25th December 2008, 03:35 PM #1
Non-Pokemon: Scene 8 from a Memory
Here's a short story I wrote for class once. It's rated PG-13 for mild sexuality and mild language, I suppose. And most readers will probably just be confused, so PG-13 for thinking, too.
Scene Eight from a Memory
Today is October 5th, and today the microwave went on strike. I’m hungry, it’s the middle of the school week, and this janky piece of crap doesn’t have the beeps, the vooms, or the doots. Last night, at least it heated up the left over Chinese food, but now, it’s objecting to my morning oatmeal. But hey, the clock works, or, well, it’s not blinking 12:00. In fact, it’s showing 7:50. Ten minutes to find clothes then bike down to, ironically, my electronics class. Perfect.
I banged the microwave one more time, hoping that it would start working again. Maybe it would start up again, just to avoid any further abuse. Nope. I groaned. Someone behind me snorted.
“Your morning bitchiness is so funny,” a male voice said. It was Eddie, my boyfriend. I growled in response, or at least I tried to growl. I turned to look at him and rolled my eyes, but he just smiled back, his bright teeth contrasting with his dark, unshaven face, shadowed by the morning light.
“Cold?” he asked. He wasn’t referring to the unheated water in the microwave.
“Good morning to you too, hon,” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. I threw the unopened packet of Quaker cinnamon apple oatmeal at his face then folded my arms over my chest and made a face at him.
“You don’t need to pretend the microwave is broken. I’ve already accepted that you’re grotesquely obese.”
“I’m only trying to be anorexic because I know you like your girls all bony and pointy,” I said.
“Don’t forget that I like my girls with barbecue sauce, too.” He licked his lips. “Delicious.”
“Okay, now you’re just making me more hungry. Uncool.”
“Well, you’re just hungry because you’re anorexic and never eat.”
“I eat plenty, Mr. I-can’t-finish-one-box-of-fried-rice-alone.”
“But if you eat so much, why didn’t you eat any oatmeal?” Then as an afterthought he added, “Fatty.”
At that point I started cracking up because the conversation had gotten ridiculously stupid ridiculously fast. I was about to make another comeback, but the microwave flashed 7:51.
“Well, I need to get ready for class, and I still need to purge myself of the huge meal I just had,” I said. I rushed back to his room to grab my stuff, accidentally knocking my shirt off the doorknob.
* * *
I saw Eddie slouching on the couch when I stepped out of the suite’s bathroom. He was wearing an old green bathrobe, and his hair was still in its crazy, un-kept state. He was holding a mug that we both painted at Color Me Mine. I could see the bright yellow splotch that I put on the cup: my lame attempt to paint a duck. The side of the mug that I couldn’t see was the part that Eddie painted. Unlike my side, his side looked good. It had abstract patterns, but somehow, my duck made less sense than his lines. He was an actual artist; drawing, painting, photography, whatever, he was good at it.
Steam rose from his mug, fogging up his glasses. I knew he was drinking tea. I was more of a coffee person, since I liked the stronger smell and bigger kick, but Eddie really liked his tea. Still drying my hair with his towel, I walked into the common area.
Eddie turned his head to look at me. He smiled. It looked forced, like a smile for a yearbook portrait.
“Adam has a hot water dispenser in his room,” he said, raising his mug in a mocking way. He took another sip. “I think I’ll make myself some oatmeal later.”
“Yeah, maybe you should go die, too,” I said sarcastically.
The corners of Eddie’s smile slowly went down. It looked like he was trying to smile, but was distracted by something else. He glanced at the floor, but quickly looked back up at me.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I forgot what day it was,” I said quickly.
“No, no, it’s fine, Jess.” Eddie’s smile brightened again, but I could tell it was still fake. He glanced at the microwave. “You should probably get going, though. You’re ten minutes late,” he said, breaking the awkward silence.
I forced a laugh, trying to lighten the mood. “Hey, it’s fifteen minutes earlier than yesterday.”
