Short Story Sunday #57

SSS Crowd

            She was carried along by the crowd. She tried to reach her arms through people and also tried to see over their heads, but she was too small. She called out his name a few times, but the crowd was so loud in yelling and stampeding through the streets, that no one could hear her; she couldn’t even hear herself.

Amanda, when she could no longer see Jeff, turned around and started walking among the crowd. She didn’t know where they were going, but she thought that it would be easier to walk with the crowd than against. Maybe she could find a small gap that she could fit through and make it to the sidewalk. Then she could backtrack and try to find Jeff again.

She hoped Jeff was thinking the same thing and was trying to find his way back to her.

Amanda picked up her feet and was marching through the streets. She felt so small with the entire crowd surrounding her that if she walked as she normally did, she knew for sure that she would fall and get trampled.

Finally, she found a small opening and tried to walk through it when someone grabbed her arm. She was startled and tried to wriggle free, but she couldn’t get out of the grip.

“Stop, it’s me! Jeff!”

Amanda turned around and noticed Jeff right behind her holding onto her arm. She let out a sigh of relief.

“What are you walking with the crowd for?” Jeff demanded glaring at her.

“I was trying to get away, but I wasn’t strong enough to walk the opposite way. I was trying to make my way to the sidewalk.” Amanda explained.

“Hold onto my arm and do not let go. Follow me.” Jeff was still holding onto Amanda’s arm and she was holding onto his other arm.

He led the way diagonally. They were walking with the crowd, but there were making their way to the sidewalk where no one seemed to be around. Amanda was thankful that the stampede was protesting in the street and not the sidewalk. She thought that was odd, but she wasn’t going to say anything about it.

Finally, she and Jeff made it safely to the sidewalk. Holding onto her tighter, Jeff turned around and started running in the opposite direction of the crowd.

“Where are going to go?” Amanda called trying to keep up with him. Her legs were a lot shorter than his to the point that he was practically dragging her down the sidewalk.

“We’re going home to get some supplies and then we’re leaving the city.” Jeff answered, but he didn’t turn his head to look at her. He was too focused on where he was going.

“What is going on, anyway? Why are all these people so angry?” Amanda wondered.

“We’ll talk about that later in private!” Jeff shouted over the crowd. “We don’t want anyone overhearing our conversation. No more talking until we find the car.”

Amanda nodded her head even though Jeff wasn’t looking at her. With Jeff holding onto her hand and leading her, she watched the crowd trample by them going in the opposite direction. No one seemed to notice that other people were running the opposite way. None of the protesters seemed to care that they were scaring the lives out of some people.

Amanda had woken up that morning to crashes and bangs. When she peeked out the window she noticed that parts of the city were destroyed and on fire. She didn’t understand what was going on. She didn’t understand why the protestors were rioting. She went outside to look for her husband Jeff when she was accidentally swept away by the crowd.

Apparently Jeff was trying to pack the car and get their things together in an attempt to leave the city. That was why Amanda couldn’t find him in the morning and now that the crowd carried her so far away, she ended up delaying their escape.

However, she wasn’t sure what they were escaping from. She didn’t want to leave the city. She didn’t want to leave her home. It was the first house and her husband bought together when they first got married. They were going to start a family together soon. If they left the city, they would have nowhere to go. They would be homeless.

They made it back to the house and Jeff let go of Amanda’s arm. He barked some orders to her and Amanda immediately obeyed without asking any questions.

Together, the two of them ran into their house and grabbed as many belongings as they could. They didn’t bother to pack anything in suitcases; they just threw everything into the minivan and tossed the suitcases in after. They would sort through it all later.

“Is there anything else you need to get?” Jeff asked starting up the van.

Amanda looked back at the house. She and Jeff grabbed all their clothes, all the food they could carry, their stash of money, and any other essentials they needed. They were even able to throw in some things that had sentimental value.

“The house,” Amanda replied without thinking.

Jeff frowned.

“I know… maybe when this is all over we can come back with hopes that it’s not burned to the ground or broken into. I wish we could pack everything we have, including the furniture and the house itself. But we just can’t. Amanda, is there anything else you need to get? We need to leave… immediately.” Jeff explained looking sad.

Amanda shook her head and hopped into the front seat of the car. As she buckled her seatbelt, Jeff revved the engine and sped off. Amanda watched her house shrink in the distance through the side mirror and allowed a few tears to come down her cheek.

“What was going on?” she whispered to Jeff.

“They’re bringing the war here.” Jeff had a tear rolling down his cheek as well.

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Short Story Sunday #56

SSS Warning

            Ginny had been warned, but now it was too late. She didn’t think anything of it at first. She thought that people were just making a big deal out of nothing. However, when the day came she realized that she had taken the situation a little too lightly.

Ginny had a huge AP math exam. She was good at math; especially since she was in the highest math class. However, it was because that she was good at math, she thought herself to be a little too good. She didn’t put all her effort into her homework because according to her, she all ready knew it all. She never studied for her tests because she knew all the material all ready. That didn’t matter because she still managed to get good grades on her tests and even on her homework. Her homework didn’t even take her long to do at home after school.

It was her favorite class because she didn’t even need to pay attention in it. She was just that good at math. Since she never paid attention in class, she never bothered to take any notes. People in her class were amazed because even when the teacher called on her to answer a question, she was able to know the answer and get it right.

