chapter one

chapter one

A Chapter by TopHatGirl

   It was in this moment that Victor was okay.

   The summer wind picked up through the city, with the clouds overhead looming but not in a threatening way. School had just gotten out for the year, and the teenagers of Rivercliff High School were splitting off into small groups, making plans for the long months ahead. It was Friday, and everyone seemed to be happy. Even Victor. And Victor was usually never happy. At least, not in a satisfied way.

    The breeze blew through his hair as he glided down the sidewalk, and even with the opposing force he was still able to go relatively fast. His skateboard picked up speed as he dodged the regular citizens of his town. It was in these moments, rare and fragile, that he didn’t panic. Where his hands didn’t shake and tears didn’t prick at the corner of his eyes. In fact, he didn’t feel any sort of anxiety at all. Skateboarding down the old sidewalks, Victor felt normal. He reached up and pushed his glasses further onto the bridge of his nose so he could get a better view of what was ahead. His red hoodie fluttered in the wind like a hero’s cape, though Victor could never really consider himself a hero.

   Placing his foot down, he kicked forward, letting the downhill slope propel him. At this rate, he would make it home in no time-

     "Well, well, well, if it isn’t our favorite skater,” a voice sneered. With a tug, Victor was pulled back off of his skateboard at an alarming rate. His hoodie started to cut into his neck, and he let out a slight gasp. “Where are you off to so fast?” the voice continued, and Victor watched in agony as his skateboard kept going a little ways away from him.

   “Yeah, you trying to avoid us?” Someone else asked. It was Henry, and the other one, the one who grabbed Victor, was Kyle. Kyle was still holding onto Victor’s hoodie, so the latter couldn’t make a quick escape. Henry was sitting on the front steps of a brownstone, tossing a ball back and forth in his hands. Victor couldn’t stand either of them. And since school just got out, it was obvious they were playing hooky. “Or were you trying to make it back to Mexico, where your illegal a*s belongs?”

   Henry was short, a full head below Victor. He had a mean spirit though, and tended to be a jumpy fighter. His brown hair was combed slick back, like he came out of a bad 50’s gang film. Kyle was a little more put together, and was a little more clever. He was tall and lanky, and hadn’t quite solved the acne problem.

   Victor tried to lunge out of Kyle’s grasp, but it was no use, he wasn’t strong enough. Or, he was decently strong, but he didn’t have the confidence to do something that bold.

   “You know what my grandma told me?” Kyle said, trying to seem like he was having a private conversation with Henry, but clearly wanted Victor to hear. “His entire family came here on their hands and knees, barely speaking English. His mom was a s**t who wanted an American man, and his dad was just some lazy Mexican a*****e.”

   Lies. All of it. Victor wanted to say, “Shove my legal birth certificate up your own a*s, Henry” or “At least I know how to work a shower, Kyle”. He wanted to say a lot of things, but he couldn’t. The panic was seeping in, like water that was pooling around his ankles and rising quickly. His breathing started to quicken, and he felt like he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.

   “What the f**k are you doing?” Henry asked, standing up and approaching Victor. “Ew, you’re all sweaty.”

   Victor was sweating, and his heart was pounding in his throat. Finally, he spoke. “Just…leave me alone,” he choked out, feeling a wave of dizziness coming on.

   “Yeah, actually,” Kyle said, looking at Henry. “This is a waste of time. Let’s go to 7/11 and try to get the cashier to let us buy cigarettes.” Finally, Kyle let go, and Victor buckled, trying to breathe. The two boys left, snickering.

   Quickly getting up, Victor brushed himself off, still shaking. A few feet away his skateboard had hit a pole, and it was still resting there innocently. He was too dizzy to skate home, so he just picked it up and tucked it under his armpit, trying to half jog home and keep down the panic. His house wasn’t too far away, and he jogged up the steps, opening the red door with a loud bang. Trying to keep his voice steady, he quickly said hi to his mother, dumped his stuff on the kitchen table, and bolted into his room.

