In the beginning,
I learnt a long time ago to never waste my time, since time itself is limited. I’d do things productively, not wanting my life to go to waste. YOLO, eh? I thought so too. I’d stress myself out over clubs, extracurricular activities, and advanced school work, even going ahead of class sometimes from the textbook. I don’t know, I’ve always just had a sense of curiosity even for the most boring things. That’s why even though I probably score an ‘F’ in the Listening category of school, I aim for high marks during quizzes, tests, and exams. That’s both good and a bad thing I guess. Just do what I want while being responsible. I just don’t have time to fit in a social life. So much for being productive with everything. If I died, probably only my Dad would care. Mum passed when I was 8. That’s when I learnt to never waste the time I’ve been granted.
It’s after school hours and I spend my time in the school library studying. I’m positive that’s all I do. Study. Study because I’m bored, study for fun, study because I need to. Study.
I’m a Grade 10 student, but I’m turning 16 next year. I’m a year younger than everybody in my grade, but that’s because of the whole study issue. I applied to AP (advanced placement) courses for grades 11 and 12 so technically, I could graduate within the next year or so. But, I wouldn’t have enough credits. So, I’m dealing with what I have.
“Antoinette,” comes the librarian. “You’ve got 5 minutes.” On the days I don’t have clubs or extracurriculars, I either go to the library or study at home. I’ve gone to the library so often that the wrinkling librarian asked for my name. My last name. She’s an old hag who has never once been married and is the legitimate cat-lady. Well, sometimes, I go out walking around the neighbourhood if I don’t want to see her on a bad day but that’s about it.
I grab my schoolbag and dump what I have on the wooden desk in there. The school library has a private study area as well as over 40 shelves (back and front) of books; some that aren’t possible to find in a public library.
Walking home alone isn’t bad at all. I’ve got my books to read on the way and general nature to accompany me. The sunset that illuminates the horizon an orange glow, and the sound of birds about to go to bed in their nests among trees. I feel at peace.
Off to the side, I notice multiple students that go to my school coming from a plaza. They’re the boys who look innocent, act bad. Ironed clothes, brushed hair, and freshness floating around them. On the inside, they’re complete drug addicts who go around screwing girls and get drunk off their asses without a care in the world. I’ve always liked boys the other way around. For some reason, biker guys in black buckles and chains hooked on their jeans attract me. I don’t think that’s just me though. To have bad boys who look dangerous but really are polite on the inside is something that I probably will never have but want; a teenage fantasy of mine. It’ll go away once I’m older... Probably.
I pay no mind to the boys and continue my way home. It’s a 20 minute walk and would be better if I took the bus, but that’s a waste of money. For my family, money is tight. Mum use to make most of the income since Dad barely finished High School. Now, it’s him, my 'older' brother, and me. We live in an apartment whereas everyone in school lives in a house. Us Antoinette’s were kicked out of our Victorian styled home and forced to buy an apartment since that was all we could afford. Mum had money in savings for my education as well as my brother’s which she forbade Dad to touch so we couldn’t use that for the apartment. During the two weeks notice before being kicked out of our house, I worked multiple part-time jobs handing out flyers at 8 years old, and kept up all my education activities to help pay for the ‘new’ apartment. Thankfully, I had that kiddish face to attract customers to different stores and they gave me the job. I even pulled out the puppy dog eyes to get that far. Not doing anything in this mid-crisis would crush Dad in all ways possible. I couldn’t simply leave him and let him take all the weight alone. It was bad enough that Mum passed during the same month. It was like no one in the business had the emotion called sympathy.
Our apartment isn’t too bad. Living room, dining room, tiny television, narrow kitchen, one bathroom for the 3 of us, a bedroom for Dad, and a room for the Antoinette siblings to share. Dad is a cook for some Chinese restaurant during the day, and a bartender at night. I honestly wonder when he sleeps. This is what he does to keep us going though as I've been told. Sometimes, I feel as though I can't trust this family at all.
“Yo,” my brother mock solutes. “Studying late, I see.”
“Yes, Toby, unlike some people who ditch and slack off,” I retort. My brother and I are twins in the same class. Preposterous, isn’t it? No one knows about it though. It’s bad enough that we share a room, let alone a bathroom. I swear that it’s against the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) rules.
“That’s why you’re here; to cover for me.” Remember how I mentioned that two week notice period before getting kicked out of our old house? He didn’t do a single thing except hang out with friends and karaoke night by night. Great son he is, huh?
Looking over at the couch where the TV is fuzzing in and out of motion, Dad is trying to fix the antenna for a better connection. “Dad, I think we should use the money for Toby’s education to pay the bills and get you the High School Proficiency degree.” I’ve always said that, but none of them listen to me. No offence or anything, but I just don’t have enough faith in my brother financially.
