"This is Lizzie," I answered the phone.
"Hey, Liz," Brian said, sounding as nervous as he usually did on
the phone. I often thought of Brian as the student in my senior
class who, in 20 years, was the most likely to be living in his
parent's basement with a cat named Spock, translating the Harry
Potter books into Klingon. He was also one of my best friends. He
was one of the few people who I knew completely understood me and
would stand by me no matter what. He'd been the only person who
completely understood how hard last year had been for me, and he
was still the only one who I could talk about it with. He was
trustworthy and honest, and was willing to fight for what he
He was also unorganized and a terrible procrastinator, which was
probably why he was calling me.
"So, you know that essay that's due tomorrow," he began.
"Don't tell me. You have no idea what to do about it, because you
put it off to the last minute?"
"Yeah, I guess you could say that."
I turned and looked out the window, but there was nothing to see.
All the daylight had faded hours ago, and all I could see was my
reflection. My brown hair, slightly longer than shoulder-length,
was twisted away from my face and held in a claw clip, A few
rebellious strands were falling out; I impatiently brushed them
away from my dark brown eyes. I'd been told that I was pretty
often enough, but the time that I'd spent with people much
better-looking than me last summer had definitely taken its toll
on my self-esteem. I didn't consider myself to be anything more
than average-looking. I'd be a completely average girl if it
wasn't for all of my very strange friends.
"Bri, you are aware that it's like ten-thirty, right?" I asked
"Sorry about that. So, what should I write it about?"
"You haven't even started?" I asked incredulously.
"Goodness, Bri. What were you doing in class when we had all that
time to work on it?"
I sighed. "You know, you are the worst procrastinator I've ever
"Now you're going to launch in to some long, rambling lecture
about putting things off till later, aren't you?" he asked.
I sighed again. "Once upon a time," I began, my voice thick with
"Wait," he interrupted. "Can we set this story in Ancient Rome?
And can the main character be a zombie slayer?"
"You want a story about a zombie slayer in Ancient Rome? Were
there zombies in Ancient Rome?"
"Just tell the story so I can get off the phone and get to work."
I had half a mind to just hang up then and make him work on his
essay. "All right, fine, whatever. Once upon a time-"
"Do you have to start with that? Be original!"
"Do you want a story or not? I can just hang up now and then
you'll have to actually work. Anyway, in the past there was a guy
who lived in San Diego-"
"You mean a zombie slayer in Ancient Rome?"
"Who is telling the story here?" I demanded. "Anyway, there was
this guy in San Diego who had been told by his king,"
"There aren't any kings in San Diego!" he objected.
"You know what, Brian? I am just going to hang up the phone, and
then you're going to have to write your essay without hearing my
story. Gah, it's like talking to a six-year-old sometimes."
"Do you want a story or not?" I asked, and then continued without
any answer. "So there was this guy in San Diego who worked in a
"No. They only sold paper. Staples is an office supply store. So,
anyway, one day his boss told him to clean out the paper
"What happened to the king?" he asked.
"He comes in later. So, anyway, the guy's boss told him to clean
out the warehouse, because there was a lot of paper in there and
it was a fire hazard.
"So, anyway, this guy knew that he had to have the warehouse
cleaned out by Friday night, because the Fire Department was
inspecting them on Friday. So, if he was responsible, this guy
would start working on it on Tuesday, but he didn't want to. So
he found other things to do. He read, and he played solitaire on
his computer, and he played Minesweeper, and he didn't clean out
I paused, trying to think of a way to finish this story sometime
soon. Once I stopped talking, Brian would probably put off
writing the essay for another hour, then go to sleep. He'd
probably write it at lunch tomorrow, to turn it in fourth period.
"So, anyway, on Thursday, this guy finally decided to start
cleaning out the warehouse, because the inspection was on Friday.
So he had to work really fast, and he didn't do a very good job.
That night, a fire started in the warehouse."
"What started the fire?" Brian asked.
"I don't know, maybe the king that I said would come in later
started the fire. Anyway, because he didn't clean the warehouse
very well, it spread very quickly, and destroyed their entire
paper stock, and the company lost all of its money and the guy
lost his job. And if he hadn't procrastinated, he'd still have a
job. So get off the phone and write your essay," I said.
"That was a terrible story, you know?"
"Shut it, Brian. I think it was pretty good, considering that I
made it up on the spot. Write your essay."
He sighed. "Later, then," he said, and hung up the phone.
I turned back to the kitchen, spotting the sink full of dishes. I
could do those before I started writing my essay. I
hadn't even started...