I carry around a lot of books and a lot of rage and both of those give me bad posture. I lug around one textbook after another, each one more incomprehensible than the last, both in terms of content and in choice of cover art. The other day I stood naked in front of my mirror – well, the mirror of the Quincy Hall first floor handicapped bathroom, but don’t tell anyone – and noticed there were bright brown bruises around and behind my knees. My messenger bag, made bulky and pointy by a bulk of pointless schoolwork, has been thwacking my thighs to a pulp. And ok, maybe it’s unfair to call the pursuit of knowledge pointless – but as I hustle through public high school hallways and Cambridge crosswalks, wincing every step of the way, it’s hard not to feel like I’m hurrying nowhere. Which isn’t me dismissing the value of a good education or scoffing at the American dream of a house or a spouse or a job. It’s just that I’m an English major, and I’ll be lucky to get one out of three.
Back to the textbook thing. Back in high school – back when I thought my college experience would involve spending a summer in England, sweet-talking my way into an internship at the BBC, and then sweet-talking my way into the pants of some Westminster ginger named, quite possibly, Peter – all the way back then, I had a lot of hope. But also, as mentioned, a lot of anger. I’ve heard that a cynic is just a frustrated idealist, which seems like an awfully nice way of putting it, because in high school ‘cynic’ was a word boys with bad haircuts called themselves during overly long political discussions on Facebook. Anyway, you could generously call high-school-me a frustrated idealist with extra frustrated, or you could just cut to the chase and call me a virgin. And as scary and non-PC and Game-of-Thronesy as this is going to sound, there are few things that can make you hate a guy like not being able to have sex with him. Surrounded by handsome heterosexuals who voted for Bachmann and – and this next part is important – who walked very slowly in the hallway during passing period, I tended to divide my school days into three main class-time pastimes: doodling, drooling on my desk, or desperately hoping for a zombie apocalypse so I could dispense merciless retribution upon everyone I had ever not liked or, more importantly, everyone I had ever really, really liked.
I’m getting out of here and going East. Which, like, okay, I’m already in Boston, but have you ever been to Maine? Have you ever stood on the country’s tiptoes? Have you ever jumped from rock to rock and freaked your mother out because she thought you’d fall in and then you fell in and you were fine but man, seaweed sure is gross? Have you ever protected your corn dog from a seagull army on a white-painted porch from probably the 70’s? Have you ever opened a car door in summer and felt the heat rise up to meet you like a dog who’s been keeping your seat, well, warm? That last one wasn’t related to Maine or anything, it’s just April and I’m getting antsy and conceptually shaky. Have you ever shivered on the beach because there’s really no such thing as a truly warm North American beach and we’re all just kidding ourselves but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and anyway it’s not like you were gonna miss the chance to see a sunset on a beach? Have you ever been to a town in a state other than your own enough times to know where its movie theater was, and then formed an irrational emotional attachment to that movie theater? Have you ever read a book in the backseat of a rental car? Have you ever driven through one of those middle-of-the-interstate forests where all the trees are tall and skinny and mostly leafless and the light breaks between them like all This Moment Brought To You By Magritte? Have you ever used nostalgia as your art-creating-drug-of-choice because alcohol was too expensive? Have you ever been burnt at a Fourth of July parade? Let’s be real, have you ever NOT been burnt at a Fourth of July parade? Have you ever seriously considered drowning your older brother in the ocean or, failing that, the nearest Wendy’s bathroom sink? Have you ever used your dad’s big old college sweatshirt as a blanket and also a pillow and also, frankly, a bit of a mattress and as you drifted off on the floor of your uncle’s beach house, listening to weird adult noises in the other room - muttering, clinking, politics, boring - felt a certainty without question, without origin, without reservation or explanation that you would come back?
You’re just coasting.
Right, is everybody here? No, like, I mean it, like, everybody. Because, like, you don’t wanna be that guy, right? That one guy who wasn’t there when the ashes got poured? Can you imagine how shitty that would be? Right? Right. So everyone’s here? Okay, good, so – what? Jesus shit, Jeff? Where’s Jeff? Traffic? He’s stuck in traffic? This is a fucking skate park. He can skate here. Oh, well, yeah, he does live pretty far away, so – okay
Um, well, shit.
Anyone wanna talk?
Like, about him.
No, not Jeff.
Anyone wanna speak? Fine, I’ll go. Um, well, shit. Aaron was…tall. No, hold on. He was, like, taller than me, when I met him, and then later I hit that growth spurt and he wasn’t anymore, but it still just…felt like it, right? You ever meet someone like that? Someone who you’ll always think knows more than you, whether or not they do, or whether or not you’re ever gonna actually tell them? Cuz fuck knows the last thing Aaron needed was another reason to be cocky. So nobody tell him I said this, right? Right. Okay.
