Sociality

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jerry Thomas, a senior at Fleming High, is messaged by a girl in his Lit class for reasons that are beyond him. As the story unravels, he notices she has an uncanny ability to predict future events.

Submitted: April 21, 2011

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Submitted: April 21, 2011

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SOCIALITY by Taylor Peters

A soft electric beep bumped into Jerry Thomas’ subconscious, promptly putting an end to any chances he had at staying asleep. The name wasn’t his fault; his dad was a die hard Seinfeld fan. The sound had come from Jerry’s laptop, precariously balanced amongst his textbooks and alarm clock. It was just as much a surprise that the laptop still stood atop the nightstand as it was a noise coming from it at that hour. He let out a hearty groan. “What hour was it anyways?” He thought to himself, the cogs in his head slowly creaking back to life. With the least effort possible, he managed to roll over sideways, blindly swinging for any button that could bring the computer out of its slumber. An arrant shot landed on the keyboard, bringing the dark screen to life. The brightness of the screen burned like looking into the sun. Jerry cursed under his breath. Grabbing the frame of the laptop, he dropped it haphazardly on an empty section of bed. Over the last few weeks, more and more clothes had found their way there, to the point that more space was designated for clothes than for sleep. With one eye open, his fingers stumbled across the keys, finally bringing up the source of the noise. A familiar red box was patiently waiting at the bottom of the webpage. No one he knew would be awake at three in the morning, let alone trying to start up a conversation. The once muffled curse now louder, he angrily shut the lid of the computer and rolled back over, muttering about the insanity of a conversation being held at that hour. In the end it wouldn’t matter. The room returned to the quiet darkness it had just left. Jerry fell back to sleep. A much harsher tone invaded the room, this time the alarm was going off. Sunshine was pouring in from a window, but, thanks to some strategic planning, landed no where by the bed. Fading visions of epic conquests and escapades were now erasing themselves from Jerry’s memory; plot details were becoming more and more vague as he made a more complete switch into reality. Somewhere outside, a dog was barking. The morning routine started the same way it had every day for the last week. Jerry reached over to the buzzing alarm clock, feeling his way down to the outlet, where he unplugged the clock. It was the last day of spring break and he had convinced himself that it would be helpful to taper back his sleeping patterns to conform to the usual school hours. However, the warm bed and soft pillows would always outlast it. The bed had won every day that week. He disregarded any future consequences of habitually turning off his alarm, and continued to sleep until late in the morning. In his opinion there was no greater feeling than knowing you have as much time as you want to get up. Sadly, all things must come to an end, so, to a symphony of grunts and joint cracks, the day started. Another advantage to sleeping past noon is that the sun always warms up the house by breakfast. The normally cold tile floors were bathed in the warm glow. Jerry pulled out his breakfast and sat down. Today’s would be the same as it had been for the last week, two bowls of cereal, an untoasted pop tart, and a tall glass of non-pulp orange juice, breakfast of champions. His laptop had followed him down for breakfast and was now propped up between a box of cinnamon squares and his mother’s vase. He typed in his password and the screen lit up. Facebook was still open, as was the short lived conversation from the night before. A couple clicks brought up the conversation; the culprit had been a classmate from his English class, Cindy Bootsma. Coincidently, she was still online.

Jerry: hey sorry for giving you the silent treatment last night Cindy: haha it’s alright, is your shoulder alright?! that was hilarious btw Jerry: uh…just as good as it was yesterday…? what were you doing up anyways Cindy: I couldn’t sleep I’m so worried about the quiz Jerry: the quiz? Cindy: I wanna forget about it too don’t worry Jerry: I haven’t taken--- Cindy: Sorry! I’ve gotta go, see you at the dance!

