Chapter One: Only Four More Years
My best friend, August St. Clair, and I were eating our lunches on the bleachers of our school. It was twelve noon and the coolness of autumn was fading, replaced by the warm winds of summer. The metal bleachers overlooked the football field, where the beloved football team played. New Hamilton Grade School, our middle school, was built adjacent to the local high school, New Hamilton High. From the sky, the whole building looked like a massive L. During the free periods, the students could wander to the other side of the building, so August and I often ate our lunches on the bleachers and watched the high school football team.
August was eating an egg salad sandwich, and I was having a red, juicy apple. We eat in silence, the only sounds coming from the birds above us and the older teenagers below us. I looked over to August and thought about all the times that people said that we were as close as brothers. Although, August and I were very different.
August had grayish skin that was covered by a plain white shirt and blue pants. His round face wore an emotionless expressive. His black and white sneakers were worn and torn. His short black hair was combed back into a slick hairdo. His dark brown eyes stared blankly toward the field. A skateboard with white shiny wheels, gold painted axles, and a design of an urban street on its back was sitting in his tattered backpack, which was secured to his back by a single strap. August was about the average height for a thirteen-year-old, but he was much skinnier than most of the other guys in our grade.
I had alabaster skin, my short red hair framed my round-shaped face, and my eyes were of a hazel color. I was wearing my favorite burgundy hoodie with the white strings, pockets on the stomach, and the silver zipper. Under that, was my white collared shirt and I was wearing a pair of blue demin pants, along with cobalt sneakers. I was the same height of August, but not as skinny as him. Not to boast, but for a thirteen-year-old boy, I had a little muscle on me.
“So, how are things with your parents?” I asked as I finished my apple.
August finished eating his sandwich and spoke. “They’re fine, I guess.” His voice was always so low and foreboding.
“Does that mean something good or…” I trailed off, waiting for him to speak.
August folded his arms across his chest and looked off toward the left, away from me. “I honestly don’t know. They been getting more and more tired lately.”
“Yeah, working two jobs will do that to you.” I said.
August made a noise with sounded a groan. August came from a very poor family. They lived in the forest that surrounded our town, in an old dilapidated house. Both of his parents had to work two jobs to pay for the bare necessities. That skateboard, the same skateboard that his parents brought him for his tenth birthday, was probably the nicest thing he owned. It was a lucky thing that the guy was so smart and got a scholarship, otherwise his parents would have to pay for middle school and high school.
Their jobs kept them busy, so most days they didn’t have the time or the energy to hang out with their son. In fact, after they return home from work, the first time they do is go to bed. No one could doubt the love they had for their son, and the same went to August, who would do anything to lighten the burden on his parents’ shoulders.
“Anyways, I wouldn’t worry that if I were you.” I told him. “Grown-ups are always tired.”
“I suppose so.” He said, still not making eye contact with me.
It was quiet for a while after that. August didn’t talk much. He didn’t socialize much neither; I was his only friend. He was a bit of aloof. He didn’t like to hung out with the other boys in our grade and he preferred to not talk to the girls in our grade. He would only speak when spoken to. In class, he rarely raised his hands. In the hallway, he would prop himself against a wall and listen to some music. You could say that he was an introvert, but I preferred to think of him as a shy and timid boy who liked his privacy.
“Thinking about all the fun we’re going to have in high school?” I asked after a minute of silence.
August turned back to the field. He closed his eyes and groaned again. “Turning thirteen last year was interesting to say the least, but entering high school is going to be…” He paused before continuing. “Troubling.”
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“The entire town of New Hamilton will be expecting a lot from us, the rest of Flos included. You know that thirteen is only a stepping stone for ‘coming of age’, right?”
“Yeah, I know.” I shifted my glaze toward the sky. It was a clear day, so there wasn’t a cloud in the shy. The pink blossoms of the tree above us shaded us from the blazing yellow sun while simultaneously showering us in pink petals. The bluebirds sung a cheerful melody. I watched them launch themselves from the tree and fly toward the horizon. Only four more years.
“Thinking about your wedding?” August’s question snapped me out of my thoughts in an instant. When I looked back at him, his arms were still folded, his eyes were looking at me out of the corners, and he was wearing a sly grin. The question, coupled with that grin, made my face blush a bright red.
My friend chuckled, which made me blush harder. “No need to be embarrassed, William Midnight.” He said. “I was only joking.” He stood up, grabbing the brown paper bag that he carried his lunch in. “Now come on, we shouldn’t be late for assembly.” He was right. The last assembly for the end of the school year was the most important. I stood up, grabbed my lunchbox and backpack, and followed August down the bleachers and into the school.
Chapter Two: Blue and Silver
Our school was the most state-of-the-art building in New Hamilton, maybe in the entire country of Flos. The blue and silver paint they chose to decorate the place made it look as futuristic as it tried to be. Television monitors playing the local news were in every hallway. Small cubicles were located at every corner and state-of -the-art computer screens attached to desks with cushioned seats were inside of them. High-tech vending machines, with their polished silver metal exteriors bordering the glossy blue displays, were providing sodas and sandwiches to the rest of the student body. A large rectangular monitor was displaying the words, NEW HAMILTON ROYALS, in blue and silver lights.
“Looks like everyone is showing their school spirit for the last day.” August commented as we walked together in the hallway towards the auditorium. He was right; all around us were students dressed in blue and silver clothing. The girls were wearing short blue dresses with silver sashes around the waists. The boys were wearing blue and silver striped shirts.
“Yeah,” I said. “I wonder what changed. I thought it was a ‘uncool’ to wear the school colors around here.”
“Apparently it isn’t ‘uncool’ to wear them at the last assembly of the year.” Said August. I chuckled.
