This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The Original Biography-Manuscript-Journal-Thing Of Aidan Finch
So. We’re supposed to write a journal that “tells the story of our lives”. Fun.
Isn’t that just a biography? ’Cause that’s what it sounds like. I’ve never written a biography before-well, that’s not true, I wrote one on Lincoln in the third grade just like everyone else. Just never one about me. Which would technically be an autobiography. But still. God, this beginning sucks. I’ll probably get an F just for this.
My name is Aidan Michael Finch; I was born January 15th 1987, right in this very spot. I’ll be twenty-one in a little less than five months.
Okay, so I wasn’t born in the desk chair I got at a garage sale two years ago, but isn’t that how biographies are supposed to start? Some boring old man describing his birth like he remembers it?
I was born in this town, though. I’ve lived in the same house my entire life, which is pretty unusual these days. It used to belong to my grandparents, if you can believe that. The house even has a name, ridiculous as that sounds, Finch’s Nest. There’s a big old wooden sign hanging above the front door that my Pop made way back in the day. It’s a fairly nice house, old, and falling apart a bit, but still nice, in one of those spaced out neighborhoods that don’t exist anymore. Nowadays they’d probably put three houses on our lot. Growing up, I was the only one of my friends to have a backyard bigger then a postage stamp.
My parents are Ronald Michael Finch and Jessica Ashley–Reynolds-Finch. Plenty of family, but we never really saw any of them. Except for my ’rents, pretty much the whole family left town, all my aunts and uncles, when I was too little to even remember. Can’t really blame them.
What I got instead was brothers and sisters. Sometimes it seems like that’s all I really have, I’m swimming in them, practically. And with my dad there could easily be a few more out there.
Anyway, we’re supposed to talk about why we decided to take this program, “What led us here.” Which I’m sorry, is like the lamest thing I’ve heard a teacher say. If you want to scare people off, that’s how you do it.
I suppose I could just give some crap answer about self-improvement, tell you about the “bright future” I’m working for, but considering I bet that’s what half of every class you’ve ever taught has said, you’re probably pretty tired of it. Really, I’m just here so I won’t have to work at a gas station the rest of my life.
When I started thinking about coming back to school I had just planned to get my GED, then maybe do a certification program somewhere. Something with machines. It’s what I’m good at. Probably diesel or auto mechanics, shorter programs for the most part. Diesel pays more, but I like working with actual cars better. More fun. What I’d really like to do is learn about refurbishing old cars, like classics. But that’s probably a pipe dream-I need something steady and reliable, and that’s all I can really worry about now.
But I couldn’t really afford it. I mean, I’m not stupid, I did a fafsa and all that, but even with financial aid, it’s still a couple hundred bucks a quarter plus books and gas and everything. And I don’t take loans-owing money isn’t something I can afford to do.
So I was stuck. Couldn’t afford to go to school, and sure as hell couldn’t afford not to. I’m sure you heard it before-half the commercials for those I.T.T Tech and Phoneix University, or fake diploma mills as Dave, my friend Petey’s dad calls them, have the same sob story. I’ve been working at a gas station-at the same gas station-since I was sixteen. The words “in a rut” don’t even begin to describe it.
I ended up in this class because my littlest sister Ady, heard about this program. Then she would not shut-up about it. At first I wasn’t sure-I’ve never liked school and I’m not good at it. This is probably the only assignment I’ve ever gotten that I haven’t put off till right before it’s due. But this was just to good to pass up-basically a low grade scholarship program, right? Take the prep course, score high enough on the GED, and they cover whatever is left over after financial aid, books and everything, for a year.
I nearly did anyway-pass it up that is. But Ady was insistent and she’s always been able to wrap me around her little finger. Said it was my job to help her with her math homework next year. She’s starting high school. So now I’m on track to have an associates in Auto Mechanics in two years. I’m still kind of worried about how I’m going to pay after this year. If it’s too expensive it’s too expensive, I’ve got the kids to think about.
Before you start clucking to yourself about that poor, earnest boy, trying to support his children and get an education, what a champ sticking around, blah, blah, blah, blah, he’s just a kid crap, it’s not like that. I get that way too often when I mention something the twins have done, or going to Ady’s (pronounced A.D not Add-e.) parent-teacher conferences. I swear, nobody’s even listening to what I say since they are mistaking teenagers for little children. They’re my brothers and sisters, not my kids.
Besides, what’s so special about somebody that sticks around? It’s kind of like everyone’s forgotten that’s what you’re supposed to do.
You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about huh? It’s kind of a long story, but the jist of it is this-
First Dad left us. Then Mom did. So, it’s just the kids and me now.
Dad’s been gone for, for forever really. Since I was twelve. Haven’t seen him since. He actually still sends support for the kids, and the occasional birthday card or Christmas present. Better than some guys, I guess.
