Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by Joshua Swift

Chapter 1


I finish up with the dishes placing the final plate onto the stainless steel drying rack. “Finally!” I think as I am eager to get back to my book. I love to read and as my birthday was on Tuesday I am reading through Romeo and Juliet again. Don’t ask me why but ever since I was twelve I have read Romeo and Juliet. I would love to say that it was because it was the last thing my Dad left me before he abandoned us, or that I feel and long for a love like that, so strong, so passionate, love conquered not by death but endured throughout history because of it. Nope that’s not it. I think it is actually that it just interests me how it has become the most well-known and told love story. You have this guy, who at the start of the play is so in love with Rosaline, that feels dead without her and her love. The vow of chastity that she has taken makes him grieve for the love they could have had. Yet as soon as he sees Juliet, his love for Rosaline disappears and he moves on to her. As if love could be lost and gained so quickly.


I guess I read it also as I hope the story ends differently, that she wakes up just in time or Romeo gets the message of what Juliet is doing and they can go off into the sunset and realise that they actually aren’t in love six months down the line and she is pregnant with his kid and he will ‘literally’ die if he cannot be with another woman. Call me cynical but how can a meeting at a party ever mean that you know you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone? That you would die for them. I think it is my cynicism that makes me read it time and again, like watching a soap, where the characters make stupid decision after stupid decision and you are left screaming at the TV, asking how they can be that idiotic.


Just as I am about to start reading again, Evelyn calls, “Did you see the new twins at school?”


“They are so hot!”

This is Evelyn Glass, she prefers to be called Evie. Evie and I have been inseparable since nursery. On the first day I was looking at the Hungary Caterpillar book, and one of the older boys came and stole my bear Colie (his name is Colin but I couldn’t pronounce that so it was Colie) away from me. Evie came marching up in her pink overalls and rainbow t-shirt, her short blonde hair in pig tails that bounced as she walked. She stomped her foot on the ground and screamed at the boy “Give that back now!” the boy was so scared, he gave back Colie with no questions asked. From that moment Evie has seen herself as my pseudo-protector, I am happy with that as long as I get to read.


Anyway, Evelyn was going on and on about these new twins at school. I hadn’t met them yet but they were supposedly in her form group. Sometimes I thought Evie was more interested in boys than in school, in fact I know she was, she hadn’t not had a boyfriend since she went to the academy. She was the first to kiss a boy, Edmund Alexander, a big regret and the first to have many other regrettable moments. Whereas I wasn’t the first to do anything. I was probably the last to experience anything of a relationship and a kiss on the cheek was probably the closest I had to kissing a guy. If we had to put it into exploration terms she was Edmund Hilary and I was still trying to find the way out of my house.


Even though Evie and I were quite different we still got along so well, I think we complemented each other and that’s why we stuck. She is good at school getting great grades in all subjects and I am doing about average not a C student but not a straight A student either. She is athletic and artistic, playing on the netball team, captaining them and dancing at the local Ballet school. Whereas I fall off chairs and trip up on curbs. She is popular with everyone, speaking to every person as she passes them in the corridor, and I have my head in a book while I walk (which I totally thought everyone did until people started pointing out how weird it is), having friends like Alice, Sara Crewe and Hermione Grainger. Her blonde hair is curled and highlighted. My brown hair is long down my back and I never know whether to have a fringe or not. She has blue eyes, something I am constantly jealous of, my brown ones are only mentioned in a Van Morrison song, whereas hers could be described as sapphires or deep oceans someone could get lost in. Needless to say I am a little jealous.


I see myself as average, not ugly, not totally outcast but so much part of the fabric of teenage life that people see me as part of the collective and not an individual. We did an essay once in English, I think it was at the start of third year, trying to get us to talk about what we wanted to do, what our dreams and aspirations were. People wrote about how they wanted to change the world by doing x, y and z. Others, how they wanted to travel. I couldn’t think of anything of a dream. To survive, to not have to worry about turning on the heating over winter, just working as a cog in the machine, to be a part of the established middle class, where I wouldn’t have to worry at Christmas what Santa had brought the kids down the road compared to my kids, or the destination of their summer holidays compared to ours. To just be able to get a job, where I could stay within the machine, within the fabric of society. That was what I wrote; my teacher took me aside and stated that I could dream bigger, that I could be anything I wanted if I put my mind to it. I thought about my mum, then just agreed with Mrs Arno. I muffled a slight “ok” attempting to raise a smile that displayed some kind of sentimental feeling of gratefulness. I went back to my seat and from that day to this, I still think of my mum, to be better and do better than she has, is a goal and an aspiration.


