A/N : This story is about how the different lives and conflicting pasts of five teenagers pave their way into becoming fervent believers in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Meet Christopher, a boy trapped in the lust and earthly desires of the world, Chalondra, despised for her skin colour and culture, Clotaire, a Russian struggling to embrace his heritage that he is scorned for and his miserable home, Chloe, a girl who is engaged in an unspeakably irreputable dirty business and Catherine, the youngest daughter in a catholic family. Hope you enjoy!

Kennilsworth, Puddlemere Pub, 3 : 40

"Another vodka please," a young sixteen-year old lad asked the burlesque waiter. "It's good."

The round, taciturn man just frowned, as if disapproving the age of the person in front of him is drinking, but still disappeared behind the curtain to get some. After all, it's the customer who rules, not the him. He grabbed the large green bottle and uncorked it. The Puddlemere Pub was a shady bar that was the most known in town. Horny young adolescents in a hurry to grow up mingled in here and had a lot of "fun". The waiter didn't really like his job, but with the rise of globalism, he was left behind. Having never finished school - he was forced to work in a depressing place where he watched random people strip their clothes, scream, dance, boisterously laugh, smoke and drink.

Teenagers these days were so indulged in sin.

"Here you go, Chris," he said in a raspy voice as he handed over the glass, before stopping himself with a fit of coughs. The smell of tobacco wafting around the room made him short of breath. The kid came here every single day, and little by little he got to know him better.

Christopher Burnham grinned and brought it to his lips. His other hand passed through his short black hair slicked with grease which he messed up and offered a seductive smile to a bunch of girls his age passing by. He was mostly proud of his tough square jaw and tan. It made him look desirable. He knew it wasn't a good thing to do, like his parents reminded him over and over. But it was exciting, and cool. Drinking alcohol was the next step for him to grow up. And he definitely wasn't going to end up as his boring, nasty and poor mother and father.

Christopher's story was pretty ordinary. He had a carefree, happy childhood where he would still play catch with his friends and make bracelets out of anything they could find. Things changed when he met the Rocketeers gang. They showed him how to live life the cool way, how to grow up and be successful in making yourself happy. They were right. Indeed, he was happy. But there was something that was still missing. Yet he had everything he needed in the world. and he didn't feel satisfied.

When are other people -

Another girl entered the pub. There was something about her that indicated that she wasn't actually American. Or Latino. She had a very pale complexion with silvery hair that fell to the middle of her back. Most remarkably, she had bright blue eyes. But there was a certain dark shadow in here eyes that made her even more mysterious.

That's the kind of girl I like, Chris thought. She looked innocent, angelic. It made her more likely to submit t his will as he would bring her to the rooms upstairs as he did with most of the girls he thought attractive. A nagging conscience told him that sleeping around at the random was a bad thing. It did indeed make him feel guilty at times and scared even of what were going to be the consequences of his actions. But in the end his desire would overcome his fear, and he would proceed to doing what he loved most. Girls, to him, were objects meant to please. Nothing less, nothing more.

"Wanna sit next to me?"

She stayed silent and just settled down next to him. Her head bowed down, he watched her take a cup and mutter something to the waiter who had previously attended to him. He nodded, and set her out four glasses of vodka. She reached out for one and silently drank. Something about her made him think that she was here because she was depressed. Some people did come here to drink themselves sick out of anger and grief. Was it because she had recently broken up with her boyfriend? Did her favourite pet die? Or did she just lose a thing she held dear? Chris wondered.

"You know, vodka is pretty heavy," he remarked. He knew this must be one of those new teenagers unaccustomed to drinking, and that needed some "guidance" in a way. Probably this was her first time. "You know, I'd be happy - even eager to please," he continued on, completely changing the subject. He offered a wide smile and touched her hand, which she jerked away. Some girls did that sometimes, trying to look rough. Or just because they didn't want it. But on most occasions they ended up being in bed with him, so who cared?

This is bad.

"I know it's heavy. And I don't need anything," the person next to him snapped.

That's when he realised his embarrassing mistake. The girl, was actually a boy that seemed to be Russian, judging from his thick accent. "What is there that you can offer me, dumbass? You do know that I'm straight, right?" he asked in a sickenly cold tone. The boy tilted his head to the side, observing and gazing at Christopher intently. He himself was certain that he would leave the bar if the guy showed any indication of being a homo. Or worse. He despised them. Others could call him homophobic if they wanted to. He was happy to say so.

"Sorry, I just thought you were female, with your - er - effeminate looks," the raven-haired boy answered awkwardly, feeling bad. He wasn't LGBTQ+ but he was one of their allies, and he didn't like homophobic people. "I'm Christopher by the way, but everyone calls me Chris. Can I get you a drink?"

"No, I'm good. My name is Clotaire Nijinsky, by the way."

He nodded and quiet settled between the two, like a few moments before. Clotaire found Christopher annoying and he preferred to suffer in silence then have the other pity him of his sad fate. Chris thought the other to be prejudiced and weird so he left him alone as well. He wanted fun, not problems. But after a while it became a little uncomfortable. Closing his eyes and heaving a sigh after he slowly sipped the last of his vodka, the dark-skinned boy looked at the other's blue eyes.

"Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you Clotaire. But something seems to be bothering you. Care to talk about it?"

Clotaire's grip on his fourth drink tightened and trembled slightly. Tears welled up in his eyes and he made a great effort to contain them. "I'm sorry too," he said softly. "But it isn't you that's the problem, OK? I - I don't know where to start..." His shoulder's stiffened and clenched his jaw to prevent letting out an undesirable sound.

"Take your time, man."

The truth was, Clotaire lived in a run-down ghetto in his one-apartment that he shared with his step-mother Sophia, his father Vasily and his older brother Aleksander. He was poor, and lived in a home where it was always deathly silent. He could never confide in anyone but his older brother. His father when he came back from the factory making textiles wanted to hear absolutely nothing when he came home, as he was tired. For years, Clotaire longed for some affection from his part. But there never was anything. He thought Clotaire to be a disappointing son who was too weak, too soft, too curious. He treated him like he was the most beautiful disappointment in his life. He was so sick of being considered the bad child and having to put on a fake smile so that nobody would have to suspect anything. It would get him more problems than needed.

At least that's what he thought.

Their mother handled a candy store, and she was sick, so of fear of burdening with problems that were unnecessary, and adding more stress than he should he said nothing. She probably had cancer. Or another deadly disease. None of them knew, as they had no money to ring her to the hospital, So little by little, he watched her wither away, a part of her disappearing daily.

Aleksander had similar problems to him. And he was his only lifeline. But he was going to leave the house soon, to find a new job. He just couldn't live with his father and resented him for what he made all of them live. They often quarrelled, and that left little time for his younger brother to talk to him. And he was trying to drown the pain with heavy alcoholic drinks as he was soon going to lose everything he depended on, everything he loved.

Is God there? Clotaire often wondered. If he is, does he care about me? He'd convinced himself years ago that it couldn't be, that religion was just a fantasy. If he did exist … why was he suffering so much? Why could he never be at rest with himself or his family? Or why did so much misery happen in the world today? He just felt that he could only suffer in silence. Nobody could lift him out of this mess.

Christopher, on the other hand didn't even care. He didn't like the fact that God could be there, because that would mean he was accountable for his actions. He would never be free to do whatever he wanted and pleased as a Christian. And having to go to church literally every Sunday was a hassle, so he didn't bother. Also, it was considered so uncool to be believing the Bible when it was a bunch of fairy tales, right? I mean, how can you heal a person by just commanding demons to get out of him? Or how can you kill a giant with a slingshot? There were so many inconsistencies in his opinion that none of this could be real.

"And that's just in a matter of weeks," Clotaire added in a bitter voice. He never had told anyone about this, save but his brother. He felt like a big burden was being lifted from his shoulder. Maybe the sayings were right. It did help to talk about sometimes to people.

Girls, drinks and partying was all forgotten. Chris' eyes had widened in shock when he heard the other boy's story and immediately felt ashamed. Patting the other boy in the shoulder, he found out it took a while to respond to him. He just didn't know what to say to that. He could only manage this :

"Oof, that's tough. I'm sorry for what hardships you must have gone through."

Tears were now streaming down the Russians' face. "Th - thanks... "

"No worries."

Kennilsworth, El Genius drug store on the eleventh avenue, 4 : 47

The pink-haired girl at the counter noticed another customer coming in and took out the cigarette in her mouth. The brown afro-haired girl in front of her must be her twelfth customer to pop up and ask for marijuana, meth or cocaine that day. Fiddling with the two earrings on her left ear, she casually asked :

"How can I help ya'?"

People came daily to her corner shop in Kennilsworth, on the eleventh avenue. Chloe Valery found her job as a cashier pretty boring at times. But mostly she was glad that her shop selling drugs hadn't been shut down yet. She didn't fear that they would get bankrupt. She feared the cops were going to end the business that she depended on to go to school and survive by her getting arrested. This wasn't even hers, anyway. El Genius had hired her when he had found her starving in the streets at seven after being abandoned by a single teenage mother who didn't want her anymore. She'd gladly accepted, because this was the first time she wasn't actually rejected or disposed of as if she was trash. And she could still remember the times her mother would remind her time and time again that she was a mistake and a burden.

Funnily enough, Chloe used to believe her. But not anymore. She was tired of accusing herself that it was all her fault bullshit. Reality had already screamed her in the face that her mother just didn't love her enough to stay with her. She was irresponsible for having conceived her in the first place, naïve, and cruel. She felt no pity for that whore who raised her. On numerous occasion her boss El Genius would tell her that she was much better off without her. It was better to be alone than stay with people that make you feel alone, he said. And he was right. Even though he was the complete opposite of an intellectual and a pervert.

"Looking for some weed," a voice growled in front of her, bringing Chloe back to reality. "Got some here?"

"Yep, right there," she said, gesturing on the black girls right.

