Hey guys! I know I didn’t write a post for last week, and it’s R-E-A-L-L-Y late in this week for a post! I’m really sorry about that though. *sigh* Woes of being a college kid! Sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day…or the night for that matter. SMH!
Anyway, I thought I’d treat you guys to a short story I wrote recently for my University Creative Writing Elective class. I don’t know the grade I’ve received from my lecturer for it as it yet, but I’ll still share it with you to get your feedback, because to be quite honest I’m not sure how good it is.
It is currently lacking a title. So, feel free to comment what you think an appropriate title could be, and any other CONSTRUCTIVE criticisms you may have. So here’s my story…
There’s still time to turn back, you know. You don’t want to? Hmmm, ok…
Well, without further ado…proceed!
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Who does she think she is anyway?! AAAHHHHHH!!! At this point, I was absolutely vile! I mean, why does she even need to see the contents of my bag? Is that going to somehow make this whole situation better? Make it all go away? Does it give her a sense of power or heighten herself esteem when she subjects me to this? My blood boiled in anger as these thoughts rapidly ran through my mind like a cheetah sprinting across the African Savannah. I didn’t say this to her of course, but I’m sure the death glare was a dead give away! Not that she could have noticed it however, as I quickly retreated into my mental lair and snatched my favourite mask off its holster on the shelf. You know, that one with the sweet, sheepish, plastic smile that gave me a look of such absolute innocence it would make a fly breathe a sigh of relief thinking it would live to see another day; that one always racked up the compliments. I was always doing that, you know, retreating into my mind. I did it so often, I started to leave the door ajar just because. I think putting on that face was for the best though because I could not deal with another conflict right now; I was already at strike two!
I calmly spread the contents of my carrier across her brightly-polished mahogany desk. Nothing special was there, really. First were my notebook and my folder. You’d think they’d matter to me as a college kid but they’re both pretty insignificant because of their relation to school. The only emotion I felt about those, was morbid revulsion and the sadistic zeal to cover them in gasoline and light a match. School didn’t matter anymore; it wasn’t my biggest problem. Next was my crumpled cardigan. My little pouch with the pastel-coloured flowers and all those “girly goodies” I don’t really like to talk about were also under scrutiny. Purse, pens, umbrella, and of course, my trusty phone! Lord knows that thing is my lifeline! Not because I can call friends and rant at a whopping thirty-five tweets per minute, but simply for the tunes man! When those earphones go in and the volume on that Script album goes up, the world turns off! Oh, how I wish I could lose myself in one of those songs right now, rather than listen to the curiously condescending grunts from these old bags, with every move I make.
They studied the specimens of my everyday life that were sprawled across the table with such wary prudence, I was about to slap the Dean’s Covergirl shade right off her poorly painted face, if she leafed through my book one more time. Then, she turned to my carrier itself. My heart lurched forward as she lifted it from its safe place on the office furniture’s surface. There was one thing I left in my bag, in that concealed pocket that never came in handy until now. I sent an express request to ‘The Man Upstairs’ as she struggled with the outside latch. I prayed she wouldn’t find the watch. The one that no longer tells time. The one with the scratches from that early morning. The one that is cracked and battered from incessant wear and tear. The one that I’d engraved and given to him. The one that found its way from him, back to me. His watch. I took my brother with me everywhere, even though he was gone. I pictured his watch, once firmly planted on his left wrist and now in my bag: its sturdy metal-linked band, and crystal face. It haunted me, making me wonder if my time was near. Its hands now frozen at that time: 5 o’ clock.
Now completely annoyed with this situation, I began to scan the walls of this baronial room for a clock. Maybe this was where my Cornell University tuition was going, because it certainly wasn’t to the crappy software and lab equipment we were using over on the Engineering Faculty! Finally I spotted the sizeable grandfather clock in the middle of the wall on my far right amongst pictures of stuffy-nosed past deans and decorative pieces of paper with fancy writing that inevitably gave these pompous witches titles and the corresponding pay cheques! “Jasmine,” the Dean said, “it seems like everything is in order here.” DUH, I thought to myself, still with that graciously fake smile plastered on my face. “But, there is still the issue of figuring out what your future here at Cornell will be, if that will end up being the case. Your grades have fallen, you barely attend classes and your company is questionable to say the least. I just don’t know what to make of it all! You seem so lost. First you were flourishing but now, your case is dismal at best!” she continues. Here goes nothing, I took a deep breath in anticipation of the well-planned speech we’d formulated for me to deliver. “Yes, Mrs. Murdock, I understand that my commitment to Big Red is hanging in the balances, but I assure you, I will do better. I just need some time to readjust and get back on track. It’s been really hard ever since, he, my brother…” and cue the sniffles and tears… “Since he, you know…” at this point, I paused for dramatic effect. Before I knew it, both the Guidance Counsellor and my Head of Faculty were at my sides, consoling me offering me a luxurious box of Puffs tissues. Good thing too, because I really hadn’t planned my speech any further than that point. I heard a chuckle in the background but I had to stay in character so I couldn’t acknowledge it. We could talk about it later. The Dean of Studies’ face was still set in a stern stare but I could see her brows slowly soften and there was a compassionate look in her eyes now glossed over. NAILED IT! “Our condolences to you and your family again, love. Jasmine, we didn’t mean to upset you. It’s alright, dear. We’ll talk about the matter another day,” said the Guidance Counsellor, followed by a murmur in agreement from the other two ladies. I was ushered from the office, with a gentle warning and the promise of a call to summon me for another fateful appointment with scholastic doom.
I rushed home and quickly fell into my evening routine even though it wasn’t even midday yet; it was just my normal “to-do list” for when I got home that made me feel comfy. I dropped my stuff into the corner in my room, stripped down and threw on my swimsuit and headed down to the pool for a soak. You see, she was right! I hadn’t always been the supposed screw-up I am now, but recently, everything that used to matter, just didn’t anymore. Dominic changed all of that. Here one day and gone the next, so much life left to live and so much potential left to explore. It had been three months since he passed and I was coping, I guess, but it just didn’t feel like Pythagoras’ Theorem, The laws of Physics and next year’s internship were so significant anymore. I really missed Dom. I missed how close we were. I still couldn’t believe what he did! He left me, all alone in the world. It would’ve been better if I had never found his journal. Maybe it would be better had I not known everything that I know now. I didn’t want to think about that anymore. I jumped out of the pool and patted off with my towel. Grabbing my gym bag from my closet, I slipped on my tights and headed to our studio. I thought I heard something at the window but I didn’t stop to look.
I opened the door and the musty smell of the wood filled my nostrils. The lights flickered as they came on revealing our clubhouse, mine and Dom’s. With its polished pine floors, full length mirrors and ballet barres, Dom and I spent hours in here perfecting our craft together as a team. From excruciating injuries of sprained ankles and bloodied blisters to agonizing arguments with out parents about whether dance was a hobby or profession, we had been through a lot in these for walls we had made our own. I dropped my bag on the floor and out fell his journal. I read the last entry again. He’d scrawled his handwriting across the ragged pages expressing his frustration with everything: school, friends, his relationship, his job, his future…even home. Wasn’t there anything good in his life? What about me? The last page held the planned suicide note. The words on the page stared me down. Depressed. Useless. Purposeless. Better off without me. Burning red filled my sight as I stared at my reflection in the mirror. I thought I saw him standing over my shoulder but then I didn’t. I grabbed my pen decided to make my own entry. I felt like someone was watching me but I didn’t see or hear anything and I didn’t care. I just sat there and poured my hatred unto the page! I wrote all the foul, abominable words of pain to my brother! I cursed him for all he did: teaching me how to ride a bicycle when we were little, coming with me to my first ballet class even when the other guys jeered him, helping me figure out what the guys who approached me were really thinking, being my personal body guard all day-everyday, being the confidante and comforter when the world’s spinning was too much, and being the intercessor with the parental units when I needed a “get out of jail free” card. Then I swore at him on that scruffy page for all the things he didn’t do: he didn’t stick around for us to do our newest duet together, he didn’t stay to watch me graduate University, he’d never hear me tell my parents that since I’d finally attained the degree they wanted and I was now ready to go get my own, he wouldn’t be there to hassle my eventual “Mr. Right” and dance with me on the only day in my life I’d probably wear full white! He made that choice. He was gone! He left! And I was furious!
