at least he had until he started falling asleep in class due to the lack of sleep, but if Mrs. Rowan was to meet his mother there was no way he would be able to hide that any longer.