Chapter 3

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When Alex got back home, he went straight to his room and slammed the door. Stripping off his coffee stained clothes he threw them in a pile at the foot of his bed, then trying to get hold of himself he stood for a moment looking at his reflection in the mirror. His face was still red and his hands were visibly shaking with rage. Alex closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths attempting to relax but all he could hear over the pumping of his own heart was Ethan’s voice taunting him. All he could see in his mind’s eye was Ethan’s hand in the air pretending to grope Nadia. Rage boiled up stronger than ever, no matter how hard Alex tried he couldn’t get his mind off Ethan and his own humiliation. The anger felt like electricity running through his body, threatening to explode if he didn’t so something to release it. Alex screamed at himself in the mirror, then without thinking he kicked the corner of his bed as hard as he could. Sharp pain instantly ran up his leg and he fell onto the floor grabbing at his foot. When he looked down there was an ugly red mark covering three of his toes that were already starting to swell and bruise. “Great” he scoffed. Getting up tenderly he limped to his dresser and threw on new clothes.

His foot was already throbbing, sending more pain up his leg with every step while he limped into the small living room where he and Mark kept their rifle cabinet. Alex considered skipping his plans to meet Mark at the sand pit but shrugged the idea away; he needed to do something to get his mind off Ethan and Nadia. If there was ever a way to get his mind off this morning, shooting some bottles in the sand pit with Mark would be it. Shooting was one of the few activities that Alex was genuinely good at and just about the only thing both Alex and Mark loved to do together. Alex didn’t have much in common with Mark, but he was a much better shot. When he took aim Alex was always able to forget everything around him and just concentrate on what he was doing, it was like he knew where the bullet would hit before he pulled the trigger. Nothing in the world felt more natural. Mark was always trying to get him to enter local and even state shooting competitions, but Alex wasn’t the type to enjoy the spotlight. Showing up his big brother in private was enough for him.

Before he could make it to the living room, a note on the kitchen counter caught his eye. It was rare for Alex to pass by a note Mark left for him, but being ticked off is one of those small things that can ruin anybody’s concentration.

Why are you even reading this? If you don’t hurry your ass up and get down here I may just decide to shoot off all your ammo! I need the practice more than you anyways you little jerk!

-Your big bro!

Alex smiled to himself and dropped the note. Except for Nadia, and despite the fact that they had nothing in common, Mark was the only other person in the world he really got along well with. He had a few friends at school but he barely spoke to them outside of his classes, they were really more like acquaintances. Although Alex never really felt comfortable around anyone besides Mark and Nadia he never put much thought into it. In small New England towns the simple fact more often than not was if you weren’t born there, you’re an outsider no matter how long you’ve lived there. Finally smiling to himself a little Alex paused long enough to pick up his car keys before limping out the door in a slightly better mood.

….

Alex turned onto the small dirt road that led down to the sandpit and was disappointed to see a line of cars parked bumper to bumper stretched out almost all the way down to the entrance. Alex clenched his jaw dreading the walk. Limping along a dirt road when your foot felt like it was full of nails would be irritating enough, but having to limp down an unmaintained hill covered in large rocks and foot deep trenches makes it even worse. Alex felt his foot swell a little more with every painful step and was starting to wonder if he broke his toes when he kicked his bed. Every rock and branch he stepped on sent shots of pain up his leg. He just hoped the limp wouldn’t be too noticeable so he wouldn’t have to explain to Mark why he got mad and kicked his bed while wearing nothing but his boxers.

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