He smiled and kissed me as I walked out the door.
* * *
I got back to the dorm around three ‘o clock. I’d been thinking about what I said earlier, so I couldn’t concentrate in any of my classes. In electronics, I was so distracted that I managed to drop a hot soldering iron into my bag, burning a hole in my math book. It probably didn’t help that I had a triple shot espresso before coming into class.
As I walked in, I saw that the elevator’s lights said it was on the first floor. I could’ve taken it up, but I didn’t trust it that much. For one thing, it smelled like water had been sitting at the bottom of the shaft since last winter. Also, there was this thing some assholes occasionally did, where they stuck gum on the door sensor, so it would stay open at one of the floors. And to top it all off, it was slow. My roommate, Holly, described it as “slower than frozen molasses.”
I took the stairs up, as usual, my hand trailing the off-white walls out of habit. In the dim fluorescent lights, I saw the brown plastic sign with a white three on it. My suite was on the top floor, the fifth, but Eddie’s was on the third.
The door to his suite was unlocked, so I just let myself in. Bad idea.
As I was opening the door, I heard moaning, but my mind didn’t register until it was too late. In the brief moment that the door was open, I saw Holly in her purple bra and panties, but that wasn’t the scary part. The scary part was that she was on top of Adam, one of Eddie’s suitemates, who was wearing a pirate hat. Only a pirate hat.
I quickly looked away and slammed the door shut.
A moment later, the door cracked open, and Holly stood there, holding a red couch cushion in front of her. I smiled sweetly at her, but I quickly broke down laughing. Her blonde hair was always bouncy, and the top of her head came up to my chin, even though she had a dancer’s posture, so I always associated her with a puppy or a teddy bear or some miscellaneous small, cute thing. I could never take her angry face seriously, and she could never make an angry face seriously.
“No giant squid?” I asked.
“Nah. I was being seduced by one in my dream, but Liz woke me up. That’s why I came down here,” she said, smiling innocently. She didn’t sound like she was joking. I felt my jaw drop.
“Well, that’s not awkward,” I said when the shock wore off. “But I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that Eddie’s not in there.”
“No. But Adam just had photography with him,” Holly said.
“Yeah,” I heard Adam say. “He said something about going to the quad.” I couldn’t see him, and I really didn’t want to, either.
“Okay. Thanks,” I said. I was about to turn away when Holly said something.
“We need to re-dye your hair when we get back, k? The green is fading.”
I grabbed a strand of hair and held it in front of me. She was right: my hair was more brown than green now. “Oh, yeah, I completely forgot to do it last weekend.”
“Well, I think I’m going to, um, get back to work on that project Adam and I are working on,” Holly said sarcastically. I laughed, because I knew Holly majored in Dance and Adam majored in Poli. Sci, so there wouldn’t have been any school projects they would work on together.
“I’ll be off, too, but I just want to let you know that shirts have more uses than torso coverage.”
“Locks work too.” Holly smiled innocently again and closed the door. I heard the lock click as I went off to look for Eddie.
* * *
I scrambled the combination on my bike lock after parking it in the rack. It was about four o’ clock, so a lot of people were in class or on their way to class. I headed for the big oak tree near the grass’s edge, and I saw Eddie sitting on a bench under the tree. His backpack, covered in white out and sharpie designs, was on the ground, and his camera bag was on the bench next to him. His back was to me.
My shadow fell on top of him. I think I saw him flinch, but when he turned around, he was wearing his yearbook smile again. I hugged him from the back and kissed his cheek, feeling the coarse stubble on my lips. His faded black hoodie had the faint scent of pot, but the strong smell of his open sharpie drowned it out. I looked at his lap and saw an unfinished drawing of a person.
“How are you?”
“I hope you weren’t worrying all day. I went out with you in the first place because you were the funny sarcastic type who didn’t worry very much,” he said. His voice sounded happier. “Speaking of dating, this feels a lot like when we first met.”