“How can she know all the answers if she doesn’t pay attention in class? She doesn’t even take any notes!” people would say about her.

Ginny would smile and smirk when she overheard some of these comments. She knew she was great at math and she had no problem showing it off; especially since math was such a tricky subject to some people.

“We’re all in the same AP math class, guys,” Ginny would say arrogantly, “you guys know the material, too. You’re probably just over thinking it all.”

No one liked it when she said things like that. Most people got angry with her because she was all about herself and how smart she was in math. She was too confident and it bothered people. However, Ginny never seemed to notice that.

So, when the final AP math exam was coming up at the end of the year, all the kids in her class were panicking. Ginny, on the other hand, was cool as cucumber. She still didn’t bother to take any notes or pay any attention in class, her homework was done in about ten minutes, and she never studied the review quizzes that her teacher would give her and the class to practice on for the exam.

“This exam is going to be a lot harder than what we’ve been prepared for all year.” One girl named Bea explained to their lunch table. “I know because my sister had Professor Henry. She said that he prepares you up to a certain point and then he expects you to do the rest of the preparing yourself. That’s why he gives us those tough review quizzes. He’s subtly telling us that the exam is going to be a lot harder than we think.”

“That’s stupid,”

“Yeah, that’s not fair!”

Ginny would laugh and smirk at everyone’s comments about the math exam. Once she snickered too loud, everyone looked over at her and glared.

“Just because you seem to think that you know it all, doesn’t mean that you should rub it in all of our faces.” Bea snarled. “Ginny, you should be studying, too. I believe every word my sister says. The test is going to be a lot harder than any of us has ever imagined. That includes you.”

“No,” Ginny chuckled, “I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

The bell rang to end the lunch period and Ginny stood up from the table. She smiled at all her classmates.

“If any one of you thinks you’ll need some extra help, I’ll be available to tutor you.” Ginny thought it was a nice gesture, but her classmates didn’t seem to think so. They assumed she was just rubbing it in again.

Ginny walked away with a smile on her face. She didn’t realize it, but maybe she was rubbing it all in.

A week later, it was time for the exam. Professor Henry passed out a large packet of math problem. Ginny stared at the packet in horror flipping through all the pages. She knew the exam was going to be big, but she didn’t expect it to be this big. Some of the pages only had one problem on it because the entire page was going to be needed to show work on how they found the answer.

Ginny looked around at her classmates and she was relieved to see that they all had the same expressions on their faces. They were all flipping through the pages looking at what kind of questions were going to be expected of them to know. Ginny shrugged her shoulders and closed the packet to the first page again. She folded her hands on her desk and waited confidently for Professor Henry to give them the okay to start.

“Now as you all can see,” Professor Henry paced at the front of the room, “the exam is rather large. That is why I decided that whatever questions you do not finish or get to, will not be counted against you. However, keep in mind that the less questions you do, the more points they’re worth.

“For example, if you only get to ten questions that mean each of those questions are worth ten points in order to add up to 100. If you get five out of those ten questions wrong, then you have a 50 on the exam and you fail. Does everyone understand?” Professor Henry stopped pacing and looked around the classroom.

Ginny too looked around the classroom with confidence. She chuckled to herself as all her classmates looked as though they were panicking on the inside.

“Wonderful,” Professor Henry stated with no emotion, “begin.”

Ginny looked down at the math packet and read the first question. She paused and her eyes widened. She had no idea what the question was asking her to do. She lifted her head and gazed around the room. Every single one of her classmates had their pencils moving. They seemed to know what they were doing, or they had an idea of what they were supposed to bed doing.

Ginny shook her head and tried not to panic right away like the rest of her classmates. She skipped the first question and looked down at the second question on the paper. She swallowed a large lump in her throat upon realizing that she had no idea what that question was asking, either.

I have an idea, she thought to herself.

Ginny flipped to the back of the packet and looked at the last question. Professor Henry tended to make each question harder as the tests went on. Maybe if she started with the hardest one and made her way to the easy questions, the information would come back to her and she would be able to do each question without a problem.

However, she had no idea what the last question was asking of her, either.

Ginny leaned back in her chair and glanced up at the clock. Five minutes have all ready passed by. She all ready wasted five minutes and she didn’t even start one question, yet. She didn’t even pick a question to start working on. She looked around the room once more and noticed that everyone was still scribbling away in their own packets. Some seemed to be on the same question and others seemed to have moved onto the next one.

Ginny sighed and looked back at the very first question once more. She put her pencil on the paper and took a deep breath.

Here goes nothing.

Short Story Sunday #55

SSS Glass

            The sound of breaking glass stopped her. She ran into the living room to see what had happened. There she saw her young daughter and their new puppy standing over a broken lamp. The dog and her daughter looked at each other with worried expressions as though they were both wondering how they were going to get out of that one.

“And just what do the two of you think you’re doing?” Anna placed both hands on her hips. She was glaring at her daughter.

“Uh…” her daughter smiled and shrugged her shoulders. The dog laid down at her feet and acted as though he was unfazed by the situation.

“Julie, you and Spot and need to get out of the living room right now,” Anna pointed to the stairs. “Go up to your bedroom and don’t come out until I go up there and talk to you. Watch your step; you’re not wearing any socks. The last thing we need right now is for your or Spot to step on a piece of glass.”

