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"Zugzwang (German for "compulsion to move") is a term originally used in chess which also applies to various other games. The concept finds its formal definition in combinatorial game theory. It describes a situation where one player is put at a disadvantage because he has to make a move - the player would prefer to pass and make no move. The fact that the player must make a move means that his position will be significantly weaker than the hypothetical one in which it is his opponent's turn to move. In game theory, it specifically means that it directly changes the outcome of the game from a win to a loss"
From Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia.
- I -
Okay, before I start ranting, I am going to clarify something just so there is no misunderstanding farther on. Here goes. I am not a good person, okay? So don't expect my story to be one of those "I am so good but everyone around me doesn't see it, they never could understand me, yada, yada, yada…." I am trying to be honest - with myself only, by the way - and I don't have any illusions about who I am. Now, I am not a total bitch. I don't get off on making people suffer, I would never hurt someone just for the hell of it because I am bored out of my skull. Not because I would feel bad or something like that but because it's way too much work and I am lazy.
My name is Gwen Katherine Ryan, I am seventeen, I am pretty, and actually smart. I am not bragging, okay? I am stating the facts. I don't have close friends, never had. Every time someone tries to become my "friend" I immediately know it's because of (A) I am pretty, (B) I am good at almost every subject so they think if they kiss up to me, they can mooch off as much as possible. There is also a (C) option. My nickname is Ice Queen and some people think that if they can befriend me, it'll immediately raise them to the top of the tots so to speak. "Oh, man! I am friends with the Ice Queen! I must be really cool!"
So yeah, every time someone tries to start a "friendly" conversation with me, I cut them off right then and there. You know Mulder's motto "Trust no one"? That's my motto as well. And no, I am not going to say this is because I suffered badly in the past and can't trust anyone ever again. Or it's because it has to do something with my family. Nope. My family can easily win the Family of the Decade award. They are friendly, loving, and generous. My parents almost never argue, my brother is a great guy, my grandparents are adorable. It's just me. I don't like people, I hate little kids, I don't care about animals, and I don't love anyone except myself. I mean, of course I love my family but I would never sacrifice myself for them.
So there, I am not a good person. Now that I clarified this, I am going to get on with my ranting. The whole thing started in late August. And this is going to sound like a very bad clich� but it was a dark and stormy night. Sorry, if it was a warm and breezy night, I would gladly state that. But seriously, that night was dark and stormy. It was somewhat unusual for August but all of a sudden it was raining cats and dogs, thunder was clapping madly, and lightning almost hit the tree in our back yard.
I was sitting by my bedroom window and thought that tomorrow I have to go back to school, and thank God it was my last year in that place. I hated it with the passion. Not the schooling part. I don't mind studying, I actually like it. Call me crazy but all the knowledge that I can get into my head makes me feel superior. What I hate with the passion is the fact that I have to be amongst all those people again. All the drama and nonsense, and your typical set up. There was the Nerd (Johnny), the Prom Queen (Tanya) and her side kicks, the Jock (Carl), the Misfit (Dante), the Freak (Juliana), and the others.
I always try to stay as far away from all their rumors, intrigues, and rants but sometimes it's impossible. I don't know why but those people just can't leave me alone. It's always "What do you think, Gwen?", "Do you like my dress, Gwen?", "Wanna hang out, Gwen?", "Can you tell that I cut myself last night again, Gwen?"
Finally I gave up - about two years ago or so - and started answering all their useless questions. "I don't think anything good about you, Johnny. Go away" "No, Tanya, I don't like your dress. In fact I think that it makes you look like a really cheap call girl" "Carl, I'd rather drink poison than hang out with you" "Yes, Juliana, you can totally tell that you cut yourself last night. Why won't you just slit your throat one of those nights and just end it all? Will definitely be easier on me"
They would get offended for some strange reason and stop talking to me altogether for a week or so which was great. But then the whole thing would start all over again. Some people just keep coming for more abuse as if they enjoy it or something. All I ever wanted in my entire life was to be left alone. That's all. Just leave me alone, ignore me, don't talk to me, that's what I crave most of all.
So as I sat there, staring gloomily out of my window, thinking that tomorrow I will have to go back to that hellhole, when I saw a big white truck speeding down our street. I rolled my eyes. Jesus, what is wrong with people? It's dark, it's raining like no other, the roads are bad, and there will always be one idiot that goes seventy five miles per hour in a twenty five miles zone. Not that I care if he hurts himself or someone else - as long as it's not me, whatever - but if he gets into a wreck right now, that means I won't get decent sleep for several more hours because there will be sirens, shouts, flashing and whatnot. Ugh… I stared at the truck, hoping that he will just fly down the street and everything will be just fine when that idiot suddenly slammed on his breaks so hard, I could hear the screeching from behind my closed window.