“Yeah, it does, doesn’t it?”
“It wasn’t this bench, was it?” he asked
“I think it was that one over there,” I pointed, “but it’s close enough.”
“But, just like junior year, I remember that the sun was behind us, because you blocked my light.”
I laughed, glad that maybe he was fine now. “So, what’re you drawing this time?”
“Something I saw in a dream…” He was staring into the distance. I looked at his drawing more carefully. The lines were heavy, since he’d been using the sharpie. The figure was looking down, and it looked like it was carrying something, but I didn’t know what it was, because Eddie hadn’t finished drawing that part.
“Is it…?” I asked, voice trailing off as I tried to phrase the question properly.
“No, this is something else I saw.” His sounded distant, so I knew he was thinking about something.
I didn’t really know how to say it tactfully, so I just blurted it out. “We could visit him. If you want. Or-.”
“I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.”
* * *
We used our student IDs to get a bus ride to the cemetery. The sun was low on the horizon, but we still had about an hour of light. We entered, and after a few minutes of walking, we stopped at a gravestone. The name “Jackson O’Conner” was engraved on it. I came here last year, too, but Eddie had asked for some privacy. I wasn’t sure of what to do, so I did the same thing I did last year and leaned on the nearby tree, watching him.
Eddie had taken his backpack with him. He took it off and unzipped it. After taking a moment to search, he pulled out an old box of 64 Crayola crayons. The corners were smashed in, and there were marks all over it. He looked at me, then took my hand and led me away from the tree and closer to the grave.
Jack was Eddie’s friend since they were little. But two years ago, Jack died in a weird accident, and Eddie was with him. The official report said the two boys had been in a construction zone after dark, and a ‘poorly secured I-beam fell from the structure,” crushing Jack.
I met Eddie about eight months after the accident. I remember four months later, around Jack’s anniversary, Eddie became a complete wreck. He began smoking more often. He constantly woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat. The creative, deep, and funny Eddie I had first met seemed to disappear.
I hadn’t known him for that long, but I asked if he wanted to talk anyway. I thought he was going to stay quiet, but instead, it was like a floodgate opened. He told me his version of the story, which the newspapers hadn’t completely published. He told me that they were smoking marijuana at the time. He told me he thought he saw something or someone standing where the beam fell from. He told me he felt like he was going insane, because when he blinked and looked again, he saw nothing, and instead of feeling shocked and scared, he felt like he was dreaming.
Eddie went back to normal after about a month of therapy. I half expected him to crash again this year, but I didn’t see anything, so I thought he was better.
I snapped out of my reverie when I smelled the strong waxy scent of crayons. Eddie had opened the box. “Jack gave me these when we were little,” he said, “Or, well, his parents bought them, and he gave them to me.” He forced a laugh.
He paused and took out a stubby green crayon. I didn’t have anything to say. “Green was his favorite color,” he said, almost whispering, like he was talking to himself. I held him closer, not knowing what to say.
“You know what his last words were?” Eddie asked. I shook my head. He reached into his jeans’ pocket.
“I’d say about a minute before… it happened,” He pulled a joint from his pocket and lit it with his Zippo. He gestured it towards me, but I waved my hand to refuse. “He said, ‘Consult your pineal gland.’”
“You mean the melatonin gland?” I asked. I was fighting the urge to laugh, because the tone of Eddie’s voice had switched from melancholy to comical so quickly.
“Yeah, that thing,” he said. Eddie put the joint in his mouth and sucked in the smoke. “What if,” as he talked, smoke came out of his mouth, “just, what if everything were all connected, like a chain of events or ideas or something?”
“Nevermind. Honestly, I can’t remember, at all, what Jack’s actual last words were. He said to consult the pineal gland, but I know he said more stuff afterwards. I just can’t remember what, though. All I remember of his last moments was that he was smiling, and I felt euphoric, like we had just discovered the secrets of some great mystery. Or well, I think I remember that. My dreams keep confusing me.”