Julie bent down and grabbed Spot’s collar. She pulled him to his feet and motioned for him to follow her. He obeyed and together they walked up the stairs and disappeared out of the room. Anna stood her ground for a few moments and once she heard Julie’s bedroom door close, she then left to grab the vacuum cleaner.

Anna vacuumed up all the glass shards and threw away the big pieces. She looked at the coffee table and shook her head. That was the only lamp in the room. Now she was going to have to buy a new one if anyone wanted to hang out in the living room after dark.

She walked up the stairs and knocked on Julie’s bedroom door. Without waiting for a reply, she opened the door a crack and saw both Julie and Spot lying down on her bed.

“Okay, are you two ready to tell me what happened now?” Anna asked.

Julie sat up in her bed and Spot followed her lead.

“Well, Spot and I were trying to see who could run the fastest. I accidentally tripped over the coffee table and the lamp fell.” Julie explained sheepishly.

“You were trying to see who could run the fastest… in the living room? Where there’s furniture all over the place?” Anna deadpanned.

Julie nodded her head slowly.

Anna sighed, “Julie, do you think that sounds like a good idea? The broken lamp aside, do you think it makes sense to be running around a small area with a lot of objects in the way?”

Julie shook her head and Spot whined.

“I cleaned it all up for you. Please don’t let it happen again. Now we don’t have a lamp in the living room.” Anna explained.

“Sorry,” Julie stated softly.

“If you and Spot want to run around, please go outside next time. In fact, I think that’s a wonderful idea. You and Spot can go hang outside for a little bit. Go on,” Anna stepped aside so Julie and Spot could exit the room.

Julie looked as though she was going to protest at first, but she thought better about it. She hopped off her bed, Spot following her lead, and together the two of them walked out the front door.

Anna looked out the window and smiled when she saw Julie laughing and running around with the dog chasing her.

She walked back into the kitchen and resuming her cooking dinner with a smile on her face. It was quiet all of the sudden so it was nice to have that moment as she cooked. She should have forced Julie and Spot to go outside more often.

Anna turned around to bring something to sink when her elbow collided with her glass mixing bowl. That and all the ingredients inside it fell to the floor, shattering the mixing bowl. Anna’s shoulders slumped down in annoyance. She stopped what she was doing and grabbed the dust pan and broom.

Now only did she have glass all over the tiled floor, but now their dinner was all over the floor as well.

Short Story Sunday #54

OFFICE

            Everyone in the office turned and stared. Of course, he didn’t really understand why. Sure, he was a bit late for work and sure, he was still wearing his pajama bottoms, but was that such a bad thing? He was going to be sitting at a desk all day. Clients would only be able to see his shirt, which was a clean work shirt.

A few of the girls at the office were snickering as he walked by. A few of the men were shaking their head in disgust. However, some men were shaking their head as though they felt sorry for him.

He was carrying a small box tucked underneath his arm. It was all that he could grab at the moment and he was so upset that he didn’t want to leave it in the car. He wanted it to stay right next to him at his desk.

“Charlie, what happened?”

Charlie sat down at his desk and immediately his work friend was peeking over his cubicle shaking his head and staring down at Charlie as though he was in trouble.

“I really screwed up this time, Fred.” Charlie sighed. He gazed into the box that had a few of his belongings. “This was all I could grab this morning before she really lost her temper with me. I have to go home after work and grab the rest of my things… if she doesn’t throw them out for me or something…”

“You know, I feel bad for you, but I’m angry at myself for feeling bad for you.” Fred shook his head in disgust at himself. He ducked away and walked around coming inside Charlie’s cubicle.

“What did I tell you about having a mistress? If you don’t love your wife anymore, then you should have come clean and told her. You shouldn’t have been snooping around her back. You and Marcy are my best friends. I can’t imagine how she must be feeling right now.” Fred scolded him.

“It’s not that I don’t love Marcy anymore. I do love her. I really do.” Charlie looked Fred in the eyes. “It’s just that I met Linda and… we sort of clicked. I don’t really know how that sort of thing happens. We just met a couple of times as friends and then it eventually escalated. I didn’t mean for it to get out of control.”

“If you were just friends in the beginning, then why didn’t you tell Marcy where you were going for lunch every Friday?” Fred glared at him.

“Huh?”

“Marcy called me to talk and ask if I say anything at our weekly lunch dates. I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I told her that you and I never have lunch together on Fridays because you,” Fred pointed to Charlie, “told me that you always went home to have lunch with your wife!”

Charlie buried his face in his hands.

“If you’re going to use me in a lie, at least tell me about it. I hate lying to Marcy, but that was a stupid move on your part.” Fred stated.

“You know, I’m not the only victim here.” Charlie growled.

“Really? Because where I stand, your wife was the one who was cheated on. Not you.” Fred retorted.

“No, I was cheated on too!” Charlie growled standing up. “Linda’s married. I can’t believe she would do such a thing!”

“I cannot believe what you just said…” Fred’s jaw dropped. “So it’s okay for you to cheat on your wife with another woman, but it’s not okay for someone else to cheat on their significant other with someone else? That’s basically what you’re saying.”

“No, I just mean…”

“No, you’re pissed at Linda because she chose you as the ‘other man’ when you were using Linda as the ‘other woman’. I can’t believe you!” Fred’s voice escalated.

A large man stormed down the hallway and turned into Charlie’s cubicle. He was glaring at Fred and Charlie.

