A fresh start was what my mom said I needed.
A fresh start from what though?
I’m actually genuinely happy with my life.
I have great and supportive parents, who I’m really close to.
I have friends and things I care about.
I have fun and laugh.
I have nothing to not be happy about.
Declan Walsh and The Decadent West plays as we drive along the coast, the ocean and sky combining to create a color palette of extensive shades of aqua and blue.
The sunlight was hitting the water just right, I would take a picture but I’m a pretty shitty photographer, and we’re in a car and photos don’t really capture the essence of a scene like this, especially on an iphone camera, it would simply discolor it and make the lighting look weird. So it’s best to just appreciate being able to see these things with your own eyes.
We are on our way to Ocean Tide College, a fancy new school specifically designed for creative type courses. I got accepted by sending in one of my favorite novels I've written, that specific piece is held very close to my heart. It’s very personal to me. I would spend days just in my own head, thinking through the plot and adding cool lore that readers can think about, decode and theorize.
It was about a post-apocalyptic world where when people get killed by the monsters, they turn into them, the monsters were made up of the natural environment that there bodies decomposed in, and take a slightly humanoid figure, such as if you were killed and died laying on the ground your body would immediately sink into it and form a figure made up of earth and grass.
I myself got really invested in the universe I had created and I could picture up to every millisecond so vividly.
I was scared to let that story go, I had to let the thing I poured my heart and soul into get inspected, scrutinized and judged by people whose opinion on my writing that I honestly didn’t care about, I was proud of it and that's all that mattered, but it ended up getting me a place at this college.
A place where I can work to make writing things like that my career.
And I can’t wait.
“Okay.” My mom starts, her eyes not leaving the road, her red hair that I had inherited dancing around her face from the air-conditioner gently blowing.
“I know all that you wanna do when you get there is write”
“But I think it’s important that you… y’know… socialize? How about you join a club or something? At least attempt to talk to the people taking the course with you. Or your roommate?”
I turn my body in my seat so I'm fully facing her.
“Mom, it’s not like I won’t talk to anyone the entire time I'm there.”
“Yes, I know.” she drags out before sighing.
“It’s just that college is the time where you’re supposed to party and get drunk and actually find some romance in life other than fictional characters!” That last one hit a little too hard.
“So you’re… telling me to get drunk?” I ask, just absolutely taking the piss now. Her eyes leave the road for a second to give me a short, but pointed look.
“Sure, and while you’re at it, try every drug you can get your hands on. Just bring some back for me.” she giggles to herself a little at that one, I will never find parent jokes funny but I will admit the painful attempts at humor are better than getting yelled at constantly. I’ve never taken my relationship with my mom for granted.
“Ooh, look we’re almost there!” She exclaims, tapping her hands softly on the steering wheel with the same energy of a puppy wagging its tail. Soon enough we’re pulling into the car park of a fancy but modern campus, filled with different buildings. I look around at the different people in the same situation as me, all getting out of their cars and hauling backpacks on to find their way to the auditorium to listen to the welcoming speech. I anxiously wait for mom to hurry up and get her shit together before we lose the crowd and have no idea where we're supposed to be going. Then we’d have to ask for directions. Yikes.
I stand awkwardly next to the car, self-consciously pulling at the rainbow-striped tank top I was wearing. Was it a bit much? Sure it’s kind of subtle but not really? Did I really want to make a statement and out myself to anybody who even dared to look at me? The slamming of the car door shakes me out of my spiraling and we start making our way towards the other new college students wandering over to the assigned building.
As soon as we manage to push ourselves through the crowded entrance, I’m amazed at how impressive just the foyer of a single building in this place is. White marble tile spills across the entire floor and a large staircase with a shiny black banister curls up one of the walls, leading to an indoor balcony overlooking the room. The glass chandelier hangs above our heads, from the second story roof, making the room taller and somehow bigger.
This one room for sure cost more money than my life.
“Excuse me, I like your pins.” Someone suddenly appears in front of me, smiling brightly.
“Oh, my uh-” I reach behind me to grab my denim backpack that I had thrown some pride pins on.
Look, we already discussed how not subtle I am so be quiet.
A small laugh bubbles from this person's mouth as I’m awkwardly grasping my backpack, twisted to be on the front of my chest while still attached to my back. They hold a hand up to their mouth to cover up their amusement.
“Yeah. I have a matching one!” They point to their ripped denim jacket where a little rainbow flag broach sits on the right breast pocket. They extend the hand that wasn’t previously covering their mouth.
“Conner. he/him.” pretty eyes with bold eyeliner wings crinkle as he smiles at me, awaiting my response.
“Alix, she/her.” I smile nervously back.
“So, Alix, do you have any idea what you're doing?” Connor raises his perfectly plucked eyebrows and bumps my shoulder with his.
“No, I don't, I was really hoping you would.” I say exasperated.
“ Nope. I guess we just stand around until they let us in the auditorium so we can sit and listen to the boring students for hours.” As if on queue, the door leading to the main auditorium opened and some middle aged white man in a crisp suit stood in the entrance, letting the crowd start filing into the room. Connor turns to me, opening his arms wide, an expression screaming ‘well would you look at that’ on his face, as he starts walking backwards, towards the entrance like he had just done that with his magical powers. I shake my head laughing to myself and then feign shock mouthing ‘OH MY GOD’ overdramatically before following him, mom in tow.