Great, I winced. The truck spun helplessly on the slick pavement and promptly crashed into our huge oak tree. Goddamit! I knew that the old woman across the street was calling the police right this minute, screeching something unintelligible into the phone. That old crow never could mind her own business. I mean, it's not like the truck was totaled or anything. I sighed. Since he ended up on our property, I have to come outside into that blasted rain. My parents went to visit my brother who moved out a couple of weeks ago and they were dying to see his new apartment ever since. So tonight it was just me in the house and it was wonderful until five minutes ago.
I mumbled something under my breath while I was putting my boots on and searching for the umbrella. Finally I found the umbrella and went outside. Ugh! The umbrella was useless in this freaking wind, my hair immediately got wet and I blinked rapidly, trying to get the rain out of my eyes. I walked closer to the truck, praying for whoever the hell was inside, didn't die. Otherwise I can say good bye to my good night sleep right now. The drivers door opened when I got closer and some guy jumped out. Oh thank God! He seemed completely fine. That meant that there was a good chance for me to go to bed before midnight.
- Oh God, - he said with annoyance. - Why is there a damn tree in the middle of the road?!
- Are you kidding me? - I demanded. - This tree is not in the middle of anything! If you are stupid enough to drive like a moron in this weather and be even more stupid to slam on your breaks so hard…
- There was a freaking dog on the road! - he said angrily. - Was I supposed to run it over or something? Do you know how hard it is to get road kill off your tires? And the damn tree is in the middle of the road! You should be cited or something!
Ugh… This is why I hate people.
- You are an idiot, - I said shortly. - If your truck is fine, and you are fine, then just get out of here before all the cops show up! I have school tomorrow, I have to get up early!
He walked to the front of his truck and let out an exasperated sigh.
- Dammit! - he said with irritation. - My headlight is busted, great! Do you have any idea how much it'll cost me to repair it? Plus there is a dent in the hood now!
- What did you expect? - I rolled my eyes, ignoring the rain. - You smacked into a tree! Which is nowhere close to the road! Get out of here!
- Dammit, - he said again and propped his arms on his sides. - Hey, is there any chance I could use your phone?
I stared at him in disbelief.
- No, - I said shortly. - There is no chance you can use my phone! There is a gas station two blocks away. Use their phone!
He looked at me with curiosity.
- What if I died in there? - he asked with genuine interest. - Would that annoy you too?
- Yes, - I nodded. - Because then I wouldn't get any sleep at all with all the cops and ambulances.
He hemmed and shook his head.
- Right… Fine, I'll go.
- Thank you!
I watched him get into his truck and I almost sighed with relief and went back inside my house when his truck started making whining noises. I moaned. This sucks. He climbed out again and shoved his hands into his pockets.
- It won't start, - he said gloomily. - If you won't let me use your phone, I will just stay here until morning.
I looked at him with disgust.
- Fine, - I said finally. - Call whoever the hell you want. As long as gets you out of here, I don't care.
I turned around and walked towards my house not even bothering to make sure that he follows me. I knew he would. I pushed the door open and kicked my boots off. The idiot driver stumbled in after me. He started to shake his head immediately like some sort of a dog and water flew everywhere.
- Jesus! - I exclaimed. - Do you have to do that?
- You have a towel? - he asked and I sighed.
I guess if I don't give him the damn towel, he'll keep on shaking all that water around. I shoved my umbrella into the corner and walked towards my linen closet. I pulled out a towel, grabbed the phone on my way back and shoved it in his hands. He started to dry off his hair and almost dropped the phone. Good God, can he do anything right?
- Okay, - I said somewhat calmly. - Make you call and get out, will you?
He stopped messing with his hair and shot me a dark look. Without saying anything, he dialed the number and pressed the phone against his ear.
- Hey, - he said after a minute. - It's Logan. My truck won't start. Come and get me. Because I ran into a freaking tree!… No, it was in the middle of the road…
I turned away from him just so I don't throw something at his head.
- I am telling you, - he continued with annoyance. - There is like this huge oak tree and it's in the middle of the… Whatever! Plus there was some stupid dog… Yeah, also in the middle of the road… Oh stop yelling! Just come and get me! I will fix it tomorrow. I am at… Hold on, - he covered the mouthpiece with his hand and looked at me. - What's your address?
I told him the address without looking at him and he repeated it into the phone.
- It'll take you ten minutes, - he said with annoyance. - Fine, I'll pay for your damn gas! Just get me, okay? Grab the ropes and whatnot… I am not leaving my truck here. I will do it, Jesus! You won't even have to get out of the car! Honk when you get here. Fine, whatever.
