It was two weeks till her birthday – Sweet Sixteenth her mother used to say, and sweet she was. Alexis Fox was an average teenager – interested in clothes, phones and boys too. She was not the most popular girl in school, but not the least either. Alexis fitted comfortably in the middle – with a handful of friends she could really call friends and a boy in her life that was decent, kind and caring.
Melbourne was cold this time of year, the summer sun was hot and unforgiving for only a few weeks and then it gave way to the icy cold that locals came to expect and prepare for. Almost everyone carried a jacket or jumper, with only the styles and value varying between suburbs. Alexis was on her way to school, by bus. The long ninety minute journey had become second nature to her and she was always on time, almost always early enough to have a seat. But her kindness sometimes got the better of her and she would give it up to a younger student or a non-school passenger that boarded the bus. That was just the way her parents taught her.
Alexis was lost in thought about her upcoming birthday party as the bus stopped yet again to pick up another group of loud kids. This early in the morning, the bus was already full and it wasn’t yet even half past seven.
Sixteen already, she thought. Sixteen. “In just a few days my whole life will change”, she mused to herself as if she was becoming a fully grown adult.
The sudden clap of early morning thunder brought her back into the present as the bus made its final turn towards Park Ridge High – a local government funded school that was well run and well funded, resulting in an above average grades in the classroom and on the sports field. Alexis was in grade 10, the school year had just begun and this was the first day back. Grade 10 was a whole different ball game the teachers said and most of her class mates and friends were already stressing about the year ahead. This was the year that mattered – Grade 10 set the precedent for the next two years culminating in graduation at the end of Grade 12. This was the year that would set the student up for college life and essentially mark the critical point at which ones future depended on.
Alexis was a slightly above average student, scoring well in mathematics and life studies. Her parents always tried to encourage her to do better, as they had always wanted her to follow in their footsteps. Well at least one of theirs anyway. Alexis’ mother was an accredited tax accountant working for one of the larger firms in Melbourne’s CBD, while her father was a corporate Attorney working on legal contracts and collections for a major bank. While not at the top of their careers, they were well positioned to give Alexis, an only child, everything she needed and, as long as she worked hard at school she essentially would have everything she needed.
Due to their busy lifestyles and careers, and her father travelling most months interstate and occasionally internationally, Alexis was left to look after herself most of the time. The fairly attractive teen with blonde hair was her own boss. She came and went as she pleased, most of the time letting her folks know if she was going to be home late or out all night. Generally they let it slide, if her mother noted she was out on too many school nights, she would be grilled, but this hardly ever happened and all in all, Alexis was a well adjusted and behaved teenager and although she slipped on a few occasions she never fell too deep as not to be rescued by which ever parent or friend or teacher was on hand to help.
Smoking and alcohol was almost never touched, although her parents kept good wine in the house for special occasions or Friday evening date nights, Alexis was never exposed to alcohol abuse or excessive smoking. Luckily for her, her friends, her really good friends, fell into similar patterns as she did and life was good.
The first day back at school was a nightmare, rushing around to discover where her new classroom was which class she had on which day and which time and what happened to her favourite teacher from last year. Soon, which was to be expected, she bumped into Rachel and Gary. Rachel was a freckle faced redhead and was labelled a nerd or a geek by almost everyone, but to Alexis she was Rach – her bestest of her best friends. They had grew up together, first as neighbours, then went through kinder, prep and junior school together. Now, both nearing sixteen, they were in senior high.
Gary, a strapping young lad with curling brown hair, was quick on his feet and embraced his long time girlfriend – Alexis returned the hug and snuck in a quick kiss before gently pushing him back and embracing her friend. The three of them laughed as they complained about which teacher they had, spread rumours about Mr Coleman – Alexis Mathematics and Business studies teacher from the year before – her favourite teacher out of the whole school – and as the bell sounded, they parted and hurried to their new classes.
The day finally drew to close just like every other first day back, and Alexis met up with Gary and Rachel after school as they waited for their parents. She gave a sad wave to them as they left, and looked at her phone, hopeful that her mom or dad was coming today to pick her up – but again, she read the familiar words – “Sorry hun, a bit under the pump here... take the bus”. Almost every day was the same, and yet she never wondered why they just didn’t ‘make it a rule’ bus to school, bus home. Then at least she would never have to worry or wait. With a sigh, Alexis stood in line for the next bus as the heavens opened again and the rains came down. The screams of her schoolmates were drowned out in echoes as they all tried to huddle under the pathetic plaster and iron shelter.
