The Beginning

The Beginning

A Chapter by Niara Hill
"

How it all started! This chapter is about Alex's past and how her journey began...

"

I had just returned home after a six hour shift at the local bakery. I worked after school most days, to help pay the bills. The house was a mess as usual and I heard my sister Mary, sobbing. I spotted her in a corner; her little chubby face covered in tears, her favorite teddy bear wrapped around her ears. 

My mum was shouting from one end of the house and my dad was shouting back from the other end. I could hear things crashing and smashing on the floor. Mary's eyes looked like she'd been crying for a while, and she was clearly very frightened.  

"Oh my God! What the hell is going on here? You're scaring Mary, can't either of you see that?" I was shouting at them but I didn’t care. This was just not good enough! 

Things quieted down for a bit and I hugged Mary, lifting her off the floor. I took her upstairs and gave her a bath then I quickly made dinner for the two of us. 

I can't remember why the arguments started or who was right or wrong. I can't even remember a time when they weren't arguing about something. Every day was the same: voices shouting, things flying across the room and neither one caring about what this did to Mary. She was the reason I was still around. Only seven years old, an innocent young child caught up in this nightmare. She needed me. 


The next morning, I walked Mary to school. I'd been doing this for four years now, since she had first started going to her nanny. She was quieter than usual and I gripped her little hand tight. 

"Mary..." She looked up, her big blue eyes staring into mine, waiting. She always looked at me this way, as though I was about to say the wisest thing on earth. I reached down and smoothed her thick brown hair, a stray curl bobbing over her left eye. “I just want you to know I love you very much okay? No matter what happens, I will always be your big sister. You hear me chipmunk? I love you!”  

She hugged me then, her little arms reaching up for mine. "I love you too," she whispered in my ear. 

I walked her inside and after settling her down at her desk, I asked to speak with her teacher.  

“Hi, you're Miss Miller, right?” 

“Yes, Alex, come in. How are you?" She noticed my frown. "What's going on?” 

“Um... Miss Miller, I can’t tell you everything right now, but I need a favor." I pulled a piece of paper and an envelope from my bag. "This is a phone number and the envelope has a very important letter inside." I handed them to her. "Promise me that when Mary finishes school here, you give these to her. Please. And if you move schools before that time, give them to her then. It is extremely important you do this!” 

“Is everything alright Alex? What's going on? Would you like to talk? I still have about ten minutes before class starts” 

“No need Miss Miller. I... just... home isn't the best environment for Mary to be in at the moment, and I’m afraid I can’t do much about it… So please, would you look out for her?” 

“Of course Alex, anything I can help you with, just let me know!” She looked very concerned, and I knew she would do as I'd asked. 

I nodded my head. "Thank you." After giving Mary one final hug, I walked out the room.  


There was no one back at home. My dad, wearing his usual jeans and a work-shirt hanging out to hide his belly had obviously gone to work at the plantation. My mum was probably at the neighbor’s place, already started on the wine she drank with her friends most days. I pictured her, dressed in one of her tracksuits, her greasy hair scrunched up, a wine glass in one hand... She was a stay home mother, and she called that her job. Only she'd never been very good at it.  

I packed as much as I could into my backpack. Then I wrote a letter to my parents. They might be the worst parents in the world but they were still my parents.  


                  “I love you both, and I always will. But I can't work after school every day and still take care of Mary. I’m only sixteen! It's just not working out for me. Don’t worry about school; I have enough credits to graduate. My last pay check will be put in Mary’s fund account. Please, promise me you will take better care of her! 

Don’t look for me, I will be back soon.  

Love you, 

Alex” 


One last look around our house. I swiped at the tear starting to run down my face, reminding myself once again why I was leaving. I placed my keys on the table next to my note and closed the door behind me. I was out. 

I started walking towards the highway. Every step I took, I kept repeating how this was a good thing. I repeated it so often I wasn’t sure if I should trust myself anymore.  

I spotted a small gas station across the street after a while, and went in to buy something to eat. Can’t believe I forgot to bring food! Of course I would get hungry!  

One coke. One water. A bag of crisps and a sandwich. I made my way to the counter. The place was empty when I'd entered but then this guy walked in just as I'd reached the cashier. Half of his face was covered by a scarf. He was tall and I could see some blonde hair peeking out of his cowboy hat. I couldn’t stop myself from staring at his brown eyes, and - who wears a cowboy hat in the middle of the city anyway? Our eyes met and I quickly looked away, back towards the sandwich fridge. I paid for everything and hurried out, heading for the highway again.  

After half an hour of begging for a ride I was ready to give it up and find a place to stay the night. Then this pickup pulled over.  