Mom leaving was necessary. She’d been falling apart for years really, and then some things happened that she just couldn’t deal with. She kind of went off the deep-end, not straight insane asylum nuts or anything…but it was bad. She moved in with one of her sisters for a while, and now she’s traveling, trying to “find herself” or something.
It’s been about a year and a half or so now. She calls every couple of weeks, most of the time anyway, talks to everyone. Sends postcards. She’s happier this way. I don’t always know what we are.
It was hard, you know? Me and the kids spent a lot of time those first few weeks huddled together on the couch, watching feel good movies and drinking gallons of hot chocolate. I swear, that stuff is like liquid Prozac, without the side effects.
But it was also a relief. It’s better this way.
My relatives bandied about words and phrases like “mental health” and “abuse issues” and “she’s never been quite right since”. Since what, I don’t know. No one will say.
We had some help from family for a while. My Uncle Jeff was a big help, sent down gift cards for the kid’s school clothes, and later not only Christmas presents, but more gift cards so I could buy them presents too. His wife, my Aunt Janny still sends down the occasional care package, filled with everything from cookies to sun-dried tomatoes. I’m pretty sure if they weren’t all the way in Florida, or if we were all a little younger, they just would have moved us in with them. My Aunt Grace, she lives up in Washington; she came down weekends for a couple months, helped with cooking, shopping, laundry.
But eventually everyone went back to their own lives. I’m slowly figuring out how to shoulder the load.
But enough of that-really my life is actually pretty okay. It’s not like I don’t have support anyway-I have some great friends, and Karen and Dave, my friend Ryan’s folks treat me and the kids like we’re their own. Don’t know how we wound up so lucky, but we did.
Anyway, I guess now would be a good time to tell you about the kids, right?
There are five of us, it so it can get pretty insane. Like flashing warning sign, nuclear disaster scale of crazy.
Okay, great example, I just heard a rather large crash, followed by the scream of either an enraged teenage girl or the war cry of a small indigenous people. Either way, it doesn’t
bode well for the recipient so I’m off to check it out.
Half hour later
Okay, that was actually fairly entertaining. I came into the living room to find Ady chasing Jaden around the living room, shrieking, and trying (and once or twice succeeding) to hit him in the head with a large pile of wet papers.
The story goes: Ady was working on a term paper, and Jaden was bored, because, well Jaden is always bored. Kaley was down drawing in her art room, and he knows not to bug her, because Kaley is scary when annoyed. So he starts bugging Ady, wanting to “help”, wanting to talk, effectively just kind of bouncing around the room being annoying and refusing to shut up. It’s a particular specialty of his. He placed a soda precariously close to her paper, she told him to move it, and he said no, she decided to ignore him, five minutes later, the soda gets knocked over, and Ady goes psycho on his ass.
Like really psycho, I had to grab her to get her to stop chasing him; little girl was out for blood.
It was handwritten (of course), so I have Jaden helping her dry out the pages. The ink didn’t run too bad, she’ll have to re-write it, but at least it wasn’t completely destroyed.
All right, before that little adventure, I was telling you about the kids. And planning on presenting them as people who didn’t run about rooms shrieking and hitting each other over the head, but meh. Might as well be honest from the beginning.
First there’s Jasper, who is about two years younger than me. He’s a freshman in college, won himself a free ride to U of W. He’s been staying in the dorms there for a couple of weeks, orientation and all that. He’s a good kid, not the most practical, but he’s a hard worker. We don’t always get along, his view, on well, everything, is generally about as different as mine as it could get. He’s smart too; I mean, all the kids are smart, but Jas, he kinda blows everybody else outta the water. It’s been really weird not having him around, but he’s supposed to come home for a visit in a couple weeks. Been saving money for his greyhound ticket out of every check since before he left.
I’m worried as hell about him, honestly, even though I know he can take care of himself.
Next in line are the twins, Kaley and Jaden. They turn 17 in a couple of months, in November.
There are times when they act like miniature adults, remember to do things I’ve forgotten, help where they can. I don’t know what I’d do without them, especially Kaley, playing momma to Ady.
At the same time they can be a huge fricking handful, some of the stuff they come up with, I can’t even fathom why. Their teachers always thought they had ADHD, but when you sit them down individually with a counselor they always said no. I think it’s just the effect they have on each other, they feed off the others energy.
Individually, Jaden is much more intense. He wants to be a journalist when he grows up, and he has about a million causes. When you get him going on something he has an opinion on, he may not shut-up for days. Lately he’s been kind of moody and sullen. Karen (my best friend’s mom) say’s it’s normal, just his age, but it doesn’t really help when I want to kick his ass.
Kaley is definitely the hippy of the bunch. She’s laidback, and has a sort of calm, matter of fact nature that has occasional led to her walking right into situations that just about give me a heart attack. She’s also an artist and I’ve heard the word prodigy mentioned before. I don’t know anything about art-but you don’t win that many contests if you aren’t damn good.
