Come dance with the Wanderers... Circulation: 110,063,438 Issue: 169 | 10th day of Celebrating, Y6
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Red Boots, Green Pencil

by shadyy15


Sighing heavily, Jupe bent to zip his soft and supple red boots. He just loved touching the fabric, contemplating the specks of light that danced on the smooth red surface. A familiar voice pulled him out of the trance and forced him to put them on. He got up and marched towards the mirror. He got up to gaze at himself in the mirror, dismayed by the sad, black Gelert staring back at him. A rebellious strand of hair fell in front of his eyes, making the image all the more despondent. He pushed it back behind his ear, hoping it would hold as long as he would have to face his father. He grabbed a tatty notebook and stuffed it on the inside of his jacket.

Jupe's father had already prepared breakfast and was frantically cleaning a tray with a sponge.

"Already up? I've only been awake for three hours. How energetic you are."

"Not everybody wakes up when all is still dark and fast asleep." Jupe sat down and poured some freshly squeezed orange-juice into his glass. James sat down in front of his son. He tore big chunks out of his bread and absentmindedly let his fingers pass along his dark-green tie. An awkward silence nestled itself between the both of them. Ever since Jupe's mother had died a couple of years before, he had been alone with his father in this large house. He loved his father, but somehow this proved to be a great and hard thing to do.

"Don't you have a test today? Did you study enough?" asked his father's forehead, taking into account that the remaining part of his face was buried in the newspaper.

"Yes, I do. But it's a really boring class and I have enough credits to pass the class anyway." James's brown face appeared magically as he thrust aside the newspaper.

"It's not just about passing, son! The most important is to get good grades. Surely you know that? It's a very important subject if you are going to become an engineer. It's not because it's boring that it's not important. We don't always get to do what we wish and that's not how life works."

Then life is badly organised , thought Jupe. His father looked at him with a stern face. Jupe was his only child and he carried the burden of becoming the pride of the family.

Jupe nodded while his father, satisfied with himself, continued reading the paper. Normally he would have said something out loud to object to his father's views, but today he didn't feel like it. Instead he busied himself with prodding the poor cereals that floated in his bowl. With a sigh he let his spoon fall with a clatter and made way for the front door.

"I'm going to school now. I'll see you tonight, dad." A distant mumbling allowed Jupe to presume that his father had heard him. He opened the door and listened to the familiar click that indicated the door had fallen shut: thus grew a small feeling of freedom, which Jupe enjoyed whenever he left the house. He walked onto the street and felt the wind rustle through his hair, freeing the rebellious lock he had hidden from his father.

His magical red boots took him down the street. He knew that as he walked a dozen pair of eyes were following him, muttering from behind their perfect flower-printed curtains. Muttering to themselves how he, Jupe, was the disgrace of their 'respectable' neighbourhood. Personally, he couldn't care less about what others thought. He had once cared because that's the way he had been raised. When his mother passed away it became clear to him exactly how phoney this little world was. He felt good but the mutterers are the ones who feel insecure and feel they need to bring others down.

He turned right and heard the familiar buzzing of a thousand students meeting on Monday-morning: chattering about what they did, heard or bought. As he passed the entrance gate a group of young girls giggled at the weird last-year student with his ridiculous red boots. He whirled around and smiled at them. They stopped dead, not a whisper escaped from their lips as they contemplated the generous smile of someone they were mocking a few seconds before. He walked on grinning, towards his usual bench near the trees. He sank onto it and took out the book he was reading for the 333thd time. He flipped to page 18 and continued where he had left off. A strange shadow appeared on the white pages and the black letters faded in front of his eyes. He looked up and smiled at Khyala. She was looking down on him whilst brandishing her legendary smile. She had the reputation to always get what she wanted and she owed all of that to her dashing smile. A million red curls, dangling pleasantly in the wind, bordered her face.

"So, you really are going for esentricty?" she said, pointing at his blue jeans.

"First of all, it's 'eccentricity,' and second all my black pants are still drying," answered Jupe with a malicious grin on his face.

"Don't make fun of me!" Her eyes shot daggers at him. It suddenly felt as if the whole schoolyard was watching them. The faintest whisper or movement would make the bubble burst; the black Gelert and the yellow Aisha would attack each other. After enjoying the silence both friends burst out in hysterical laughing. Khyala sat down next to Jupe as the bell rang. Sighing, they both got up and moved towards their classroom.

The class settled down with the usual scraping of chairs and mumbling. But the noise was quickly halted when all of them received test sheets. Jupe looked around him and saw everybody scribbling furiously while others were about to have a nervous breakdown. He, however, could not even pretend to care about this one piece of paper that could destroy his life. How utterly amazing isn't that, he thought. This one bit of yellowish paper holds the power to destroy people's future or to destroy the harmony and happiness they have known till now. He stared at his test and just resisted the urge to crumple it and throw it at the teacher's head. That wouldn't really be something he'd actually do, sometimes he just wished it were. Instead he merely got up and walked out of the classroom, as if it were the most normal thing to do. He had learnt like a hunt-down fox all year, in a few days he would graduate and this test wasn't going to stop him. He felt astonished eyes darting on his back and smiled at the teacher's transfixed face.