Sam, put your helmet on, okay? No, it’s not a pussy thing, you’re the pussy, Jesus. It’s just, the last thing we need is for you to be going down the ramp and pouring out the ashes and it’s all awesome and shit and then you fall and you’re not wearing your helmet and then we need to pour two urns, right? Is that what you want? Right?
I guess we should thank Aaron’s mom. I mean, uh, Ms. Hernandez. I mean, uh, Lisa. I mean…thanks, right? For letting this happen. And, uh, sorry for the language, I guess. And for that thing with the window that one time. And, uh, for Aaron. But mostly thanks. For letting us do this.
And, you know, for Aaro-
Jesus, Jeff, now you’re here? We were having a fucking moment. Shit. Well, okay, everyone’s here, right? Someone wanna get this on video? On, uh, their phone, I guess? That’s not stupid, right? I mean, I don’t think it’s stupid.
Alright, great, let’s uh…let’s get this baby open.
Uh. Sorry, Ms. Hernandez.
Alright, you’ve got the ashes? Great, Ms. Hernandez. I, uh, I guess I don’t need to talk anymore.
Oh, really? Well, uh, you’re welcome, I think. I mean, uh, sorry. I mean, uh, thanks.
This is a MELODY to go with a SONG whose LYRICS I wrote for a MUSICAL that will ideally be going up in the SPRING featuring this song sung by the FEMALE LEAD but with a DIFFERENT MELODY because I made up this melody JUST NOW for an AUDITION FOR A THING where I have to show SOME OF MY WRITING and I really like THESE LYRICS but I really CAN NOT SING and I am NOT THE SHOW COMPOSER and/so/but HERE WE ARE (okay that all got a bit excessive).
Lyrics under ‘read more’ in case you can not hear me (see above re: CAN NOT SING).EDIT: oh just kidding you can’t do a ‘read more’ in video posts. strain your ears. or avert them. asdfghjkl.**
*not a keyboard smash. Actual title of song.
** get it
I fall backwards into the mattress. Great, it’s sweaty. Or I’m sweaty. Great.
“How was that?”
“What?” I turn my gaze from the window – which, since I’m on my back, means I’m looking at the ceiling.
“I said, how-”
“Oh. Yeah. Fine.”
There’s just breathing. Breathing, and the frogs outside the window. The pointlessly open window.
“You don’t sound-”
No way around it, then.
“Well,” I say, “you’re a bit…moist.”
A pause. The air grows tense.
“You know, there’s…there’s a moisture to it. To, uh, you.”
Now the air is clearly just sulking.
“Okay, well, is there something I can do different?”
I can’t help myself, I’m thinking about November. The way it nips, the way it cuts you on all sides like you’re a paper doll being snipped out of the universe with a pair of cold safety scissors.
“You could try…biting,” I say.
Really, it’s like talking to a wall. An echoing wall. An echoing ceiling. I regret the simile.
“Biting. Nipping. Something a little…sharper.”
“Okay, I can try that.” But the air doesn’t sound hopeful, and he knows it, and he knows I know it, and now he’s upset.
“What do you want me to do?” he snaps. “I’m supposed to be muggy! Don’t you think I get sick of it? You college boys are all the same – ‘oh, I can’t wait for the fall,’ ‘ooh, I want that crisp October air-‘”
“November,” I mutter, but I’m not sure he hears, thank God.
“-‘ooohh, I can’t wait to wear fucking scarves.’ Well, I’m done, okay? Your dog days are over. Congrats.”
I’ve closed my eyes by this point, so all I hear is the slamming shut of the window, and then the petulant whirr of the oscillating fan.
God, I can’t wait for school to start.
Hey! This is a story about the end of the world and the fear of giant spiders and also commitment. In a thematic twist, it is only four pages long. I wrote it because it was summer and I needed to dash something off to keep myself sane, even if it was very silly, a phrase which here means “drivel.”
You can read the story in separate page-long chunks, as it was originally written, by clicking the links below; OR in one long chunk, with THRILLING (ms-paint-y) illustrations, by clicking the ‘READ MORE’ button below (or, y’know, scrolling down). Thanks for your time, and for indulging my profound artistic need to write about Adolescents W/ Issues. Enjoy!
Read Page One here
Read Page Two right here
Read Page Three just over there, you can’t miss it
Read Page Four, if you wish, right here
OR READ IT ALL BELOW: