Out Of Touch: Part 2

Some Students Are Streetwise; Others Are Out Of Touch Reality…

Autumn, Year 6
Ethan is 27, Jared is 27, Michael is 21, Cadmium is 20, Caiden is 20, Paris is 20, Phoebe is 20, Catarina is 19, Quinn is 19, Emilio is 18, Saffron is 18, Jason is 18, Michael is 18, Rosie is 16 and Tara is 14

With exams fast approaching for the end of the term, Emilio was studying hard with Quinn and Jason. Jason in particular wanted to do well, now that he and Caddy had a baby on the way.

Quinn was quite taken with Saffron and he was thrilled to find she’d taken a fancy to him. He was enjoying the early evenings on the balcony with her, both studying for their upcoming exams, or even simply chatting.

Emilio made the most of the rainy days to star in his room and focus on his coursework and presentations. It was getting to be a crucial part of the term and he really didn’t want to mess it up.

He was also trying to juggle making time for his siblings. Tara had been visiting a lot since he’d left home and, while she hadn’t said it explicitly, he suspected Alex was picking on her again. He sometimes wondered what on earth they were going to do with his brother.

It was times like that when Emilio was glad he’d gone ahead to University. Making new friends and becoming more independent was definitely a good incentive for getting away from a troubled family.
Now all he had to do was tackle his relationship.

Emilio met up with Rosie at COASTAL, the small coffee shop in the middle of Britechester. His relationship with her was a little complicated. With her being Christopher’s younger sister, Emilio felt very protective towards her. Just lately, he had begun to wonder whether their relationship was really working.

Their conversations felt awkward. Somehow, he never seemed to say the right thing when he was around Rosie these days. Something had changed recently but he couldn’t put his finger on what it was.
But there was definitely something wrong.

“Hey, Emilio! Didn’t expect to see you here,” came a voice from the doorway.
Emilio stood up to greet his teammate, Phoebe. Rosie also stood up and stared hard at the intruder to their conversation.
“Rosie, this is my teammate, Phoebe. Pheebs, this is my…girlfriend, Rosie.” Emilio swallowed as he made the introductions. Even that didn’t feel right.
Rosie scowled. Emilio sat down as Phoebe made small talk with Rosie but he could feel Rosie’s displeasure seeping through him.

He glanced around the shop and spotted, much to his relief, his older brother, Jared and one of Jared’s close friends, Ethan. Without thinking, Emilio slipped away from Rosie and Phoebe and went over to the table, just as Jared was getting up to go to the barista.

Emilio sat down with Ethan and began to talk. He liked Ethan; in spite of his reputation, Ethan was usually a pretty decent guy and he’d got some experience of relationships.
He explained his problem and worries about Rosie and his relationship with her. Ethan had some surprisingly valuable insights.
“So basically, I don’t know what to say to her. There are some many stereotypes and I’m so afraid she’ll immediately jump to one of them and make assumptions which aren’t true.” Emilio finished, sadly.
“Be honest with her,” Ethan advised. “I know it sounds hypocritical but I speak from experience. If I’d been more honest with Hollie, things probably wouldn’t have got so bad. So tell her the truth; if she does make assumptions, put her right. If she doesn’t believe you, then maybe she’s not the one.”

Emilio thanked Ethan and went upstairs to find Rosie in the computer room.
“Rosie, I need to talk to you about something.” He began.
“Oh my WATCHER you are cheating on me with that bitch, aren’t you?” Rosie gasped.
“What? No! Rosie, this is serious. I’m not cheating on you. Rosie, I’ve been struggling with this for a couple of years now but I need to talk to you.”
“You’re gay.” She widened her eyes. “Why didn’t you SAY something?”
“Rosie!” Emilio scowled. “Rosie, I’m not gay but you’re close.” He sighed heavily. “I think I’m bi.”
Rosie blinked. “What? You like guys as well?”
Nodding, Emilio bit his lip. “Yeah. Look, this doesn’t change anything with you and me. It’s just that I’ve been struggling with this for two years and being able to get away from home for a bit has helped put things in the right order for me.”
Rosie stared at Emilio and they fell into silence.

Shaking her head and muttering something, Rosie turned and walked down the stairs. Emilio followed her and called out but she ignored him.
Frustrated, Emilio abandoned the idea and sat down, just as a text buzzed on his phone. He smiled when he saw Christopher’s name. His friend seemed to be a little psychic when it came to being supportive. Christopher didn’t even know what Emilio was going through right now, yet he always seemed to message at just the right time.

The next few days were hectic as the students hurried to get projects completed before the exams started. Everyone was stressed.
Caddy had a better idea of something to do to relieve stress and Jason was all for it.

Saffron and Michael had been getting along well and spending a lot of time together. Michael loved flirting with Saffron and seeing her reduced to giggles sometimes was fun.

Saffron, for her part, was enjoying the attention and harmless flirting. Michael was cute and she was having some fun, to relieve the stress of knowing how her family were going to explode when they found out about Caddy’s predicament.

Caddy herself was getting agitated at the thought, too. Eve and Bill weren’t known for their understanding and while they were good people, she knew they hadn’t always been the best parents. She couldn’t believe she’d got herself into the same position her own mother had been in only a few months ago.

Catarina and Emilio were focusing heavily on their projects and presentations in the run up to the exams. They were both determined to pass easily so they could relax a little.

When the time came, everyone was getting anxious. Saffron could feel the nausea building up inside as she set off for her first exam of the season.
They needn’t have worried. Everyone was doing just fine.

The football team gathered for a practice session after their last set of exams. They’d completely crushed the Foxbury team during their last match and were out celebrating together. Emilio smiled as he looked at the team. He felt a sense of togetherness as they laughed, shrieked and cheered. Whatever else was going on in his life, he felt a sense of belonging with Caiden, Phoebe and Paris.

With exams over, Saffron was in the bathroom, preparing for a date with Quinn. She was enjoying casual flirting with both of the guys but she felt something a little stronger for Quinn.
Her thoughts were filled still with Christopher but she felt that was unattainable, particularly at the moment. She might as well have some fun with these guys.

After all, what was University for if not to have a little fun?

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