“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 believed in.
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 him.
“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 met.”
“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 irony.
“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 paper company.”
“No. They only sold paper. Staples is an office supply store. So, anyway, one day his boss told him to clean out the paper warehouse.”
“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 the warehouse.”
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...
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