“That was weird” he thought over the sound of crunching cereal. He turned back to the comics in the newspaper. Cindy and Jerry had never really talked before today, and they had only been in the same class once or twice in the last four years. This year the only class they shared was an English Literature class, where they sat on opposite sides of the room. As Jerry made more of an effort to try and remember her, he realized that she had been in more than just a few classes. Her face would stick in his mind all day. He chuckled, thinking of the motivation she had for initiating the conversation. “Let’s see what we’ve got to do today,” Jerry said, spinning around to look at the whiteboard mounted on the kitchen wall. On the whiteboard was ‘TO DO’ written in bold red marker, with bullets spaced out on the left side. Like every day of spring break, the list was empty. Even though he’d made the joke, alone, every day, Jerry laughed as he threw his bowl in the dishwasher and jogged upstairs. With his friends all on vacation, he resorted to virtual slaughter to satiate his entertainment. Day quickly turned to night and he was back to bed. The last day of spring break ended as a disappointment. Even quicker was night turning back to day, where the alarm clock would once again rise to power. English Lit turned out to be Jerry’s first class that morning, a fact he neglected to realize until walking through the doors at Fleming Secondary. The halls were exactly the way Jerry had left them; filled with cliques and cheap body spray. He figured there would be enough of the stuff in the air to one day become ignited by some freak science accident. The idea managed to entertain him the entire way to Mr. Dunmark’s class. Cindy was standing outside talking with one of her friends. He accidently caught her eye turning into the classroom. “Hey Cindy,” he said quickly, if she was going to start a conversation online with him, what’s wrong with saying hello in public. His hospitality was returned with a sideways look from both parties. Embarrassment washed over him as his face went bright red. He quickly turned away, staring absentmindedly up at the ceiling. Unfortunately, not looking forward would prove costly. The class before had moved all the chairs to one side of the room. A fallen chair had landed a few feet in from the doorway. Out of the corner of his eye, Jerry saw it, but it was too late. One of the legs caught his shin mid step and before he had realized it, the ground was soon upon him. The ground shook as his textbook followed him down. Embarrassment was now converted to a sharp pain in his left side. Jerry had landed awkwardly on his shoulder. The class was howling with laughter, things that this didn’t happen all that often. “This is gonna be a good day,” he thought to himself, slowly getting up. Mr. Dunmark’s overhead projector was as old and stubborn as the man himself. Couple that with his indecipherable writing and it made for one of the most indirectly difficult classes in the whole school. The one advantage was his unchanging yearly teaching routine. Three of the four years Jerry had been in his class and he was certain Dunmark handed out pop quizzes with mathematical regularity. Since junior year he had never gotten under ninety percent on any pop quiz. So when he looked up from his desk and saw the words “Pop Quiz” lit up on the board, a mix of emotions hit him. Jerry managed to deduce his way through the majority of the multiple choice questions, hitting a major wall when the short answer ones came up. It turned out that he should spent less time battling on the plains of virtual warfare and more time studying the writing styles of the 18th century dark romanticism. “Pencils down,” Dunmark’s voice was even more monotonous than usual. The longstanding school rumour was that he was an explosives expert from back in the day. The man’s nerves made steel look like play dough. Jerry did a quick review of the mess of scribbles he had to call answers and dropped his head on the desk with a hollow thud. “Take your papers, and pass them one to the left. Those of you on the far left, bring your papers across.” The guy could hold a newborn while being surrounded by puppies and his tone would stay the same. Jerry looked up into the pock-marked panelling as he slide the paper to his left. Nothing was left behind as he desperately negotiated his way with God. Donate his Xbox to the church, sure, little extra tithing here and there, absolutely. Why did everyone seem to get religious when they needed something. His prayers were interrupted with the sound of footsteps. Cindy was walking toward his desk, paper in hand. “Please mark it right,” her voice wavering, she had about the same amount of confidence in her submission as he had in his. As Mr. Dunmark slowly drudged on through the answers he could only imagine the mass of exes that he could expect to see on his page. Jerry didn’t even have the courage to sneak a peak at what kind of progress his marker was making beside him. He found himself desperately lobbying for himself, calculating that the gravity of the quiz wouldn’t impact the course’s final mark, and if he did fail, it would only last until Dunmark’s failsafe routine went back on track and he got his head above the proverbial water. The ringing bell signalled the class’s dismissal. He left already dreading his choice not to switch off his alarm. The walk into hall brought him face to face with an obnoxiously colourful poster advertising the “Spring Fling School Dance.” Dances, at least at Fleming High, were nothing more than chaperoned riots, so he always enjoyed taking a few of them in per year. The air still had the lingering smell of spring break on the walk home. The first day of school had come and gone as he had expected, disappointingly. The afternoon faded into night, where his mind would start playing tricks on him. Cindy had known about the quiz a day before school had even opened. Did she have a better calculated schedule to anticipate Dunmark’s pop quizzes? Needless to say, Jerry was jealous. “Wait, she was just as insecure about her mark as he was,” he said out loud. The sound of his voice seemed unnecessary for an empty room. But it was true; Cindy’s attitude coming into the quiz was less than rock solid. It still didn’t answer the question about here previous knowledge of it. He rolled over and looked at the clock, 1:45, another late night. His laptop was back in its perch on top of his books. It started with a press of a button. A picture of a camping trip years passed flashed on the screen. “Let’s see who else is up,” he muttered, bringing up Facebook and running down the list of online friends. Cindy was online.