“Well,” I said, “he did say to consult your pineal gland. Some people say that it’s responsible for dreams.”
“Yeah. But sometimes, I think I know what he said, but then the next day, what I think he said is completely different from the day before. Last year and this year, around this month, I’ve had dreams of that night, except his words are always different,” he put the joint to his lips again and breathed in. Smoke curled out of his nose a moment later.
“At first, I tried to write down what he said when I woke up,” he said. “But when I reread what I wrote, nothing made sense. Like I wasn’t even using Roman characters at times,” he sighed.
He looked up at the sky, and my gaze followed his. The sun was behind the trees, and the sky was free of clouds. The colors of sunset lit up the sky. “It’s gonna be dark soon. Maybe we should head back.”
“Sure,” I said.
* * *
We got back after dark. There was still a short walk to the dorms, but the air wasn’t too cold. The wind rustled through the trees, and I guess I shivered because Eddie took his jacket off and put it over me. The pot smell was stronger now. He held his arm around my shoulders. I looked up and saw a few stars struggling to show themselves against the nearby lights.
“The more I think about it, the more it confuses me. What if everything were all connected? The last thing I remember him saying, the dreams,” he said as we walked back to the dorms. “Like everything is a circle. Or a point.” He shrugged. “I dunno. I’m probably making no sense.”
“The pineal gland thing is a Discordian saying, and the whole point of Discordia is that ‘reality is the original Rorschach.’ I take that to mean that the universe just doesn’t make sense, so just accept it and get a hot dog,” I said.
“Well, if we’re not making sense, I’ve got another random idea,” Eddie said. “Maybe life’s like Newton’s Cradle.”
“You know; those things with the hanging metal balls that shows Newton’s third law or whatever?” he demonstrated with his fingers, making a clicking noise with his tongue.
Still giggling from his demonstration, I retorted, “Don’t you mean conservation of momentum?”
“Er, yeah, whatever,” he said, smiling. “Anyways, what if life were like that. Just repeating the same thing over and over again; and everything affects everyone like the energy transfer through the balls.”
“Mhmm,” I said.
He started talking again, this time about a higher state of mind or something like that. I quietly listened, since I thought it was the drugs making his mind go all over the place, and as he talked, I understood less and less what he was trying to say.
“Oh, look, elevator’s at the basement and it’s headed up,” Eddie pointed out as we entered the building. “Should we take it?”
Eddie pressed the button for the elevator. It dinged open. Someone familiar was in the elevator already, but I couldn’t remember his name. He was wearing all black, though he was carrying a basket of colorful laundry. Around his neck was a pair of headphones, the kind with the big, soft earpieces that kept outside sounds away. The musty smell in the elevator was overpowered by the smell of fresh laundry. The guy didn’t look up as we entered.
As Eddie pressed five on the panel, I saw that the button for the eighth floor was already lit. Eddie insisted that he take me up to my room before heading back down. As we went up, I focused on the heavy music coming from the guy’s headphones. It was loud. I could hear the singer’s voice from about a foot away. What he was saying, though, I wasn’t really sure, but I think I heard something completely nonsensical like, “Trapped inside this octovarium.”
I was vaguely aware that Eddie was still talking about the meaning of life when the door dinged open. The other guy looked up as I stepped into the hall, but a moment later, his gaze went back to his laundry. Eddie took a step out to kiss me goodnight, leaving his other foot in the elevator to keep the door from closing. After he pulled back, I looked into his gray eyes and barely made out the outline of my reflection. I felt a sudden surge of euphoria. Things just felt right. Eddie had a huge smile on his face, a real smile, not the yearbook one. I watched him step back into the empty elevator before walking down the corridor to my room. I pulled out my key card and put it into the slot, but before I could open the door, I heard a crash from the elevator shaft.
26th December 2008, 10:43 AM #2