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Sep 19 2010

The Funeral

Alright, this took forever to write, and I still haven’t decided whether or not I like it. I’m not even sure if this is the 100% final version, some changes may still have to be made, but it’s at the very least okay I think. It’s longish, but I think it’s one of my better if not near best concepts for a story and I tried to do it justice.

The Funeral

This isn’t right.

Aaron awoke, not sure of where he was. The surroundings were unfamiliar. This wasn’t his bed, this wasn’t his room, that wasn’t the view from his window. After a moment of confusion, the remnants of his troubled dreams from a difficult night’s sleep cleared from his conscious, and he remembered.

He was at home. In a motel. He had arrived in town the evening before. He had visited his parents at the house he had grown up in, stayed for dinner but then left. He had elected to not even go upstairs and revisit, let alone spend the night in, the room that for so many years he had called his own. He had gone from there to the motel, stopping along the way at a liquor store. However, upon arriving at the motel, he hadn’t even felt the energy to get properly drunk and fell into a restless sleep.

He was glad of that now. A hangover wouldn’t have helped him at this point. He had a funeral to go to.

_________________

His phone rang, and his live-in girlfriend, Christie, answered.

“Hello,” she said with that terribly soft and sweet voice of hers. “Yes, he’s here.”

She handed the phone to him and mouthed, “It’s your mother.”

Aaron took the phone, “Hey, what’s up?”

There was a pause, then his mom answered, “Hello, how’s things?”

“Things are fine. I’m good, Christie’s good, work is… work, but it’s good.”

“Good to hear.”

“You normally call on Sunday’s. Is there something you needed to talk to me about or did you just want to chat?”

“Yes, well, it’s… Haley is dead.”

“What? Dead? How? I… I mean that’s terrible.”

“She umm… she jumped.”

“She what? No… but, but what about her husband, and kids, too?”

“It’s been a hard few days for them I imagine.”

“That’s… that’s terrible. Wha- I mean, why?”

“I don’t think anyone knows. You’d have to ask her. And of course, well, that’s no longer possible. I mean, why does anyone really? It’s always been a mystery to me.”

“Yes… yes, well… well I…”

“There’s a funeral this Sunday. I think you should come.”

“Yes, yes of course, I’ll… I don’t think I can get out of work tomorrow so I’ll leave Saturday.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, yes I’m fine. I’ll see you Saturday, okay? I’ll come by the house first thing.”

“Alright. You sure you’re okay?”

“Really… really I’m okay. I love you, bye.”

“Love you.”

Aaron hung up and put the phone down. He turned and looked at Christie, sitting next to him on the couch with a concerned look on her face.

“Who died?”

“Haley.”

“Who?”

“Oh, yeah, she was a… I guess you could say a high school sweetheart of mine.”

“What happened to her?”

“She killed herself. Jumped apparently.”

“And you said, you said she had kids?”

“Two, at the last I heard. I guess the oldest would be about… 5 now.”

“That’s awful. How could she do that to them?”

“I don’t know. It really is… tragic. I have to go back on Saturday for the funeral Sunday.”

“Do you want me to come along?”

“Well, no. No I think it’s best I go on my own. And I know you have things you’re committed to here already.”

“If you’re sure…”

“Yes. Yes I’m sure.”

They sat in silence for a moment, Aaron stared vacantly out at the room in front of him, and Christie watched him still holding that same concerned look. A look that quite plainly said, I wish you’d tell me what’s on your mind. Aaron, however, remained oblivious until she spoke.

“How close were you and her?”

“Not very anymore. Last time I saw her was her wedding, and that was 5 years ago.”

“But you used to be?”

“Well yes, back in high school there was a period of a few months when we both, or at least I, thought we were in love. It came to a very… abrupt end, though.

“What happened?”

“It was… something happened that just… it made our relationship feel wrong, so we stopped seeing each other.”

“You don’t want to talk about it?”

“Umm, well, not really… no. It was a very long time ago.”

“You sure?”

“Yes, well, the short version is that a friend of ours, my best friend actually, and Haley’s ex, committed suicide, and we both felt in a number of ways responsible.”

“Oh god, that’s so terrible. You can’t blame yourself for that. Things like that, they can’t be blamed on anyone.”

“It’s taken me a long time to come anywhere close to accepting that. At the time I believed it was entirely my fault.”

“You shouldn’t have. It’s really just… unfair for you to feel responsible.”

“It was long ago enough now that I don’t feel much of anything about it anymore. Or at least I didn’t. But now with Haley though, well, I’m not sure it really changes anything but it brings a lot back.”

“Do you… is there anythi-”

“I’ve seen that look before, there isn’t anything you can do to help, and really I’m fine. Just a little shaken up is all. Even though Haley and I lost contact over the years, she was still an important person to me, and now that she’s gone, I don’t know how I feel about that yet.”

There was another quiet moment as Aaron stared down at the floor, and Christie continued to look at him with just as much if not more concern. She opened her mouth as if about to say something, but then stopped. She leaned over and hugged Aaron, wrapping her arms tightly around his back, resting her chin firmly on his shoulder. Aaron returned the embrace.

_______________

By the time Aaron arrived at the graveyard,\ the ceremony was well under way. Everyone was gathered in a circle around the coffin which was poised above the grave, waiting to be lowered. A preacher stood at the far end, holding a bible from which he read. Aaron looked at the people standing with him, all dressed in black, heads bowed, solemn and grieving, or at least showing respect for those who were.

Next to the preacher stood a man who Aaron recognized as Haley’s husband. He appeared to be on the verge of tears, Aaron was quite impressed with the man’s ability to keep it together. Next to him stood a boy of about five, staring blankly at the coffin. Aaron could see the tear stains on the boy’s face. Another boy who looked to be not quite two stood clinging to his father’s leg. He was too young to really understand what was going on, and, in a way, he was lucky for that. Next to them stood a couple who Aaron recognized to be Haley’s parents. They had outlived their child, and they weren’t the only ones Aaron had seen do so.

Aaron continued his way around the circle, it was an impressive turnout really, but of course nothing less than impressive could ever be expected from Haley. Most people he didn’t know. Moving along he came to an elderly man and woman that he almost didn’t recognize at first. John’s parents. He didn’t think he’d seen them since John’s funeral. It was strange to see them again now. He wondered why they’d come; he’d always thought that they blamed him and Haley for what John had done. The image of the two of them at John’s funeral was still clear in his mind. Him standing solemnly, much as Haley’s husband was now. Her, barely able to stand, weeping into her husband’s shoulder, shaking with grief. Imagining his parents like that had for a time been one of the few things that kept Aaron from following in John’s footsteps.

The preacher said his final words, and the coffin began sinking into the ground. Aaron looked at the coffin, wishing his vision could penetrate the wood so he could get one last look at her. He couldn’t pin down the emotion he felt watching her being lowered into the grave. In that box lay the body of a woman he had once been so close to, as close as two people can possibly be to each other. He had felt the life pulse through her veins, a pulse that was now still.

He thought about the last time that he saw her. He didn’t remember it well. There was the wedding, a great big Catholic ordeal, her new husband’s kind of thing. Then there was the reception. He didn’t remember much of the reception beyond getting blind drunk. His memories ended at the bottom of a highball glass.

The coffin reached the bottom of the grave, and the group surrounding it began to disband. Aaron lingered a moment, then turned and began heading back through the graveyard to his car. A hand touched his shoulder and startled he turned. It was Haley’s husband who had stopped him. He had in his hand an envelope, which he held out to Aaron. Aaron noticed that his name was written, in woman’s handwriting, on the sealed fold of the envelope.

“She left this for you.”

“Oh, uh, thanks,” Aaron said, taking the envelope. “And I’m terribly sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you.”

The man lingered for a moment, as if debating whether or not to continue speaking, but then turned and began to walk away.

