Big Trouble in Little Birdsvil
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A Russian exchange student gets a terrifying glimpse of a close-minded rural community in Australia. Birdsville was to be his new home, now he's not so sure...
Zach looked around at his new school, wondering how everything could have gone wrong in one week. A group of girls walked past and shrunk back as he attempted to ogle them as other normal boys would. He sighed and turned to look at the blonde boy sitting beside him, his only friend. They were both remembering the previous week.
The aeroplane touched down at Birdsville airport. As Zach got off he was struck by the Australian desert heat, so different to the biting cold of Russia. He was taking off his jacket when he was approached by a family of three, the young girl licking an iceblock.
“Are you Zach Vassikin from Russia?” the big man glowered at him in distaste, possibly after seeing the bad-boy style leather jacket.
“Yes I am.” Zach refused to be intimidated by the man, especially if he was meant to be staying with them throughout his time at an Australian school. The man flared his nostrils. His wife, sensing he was going into one of his notorious tempers, took over with the introductions.
“My name is Anna, this is David, my husband.” She couldn't get the words out fast enough, stroking David's arm the whole time.
“And who's this lovely young lady?” Zach bent at the waist to look at the girl more closely.
“I'm Sarah!” the girl proclaimed proudly around her iceblock. They started walking to the car, Anna talking all the while. She told Zach all about them, the town, and the school he was going to. She also wanted to know everything about Zach. Zach answered all her questions and then some. He only kept one thing secret.
The next day, Tuesday, Zach went to school. He was basically ignored for the most part apart from another foreign exchange student, Chris, from Germany. The boys became fast friends, telling each other their life stories on the first day. Chris told Zach that he thought one of the pretty girls was eyeing Zach off. Wednesday saw that same girl bumping into Zach more often than their schedules and classes should have allowed, each time more suspect than the last. This continued for the whole week, by Friday Chris was so sick of it he starting dragging an oblivious Zach around the long ways through the school to avoid her. Friday was also the day that ruined Zach's life at the new school before it had even had a chance.
As he was having lunch with Chris the girl walked shyly but seductively towards Zach.
“Hi Zach.” She looked back at her friends sheepishly, reluctant to ask the question that had been on her mind since she first saw him. “Uh, my name is Violet and I was wandering…uh, um. Oh, hell, do you want to go out with me?” The last sentence was so rushed it could've beaten Ian Thorpe in a swimming race. Violet looked like a huge weight had been lifted from her. The smile on her face made the boys stare. She was so confident that she could get anyone as her boyfriend with a single look that she was taken aback when Zach replied. He had gathered she had a crush on him and was flattered but, nonetheless, decided it was not in his best interests as he had eyes for someone else.
“I appreciate the compliment, but I have to say I am not interested, sorry. We could be friends.” Violet was shocked. Everyone who heard was shocked. All the Australians became outraged that an already outcast foreigner would reject the attentions of a potential supermodel, the next Jennifer Hawkins. Someone from the crowd threw an apple core as tears sprang to Violet's eyes. She had never been rejected before.
Chris, sensing the crowd was going to get uglier, grabbed Zach and headed straight for their next class even though lunch had ten minutes left. Only weird Australian kids went to their classrooms early. The rest of the day was filled with tension and hatred, Zach could not get of school fast enough. His weekend was spent deciding whether or not he should ask his crush out and whether that would help to save the rest of life.
Sunday night had Zach deciding that he would ask his crush out, given what he overheard David telling his wife. “He's a bloody nutcase! Why did you apply to have him here? That boy wears leather in his free time, drinks vodka already and I could've sworn I saw a cigarette packet in his room. Despite all that, he's tidy, polite and offers to help clean the house. A freakin' walking contradiction!”
“He's Russian, they all start drinking at young ages, and I've read that Russian men are `traditional by a modern girl's standards, offering to help with anything.” Anna attempted to placate her husband before he started drinking to drown his troubles.
“No, it's none o' that. There's definitely something wrong with that kid; he's not normal.” Anna knew it was useless to try to convince David otherwise now; he had used the word `definitely'. Not that her attempts were wholehearted anyway, she had been wondering too.
After the usual shuffling queue of students afflicted with Monday blues had entered the school building, Zach took a good look at his crush as they hid in the boy's toilets. He was having second thoughts about his choice, now fully appreciating what Violet went through as she was getting ready to speak the words that helped to ruin his life. Chris broke the silence. “Will you be my boyfriend?”
Zach released the breath he had been holding, and smiled. It was just like the very perceptive Chris to figure out he was gay. “Yes, of course” he replied, grateful that Chris had been the one to ask. Chris looked relieved as his suspicions were confirmed, and then was surprised at how right he had been when he felt Zach's lips against his.
“Do you think they'll accept us now?” Zach asked breathlessly when he pulled back.
“Sure they will, they're Australian. Much more accepting of gays then other countries, like America.” Chris would have been correct, if they weren't in a rural town.
They left the toilets happier and calmer than they had been since setting foot onto Australia, the tension in the air was unable to stop them smiling at each other. By lunchtime the whole school knew something was wrong, Zach and Chris were unfazed by what Zach had done and their being ostracized. A newly mean Violet was determined to find out what was going on, and stop it. No one got off scorning her easily. She stormed up to where the boys were sitting and demanded to know why they were so happy and carefree. If she was shocked when she got rejected, she was stunned to speechlessness as Zach and Chris came out together, sealing the monumental event with a kiss. The couple could not have chosen a worse place to find each other. The crowd closed in with stones.
Zach and Chris ran for their lives, out of the school grounds; Violet would have told everyone about the foreign fags that played with her heart. Nowhere in the school would have been safe. They went to Zach's house to hide, but not to reveal Zach's one secret to his guardians. Luckily, David was at work and Anna was at the neighbour's. Sarah came to the door to find out who was knocking and was surprised to see Zach and the other foreign exchange student.
“Why aren't you at school? And what's he doing here?” Sarah's mouth fell wide open as Zach explained everything in a nutshell. She was too young to have fallen under the discriminatory spell of a rural town, but old enough to know what it meant for Zach and Chris. Sarah knew they had to leave but didn't know how.
This was a first draft to an English assignment. The task was to write a short story about the attitudes, values and beliefs displayed in an aspect of Australian identity. I chose to do an assignment on how Australia talks about being a multicultural society and how it's accepting of homosexuals but isn't really.
The reason this is the first draft and not the final is that my teacher believed I focused too much on gay culture and didn't write to the task. So I had to rewrite the ending, for the task. I much prefer the story I wrote.
Also, about the ending. I know it ends abruptly but a short story ends at the climax and doesn't really have a proper resolution. That and I couldn't think of anything else to write.
Depending on reviews I might make this into a series, or I might just do that anyway as I'm unhappy with the ending and want a proper resolution myself.
Anywho, please review my story as I really want to know how I went writing in a genre that I'm not used to.
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