    His heart was still pounding, and he felt his stomach climb to his throat. Victor retreated to his safe place, his bedroom closet. Shutting the door behind him, he sat there in his closet, bathing in darkness. He breathed.



    Knees tucked up to his chin, Victor leaned back and let it wash over him.

   You’re so f*****g pathetic. You couldn’t handle yourself. For your mom. You were doing so well and now look at you. Huddling in the closet like some child who can’t handle anything. How can you be such a failure? Such a goddamn loser. Stop being a coward and get up. You’re worthless. Useless. Nothing.

   These thoughts ran through Victor’s mind, over and over again. It was generally uninterrupted, until a small knock came at the closet door.

   “Victor? Are you in there?” a small voice asked.

   Victor froze, and quickly cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah, I’m in here. Just…chilling out.”

   The closet door opened, and Victor was almost blinded by the light. There in the doorway stood his sister, six years old and a fierce girl even at such a young age. Her two pigtails hung in curls down her back, and a small butterfly barrette kept the frizz from getting too out of hand. She had the same smile as he brother, but little else.

   “Hi,” she said.

   “Hey, Monica,” Victor said, allowing himself a small smile. “What’s up?”

   “Are you having another one of your panic attacks?” Monica asked, crossing her hands in front of herself. She had known about Victor’s anxiety since she was born, and acted like it was a natural thing for any big brother to have.

   “Nah, I’m fine,” Victor lied, and tried to stand up. His head hit the top of the frame, and he pulled back, cursing under his breath. Monica giggled.

   “You said a bad word! I’m gonna tell Mom,” she said, pointing in accusation.

   “How about we not tell Mom,” Victor said, climbing out of the closet. “And in return you get to play with my video games. Deal?” Wiping any evidence of a panic attack from under his eyes, Victor forced himself to compose. Monica nodded, giving a wide grin, and running off. “Bye, then?” Victor said, giving a small wave. Monica appeared in the doorway again.

   “Oh yeah, it’s dinner time. Mom told me to get you.”

    Of course. No one was ever late to Mrs. Rivera’s dinners, it was a family rule. So Victor sucked it up, and headed back into the kitchen. The smell of ravioli flooded his senses, and the air was smoky. Victor’s mother was doling out dinner as Victor sat in his regular spot.

   “Nice of you to join us, Victor,” she said, slopping a pile of pasta right onto his plate.

   “Sorry, ma,” he said, giving an apologetic smile. His mother smiled in return, sitting down next to his sister. The three of them began eating, with his mother making light conversation to Monica about school, friends, things like that. Victor stayed silent, finding his fork to be particularly gifted in gravity as it refused to get up from the table.


   His mother noticed, and she gave him a knowing look.

   “Had another incident today, Victor?” she asked slowly. That’s what she called them. Incidents.

   “Maybe,” he said, leaning his head on one arm as he used his other hand to twist his fork around on his plate. After an ‘incident’ eating was never a thing he wanted to do.

   Mrs. Rivera’s tongue clicked, and she sighed at Victor. “Honey, this has been going on ever since you’re a kid. You’re seventeen now-“

   “I know,” Victor cut in, having heard this particular speech plenty of times before.

    “-and I think that you should get over this silly ‘social anxiety’ you have. People are not out to get you, alright?”

   Victor forced a smile, nodding. “I’ll try, Ma,” he assured her. Monica looked at him curiously, swinging her short legs back and forth under the table. His mother, satisfied with his answer, went back to eating. That’s what Victor should do. Eat. If he could eat, then maybe he could go back to that moment when he was skateboarding. Where he felt normal.

   But Victor was never normal. And, much to his displeasure, he probably never will be. His mother liked to blame a lot of things on the absence of his father, but honestly, Victor barely remembered his father. Sure, he was around when Monica was born, but during that time Victor was mostly in the hospital, getting that treatment or recovering from that thing.

   His entire life had been a shift. A shift from being physically sick to mentally sick. A shift from being an only child to a big brother. A shift from living in a big city to living in a small, slightly racist one.

