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….”

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A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

This book is amazingly popular and well-known. Of course, I had never heard of it before until I had to read it for school.

Despite the awards its won, I have to say that I was not impressed. It was a hard book to grasp. The parts I did understand were pretty good and it was uniquely written to say the least.

However, that’s where it went wrong–the writing style.

Out of 13 chapters, three are written in first person, one is written in second person, and the rest are written in third person limited. It doesn’t follow just two characters, though. Each chapter is a different character making it all the more confusing.

Plus, one chapter is written with a lot of dialogue, but no quotation marks. It was by far the most difficult chapter to read. That chapter was in first person and the name of the character wasn’t mentioned for a very long time so I had no idea who I was even reading as.

One chapter is over 70 pages long because each page is set up like a Power Point slide. You have to turn the book the long way to read it and each page has explanations or charts or webs. It was as though I was reading a school project, but it was still the story.

Another chapter was written as a newspaper article; footnotes included. The footnotes took up half the page making them their own mini chapter within the main chapter.

Sound confusing? Trust me, it was.

The worst part was the first chapter was absolutely amazing! It was written in third person limited and we followed a character at her therapy session because she’s a kleptomaniac. It was well written and intriguing. That chapter made me feel as though I would really enjoy the book. However, we never got to really read her story again because the rest of the chapters followed other characters. I call it the decoy chapter.

So, considering this “review” turned more into a rant, I guess you all know what rating this book is going to get from me.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan gets 2 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I’m always happy. Sometimes I just forget.” –Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!

Six On The Sixth #3: Luck

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

Excitement
“Wear your lucky shirt,” they said.

Joy
I agreed, excited to wear it.

Courage
I stood before the slot machine.

Anticipation
I was confident. I was energized.

Hope
I pulled the lever and frowned.

Unlucky
I had run out of luck.

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.