“What is going on here?” he growled. “I can hear Fred all the way down at my office. Charlie, why are you not dressed? Why were you late today?”

Fred took a step back not wanting to get into a tiff with his boss.

“Sorry, Charlie and I were just sorting something out. I’ll get back to work.” He stated and walked away.

Charlie turned on his computer and didn’t say a word to his boss. He just pretended that he was wearing h full work suit and that he had all ready been at work for the past two hours like he was supposed to be.

“Charlie, what happened?” his boss asked.

“My wife kicked me out of the house. That’s why I was late because I was trying to get back into my own home. That’s why I’m not fully dressed because she kicked me out before I was able to finish getting dressed.” Charlie explained.

His boss stared at him as though he knew exactly why Charlie had gotten kicked out of his house.

“I heard your conversation with Fred from my office. I know what happened.” He said quietly.

“Yeah, well I’m not really in the mood for any sympathy at the moment. I’ll just get back to work.” Charlie said arrogantly.

“Sympathy?” his boss glared at him. “I don’t give sympathy to anyone who cheats on their wife; especially when they cheat on their wife with my wife!”

Charlie stopped typing on the computer and looked up spacing out with wide eyes.

Oops.

Short Story Sunday #53

KNOW-IT-ALL

            He just wouldn’t shut up. Everyone in the class was getting super annoyed with him. The professor was even getting frustrated with him as well. No matter what anyone said or did, this kid had something to say. He always had to have the last word.

He was older than myself and the rest of the kids in my class. I wasn’t sure how old he was, but he had to at least be in his 40s or 50s. I didn’t understand why he was back in school; or still in school. Of course, he was coming back to school to learn something new or to prepare for a new career, than more power to him. However, in order to learn in class you need to keep your mouth shut and listen to what the professor was saying.

Every time the professor began a lecture, he would raise his hand and interrupt without waiting for her to call on him. It always related to what we were learning in class, but he always had something to say. Whether it was a statement or a question, he had to let everyone know that he knew exactly what was going on and that he was… well, smarter than everyone else.

I wasn’t sure if he was trying to be a know-it-all or if that was just his personality. However, he was giving the professor and the rest of my classmates the wrong impression. Every time his hand rose into the air, everyone rolled their eyes. Every time he opened his mouth and began to speak, people groaned.

Most of the time he was asking questions as though he was trying to challenge the professor. It was almost as if he didn’t believe anything she was saying to us about the subject matter and he was trying to prove her wrong. I wasn’t sure if he knew what he was talking about or not, but he certainly acted as though he knew everything. The professor felt the same way, I think.

Whenever this man raised his hand and began to speak, she would glare at him. Professors are supposed to want their students to be engaged in a discussion about the subject matter and ask questions. However, that was just not the case for this guy. She knew that he was trying to be a know-it-all. She knew that he was trying to challenge her and question her knowledge about the subject matter.

I wasn’t sure if he was just trying to learn more about the subject matter and the only way he felt he could do that was to be difficult and challenge the professor or if he was just trying to be mean and rude. I wondered if he felt as though the professor didn’t know what she was talking about so he just kind of tried to take over the class.

The problem was, if he did say anything useful to myself and the other students, we would never know. Once we hear his voice, we just end up tuning him out until we hear the professor get back on track about what we were talking about before.

Some of the questions he ask are probably useful information that we need to know or we’ll need to know eventually. He might bring up some pretty good points that the professor needs to explain further and none of us know what those points are because we don’t pay any attention to when he speaks. He might even end up teaching the professor something and none of us would ever know.

The class is an hour long, so it’s tough because I end up having to listen to my classmate for about 45 minutes of the time while I only get to listen to my professor for about 15 minutes of the time. Since he talks so much and the professor speaks to little because of him, you wouldn’t think that we would be learning much in class. You would think that the entire class time is wasted by listening to the old man ramble on about everything that the professor was supposed to be teaching us. Sometimes I wondered if the professor and my classmate should switch spots for a day… he would teach and she would be one of the students. I wondered if that ever happened, how much would we learn? If we paid any attention to his monotone voice, that is. How much would the professor learn? Would we learn more from him or more from the professor herself? I wondered just how much this guy really knew. According to him, he seemed to know a lot.

I went home from class that night and began to study for the final exam that was going to happen in two days. It was a lot of material to study and I hoped that the professor was able to talk to us enough without being interrupted that she was actually able to teach us something. I flipped through all my notes from her lectures and from my textbook. I re-read the chapters in the textbook. There were many things from my notes and from my textbook that I couldn’t remember actually going over in class. I grunted to myself because I figured that was probably because I had to keep tuning out my classmate because he was probably busy distracting the professor from explaining more as he wasted all our time.

It was a lot of study and it was a tough exam, but I managed to get through it. In two days, I went into class and took the final feeling a little confident, but also feeling a little nervous that I didn’t know enough. The test was easy enough as it was only 100 multiple choice questions. Multiple choice is easy because you can easily narrow down your answer and also see the correct one; even if you don’t know what it is. Something, though, by seeing the right answer it comes back to you.

I passed, but barely. The rest of the class barely passed as well. Mr. Know-It-All had a perfect score.

