I wrote this almost a year ago in a flare of inspiration and then forgot about it. I am not sure where it was meant to lead. Anyone can have it, if they want.
He had a notebook, which was his life. He had had it for four years and it had 192 blank pages, front and back, of which he had filled out 141 pages, front and back, and there was another year before the train would come again.
"The five-year train", people referred to it as. It brought support from the huge coast cities, anything the towns couldn't provide themselves, and there was the chance to buy some things and more importantly there was the chance to get yourself a ticket. That was what he was aiming for. The first time the train had come by, he had only been thirteen and he hadn't even know what the train was or where it had come from. But he had felt a strange shivery sensation in his stomach when he'd heard it would be going back to the coast that same night, and saw a few men, mostly outkasts, loners like him, get up on it.
He had still been a bit lost without his mother at that time, and when he saw the huge silver train slowly speeding off into the sunlight, he just knew that those men were heroes and that it was what he had to do too. It was what she would have wanted him to do. "That, Juju," she would have said, he could hear her, "is what I am talking about. You go to the cities, you do everything in your power to get where you want, and you fight for it. Because you're a fighter, sweetheart."
His mom had been a fighter too. He'd listen to her talking at gatherings in their kitchen when she had thought he was asleep. He didn't completely understand everything that went on, but she had told him she would explain it more once he had seen more. It had been just after his twelfth birthday, so she hadn't had time to.
He got himself a job at the only food cafe in the Complex. It was hard work, but he got paid, not a lot, but he didn't have any expenses and it was only a year till the next train.
He only worked in the mornings and he wasn't allowed to do any serving. There were only girls working in the cafe apart from him, and it wouldn't be suitable, the matron told him, to have a boy serving food. It wouldn't sit well with the men from the town who came in for their lunches.
His mother had always told him to make up his own mind, so he tried to do that as much as possible. He never said anything to anyone, because she had also told him to be careful and not put himself in unnecessary danger. He decided that he didn't think it was strange to be a boy and serve people food, but he nodded when the matron told him to go out back for a while because there was some man, one of Them, coming in for his meal who wouldn't like seeing him there.
He set the tables with the curtains drawn, and when the cafe was open he swept the floor and did some light handywork. He changed lightbulbs and re-filled the gas and was usually done by noon. No one understood why he did it, but the few cents he got together every morning kept his heart light for the rest of the day.
He always tried to be nice to the girls. They had it as bad as he did, but they weren't allowed to catch the five-year train to the cities. Girls couldn't even dream of catching the train. He was glad he wasn't a girl, and tried to be nice to them.
At night, he usually sat on the big stairs outside the Complex. It was the only place where there was sufficient light after the sun had gone down, and he would sit at the furtherst corner and write or read from his notebook.
He wrote descriptively, about nothing, which was his life. But he tried to insert meaning into it that no one else would understand, because his mother had showed him how people did that - wrote something that was really saying something altogether different if you knew the code. So he wrote about how ugly he thought the men eating their lunches really were and how the girls seemed to get much more comfort from each other. Mostly, he couldn't think of anything to say about them apart from that they were ugly, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that it felt like he was writing secret messages to her. He felt very close to her then.
He had moved into the scaffolding house when They came and took her. "This is your room," They had showed him the small quarters, no windows, no locks. "Since you're an adult we expect you to behave."
He wasn't an adult, but he had heard his mom assure Them that he was when they sat in the living room calmly talking about what would happen to him, as if it was just a friendly neighbourhood visit. Justin had been in his room with his heart pounding, because somehow he knew something much scarier was really going on. "He's thirteen," he had heard her say, "I have papers, if you don't believe me."
He was pretty sure he was twelve. He remembered how she and him had celebrated it a few months earlier and she had sung the birthday cheer twelve times for him. But there were papers and he had moved into the small room in the middle of the Complex, no window, no locks, and no one told him what had happened to her. The papers said he was an adult, and he had cried silently, curled up in the bed, with no one asking him how he was doing or brushing his hair out of his eyes and holding him, telling him it would be alright.
Now his papers said he was eighteen, and only he knew that he was younger. He felt older.
He wrote slowly, tiny thin letters; it was how he had made 192 pages last for four years and it had become how he wrote now. He suspected that even if he somehow got all the note-books he would ever need, he would still write like this: slowly, meticulously, thinking it and then watching each word form underneath his hand. Pens were easy to get a hold of. You could refill a pen when it ran out. But papers were a problem. Sure, you could use papers that could be refilled too, but then there would be no point in writing it, if you couldn't go back and read and remember.
He had his life balanced on his lap when he sat on the concrete stairs, and if he didn't have anything to write about that day he could sit and read back, two years back, four months ago, the first pages. It was his life, and it felt nice against his knees.
Justin could feel the brown eyes scan over him, wondering... "Eighteen," he answered, trying to make it sound like the truth.
Chris nodded slowly. "That's still pretty young."
Justin cocked his head. "Well, I've been on my own doing what the hell I want since I was twelve."
"Oh. I suppose."
He noticed Chris wasn't looking at him, so he licked his lips and edged closer. "You think I haven't done this hundreds of times already?"
Chris flinched a little at that. "Really?" The deep brown eyes were still full of doubt, but he leaned over and kissed Justin carefully on the lips. It was hot, soft and wet against his mouth, and then there was a slow swipe of tongue. Justin felt it to his toes. It was different, but it was very much like tasting something sweet that you wanted to lick slowly slowly to make it last.
It was also forbidden and wrong and Justin had never felt so much like a rebel as when Chris kissed his jaw and throat and pushed him down.
(NOTES: And according to what I had scribbled underneath, Chris is from the town and in some kind of underground group, and he sees Justin and helps him when the bullies at the Complex destroy his notebook and Justin just loses it. And JC is the charismatic rebel leader, and Lance is this emotionally stunted kid JC loves more than anything. And JC and Joey have sex. And Justin has to choose between the train and Chris. And he and Chris have sex.)