Chapter 1

Mallory Keaton and her older brother, Alex, were having a conversation. They were talking about her first year as a freshman in college.

“Mallory, are you all excited about your first year of college?” Alex asked.

“Of course I am. Chicago should be exciting to be in college.”

Alex nodded, agreeing that Chicago would be an exciting adventure for her since she got accepted from them.

“Mom and Dad are excited for you like I am,” he said.

“I know. I’m still not sure how Jennifer would react since I will be in Chicago for school.”

“I’m sure she’s going to be upset, but I think she’ll do just fine without her older sister.”

“I think you’re right, Alex. Only she knows what to think of that.”

Alex had come back for the summer. Since he and Mallory aren’t too far away in age, he already has been in college, so he knows how Mallory feels.

“Mallory, I know you’ll do just fine as a freshman in Chicago. You’ll get to meet all sort of young men who are your age.”

Mallory had to agree with him once again.

“Do you think you will come see me out there in Chicago?”

“Of course I will, Mallory. You know I’ve been to Chicago before, but it does sound like an amazing place for school.”

“You can fly there with me so you could see what my dorm will look like,” Mallory replied.

“I’m not sure about that one, Mallory.”

“Please, Alex. This means a whole lot to me.”

“I know it does. Time sure does fly by, doesn’t it?”

“Way too fast. I can’t believe that I have gone this far in my entire life.”

“I believe it. You’ll miss us for sure, but it’s a good opportunity to find out who will be interested in a friendship.”

That was something else Mallory had to agree on. Jennifer is the youngest child in the Keaton family. Alex has always been mature for his age, let alone thinking positive. That’s what people seem to think about Alex, and that’s true. Alex had a good interest in business, so that is what he had been studying in college, and so far he seems to enjoy it.

Mallory still wasn’t sure what to do for her life in the near future, and she didn’t want to rush into that. Both Mallory and Alex get good grades in school, and so has Jennifer. Since it was only summertime, it was hot – somewhere in the eighties and nineties. Since it was summer with the hot weather, both brother and sister were sitting outside with two glasses of lemonade.

   Neither of them said a word for a while. Yes, Mallory was both excited and nervous at the same time to go to school in Chicago. She’d never been to Chicago on her own before, so this is a big deal for her. She’s always like meeting new people, so this was why she was excited. Alex was the same way when he started his first year of college, and now was on his way to the prom.

Mallory finally spoke up.

“Alex, do you miss living here at home?” Mallory asked.

“Sure I do. Why would I not miss it if I grew up in this same house?”

All Mallory did was shrug her shoulders, and he saw that.

“Why are shrugging your shoulders for, Mallory?”

“I don’t know. I did, that’s all. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing’s wrong. You only do that when you’re nervous about something.”

“You’re right, Alex. I am nervous. With my going to Chicago for the first time on my own, I am a bit nervous about it.”

 “Understandable. Going away for the first time without your family can be scary.”

“I know. I’ve never been to a city out in Chicago before.”

What she just told him was true, but they have been to different cities in other states.

“Mallory, you’ll have people show you the city, even if it means kids from the campus you’ll be studying.”

“I know, but do you think that’s one of the ways to find my friends?” Mallory asked, still looking in his direction.

“I’d like to think so, but please be careful.”

“I’ll do my best. Even Mary’s all excited about it, but more than I am.”

Mary is one of Mallory’s good friends, so Mallory would be seeing Mary because they’re both going to the same school, and that made her very happy to know that she’ll be able to see someone she already knows.

“May I ask you another question, Alex?”

“What’s that?”

“When you started your first year, didn’t people think you were strange because you dress like a businessman?”

“Some of them did, yes. They thought I didn’t look like a normal kid since I wore a tie.”

Flashback:

On the first week of his freshman year, Alex was sitting at one of the cafeteria tables alone. A couple of guys where looking in his direction, so they came over to meet him.

“Hey, kid. Nice tie you have on,” one of the guys said.

Then Alex looked to see who was talking to him.

“Why thank you. Is that why you came over to me is tell me that you like my tie?”

“No, kid. We came over because we wanted to meet you. Are you a freshman here?”

Alex nodded and answered, “Yes. This is my first year.”

“Welcome, kid. Hope you do well on your first year as a freshman.”

“Thank you. You haven’t told me your names.”

“You go first, kid. I’m Neal, and these are my friends Harry, Logan, and Andrew.”

“Nice meeting you,” Alex told them as they shook hands.

“There’s no need for the shaking hands bit. Now it’s your turn to tell us your name,” Andrew said.

Neal and his friends like to use the word kid.

“I’m Alex Keaton.”

“Welcome. We’ll be your friends.”

“I’d like that. I haven’t met any people yet.”

“That’s real sad. We’ll be happy to have a new friend in our group.”

“I’d be honored to join your group. At least this is a start at meeting people here at the campus.”

Alex wondered if this happened to these guys, but didn’t bother asking them that question.

“Would you like to hang out with us this weekend?” Harry asked him.

“I’d like that, and thank you for including me in the group.”

Alex didn’t want to ask if they were a gang. He wasn’t ready to ask that question yet.

“Now can I ask you a question?”

“What’s that, Neal?” Alex asked.

“Do you always wear a suit and a tie?”

“Of course I do. There’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe I want to go into business some day.”

“I bet your family must think you’re nuts since you wear that all the time.”

“Harry, that’s enough. Take it easy on this kid, okay?”

“Sorry, Neal.”

“That’s okay.”

“How big is your family, Alex?”

“Just myself, mother, father, and two younger sisters,” was his answer.

“We guessed you were either an only child or with brothers.”

Alex shook his head.

“Wrong guess.”

“We thought those were the right guesses.”

“Sorry, Andrew. Not this time,” Alex told him.

Alex didn’t want to find out quite yet and ask them the same question.

“You look like you’re the only child,” Andrew said.

“No. I am the oldest of three kids.”

“I bet you’re one of those kids who know everything.”

Alex shook his head again.

“No. My family isn’t like that.”

End Flashback

“That’s the way people like to think,” Mallory told him, and then added, “have you kept in touch with those guys?”

 “No. They haven’t talked with me since the beginning of my sophomore year. They were losers anyway.“ I know you’ll do just fine. Let’s go inside and turn the air conditioner on. How does that sound to you?”

 “I like that idea. After you.”

 They got up from the porch steps as Alex opened the front door as she led the way. When she was finally inside, he closed the screen door. Now it was time to find something else to do.