Short Story Sunday 303: Charismatic

Short Story Sunday: "Charismatic" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Writing |

Lily always had a way with words. She easily out out of anything she didn’t want to do or something she forgot to do and didn’t want to get in trouble. For example, if she didn’t do her homework, she always had some elaborate speech cooked up. It wasn’t an excuse as to why she didn’t get her homework done. It was a reason why she didn’t get her homework done. It often inspired the teacher in some weird way and the class she performed in front of cheered in excitement.

She was also able to get herself into something she wanted to do. If she was too young, it suddenly wasn’t an issue anymore. If there was no more room in the group or the tickets were sold out, an exception could easily be made.

One day, though, her charm was bound to run out. Asher was sure of it.

He couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that someone could be so manipulative. That someone could have everyone wrapped around their finger. Asher hoped – no, he knew – she would cross paths with someone soon enough who would see right through it.

Her charisma skills worked all throughout high school with teachers and peers. They also worked at her retail job. Surely a college professor would see through it all, right?

Asher pulled into the parking lot on their first day of college. He had separate classes from her and was disappointed he wouldn’t get the chance to see her crash and burn in front of her new peers. Then again, it was only the first day so Asher didn’t think there’d be anything for Lily to crash and burn about.

He already had homework though. Last week when he checked his school email, he noticed a message from one of his professors who assigned something due for the first day of class. He wasn’t sure if it was legal to begin the class before the semester officially started, but he did it anyway. Asher couldn’t come up with a well-told story like his sister could. He couldn’t lie and he didn’t want to lie. Lily was always the mastermind behind their twin shenanigans when they were young. They almost never got caught and, on the few occasions they did, Lily managed to get them out of trouble with her fancy words.

Lily hopped out of the car and drew in a deep breath. “Just smell that brand new air!”

Asher turned the car off. He got out of the driver side and opened the backseat to grab his backpack. “You mean the college smell of smokers and drinkers?” he closed the door and made his way around the front of the car.

Lily gently whacked him on the arm with a flick of her wrist. “Come on, be excited, will you?”

“I’m nervous.”

“Don’t be, you’ll do great. You’re the smartest guy I know,” Lily said. She started walking across the parking lot, Asher remaining by the car, watching her.

He didn’t think he was the smartest guy. She had always been smarter than him. Aside from the charm and her way with words, she always had straights A’s in school somehow. He didn’t understand it when she didn’t do her homework most of the time, but she somehow managed to get through life the easy way. He wasn’t so sure this would be the case for her now that they were in college.

“Hey,” he called after her, jogging to catch up. She didn’t reply, didn’t even look back over her shoulder at him, but he managed to get beside her anyway. “Where’s your bag?”

Lily held up her arm where her beige purse was hanging from.

“No, I mean your backpack,” Asher said exasperated. “Where are your books? Notebooks? Pens?”

“I have a pen in my purse if I need it,” Lily replied.

Asher couldn’t help but roll his eyes. It was their big day. They had both been waiting for college their whole lives and she couldn’t even come prepared. Sure, a pen was great to have but it didn’t do much when you didn’t have paper to go along with it. Though he supposed she figured she could worm her way into getting the supplies she needed for free.

In fact, now that Asher thought about it, he wasn’t sure she had even gotten her textbooks. He let out a sigh.

“Are you okay?” Lily asked as they reached the door to the main building. “Do you need a minute?”

“What? No, I’m fine.” Asher shook his head.

She stared at him softly. “You will be okay, you know. College is just another school. You’re smart and know what you’re doing. You’re going to kick ass in all your classes.”

Asher chuckled, looking at the ground sheepishly. He didn’t expect such a compliment to come from his sister. They were close when they were younger, but they sort of drifted apart as they got older. Despite being twins, Asher had a hard time relating to her on many different levels.

Lily leaned in class and gave him a tight hug. “Today is going to be a great day!”

She didn’t wait for him to reply. She opened the door and disappeared into the building not even holding the door open for him. Asher remained outside for another moments. He didn’t think his sister had it in her to give such a compliment. Then again, he wondered if she was using her charm on him? He couldn’t tell anymore.

He wanted to heed her words though. Today was going to be great day and he needed to focus on the three classes he had. He wasn’t Lily to have a great day as well. He wanted her to succeeded.

On the other hand, he wanted her to have a rude wake-up call. Though, maybe she had somehow matured overnight. He couldn’t be too sure.

“Yo, are you going in there or what?”