We walked alongside each other for a while until August suddenly stopped. I looked back to find my friend standing a few paces behind me, staring down an adjacent hallway. “What are you staring at?” I asked.
He pointed a thumb toward the hallway and said: “Your fiancée.”
“What?!” Quickly, I turned my head to look where he was looking and, sure enough, he was right. The hallway was very long and filled with other students, but I could still see her. There, at the end of the hall, was Alexandra Embrace and her best friend, Freddie Springs. They looked as though they were having a conversation.
Alex, with her healthy pink skin, long raven hair, chocolate eyes, and slender body, was wearing a short, puffy blue dress with a silver ribbon tied into a giant bow. On her feet was a pair of blue dress shoes with small silver shoe buckles on them. She was thirteen, the same age as me and August. Her thick, black oval-rimmed glasses had tiny pink rhinestones on the hinges. A baby blue handbag was hanging from her right elbow. The cheeks of her round face were pink and so was her plush lips; she must had put on some make-up.
Freddie had blonde hair that reached her shoulders, sapphire eyes, and alabaster skin. She was thirteen, like me, August, and Alex. She had a heart-shaped face and eyebrows that were as bushy as the fuzziest caterpillars in Flos. She was wearing a light blue football jersey with the number 10 on it sewed onto it with silver fabric and a pair of blue jeans. On her feet were a pair of light blue and white basketball sneakers. On her back was a black backpack that was decorated with stickers of footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, and basketballs. One of the stickers said: GO NEW HAMILTON ROYALS.
I started to panicked; my heart was beating faster with every passing second and my body was trembling with fear. I took a step backward and hid behind the wall nearest to me. I whispered to August: “Did she notice me?”
“No, she doesn’t.” He replied. “Yet.”
I grimaced. “Dude, don’t even joke about that!” I yelled at him, which was I huge mistake because as soon as I shouted, she heard me. Several other students heard me too and turned to look at me, but then they quickly went back to what they were previously doing. She turned her head to face me and August, and her mouth curved into the biggest smile I ever seen. A shiver ran up my shine at the sight of that smile. I tried to back away further, but as soon as I do, August grabbed me by the arm.
“You know if you run it’s only make her sad.” He cooed. “You wouldn’t want that on your conscious, now would you?”
I groaned and whispered to August: “Can’t I just hide in the bathroom or something?”
“Too late.” He said. “Here she comes.” I look back down the hallway and, as always, August was right; Alex already running toward us with Freddie slowly following behind her. Oh, no. She was the last person that I wanted to see and yet she was heading for me. “Calm down,” I heard August say. “It’s just a girl, who just so happened to be your future wife.”
I grimaced again. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Alex. She was the prettiest, sweetest, most intelligent girl I ever met. However, she was extremely clingy and smothering. That wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was how she kisses and hugs me every single time we meet; she would cover me in her gross cooties. Anyone who knew me, like really knew me, also knew that I had a- I guess you could call it a phobia- of cooties and other germs. As everyone knows, cooties are transmitted through touch, so having Alex regularly kissing and hugging me is not good for my physical and mental health. I don’t know if Alex knew about my phobia, or just didn’t care. Like I said before, I liked Alex as a friend, but at the same time I couldn’t stand to be near her.
“William!” Alex shouted as she reached us. As I predicted, she practicably leaped into my arms, wiped her own arms around my neck, and planted a wet kiss on my left cheek. She then nuzzled into my neck, gripping me so tightly that my windpipe constricted. It was a gross experience.
“Hello, Alex.” I managed to get out despite the lack of oxygen I was receiving.
She kissed my cheek again. “Hello, William, my dear.” She said in her sweet and fruity voice as she continued to nuzzle her face into my neck. Abruptly, she stopped nuzzling me and said: “Oh, hello August.”
“Hello, Alex.” August said to her.
She kissed my cheek one last time before pulling away, her hands still around my neck. My eyes met her eyes; I must admit, even through the thin glass of her glasses, they were beautiful. Her eyes scanned my clothing. “Why aren’t you wearing the school colors?” She asked.
Gently, I removed her hands from my neck with my own hands and placed them on her sides. “You see,” I began to say. “August and I didn’t know we were supposed to wear them today.”
“As usual you two are clueless.” Freddie said as she approached us. Here was the thing about Freddie: she didn’t like me or August. In fact, she pretty much detested all the boys in our grade. It was always strange to me that she didn’t like boys; she acted like a total tomboy that you would think that she would prefer to hang out with boys as opposed to girls. Yet, I only ever see her with Alex, who was, I assumed, too girly for Freddie. The two truly were like two peas in a pod, much like August and me. Another thing about Freddie was that she loved sports; she was the strongest player on the middle school’s basketball, baseball, and soccer teams. How she managed to juggle sports with schoolwork, I might never know.
“Hello, Freddie.” I said to her as waved my hand.
“Hello, Freddie.” August said.
“Hello, Ponytail.” She greeted me. “Hello, Greyhound.” She greeted August. I forget to mention that Freddie, instead of using our real name, would use the nicknames: Ponytail and Greyhound. I was ‘Ponytail’ because I would sometime tie my hair into a ponytail to keep it out of my face and August was ‘Greyhound’ because of his grayish skin. Her eyes quickly scanned my clothing, a look of disdain forming on her face as she did so. “You two are disrespecting our school, you know.”
I nervously rubbed the back of my head as my eyes turned toward the floor. I was about to say something, but August beat me to it.
He said in a calm tone: “We just don’t see the point of wearing the school colors on this particular day is all.”
That was when Alex chimed in with: “Didn’t anyone tell you that the princess is coming?”