“Wait, do you, did you want to…” Aaron held the envelope back out toward the man, who had stopped a few paces away.

“No, I got one of my own. That’s yours,” he said, but still he didn’t leave. A moment of tense hovering passed and Aaron was about to try and say goodbye and leave, but then he spoke again.

“She was worried about you, you know.”

This caught Aaron completely off balance.

“Huh?” was all he managed to put together as a response.

“After the wedding, you know. She saw how you were, wouldn’t stop fretting about it.”

“I… I never heard from her.”

“I know, for whatever reason she wouldn’t make contact with you directly. Ended up calling your mother I think.”

“Oh, umm, alright then.”

“Well,” he said, and inhaled deeply, in a, ‘that’s that then’, sort of manner. “Goodbye.”

“Yeah. And uh, again, sorry.”

After which the man turned and left.

Aaron stood staring at the envelope for a minute. The handwriting was neat, curvy enough to indicate a female hand, but not overly flowery. He ran his thumb across the ink, feeling where once the tip of her pen had been guided by her hand to address her last words, to him anyway. He folded the envelope into his pocket and walked back to his car.

Aaron reached his car, seated himself behind the wheel, fit the key into the ignition, and then stopped. He had to think for a moment about where he was going to go. He decided that he should probably stop back at his parents’ house before heading back to Boston, it would be a while before he was likely to see them again, and he’d get an earful on the phone if he didn’t.

As he pulled into the driveway, he noted that there wasn’t a car in the drive. He let himself in and called out.

“Anyone here?”

There was no response. The house was silent. He remembered the days when entering the house was never quiet, always you would be met by the sound of claws scratching frenetically against the hardwood floor as the dog rushed to greet you, to make you feel welcome and loved. There was no more dog.

Aaron remained in the foyer for a moment, the ghosts of his life rushing around and through him. He saw himself as a boy, sitting with John in the living room in front of the TV, hands furiously working controllers. His teenaged self emerged with Haley from the kitchen, and ran holding hands up the stairs to his room. 18 year old him appeared again at the top of the stairs, alone and carrying a suitcase which he dragged down the stairs. He paused at the door, took one last look at the house around him, pet the dog, then left.

He headed upstairs and opened the door to his room. Through all the years it had remained mostly the same. A few old posters still clung to the walls, a few old collections still sat on the shelves. The bed was neatly made, and Aaron lay down on it. He thought about the life he had lived in this room. He thought about the day that life had ended. He thought about the 1 Missed Call.

As he left the theatre in the dark with Haley on his arm, he turned on his cellphone. The screen lit up and told him, “1 Missed Call: John.” He thought nothing of it and pocketed the phone. He’d call him back later. He would have left a message if it was important.

He tore himself from the recollection, and tore open the envelope. Inside, there was a single sheet of paper, with a single sentence written in the same handwriting as had been on the envelope.

I never stopped loving you.

_____________________

It was dark now, and cool for this time of year, yet still somehow managing to remain humid. Aaron’s hands gripped the rail tightly. He felt the rust come loose under his hands, and removing them he watched the small brown flakes fall away to the water below. It didn’t look all that far away. He’d heard that falling into water from a certain height was no better than hitting concrete, but he figured you’d probably need to be a little higher up than this. He didn’t think the water could be all that deep here. Maybe if you dove, you’d hit the bottom. There were probably rocks. Maybe you just had to fall in and let yourself drown. The other two had managed it somehow. It was definitely possible.

Staring down into the darkness, he recalled an old song that he’d loved in his teenage years, and he began to sing, softly and without rhythm, the one line he could remember.

“And Dad would dream of all the different ways to die, each one a little more than he could dare… to try.”

Aaron began to sob. It came over him all at once, the tears streaming down his face, the anguish building up in his vocal cords and escaping with his shaking breath. He sunk down into a sitting position with his back against the railing. It began to rain, and soon after it began to pour. The sound of the rain pounding the pavement and the water below became deafening. Aaron turned his face skyward so that the rain washed the salt from his face, and just as quickly as it had started, the downpour ended.


Jul 20 2010

The Proposal Part 2

So I said I was going to do another lighthearted conversational thing like The Proposal, and I did, though I’m not so sure I’d call it lighthearted. The Proposal was a piece that posed some questions without necessarily providing answers, this is the answer, or at least a debate over the answer.

The Proposal Part 2

“So then, what have we learned from this whole… ordeal?”

“I don’t know, girls are bitches.”

“I would go a step further there and say that girls are soulless automatons put here on earth to suck dry our wallets and all too rarely anything else, but that’s just common knowledge. You have learned a lesson.”

“What?”

“Well, if women have taught me anything, it’s that they don’t need me, and that is something that you have just learned for yourself.”

“I don’t think that’s true, women need men, just like we need them.”

“Well, first you’re wrong, the only thing women really need men for is reproduction and you can do that artificially these days. And second did I say ‘men’? No, I said ‘me’. I am a man without much of anything to offer, not particularly good looking, not loaded, and therefore not in any way desirable. You are in a fairly similar situation, and you have just come to realize what all of us eventually have to, if we sleep with anyone it is quite literally getting lucky.”

“Oh come on, that is so cynical.”

“Yeah, I’m cynical, what did you expect? Cynical is accurate. If I listened to the part of me that’s always saying, ‘That’s not going to work out,’ I would be right 100% of the time.”

“Girls don’t care so much about looks, personality is a much more influential factor for them.”

“Oh that is such a lie, just like anything any girl ever tells you. If personality is a factor at all it’s personality as determined by how much money you’re either willing or able to spend on them.”

“No, they want guys that will listen to them and stuff like that.”

“That’s bullshit, they have friends who do that. Their interest in guys is limited to money and muscles, and if you don’t have enough of either you’re screwed, or rather you’re not, which is the problem.”

“That’s not true at all. Love doesn’t rely on any of that. Just look at the book we’re reading in English, The Ballad of the Sad Café, that Marvin guy who could have had any woman fell in love with Miss Amelia who was considered in no way attractive. And Miss Amelia fell in love with that hunchback guy, there’s no reasoning behind it, it just happens.”

“Did you really just use The Ballad of the Sad Café, the book with the most cynical opinion on love that I have ever heard, to support your argument? The book that says in every relationship there is a lover and a beloved, and… here just a second I have the book in my backpack and the quote is just too perfect.”

Damien rooted around in his backpack until his hand prized upon the book he searched for. The book opened right to the page he wanted, as a book that has been held open on the same page for an extended period of time is wont to do.

“Okay here it is, ‘And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.’”

“Yeah but that doesn’t support your original argument that women are heartless. Love can happen between anyone.”

“But why would you want it to? It hurts everyone.”

“That’s like saying why get a dog when it’s just going to die someday and make you sad? The time you have in the middle makes it worth it.”

“Then why is it so hard for us to get girlfriends? If love was blind and everyone wanted it, we’d all be paired up, but we’re not are we? Which means that there’s criteria, and we don’t meet it.”

“We just haven’t come across the right people yet.”

“But when you walked over there just a minute ago, wasn’t it because you thought she was the right person? And she shot you down.”

“I thought that she might be, but the fact that she didn’t want me means that she’s not.”

“But do you still want her?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Then that right person crap has nothing to do with it, you want her but you’re just not good enough.”

“Oh thanks, that’s always nice to hear from a friend.”

“I do my best.”

“I think you can want someone without them being the right person, the right person is just the one who wants you back, and finding that, it’s hard.”

“Yeah, hard for us, because we’re not wanted.”

“No, everyone suffers the same problem. Those who are desired may have a hard time finding someone they desire, it’s not just the unattractive who suffer.”

“I think on average they suffer more, someone attractive can just go out and hook up with anyone if they feel like it, we can’t do that.”

