SOL: Generation Two – Chapter Four

A few things for this chapter:

Eilidh is pronounced A-lee. It’s a Scottish gaelic name.

Tory is a nickname for the Conservatives political party, which are right wing.

And finally Scottish grades, at least when Kane was in school, went from Standard Grades (15-16 year olds, with three levels going lowest to highest: Foundation, General, and Credit) to Highers (17 yo) and then Advanced Highers (18 yo). Also in Scotland you can leave education at 16, and leave home with parental permission.


 


“Can you believe it?” Kane marvelled, reaching over to poke Law’s nose, causing him to giggle and try to swat Kane’s fingers away. “Two! I think I get it when everyone else asks where the time goes…”

Jasmine’s laughter entwined with Law’s as she watched Kane play with him. He was a sweet kid and it wasn’t hard to like him, and she wondered if he’d be as popular in school. “Are you going to throw him a party?” she asked, leaning over to the table to pick up a pencil and a small notepad she used to write her shopping list in.

Kane screwed up his face. “I was just planning on going out to the park. Having a party is a waste of money when we won’t remember it anyway. Right?”

Jasmine shrugged, hiding her smile. “I don’t remember mine, so I guess not.”


“He has some friends at the outdoors group I take him to though,” Jasmine went on. “It’s probably good for him to spend some time with other kids.”

“Oh,” Kane’s brow furrowed. “Yeah, that’s true. I didn’t think of that –“

Jasmine waved his concern away quickly. “Not for the party, just maybe in general. Hey, why don’t you see if the single parent’s group want to do play-dates or something? I’m surprised it hasn’t been suggested yet.”

“I think it’s more the headache of organising it that’s putting people off,” Kane said, running his fingers through Law’s hair. His eyes drooped half-shut in contentment. “But I’ll suggest it.”

Jasmine nodded and pushed thick braids behind her ears. “Do you want anything from town?”


Kane bounced Law on his hip and looked down at his son. “What do you say to something a little special?”

Law’s brow furrowed thoughtfully. “Please?” he asked, presuming it was what Kane wanted. Kane laughed and hugged him tightly.

“Maybe get some chocolate chips. I can make pancakes for us later.”

Jasmine smiled brightly. “Oooh, that’s exciting, isn’t it Law?”

Law’s eyes lit up at the mention of chocolate and he nodded eagerly. Jasmine ruffled his hair before rushing out to the shops, missing Law’s attempt to reach out to grab her hair back. Kane chuckled.

“Shall we go to the park then?”

“Yay!”


Kane had long since realised he was a simple guy. He didn’t need anything fancy or expensive to get through the day, and before Law he was happy to chill out in front of the TV with some easy food and good friends to message. He didn’t know if that was the absence of ambition or just because he took life as it came, but he knew that some people – like Faye – wanted something more.

Now that he had Law, his happiness became even easier to chase, and all it took was an endearing smile to lift his mood.



That wasn’t to say that Kane was immune to rainy days, and his foul mood often came about as a result of a shift with a lazy co-worker or rude customers. Usually on those days he’d stomp home, playing some loud tracks that had been on his scratched mp3 player since his high school years, the heavy drums matching his pounding feet and the screaming lyrics echoing the frustration in his head, and often he’d follow the spiral of anger all the way down until Law’s trusting and pure smile melted the anger inside him like boiling water poured over ice. There was something about another life relying on Kane so completely that still got to him two years later.

Of course, he didn’t always get to go home straight after his black mood was consolidated, and he stomped his way into the town hall, Elspeth’s quiet sigh souring the ire inside him further.


The polite and irritatingly necessary small talk came first as he all but collapsed into the closest chair, rejecting the opportunity for the hot flask of tea to be passed around to him with a sharp flick of his hand, pissed off internal monologue only having more fuel to burn when he was told by an unapologetic Jacqueline that she’d already eaten the bowl of crisps set out for the group, even though he wouldn’t have taken many anyway.

He had the foresight to apologise for the mood, at least. If living with his so-called father had taught him anything, it was that knowing you weren’t the sole purpose for someone’s turbulent emotions helped lessen any impact of what was said in anger.

“Oh no, you’re in a bad mood!” Charlotte said in dismay, as if repeating what he said would add to the conversation in anyway. “How come?”