When I was done scribbling, I stretched at the barre, plugged in the iPod, put it to shuffle, and walked to the room’s centre to prepare to dance. I stood in shock as the song began. It was our song; the last one we did together before he died in the summer. That couldn’t be a coincidence, but the iPod was on shuffle. The dance had been about a man and a girl he loved. When the music played, he danced with her memory, but when the tune ended, she faded away. My thoughts had raced so far off I missed my cue to start, but I felt a small forced move me and I quickly picked up and went through the motions. Pliés, pirouttés, arabesques, and tendus round and round the room; I moved as if being lead. We had danced together since his passing, but he wasn’t here this time; I was sure of it because I hadn’t taken him with me. When the song finished, I didn’t bother to stay and do another dance. I couldn’t handle another one. I needed to rest my mind. So I flicked off the lights and walked back across the yard to the house. Outside, the sun hung low.
The window to my earthly sanctuary was flung open as I curled up into my pastel-coloured, floral window seat with my phone, and the conspiracy-theory/murder-mystery novel I was trying to wade my way through in one hand, and the two glasses in the other. I was a regular acrobat. As he saw me he chuckled. I rested the cup on the window sill and looked across to him looking off into the distance from his perch in the tree on his favourite limb that just happened to be by my window. He had a perfectly good window seat in his own room and limb by his own window but he always chose to climb across to the one by mine and annoy me. I didn’t mind though because we’d always been close and I treasured that, especially now, but it wasn’t like it used to be.
“You’ve learned my ways well kiddo,” he said. “Boy, when I made the first batch, I felt like Jesus at that wedding in Cana; but that’s not why I called it Jesus Juice. Remember the reason, punk?” Dom said.
“Of course I do, you loser. It’s because that dude Jesus never went down without a fight, and neither does the drink! I’m still feeling the burn from last week’s mix!” I replied.
“That’s right, sis! At least you haven’t forgotten about that!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Chill. It’s just that you haven’t come to see me in a while; it’s like I don’t exist. And don’t try to make excuses because I know you heard me out here by the window earlier!”
“What?! When was that?”
“Earlier today! I saw you flinch, grab your stuff and head down to the clubhouse. We always go together but you didn’t even think to take me with you!”
“Maybe that’s because I’m angry at you! You left me Dom! If you wanted to be here and for me to take you along, you wouldn’t have done what you did! I’m realizing that this isn’t healthy! Or real, as a matter of fact!”
In that moment, I wished I could’ve reached out into the cool night air and pulled the words back to their woeful origin, but the damage had been done. His face showed no emotion but his eyes wailed in the moonlight that shone through the leaves.
“Jazz, you’ve got it all wrong! Don’t you remember what happened?” He paused waiting for my answer for which I gave none. “Fine. I guess I’ll go then. Later kid.”
I blinked back the tears that were welling up and in that same instant he’d disappeared. I didn’t even get to talk to him about what happened in the Dean’s office and how our plan to get me off the hook went off without a hitch. But I knew he’d be back though, because he hadn’t even touched his drink. I turned to head over to my bed, and heard another shuffle at the window. When I looked back his drink was gone! What have I done?! I thought. Throwing myself onto the window seat, I sobbed and heaved in almost physical pain. Why did I say that?! Why did I make him leave?! What if he never came back?!
Not knowing what else to do, I did what I always did. I grabbed the watched from my bag and I ran back to the studio in desperation and agony, tears flowing freely like never before. A gust of wind knocked me in through the door and then slammed it behind me. Shaking and sobbing, I stood dazed in the middle of the dark room. Eerily glowing, the mirrors faintly lit the space around me. As my eyes adjusted, I saw a figure standing before me. Glass in hand, it sipped leisurely. The toxic scent wafted my way as he spoke.
