Note: This is a present-day event, i.e. (start of odd-numbered chapters time span event: 1,3,5, etc.)

The sudden vibration of my phone under my pillow caused a droning thump in my head. Therefore, I was woken up prematurely as a result. I am so annoyed right now. I am totally perturbed. Who could be calling this early in the morning? Well, whatever it may be, you can forget that I will indulge him, or her, or them.

Lazily I tucked my left hand under the pillow. Even with my eyes, half closed, I still scanned the screen. After having pulled my phone from underneath my pillow, I instinctively felt the need to click the reject call button.

My wits are rattled as I recognise the number and name that flashes on the caller ID. I dare not reject a call from her. I will never hear the end of it. The call took me by surprise at this hour of the morning.

The call came from Isabella, my girl. A curvy smile stretched across my face. I hastily slide my index finger over to the accept call button. Knowing that if I reject it she will definitely come at me, giving me a piece of what is on her mind alright.

“Izzy!” I exclaimed. "Hey, yo' sexy!" I swear if I could see her face right now, it would be all lit up. That is exactly how I see her face right now. "Tell me you aren't still sleeping?” she continues, interrupting my thoughts.

“Heh-he-he” I giggled. “I would not dare to be in bed at this time," I ironically stated. “Mm-mm, okay, if you say so” Isabella replied with a giggle, sensing that she knows me all too well at this point to know when I am lying.

Then again, you know me, I always get more and more lazy in the mornings, particularly if it's a day closer to the weekend, he-he-he" I laughed as I lowered myself back into the bed sheets. "Well, for the most part, I am planning to stay in bed until Gregory comes to wake me up" I responded.

"Gregory, how is he?" Izzy asked curiously. I could not help but feel a knot forming in my stomach when she brought that question up. Quite uncomfortable, I lay on my side in response to that question. I never explicitly made Izzy aware that when she inquires about Greg, it just somehow makes me feel uncomfortable. Okay, maybe I am just being silly here, right? How was I ever able to think that way about my girlfriend and a guy who in such a short amount of time became my closest confidant? This guy shows very hardly any emotion for hooking up. I mean it is Gregory we are talking about here. The guy is like a wall. So much so that if you were to look over the said wall, you would see another. He barely shows any emotions.

Look I honestly do not want to make a big deal out of this. However much I came to adore Greg, I cannot get rid of that night at Cape Point and the misjudged occurrence between them. Therefore, whenever either of them mentions one or the other, even subconsciously, it stirs something in me.

“Oh, come on, leave Greg alone for a while," I replied with urgency. “I am sure you have more interesting things to tell me about, no?” I painfully cut her off. “Please do tell me, how are things in Durbs?” I asked, giving away a giggle with that question.

In a puff of laughter, she exclaimed, "Well, Durban is Durban!". Her giggling always seems to get me. “It is hot as fuck out here!” she continued.

“Yeah, hah! Tell me about it.” I let out a thunderous laugh. Izzy joined in the laughter, knowing all too well what I had implied with that.

"I miss you, Ric," she said suddenly, her tone shifting the atmosphere. She said it in such a soft voice...that tone that always affects me. Whenever she expresses affection toward me, blood rushes to her face. “I miss you all the same baby.” I sighed.

"Oooh, you wanna know something interesting?” Isabella asked eagerly. It seemed that she had a way of directing one's attention from one thing to another.

“Please do!” I eagerly respond.

Isabella laughed. "Aaah! You're so curious!" she said.

“Oh, come on Izzy” I cringed, pulling a pillow halfway over my face.

“Mmmh, okay fine” she slurs, barely able to contain her laughter.

“So, you would not believe me when I tell you I had one of the weirdest dreams ever.” She sighed loudly.

"Oh, please do tell," I replied with anticipation.

“Well, for one it was about us, as in about you and I” she can barely contain a laugh from escaping under her breath.

In my view, that's not that weird. Right?" I replied awkwardly.

“Can I just tell you the story?" she asked almost irritably.

"Well, we were at this party at our house, and this place was all lit up for once. The complete works. I mean caterers and music were on point, the drinks were good, and whatnot. Long story short…for the better [art of the evening you had this urge for wanting to have me all to yourself just for once.”

I closed my eyes, trying to imagine myself in this scene with her. “Yeah?” I uttered faintly.

“Well, I suppose you did not have to wait that long.” Isabella continued.

“After some time, we managed to evade the crowds somehow and slipped away to the poolside area. We got into the pool. The water was terribly cold mind you. But that all changed very suddenly when you pulled me into your arms. My hands resting flat on your broad shoulders. You pulled me in further, placed your arms around my waist and pressed your lips firmly against mine. This is the most sensual kiss I have ever experienced. So much so that I began to feel like it was real, as if that moment was part of reality.”

“Well, was it a pleasant kiss?" I joked.

“Well duh, obviously it was…well at least it was until some idiot flipped on the poolside lights and practically all the people that my mum seemingly invited were standing there, right up front and centre staring at us.”

“Oh, come on!” I shouted, burying my face into my pillow feeling slightly embarrassed about that part of what seemed like a fairy tale. "You seriously cannot be serious?”

“He-he, I so am! When my mum and dad made this ‘shocking – not so shocking revelation’ they were bleak, as bleach bleaks out a white shirt. Likely though, it wasn’t as awkward since the other bunch of people who were there were clapping hands and laughing their guts out, saying: ‘Isn’t it just the most adorable thing when young blood falls in love?’ I swear I could have died there and then of embarrassment.”

