It’s Time To Start Planning Ahead! The Future University Students Start To Get Ready For A New Year.
Summer, Year 4
Alex winced as he stretched painfully into the next position, quietly cursing his family. A fair number of the family had recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure and as such, Magnus was insisting the family started to exercise more. So they were taking regular trips to Lux Park in Windenburg for their exercise and Marie had suggested Alex try yoga to calm him down a bit. If anything, yoga was beginning to make him more angry, not relaxed.
Tara slipped out of the leisure centre. Exercise wasn’t really her thing; she preferred dancing really. There weren’t many options for dancers in Lux Park so while the rest of her family were occupied, she escaped and sauntered down to the water’s edge and bought herself some ice cream to cool off. It was far too hot to be exercising today.
The family came trudging back from the leisure centre, tired and a little grumpy. Alex poked Tara and sneered.
“At least I was working out. You ran away, you little coward.” He grinned and raised his voice. “Hey, why has Tara been allowed to get away with running away from the leisure centre?”
Tara burst into tears. Emilio seethed quietly inside and Zoe gave Alex and contemptuous look.
“When are you going to mind your own business, Alex?” Zoe asked, sighing. “It’s not up to you.”
“Well it’s not fair!” Alex replied hotly. “Why should she get away with running off and being a wuss and we can’t? None of us wanted to be there this morning but we were made to. Why does this precious baby get away with it?”
Emilio would have hit his younger brother if their parents hadn’t started calling them into the house.
The rest of the week wasn’t much better. Alex was still raging and taking his anger out on Tara and Che. He wouldn’t talk to anybody about what was bothering him and any attempt Magnus made before work was met with a furious argument between father and son. The atmosphere in the villa was tantamount to war.
“Oh Basil. Why does life have to be so complicated?” Emilio asked unhappily. He’d stayed hidden in his room as much as possible this summer. There’d been talk of Alex moving into the room with him because he kept tormenting Che in theirs but so far it hadn’t happened and Emilio was really hoping it wouldn’t. He didn’t get along with Alex any better than the rest but he did feel guilty when he thought of how unhappy Tara and Che were.
He trudged over to Basil and watched the little rodent playing. “Why can’t everything be easy? It all gets so complicated.” He blinked tears away and hugged himself. “I wish I didn’t feel the way I do. Everything’s getting weird.” Gazing at the little rodent, he blinked again. “I wish Ricky or Jared were here. I can talk to them.”
Zoe was very excited. She’d been thrilled with her acceptance into the University of Britechester and the drama course she’d been wanting for a long time. It was finally the opportunity she’d been waiting for and she could hardly wait for the leaves to change, the sky to turn to grey and for the Universities to go back after the summer.
Marie felt it was a bittersweet moment. Her two eldest sons had already left home; the wrench was worse with Jared now living in Evergreen Harbour and Riccardo staying there in the holidays. She’d never liked her eldest living in the city but she wasn’t certain the harbour town was any better and now with Zoe, her eldest daughter, heading to Britechester in a month or two, she began to feel empty. Her beautiful family were growing up and flying the nest; Alex was starting the senior school this year and she was certain that’s what his current bout of angst was all about. He’d been the big fish in the small pond when he’d finished the primary school but in the autumn, he’d be the little fish in the sea and for a boy like Alex, that sort of inferiority didn’t sit well. She knew that but she still wished he’d stop taking it out on Tara and Che. Tara was very sensitive to comments; she’d been bullied a lot in her first year at the senior school and she was dreading going back. Che was the youngest in the family and was hardly in a position to fight back.
Sighing, Marie watched and listened as Zoe talked enthusiastically about her plans for University. She would hold back the tears until nobody could see her.
Marie had suggested Emilio take Tara and Alex out to go and meet some people, to try and help Alex settle into his new school in the autumn and to cheer Tara up. Emilio had his reservations but went along with it. He suggested they try The Rainbow Room, which welcomed teens in the afternoons. He was impressed by the response as a large number of the teenagers from his school showed up. Cassie and Alex Goth, the Ryan triplets, Malcolm Landgraab, Rosie and Chris Valentine; it was an excellent turnout.
Even the Bjergsen sister had arrived. Emilio was particularly pleased because Sofia’s sister, Elsa, was going to be starting Year 7 with Alex and he was hoping they might be able to become friends.
Then Alex insulted Elsa’s outfit and Emilio saw his hopes disappearing up the road.
In Windenburg, Eve was sitting on the sofa and thinking. She was supposed to be working on a portrait for a client but she was instead thinking about her eldest daughter, Cadmium. Caddy’s failure to get accepted into University had been taking its toll on the entire household and Eve wished there was more she could do to help her daughter. Bill had chatted at length to Caddy about brushing up on vital skills this year, treating it as a gap year and focusing on applying again next year. Logically, Eve knew this was the best solution although she did wonder why Caddy was so interested in University.
When Eve had visited the Arts Centre in the city recently, she’d seen a large group of University students protesting outside. When she’d stopped to talk to them, she discovered they were protesting against a lack of funding for students. It really got her thinking; why were all these bright intelligent young people being forced to take to the streets to fight for what should rightfully be theirs. Moreover, did she really like the thought of Caddy joining them next year?
Eve wasn’t the only mother dealing with a child’s disappointment; Erica was distracting herself in her garden because Aaron had also failed to get into University this year. More than anything, he’d wanted to get into Foxbury but he’d been rejected and no mother likes seeing her child get rejected. What made it worse was that Aaron wasn’t much of a talker and if he was going to open up to anybody about his disappointments, it would be his sister.
Right on cue, Andrea arrived and pulled her brother into a tight hug. She could feel his disappointment radiating in waves from him and her heart sank. Aaron had been through so much in the last couple of years and she’d really felt that this would have been an ideal opportunity for him to boost his confidence and self esteem. It all seemed so very unfair.
“Do you want to talk?” Andrea asked as she sat down with Aaron in the living room.
Aaron sighed. “Not much to say. Foxbury said I wasn’t quite what they were looking for and I should try again next year.”
Wincing, Andrea patted her brother’s arm. “I know that sounds brutal but it’s the best thing you can do. Getting rejected feels horrible; it’s one of the worst feelings. But you can learn and grow from this. I know it sounds corny but it’s not the end of the world. Why don’t you take some classes at Foxbury? They do some great classes there, you could boost your general knowledge or take up some more fitness classes. Hit the gym, hang out at the Sport Court. This could be a really great and busy year for you, then hit them hard with a killer application next year.”
Oddly enough, coming from his enthusiastic older sister, that didn’t sound like such a terrible plan after all.
“Poor Aaron,” Alexander said later that evening, after Andrea had gone home and Aaron had gone to bed. “He’s taken this rejection badly, hasn’t he?”
Erica nodded and absently massaged her husband’s tense shoulders. “Yes, I’m afraid he has. I hope Andrea was able to help him. I just wish he’d talk to us more.”
Alexander sighed. “He will, my love. One day he will.”