Now don’t get me wrong here, I am proud of my mum and I love her dearly. She works her a*s off day in and day out, so she can pay for everything. Working 8-6, Monday to Friday, sometimes going in on a Sunday. She is a P.A. to a big oil executive, a role she worked up to after my Dad left us. She works, so we can live, so she can try and give me the upbringing of two parents, she acts as my mum and dad. She is everything to me, yet she could have done anything as well, if she put her mind to it. She could have changed the world or gone travelling but instead she had me, with a man she thought loved her, which she thought would protect her and then he left her. Now she is part of the machine, but instead of doing one role within it she is doing two, like an airplane flying on one engine, at some point it has to crash or land. She is the personification of the legend of Sisyphus, continually rolling the rock up to the top, just for it to fall back down and start again. I guess my dream and aspiration is that my rock isn’t as heavy, weighed down by missed opportunities and bad decisions. This is probably why I wasn’t interested in the boys at school and dug deeper into books where you could truly, be someone ‘unaverage’ and heroic, where it didn’t matter who you had kissed or dated, but who you had conquered, set free, where you had been and what adventures you had there.


Evie, continued going on about the new twins who were in her form class, she said their names were Seth and Matthew Campbell, they had moved from Moor Park, a town on the other side of Aberdeen. Even though they were twins, Evie continued, Matthew, the youngest one, was definitely more muscular and taller. She kept coming with ideas of how we could date both of them and then be related once we got married. “I am fine being Aimee Brown, thank you.” I stated blithely.

“Come on dream a little!” For such a bright and talented girl, Evie definitely could be immature and dreamy every once in a while, it is like she is SuperGirl and good looking boys are her kryptonite.


I listened to Evie for another half an hour, then made up an excuse to get off the phone. I was in one of those moods that I just wanted to read. I get back to Romeo and Juliet, I am at Act II Scene II, probably where the most famous and misunderstood speech of the play is.


Juliet :O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?


She is not asking where he is but why he is Romeo, the son of the man she hates, she goes on to another famous line “What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;” I start to think about what I said to Evie, am I fine being Aimee Brown? and before I know it I am having an existential crisis of who is Aimee Brown.


To me Aimee Brown is as I stated above, to say in one word average, but who am I to others, probably the same, the girl who sits at the back of the class, who listens and reads, but doesn’t speak, I swear two guys thought I was mute until third year when Evie told them I could.


Would I have been different if I had been called something else, something like Rachel or Rebecca or Clare? Would I be more outgoing? Would I be popular or athletic, or romantic? Aimee is the name, my Dad chose, he chose it as it was a unique way of spelling it and even if someone did have the same name it would be spelt differently from them. A unique name for an average girl. Anyway, the name stayed around longer than he did.


* * *


“What are the themes of the book? How does it put across these themes?” Mrs Arno was trying to organise a bunch of 16 & 17 year olds into some kind of junior scholars. Attempting to garner their interest into a medium of storytelling that they mentally and physically had to push themselves through. A strange nuance of trying to figure out what the author actually meant by the words on the page. Reading between the lines, hasn’t been something my generation was used to.


One of the books she had chosen for us to read was “The Scarlet Letter”, a classic which may have been both helped and hindered by the film “Easy A.”Quite a few of my class mates were confusing the storyline of the film with narrative of the book, which Mrs Arno had to reiterate that if she got any reports on the film and how Emma Stone’s character challenges the perceptions of high school society on the female body, they would be failed automatically.


Just as she had finished this long exhortation, the door opens and in walks a dishevelled boy, his dirty blonde hair was unkempt and he continually swept his curly fringe, with bits of it pointing in all directions, out of his eyes. He was average build with a blue t-shirt which had “bench.” written across it something he obviously didn’t, as his t-shirt was a size too small for him. Perhaps he hoped it would make him look more muscular, or perhaps he just didn’t care and just wore old t-shirts. His jeans were skinny fit and stopped where his black converse shoes started. His backpack was slung over one shoulder and was sagging with the weight from all his text books. Mrs. Arno gave him a brief look of disdain from the corner of her eye, she could not stand lateness. The boy slid into the blue plastic chair and he apologised, you can see in his face that he loves the attention. “I will speak to you later” Mrs Arno instructed, and with that continued with her lesson.