Laughter filled the air as we enjoyed each other's company for the next couple of seconds. A momentary silence creeps in as the moment passes. Suddenly I hear a door open behind her. It is her mom who calls for her. “I…I…I am coming shortly, just a moment” is her response.

Then back to the cell. "Hey, Erik...Uhm, I meant to ask, this thing between us, do you think we might be able to make it work?”

The expected question makes me uncomfortable. I contemplate, of course, I have been wondering the same thing, and a similar question has been pricking at me. Sure Izzy and I get along pretty well. However, ever since the event that took place at Cape Point, I have remained doubtful about whether she could remain loyal to me.

I mean there are hundreds of kilometres between us. She is in Durban, while I am in a Godforsaken elite school. Located between the Free State Province and Lesotho, we are neatly placed at the foot of the Maluti Mountains.

I ain’t stupid man, I know how these things work. One girl, one guy, hundreds of kilometres in between them, and on top of that spending months on end apart. Text, emails and phone calls do not make up for the time we spend apart long distance.

“Erik? Where’s your head at?” asked Isabella. She still awaits my response.

“Sure, why not?" I asked with a nervous giggle.

“Why are you asking? Do you perhaps want to tell me something?”

“He-he-he, oh don’t be ridiculous now Ric! There is nothing of the sort you seem to be implying. I mean, I was curious, we hardly see each other and we are so distantly apart, I just wanted to make sure on my end at least, that nothing has changed so far as we are concerned.”

Suddenly there was silence. Not knowing what to say next, I wrapped the bedsheet in my fist. I heard Isabella say after a while, "Love you, Ric, always.".

“Same here,” is all I managed to get out of for some reason.

At this point, things seem to have gotten a bit tense, so I do not know what else I can say. Momentarily I pulled the phone away from my year, just to look at the time.

“Wha-a-ta hell! Holy sh*t, look at the time. I'm sorry, Izzy, but I have to cut our talk short here. I am super late, got to go bye-bye.” And with that our phone call ended. I haven’t left any room for Izzy to reply. I had to get my butt out of here right away and make sure I got to classes on time.


If I ever come across Gregory, he would wish he had never been born. Honestly, it is not like he needs to be even fitter than he already is. Surely, he cannot still be running at this time of the morning? Now I have to squeeze all the necessities into the limited time I have left.

Quickly I jump out of bed and pull out a towel from the cupboard that contains my bathroom necessities. I wrap the towel around my waist. Honestly, I do not have time to waste. I approach my dorm room door, and without even having to consider putting on a t-shirt, I pass through the hallways on my way to the bathrooms. I nearly walked into one of the caretakers, who stood and stared me down for a moment. I thought to myself, honestly, whatever man, I need to get moving!

As I blatantly rush to grab a quick shower, I notice a couple of students passing by, already neatly dressed in their uniforms. Just as I was about to turn into the senior graders’ bathrooms, I bumped into Jimmy. “Hey, he-he-he oh Ricky man! You ready to kick-start the new year my brother?”

“Hey man, do not forget, it is one of your first duties today to make the newly arrived eighth graders feel at home before we make life a living hell for them hey” he winked at me while stating that

“Wait…what? What are you talking about?” I asked with a perplexed look on my face.

“Man, where is your head at?” Jimmy asks rhetorically.

“Did you forget that the senior Student Rep learners are on duty for the eighth graders today?”

Fuck! That still? I completely forgot about that. Please do Greg…please do pitch up right about now, so I can turn your neck right around. I completely huffed at myself out of pure irritation.

“Hey Jimmy, man, yeah sure, I will attend to all those okay, let me just get ready quick.” I had to cut Jimmy off momentarily, knowing all too well that he can quickly become conversational. He gracefully let me get on with my business and carried on in his direction

I immediately ran to the bathroom, turned on the shower knobs and grabbed a quick shower.

It took me less than half an hour to get myself in order for the day. I am intrigued as to why Gregory has not woken me up. It is one of the things he does regularly since he and I have become close.

Knowing all too well that he would not even be in the breakfast hall, my first instinct was to go to his room. I knew for sure I would not find him there. He does not get out that much, even here at an elite private school, where the only extracurricular activity you get is enormous sports fields and entertainment lounges. Only seniors are entitled to enjoy these add-ons. Such is the life of a twelve grader if you’re a kid of any of the superrich families here, or you’re on a lucrative scholarship.

Upon entering Gregory’s room, I noticed that his bed had already been made up. His room is completely top-notch. It is almost as if no one has occupied this space in the past twenty-four hours. I scanned his room trying to find his phone. He might likely have left it here, which is why he did not bother to send a text or leave a voice message. As I search without needing to muddle the neatly packed spaces, I couldn't seem to find his phone, but his laptop is still standing on his study desk. Which is kind of odd. I would suppose he took his phone along to listen to his selected playlist while doing his morning runs.

He did mentioned once, that he switches off his notifications when out running.

On top of one of the cupboards that stands between his study area and a window, I noticed his uniform lying on top of it. I would suppose there was nothing out of the ordinary about that. Nevertheless, I scuffled through it, wondering if perhaps I had missed something. Indeed, a half-burned note fell from it. On it, Ric$40 was cryptically written.

Suddenly I heard a loud vibration coming from one of the shelves. I slid it open. It was Greg’s smartwatch that made that loud vibration sound. On the watch, the same phrase 'Ric$40' was flashing continuously in crimson letters as was written on the note.

Could this possibly mean something? The realm of hacking knows who I am, and is calling me to play.

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