“Yes but now you’re talking about something else, hooking up with someone isn’t having a loving relationship, it’s a satisfaction of earthly desires with just anyone who fits the bill of being a member of the sex you’re interested in.”

“But we don’t get to do that either.”

“Yeah but that’s just because we don’t go to the right parties, which is a problem we have not because of our attractiveness to the opposite sex but our social abilities in general.”

“Screw people.”

“Exactly. You just proved my point.”

“Whatever. In any case what it comes down to is that your viewpoint is really just as bleak as mine. I say we’re doomed to be lonely because we’re not rich or especially good looking, and you say we’re doomed to be lonely because we have to seek out that right person from a sea of billions.”

“Yeah, it pretty much just sucks.”

“I’ll say.”

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe is a truly fantastic novella, if you haven’t read it you should. It’s comforting, in a really depressing sort of way.


Mar 27 2010

Retreat

This is just something I wrote, it doesn’t really have much to it. My feelings towards it are neutral.

Retreat

The brass coloured cymbals shone, reflecting the bright fluorescent light that would have given the room an almost clinical feel, were it not for the fact that the light simply enabled one to truly appreciate the dinginess therein. The drum set sat in silence, the hi-hats gaping lazily, a pair of sticks laid across the snare. Damien strode with measured fury into the room, sliding between the floor tom and the wall he sat on the stool and positioned his feet on the pedals. He thumped the bass drum, and clicked the hi-hats. He grabbed the sticks off of the snare, held one in each hand, and sat for a moment looking at the set before him. He drew back his right arm, and struck at the crash cymbal with all his strength. The cymbal did as its name suggests and crashed, deafeningly so. It danced wildly on the stand for a moment or so, and then was still again, vibrating ever so slightly as the ringing faded away to silence.

Damien grinned, in an almost maniacal sort of way. There was little in the world he found more satisfying to strike a cymbal, and listen to it scream. Using both arms now he hit the crash and the ride simultaneously on their edges, producing a crash even louder than the first. He sat and again listened to the sound fade away to silence. He started a roll on the snare, softly at first, gradually adding force so that it got steadily louder, and louder, and louder. Then he switched to single strokes so that he could bring the sticks further back, and bring them down again harder. Reaching a noise level he judged to be about as loud as he could get it he struck the crash cymbal once more and moved on to playing a frenetic beat that moved about the set without any particular reasoning. He kept time out of habit, but did so badly. His focus was on exerting as much force as possible on the objects in front of him, converting his bottled up rage into sound.

After a minute or so he began to feel the effects, his pure focus on his physical exertion relieved his mind of troublesome thoughts. The world did not exist outside of a four foot radius from where he sat. If any thought attempted to intrude upon his mind he played harder to drive it away, pouring all of his focus and energy into his hands and arms which flew about him in a frenzy.

Completing a roll down the toms he struck the rim of the ride again, with more force than he had originally intended. The stick broke. The top three inches flew into the air, spinning madly and falling to the floor behind him. He stopped playing and sat staring at what remained of the stick in his hand as the sustained, shimmering sound of the ride slowly faded, and as it did so his anger swelled. He hurled the broken stick across the room where it clattered against the cinder block wall and fell to the floor. He had not yet managed to fully exhaust himself, what he felt now was all of his previous frustration fueled by an adrenaline rush.

He sat debating whether to pick up a new stick and resume playing or whether to get up and walk back out of the room. As he did so the issues he’d been attempting to escape encroached upon his mind, clouding his thought. He decided he wasn’t ready to go back out, and reached under the floor tom where he kept an array of spare sticks. He began playing again, although not quite as furiously as before to avoid breaking another stick.

He played continuously until he felt that his anger had been relieved, let loose to evaporate amongst the sound waves. What he felt in its place was a physical and mental tiredness. He got up and walked out in front of the set, heading towards the door. He stopped. He stood staring at the door. He realized that he still didn’t want to go back out there. It would mean heading back up the stairs to his room, sitting in solitude at his computer or falling into his bed to sleep restlessly. He would have to deal with homework, he would have to deal with his parents, he would have to deal with… He let his head fall back and he sighed heavily. If he thought about it all too much more it would anger him again.

His legs told him they’d had enough, he needed to sit or lie down. He did so, there on the cement floor, he lay back and stared at the light that hung from the ceiling. It burned into his eyes and he closed them. No longer seeing the outside word he looked inward, peering into a dark mess of tangled thoughts and emotions. He lost himself inside his own mind, retreating further and further inward, running from the outside.


Mar 10 2010

Red Light in the Middle of Nowhere

Wow, this is possibly the worst I’ve been yet, although maybe not quite as bad as I was over the summer. The month of February was very up and down and all over the place so I really didn’t get anything done other than spend way too much time pondering unresolvable issues, or at least issues that could in no way be resolved through pondering.

Something I did the other day that I feel is worth mentioning: a few friends and I went to see a Jukebox the Ghost show last Saturday. It was awesome. If you don’t know Jukebox the Ghost then you absolutely must go listen to their album Live and Let Ghosts, it is 100% fantastic. Also at said show were the bands Skybox and Tally Hall, neither of which I had heard anything about before the start of their tour with JTG. Skybox’s music can be pretty much summed up in one word, awesome, and Tally Hall can be done in two, weird and awesome. If you haven’t ever listened to either of them of which the chances are pretty high then again you absolutely must go check them out. You can download Skybox’s song “In a Dream” for free from their website http://www.skyboxmusic.com. For Tally Hall I recommend listening to the entirety of their album Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum not all of which I’m in love with but as a whole I think it works pretty well.

I also have some fiction for today, I’m not really sure I like it all that much but whatever it’s something.

Red Light in the Middle of Nowhere

The automatic transmission shifted into a lower gear and the engine revved as the car accelerated up an incline. The road here writhed like a snake, cutting through the thick woods on all sides, dodging around and at times darting over hills, skirting mountains that were no longer visible in the deep blackness that shrouded the landscape. The car’s high beams penetrated the darkness, illuminating the skeletal trees, and the solitary faded yellow line that ran unevenly along the center of the at times rough road. He hadn’t seen another car pass in what felt like a very long time, though driving has a tendency to distort ones sense of such arbitrary measurements as time, and distance.

He felt very, very alone. The CD that had been playing on the car stereo before had reached its end and he hadn’t bothered to restart it or find something else. The car was silent, apart from the fluctuating, muffled growl that came from the engine. The lights on the dashboard glowed softly, the neon orange speedometer pointer wavered between 45 and 50mph, an almost dangerous speed for the windy road on which he was driving, but the speed kept him alert. It was late, and he had been up a very long time. The darkened landscape which if illuminated would have revealed little more than an expanse of forest covered mountains created an atmosphere of complete isolation that ate away at him, he felt more alone than he had in a long time.

He glanced at the person sitting in the passenger seat. She was asleep. Her chest rose and fell with a slow and steady rhythm indicative of deep sleep. While he would have loved to continue gazing at her chest, garbed in a wonderfully low cut top, he pulled his eyes back to the road. He wasn’t sure exactly when it was that she had drifted off, it had probably been at least an hour, maybe two, since a word had passed between them. She was lucky to be able to fall asleep and miss the rest of the ride. He considered being annoyed at her for abandoning him to face the darkness and silence on his own but decided he should save his annoyance for situations that more deserved it. He didn’t mind driving all that much, although sleep would be nice. It wasn’t like they would have talked much if she had been awake anyway, it had been a while since they’d had a real conversation, like the ones they used to which could go on for hours if allowed.

She never ceased to confuse him, he had long since given up making any assumptions about the nature of their relationship or how she felt about him or even at this point how he felt about her. He found it easier to just not think about it, go along with whatever seemed to be working, drive the car.

