Chapter One – Stan’s Fears

After a year of digesting and mulling over the story, I am finally ready to put this out there. Copies of my first book, entitled Between the White Lines will be available for pre-order from January 11th 2013.

Below is an extract from the first chapter, called ‘Stan’s Fears’. Please leave your comments and feedback below!

———————

I hate walking up this god damn hill, thought Chandra Kiran, his fists clenched tightly as he squeezed them deeper inside his pockets. It was another school day and it was probably going to be another late morning too. He didn’t like mornings, and especially hated school mornings. It was always a constant struggle to arrive to school on time, and one he always seemed to be losing. As he hastened his pace, breathe steaming out of his nostrils in the frosty morning air, he envied the luxury of the drivers whizzing past him. Chandra liked his sleep, and on most mornings – like most other teenagers – he enjoyed nothing more than to bury his head into the depths of his pillow, curl himself into a ball, and cocoon himself inside his thick duvet, surrounded by nothing but warm, cosy sleep. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long on even the rarest of occasions as his mother was unyielding in her removal of such comforts, whisking the duvet off if she had to, before barking orders at the top of her shrill, and piercing voice. There was no time for ‘faffing around’, a point which she was always quick to convey. Chandra inhaled deeply, attempting to forget his annoyance at this, the icy cold air filling his lungs, before letting out a huge sigh, steam spewing out of his mouth like a dragon breathing fire. He surveyed the houses below him, as he stood on top of the hill to wait for the bus. In the streets below, people were scurrying about in their houses, saying goodbye to loved ones, searching for missing keys and de-icing their car windscreens. The houses on his estate were not particularly big or boastful in their presence, but retained a quiet elegance found only in a middle class suburbia. Most of the town’s population were either families with parents working in the nearby city, or the retired or elderly, who roamed the streets during the day, gathering at park benches and in the town centre to catch a breather and the odd gossip. Chandra liked to think of it as a settlement rather than anything else. They had all ended up here out of convenience rather than anything else, a town of average Joe’s leading average lives, and here he was, stuck living in the centre of it. Not much ever happened and there wasn’t very much to do for kids like him. It wasn’t the worst of places he imagined, but it was still rather dull in his eyes. Just a bit too… average, he thought.

To no surprise the bus stop was deserted, most people caught the earlier bus (the one he really should have been on too). The journey to school was usually fifteen to twenty minutes long – longer during rush hour. This meant to get to school on time; Chandra needed to get to the bus stop at least five minutes early, to catch the bus at 8.20am. Unfortunately, this meant getting up slightly earlier and this was not one of his strong points – no matter how numerous or loud his alarms were. It was now 8.45am. As he glanced at the time on his slightly large, bulky mobile phone, he resigned himself to his usual fate, being late was not really the biggest of sins anyway. The worst he would get is a stern look, perhaps a letter or phone call and a lunchtime detention in a cold room. Nothing to be too worried or afraid of. All of which were still slightly more bearable and so much more appealing than an earlier start to the day. Those few minutes of extra sleep really were worth it. He had never really understood the big fuss people made about being on time anyway. Throughout his school years, he had seen the commitment and diligence with which other students had made great efforts from places far and wide to arrive to school on time. Some of them leaving as early as 7am (at which time he was usually still drooling deep inside his cocoon). Chandra chuckled to himself and appreciated what felt like a small victory. We run around all day, scurrying from one place to the other, the world isn’t going to end if we don’t arrive on time, he thought to himself. So why not just take your time?

He removed his hands from his pockets and instantly, felt the heat being leeched away by the cold air as he placed his coat hood over his head. Looking down he saw his black shoes had faded and were now grey; his soles had also completely worn away and were beginning to peel away from the rest of his shoe. He was wearing the standard issue all black trousers, a white long sleeved shirt (no longer a dazzling white), a striped navy blue and white tie worn short and tied in a thick knot at the top, a dark blue blazer, and a thick black parka coat on top.

© Keshav Bhatt 2012
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