“Bad day at work,” Kane grumbled, miraculously keeping it to himself and instead burning his rage into the terrible coffee from Starbucks that Elspeth was drinking, prim and proper as always.

“Oh no,” Charlotte said again, seeming genuinely distressed at the news. “Bad customers?”

“Yeah.” Kane slouched further into his chair, cheeks still heated as he recounted what made him so frustrated. “You always get them though. People who think they can talk down to you just ‘cause you’re serving them. Rich pricks.” He scoffed and side-eyed Elspeth as he said it, though she was too busy scratching off a rogue fleck of nail polish which had been painted onto the skin at the side of her nail.


Charlotte’s tin mug made a dull thud as she placed it on the table, reaching for the flask to fill it up again with tea. “Does it really happen a lot?”

“All the fucking time,” Kane snorted.

“Language,” Elspeth said, as if he were a child she could scold. His face flushed at the reprimand, even though it wasn’t like there were any children present that she had to protect from his foul tongue. Before he could snap back at her – and he was sucking in a breath to do so – she finally glanced over to him with an expression of cool disdain. “If you dislike the job so much, why not find another one?”

And suddenly the wind was gone from his sail.

“Find… another one?”

“Yes,” she said slowly, with the kind of tone that suggested she thought her suggestion should be obvious. “A better job, such as one that you can’t complain about every time you come in here.”

At her words, Kane felt his fire reignite, and burst up to his feet. Jacqueline opened her mouth to intervene but already Kane was spewing out words, the pent up rage burning away any brain-to-mouth filter he had. “What other job am I qualified for? Not everyone had the kinds of opportunity you did, Elspeth, so don’t get on your high horse at me.”


Slowly, her chair was drawn back and she matched his height. “Excuse me?” she said pointedly. “The only things you need in life to succeed are ambition and motivation. You can only blame yourself if you aren’t where you’d like to be in life.”

Kane spluttered in shock. “Spoken like a true Tory!” he laughed, flinging his hands up. “I had to leave home at sixteen and stand on my own two feet. Tell me, where was I to get the money or time to continue my fucking education?”

Elspeth regarded him calmly. “There are opportunities out there for everyone. Night school. Online college classes. Apprenticeships. A hard life is no reason to accept the lot you’re given.”


Kane felt the blood rushing in his ears – whoosh, whoosh, whoosh – that he almost missed the quiet voice of Charlotte piping up in the sudden silence.

“Actually, Elspeth, sometimes those opportunities are really hard to find or meet the criteria of.” She fidgeted, the nail of one finger scratching nervously against the edge of her thumbnail. “They are there,” she said quickly, placating whatever Elspeth had been ready to throw back, “but it’s not as easy as you think. There’s a reason the class divide exists, and it’s not usually because of any lack of trying to breach it.”

Kane threw her a grateful look at the unexpected back up and fought to regain some sense of calm before his blood pressure could skyrocket.

“Okay,” Elspeth accepted, though Kane could hear the iron underneath her words. “Then perhaps we should find some of these opportunities for you instead, so you can take them, since it is apparently so hard.”


“What, exactly, is your problem?” Kane asked through gritted teeth, levelling his finger at her. She eyed it with derision.

“My problem is that there are far too many people in this world that sit back on their heels and tell themselves that they cannot succeed or progress, so they do not even try, resulting in this infestation of lazy people taking advantage of the welfare state.” She shook her head in frustration. “I am a teacher, Kane, and I see teenagers every day that are happy to make a nuisance of themselves and commit to a life like that rather than give a damn, and that’s exactly what you have proved yourself to be from day one.”

“Because of what?” Kane yelled. “I didn’t get any good grades because I was lazy, I got them because I had a shitty place to call home and no damn teacher gave me the time of day. They didn’t give a shit if I failed. No one did. Don’t hit me with this crap because it’s obvious you don’t try to understand why those “nuisance” teenagers don’t do well.”