He clicked the phone off and handed it to me.
- What do you mean, honk when you get here? - I demanded. - You are waiting outside!
- In the rain? - he snorted.
- It doesn't rain inside your truck, - I said pointedly and he rolled his eyes.
- Look, - he sighed. - It'll take my sister ten minutes to get here, okay? Plus it doesn't seem like the police are coming…
- Thank God, - I breathed. - That means my neighbor is either asleep or dead.
He laughed at that and I shrugged.
- Well, she is old. There is a good chance that she died, you know.
- Right, - he said. - I promise, as soon as she gets here, I'll get out, okay?
- Fine, - I gave up. - Whatever.
- Could you make tea or coffee? - he asked and I started to laugh.
- No, - I said finally. - No tea, coffee, cocoa, or anything else. Wait for your ride and get out so I can go to sleep.
- Wow, - he said with amusement. - You are the ray of sunshine! Considering that it's your tree's fault…
- Will you shut up about my tree? - I said tiredly. - The damn tree is on our front lawn, you imbecile! You were going like a hundred miles per hour and you slammed on the brakes, that's why you slammed into my tree. If you start saying anything else about the damn tree, I swear to God, I'll kick you out!
He snorted but kept his mouth shut. I sat on the steps of the stairs that led up.
- I could just wait by myself, - he said and sat next to me.
- Right, - I said. - I am going to leave you alone in here so you can steal all my silverware.
- Whatever, - he rolled his eyes. - What's your name?
- Gwen, - I said shortly.
- Like Gwendolyn?
- No, - I said with annoyance. - Just Gwen. Look, I don't wanna do the whole small talk thing, okay? Can you just wait for your ride quietly, please?
- How old are you? - he asked as if not hearing what I just said.
- Oh, Jesus… - it seemed that I will have to do the small talk after all. - Seventeen.
- I am nineteen, - he said and I shrugged.
- Do I look like I care?
- When is your birthday?
I stared at him.
- What else do you want to know? - I asked. - My blood type, social security number, what I had for breakfast a week ago?
- No, just your birthday.
- Why? - I was so tired by that point that I didn't even care.
- I wonder how soon you gonna be legal, - he grinned. - You are cute for someone who plants oak trees in the middle of the road. Maybe I'll ask you out or something.
I sighed and propped my chin on my palm.
- I don't go out, - I said patiently.
- Are you gay? Cause if you are, that's cool, you know…
- No, - I was surprised at my own patience. - I am not gay. I just don't go out. I hate people.
- I do too, - he shrugged. - But I still go out.
- Good for you, - I muttered. - Look, can you please just shut up? I really don't wanna talk to you. I think you are annoying, rude, and also a bad driver.
- I am not a bad driver, - he grinned. - I didn't kill that dog, did I?
- Please, - I closed my eyes. - Just shut up.
- Fine, - he sighed. - What school do you go to?
I groaned. Good God, this guy is impossible!
- Oakland High, - I said indifferently.
- Cool, - he nodded. - And which…
- Oh for God sake! - I exclaimed, my patience finally gone for good. - Shut up!!
He hemmed but finally stopped talking. I looked at him when I was sure he wasn't watching me. I guess he was somewhat attractive, dirty blond hair and all. But dear God, was he annoying! I was really tired, it was after eleven, I wanted to go to bed, and I couldn't wait for him to finally get the hell out of my house.
- You said it'll take your sister ten minutes, - I said finally. - It's been like a half an hour since you called her.
He shrugged and didn't say anything.
- Call her again, will you?
- Can you even hear me? - Okay, I was seriously getting pissed off.
He looked at me, smile playing in the corners of his mouth. He shrugged again and I almost exploded.
- Well, - he grinned. - You told me to shut up so I obliged.
Ugh. Great, now I was getting a headache. I buried my face in my palms and almost cried with relief when I heard two loud honks outside.
- Finally, - I muttered and lowered my hands. - Get out!
He got up slowly and looked down on me.
- So when is your birthday?
- Get out! - I growled.
- I can always look it up, you know, - he said indifferently. - It's not that hard.
- September fourteenth, - I hissed. - Out!!
- Cool, - he nodded. - Wanna go out sometimes?
- Jesus!! - I jumped up and pushed him in the chest. - Get out!!
He laughed and finally started to walk away.
- Go get your sleep, - he said. - You are cranky!
I was really tempted to throw something at his head but then he finally walked outside and I sighed with relief. I quickly walked to the door and locked it as soon as he was out. I didn't care if it wasn't his ride and if it was just some random car honking for someone else. He could sit in his truck until the sun comes up, I was going to bed.