The headlights passed over a bright yellow sign at the edge of the road, warning of a traffic light ahead. That was odd, a traffic light all the way out here didn’t make much sense. Another few hundred feet or so along the road the light appeared around a bend. He could see that it was red, and began to brake. He noticed that the light was solid, not blinking like most would at this time of night, this far from anything. He stopped at the white line painted onto the road. The intersecting road was much newer, the blacktop almost seemed to shine under the glare of the high beams, he could see to either side of the intersection that two vibrant yellow lines ran along it with reflectors placed periodically. The road to either side of the intersection was tinged green by the light, while he was bathed in red. Despite it’s sleek appearance and it’s green light the new road was similarly void of travelers.

The light stayed red. He wondered who on earth had thought it would be a good idea to put this light here, it seemed like a complete waste of money. There was no necessity for a light controlling two roads that no one seemed to travel. Hell even a stop sign seemed like more than was needed. At the most a single light blinking red in one direction and yellow in another would have sufficed. What hung before him here appeared to be the works, two lights faced in each direction, every one decked out with the full three colours. The ones facing him stayed red, and still no one drove past. He thought about whether he should just run the light, he doubted there was anyone else around for miles, let alone any sort of law enforcement. He didn’t though, it had only been a minute or so, surely the light would change soon.

He let his head fall back against the seat, it was firm and uncomfortable, probably with good reason. He tilted his head to look at his passenger, still asleep, but now he noticed her begin to stir. He figured that the car having stopped and the red glow of the light were what was waking her up. A minute or so passed and she opened her eyes slightly and murmured, still half asleep, “We there?”

“No, we’re stopped at a red light.”

“Mhm,” she said without any real recognition, and seemed to go back to sleep.

Another minute or so passed, his eyes began to feel heavy, and still the light did not change.

“This is one hell of a long light.”

Her voice, sharp and clear, startled him. He turned to see that she was now sitting up, fully awake and examining the surrounding area.

“How long have you been waiting here?”

“Dunno, few minutes or so.”

“Why don’t you just run it? There’s no one around.”

“I’m sure it’ll change at any moment.”

Another minute passed, and then another.

“Okay, I’ve never encountered a light this long in my life, clearly the damn thing is broken, so just go already.”

“It’s a red light, you don’t just go,” he said, not exactly sure why he was contradicting as he had thought the exact same things himself.

“Are you fucking kidding me? Not one single person has passed by while we’ve been sitting here like idiots, what possible repercussions could there be for running this one clearly broken and entirely pointless light in the middle of nowhere? If we don’t get a move on we’ll be late.”

“If we’re late it’s because you took forever to get ready to leave, I’d said we should leave a good hour before we actually managed to make it out of the door.”

“We left perfectly on time, leaving any earlier would have been pointless.”

“Clearly not, seeing as now you’re saying we’ll be late.”

“That’s because you’re just sitting here wasting time!”

“It’s a red light, you have to account for things like this, if you leave at the last minute then any delay turns into being late, and that is no fault of mine.”

“Oh, so when I’m going to go somewhere, I should factor in the time it takes to sit at red lights in the middle of nowhere that don’t ever turn.”

“That’s hyperbolizing it a little, but yes.”

“That’s completely and utterly ridiculous. Why are you being so impossible?”

“Oh, I’m the impossible one. That’s funny, I mean that’s really just hilarious.”

“What on earth are you talking about? I’m not the one refusing to drive across an empty road.”

“I… I don’t even know. You want me to go? Fine, I’ll go.”

“Than-”

He floored the accelerator, the tires screeched on the road and the car lurched forward. He brought it up to 60mph but then a twist in the road caused him to have to brake suddenly and slow down to about 45.

“That was uncalled for,” she said without any sort of tonal inflection.

“Sorry.”

“Do you know where we are, is it much further?”

“I really don’t have a very clear idea. Probably not too far.”

They sat in an uneasy silence for the next several minutes. He turned his head slightly so that he could see her face in the corner of his vision while still being able to keep an eye on the road.

“Do you love me?”

_____________________________________

One somewhat unfortunate result of the past few months is that from now on whenever I write a story about a male character and a female character inevitably someone or probably several someones will ask me “Is this about you and…?” To answer that question, no. (This time.)


Jan 21 2010

The Party

I wrote this for my creative writing final.