Jerry: you’re up late again Cindy: don’t even talk to me Jerry: wtf did he do?! Cindy: you embarrassed me in front of THE ENTIRE SCHOOL Jerry: I’m sorry…? Cindy: I thought you were alright but now I HATE YOU Jerry: ? [CINDY IS OFFLINE]

The conversation ended as soon as it had begun. Jerry’s face had contorted into some open-mouthed eyebrow-raised mess during the ordeal. He cautiously sniffed his bottle of water for any signs of a hallucinogenic. “This is screwed up,” he thought, looking over the conversation a few times. Each time making him more and more confused. Exhausted and baffled, he shut the laptop and rolled back onto his side. “UGH!” he cried out loud from the sharp pain in his shoulder. Then it hit him. Not only had Cindy known about the English test from the day before, but she had also known he was going to fall and hurt his shoulder! Now she was losing her mind because of something that he hadn’t done yet. Sure, the quiz could have been predicted, but there was no way of her knowing about some hilarious shoulder incident. He lay on his bed with his hands over his eyes. Was it possible for Cindy to be chatting with him from the future and more importantly what had he done to make her that angry? Jerry didn’t sleep for more than an hour that night, his mind was constantly racing. Just as he would arrive on the brink of unconsciousness, a new thought would emerge and he’d be back at square one. It was a frustrating night. The lack of sleep did weird things to him in the morning, he was physically mad at the sun for rising. School was even stranger. He managed to incorrectly answer a math question because he was convinced that 7/4 simplified to 2/1. By lunch time, he was running off of cinnamon squares and they were swiftly depleting and he was struggling to stay awake. History wasn’t as bad because half the class was asleep by the time his eyes finally shut. Announcements rang out the entire day for the “Spring Fling School Dance.” he had forgotten about it entirely. The doors opened at 8:30, which meant preparation would be going on until 8:29. Jerry arrived at 8:25 so as not to get picked to help with any manual labour tasks. The school was so different after hours. He preferred the hallways when they weren’t clogged with freshmen, it was almost comfortable. He made the final turn towards the gym doors, where the entire school seemed to be standing. If he could make it through the outer sanctum of students he would be in the clear for labour duty. Fifty feet, forty, twenty five, ten… “Student!” Dunmark’s voice barked from behind him, “could you come lend a hand with the decorations.” His heart sank. “Mr. Dunmark—“ “Colonel will suffice” “o…okay, Kernel, I don’t really think I’m needed back there,” Jerry desperately tryed to come up with a believable excuse, “you saw my bail today, I don’t need this.” He could barely make eye contact with the large man who, coincidently, was glaring down at him. He could feel the beads of sweat galloping for the surface. “No deal student, let’s go.” Jerry’s eyes were glued to the floor as he followed him through the maze of streamers to the main stage. Students were already flowing in; music had started pumping from the stand up speakers. Dunmark’s hulking figure split the masses like the Red Sea. Their scenic path eventually took them back stage backstage. A small table holding two giant bowls of fruit punch stood in front of us. “Let’s go,” Dunmark barked, effortlessly picking up a bowl in his arms and taking off across the stage. Jerry quickly moved to retrieve the bowl and walk across the stage. Suddenly, visions of disaster hit him in waves. How more could Cindy be embarrassed then having an entire bowl of punch poured on her during the dance? He paused at the table rubbing his bruised shoulder. There was no doubt that he could carry the punch bowl, but for how long. What were the chances of her being near him anyways? As he was about to risk it, a small mousy haired sophomore burst through the doors. “Why aren’t there TWO punch bowls for the sthtudents,” He squeaked, his lisp discharging spit with every syllable. Jerry raised an eyebrow at the kids intensity over mixed beverages. “It’s all yours bud,” nodding his head in the bowl to his side “I can’t lift it anyways.” He exited stage left, smugly smiling to himself. There was no reason for him to even be at the dance. The halls were dark, but familiar. He took a seat out on a small set of stairs outside the gym doors, under the stars. There was still concern about how the night would turn out. As the thought crossed his mind, he heard a roar of laughter from the gym followed by a blood curdling scream. “I wonder what happened,” Jerry thought, turning to look at the source of the sound. There were footsteps echoing down the hall. They were headed for him. He turned around just in time to see Cindy wrench open the door, covered in fruit punch. “Cindy, what happened,” He said, the statement glistening with false surprise. “Oh nothing, some dumbass kid just spilled an entire bowl of punch on me in front of the entire school.” There were tears in her eyes, “and my phone won’t turn on now.” She was holding herself for warmth, but the night was cold and she started shivering. “Hey hey hey, listen, it’s alright,” Jerry quickly pulled off his jacket “you probably want to get home. I’ll give you a ride.” His false surprise had turned to real sympathy. Her mascara was running down her face, but she had stopped shivering. The once white dress was soaked bright red. “Besides, you literally look like hell right now.” Cindy began laughing through her tears, it was the first time he’d seen her smile in his life.

Years later, his best man would tell the story at their wedding.


© Copyright 2020 David Gestler. All rights reserved.

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