Short Story Sunday #51

TIME TRAVELER

            I didn’t think it would work. So, when I stepped through the portal and I realized that I was in an unfamiliar place, I was beyond astonished. I was amazed that the portal had succeeded. I was in awe at the place I ended up in. I was confused on how I was going to get back and what I was supposed to do from there. I didn’t know where I was or where I was supposed to go. I turned around to look behind me and the portal was gone.

He never told me how I was supposed to come back. Maybe he wasn’t very confident that it would work, either.

There wasn’t anyone around. However, if the portal worked as well as it I thought it did, then that meant I was well into the future. For all I knew, people didn’t exist anymore. I shivered. What a scary thought; being in the future when I was from the past and having no human life around me. I would be all alone in this unfamiliar place which looked nothing like my hometown anymore. What a difference 30 years made!

I noticed a red box sitting on the side of the side walk. It looked like one of those old-fashioned blue mailboxes, but it wasn’t a mailbox. I peered inside through the glass and saw a stack of newspapers. The date read November 22, 2044. Yes, I was certainly 30 years into the future. The portal had definitely worked.

I heard a loud bang coming from behind me. I jumped startled and hid behind the newspaper box. I didn’t know who was behind me, what the noise was, or how much trouble I was about to be in. Peering over the top of the newspapers, I saw a circle of blue electricity with white swirling around it. It whirred like a vacuum cleaner. I stood up taller and slowly inched my way towards it. It was the portal.

Should I go through it? Was this William trying to bring me back home? What if I stepped through it and it brought me someplace else? What if this was a completely different portal?

Before I could think any further, a man emerged out of the circle of light. It was William. The moment he came out of the portal, it disappeared.

I ran over to him with my arms stretched out wide. I wrapped my arms around his neck in a big hug and beamed at me.

“It worked, William! You’re portal worked!” I exclaimed.

“Yes it did,” William panted, “and I’m glad to see that you’re safe, Ariana.”

“Yes, I’m fine. Why did you follow me here?” I wondered.

“I wanted to make sure that it worked. I was afraid that if I accidentally brought you into some abyss dimension that you would be hurt or… dead. I came here looking for you.” William explained.

“If I was dead, then you would be dead too.” I glared at him. “What a stupid thing to do!”

“Well, we may as well be as good as dead.” William rubbed the back of his neck. He turned around and looked at the spot where the portal have been. “I have no idea how to get ourselves back. I don’t have my lab here so I don’t think there’s a way to get us back unless someone from the past is controlling the portal for us. We have no idea to get in touch with the past, though.”

I frowned looking down at the ground.

“We’ll figure something out, though.” William tried to reassure me.

“Let’s see if we can find your lab here. It might look different, but there might still be something there. We’re 30 years into the future, but you might still be living in the same place.” I suggested.

William shook his head, “If I am still living in the same place, we can’t just waltz up to my future self and explained what happened.”

“Why not? It’s the future; he might remember coming here and going back home.” I shrugged my shoulders.

“It’s not good for people who meddle with time, Ariana. We shouldn’t have done this in the first place.” William grumbled to himself. He was seriously regretting his invention now.

“It’s worth a shot. What plan do you have?” Ariana placed both hands on her hips glaring at him.

William finally nodded his head reluctantly agreeing.

Together, William and I wandered through the streets of our hometown. We were in awe at how much the place has changed. However, there were no cars or people around. It made us a bit nervous because we weren’t sure if we were the only people in town. If that was the case, where did everyone go and why?

As we continued walking down the road, we came across a cemetery. I glanced at a few of the headstones as we walked by. I wanted to see if I recognized any names. I knew my elderly neighbor wasn’t doing so well, so I assumed that he was most likely dead in 30 years. However, two names that I saw surprised me.

“William!” I shrieked.

William stopped like a deer in the headlights and looked at me nervously. “What? What is it?”

“Look,” I pointed to two headstones.

One was my grave and the one next to it was William’s grave.

William’s jaw dropped when he saw it. He was 25-years-old and I was 23-years old. Now that we were 30 years into the future, his future self should have been 55-years-old and my future self should have been 53-years-old. According to our graves, we had both died 10 years ago.

“I died at the age of 45 and you died at the age of 43… we were so young. What happened to us?” William looked at me.

“Look,” I pointed again, “we both died on the same day.”

William scratched the top of his head. “I guess we won’t be finding me at my lab….”

Short Story Sunday #45

MUSE

            It’s high time you stopped making up excuses and just write that novel! You have a wonderful idea with an intriguing plot, thorough characters, a developed fictional world, and everything else that is key in a novel. So you can’t tell me that your idea is crap because it’s not.

“I don’t have the time to write it, though.”

No, don’t give me that nonsense. You work every single morning until two o’clock in the afternoon. Then you stuff your face with food and watch TV. I think you can get a bit of writing done after work.

“I’m tired after work.”

Aren’t we all? All I’m asking is that you write just a little bit. It would be nice if you could write about five pages. Five pages isn’t that bad when it’s double-spaced. Maybe you could even write 1,000 words… that’s less than five pages, I think. Actually, just write one sentence.

Yes, that’s right. That’s all I’m asking you to do. Just write one sentence a day and if you write more than one, then that’s great! Eventually, you’ll end up getting into a writing routine and then we won’t have to have this problem anymore.

“I can’t get into a writing routine because I have writer’s block.”

How did we just start this conversation? I told you that you have a great idea in your head. You have some of the characters laid out, you know where you want them to go and what you want them to do. So what’s the problem?