The house is always filled with their friends and their laughter, doing things I have to pretend to disapprove of, cause, you know; I never smoked pot till three A.M. when I was a teenager. Hell, compared to me at that age they’re just about angels.
I go easy on them (to a point), I know, but they’re good kids, and they’ve been through a hell of a lot. They get good grades, they both have jobs, and they help out around the house, sometimes without even being asked. Overall, I don’t have much to complain about. I did have to put a lock on the old fridge in the basement to keep their friends from devouring all our food, but that’s been about it.
Honestly, they’re probably my best friends, except for the guys (Petey, Ryan and Ernie-but you’ll hear about them later), at this point. Which is pretty sad considering I’m nearly 21 and they’re only in their junior year of high school.
Kaley says “Yeah, that’s pretty pathetic.” Smart ass was reading over my shoulder, don’t know how I didn’t notice her, but I didn’t. They both want me to tell you, for some reason (rolls eyes), that they are outsiders at school, the kids who make friends with the security guards, but still sneak off campus, and occasionally smoke weed in the parking lot, who the teachers like but disapprove of, and, while they aren’t “punks”, they’re far more likely to hang out with them than the “preps.” So glad I’m out of high school.
They left pretty quickly when I asked them whether they were serious about the weed in the parking lot. I mean, seriously, why the hell would they tell me that?
Then there’s Ady, the baby at thirteen. She’s a sweet kid, smart too, and she was always my favorite growing up. Now, of course, I can’t have favorites. Really, though, she was a sweet surprise after the whirlwind that was the twins. Effectively, Ady liked to color, and the twins liked to break things.
She can be a tomboy, loves sports, climbing trees and skateboarding, but she can also be incredibly girly, spends hours designing fashion shows (thank god though, now that she’s older she no longer tries to hold fashion shows for the household. *rolls eyes* I set through so many of those damn things when she was little. ) and loves all those teenybopper magazines I think are completely pointless. Her and her friends also like to play pranks; I think they got the idea from those marauders in the Harry Potter books. Most of them are kinda stupid, honestly, but remind me to tell you about the time they sporked the principal. That was straight classic. I was so proud.
Wow. I think it’s safe to say that is the most I’ve written in years. Hope it isn’t too ridiculous.
Better get used it to anyway. Just looked at the assignment requirements again. The number of journal entries has to equal the days of the semester? Total days and not just class days too?? My hand’s going to fall off.
Anyway, I better go get started on dinner before the ravenous herd attacks my fridge. I think I might be able to hear Jaden’s stomach growling from the living room.
Senior Center Food Distribution Day
Food stamps aren’t reloaded for another week, and we are getting really low on food so I hauled my ass down here to the senior center. Feeding the kids ramen for dinner three days in a row isn’t exactly a good thing. Even if I did stick frozen spinach in it yesterday.
The senior center gives away food five days a week, and it’s good stuff too, Costco on Monday, Trader Joes on Tuesday, etc. Today is Whole Foods. Unless it’s your first time you have to wait until after the old people, and they don’t give away meat, but there is always something worth grabbing. Definitely better than at least half the food banks in town, where if you point out that something they give you is years past the best-by date they act like you’re nuts ’cause you don’t want to poison your family.
It’s funny, I used to be embarrassed as hell to do shit like this, too proud, I guess, and now it just seems normal. I still can be kind of proud I guess, like when Karen and Dave offered to help pay for Jaden’s wrestling, but for something like this...well, fuck pride, really. Gotta eat.
Got a ton of good stuff!
3 big boxes of fancy tomato soup(no clue what bisque is), a couple bags of pasta, a loaf of Killer Dave’s bread, and a whole ton of produce. Carrots, potatoes, apples, grapes-broccoli for dayyyssss! The bag of grapes is a little overripe, but the kids will devour them in one sitting if I let them, so that should be fine. And a thing of grated parmesan cheese.
Not a bad haul. That with what we still had should get us through the rest of the week okay. Thank god the kids get free lunch at school.
Gonna mix some pasta and a couple boxes of tomato soup together with the little bit of hamburger we have left, it’ll stretch farther in soup. Should be plenty for tonight, and we still have a chicken in the freezer, that’ll do for tomorrow with some of the potatoes and veggies, and then we can use the leftovers to make chicken salad sandwiches for Friday night.
So Mom apparently promised Kaley she’d come to town next week and take her shopping for her junior prom. I, stupidly, told Kaley not to get her hopes up, and she’s majorly upset now. Doesn’t wanna talk to me. Usually she’s the easiest to calm down when she gets pissed off, but I think she already kinda knew she shouldn’t trust it, but wasn’t thinking about it on purpose, and I made her.
It’s not like I said it to be mean, you know? It’s just, out of the four times she’s told us she’s coming to town, she’s only shown up twice. Once she only stayed for like half a day.
I’m just so fucking sick and tired of her breaking their hearts.
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