“So because you had a rough upbringing you’re entitled to blame everyone but yourself for where you are today? Yes, I agree, the world is a harsh place and many people learn that far too young, but using that as an excuse not to try and better yourself is merely cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

“I’m not using anything as an excuse!” Kane snapped back, nails digging into the palms of his hand. “I’m not sitting here and saying ‘oh, poor me’, I’m just stating the fucking facts – I’m not qualified to get a better job, and I’m in no position to get a better qualification -“


“Come on now,” Jacqueline stepped in, her face a picture of motherly disapproval. “This is quite enough from both of you. This is an emotional discussion for you both and clearly you cannot have it in a civil manner. Now I know you two find it hard to get along, but we are all adults in this room. Can we act like it and debate this, rather than yell ourselves hoarse?”

At her firm reprimand Kane felt shame wash through him. She wasn’t angry, she was disappointed. How many times had he heard someone say that as a joke? Only now he realised how much worse it was to have someone you respected to be disappointed in you, rather than join in the shouting match.

Elspeth, too, seemed to have regained some of her senses. Spots of red appeared on her cheeks and she murmured something that may have been an apology.


Elspeth lowered her eyes to the floor, taking a moment to breathe and roll the tension out of her shoulders. Afterwards, she drew herself back up to full height.

Kane shook his head and held out his palm in the universal sign for stop. “We should just get back to the meeting,” he said. “I’m not sure I can talk about this without getting mad.”

Elspeth tucked loose hair back into her buns and then smoothed her palms over her sweater. “How about,” she said instead, “I tutor you.”

Kane blinked. “Excuse me?”


“As I said, I’m a teacher, and a fairly adaptable one at that. Primarily I teach business and computing subjects, but I have also filled in for others, such as modern studies and history. If you would like an opportunity to get those qualifications, here you are.”

Kane didn’t like the idea of spending more time with Elspeth than necessary, but she had also accused him of being lazy and passing up opportunities not a minute before. He could hardly say no now, without proving everything she had accused him of being.

“Um,” he said, feeling about two inches tall. “Alright. Sure.”



And that was how Kane ended up spending his Saturday mornings around at Elspeth’s.
She had instructed him to bring Law so that he could keep Eilidh company while they worked, and with Jasmine’s recommendation for Law to be around more kids in mind, he agreed. Following the winding roads around the rich part of town was unsurprisingly awkward, like everyone was looking out their windows at Kane trudging up the hill with a pram and knowing – as he did – that he didn’t belong here.

It took him longer than he expected to find Elspeth’s house, primarily because there was no rhyme or reason to the naming theme and there weren’t even numbers to help him out. In the end he let google direct him and ended up at an intimidating house whose sheer size almost made Kane turn around.

But he couldn’t prove Elspeth right, and he also couldn’t be late, so he dutifully made his way to her door and rang the bell.


He followed her inside and was surprised by the decor of the house – the surprise being that it was stuck somewhere in the last generation, and even the paintings on the wall looked totally out of place for Elspeth’s character. Kane eyed the planes on one wall, and the technical drawings on the other, and with a befuddled shake of his head he followed Elspeth into the kitchen.

“It was my parent’s house,” she explained, seeing him eye the old lampshades. “I only moved back in when I split with my ex-husband.”

“Oh,” Kane mumbled. “Do they mind?”

“They don’t live here anymore,” she said, in a final tone. Kane took that to mean they didn’t live anymore and didn’t chase it up with more questions, the awkward atmosphere settling in on his shoulders.


Elspeth pulled over a playpen and let Eilidh down into it. Kane followed suit and Law immediately moved over to his new friend as she picked up the drumstick tied to her musical toy and began to show him a nonsensical tune. Satisfied that Law would be preoccupied, he turned to Elspeth who gestured to the table.


Kane felt an anxious twist to his stomach when he sat down and in front of him waited a new pad of paper and a pen. A heavy textbook sat off to the side, and printed sheets of nonsense were highlighted underneath Elspeth’s folded hands.

“The national curriculum specifies what must be learnt in each subject, which is what I’ve got here. We’ll refer to it every so often to keep us right, but mostly I want to teach you a broader knowledge of subjects that will stand you in far better stead for life.”

“Uh, right.”

“What standard grades did you get?”

The blunt question made Kane fidget. He was sure his face must be burning, and almost wished Law would make a fuss to give him an excuse to leave. Law, of course, was far too interested playing with his new friend, and his happy sounds and imaginary game grounded Kane.

“Uh, nothing great. The usual stuff at General grade, Maths and English, religious studies, German, IT, Tech education, and PE at general. I, uh, only got foundation level for physics.”

