Part 1 can be found here.


            A gentle rhythm accompanied his sleep, only it soon turned into a sharp knocking and then a furious banging.


            “MICHAEL! You have to get up!” He rubbed his bleary eyes. 6:33 AM.


            “I’m up, I’m up” he mumbled, and the cacophony ceased.


            “You need to go to bed earlier,” his mother intoned, “and what was that crash in the middle of the night?”


            “Yeah, yeah” he replied through the door. “And it wasn’t anything.” Michael said, as he rubbed his still-raw knuckles on the sheets. He threw on some of his old jeans and a T-shirt, and met his mom by their faded Civic. Twenty minutes later, they pulled to a stop in front of a towering gate, with “The Tobias S. Franklin Preparatory School” in flowing lettering atop it. He sighed.

            Couldn’t New England have any normal High Schools?”


            He stepped out of the car to grab his bags, and his mom followed. “I want you to know I love you, Michael. I’ll see you next weekend. If you need anything, call me.” He rolled his eyes and walked forward through the opening gate.


            Two students and a rail-thin man in his mid-60’s stood waiting a ways down stepping-stone path. With a start, Michael realized that the school’s sprawling lawn was more of an arboretum, lined with exotic trees and flowers. It was beautiful, even with four inches of snow. This could take some getting used to.


            “Hello there, you must be Michael Davis. I’m Superintendent Williams.” The old man had a gracious smile, and seemed quite pleased with his life. Michael could see why.


            “These here are Kenneth,” he said gesturing towards a tall, dark-skinned boy with a smirk. Michael shook his hand and smiled in return. “…and Marissa.” Michael turned and stared. Marissa was stunning, with soft brown eyes that bored into his soul and a tight dress. He was at once conscious of how his own worn hoodie must look next to Kenneth’s fitted suit-jacket, and tried his best to disappear. Failing that, he hardly noticed as Kenneth politely pried his two suitcases from his unresponsive fingers. The superintendent was still talking.


            “…your guides as you acquaint yourself with the Franklin School. Ken here is the captain of the soccer team and vice-president of our Science League, and Marissa tutors students from our primary feeder school and competes in classical dance. They are both juniors, but you were placed on an accelerated tract at your father’s request and so for now all three of you have the same schedule. If you have any questions or need anything, ask them or come to my office. Michael nodded, and the superintendent slipped away.


            “So” Kenneth asked, once he was gone, “how did you manage to get in? I can’t remember the last time we had a transfer, especially one in January.” He seemed genuinely curious, without the edge one tends to acquire after living in a bad neighborhood for six years. He had probably never seen a school fight, much less one with knives. Michael tried to appear equally open.


            “I’m not really sure, but Curt—my dad—tends to get what he wants.”


            Marissa turned to him, twirling some hair around her finger. “Oh? What does he do?”


            Michael scrutinized his shoelaces, looking for the answer there. Finding none, he replied with a weak “Uhh, something with finance, I think.” Marissa frowned, but said nothing.


            They set off towards the cluster of school buildings, with each of his guides telling him which clubs to join, what classes to sleep in, which days to go across campus to the secondary dining hall, and so much more. They stopped at his dorm first, which despite being a single was larger than the whole of his previous apartment. Michael unloaded his computer, not taking the time to set it up but making sure he hadn’t left anything behind. Ken and Marissa seemed vaguely impressed at the delicacy with which he handled it.


            Upon realizing that Michael only had one small suitcase of clothes and nothing remotely fancy, Ken declared he would take him shopping that weekend. As they were leaving, Michael noticed a small card on his bedside table. He saw Curt’s name on the return address and slid it in the trash can. He was pretty sure Marissa saw that, too.


            Classes went by in a blur, with professors talking about subjects he had never heard of. Michael asked Marissa if he should be worried, and Ken had to wait until he stopped laughing to respond.


            “Parents pay, like, a hundred thousand a year to send their kids to Franklin. Everyone gets straight A’s.


            “That’s… awesome?” Michael answered, a little confused.


            The three of them arrived at the last class of the day early, and the room’s one student appeared to be fast asleep at his desk, to Michael’s envy. Marissa casually walked over and poured her water bottle on his curly brown hair. Ken seemed unconcerned, so Michael waited. The sleeper shot upright, then promptly muttered “Fuck off, ‘Riss” and went back to sleep. Marissa tenderly hit him with her water bottle, and turned back to face them.


            “This is my twin brother, Tommy. He’s a dumbfuck who likes to stay up all night.” Tommy half-heartedly tried to punch her, but missed by a foot. With a groan, he sat up and gave Michael a cheesy grin. The resemblance wasn’t very strong, but he could see it in their facial structure if he looked closely. Tommy only said a brief hello before sprinting to his next class, but Michael immediately liked him.

Let us know if you enjoyed Part 2! Part 3 will be posted on Monday.



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