“It’s a lot to remember. I’m going to forget some of it as I write.”

You’re exasperating, you know that? This is why you need to write. It. Down. What have I been teaching you all these years? What have I been trying to tell you for the past hour?

I can tell right off the bat that you are not a pantser, so I’m not even going to make you try.

“What’s a pantser?”

Don’t interrupt me.

You need to plan out your novel. You need to make an outline. I want you to make a list of all the characters that are running around in your head. I want you to describe the setting of the novel whether you just describe the beginning setting or a few scenes from the novel. That way you’ll already have the picture in your mind as you write it out.

Speaking of the scenes, I want you write down all the scenes you can think of that will happen in the book. Just write them down in any order. Then you can read through them and number them in whatever order you want. It’ll help you look at the big picture.

“That sounds like an awful lot of work…”

Are you kidding me? You’re being ridiculous right now. Do you want to write a novel?

“Yes.”

Then get started already!

What day is it today? It’s Saturday. What are you doing? You’re doing absolutely nothing. I think you need to sit down at your desk, turn on that laptop, and start writing. Or you should start outlining. I’ll leave that up to you even though I highly recommend that you do an outline first. If you don’t, I can only imagine all the frustration and procrastination that I’m going to have to deal with later.

Are you listening to me?

“I just don’t think I’m cut out to be a writer. My writing isn’t good enough.”

Now how do you know that? Can you suddenly predict the future? No! No one’s writing is good enough at first. Why do you think writers write drafts upon drafts upon drafts of one novel? It’s because the first draft is always crap. But I’ll tell you one thing: I can’t remember who said it first, but a person once said, “Every first draft is perfect because it is written.”

Do you understand?

“No.”

Of course not… it’s like I’m talking to a brick wall.

The point of first drafts is just to get the idea down on the paper. No one is looking for it to be a best-seller because the first draft is basically for your eyes only… unless you ask someone to edit it for you. That’s beside the point, though.

The point of the first draft is for you to flush out the characters, the plot, and the entire dynamic of the novel.

“Isn’t that what the outline is for?”

Now you’re getting it!

Yes, but the first draft is a more detailed outline, I guess you could say. You write the outline, then follow that outline to write the first draft. Then you edit the first draft and write the second draft. Editing is when the real writing begins.

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

It does, if you’ll just open your mind and understand. But I won’t discuss editing with you right now. Are you going to give it a shot or not?

“I just don’t have any motivation right now.”

No motivation?! What have I been trying to do the past 12 hours? I’ve been trying to pep talk you into writing… I’ve been motivating you!

“It has not been 12 hours. Stop being over-dramatic.”

Creative minds are over-dramatic. Get over it.

Sit down at your desk and get that outline done or start writing that first draft. I’ll leave that up to you. On your mark… get set…

“How am I supposed to start this idea when I don’t feel like it, though?”

A real writer doesn’t wait for inspiration. A real writer writes at anytime at anyplace because it needs to get written.

“I don’t have any support for this, though. No one else thinks I can write a novel. I don’t even have an imaginary muse to help me get through all this.”

I am your support system. Take everything I say into consideration. Take all the advice I give to you. Listen to me.

I am your muse.

Short Story Sunday #44

BLACKBOARD

            It was my first day of college. I kept telling people that I wasn’t nervous, but I kind of was. I didn’t know any of the people in my class, I didn’t know how nice the professor was going to be, and I certainly didn’t know how tough the class was going to be, either. People always warn you that college is harder than high school. I wasn’t too sure if I was going to be prepared for the amount of homework I was most likely going to get. Plus, I was taking four classes. So I had to go through all this three more times before the day was over.

I sat down at a small wooden desk way in the back of the class. I was the last seat in the first row. I wanted to be in the back so that no one could see me. I didn’t want the professor calling on me for answers whether I had my hand raised or not. Yet, I still sat in the first row because I wanted to be as close to the door as possible just in case I needed to make a quick getaway. Depending on how the class goes today, I was sure that I was going to end up bolting it out of the room as soon as the class was over.

When I entered the classroom there were only a handful of students already in the room. The class didn’t start for another ten minutes. I wanted to be early so that I could get a feel for the place and also so that I was able to get the seat of my choice. I didn’t want all the good seats to be taken.

The professor entered the room about five minutes before class started and since then a few more students trickled into the room. When there were about 11 of us sitting in the room before the professor, he looked up at the clock and shrugged his shoulders.

“We’ll wait a couple more minutes for some more students to stroll on in and then we’ll get started.” He announced.

I nodded my head, but no one else seemed to pay any attention to what the professor said. A few people were texting under their desks; some were doodling in their notebooks. Some of them didn’t even have notebooks or pens or their textbooks. Why did they even bother to show up for class?

I watched the professor gather his things out of his briefcase. He placed a laptop on his desk, took out the textbook and a notebook. He opened the textbook to a certain page and then he opened his notebook. I could see the notebook was filled with scribbles and notes. Holding it in one hand, he took a piece of chalk in the other and began to write a few notes down on the blackboard.

I lifted an eyebrow. At this day and age the college still had blackboards with messy chalk? I was paying the school a lot of money to take these classes and they couldn’t afford to have the school buy brand new white boards? In fact, why were we using a blackboard—or a white board—at all? Most of the notes and lectures were online anyway. Why did we even have to bother coming to class in the first place? We should have been able to do the class online.