They couldn't fail him and he knew that. He had been a model student and was by far the smartest of his class. His red boots led him into the deserted hallway and in the distance he heard a "You go, Jupe!" from Khyala and a "Miss Khyala, please sit down and be quiet!" from the still horrified teacher.

When Jupe came home he was delighted to see his father had gone out to work. He dropped his bag in the entrance hall, took a few steps back and stared at the scene. His father was an absolute control-freak. James would rather be late for his job than leaving a particle of dust lying on the coffee table. But when Jupe was alone he enjoyed a bit of sloppiness. Going up to his room he threw his black vest on a chair after having extracted the scruffy notebook from it. He flipped through the tattered pages and stopped at the very last page of the small notebook. The black gelert picked up a green pencil and wrote just one more sentence before shutting it. I'm finished! . He looked around to make sure he was still alone and extracted a large, leather-bound book from under a loose floorboard. He copied that same sentence in a gracious handwriting and completed with two more words: 'The End'. Jupe closed the book with a loud snap and put it back in its safe hiding-place. Just as he replaced the floorboard he heard nearing footsteps, he whirled around quickly and saw his brown Puppyblew trotting into the room, madly wagging its short tail.

"You gave me quite a startle there, Shake." Jupe smiled and opened his arms towards the Puppyblew to pet it. He sat cross-legged and Shake nestled himself in Jupe's lap, where he instantly fell asleep and softly snored. Jupe stroked the brown fur, his mind wandering off.

"I wish you could talk, Shake. You would be the only one that cares about me and actually understands me."

"We both know that's not true," called a familiar voice. Jupe looked around and saw Khyala's upper-body heaving itself through his bedroom window. Jupe got up, disturbing Shake who grunted, but fell back asleep anyway, and helped Khyala in the room.

"You do realize normal people knock or ring the doorbell."

"Amazingly enough, I do. But I know your dad doesn't really like me and I didn't know for sure that he was away." She peered further into the room as if she expected James to pop up from behind a closet or bookshelf. "So," she said, settling herself on the rug next to Shake, "have you thought yet about where you want to go?" Jupe raised a brow. "Well, on vacation," she said indignantly as Jupe still didn't seem to understand. "Oh, seriously. After Graduation, Jupe. We got three whole months of freedom before college!"

"College?" asked Jupe.

"Really, I'm finding it hard to believe that you are the smartest boy in our class! Yes, college. Don't look at me that way. I intend to go to college too. I've already applied to the Faculty of Finer Arts." Jupe nodded, it was true that Khyala was very gifted when it came to drawing, arranging colours or just having plain brilliant ideas.

"I think you'll do great there, but you know even artists have to be able to speak in a correct way." He grinned at his best friend.

"Sure, make fun of me. You will be able to help me. When it comes to using academic gibberish you're the best." Jupe frowned once again. "How can I help you when you'll be far away to college?"

"Really, reconsider the smart thing. Jupe, you have to go to college! You are very smart, you have every right to study on and you don't have to choose whatever your father wishes. You can't keep relying on him. You are very smart; I'm sure that you could get several scholarships! You don't depend on him." She eyed him doubtfully as worry spread across her face.

"I know," said Jupe, "I know, but I guess I've never really thought about the fact that I could major in anything else but engineering. I wouldn't even know what to study, Khyala!" his voice became tense. He sat down and placed his face in his hands. Khyala would've sworn he was crying, but knowing Jupe only too well she thought it better not to ask him. At long last she crept closer and put a hand on his knee.

"Jupe, listen to me- listen to me," she said, shaking his knee and forcing him to look at her, "I think…I think you should study literature or something of the kind, whatever involves writing and eloquence. You can't be frightened of your father. And then, which is the most important of course, you'll be having classes in the same faculty as mine." She smiled at him.

Jupe shook his head and grimaced. "Ah, that was a smile. I'd bet my head on it (even if it's not worth much, yes!). C'mon Jupe, stop feeling sorry for yourself." She quickly looked at her watch. "I have to go now, but I want you to meet me tomorrow morning at my house, we'll discuss our trip! And I won't take 'no' for an answer," She said sternly as she disappeared through the window.

Jupe quickly descended the stairs and picked up his bag from the floor and swung it onto a hook next the door. The door creaked and his father stepped into the house.

"Hello dad," said Jupe casually, his eyes darting to the hook that seemed to be giving in to the bag's weight.