The Party

          Friday’s were by far the best day to host a party. People came relaxed, free from work and not far enough into the weekend to begin worrying about the pressures of the next week. Edward was a professional at hosting parties, a skill he had picked up from his mother, a woman who lived through her social life. During the years of his upbringing at least once a week their Upper West Side apartment would be filled with all the local socialites, friends of family, friends of friends of family, dates of friends of friends of family, and so on and so forth. Edward loved those parties. As a child Edward had always felt more comfortable around all of the adults than he did with children his own age, he absorbed himself in their talk of politics, social issues, and gossip. That is, until his nanny would seek him out from the circles of conversation and send him to bed.
          Edward was looking forward to tonight in the same way he looked forward to any social occasion. There was nothing special about tonight. There was no holiday, no recent success, nothing that warranted any sort of celebration. Tonight he was throwing a party simply for the sake of doing so.
          Edward waited with growing impatience for the caterers to arrive. However, his impatience was just a mask for what was really bothering him right now. Brooke. She’d said she would come. She’d said, “And is it okay if I bring a friend?” and he’d agreed. He should have argued.
          The buzzer rang, and he went to answer it. The caterers. He let them in, and retreated to his bedroom to let them do their thing. He lay down on his bed and stared at the ceiling. After an extensive examination he concluded the the ceiling was perfect, there wasn’t a thing wrong with it. Not only did it do an excellent job of separating him from his upstairs neighbor, which was the roof, but the paint was even and all ran in the same direction, and the corners were all ninety degrees. It was comforting to know that there was something perfect in this world of scars, and odd angles.
          The empty white expanse of ceiling soon left his mind blank, he thought about nothing in particular. Then Brooke walked into his mind. Striding confidently with that self assured walk of hers that could carry her anywhere. She appeared as she had the first time he’d seen her, walking across Washington Square Park through the rain to the Feminism and Theater class they were about to share, brandishing a bright yellow umbrella that stood out from the swarm of traditional black ones. He had made the mistake that day of not bringing an umbrella with him, and was thus in the process of being soaked when she had walked up next to him and held hers so that it covered them both. “Where are you headed?” she had asked. Turned out to be the same place she was. They had sat next to each other in the lecture hall. She had asked his name. “Edward,” he said. She giggled. “Why’s that funny?” he asked. “I don’t know, it’s just so… pompous. It makes me think of someone with a lot of money,” she said, not knowing she was speaking to a man with a large sum of inheritance attached to his checkbook, completing a degree in Gender and Sexuality Studies for no reason other than boredom. “What’s yours then?” he asked. “Brooke,” she said. And there wasn’t much he could say about that, other than, “Nice to meet you, Brooke.” “Nice to meet you too, Edward.”
          His cell phone vibrated in his pocket, a sensation that still made him jump. Brooke. A text message. “Probably going to be late this evening, sorry.” He sighed. This was just step one in the process of her not showing up at all. A process that he was all too familiar with. The buzzer rang again. The band. He sent them up to the roof to set up. He wondered if she was cheating on him. It seemed that they had been growing distant in the past couple months. She had always worked to keep a certain amount of distance between them, never letting him fully know her, rejecting the odd question seemingly at random just to keep him on his toes. It wasn’t uncommon for him to not know where she was. She made sure her life was hers, and his was his, and it wasn’t necessary that they know every detail, or where the other was at any moment in time during the day. This felt different though. It had all felt different, starting several months ago.
          “This is Damien,” she said, indicating the man to her right. “He writes.” The man was tall, with dirty blonde hair that hung at a careless length around his face. Just visible below it were his eyes, an almost unnatural blue, and looking at Edward in a way that made him feel this man could see everything about him. He had the sort of “starving artist” look to him, but was too well fed to pull it off properly. The man reached out his hand, which Edward shook with uncertainty that must have showed. And since then things had been different.
          Edward realized it was 5:00, guests would be arriving at 6:00, he had to get himself ready. He went to shower, shave, and dress. He wore a black suit with a thin lapel, and left the top two buttons of his shirt undone. He selected a tie he could put on if that turned out to be the trend, but he didn’t think it likely he’d have to come back for it. If all went according to plan tonight’s atmosphere would be casual and relaxed. Edward still had a half hour to kill until then though. He paced the apartment, straightening up. He moved a chair a few inches to the left, and then back to where it was, and then a few inches further to the right.
          He went back to his room and hit a button on the stereo system to make it play something. It shuffled through an extensive catalog of music and came back with a song he hadn’t heard in months, not since the last summer, almost 10 months ago. The notes fit into his mind like a key into a lock, and opened up a chest of memories from that summer.
          The evening was warm in a way that was pleasant then but would later pose a problem for getting to sleep. The waves rolled in and crashed methodically on the beach. Edward and Brooke walked hand in hand in the wet sand along the edge of the water line. The beach was deserted this late in the evening, leaving the two of them alone. It could only have been more perfect if they had been on the Pacific shore, where the sun would have provided a spectacular sunset out over the ocean, which for them was inland. Still, the key feature of the setting was Brooke, and she made everything else irrelevant. She shone in the few remaining rays of sunlight which turned everything golden. Her hair wafted in the gentle breeze which carried that wonderful smell of salt and stale sunlight.
          “I love… this place,” Edward said, having changed his mind partway through the sentence.
          “It is nice,” said Brooke.
          They walked on until it was dark, eventually getting back to the car and driving back to the house. That night they slept out on the dock, looking up at the vast expanse of stars. They seemed brighter that night than Edward had ever seen them before. He’d never looked at the stars with anyone before, and hadn’t realized what he was missing out on.
          The buzzer rang and Edward was pulled from his memory. He went to let in the first of his guests. He wondered who it was arriving slightly early. He opened the door. Jack. Of course.
          “Am I the first?” Jack asked, striding past Edward into the foyer.
          “As usual,” said Edward.
          “Brilliant,” Jack said and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Jack was a broker who traded on the floor of NYMEX, he survived primarily on cigarettes and alcohol.
          “If you must do that let’s at least go up to the roof,” said Edward. “If it smells like that in here people will think I’ve started again.”
          The band was still finalizing their setup in the far corner. Jack and Edward leaned against the railing on the west side of the building. The sun was setting, but the New York City haze obscured it’s brilliance. It was warm, at least for so early in May it was, and that was perfect for tonight.
          “So who’s coming tonight?”
          “The usual and I dunno.”
          “Brooke?”
          “She falls under I dunno.”
          “Huh.” There was a pause in the conversation, and then Jack continued. “What’s up with you two at the moment?”
          “I don’t know. It’s not like we’ve ever been the closest of couples, but recently she’s felt more distant even than usual. I just don’t know.”
          “Think she’s seeing someone else?”
          “It’s a possibility, anything’s a possibility with her though.”
          “Are you thinking about ending it?”
          “I’m not particularly motivated to at the moment, I’ll wait and see if things improve, if not then I guess I might.”
          “You used to feel very strongly about her, has that changed?”
          “Maybe, but it could just be we’ve moved past that new couple stage we were in for a while.”
          “I heard somewhere this guy did a study that showed love, the movie kind, only lasts six months. It doesn’t matter at all who it is, six months is all you have, after that the so called ‘spark’ is gone. Has to do with hormones or something.”
          “That’s rather depressing. Why does anyone get married then?”
          “That’s the question everyone asks, though generally they’re asking too late.”
          Edward heard the buzzer ring faintly downstairs. Jack stayed to lean against the railing and smoke, Edward went back inside to greet his next guests.
          Within a half hour Edward’s apartment was bustling with people. He moved from group to group, playing the gracious host, not neglecting to greet and chat with everyone in attendance. The band had started playing, food and drinks were being served. Laughter rang out every few moments, the lighthearted feeling spread to Edward despite his initial unwillingness to let it do so. A couple hours passed in this fashion, the sun went down, the band played louder, the party was in full swing. Edward went up to the roof and came upon a very drunk Jack.
          “Hey man, great party!” Jack said, exaggerating all the wrong syllables.
          “Yeah it’s all right.”
          “No seriously, it’s like out of one of those Smirnoff ads you know where all the people and hot girls get together to have some crazy party but really what makes it fun is all the vodka they bring and then it says “Be There” and you know what I’m talking about right?”
          “I do.”
          “Yeah, well it’s like that. Brooke ever show up?”
          Edward had managed to forget about her for the most part prior to this moment, the general goodwill that had accumulated in him dissipated instantly.
          “Not yet, haven’t heard anything since this afternoon.”
          “Hey man I’m sorry about that but you got to just forget about that bitch and have a good time you know? Here, let’s get you a drink.”
          They went in to the bar the caterers had set up.
          “Two White Russians.”
          “What? No. No no no no no.”
          “Yes. You need to lighten up and get in the party mood. This’ll do that.”
          “I don’t want a really bad hangover tomorrow.”
          “Don’t think about tomorrow. That’s your problem, you think about tomorrow too much, think about today.”
          “Today sucks.”
          “All the more reason to drink.”
          “Alright fine. But just the one.”
          “Excellent, here,” Jack said, handing Edward one of the drinks the bartender had placed before them and taking the other for himself.
          Edward drank, slowly at first, then finishing the rest within a few minutes.
          “You needed that more than I thought,” said Jack. “Lets go back to the bar.”
          And this time Edward didn’t protest.
          Half an hour later Jack and Edward were back on the roof, leaning against the railing and listening to the band play. Edward held his third drink in his hand and was debating whether or not it was a good idea to finish it.
          “This was a bad idea,” Edward said.
          “No, this was an excellent idea, this was an awful week and this is what I needed. You needed it too.”
          “What I needed was time to think, I did this to avoid that.”
          “Thinking is for people who don’t do. I heard some guy say that I think, and if he didn’t he should have.”
          “I think you made that up.”
          “There it is again, thinking, not good.”
          “I can’t do without thinking, that would be like… I don’t know. Something bad.”
          “That third drink’s really getting to you huh?”
          “You’re one to talk, your blood must be 80 proof by now.”
          “I can take it, you not so much.”
          “Whatever. I don’t know about you but I want to get out of here.”
          “You want to ditch your own party?”
          “I’m sure it’ll be fine without me.”
          “Where do you want to go?”
          “I dunno, out. Let’s just go, we can decide where when we get there.”
          “Alright, if that’s what you want.”
          The two of them left the railing and made their way through the crowd back downstairs.
          As they reached the lower level Jack exclaimed, “Hey look who showed up after all!”
          Edward looked around and saw Brooke in the foyer. Then he saw a man step behind her and remove her coat. Damien. He was too far away to hear anything being said but could see that she thanked him, and lightly touched his arm in the process of doing so. Edward thought they might as well just start making out right there in front of everyone and him. His clothes were cheap, and she had clearly dressed down for his sake. She saw him then, waved, and headed in his direction, but not without first tapping Damien to indicate that he should follow.
          “Sorry I’m late,” she said, and kissed him.
          “It’s fine, you haven’t missed much,” Edward said, although fine was possibly the last thing it was.
          “Hello again,” said Damien, smiling and reaching out his hand.
          Edward looked at him and was filled with a sudden rage. There was no question in his mind that this man and Brooke were having an affair. He wasn’t even sure why this made him so angry, but it did, he hadn’t felt fury like this before. His hand curled into a fist, and instead of shaking Damien’s hand he lashed out at his face. He struck him hard on the cheek, right below his eye. Damien fell back, knocking the drink out of the hand of a person standing close by, and then landing hard on the floor.
          “Edward!” Brooke exclaimed.
          Jack was standing next to Edward and reached out to restrain him, but there was no need. The room was quiet apart from the music and chatter coming from the roof, everyone stared at Edward. Brooke bent down to Damien, still on the floor.
          “Are you okay?”
          “Yeah, yeah I think I am.”
          Brooke turned back to Edward. “What on earth has gotten into you, what the hell did you do that for?”
          “Don’t act like you don’t know. Come on Jack, let’s go.”
          Edward walked past Brooke and Damien and out the door without looking back. Jack followed silently, closing the door behind them.
          “That was what I needed,” said Edward. “And now I need a drink, let’s go find a bar.”
          Jack continued to follow, despite the fact that any more drinking would put him at a serious risk of alcohol poisoning, and what Edward really needed was ice for his hand.