Elspeth nodded, her expression giving none of her thoughts away. “And do you know what you want out of this?”


When Kane continued to look lost, Elspeth sighed. “As in, do you know what job you would like if you could choose? Or which degree you’d like to get?”

Kane blinked, his mind remaining stubbornly blank. “Um,” he stalled. “No… not really. I guess I never thought about it. No point entertaining a pipe dream and all that.”

Elpseth linked her fingers together on the table and leaned back. Still, her expression was unreadable. “Okay. What did you enjoy at school, or what do you have an interest in now?”

Kane tried to think of what his hobbies were and realised that it was really just Law that consumed his thoughts. Casting his mind back further, to school, also proved fruitless: all of his time then was spent dreading every second of the day, rather than enjoying any subject.

Seeing the panic on his face, Elspeth sighed.


Despite their less than sunny relations, Kane hated to disappoint her. “You know I actually do like working,” he said quickly. “I like being independent and knowing I’m doing a good job. The shitty customers don’t always get to me. Only if I’m having a bad day. Most of the regulars are a riot, you know?”

Elspeth pursed her lips. “Why don’t you progress there, then?”

Kane screwed up his face in confusion. “Like, be a manager?”

“Absolutely. Why not?”

“I mean, I guess I never thought about that either. The current manager has been there since well before me though. I think she’s pretty set in it.”

“Do you think you could manage a business like that?”

Kane blinked. “I… guess? If I knew how to, I wouldn’t mind doing it.”

“Right. A starting point, finally.”

Kane felt himself tense and was about to reply with a scathing comment of his own until he saw the little tilt in her lips, and realised that this must have been her sense of humour. It was dry, and easily mistaken for a dig, but he found his gathering anger was dispelled anyway.


After almost two hours of discussing business and what a managerial position would entail, Elspeth agreed to help Kane reach a formal qualification for business studies, even though she did emphasise that it wasn’t necessary to move up in a position, particularly in one he had already been in a while. Still, since his manager didn’t look like she was leaving until she retired, a formal qualification could be handy in getting him in a position elsewhere in town.

Kane didn’t realise how tired he was until Elspeth stood from the chair. He yawned at her back, not bothering to cover his mouth since she wasn’t facing him, and wondered at the time. His stomach grumbled and he realised it must be close to lunch time.

“You’re welcome to stay for lunch,” Elspeth said politely. “I actually wanted to become a home economics teacher first and foremost, so I know a fair amount about cooking. If you ever fancy becoming a manager at a restaurant, knowing about food will be helpful also.”


Kane nodded and offered his skills up, though there wasn’t much he could do to help. Mostly he watched as Elspeth prepared what was – to him – far too fancy a lunch, and she was animated as she spoke about complementing flavours and cooking secrets. He did the washing up as she spoke, listening to her chatter and to Law and Eilidh playing with a teddy bear.

Eventually he could escape home, and surprised himself by admitting that it hadn’t been as terrible as he had assumed. In fact, it had been pleasant – to use a word that Elspeth would have used. Law was happy with his new friend too, and Kane was grateful that he could kill two birds with one stone. Besides, if it helped him get a manager’s position in the long run, that would mean more money, which could never be a bad thing.


 

I am so ready for Law to be a kid. Next chapter, woo!

22 thoughts on “SOL: Generation Two – Chapter Four”

