Note: You can also find this piece here on ff.net.
Summary: Arthur and the gang are sophomores at Elwood City High. Watch as they go through the ups and downs that come with teenaged life. Rated K+/PG for some violence, some language, and some adult situations.
Binky was helping his mom prepare dinner when a scream came from Mei-Lin’s room. Binky immediately moved to check out the situation, but Mei-Lin smashed into him in the hallway, tears streaming down her face. It was another drama of an elementary-school-aged girl. Binky knew to move, letting her storm in on their mother.
Binky hovered in the hallway as the screaming match began. Mei-Lin had forgotten some chores the day before, so their mother must’ve blocked something of hers online. Despite Binky’s improvements over the years, he only had access to the family computer in the living room. Mei-Lin had a computer AND a television in her room. Binky had neither.
Mei-Lin did everything the right way, achieving wonderful scores in school. Only Kate Read did better than her, and she had to work had to do that. Binky had to work hard for everything, but was he ever complimented? He got a new movie for passing eighth grade, but now he was back to being the underdog, forgotten except when he was needed.
“You should’ve done what I told you! Where’s your brother? We need to get this in the oven now, and you need to leave!” their mom said sternly. Mei-Lin stormed past, giving Binky a look from hell. She had everything; he had nothing. He gets dirty look; she gets away with it.
Binky sighed heavily, helping his mother finish getting the casserole ready for the oven. They were waiting on Binky’s father to get home thirty minutes from then, fresh from an office job they never thought he’d get. He’d been at school since Binky made it to the fifth grade; he graduated when Binky left eighth grade, getting a party from relatives and plenty of gifts, all while Binky received nothing.
“Binky, I’d do the trash now,” his mother suggested. Binky nodded obediently, stepping out into the summer heat. He was almost grateful to be going back to school. No more constant “attention” from his family. He could claim he had homework and possibly be listened to. He could do whatever he wanted while he was in school—
“Psst! Barnes!” a voice called from the bushes. Binky looked up to see Rattles, his punk look changing to the thug look after years of the same crap Binky had to put up with. Rattles was smart, very smart, but having dealt with ignorant teachers for too long, he’d dropped out to pursue other things, namely a life of crime. Binky wasn’t interested, but that’s why Rattles was here.
“I told you I’m not going with you, not now, not ever,” Binky said sternly. Rattles shook his head, emerging from the bushes and brushing off some old leaves.
“Molly said the same thing, Barnes. She said only a man like you could handle this job, the old Ratburn place,” Rattles grinned. Mr. Ratburn had a stroke the previous summer. After a year bouncing in and out of the hospital and care centers, his sister was finally moving him in with her.
“I couldn’t steal from him, Rattles. I looked up to him,” Binky said, his voice showing that he was remembering those times when he was accepted. Rattles heard the crack and laughed heartily.
“Maybe Molly was wrong about that man thing after all, Barnes,” he cackled. “I’ve got a moving truck, some old mover’s uniforms, and a few other things that might sweeten the deal,” he grinned, holding up some keys. Dangling from the ring was a tiny marionette puppet. He’d bought that at a puppetry festival the summer before fifth grade. He invited his class to come with him as one final outing together. Binky was the one who found them at a small stall ran by an old friend of his. The two talked for hours; the keychain was a gift.
“Not even if it’s foolproof,” Binky said, shaking his head and moving back towards the house. “I’ll never be interested, Rattles. I’m not like that.”
“Then you’ll never be Binky to me, Barnes,” Rattles said coldly, turning back towards the bushes that likely led to the road. “Molly was right to reject you. You don’t belong with us; you aren’t a Tough Customer.”
“So what, Rattles?” Binky scoffed, putting his hand on the doorknob leading back to the kitchen. “I’ll be looking for your name in the paper. That’s where it’ll end up sooner or later, foolproof or not.”
“Say what you want, Barnes, I’ll still be more famous than you,” Rattles called back, disappearing into the bushes.
Binky returned inside. He was immediately scolded for forgetting some pieces for the trash, then for disappearing for too long. He still had to set the tables and clean off the counters. His work would never end. His mother sat in her favorite chair, her legs curled up as she stared at the television. Binky envied her, but he also was starting to hate her. He let the anger help him through his tasks.
Next Chapter (Chapter Three) [coming soon]