“How could you ever think I would just leave you like that? With no warning! Without saying goodbye!” Dom shouted.
I bellowed back, “But that’s exactly what you did! And I have the proof! I read your journal! I saw it with my own two eyes! You were unhappy! You planned to go!”
“No, no, no! You have it all wrong! I didn’t do that! I wouldn’t! I might’ve thought about it but I wouldn’t have done it anyway! I wouldn’t have left you!”
“Yes you did!” I screamed as I lunged toward him!
We wrestled in that hollow room; crashing into mirrors, shards of glass flying everywhere and splinters of wood creating a new layer on the floor.
“Jazz, you don’t even remember what happened that night, do you?”
“What are you talking about? Of course I remember! The coroner’s report said you died of a gunshot to the head. I heard the shot!”
“Yes Jazzy, you heard the shot…but you still don’t remember what you saw. Think Jasmine! Think!”
He had me pinned at this point! Struggling to squirm from his clutches, one of the fallen barres jabbed me in the side, sending my mind spiralling. I seemed to travel to another time and place completely.
The sky gleamed with iridescent colours a new day came to life. I shivered in the calm, fresh air as I sat in one of the chairs along our poolside. Clad in my wet pyjamas, I peered at the water droplets that now freckled his face. I remembered this morning. It was almost the end of summer and we had made massive plans including an all day game of truth and dare, the first of which was a polar bear swim. But why was I here now? Dom had been clutching his journal and going on about the rest of our plans and how he had been thinking about something really deep and needed to tell me when we heard a rustle in the hedge. Suddenly, someone jumped out of the bushes pointing at us that black barrel of death. Dom immediately sprung into action trying to get the gun, while I stood gaping at the guy from around the corner then two houses down who’d been hounding me for a date since the beginning of the holiday! I hadn’t given him the time of day, of course, and the last time I walked past with Dom, he’d shouted something about incest, how I’d been “dissing” him and how he’d make me pay! We’d just scoffed and kept walking, but that uneasy feeling lodged in my core. Now here he was, ranting and raving about me being a bitch, and how sick my brother and I were! He broke free and tried to pounce on me still frozen in my place, but Dom to the rescue, pulled him back. They rolled on our back lawn, grass tufts stuck to them. The loaded life-stealer tumbled over to me. I picked it up. I aimed. Then…POW! The creep grinned menacingly as he was finally released from the now lifeless tangled body in the dew. My heart racing and stomach churning, I pulled the trigger once more, this time hitting me intended target. With the explosion, I was whisked back to the dark studio. My blood now cold, I collapsed in front on the cracked mirror.
“You didn’t do it. I did!”
Dom hovered over me, nodding his head. “Yes, you did.”
“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hit you! I don’t know how I missed! I can’t believe I’ve been angry at you for all this time when I’m the one to blame,” I wailed.
He bent down and kissed me on the cheek. “I’m not the one you need to apologize to, though I doubt your apology will be accepted anyway.”
“What do you mean?” I sniffled.
As I knelt on the floor confused and staring into the mirror, I retrieved the watch from my pocket. Usually when I had the watch, Dom would appear and as usual, here he was standing over me. I knelt there fingering the watch’s cracks and pieces, staring up at Dom’s reflection in the mirror still waiting for his explanation. He snickered in a frightening way, reached up to his face, and then, he slid it off. I gawked at the horrid reflection I saw in the mirror. My heart sank and I felt a giant pang in my stomach. If I had thought I’d felt alone before, I really felt isolated now!
The face behind that mask, was my own. I looked down at the watch, gasping for air in my disbelief. Then, something on the watch’s face struck me as different. I let it fall to the floor and my body buckled and followed in the same fashion. It’s hands now read 5:01.
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With that being said, I apologize for my absence once again (which I’ll tell you guys the reasons for, once I find the time that is…like that’ll ever happen *clears throat*). Remember to like and comment PLEASE and thank you in advance!
xoxo, from where my dreams grow…