Balancing trying not to lose the speedy Connor in the crowd and making sure my mom doesn’t get lost proved itself more difficult than originally anticipated.
That scrawny weasel had managed to slip out of sight the moment I turned around to make sure mom was right behind me and had no intention of falling behind. Alright, looks like I’m giving up on trying to make friends if the first person I meet literally disappears.
Sorry mom, I tried. Kinda.
Right as I give up and start moving forward again, a dark mop of curls pops into my vision, making me practically jump out of my Doc Martens.
“You coming or what?” Connor's blinding smile flashes again before taking my hand quickly and leading me into the abyss, before dragging me up the staircase that led to the many rows of seats that looked like they came right out of a very expensive first-class theater. I have to multitask to run up the short steps, with other people trying to climb them too, as to not let Connor pull my goddamn hand off, (he might be small but he has an iron grip) and not trip and fall on my fucking face. Not only this dilemma but my dumbass decides now would be a great time to check if mom was still behind me.
It was at this exact moment that I made the discovery that I suck at multitasking.
Right now I’m wishing that I had lost Connor forever and never seen his smug little face, once again trying to stifle his laughter directed at me for the second time.
We’ve known each other for less than 10 minutes.
But no, the torment does not stop there because sitting on the other side of me is my mom shamelessly laughing as well, who hadn’t in fact gotten lost so there was no point for me to accidentally fall right into some random person's back when tripping up a step. I did mention it was crowded right?
I throw the boy on my side a glare and he just gives me a guilty smile before snapping his attention to the front, where an extremely professional looking stage loomed, upon it yet another middle aged white man in an expensive suit. He goes on about introducing something but I can’t really hear because now I'm more focused on whether I'll even survive a week here. Everything seems so expensive and the college dorms are free renting for students so that’ll be fine but what about food?
I bet a packet of instant noodles will cost $30 dollars.
I notice myself tuning back in when someone else walks onto the stage like they own the place, with confidence and a bright smile (hell they probably do own the place). But what is this? A middle-aged black man in an expensive suit? That’s different from your average white one. What an upgrade. At least this guy seems chill.
Ok turns out that man is in charge and does in fact own the place. When he announces the first speaker, a student, who looks like they stepped right out of an anime, with bubblegum pink hair and a pastel getup that resembled some kind of school uniform, even though this school didn’t have a uniform, I tune out immediately, I don’t need to hear the top students inspirational speech on why this school has changed them for the better or catered to the specific needs to help their creativity grow and thrive. No thank you. I have better things to occupy my mind, like my stories.
I like to start off with a setting. My mind immediately drifts to a cliffside beach, kinda like the one we’re right next to, with a sunset that makes the water look pink, and the sky filled with big fluffy clouds that look almost like they've been painted lovingly onto a canvas by Bob Ross himself.
I also like to create characters and give them really specific personalities before giving them an adventure to go on or a story to live out.
I can visualize every pore on said characters' faces as they build up in my mind. This is usually a trial and error process but I haven’t been thinking about this stuff a lot the past few days, as I’ve been busy with moving and literally flipping everything in my life on its head.
At least I'll always have my stories and characters to go to.
That’s the one thing I can rely on and that won’t ever change.
Another thing that can’t change is the fact that all my characters are either hot villains or innocent and adorable protagonists.
Which usually ends up being in the same book.
And they usually end up falling in love.
And it’s usually gay.
Yes I'm a sucker for the enemies to lovers trope. If done well, it can be some of the most beautiful love stories. I promise I do have some variety but that just happens to be the thing I keep going back to. I’m not sure but I think I’m drawn to create characters that have a lot of well… character, and lots of different traits, something that stands out because I’ve always felt like I myself am a really boring person, I live a very boring, simple life and the main characters need to be exciting. Even though mostly anything that needs a main character, makes the main character's role in the story being the main character.
If somethings going to be from someone's point of view, that someone needs to have interesting thoughts and opinions to have a point of view that people care about, usually side characters always have the tropes and interesting quirks and the main characters have “the generic protagonist” where they usually have a mission and their character arcs orbit around that mission, if there was no story there’d be no character left. I try to do the opposite, I’m not a big fan of overusing tropes like the generic nerd or the jock, so that's why I spend so much time in my head, creating interesting but realistic characters with depth. But that's also my downfall.
That's why I would make a bad main character.
Because I'm always in my head, thinking of different, fictional worlds and not existing in the current one.
I don’t have time to develop my own character, because I'm not here.
After what was between 1-2 hours of introductory speaking that I paid no mind to, everyone in the first few rows slowly stands, collecting their bags and things, so they can head out first while the rest of us in the auditorium have to sit here and wait.
“You weren’t paying any attention whatsoever, were you?” Connor quips from beside me.
“What gave you that impression?” I respond.
“Hmm, maybe the fact that after 2 minutes your gaze became unfocused and glazed over as you stared mindlessly at the student speaker, barely blinking.
At first I thought you were staring because that student speaker was really cute and that would be understandable, but you were off in your own little world.” Connor is very excitable and is very animated when he speaks, an interesting character if I do say so myself.
I laugh at myself for that.
“Anything important I missed?” He sighs, dramatically rolling his eyes.
“You want me to sum it up as fast and basic as possible?” He crosses his arms and cocks an eyebrow.
“Yes please.” I say in the most innocent yet annoying way possible, pulling a big, fake-ass smile, leaning towards him.
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