Dec 25 2009

Uninspired

Okay, so again I’ve gotten really bad about updating, but it’s not like anyone reads this so it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow’s Christmas, yay! (Sarcasm). A couple weeks ago marked the one year anniversary of my website, my web host kindly reminded me as that happens to be my billing period. It’s weird to think that this time last year I wrote something for this just about every other day. I feel kind of like I’ve run out of things to say, other than teachers are annoying, college applications suck, and women are confusing. Here’s something I wrote to that end.

Uninspired

He sat at his desk, trying to write. He stared alternately at the blank page in front of him, and the keyboard below his hands, which remained at rest. His hands were mocking him.
“Come on, you really can’t think of anything?” said his right hand.
“Yeah, what’s up with that?” said the left.
“Shut it, both of you, you’re not helping,” he replied.
“Why is this such a problem? You’ve had the most inspirational couple of months ever, and you can’t think of something to write about?” the blank page chimed in.
“I can’t just write what happened, I would need to change it, add stuff, take stuff out, make it unrecognizable to those not already familiar with the events that took place. I’ve been trying to do that, but I can’t, it always ends up being exactly what happened, and I can’t use that.”
“Then think of something else entirely,” his right hand said.
“Ever since this happened I haven’t been able to think of anything else. Every time I try to invent characters and plots all of the things that happened to me get into my head and I can’t think of anything else. It should be inspiration but it’s turned into writers’ block.”
“What about a Christmas story? Everyone loves Christmas stories,” his left hand suggested.
“All the best Christmas stories are about really dysfunctional families, and I don’t have one of those.”
“You’ve never had a girlfriend either, but that didn’t stop you writing all those other stories,” his left hand retorted.
“Fair enough. I dunno, I’m just not feeling it.”
“Well what are you feeling?” asked the blank page.
“Confused, annoyed, confused again, and now tired even though I didn’t get up until mid afternoon.”
“Well what abou –”
“How about all of you shut up so I can think straight, I’ll come up with something.”
“Fine, see if we care,” said his right hand.
He sat and looked at the blank page. He swiveled around in his chair and looked at the fish tank. It needed cleaning, he realized. He considered getting up and doing it right now as an excuse to not try and write, but that would just be delaying the inevitable. He swiveled back and sighed. He looked at the clock, in fifteen minutes it would be Christmas. He thought about what that meant to him. Honestly, he didn’t feel much. There wasn’t any of the excitement and anticipation that had kept him up on Christmas Eve when he was younger. Keeping him up instead was insomnia, and this damn blank page.

He hit the keyboard, just to see something on the page. The result was a jumble of letters which the computer underlined in red as soon as one of his hands made contact with the space bar. He struck out at the Backspace key and watched it all get erased. This wasn’t working. He had no ideas, he realized it had been a bad decision to sit down and try to force it, that wasn’t how he worked. He moved his hand from the keyboard to the mouse, and closed the word processor. The damn thing asked him if he wanted to save, despite the page being completely blank. He clicked yes, typed in “fuck this” and hit enter. He flipped the switch on his computer instead of shutting it down, and went to bed.


Nov 17 2009

Indigestion

No, I’m not about to write an article about indigestion, I thought it an appropriate title for the following story.

Indigestion

He sat on the kitchen floor, back against the cupboards. His eyes were open, but staring off into space in such the way that they may as well have been closed as far as he was concerned. He felt cold, even though there was no reason for him to. He was wearing a fleece and the heating was on, yet he shivered. He thought about the day’s events, and when he reached the moment he was currently at he thought about them again. It really had been one mess of a day. He thought about it over and over, trying different perspectives, different orders. He ran it forwards, backwards, sideways if that was even possible. He thought about the moment in class when she’d told him. Well, hadn’t even told him, just pointed, and mumbled sorry. It had been the worst moment of his life. It had felt like his brain had fallen through his neck and knocked his heart into his stomach which ended up cascading along with all of his other internal organs down to his feet. It was a moment that would be in his mind forever, similar to what had occurred the week before, but totally different. He’d felt sick to his stomach for the rest of the day since then, but he knew it had nothing to do with anything he’d eaten.

How was it that a day like this could come so soon on the heels of what had happened last week, when he’d had the best day of his life? How was it that his whole world could be turned upside down with a hand gesture? The rest of the day passed in a blur from that point. He didn’t pay attention in classes, and when he got home he couldn’t do homework, he couldn’t work on college applications, he couldn’t even sleep. He put on The Daily Show to try and forget it all but he couldn’t laugh. Even when he was able to focus on the show he just didn’t find it funny. He doubted there was a thing in the world he would find funny at that moment. He felt like he might not find anything funny ever again. Well, that was an exaggeration, but he felt like he was allowed to exaggerate, rather that he needed to exaggerate to fully communicate the utter emptiness he felt inside, which wasn’t just from not being able to eat.

He tried to think of what he was going to do now. Doing nothing would drive him insane, he knew that for sure. He’d done nothing his entire life and always regretted it so nothing was not an option. The past five weeks had been weeks in which he had done something, and those had gone pretty well, at least until today. Maybe this was the sign that his luck had run out. He sighed, he was at a loss for what to do, he was at a loss for what to think, hell he was even at a loss for what to feel. He’d felt it all that day. He’d been angry, in denial, depressed, even accepting a couple times. Anger had been his favourite, except he didn’t know who he should be angry at, other than himself for feeling this way in the first place. He ended up just lashing out at whoever happened to be near. He wasn’t angry now though, but nor was he in denial, or even depressed. Well, maybe a little depressed. He wasn’t accepting either. He felt like this still had to go somewhere. Last week had meant too much to him not to go anywhere. He thought back to last week, a happier time when everything had seemed right with the world. He remembered the moment, standing with her in the unused stairwell, the way she’d smiled, the feeling of her hair in his hand, of her hands on the back of his neck, of her lips on his. All he’d been able to think about for the rest of that week was that he wanted to do that again, and he still felt that way now, but it was coupled with the knowledge that it wouldn’t happen.

He turned his head and looked at the empty space next to him. He imagined that she was sitting there with him on the floor. He imagined how much better that would make him feel, and that made him feel worse. He imagined that he would uncross his arms, and put one around her shoulders. She would lean against him, maybe rest her head on his shoulder, and all would be right with the world. He imagined that they would talk. They would talk about anything, he loved conversing with her. He would say something funny and she would laugh, then he would kiss her again. A slight movement somewhere caused his eyes to refocus and he saw just the plain white emptiness of the kitchen cabinets. He almost lost it right then and there, he was flooded with so much sadness and anger and everything he’d felt for the past five weeks rushed into his mind. His stomach tightened and he thought for a moment he might actually get sick, but the feeling died down, and he was left numb, void of thought and emotion. He thought about today again, and got no further than he had before.