“Okay, let’s get started.” The professor stated as he looked up at the clock once more It was exactly eight o’clock which was when class was supposed to start. Only about three more students came into the classroom since then making fourteen of us all together. I had a feeling there were supposed to be more students in the class. It was one thing to come to class unprepared, but to come late on the first day? What was wrong with these people?

“I’m Professor Calvin Andrews… you can just call me Calvin. Or Professor Andrews. Or Professor Calvin, I guess. Whatever you’re most comfortable with.” Professor Andrews explained. At least he seemed to be laid back. That was a good sign.

“We’re not going to do too much today. We’re just going to get to know each other a little bit and learn a little about the class. Does everyone have their textbooks?”

I nodded my head, but I was the only one who responded. Looking around the room I noticed some kids had their textbooks on their desk, some were taking it out of their bags, and others… were still texting under their desks.

“There’s an introductory chapter in the textbook that explains the textbook and basically what this class is about. While I pass out the syllabus I want you all to read that chapter silently to yourselves.” He explained.

I skimmed the chapter, I’ll admit. Others seemed to skim it as well. Some were actually reading it and some opened the book to the correct pages, but were only pretending to read it. The students who didn’t have their books were still texting with nothing on their desks. Professor Andrews didn’t seem to notice… either that or he didn’t care.

The person in front of me passed the syllabus back to me. It was a rather thick packet. I thumbed through the pages and looked at it with disgust.

I looked up hearing the chalk scrap against the blackboard. Professor Andrews was writing something down on it about the homework we were going to have that night. I thought we were just going to get to know each other and what the class is about? I didn’t see any point in having homework on the first day of classes.

I sighed and opened my notebook. I began to copy everything down from the blackboard into my notebook. It was better to have everything written whether I needed to know it or not.

One class down, three to go.

Short Story Sunday #43

GLOVES

            “Oh, nice gloves.” My friend felt my hands staring in awe at the black leather gloves I was wearing.

“Thanks,” I smiled.

“Where did you get them?”

“I found them in the lost and found at school.”

“Wait,” my friend paused and took a step back. “You mean to tell me that these gloves don’t even belong to you?”

“Yep,” I beamed. I admired my hands. The gloves were soft on the inside and shiny on the outside. They were pretty to look at and comfortable to wear. I knew it was wrong to take something that wasn’t yours, but they hadn’t been claimed in a while. No one was going to miss them.

“You found them in the lost and found and just decided that it would be a good idea if you took them?” my friend lifted a suspicious eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest.

“What’s the big deal?” I shrugged my shoulders. “They had been sitting in the lost and found for two weeks. If no one claimed them, they the school was just going to get rid of them. I thought this way; the gloves would have a proper home.”

“You have been checking the lost and found for two weeks?” my friend rolled her eyes. “You’re ridiculous.”

“I checked the lost and found because I accidentally left my homework folder behind in the cafeteria at lunch. I found it, but then I also found these gloves. I was going to take them right away, but I didn’t think that would be right.” I explained.

“Oh, how big of you,” my friend scoffed. “You know it’s not right to be taking the gloves even after two weeks, either. When if the person doesn’t realize that they’re missing?”

“Then they won’t miss the gloves, will they? They’ll have no idea someone else took from the lost and found box.” I retorted.

“What if the owner was absent from school for the past two weeks and they weren’t able to claim them? What if they come back from school tomorrow and something and they start to look for the gloves only to realize that they’re gone.” My friend interrogated me.

“What do you care?” I glared at her. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She was trying to make me feel guilty when I didn’t really do anything wrong. Once an item was in the lost and found for a while it was fair game. It could belong to whoever claimed it first. That’s how it usually went. People grabbed items that weren’t theirs all the time. They didn’t even bother to wait two weeks, either. They would just take it.

“Do you realize how many items I’ve lost because people just grab out of the lost and found box?” I remarked trying to sound smart.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right.” She explained. “Besides, you barely lose anything and if you do you go looking for it right away. The lost and found box is always the first place you look, too. People don’t really get a chance to take your stuff.”

“Then what am I supposed to do then? Bring the gloves back to the lost and found? They’re just going to sit there and rot. Either that or someone else will like them and snatch them up. That someone else being not the actual owner of the gloves,” I stated with an annoyed attitude.

“Or they could go back in the lost and found box and be given to the rightful owner. You never know.” My friend folded her arms across her chest and stared at me expectantly.

I didn’t understand why, but I had the feeling that she was never going to let this go. If I didn’t bring the gloves back to the lost and found then I was never going to hear the end of it. She was going to get angry with me for stealing someone else’s things and I would forever feel guilty about wearing these wonderful gloves.

“Fine,” I rolled my eyes.

Together we made our way to the lost and found box. I took the gloves off and checked the tag in one of them.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I want to know where the gloves were bought. I would like to get a pair.” I stated. I tossed them back into the box with a sigh when I couldn’t find the source of where they came from.

“Well maybe you could ask the owner.” My friend suggested.

“Right. How am I going to know who the owner is when no one has claimed the gloves?” I snarled.

My friend picked the gloves up from the box and put them on her hands. She looked and me and smiled. “I got them from the discount clothing store around the corner from my house. Great price for them, too.”

“Wait…” I was puzzled.