  1. Yes, we finally see Elspeth and Kane getting, uh, somewehere, which is really great!
    It was nice of Elspeth to have helped him, even though she isn’t the most pleasant person to be around, she definitely did something good. I felt a bit bad about agreeing with her, but she’s in a way right, there are so many students who give up too easily just because their parents weren’t as bright and didn’t go on studies etc. It’s sad, because they think they cannot achieve anything great, because they have to take the path of their parents. But Kane’s pathological family is of another category…
    I hope that Elsepth’s help will be profitable for Kane and that he will be able to achieve more in his life than he ever thought he would coming from a background like that. Not everything is lost for him yet, he still has a lot of time on his hands and if he gets a better job, it will not only help him, but also Law, which I suspect is even more important for him since he loves Law so much.
    I also have to say I love how we get to find out bits about Scotland as you provide them.
    And I can’t wait to see Law as a child as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and it was thanks to a comment on a previous chapter asking why Kane never thought of getting another job. I don’t recall who said it now, but it put the gears in motion for this.
      They’re totally both right here. I can see how people – particularly those from abusive backgrounds – just give up on the world. Who can blame them? But on the other hand, Elspeth is right in that they have to make the effort to either help themselves or accept help when it’s given to them instead of shunning it away. Kane more falls into the category of assuming he’s not good enough and not even considering the option, which says a lot about his self-worth and belief.
      Law is a much better motivator for Kane than anything else is, so fingers crossed he goes on to profit from her help.
      Ah, well, I’m just showing the world how awesome of a place it is ❤
      I'm even boosting my poses for kids as I write this, and I'm looking forward to writing Law again ❤
      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love seeing their relationship grow. I don’t think that I could call them friends yet, but more like acquaintances who are very passionate about their convictions. I can see both sides of the argument, so I can’t really take sides on this one.
    “the only things you need in life to succeed are ambition and motivation” I think that I am going to have to steal that quote.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right. There are some people in life that aren’t exactly your friend, but you respect each other and spend time with each other anyway. That’s where I see this going. They definitely both had good points, and I’m with you. I think they’re both right.
      To some extent, it’s true! Of course helping hands along the way are good. I kind of see it as a snakes and ladders game… the helping hands are the ladders, but usually you can get where you want to go the hard way if you keep going long enough! As one of my favourite quotes says, keep moving forward.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really want to know more about Elspeth. Something must’ve happened to make her the way she is. But the fact that she is willing to help Kane speaks volumes.
    These two can benefit from each other’s company.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She definitely has an interesting upbringing and recent past. I think, like Kane, she could do with a friend outside her normal circles. Though she disagrees with a lot of Kane’s opinions, she still wants the best for people. She’s good at her heart!
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an enjoyable chapter this was! ❤ I didn't expect to see Kane and Elspeth's relationship change in this chapter, and I gotta say, this was a blast to read! I always find the bond between two completely different people from different backgrounds so interesting to read and so rewarding..! Hopefully this mission to improve Kane will continue and he'll find his dream job (or the best alternative) at last!
    Law is a cutie, I'm happy that he found a new friend his age ❤ And I can't wait to see him as a child in the next chapter! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, how kind of you to say!! ❤
      It was so much fun to write their argument. Both points are valid and of course they think the other is wrong. The only reason I had Charlotte chip in was because she, like Kane, has experienced a poorer upbringing than Elspeth and sometimes people need to be reminded that the playing field isn't level!
      I am so excited I've already taken two of the four scenes!
      Thanks for reading and commenting !

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Please humor my simple American brain, but does Eilidh rhyme with the name Haley? That totally makes sense now!

    Elspeth said what I was thinking. O.O I could kiss her. XD Tbh, I agree with both of their perspectives to a point. It’s definitely hard to find a good job, even with a degree, but you never know until you try. And if Kane didn’t have a son to take care of, he could do whatever he wanted, but it really is on him to at least try so that he can provide better for Law.

    I really love the relationship that’s starting to form between Kane and Elspeth. I almost think she’s just helping him to prove her point, but either way I can see them slowly forming a bond.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does! Haha I wouldn’t worry about being a bit wary of the name, gaelic names are… really fucking weird xD
      Kane was certainly using some of those excuses though he likes to think he doesn’t. But if he doesn’t try to chase a dream to be better, he won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t happen, which is what he truly believes would occur :/
      I have a thing for people who learn to respect each other, even if they never become proper friends. It’s a powerful type of relationship I think!
      Thanks for your comment 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow Kane and Elspeth really do clash but maybe once they get to know each other it won’t be so explosive. I can see both sides of their argument. Someone in Kane’s position may not know what’s available to him if no one takes the time to help him. Plus his time has been consumed by taking care of Law. Elspeth in her position has seen to many teens spurn their opportunities. They both need a better understanding of where the other person is coming from. I hope this helps Kane improve his options. He did rather need a push to do it sense he was so sure he had none to begin with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, they really need to learn to understand and listen to each other. They both have a lot of growing to do.
      He definitely did need a push. Unfortunately the problem with being used to having no opportunities and having very low belief in yourself (and what you deserve) is that it’s a self fulfilling prophecy! But he’s beginning to learn a little differently now.
      Thanks for your comment 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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