“I think you’re right,” sighs Dad, smacking the hood of the 90’s television. That thing is older than me.
“You’re not being serious,” I grunt. “Gonna shower.” Without another word, I leave the living room/entranceway/dining room, and enter the corridor towards the shared bedroom. The bedroom has two single mattresses on the ground on either side of the room and two sets of drawers at the back of the room; one pale pink, one baby blue. We don’t have enough money to spend on things like proper boxes for our beds or a head and end board. Neither do we have enough money to buy new furniture, even for storage. Toby and I have had these drawers since we were born.
I open the last drawer for my undergarments and pyjamas. I’m sure my older brother by 5 minutes is bound to find out where I put them, but hiding in plain sight is probably the best way to hide in this case. A brother like Toby isn’t one to be wasting my breath on. He may be the type of guy I’d feel attracted to though. Darkish clothes, rumpled jeans, a chain cuffing from one belt loop to the other, and ear-piercings. He really is my type, but he’s just an example. I would never commit incest. Especially not on my own twin.
I gather my things and step into the bathroom for my shower. Again, nothing flashy. There’s a toilet, a mirror, a sink, and a shower store. Cups in blue, green, and pink line up along the edge of the sink with toothbrushes sitting in them. The mirror is slightly foggy from the steam of the shower I take and there’s only one bottle of shampoo and conditioner. That’s right, we share. At least we don’t reuse tissue paper. It’s a miracle that a 15 year old girl going through puberty manages around here.
After my shower, I pull on a pair of shorts and tee then walk out to make dinner. We always have the same thing; rice, meat, and one sort of vegetable. It’s the cheapest things in the market and with the little income, we make do.
We all eat dinner in silence. Why? Because Mum use to be the conversation starter at dinner. We’d be laughing, talking about our day, and telling humorous stories about our friends. The time I had friends... I’ve lost them now. I see them in school but after Mum passed away, I ignored them through the trauma and they eventually gave up trying to get me to open up. I’ve lived a life without friends ever since.
“Your turn to do the dishes,” I tell Toby after placing my finished bowl in the sink. He gives a mumbled ‘mm’ in return and I go into our bedroom. There’s no posters, decorative whatever, but it doesn't matter. Toby, Dad, and I, have all lived like this since I was 8. I lie down thinking, this is just another regular day, and I was right. The next day, that term wouldn’t apply.
Waking up is practically the same routine as yesterday but backwards. I make the breakfast and someone washes the dishes. I walk to school with a book and listen to birds wake up and the sun rise. Well, it’s close enough to the same without a shower added in there. I watch the bus full of students who get to school 10 minutes early pass along the road. Very few students at school walk the same way I do since they all come from houses and not apartments.
I get to school right on the dot of 8:50am. Class starts at 9 so I have enough time to prepare myself for class. I sit at the back with the window to the left. It’s a terrible view; a solid brick wall of the middle school bunch. The schedule for today is English, Math, Lunch, Science, and History. My first semester of Year 10 is terrible. The second semester should be less stressful since they’re mostly electives, not academic subjects.
“Antoinette! Pay attention!” scolds my teacher, Mr. Girbs. He's as grouchy as the librarian.
“Sorry,” I mumble. Toby snickers across from me. No one here knows my first name. I’ve never told anyone. Only my last name. I don’t know why, but I feel like it’s inappropriate to call someone by their first name if they don’t know them well. I sound like an old grandmother from the 1800’s but... I just see things that way.
“Answer the question on the board,” Mr. Girbs orders. I groan inwardly and walk up the isle of desks to complete the sentences. This is what preschoolers do. I’m in Year 10. A High School student. Mr. Girbs is probably the most retarded teacher within the school.
Walking back, I get multiple stares but refuse to acknowledge them. I try not to stand out but that exactly what I do. It’s because I don’t socialize or whatever. Okay, I don’t because I have no time to.
Once lunch break hits, I’m going outside to the outdoor classroom rocks under the shade of trees. I always sit here. Multiple groups of friends all come out to enjoy the sunlight but I just come out here to be alone and eat. No one approaches me and no one talks about me. Of course, I know people wonder. Even so, I leave those thoughts at the back of my mind.
“Excuse me,” comes a high pitch voice. I look up and find a blonde girl wearing what looks much like a black cat outfit; black and white striped socks up to her knees, black shorts, black top, black gloves, and faint marks on her face representing whiskers.
“Yeah?” I answer nonchalantly while trying to figure this girl out. I’ve never seen her, but maybe she just looks young for her age.
“Are you Antoinette?” I nod.
“Great!” she cheers, blue eyes squinting slightly. She’s got black-brown makeup on as well. After her fit of laughter, her face shows a sly fox appearance; pupils dilated, one eye larger than another, and a smirk cocked up higher at one edge of her lips.
“I’m here to kill you.”
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