“The other book you can choose to do is the Great Gatsby, I will split you up into groups of two and you can all present a quick summary of the books for Friday 12th September, then choosing which one you would like to focus your essay’s on” Mrs Arno then continued to split us into groups according to our last names. “Brown and Campbell” Mrs Arno said, as she rattled of the last names of the class.


The bell rung and class became an orchestra of percussionists each person banging their metal chair legs off of the metal table legs. Mrs Arno trying to remind everyone to meet up with their groups over the sound of the orchestra. I start rushing to my next class, I need to get to the stairs before all the 1st year students start to swarm them like a plague of Rats rushing through to get to their next meal.


As I approach the old doors, worn by years of teenagers pushing, slamming and kicking them. I hear the sound of my name being shouted, I almost didn’t recognise it due to the pitch, it was low, that pitch was usually reserved for the other Amy’s but not me, not Aimee Brown. I kept on with my walk, pulling at the door, a hand comes past my head and shuts it. I turn around quickly to see, a crooked smile staring back at me. “Did you not hear me shouting?” Seth awkwardly laughed.

“Sorry, no I was in a world of my own” I replied, kind of shocked and startled.


“So we have to do this book report for the 12th September, when do you think we could meet up?” His face still kind of smiling, his eyes still trying to read me or figure me out.

“Ehh, well when are you free?” I asked trying to gather myself into someone that actually has some sort of human interaction, instead of a rabbit in the headlights.

“I have Rugby on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so how about Wednesday, next week?”

“Hmm” I tried to seem like I had something to do that day, but as usual I would be at home reading or hanging out with Evie.”That sounds great, after school?”

“Sure, my mum will cook you dinner, she does a mean lasagne and loves playing hostess! Here’s my number…” He proceeds to give me his phone number, at first I think it is fake by the amount of sevens in it but I call it and his phone rings. He types my name in incorrectly, but I don’t correct him, after years of people misspelling it, I have kind of given up and curse my Dad every time.


We move out of the door way and I quickly move off to History, so that Mrs Jowett doesn’t make a snide remark. Wading through the see of first years who are clambering all over the red stairs - for some reason, in every year there is always the one slob of a first year who hasn’t yet lost the puppy fat and seems to have managed to leave remnants of what they had for lunch on every piece of clothing they own. It is always those one’s that seem to bump into me. I try to fight off the urge to wipe down whatever part of me, they accidentally barged into until I am out of sight. I make it to class 201, the door is open and the dark brown desks are all occupied accept mine, Mrs Jowett stares me down like a hawk would its prey, until I reach my seat. She then starts her lesson, “Can anyone tell me the date of the Russian Revolution?”

© 2016 Joshua Swift

My Review

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Featured Review

I really enjoyed reading this. I liked how you made the exposition and created the characters. But it did feel rough throughout. There was a ton of comma splices. It felt like you were rambling in many of the sentences.
Overall, this could be much worse. I hope so see more of this in the future.

Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Joshua Swift

6 Years Ago

Thanks for reviewing! Really helpful Mate

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You are a good story teller, enjoyed the dialogue and the humorous references. Some rambling but you can fix that by reviewing you chapters at a later date and revising them. Many times when we are writing and the ideas come flowing at a fast pace we become excited and over emphasize. I enjoyed your first chapter and will read more.
Richie B.

Posted 6 Years Ago

The dialogue was fun, and the characters seem genuine, but, to be honest, having so much information explained outright took away from the story. Like right away, you went into explaining Evelyn's backstory, and her father's abandonment. Backstory is necessary, but it can be weaved into the description of either things she does or her surroundings.

The reader can make their own assumptions on the character's personality based on actions and dialogue. Basically, not everything has to be explained.

Best of luck to you!

Posted 6 Years Ago

I really enjoyed reading this. I liked how you made the exposition and created the characters. But it did feel rough throughout. There was a ton of comma splices. It felt like you were rambling in many of the sentences.
Overall, this could be much worse. I hope so see more of this in the future.

Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Joshua Swift

6 Years Ago

Thanks for reviewing! Really helpful Mate

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3 Reviews
Added on December 29, 2015
Last Updated on January 4, 2016
Tags: Young Adult, Romance, Existentialism, Teen


Joshua Swift
Joshua Swift

Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom

Hey I am Joshua Swift. I decided for my wife and I's first anniversairy that I would write her a novel. There are a mixture of characters in my first novel and they all encompass her, myself and frien.. more..

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