"Don't play innocent with me!" barked his father. Jupe backed away his eyes widening. His father seemed to get bigger and more imposing as he came forward. "Do you care to explain this?" he boomed, brandishing an empty test sheet at his son. Jupe felt his legs weakening. "So, did you have a fine day otherwise? I tell you how mine went! I had an appointment at your school with the teachers from your most important subjects, to know what your prospects are for college and then I got THIS shoved in my hands. I know you must have been under a lot of pressure these exams, but that's not a reason to ruin your chances of getting into college." James threw his coat on a chair (yes, he was that angry) and ran his hands through his thick brown hair.

Jupe just stared at the floor, sometimes daring to glance at his father. "How-how do you expect to do well in college if you pull off things like this, boy." He grabbed Jupe by the shoulders in a friendly, fatherly way. "I-I just want you to have a nice life, to achieve something. You are so clever, Jupe. I only have your best interest at heart, you know that, right?"

"I do, I do know that, but," he hesitated, "I'm not going to be an engineer." James felt as if someone had stabbed him with a knife, he felt a stinging pain in his side and brought a hand to it. Jupe made a move forward to help his father but James backed away from this devilish creature that wasn't his son anymore. "But…why-how…Jupe, you wanted this…" stammered James.

"No dad, you wanted this. I've-I've taken my decision now. I'm going to study literature and journalism." James let out another gasp of pain.

"Look, we've both had a very hard day, let's just go to bed now. If you're hungry just make yourself a sandwich . I'm going straight to bed." Jupe watched his father clamber up the stairs and slam his bedroom door. Oddly enough Jupe did feel hungry. He felt perfectly fine as if all his worries had left the room with his father.

The next day students could already receive their diplomas if they wished. Of course they then wouldn't have the extremely pompous official ceremony but for some odd reason Jupe and Khyala didn't seem to care about that. After having yelled several improper things towards her mathematics teacher, Khyala dragged Jupe towards the faculty of Finer Arts, where he enlisted for Literature and Journalism under her watchful eye. It was but late in the evening that Jupe and Khyala reached his house.

"Don't forget to pack. I'll see you in the early morning. You got that, Jupe? Early," she said, as she kissed him goodnight on the cheek. As he closed the door behind him he couldn't help but notice that the house was completely dark. His father must have been home and yet he hadn't lit any of the lamps. Jupe switched on the light in the entrance hall and saw his father sitting on a chair in the very middle of the hallway. James seemed to be fumbling with something and it took him a while to notice his son.

"Well, hello there, son," he said in an odd voice unlike his own.

"Dad, are you sick? Shall I get-"

"No, no. I'm fine, dear boy. I've been cleaning a bit today. I took a stroll in your room. I thought you might have been taking some sort of vitamins during the exams that clouded your good judgement. Well, let me tell you: I didn't find pills, but I did find this," James threw whatever he had been fumbling with in front of Jupe's feet who could now distinctly feel his heart thumping in his chest. "I understand that you are young, I understand you need to explore your possibilities, your talents. But I can assure you that this is not the way you will get anywhere in life." James got up and picked up the four scruffy notebooks. He stared at them with pure contempt as if he was holding evil in pure person. Jupe didn't care about the notebooks, but what if his father had discovered the loose floorboard. Jupe knew that he would do anything to keep his novel safe.

James walked into the living room, still holding the notebooks, flipping through them. He still didn't seem to believe that his son's handwriting was scattered over those hundreds of pages.

"Dad," started Jupe, who followed him at a safe distance.

James whirled around with a furious look on his face. "Don't you ever, EVER call me that again!" He spat on the floor, turned around and threw the notebooks into the fire. The dim fire that had been burning crackled with delight as it devoured its helpless prey.

"I won't let you destroy your life, Jupe," he said, clinging onto his son. Jupe freed himself from James' desperate grip. "I know. You are already destroying it for me!"

Letting his father grasp the meaning of those words, he climbed the stairs to his bedroom. He kicked his door open and started stuffing clothes and some dear belongings into his largest backpack. He freed his novel from its hiding-place and stared at it. The surface was smooth and black, the title read:

Red Boots, Green Pencil

A novel by


He stroked the title with his finger as a faint smile nestled itself on his lips. He picked up Shake and descended the stairs again.

James slowly turned around and horror spread across his face as he saw his only son ready to leave forever. The both of them stared at each other for a long time and even Shake kept quiet, picking up the tension.

"Bye James," said Jupe in a calm, cool voice as he made his way to the door. "In my eyes you have ruined your life and I'm not going to let you do the same to mine."

Jupe opened the door and walked into the cool night air, His rebellious lock dangling pleasantly in front of his eyes and Shake trotting merrily next to him.

James heard the click of the closing doors and sank on the floor, his head to his knees. He had lost the dearest thing, the only thing that was worth living for.

As Jupe turned the corner of the street he heard a long, low and bestial howl of physical and mental pain.

The End

Note: Many thanks to Laurelinden who was kind enough to edit this story, without her it would never have been published.

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