Fiddling for her keys, Alexis fumbled with the double locking security gate and finally opened the door to the welcome of the silent home. In the back yard she could hear the wining of her four year old dog, Cookie – a chocolate brown Labrador that her parents forced to stay outside after its first week in the house. Before even shaking off her own drenched clothing and school backpack, Alexis opened the door and security gate to let the poor mutt in. Cookie expressed her happiness and love with foot sweeping bounds and ticklish sloberish licks.
Within a few moments, Alexis was in the shower soaking up the warm water for almost forty minutes before getting changed in her bedroom on the upper floor of their Kilsythe home. At her dresser, she stared aimlessly at her face as she brushed out the knots of her blonde hair, tying it up into the common pony tail she wore most days.
The rest of the afternoon saw Alexis lounging around at home, chatting and texting on her phone and wasting away time until later in the evening when her mom and dad finally arrived home, within minutes of each other. By this time, Alexis had started a salad for dinner while the QuickMeal was in in the microwave. Not much said save for the usually hug and hello, how are you. Dinner was a quiet affair, but at least they all sat around the table, said their grace, and ate quietly.
After dinner, as was the norm, Alexis dad went to his study and her mom had a long soak in the spa bath. Alexis returned to the sanctuary of her bedroom and spent the next few hours chatting to Garry and Rach and a few of her other friends.
Everything for her was normal and she was content.
Within what felt like the blink of the eye, Alexis found herself at home, on a Friday night, alone. The first week of school was already finished, she had a ton of homework and books to cover. Rachel said she had a family ‘date night’ tonight, and Gary was heading up north to visit his ailing Nana. Alexis’ parents were out. Friday was their date night, and ever since she was about twelve that had been the case – the only way it was interrupted was for business. Except for once when Alexis broke her leg falling down the stairs about two years ago. Her parents were not pleased that night but eventually, the plaster came off and everything was back to normal. Even today though, sometimes, her left leg ached more after physical exercise or in extreme cold weather.
“Friday. And I am at home. Alone.” Alexis thought to herself, feeling a bit down and lonely. She hardly ever felt that way, but today she did. “Oh well, just ten more days...” she said, trying to cheer herself up.
Time went by, and the days turned to nights faster that she could keep up with. At least, Alexis got out all the invitations – most of them sent via Text Messages and Instant Messaging on Facebook, or by email. A few were handed out as well. Especially to her close friends.
The night of her party was a blast. A Saturday. The house was filled with streamers, tinsel and glittering balls hanging from the ceiling. Alexis mom and dad purposes left the house that day, letting her be herself and party hard, long into the night. The neighbours had already been warned – on the whole block – so no matter how loud they got it was going to be fine.
With almost twenty teens in her home, and a third of them boys, the party got loud and a bit obscene in no time at all. The first splash marked the beginning of the end of civility and good behaviour as clothes began to fly and girls and boys in underwear took to the pool. All the while, phones beeped and lit up the night as pictures were snapped and videos were shot. This will be a night some would rather want to forget.
Maybe it was the alcohol she wasn’t all that used to, or maybe it was just the fatiguing excitement of the day, Alexis had fallen asleep, strewn out across the leather sofa with half a drink in her hand while the party carried on and shifted up another gear –long into the early hours of the morning.
The night whispered through the darkness and she let out a cry for help. But here, no one could hear her and those that did ignore it anyway. The man held her down tightly as he stared into her brown eyes with an angry lust that would see this night be her last. She clawed at his face, and bit his lip as he tried to kiss her. He hissed, striking her across the face, a rosy red welt upon her cheek. Alexis cried. The man grabbed her short brown locks and pulled her to her feet slamming her against the wall and striking her again from behind. As she fell a second time, she turned, her eyes glazing over as consciousness began to fail her, she looked upon the gleaming blade of his flick-knife and gasped, trying to cry out as the blade was plunged into her stomach. Pulled out, and stabbed in again. Crimson red blood, deep, hot, and almost black it was so dark poured from the wounds as the man slashed at her stomach and chest…