One thing most JUTP readers don't know is that I also write a lot of prose. Figures that if I'm going to enter Bethesda Magazine's short story contest (deadline is February 26, folks), I should test the waters and see how my writing does in a public forum.
So this is a short story, semi-autobiographical, based on something that happened my senior year of high school. Tell me what you think, or come back later when I'll have some tasty news or gossip or photos of Safeway for you to enjoy.
My friends and I sat around the table in the breakfast room as night fell, shaking our heads. The afternoon had been given over to Super Smash Bros. and play-wrestling on the basement floor; but we’d all woken up the same, tuned to the morning news, watching the televised procession of classmates to a makeshift memorial on the side of Norwood Road where a girl from school had died. What was her name? I forgot; I didn’t know her. But I knew the pale kid from my Algebra class I saw on TV, laying flowers next to a bent fender and smashed taillight.
In class tomorrow the rumors will begin: the boy was driving 110mph; they weren’t wearing seatbelts; they were making out and he lost control. But tonight it’s questioning mortality at sixteen. In a year or two A.’s mom will succumb to cancer. S. will go to Iraq and see people perish before his eyes. M. will lose her grandmother. This will raise more questions, namely, how much time do I have left?
I think about crying but I can’t. I want the feelings of loss to be there but they aren’t. In its place is the longing to feel what everyone else is feeling. I wanted to fit in and this was no different, even if it meant taking on complete and paralyzing grief.
M.’s mother is making us beef stew, Filipino-style, with all sorts of spices I don’t know about. When I walk home my parents will complain that I smell. She goes into the mud room to get some sodas and places a Coca-Cola in front of each of us.
“I’m sorry,” A. says, “I only drink Pepsi products.” I laugh and am ashamed of myself. She returns to the mud room and hands him a bottle of water.
We sit around the table late into the night, alternating between conversation and staring. Words are handled gingerly like they’ll break. I wonder if anything will be the same again. I wonder if I will feel sad. I try to, I really do. I drink my Coke and wait.