“I must have dropped my gloves on the way out of school two weeks ago when I got sent home from being sick. Remember I was out the past two weeks with pneumonia?” my friend was still smiling at me. She had known the entire time that the gloves were hers.

“Oh,” I rubbed the back of my neck in embarrassment. “Why didn’t you just tell me that the gloves were yours?”

“Would you have really believed me?” she shot back.

I shook my head. In all honesty I probably would have thought that she was just trying to get her hands on the gloves because she liked them just as much as I did.

“After school we can go to the discount store together. We’ll buy you a pair. How does that sound?” my friend suggested.

“I think that sounds like an excellent plan!” I smiled at her. “Oh… and sorry for trying to steal your gloves…” I snickered.

Short Story Sunday #42

PUPPY LOVE

            “Asher, no! Stop! Down, heel!”

Colin chased his Beagle puppy, Asher, around the house, holding a leash and harness in one hand, and trying to catch falling objects with his other. Asher was full of energy and didn’t seem to notice anything was in his way. He knocked over everything in the house, he ate whatever he could find, and he never slept; there was simply just too much to explore.

“Colin, Asher doesn’t know what any of those commands mean.” His mother was leaning against the doorway with her arms folded across her chest. Her gaze followed Asher throughout the entire living room, but she never seemed to flinch when Asher ran into something causing a loud crash or something to fall.

“I don’t know what else to do!” Colin shouted in a panic. “Asher, come here!”

Asher paused for a brief moment to scratch behind his ears. He looked up at Colin panting, with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Colin slowed his pace and closed in around Asher, who resulted in play-bowing with his front paws stretched out and his wagging tail high in the air. He still panted pretty heavily, but he wasn’t ready to give up.

“I told you Beagles have high energy. You wanted to get him though.” Colin’s mother tried not to laugh.

“You told me that… yes… but I still don’t regret getting him.” Colin countered in between breaths.

“No, of course not; he’s adorable and so loveable.” His mother cooed at Asher’s cuteness. “I’m just saying that I warned you. That’s all,”

Colin dove to grab Asher. He needed the dog to stop running around the living room like a maniac, but Colin also needed to bring Asher outside to let him go the bathroom. If Colin’s father found anymore presents in the house from Asher, Colin was surely going to hear from it. His mother didn’t seem to mind, though. She said that was all part of taking care of a puppy and training it.

Asher darted to the side causing Colin to hit the ground hard. The dog ran towards the exit right where Colin’s mother was standing, but she stepped in the way. Asher didn’t bother to try to get around her; he seemed to know almost instantly that he had lost that battle. So he turned right around and began to do laps in the living room once more.

Colin stood up scratching the back of his head. His jaw dropped as he glared at his mother.

“You totally had him! Why didn’t you just pick him up and hand him over to me?”

“You said that taking care of a puppy would be your responsibility and that would be… what phrase did you use? Oh, easy-peasy.” She mocked her son with a smile. “I’m all for helping you out with this dog, but I want you to try first.”

“Okay, fine.” Colin sighed. “Well, I’ve been trying for the past 15 minutes. Asher is still running wild and he doesn’t look like he’s going to be losing steam anytime soon. Me on the other hand is out of breath and tired. May I pass the torch to you?” he held up the leash and harness, but his mother shook her head.

“You need to try a little longer. Asher is your dog. He needs to get used to listening to you.” She explained.

“He needs to listen to you and dad, too.” Colin retorted.

“Yes, but you’re his master.” She looked over at Asher with a smirk.

Asher was sitting in the corner of the room watching Colin. He was waiting for Colin to start chasing him again. This was all a game to him.

Colin took a deep breath. He tossed the leash and harness onto the cabinet a foot away from him and then sat down on the floor. He opened his arms wide. “Come and get me, Asher!”

Immediately, Asher sprang into action. He leaped into the air charging straight for his owner. He jumped on top of Colin and began to lick him all over his face.

Colin rolled along the floor with him laughing and playing.

His mother shook his head with a chuckle. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind, but I guess we’ll have to work on that later.”

Colin sat up with his arm around Asher’s waste. He picked the puppy up and when Asher realized what was going on, he immediately began to wriggle and squirm trying to get back down to the ground.

“Whoa!” Colin struggled to keep hold of Asher.

“Okay, I guess I’ll help you now.” Colin’s mother entered the room and grabbed the harness. She handed it off to Colin and held Asher in her arms. She stroked him and he instantly calmed down.

“How…?” Colin’s eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped again.

“Ask later; Asher is ready for his leash and harness. Don’t delay or you might miss your chance.” His mother explained.

Obeying, Colin managed to strap the harness around Asher’s neck and belly without the Beagle letting out any protests.

“I’m going to put him down and you can hold him by the harness while you strap on his leash.” His mother explained.

Colin took Asher by the rings on top of the harness and hooked the leash onto it. He then stood up holding one end of the leash and smiled down at Asher feeling accomplished. Asher on the other hand realized what just happened and began to scratch and bite at the harness. Colin sighed.

“He’ll get used to it.” His mother stated.

“Come on, Asher. Let’s go out.” Colin stated. He tugged at the leash and Asher followed Colin. When he did, Colin noticed a wet spot on the carpet right when Asher was sitting.

“Aw…” Colin groaned.

His mother laughed. “I guess it took you too long to get that leash and harness on. Oh, well. Take him out anyway. He’ll learn soon enough. You both will.”