As he was sitting on the floor contemplating all of this his dog came over and lay down against his leg. He didn’t think that anyone could have been more comforting than the dog at that moment. She didn’t say anything, she didn’t ask questions, she just knew something was wrong and did what she knew would help. Either that or she wanted something warm to lie against. Either way it didn’t matter much to him.

“Well, I’ll always have you, won’t I?” he said to the dog, and in that moment realized exactly how pathetic his life really was.


Oct 13 2009

The Proposal

This is another of my creative writing assignments. I personally feel that it’s a pretty good one, but I’m not necessarily the best judge. Also, I just today noticed that I titled this the same as a movie that recently came out, I would like to clarify that this has nothing to do with that movie.

The Proposal
“Think I should do it?”
“Yes, that is an excellent idea.”
“Really?”
“No, it’s a terrible idea. But it’ll be hilarious to watch, so go.”
“You need to come with me.”
“No way.”
“Come on, I need a wing man.”
“Okay, let me detail what is going to happen if you go through with this. You march over there, right? You get here attention, maybe pull something like a, ‘Hey what was the homework for that class we have together?’. Then you go for it, you ask her. You say something like, ‘Wanna hang sometime?’, or if you’re a man, men make decisions, you say ‘Let’s go see that movie this Friday’. Am I right so far?”
“Yes, but I’m a man, you’re just a sexist.”
“Everyone’s sexist, women just as much as men. But that’s beside the point. At this point the bomb as been dropped, and the situation is about to explode in your face in one way or another with varying degrees of unpleasantness. Your heart is in her hands, and she’ll either hand it back politely, then turn around and wipe her hands on her napkin, or she’ll punt it across the cafeteria. In the first option she’ll respond with awkwardness, maybe almost as much as will already have been provided by you. This means she at least feels sorry for you and doesn’t want to just shut you down cold. She may go with the, ‘I’m busy… for like a while,’ or just a, ‘No thanks,’ maybe even pretend she’s seeing someone else, which based on your stalker-esque studying of her we both know is not true. Now the second option, god forbid. I know you have this odd faith that she’s really a good person but she’s sitting with all her friends over there and to save face she may have to with an emphatic, ‘No way!’ or something along the lines of , ‘Just who the hell do you think you are?’ In any case, the whole think will be a veritable nuclear blast of awkwardness and embarrassment and I for one will not be caught anywhere near ground zero.”
“What makes you think she won’t say yes?”
“I think the chances are very very low.”
“It could happen. Yes, according to quantum mechanics any number of things could happen, but will they? No. But this is not fiction where one can expect such things, and if you don’t like the outcome you can’t put the book down or turn off the TV.”
“So should you not turn the page to begin with?”
“It’s not a very good metaphor. Actually, I take that back. It’s a great metaphor, you’re just misinterpreting it.”
“No, you’re misinterpreting it?”
“How can I misinterpret my own metaphor? I made it up.”
“Never mind. You’re my friend, you’re supposed to support me in these things.”
“Okay, go ahead. Do it. I’ll be waiting on the next page, laughing.”
“Alright. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it!”
And he stood up and left. He walked at an even pace across the cafeteria, trying to look cool casual but coming off mostly awkward.
Damien watched his friend walk off with unease. The thing was, Mitch actually had a chance of a good outcome here. She might say yes, it was unlikely, but stranger things have happened. If that happened, it still probably wouldn’t go anywhere, but again, stranger things. And if that happened, his closest companion would have a girlfriend, and he didn’t think he could stand that. Just one big constant reminder that he was a failure, and the chance that he wouldn’t see his friend as much. On the other hand, if she said no, Damien would have to be all consolatory. Make some remarks about “Who needs women?” or, “Well it’s her loss”. There was also the fact that he just didn’t want to see his friend get hurt.
Mitch had reached her table now. He said something, and she responded in a light, cheerful way, probably meaning he’d just asked about homework or something. Then it happened. He asked her. Damien could feel the awkwardness from half-way across the cafeteria, it hit like a wave. He was surprised the people near them hadn’t all been incinerated or something. Not even a cockroach could withstand the awkward radiation emanating from this situation. Her face changed, her smile sort of dropped a little. She regained her composure though and said something back, though from what Damien could tell it was with sort of an uneasy manner. At least she hadn’t gone for option two. Mitch appeared to sort of stammer something along the lines of, “That’s fine, see you around,” and started to walk back.
When Damien thought about it though, at least Mitch had had the courage to go over there and do that. Damien knew he would never have the guts. The fear of what was on the next page kept him from the potential joy it might hold.
Mitch sat down next to him.
“She said no.”
“That sucks.”
“You were right, I shouldn’t have done it.”
“No, I was wrong. You did the right thing, and maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to be able to do it as well.”
Mitch sighed.
“And anyways. Who needs women?”

The Proposal

“Think I should do it?”

“Yes, that is an excellent idea.”

“Really?”

“No, it’s a terrible idea. But it’ll be hilarious to watch, so go.”

“You need to come with me.”

“No way.”

“Come on, I need a wing man.”

“Okay, let me detail what is going to happen if you go through with this. You march over there, right? You get her attention, maybe pull something like a, ‘Hey what was the homework for that class we have together?’ Then you go for it, you ask her. You say something like, ‘Wanna hang sometime?’, or if you’re a man, men make decisions, you say ‘Let’s go see that movie this Friday’. Am I right so far?”

“Yes, but I’m a man, you’re just a sexist.”

“Everyone’s sexist, women just as much as men. But that’s beside the point. At this point the bomb has been dropped, and the situation is about to explode in your face in one way or another with varying degrees of unpleasantness. Your heart is in her hands, and she’ll either hand it back politely, then turn around and wipe her hands on her napkin, or she’ll punt it across the cafeteria. In the first option she’ll respond with awkwardness, maybe almost as much as will already have been provided by you. This means she at least feels sorry for you and doesn’t want to just shut you down cold. She may go with the, ‘I’m busy… for like a while,’ or just a, ‘No thanks,’ maybe even pretend she’s seeing someone else, which based on your stalker-esque studying of her we both know is not true. Now the second option, god forbid. I know you have this odd faith that she’s really a good person but she’s sitting with all her friends over there and to save face she may have to go with an emphatic, ‘No way!’ or something along the lines of , ‘Just who the hell do you think you are?’ In any case, the whole thing will be a veritable nuclear blast of awkwardness and embarrassment and I for one will not be caught anywhere near ground zero.”

“What makes you think she won’t say yes?”

“I think the chances are very very low.”

“It could happen.”

“Yes, according to quantum mechanics any number of things could happen, but will they? No. This is not fiction where one can expect such things, and if you don’t like the outcome you can’t put the book down or turn off the TV.”

“So should you not turn the page to begin with?”

“It’s not a very good metaphor. Actually, I take that back. It’s a great metaphor, you’re just misinterpreting it.”

“No, you’re misinterpreting it.”

“How can I misinterpret my own metaphor? I made it up.”

“Never mind. You’re my friend, you’re supposed to support me in these things.”

“Okay, go ahead. Do it. I’ll be waiting on the next page, laughing.”

“Alright. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it!”

And he stood up and left. He walked at an even pace across the cafeteria, trying to look cool and casual but coming off mostly awkward.

Damien watched his friend walk off with unease. The thing was, Mitch actually had a chance of a good outcome here. She might say yes, it was unlikely, but stranger things have happened. If that happened, it still probably wouldn’t go anywhere, but again, stranger things. And if that happened, his closest companion would have a girlfriend, and he didn’t think he could stand that. Just one big constant reminder that he was a failure, and the chance that he wouldn’t see his friend as much. On the other hand, if she said no, Damien would have to be all consolatory. Make some remarks about “Who needs women?” or, “Well it’s her loss”. There was also the fact that he just didn’t want to see his friend get hurt.

