Here There Be Dragons: Chapter 1

Riley looked in the mirror and smiled.  It was one of those long full body mirrors that allowed him see everything he was used to seeing, and just like usual, he was impressed.  Sure others may not see in him what he saw, but he could see it. Many only saw the little scrawny kid. He had the pinched nose, the small mouth and watched as he continued his annoying habit of continually snapping his fingers while he walked.  He couldn’t help it, he was fidgety.

He knew that the little person was just what they saw, but he knew better.  He knew he was more than that. Come on, he had to be more than that.  He was Riley, and you know what, he was cool.  Everyone who was anybody knew that.  That was, if you were his best friend, Suzy.

And Riley, he dressed cool.  He had his jeans on, sure he pulled them up a little too high, but it worked for him because he was that awesome.  That with the plaid shirt and his knee high socks, well on others it just didn’t fit but for him, he rocked it.  It’s because he was Riley.  Everyone loved him.

Yeah, right.

No wonder he only had one friend in school, as who would ever want someone boring like him.  He sucked at sports, knew more about comics than anyone else in his class, and couldn’t tell anyone anything about how to farm even though their small town was surround by corn and wheat fields.  And hey, it wasn’t that farming was bad, he had just grown up in the city.  It was thanks to his great ever-so-smug father who decided they needed to move from the city to smalltownsville.

Someone pounded on the door of the bathroom.

“Come on, get out of the bathroom, some of us have to go,” Suzy yelled.

“Coming out.” He called out keeping his eyes locked on his own. His smile faltered as reality tried to peel back the layers of fiction he had crafted for himself.

“What are you doing in there?”

“Pondering the meaning of life.” He said. His tone mocking as he pulled himself away from, well, himself.

“Yeah, well, when you get a life to ponder over, let me know. Until then hurry it up.”

He came out of the bathroom and before he could even sit on her bed, she was in the room and had locked him out.  Dang, she really did have to go.

“So, what’s the meaning?” She called back, through the door.  He leaned back on the bed, looking up at a poster for some boy band on her ceiling.  It was nearly a match for all the other posters surrounding him.  He was being stared down and from every direction by a collection of different boys from bands he couldn’t stand.

“The meaning of life is to not be obsessed with some yucky crap music.”

“Hardy Har har.”

“Okay miss know-it-all, what is the meaning of life?”

Suzy didn’t have a chance to answer when her mother came whooshing into the room, her hands full with a clothes basket filled to the brim of folded clothes.

“Oh now what are you two on about?  Making your plans for world domination?” Ms. Rowling said as she set the load of laundry down near the dresser.  She looked up, looking at him through the mirror waiting for an answer.

“Oh, nothing much.  Just debating the meaning of life.  Nothing too important.”

“Well now, didn’t you know.  The meaning of life is to eat as much good food as you can and to pass on your knowledge to others.”

“I agree with the food part.” Suzy said as she emerged from the bathroom.

“Oh I know.  Someday that’ll catch up with you.” Ms. Rowling said, standing as she looked at the pair now sitting on the bed. “And you won’t have that teenage metabolism.”

“Na, I’ll stay like this forever.” Riley said, giving her a sheepish smile.  He always enjoyed being over there as it felt so homey. It was so much more welcoming than when he was home with his dad.  Ms. Rowling had been good to him since they moved to town and had become to feel like a mom to him. He didn’t know if it was because Suzy and him were best friends or just her nature from being a kindergarten teacher.  Either way, being there was comfortable.

It was the rest of the town that made him feel like such an outsider.

The room had grown quiet and Ms. Rowling studied them wondering just what they were up too.  She had to know they had something planned.  There was that gaze that lingered just a tad too long on each of them.  Oh yeah, she knew, she was too smart not too. She could probably read it in their faces, or just read their minds. Mom’s were crazy that way, having an uncanny sense when trouble was lurking.

Riley let out a long breath when she left the room.  Then he turned to Suzy.

“She knows.”

“What, that you’re an idiot.  Yeah, we’ve known that for the last year.”

“You know what I mean.”

“She doesn’t know, but you’re still an idiot.  You’re going to get yourself killed.  Is it really worth it just to show Chad up.”

“Yes, yes it is.”

“See, you’re an idiot.”

“It’ll be okay.  We’ll do it once and then quit.  Hey, what else do we have to do today?  You’ll record it and then” Riley held up his arms as in a triumphant boxer, jumping after wining a fight, “I..Will.. Be.. A..God…”

“No, you’re just going to be dead.”

“Just hit the record button, okay.”

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