Chapter 1-- "Aberythstye"
Ryan woke with a start, jumping in the chair he had fallen asleep in and tearing his eyes open as the sound of porcelain crashing to the floor reached his ears. He could hear shouts, muffled by his drowsiness and closed bedroom door, exchanged between his parents, and he quickly forced himself awake. Pushing himself away from his desk, he rubbed his eyes and stood, turning to his closet as he focused his hearing to the argument taking place elsewhere in his house. 'Great,' he thought silently as he pulled a clean shirt and pair of jeans from the shelves, 'they're fighting about breakfast again.'
Grabbing his cell phone and wallet and shoving them into his pocket, Ryan swept his binder of looseleaf paper into his navy-blue messenger bag and slung the strap over his shoulder. 'Maybe I can get out of here before they drag me into it.' He threw on a pair of sneakers as someone stomped their way up the staircase and sighed, dreading having to face whoever was in the hallway.
"Where are you going?" Ryan's mother shouted, her voice too far away to belong to the person now walking near his bedroom.
"To wake up my son!" his father said angrily as the bedroom door opened.
Ryan walked briskly from his room and pushed past his father, ignoring his calls as he made his way to the stairs. Keeping his eyes on the ground, he sped through the kitchen and pushed the door to the driveway open before his mother could reach him, refusing to acknowledge her even when she grabbed his shoulder. He rushed out of the house and down the cracking concrete of the driveway, and turned onto the sidewalk as his mother shouted after him.
Nearly bouncing down the sidewalk in the crisp, morning air of early April, Ryan opened his bag and took out his binder, flipping open to the first page of his new story. 'I still can't believe I wrote this,' he said to himself, silently, and smiled.
"Hey, Ryan!" a voice called out to him, breaking the silence of the morning.
Ryan raised his eyes and grinned as his friend Greg waved to him from the corner of the block. Returning the wave, he closed his binder and dropped it into his bag, asking, "Why are you up so early?"
"Unlike you," Greg said, waiting for Ryan before crossing the empty street, "I have a job."
"Since when do you work on Saturday?"
Greg laughed and punched Ryan lightly on the arm. "At least I have a job."
Laughing, Ryan followed his friend across the street and down the next block, stopping at the main street of their neighborhood. "Hey, Greg," he said, "when does your shift start?"
"Forty-five minutes," Greg answered, checking his watch. "Why?"
"You want to go to Dunkin' Donuts? It's right across the street, and I'll pay." Ryan shifted the strap of his messenger bag. "Besides, I've got a new story I think you'll like."
Sighing, Greg nodded. "All right, I guess I have time." He grinned. "I hope this story's better than your others."
"Oh, it is," Ryan said quickly, laughing. "Believe me."
Inside the Dunkin' Donuts, Greg walked quickly to the counter and, after greeting the cheery cashier, said, "So, I'll have a bagel - with cream cheese - and a strawberry-frosted donut. And a coke." He turned to Ryan. "What're you getting?"
"A discount, I hope," he muttered, then smiled at the cashier. "I guess... I'll get what he's getting, without the donut." Grudgingly, he took out his wallet and handed over a twenty-dollar bill as Greg walked over to one of the tables. When he received his change, he stepped over to the table and dropped his binder in front of his friend. "I'm paying, so you're reading."
"All right, all right," Greg said, smiling, and flipped the binder open to the first page.
Ryan walked back to the counter and waited as the cashier finished preparing the tray of food. As she handed the tray over, she asked, "You write stories?"
"Yeah," he said, blushing lightly in embarrassment. "They're not that good though."
"'Not that good' is an understatement," Greg called. "They stink, normally."
Greg laughed. "No problem," he said, and turned back to the binder, shaking his head. "Not this one, though. This is pretty good."
"Yeah. Honestly, who are you and what did you do with my friend?"