“Nice cardboard sign!” The voice was deep, and I couldn’t see anything past the blinding headlights. “Come on in!” the voice called out.  

I got up off the ground, brushing the dust away from my jeans and walked the short distance to the pickup. I recognized the hat once I'd moved closer. It was the guy from the gas station!  I opened the door, and sat inside. 

“Thanks," I said. I wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do, hitching a ride with a total stranger. And I couldn't obviously talk to him about anything. I stared at my cardboard sign getting smaller and smaller, through the side mirror, as he drove away.  

“You haven't told me where you're going,” he said, breaking the silence. I wasn’t sure myself at this point; how could I be, when I hadn’t planned a thing? I had just decided to leave, and here I was.  

“As far as one can go I guess?”  

He laughed. “Are you a poet or something?” Then he stopped, like something had occurred to him. “Look - I mean if you are lost, its fine. I can take you home.”  

“Don’t... I mean I’m not lost. Just... if you can take me to the airport, I’ll figure it out from there.” 

Neither of us spoke for a while.  

“Hey!” I felt him shake me. I had fallen asleep!  

“We are here. At the airport I mean.”  

I opened my eyes, and suddenly felt queasy. The anxiety had finally caught up with me. Keep calm Alex... Keep calm... 

“I’m Kyle, by the way," he offered, glancing across, his brown eyes focused on mine. What might he be thinking? 

I glanced away, down to my Nikes. I knew I wasn't looking my best, my hair in a messy bun, my face dusty from the long walk and not a trace of make-up - not that I wore any, only some mascara, when I was at work.           

“Thank you Kyle,” I said one hand on the door handle, my eyes on the busy airport entrance now. “I’m Alex”. I shook his hand a little awkwardly and then jumped off. I closed the door behind me but then I heard him shout out.  

“Alex... listen... I don’t know where you are planning on going and... I can tell that you can’t afford the fare anyway." He handed me a white envelope through the window and I noticed the muscles on his arm. "Here, take this. I hope you figure everything out. Good luck.” 

"Thank you?" I replied, confused by what he'd said and done. He drove off and I walked into the airport. 

A few hours later I was still there, watching the destinations on the big board constantly change. The microphones were calling for people and broadcasting departures every few minutes. I kept on looking. I kept on wondering. Stuck on the not knowing.  

I woke up slouched on the hard chair. I had fallen asleep watching the departure board! I quickly searched my bag for my purse and that's when I saw the envelope. I'd forgotten all about it!  Curious to know what was inside this mysterious white envelope, I ripped it open. There was a coach ticket to Austin Texas, around $300 in cash and a note:   

“Call this number if you ever need anything. I hope you find what you are looking for. Good luck, Kyle." 


I walked to a small café nearby and got myself some food. Looking up at the large clock, I realized I had to run if I wanted to make that coach. Balancing food, purse, cash and bag, I raced to the station, reaching the coach just as it was about to head off. As soon as I sat down, questions filled my mind. Why would he do this? He doesn’t even know me… Or does he?  

I slept on and off during the ten hour drive, coming fully awake only when we made our first stop. I'd been thinking about Kyle; his voice, his tanned skin, those big brown eyes, the blonde hair, his casual walk... The images kept repeating over and over in my mind. 

I wasn’t sure what I was doing anymore, only that I had to keep going. I was already missing Mary too, but I couldn’t call her. I had changed my number and anyway, my parents would pick up first. That would start a whole new argument and I knew they'd force me to return home. I couldn’t do it! Still, the thought of Mary sitting on that kitchen corner, crying her little eyes out wouldn’t leave my mind.  

Half an hour after we were transferred to the second coach I was asleep again, finally waking up when we'd crossed into Texas. A most beautiful sunrise spread across the goldfields. I had never been outside Nashville; this was something else!  


When we arrived in Austin I rushed to a diner across the street from the coach station. I was starving again, not having thought ahead and brought some food for the long drive.  

The diner was too American even for me. I headed straight for the restroom where I brushed my hair back into a sleek high ponytail and washed my face, dry and dusty from the trip. Back in the diner, I found a booth and ordered some pancakes and juice. Two minutes after my breakfast had arrived, I was done. Then I sat. I had no idea where I could go next… Or what I would do… Taking some cash out to pay the bill, I saw Kyle’s note. I had no other choice... What else could I possibly do?  

“Did you enjoy your pancakes? Would you like a refill?” The girl with the too short skirt and the big smile approached me, a jug of coffee in her hand. She must live of tips, I found myself thinking 

“Everything was perfect thank you, I’m fine” I replied. Then I thought why not, I'll just do it. “Actually, can I use your phone?” I didn’t want to use my phone. That phone was only for Mary to call me.  