Mitch had reached her table now. He said something, and she responded in a light, cheerful way, probably meaning he’d just asked about homework or something. Then it happened. He asked her. Damien could feel the awkwardness from half-way across the cafeteria, it hit like a wave. He was surprised the people near them hadn’t all been incinerated or something. Not even a cockroach could withstand the awkward radiation emanating from this situation. Her face changed, her smile sort of dropped a little. She regained her composure though and said something back, though from what Damien could tell it was with sort of an uneasy manner. At least she hadn’t gone for option two. Mitch appeared to sort of stammer something along the lines of, “That’s fine, see you around,” and started to walk back.

When Damien thought about it though, at least Mitch had the courage to go over there and do that. Damien knew he would never have the guts. The fear of what was on the next page kept him from the potential joy it might hold.

Mitch sat down next to him.

“She said no.”

“That sucks.”

“You were right, I shouldn’t have done it.”

“No, I was wrong. You did the right thing, and maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to be able to do it as well.”

Mitch sighed.

“And anyways, who needs women?”


Sep 17 2009

Creativity

I’m taking  a creative writing course this semester and I’ll probably end up posting most of what I write here. Our first assignment was to take an adjective and write a 2-3 page story based on it, this is what I came up with:

Creativity

John drove his car along the road on his way to work, a menial office job to pay the bills while he worked on his true calling, his writing. He had the music loud, it helped him to think, which was what he was doing now. It was moments like these, when his body was involved in some mindless task, that his mind was able to wander and drag back the best of his ideas. He noticed as he drove that an abnormal number of cars were jumping out into the street in front of him from driveways, their drivers looking annoyed when he did not willingly yield to their intrusion. He occasionally had to hit the brakes hard, which annoyed him because it interrupted his thought process. He was working on a new character, but was stuck on a name. A name is so important to who a character is, it has to fit them just right, like a glove, and is by far the most bothersome part of their invention. Throwing together character traits is easy, but finding the right name to pull them all together like no other could is a veritable chore. He ran through the alphabet in his mind, going through the “M”’s. Mark, Max, Mike, Muncus… none fit. He was distracted again by yet another car pulling out suddenly in front of him. The driver gave him the middle finger, a sentiment which John happily returned.

John turned his thoughts to earlier that morning, eating breakfast with his girlfriend, Christi, who had moved in earlier that month, just a couple weeks ago. The move had been more about convenience than anything else really, that and the financial benefit of shared rent. It was going well, he’d thought, and had several times now contemplated asking her to marry him. That was after all generally considered to be the natural next step one took after moving in with someone. This morning had changed that. She’s looked up from the newspaper, started at him across her cornflakes, and flatly said, “Maybe it’s time you started thinking about a career in something.”
“What do you mean a career in something? I have a job.”
“A job is very different than a career. Do you really plan to spend the rest of your life filing papers? You have an education, go out and use it.”
“Of course I don’t plan to spend the rest of my life filing. Have you forgotten about my writing? Did we meet yesterday?”
“Yes, your writing,” she said with an air of exasperation.
“What? Don’t you think I’m any good? Should I just give up and pursue a ‘career’?”
“The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
“If you had any faith that I was going to get anywhere with writing you wouldn’t feel the need to pressure me into getting a fail-safe career.”
“Faith and sensible life choices are two entirely separate things.”

After that he hadn’t said anything. This was it for them and he knew it. No way would he ask someone who didn’t believe in him to marry him, and if there wasn’t the possibility of marriage, there wasn’t much of a point in continuing the relationship. He had thought it over through and through, occasionally he came to the conclusion that he might just be being petty, you couldn’t just decide to break off a serious relationship over one little argument. Hell it hadn’t even been an argument really, more a discussion. But it had also been much worse than any fight could have been. She didn’t have faith in him, that had been made plain and simple, and he could not live with that.
As he drove along the road he thought about this, and was suddenly inspired. This was great material, he could write about this. It would be heartfelt, meaningful, a wondrous piece. It could be just what he needed to jump-start his writing career. He wondered at how life could provide such great inspiration, how one such morning could provide the material necessary for a masterpiece. How wonderful life –

At this moment in time two things happened simultaneously. John noticed that his right turn signal was on, which he had not caught before because of the loud music. As he reached to turn it off, a car waiting to turn from a driveway pulled in front of him, this one too close to avoid, and he crashed into it. The front of his car crumpled, glass shattered, and the airbag exploded into his face. It was an experience that would have been worth writing about, had he survived.

This has I think one of my favorite lines that I’ve written so far: “Faith and sensible life choices are two entirely separate things.”


Aug 24 2009

The Delivery, Part One

So as promised here is my weekly update, and I think you’re in for a treat. This is part one of my story The Delivery, and I do plan to follow up with a part two, possibly a part three, and I plan to not take a long time about them either because I’m excited about this one. This story has it all: humor, action, suspense, possibly romance. Don’t hold me to any of that though because I’m actually not to sure where I’m going with this. All I know is that it’s going to be awesome.

The Delivery

The night was pitch black, the kind of darkness you find only in tar pitch, and Dick Cheney’s soul. There was no moon, and had it been in the sky it would have made little difference as a thick layer of clouds hung in the air, blocking out what would otherwise have been a spectacularly starry night. It was the kind of night where it felt like if you were to turn your back the darkness might reach out and swallow you, thus Damien stood with his back to the wall under the light next to the garage door, watching the road at the end of the driveway. Damien was a man in his early thirties, with long brown hair and an unshaven face. He was dressed in jeans and a plain white T-shirt, which did little to ward off the surrounding darkness, and looked dingy under the dim yellow light bulb above him, which isn’t to say that it wasn’t dingy in the first place. The house he leaned against was a small bungalow, a similar color to that of his T-shirt under the light, and just as dingy. Damien stood tapping his foot in the pavement and lightly slapping his hands against his thighs, keeping the rhythm to a song, or at least a fracture of one, that was stuck in his head. The tension was getting to him. He stopped tapping when a pair of headlights appeared down the road, but the car drove past and he resumed his nervous habit.

Despite the darkness it was hot, and humid. The warm heavy air surrounded Damien in the same way the darkness did, yet the darkness at least had the decency to hover outside the boundary of light provided by the dim yellow bulb. The moisture on his skin was more from precipitation than from sweat. Damien thought back to the summers of his childhood when every year his mother would take him to Arizona for six weeks to visit her family. The desert heat was of a higher degree, but was of the kind that beat on your back rather than clinging to your skin as was the tendency with this eastern humidity. And it went away at night. Damien had only his mother growing up, had never known his true father, as by the time he was born his mother had taken up with someone else who didn’t last long either. So it had been just him and his mother, living in a trailer park which pretty much made up the entire town of Slacksville, South Dakota. Looking back through the years Damien came to the conclusion that life had not been kind to him. But that was okay, because now he had a chance to return the favor.

He stopped tapping once again as another pair of headlights appeared at the end of the road. He watched intently as the car made its way down the road towards him, looking for any sign of it slowing down as it neared the driveway. He was disappointed when as it neared it did not appear to slow, but then at the last moment it suddenly braked and made the sharp turn into the driveway. The tires screeched a little on the pavement, and Damien flinched, the last thing they needed right now was the attention of the neighbors. The headlights now faced him and he had to squint as the driver had not yet bothered to lower the high intensity beams. The car stopped just in front of him, and with the lights still facing him Damien was unable to see who or what was in the car. The driver killed the engine and switched off the headlights. For Damien, whose eyes had begun to adjust to the glare, it was if all the light in the world had gone out, leaving him enclosed in a cloak of darkness.

Smart people may already be able to figure out my main character’s true identity, figuratively that is.