Asher was startled by the unfamiliar voice behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see two girls and three guys standing behind him. He laughed nervously and entered the building, holding the door and allowing them to go in first. They all ambled in as though they were a train. The caboose stopped beside Asher and smiled at him.

“First day?” he asked.

Asher shrugged. “Nah, I’ve been here for years.” He let out an unwanted snort and fake-coughed to cover it up.

The guy replied with a sympathetic smile and a quick nod. “Well, good luck today.” He walked inside the building.

Asher sighed. If Lily were here, that conversation would have gone smoother. In fact, he might have even made a new friend. Now he probably seemed like a freak to that guy and the rest of the group. There was no point in standing there calling himself an idiot. He walked inside the building and headed to his first class.

When Asher made it back to his car, Lily was already standing there waiting for him. It had been a long morning – at least for him – and he wasn’t sure if he was ready to hear about Lily’s day. He only had three out of his five classes and he already had so much homework and hated one of his professors. (The professor being the one who gave homework due the first day, of course.)

Asher unlocked the car and made his way to the driver’s side without bothering to even look at his sister, who was leaning against the passenger side door. She was suspiciously quiet and Asher had a feeling that, if she had a good day, then she’d be talking nonstop.

Once they were both sitting in the car, Asher stared absentmindedly at the dashboard. He dared to cast a side glance at his sister who seemed to have the same expression on her face. He drew in a deep breath.

“So… how was your day?”

Lily turned her head in slow motion to gaze at him sadly. “College is hard. They yell at you if you don’t have paper. It didn’t matter what I said or didn’t say. My professor has officially put me on his shit list.”

Asher was shocked. “He didn’t actually say that, did he?”

“No, but his face said it all.” Lily leaned her head back against the headrest.

Asher thought he’d be happy that she got a rude awakening. However, he felt bad for her. College was supposed to be a fun experience and both of them had nasty first impressions.

“My other professor was fine. He didn’t care about anything. In fact, he barely looked at me. I don’t know if he knew I was even in the class. Still, he told us point blank that he doesn’t care if we bring our materials. He doesn’t even care if we bring ourselves. He said he gets paid regardless of whether we pass or fail,” Lily explained.

Asher nodded as he listened. That all made sense. He had heard mixed messages about college. His high school teachers all told him college was going to be crazy hard and the professors were strict. They wouldn’t let certain things fly like the high school teachers did. On the other hand, he talked to many people who had already gone to college or were still in college – such as cousins and friends of the family – and they all said that more professors don’t care. They said every once in a while he’d get that professor that everyone hates but college, for the most part, is pretty laid back. High school teachers use college as a way to scare their students into doing better.

“I don’t get it. I’ve never had to follow the rules,” Lily said.

Asher didn’t know what to say. He put the key in the ignition and turned the car on. He always wondered whether Lily knew what she was doing or not. He didn’t know if she was constantly trying to get out of doing things or trying to get people to bend at her will. Or maybe it was just her personality and for some reason those things always seemed to work in her favor. Now it was clear to Asher that she knew what she was doing. She knew most people gave her whatever she wanted and she was using her powers for evil.

“Put your seatbelt on,” he said as he pulled out of their parking spot. He saw Lily obey out of the corner of his eye.

“Did you have a good day at least?” Lily asked quietly.

Asher shook his head, keeping his eyes on the road.

“I’m sorry.”

Asher glanced at her. She genuinely sounded sorry which was unusual for her. She normally talked about everything that was going on in her own life, mostly about the good stuff. She never really asked how he day went or what as going on in his life – not as they got older anyway.

“College is going to be rough, huh?” Lily asked.

Asher nodded. “Most likely.”

There was a brief silence before Lily drew in a sharp breath. “Can we drive to the store so I can get some stuff for school?”

Asher felt as though he were about to have a heart attack. “You want to buy school supplies?”

“Apparently I need notebooks and stuff.”

“That’s not breaking news,” Asher chuckled.

Lily shrugged. “I know our old teachers used to say college was hard but so many other people told us that it would be laid back.

Well, mostly. So, I figured it’d be the same as high school. But I guess maybe I’ll actually give it a try.”

“You mean you haven’t been trying all these years?”

Lily snickered. “I didn’t have to. People like to listen to me talk.”

Asher rolled his eyes.

“Don’t give me that,” she warned. “It worked out in both our favor when we were kids.”

“Unfortunately,” Asher began, “we’re not kids anymore.”

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