Is it really worth it?
A Clean Record
Faint pitter-patters of rain and mourning howls of wind set the mood for an eerie afternoon. The momentary quietness was soon disrupted by the splashes of Ethan and his acquaintances as they stomped through the town.
My mum would kill me if she saw me with people like this, he thought. Heavily tattooed bodies, multiple piercings, cigarettes – they were exact models of the sort of people his parents wanted him to stay away from. But they don’t have to know. Ethan’s mind wandered back to earlier that morning…
Being their curious selves, Ethan’s parents wondered why he was going out the door without telling them.
“I’m going to hang out with some friends from school,” he explained, not exactly lying. His parents didn’t protest; they were glad that he had made “friends” already after his first week. The truth was, he had only met these people outside the school grounds a day ago. They were moping around the gates, sharing a pack of cigarettes when Ethan came across them. Ethan recognised a couple from his class and naively walked over to them. He rose suspicion back home when he returned after sunset.
“Look at that!” a member of the gang hollered, pointing a dirty index finger towards a display outside a shop. Ethan leaned closer to see. Inside a small wooden box lay a watch. Intricate designs were carved into the strap, and the minuscule hands were the thickness of an eyelash. It looked very expensive.
All sinister eyes turned to Ethan. Another gang member, who goes by the name Steel, took a final huff of his cigarette before dropping it into the gravel.
“This hunk of metal is worth a lot of dough,” Steel said, cracking his knuckles. “You know how we said you have to earn your way into this gang?” A lump formed in Ethan’s throat.
“Well, this is your challenge. Nick this from that display and you’ll be a part of our gang. For life.” Steel’s voice grew more intimidating the more he spoke. The rest of the gang agreed, eager to watch Ethan carry out this feat. Ethan felt weak and powerless.
Should I do it? Should I not? He glanced up at the roof and upper wall. Eyes fixed upon the metallic security camera gleaming in the sun, he contemplated their challenge. Either he could become part of their gang and be a criminal, or he could keep a clean record and be a loner again. The gang members tapped their feet and cracked their knuckles impatiently.
“So, will you do it?”
It was then that Ethan found his voice. “No,” he murmured.
“What?” Steel spat, eyes ablaze.
“I’m not doing it. I plan on keeping a clean record, even if that means missing out on the gang. I don’t need you, anyway.” With that, Ethan spun on his heels and strode out into the rain.
“Fine, I’ll do it then!” Steel’s voice echoed through the block of shops. Shrugging, Ethan quickened his pace and rounded the corner.
A few minutes later, Ethan stared out the Fish & Chip shop window, smiling slightly as he saw the gang being arrested by the police. Relief and contentment flooded his mind. That was a lucky escape.
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