African-American youngsters did pop up here once in a while. She didn't believe in this discrimination against black people crap much. After all, they were all humans, so what's the matter? It wasn't as if white people were superior or anything. The only thing that she believed in was that rich people were snobs and scum. They could go to hell, she reminded herself daily. We don't need any of those idiots here. But she had many friends that worked with her and that were black, and they weren't a problem. In fact, she chose to deliver their products with them more often as they were more sympathetic and co-operative.

"Hey, what's your name? I'd like to see you again when I come here," the black girl said to her surprise. She took a while to examine the person standing in front of her. Sure enough, her skin was dark brown, and she was wearing a school uniform to her surprise, unlike her. Chloe wore leather jackets and jacked up high heels that went up all to her knees. A white blouse and a plaid grey skirt until her ankles, to be precise. Kids that come here tend to be the punks like herself. Or those that were on the outskirts of society. She didn't fit in either category.

She was just a schoolgirl.

"Name's Valery, Chloe Valery," she answered gruffly. "You?"

"I'm Chalondra Thompson living two blocks from here." She placed her purple schoolbag on the counter and took out her phone after searching for it messily for a while. Looking back up to Chloe she asked for the girls phone number. She offered a big smile and her eyes were shining with joy that her cheerful countenance was infectious. Why didn't she ignore her or look at Chloe in disdain, who handled a drug store for crying out loud?

"O - OK? Chalondra, I'd like to know what makes you like this - happy to see me."

The other pondered while and then seemed to have found the way to formulate her thoughts. "There little joys everywhere that I perceive. I learn to find the opportunities to make friends everywhere. 'cause no one ought to be lonely and unhappy. And you're nice for a change."

"But don't people hate you and treat you badly for your skin colour? Why be nice to others that mostly deem you lower than themselves?"

Chalondra shrugged. "Everyone deserves a chance to be considered friendly."

"True. Same goes for me. Apart from males and rich gits in general."

They both laughed quietly at her last statement.

"What brings a girl like you here? You are the last person I would picture in my mind smoking weed."

"It's for my brother Ambrose, actually."

The two sat silently contemplating each other for a while as they were both now wondering about each other's lives. Was Chloe's life full of pain and misery? Was Chalondra's full of turmoil and tribulations? Soon, Chalondra couldn't take the mystery anymore and set out to know more about the girl she had just met. She was naturally curious about anything and everything, and knowing about other people's past could help her understand why they were - the way the were in the present day.

Another stayed by the window, listening to their conversation. She was wondering what a black person was doing around a punk drug-dealer, of all people. Catherine "Cat" Kirke had just come back from a friend's house not so far away, and she was going to do some shopping. She wanted a new pink dress with its pink shoes for church next Sunday that she had seen a few days ago at La Halle. Provided that it had not been bought, of course.

Most people found her irritating at school because she had this annoying habit on spying on people she thought were interesting, or just what seemed to be intimate conversations. This was one of them.

Catherine came from a rich Catholic family who almost treated the fact that you did not have new clothes before Sunday a sin. With all the money the Kirke's had in real-estate business, she had all the means to do so. She had everything she needed to make her happy, a beautiful house, luxurious things, a good school, popularity … yet she was still unhappy. Because her parents may try to satisfy her with all she wanted, but they were just material things. They loved her sister Bella much more than her. She had just more potential to become a great person in anything if she wanted to. And it wasn't just in terms of getting what they wanted. Even the priest of their local church admired how pious her "perfect" sister was. Which was completely untrue. Bella Kirke, a girl three years her senior, was that kind of person who kept a charming face to adults, but a horrible one to those younger or of her age. She was just a fake, in other words.

She watched the girl called Chloe think and hesitate for a while and tap the counter twice in deep thought. Let's just keep things straight and simple, Chloe thought.

"Raised by a guy called El Genius. He owns the shop. Give him the money he requires, he provides for me," Chloe said simply. "And the bed, too," she added bitterly.

"I'm so sorry for you!" she said rather alarmed. "When I thought fearing for our lives about the police coming for us was a thing!"

The pink-haired punk girl froze. "The police - come to your community?"

The other girl nodded in response. "We are always afraid of what happens to our families and friends. That's why we always walk together."

Chloe - and spying Catherine were rather taken aback on how fast the two in the shop had become friends. Just a tiny question on having a phone number of a friendly person turned out to an interesting conversation where they discussed about their society, their lives and themselves like they'd known each other for years.

"Do you believe in God?" Chalondra "Chal" Thompson asked curiously.

"If he exists, I wouldn't be here!" she stated jokingly, and they both laughed.

Catherine, personally didn't want to admit it but she felt as though this was true as well. She knew He existed, but she often longed for something more. All the rituals she did at church did not reassure that she was faithful enough and goodly enough to go to heaven and meet with the Lord. On the contrary. Her faith often wavered in the face of difficulty, and she always felt there was nobody to support her. Throughout the years, she had concluded that he wasn't there. But she kept up image to make sure her parents did not know that, of course.

If they only just knew how wrong they all were...