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On the Side of Caution

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It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.

-Alvin Toffler

Beacon Hills is different than Isaac remembers. It's smaller, but he was expecting that. Compared to LA most places are anyway. What he wasn't expecting was how rich everyone seems to be. The houses, the cars, even the grocery stores are all fancy and shit. Was it really like this five years ago? It must have been, but he can't remember.

His house is still the same old shithole, though. Worse in fact, because no one's been taking care of it for the past five years. Isaac spends the first couple days going through every room with a vacuum and throwing out everything that's been ruined, including the food in the cupboards. He doesn't even want to think about the condition the pool is in. He doesn't go in the basement.

The utilities take a couple more days to get up and running, which is annoying. He probably should have come earlier, but his emancipation went through just before Christmas, and he'd spent the rest of December finalizing things with Beacon Hills High and getting his shit together for the move, leaving him only a week to get settled before school starts.

His dad's car still works, which is such a relief that he sags against the steering wheel in, well, relief, when it starts. Beacon Hills isn't a big town, but having to bike everywhere would suck, especially since he is desperately in need of a part time job. His dad was paying property taxes on the house from his savings up until he died, but they're all gone now. He'll have to pay property taxes for next year himself, and they are high. Also, he'll have to pay for utilities. And eat.

He needs new clothes too. It hadn't occurred to him before, but he's been getting suspicious looks since the second he stepped off the bus. His jeans are too low and baggy, his shirts too long. Compared to the sleek, well-tailored clothes of the average resident of Beacon Hills, Isaac looks like he just stepped out of the hood. Or rather, like some white boy trying to pretend he all gangsta. Beacon Hills is a ridiculously white town, there's probably fifty black people total, and that's being generous, and he's been getting the side-eye whenever he walks into a store with his hood up. It could be worse, he tells himself. If he was black they'd probably have called the cops the second he crossed city limits.

So he buys a belt and a pack of white t-shirts at Walmart, but he draws the line at buying new pants. Ain't no way he's wearing those skinny faggot jeans that seem to be the fashion with guys his age. He'd like to buy a new jacket because it's a lot colder here than in LA but he forces himself to make do with his hoodie and scarf. His shoes are ragged as hell too, but he can get new ones after he gets a job.

With his new wardrobe it's surprisingly easy to get a part time job in Beacon Hills. He might just be lucky, but the first place he walks into with a Help Wanted sign hires him on the spot. It's a gas station near the edge of town, and Isaac is not entirely sure he's old enough to be working there, emancipated or not, but he ain't complaining. Later he'll find out that Beacon Hills has a shortage of minimum wage workers and usually has to draw from some of the more blue collar towns further north, on account of everyone here being rich as fuck.

But despite the size of the town, the snotty-ass neighbors who stare at him from behind their curtains, the bone-deep discomfort that comes with living in his father's house after five years, and the rising anxiety at the thought of starting as a second semester junior in a town where everyone goes on to college, Isaac feels optimistic about the future. Anything is better than the group home he's been living in the last couple years. No more worrying about his stuff getting stolen, or getting cornered in the second floor stairwell or the showers. His social worker had worried about him living alone and advised him to make more of an effort to make friends than he ever had in LA, but all Isaac has wanted for years is to be alone. Having his own house, his own space, far outweighs any loneliness Miss Ramirez thought he would contract. In Beacon Hills he can be invisible, quietly do his year a half of time until graduation, sell the house, and go wherever he wants.

All of this he knew before he moved back here. What he didn't know was how freeing it was going to be. Because best of all, Beacon Hills is surrounded by woods. Isaac hasn't explored them yet, but he's a little surprised at how excited he is just knowing they are there. No more taking three buses and a commuter train far out into the county just to get away from fucking people. The Beacon Hills Forest Preserve is barely a five minute drive from his house. It's going to be perfect for full moons.