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Time to Think

Free Will
I reckon there’s no such thing as free will. We’re manipulated from birth to be obedient
conformists who never rock boats, take risks or think for ourselves. It doesn’t matter who you talk
to, pretty soon you realise their ideas, opinions and actions are copied from videos, TV,
newspapers, magazines, books… There's nothing original in their heads. People don’t think—they
respond to prodding. When we were kids, my best friend and I were always pretending we were
heroes from the movies or comics. All kids do and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it doesn’t
stop when they grow up. Adults should be independent, clear-thinking role models for kids, but
instead they adopt the latest fads, buy all the crap advertisements tell them to, and holiday in places
that resemble the resorts of the rich and famous, always hoping they’ll be taken for a celebrity. And
old people are no better! Pathetic.
It may seem pretentious for a fifteen year-old to be so cynical, but I reckon I've earned the right
because I was one of the deluded masses until a tragedy made me realise what a dangerous fool I’d
become. That I’m able to write this now in my bedroom instead of a Borstal dormitory is thanks to
Robert, Mum’s favourite brother. He’s twenty-three; twelve years younger than Mum, eight years
older than me, but although he’s my uncle he never took much notice of me until last summer.
Robert left school at fifteen to be general dogsbody for Mr Bavistok. I was seven, and when we
visited them I was a bit frightened because the old man’s bald head and dark, deep-set eyes made
him look like a skull. But he always treated me as if I was important—listening to me and asking
my opinion on all sorts of things, so I liked him more than I was frightened. When the old man died
suddenly last year, Robert got totally depressed and just moped around the place, letting it go to
rack and ruin, Mum said. When we visited Robert and saw the beautiful old place looking derelict
she got really angry and told him to stop being so selfish and snap out of it because he was only
twenty-two, bloody rich now he’d inherited everything, and could have any girl he wanted. Robert
told her to shut the fuck up because she didn’t know what she was talking about. Then Mum cried,
so he had to apologise. She’s good at that, crying to get her own way.
Robert finally got his act together and took an extended holiday in Greece, because he’s keen
on classical ruins and art, then spent the rest of the northern summer hiking in the Balkan
Mountains and lazing on the Adriatic coast. Mum and I never mentioned him at home because Dad
would only sneer that Robert must have been a very special secretary to have been left a fortune
after only eight years. Mum would tell him to be nice because I was Robert’s only nephew and if I
played my cards right, I might inherit something eventually.
‘Huh!’ he’d snort, ‘Pete’s not like your precious Robert!’
I had no idea what he was talking about so kept my mouth shut.
Although Robert had usually more or less ignored me when we visited, he’d always been my
hero. Tall and sort of tough and rough, but handsome too, he did all the work for Mr. Bavistok so he
had a great body—like a Greek god people used to say. I figured he’d be looking for a friend when
he got home, and I was determined to be it! All I had to do was get him to notice me. My plans
were well in hand when the letter came with his return flight details.
Robert had left his Mercedes Sports for Mum, so we used it to pick him up. It was hot enough
to put the hood down and Mum got her usual wolf whistles along with envious stares from a few
guys. Even though she’s thirty-five, she’s still a looker. I don’t know who was more excited, Mum
or me when he appeared through the arrivals door. She gave him a big hug and told him he was too
thin—I thought he looked perfect and envied his tan. To my surprise we were the same height—I’d
grown more than I realised. He shook my hand and smiled at me, which I took for a good omen.
Back home Dad grunted a minimum welcome before shutting himself in his shed. When Mum
finally stopped asking Robert questions and telling all about us, I dragged him to my room. I had
exactly fifteen minutes to make him notice me before he left.
 
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