Star of Youth

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Chapter 2

The dawn of a new school day began and Emma called to her son from downstairs: “Ari! Wake up!”

Opening his eyes, Ari sighs into his pillow and he gets up to walk like a half dead corpse to brush his teeth. He looks into the mirror and checks the bags under his eyes. Then Emma puts down a plate with a little sandwich as breakfast for her son and she looks at the clock and shouts her son’s name to arrive at the table. Ari yawns and walks down the stairs and comes to the table to grab the prepared sandwich and then puts it into his lunchbox.

“What are you doing?” The concerned Emma stops Ari. Looking up, her son gives a numb, bitter expression. Feeling like he is going to shatter into pieces in no time, Ari gets asked: “Is something wrong?”

And he responds with: “It’s nothing.” he smiles and gives his mother a cold hug.

Then turns around and packs his lunch box and grabs his backpack and prepares his clothes.

While this was playing out, Vanessa watched Ari from the table, thinking something was off. It filled her with concern about her grandson and waited for her daughter’s resolve.

“I have to go.” Ari reminded his mother, and he went to dress up.

After Ari checked his things, he shouted: “I’m going!”

He then waved at his mom and looked at his grandma, and left.

Vanessa then asked her daughter: “What does Ari like?”

Emma looks over her shoulder, still shocked her mother is young again.

“Oh, he enjoys writing music. Why are you asking?”

Vanessa was silent and responded: “It’s just that I’m a terrible grandma.” She says while feeling like a letdown.

As Vanessa and Emma ramble, Ari walks to his school with his head held low, and heeds groups of friends walking around him. A bunch of lucky kids with loads of friends. Ari just stares at the ground with no confidence. Then he gets greeted by a student: “Yo Ari!”

The boy then got a whispered response from Ari.

“H-hi.” Ari replied.

Then after Ari walks past them the boy turns tells his group of friends: “What a fucking weirdo am I right?” But the poor Ari hears this and stares at the ground, feeling disappointed in his social skills from what he just heard. He entered through the school’s entrance and accidentally bumped into few people with his school bag.

Then his girl classmates enter and scream before they embrace each other. Ari stares over his shoulder for a second and wanders off. And walks up the stairs. Two girls sitting on the stairs hit the backpack with force and start laughing when Ari loses his balance.

He enters his classroom and the first thing he’s met with is the loud screaming of his classmates. Ari takes out a notebook with songs and notes in them. Then takes out a pen and starts writing something in the chaos his classmates are making. A paper plane flies and hits Ari in the head. He ignores this and tries to read his lyrics. But when Ari reads through the lyrics, he realizes it sucks. Feeling unable to put words on the paper, he gives up and grabs the paper and mashed the paper into a ball and threw it.

The bell then rang and his classmates pretended like they heard nothing and continued to make a mess. Then an elderly teacher came into the room and yelled at everyone to get ready to walk to the music class. Upon arriving in class, the teacher greets them and tells them to grab their book and prepare for singing because of an upcoming school singing contest.

The teacher looks at the unexcited class and tells Ari to start in front of the entire class. He was stunned and filled with anxiety.

“You either go or you get an F.” The teacher threatened her student.

Ari stood in front of the class. Meeting with the gazes of his fellow peers, he felt a cold sweat and as he tried to get out the lyrics; the classmates giggled. Ari felt like they wrapped his neck in thorns, as he could not sing. Some of his classmates giggle from the awkwardness and then Ari gives up, and the teacher rolled her eyes and gave him an F without a care in the world.

Proceeding to sit down, he hears nonexistent gossip about his singing in his head. Then a talented girl sings and the teacher stops her and with a smile of approval gives her an A. Ari stared at the successful girl and his desire to continue faded. He stares at the classmate while also wanting to slap himself for his failure.

Meanwhile, Emma looks at her young mother being bored looking at the TV as her mother switches through the channel.

“I’m young and I’m bored out of my mind. There is nothing to do!” Vanessa complained out loud.

Then Emma approaches her mom with a mop and a bucket of water.

“Anything, anything except that.” Vanessa replies with an annoyed expression.

Emma then sighs and tells her mother she has to go to work. And then she puts on her blazer and tells Vanessa goodbye and leaves her alone in the house.

After a few hours passed by, Ari packed his bag to go home from school. It was a Friday afternoon and everyone was ready to enjoy their time with friends and family during the weekend. The school bell rang and everybody stood up and left the school to be finally free. Aiming to his home, Ari sees a lot of students hugging a being around people they could always trust.

Vanessa, in the meantime, wipes the floor from boredom. She sighs and gives a frustrated face expression and throws the mop and says: “This sucks!”

Then gets a bit more curious and tries to research more about her grandchildren. Walking into their rooms, she goes into Ari’s room. And find out something new she never knew about her grandson. A notebook with the title “songs nobody will hear” catches her attention. Vanessa opens the notebook, and she reads the notes of the unfinished songs. First, the title “Underdog.” gets noticed. And she reads a lot of notes.

She then looks at a laptop with a music recorder opened.

Vanessa tapped the keyboard, trying to press play as a natural technology uneducated grandma.

After finally finding the play button, a melody of a piano plays. It was gentle but sounded like it was without confidence in it. And then the clapping rhythm of clapping entered the melody.

Vanessa listened to the music with delight, and a proud smile formed on her face.

And then a sound of an opened door alarms Vanessa and she whispers: “Oh, shit.”

And she closes the laptop and pretends like she is tidying the room. Ari enters the room and gets nervous when he notices his laptop closed. He puts down his bag and hugs the laptop and gets insecure.

Vanessa quickly extended both of her hands to calm him down and told him: “There is no need to feel scared.”

“What were you doing?” Ari replied.

Vanessa tried not to shake, and she replied: “I-i just wanted to listen to your music.”

Ari took a few steps back and asked: “Why would you?”

“Because you’re talented, Ari.” Vanessa replied.

Feeling nervous and embarrassed, her grandson replies with: “No, I’m not.”

Frustrated by the response, Vanessa tells him: “You are and if you don’t admit it, then I’m going to be mad and sad for you.”

Ari felt uncomfortable and unsure with the response and asks: “Why do you care?”

And then Vanessa said: “I care because I am your family.”

But knowing they are distant, Ari shrugs it off and goes downstairs to do his math homework.

Reaching out with her hand, his grandma looks worried and concerned. And she gives herself a slap on the face.

After some time, Ari yawns while he does his homework, focused on fractions. Minutes pass and Ari gets sleepy, and he closes his eyes repeatedly. And then eventually puts his head on his hands and closes his eyes. Vanessa peaks from upstairs and takes the opportunity.

“Did you mop the floor, mom?” Emma asks around an hour later.

Ari wakes up and notices he is in a blanket and next to him is a plate of cut oranges with a note saying: “For my little star.” with a little smiley face.

He takes the paper and looks at it, confused, and then looks at his grandma.

Meanwhile, during her shift, Ari’s sister gives a coffee cup to another pair of lovers. She gazes over her shoulder and feels an indescribable, hollow emotion.

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