   Finally, he managed to stab a big ravioli and force it into his mouth. It was a huge effort, but he managed to swallow it. There, eating. That was done. He picked up his plate and hurriedly dumped the remainder of the food into the trashcan, placing the plate gently into the sink. “Thanks Ma, dinner was great,” he said, placing a kiss on her temple. His mother stared after him in worry as he retreated back into his room.

   “So, you just went home?” Oceania asked.

   Victor was on his computer, having a video call with his best (and only) friend and also simultaneously playing a video game on his portable console.

   “Yeah, I mean, what else was I going to do? Go back there and kick his a*s?” Victor pushed his large blue glasses up again, shrugging. “That’s what superheroes do in like, comic books, Nia.”

   Oceania gave him that pity look again that he grew tired of. Objectively, she was a very pretty girl. Her hair (dyed a pale blue) fell in sea waves down her waist and her eyes were great green orbs that took up most of her face. Her name wasn’t really Oceania, but it’s what she named herself when she was younger. Victor was platonically fond of her, and had been internet friends with her for about four years now. Oceania knew everything about Victor, from favorite foods to worst fears, so it wasn’t easy to really hide anything from her.

   “Whatever you say.” She leaned back in her chair, trying to paint her nails to perfection. Victor had been watching her paint and unpaint her nails over and over again for the past thirty minutes. She was a little obsessive with getting everything straight and clean. “Maybe you should take a fighting class.”

    Victor snorted, looking up from his game and rolling his eyes. “Yeah, maybe I can take one of those Women’s Self Defense classes they have at the Y.” The thought of having old ladies lunge themselves at him in practice made a shudder roll down his spine. “What are your plans for this summer?”

   Oceania shrugged, her eyes squinting in frustration as her hand twitched and the color ‘Sunset Lust’ went slightly off her nail. “Well, for the next week or so I’m still going to be painting this stupid dumb nail!” She looked up, giving an apologetic smile. “…I’m also going off to summer camp.”

   Victor set down his video game, looking at Oceania. Well, looking at the screen that contained Oceania. “What? Aren’t you a little old for summer camp?”

   Giggling, Oceania shook her head. “No! I’m gonna be a counselor there. I’m gonna be in charge of the little kids group. I love little kids!”

   This was terrible news. “For how long?”

   “Two months, I think.”

   Victor groaned, sinking in his seat and leaning his head back. Staring at the ceiling, he thought about how s****y this summer will now be. “Two months?” he echoed weakly. That was two months without someone to talk to until early morning, two months without all day movie streams, two months without anyone to talk to except his little sister. “So you’re abandoning me?”

   “It’s not abandoning you!” Oceania insisted, blowing on her nails, which she had finally deemed satisfactory. “Think of it as an opportunity. You can go out and meet people. Or, discover a hobby.”

    Victor felt sick inside, like that one bite of dinner was coming back to haunt him. “I don’t meet new people, Nia. I stammer at people until they call me a freak and walk away. Summer isn’t about trying new things, it’s about staying inside and trying not to melt.” He inhaled shakily. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

   She smiled. “Of course you can. You’re Victor! The kid who’s gonna conquer the universe! Duh.”

   Victor rested his head on the desk, groaning again. “I hate you.”

   “I know.”

   “I’m going to learn voodoo and curse you.”

   “Uh huh.”

   “You smudged your pinky.”

   “Sure-Wait, WHAT?”

   Victor snorted, and logged offline.



© 2013 TopHatGirl

Author's Note

okay, so since I wrote this in 30 days for nano, there are going to be tons of mechanical errors. I ask that you nicely ignore mechanical issues and passive/active issues, since I'll go through and fix those.

I'm more concerned about characterizing, since I am neither Hispanic nor do I have social anxiety. So if I got anything wrong, let me know.

Or just let me know what you think in general! Thanks!

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Its pretty good so far. It kind of has this...quirky air to it. Looking forward for more~.

Posted 10 Years Ago

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Added on October 7, 2013
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Hi, I'm TopHatGirl! If you're here about my character lessons or to get some advice, email me instead of messaging at [email protected]. This is because I don't go on this site as much anym.. more..

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