She pointed to where the phone was. I paid the bill, leaving a very generous tip for her on the table and walked over to the phone.  

It rang a few times and then I heard his deep voice. "Hello?" 

“Kyle…? It’s me, Alex. Do you remember me?”  

"Of course! How are you?" 

“Well... I was wondering… why did you give me the ticket? And I’m so lost! Where am I? What am I supposed to do now?” I was babbling like a kid! 

“Calm down! You are not a very good runner are you? Just breathe. I know where you are and I’ll send someone to pick you up… Okay Alex?”  

"Okay," I repeated. We arranged for his uncle to come pick me up and take me somewhere to sleep for the night. I hung up the phone and returned to my seat.  

"Can I sit here a little longer?" I asked the waitress. 

"Sure thing hon."  

After another half hour the diner had emptied. The waitress came towards me. “Honey, are you alright?”  

I was suddenly afraid she would call the police and immediately apologized, packing everything back in my bag, ready to make a dash.  

“You don’t have to go. Seriously! Here… drink this.” She gave me a glass of water. “My name is Jess, I’m from here and if you ever need anything you know where to find me." She wrote her number on a napkin. "Don’t be afraid to call me okay?” 

I was tucking her number into my bag when the stranger walked in. 

“Alex?” 

I jumped out of my seat, looked back at Jess and mumbling a goodbye, followed the stranger out...  



© 2016 Niara Hill


Author's Note

Niara Hill
Let me know what you think of this chapter!
xx

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Featured Review

Really nailing the balance between exposition and dialogue. A lot of authors put too much time into making a great, long flair of descriptions and they lose sight of what they are writing about.
One flaw that I can pick out is dialect. I caught a "mum", and a "coach" (In all technicality what you described was a coach, but Americans just call them buses). In the last chapter, I also caught pyjamas instead of pajamas. Dialects in Tennessee and Texas are similar, and I happen to live in Texas.

These are just technical flaws in an otherwise solid story; however, they do break the immersion of the reader.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

James Days

3 Years Ago

However in the story, It is revealed that she, "had never been out of Nashville; this was something .. read more
Elise Anton

3 Years Ago

On the surface one must assume that again you are right. Sometimes though there are plot-twists and .. read more
Niara Hill

3 Years Ago

Thank you for the review :) They are indeed flaws, I will make sure to improve that on future chapte.. read more



Reviews

*Pretty good overall. You suddenly switched from I to we on the coach ride.
+Nice dialogue
+Understood character's background and connections with everyone almost immediately
+Good description on physical apperance. Enough to make me interested, and not bored.
-Certain details were added that were unnecessary, in the wrong place, or confusing. Ex: Alex shaking his hand and describing the muscles. Alex describing her appearance halfway through the chapter, I thought she was a boy until then. There are others to.
-I don't feel for Alex, I understand her situation. However, I am not receiving passionate emotion from the character or reliability. You could describe her perspective more.

Posted 2 Years Ago


Nice continuation of the prologue. A nice narrative and good dialogue.

I think you need to work on a couple of points.

You need to add in some description of feelings. This is a traumatic time for Alex. You need to convey her fears and emotions.
A little more description of the scenes. Generally they are good but I had no sense of her home or the atmosphere there, the coach journey was glossed over so you either stop the paragraph with her getting on the bus and then start the next with her getting off or you add some detail. I think you need the description to add some otherworldliness to Alex's odyssey.

But over all it is very good

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Really nailing the balance between exposition and dialogue. A lot of authors put too much time into making a great, long flair of descriptions and they lose sight of what they are writing about.
One flaw that I can pick out is dialect. I caught a "mum", and a "coach" (In all technicality what you described was a coach, but Americans just call them buses). In the last chapter, I also caught pyjamas instead of pajamas. Dialects in Tennessee and Texas are similar, and I happen to live in Texas.

These are just technical flaws in an otherwise solid story; however, they do break the immersion of the reader.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

James Days

3 Years Ago

However in the story, It is revealed that she, "had never been out of Nashville; this was something .. read more
Elise Anton

3 Years Ago

On the surface one must assume that again you are right. Sometimes though there are plot-twists and .. read more
Niara Hill

3 Years Ago

Thank you for the review :) They are indeed flaws, I will make sure to improve that on future chapte.. read more

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Added on January 27, 2016
Last Updated on January 27, 2016


Author

Niara Hill
Niara Hill

London, United Kingdom



About
Hi, I like to write for fun. I get inspiration from all of the stories floating in my head. Hope you like them xx more..

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A Chapter by Niara Hill