Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Half Life of Ryan Davis - an excerpt...

an excerpt from my teen novel The Half Life of Ryan Davis. This comes later in the first half of the book. Ryan has succeeded in falling out with his best friend Alex and younger sister Gemma. Mallory is his older sister, missing and presumed dead for the past three years.

No one was speaking to me. Mum was so uptight
about what I’d said and Gemma hated my guts. And
there was no way I could talk to Alex. As I pulled
my good hoodie over my favourite t-shirt I checked
myself out in the mirror and had to ask Mallory what
she thought because there was no one else.
In her opinion, the t-shirt wasn’t smart enough
and the shoes were fine if I was going down to the
skate park on my bike.
“I can’t wear my good shoes,” I complained.
“They’re for like funerals and tea at Grandma’s
place…and they pinch.” Yeah, but the shoes you have
on now are for riding and P.E. class. I wished she was
here for real and not just in my head.
“At least my jeans are clean,” I said. “And my
“Talking to yourself are you?”
“Dad! What are you doing here?”
“I was talking to your Mum last night …”
Oh no. Here came the lecture on staying in
school, the importance of education, the you-have-to-
do-as-you’re-told speech.
“Look Dad …” I began, ready to say that I
probably wasn’t going to leave school and he should
save his breath but he cut me off.
“She thought you might need a lift to this shindig
at your school.”
“Do you mean the social? Um…yeah…” Of
course I wanted a lift. Alex said his mum could take
all of us if we met at his place but that was before
Brittney dumped him and I told him to piss off. I
don’t think the offer still stood. But if I went with
Dad, what about Kim? I’d said I’d meet her at her
place. I was going to ride my bike there and walk her
to the social and she said she’d ask her mum to pick
us up. “I’ll be okay walking …” I said.
“Don’t be silly,” Dad said. “Are you just about
ready to go? I have somewhere else to be after I’ve
dropped you off.” He gave me a funny look: a kind of
unsure half smile.
“I guess…” I said. I’d figure something out. “Um,
Dad, do you think this looks okay?”
“If you change your shirt you can get away with
wearing those shoes,” he said with his normal size
grin. Well, if they both agreed, I had no choice but
to change into a shirt.
“Nice car,” I’d said when we got in. The Audi I’d
wanted to vandalise.
“It belongs to a friend,” Dad had replied. I
swallowed guiltily.
Now I sat hunched down, my mind running a mile
a minute. Could I run all the way back from school
to Kim’s house without getting too sweaty and then
walk her back to school in time before the whole
thing was over? I rehearsed telling Dad about her in
my head again and again but I couldn’t bring myself
to open my mouth. I must have been squirming in
my seat.
“Is something wrong, Ryan? Don’t worry. You look
good. Is there some girl you’re trying to impress?”
He’d made it so easy for me and I still couldn’t
say anything. I think I was going red in the face.
“Look buddy…”
That’s what he used to call me when I was little.
What the hell was going on?
“Taking you to this thing isn’t the only reason I
came over. There’s something I wanted to talk to
you about. Mum told me about what you said last
night … about your argument with her.”
This was it.
“Dad, before you go any further, stop the car.”
“I don’t think it’s that serious, Ryan. I know you’re
probably just yanking your mother’s chains. You kids
are too smart these days. It’s easy to wind her up.”
He looked sideways at me. What was he going on
“Dad, stop the car,” I said more urgently, my
hand on the door handle.
Dad pulled over and turned the car off. “What’s
wrong, Ryan?”
“Dad, we ... we need to pick up my girlfriend on
the way.”
Dad burst out laughing. It kind of wasn’t what I
was expecting.
“It’s not funny,” I said through gritted teeth.
“No. No it’s not. I’m sorry, Ryan. I’m not laughing
at you.”
“What’s so funny then?”
“So I take it Mum doesn’t know?”
I shook my head.
Dad said, “Okay. Where does she live?”
I told him her address and we moved off again,
heading to Kim’s place.
“Look Ryan, you’re growing up…”
“Dad, I know all about that stuff. It’s not like that.
Not yet anyway.”
“You’re a smart kid, Ryan. I don’t think you’ll
make any stupid mistakes about girls. But don’t
make any stupid mistakes about school either. Don’t
leave unless you’re absolutely sure it’s the right thing
for you. Don’t do it just because you’re angry with
your mum.”
“I did just say it to annoy her,” I said. “School’s
okay. But I need to earn a bit of pocket money. She
won’t let me get a part time job. Having a girlfriend
costs money.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Dad said, turning into
Kim’s street. “Ryan, there’s something else I wanted
to tell you. It’s about where I’m going after I drop
you off …”
We came to a stop outside Kim’s. I patted the
pocket of my shirt to check the tickets were there.
I put my hand on the door handle again but Dad put
his hand on my shoulder.
“I’ve got a girlfriend too, mate,” he said.
I didn’t know what to say. My stomach kind of
flopped over. I figured he and Mum were never
getting back together but this news punched that
message home – right in the guts. I didn’t want
another mum. Girlfriends were what people my age
have. Not old dudes like Dad. He had a bald patch
on the back of his head and his stomach hung over
his trousers.
I turned back in my seat. Took my hand off the
door handle. “How old is she?”
“She’s younger than me,” Dad said. “Not by
a lot though. She works at my office. Her name’s
Annabel. She’s really nice, you’ll like her.”
I don’t even want to meet her, I thought.
“She’s got two kids too, although they’re younger
than you and Gemma. This is her car.”
A surge of anger drove through my body. I
wished I had that coin in my hand to run along the
paintwork. Two kids? He already had two kids. His
own kids. My eyes stung with tears. I didn’t want to
be hearing about this now.
“Does Mum know? Or Gemma?” I forced the
words out. He shook his head in reply, this gumpy
expression on his face.
“So why tell me?”
He shrugged and shook his head again. “I
don’t know. You were going to have to find out
“Not if it doesn’t last.”
“Don’t ask me to babysit,’ I shot at him as I
yanked open the door as roughly as I could and got
out, slamming it behind me.

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