Pencils, Paper, and all the Little Things that make the World

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story about a boy named Sam. He's gone through his life with a few hurtles but somehow has made his way through alright. This story describes sam's problematic friends and family and the unconventional route he takes to improve their lives.

Pencils, Paper and all the Little Things that Make the World
Prologue: Noun. Definition: Epic Spoiler
Why didn't I just skip school today? I thought, completely aware of the situation I was in.
So there I was, staring death in the face. Death stared back menacingly, its eyes were two headlights that shined brightly in the blue evening glare. Its body was a small frame, rusty red with two black stripes running down its center. Time had never moved more slowly.
I was trapped. A deer caught in the headlights. Only I wasn't a deer, and I couldn't cause a car nearly as much damage if it crashed into me at seventy miles an hour. But the chances of me surviving this were pretty much the same.
So I think I know what you're thinking. Not positive, but I'm guessing that your wondering why I, Samuel Owen, Eighth grader of Lincoln Middle school, is spending his final seconds making cliché observations to people who don't know and most likely don't care at all about the situation he's in.
But you know what, I'm being mean. Of course you care, especially considering you went through all the effort of picking this document up and reading it, regardless if it was for a job, a grade, or maybe just because you have way too much time on your hands. No, you had the decency to listen to my story. Sure, maybe it's a story that only lasted the course of one, maybe two days, but it's a day I'll remember for the rest of my life. You all see the irony in that statement right? Not to mention I'm using cliché's again.
I'll tell you my story, and I'll refrain from starting it with "It all began when... Once upon a time... It was a dark and stormy night...". So for now, all you have to do is sit back, relax, sip on your half full or half empty glass of life's lemons (that you really should consider making into lemonade), and enjoy the show.
In Dog Years, I Could be dead
If I had a dollar for every year I've been alive, not only would that be the most pathetic allowance in the world for a teenager living in a typical middle class family, but by today, I would have finally saved enough money to buy The Five People you Meet in Heaven. That was the title of a book I had been keeping my eye out for ever since I saw it's movie counterpart.
Lucky for me, I don't need the dollar to get myself the book since today, I celebrate my fourteenth birthday.
I got out of bed this morning like any other day, only not to the usual overly obnoxious ring of my ten year old alarm clock. A loud bang pierced the serene morning air, and I half stumbled, half fell, out of bed.
"Oww, what the hell Sil...," I said groggily, scratching my head.
It was my little sister, Sylvia. She giggled, holding the sagging remains of a pink birthday balloon. My face felt tender where she had pressed the balloon against, and my ears were ringing as if a thousand of my alarm clocks were going off all in the same room. You have to love a fifth grader's sense of humor.
"Come on Sam, its six thirty already. Your going to sleep through your whole birthday pretty soon."
"Yeah, that's not a bad idea," I told her. "Older kids like me need more sleep you know."
She stuck her tongue out at me. "Oh please, Grandma wakes up earlier than you." Then ran out of the room, leaving me groaning and groggily scratching my head.
I dragged myself out of bed and after completing a multitude of morning routines, found myself sitting on a wooden kitchen stool. There was a bowl of cold cereal sitting in front of me on the table. I eyed it carefully and one of the little round pieces floated to the surface of the milk. Then, after making sure Sylvia hadn't slipped a cockroach or time bomb inside, I took my first bite.
"Mornin' Sam, you get enough sleep last night?" That was my mom, Mrs. Susan Owens. She looked extremely momish, leaning back in her pink bathrobe and matching slippers, reading the newspaper and sipping from a mug reading "Decaf Coffee: The ultimate oxymoron".
"Yeah, no thanks to little Ms. Sunshine here," I said. Sylvia grinned and continued on her cereal.
"Here," Mom said, handing me a small, tightly wrapped present.
"Wrapping it up is such a waste," she said, smiling warmly, "Since you already know what it is."
If you're smart and have been following the story closely, you should already know what was in that delicate little box my mom was holding. She's not too knowledgeable on the wants of the average fourteen year old, so she gets her gifts based mainly on requests.
I carefully removed the tape from the sides of he paper and unfolded the creased edges. In front of me was the book Five People you Meet in Heaven. It was a hardcover book, and the jacket let off a white glare from the fluorescent kitchen lights.
"Thanks, Mom."
"You should thank your sister too. She paid the extra so you could have the hard cover."
"You're welcome," Sylvia added.
I slung my bag over my shoulder and patted her on the head as I headed for the door. "Thanks Sil, I'll get you something nice when it's your turn. Balloon service and everything."
Then I headed out the door.
Today is April 28th in 1999. It is my third birthday and Mom, Dad, and dozens of aunts and uncles I don't know are crowding around me. In front of me is a chocolate cake with four blue candles. There is always one for good luck.
I squint my eyes and blow at the candles with my cheeks puffed as far as they can go. They all go out at once and immense cheering breaks out around me. A large smile widens across my face and I turn to my parents. Dad lifts me up in the air and spins me around. I squeal with excitement. When the game is over, I try to climb up on Mom's lap. She just laughs and pushes me away.
"You can't fit right now sweetie," she tells me. I can believe it, her stomach has gotten huge in the past few months. "Not with your brother or sister coming."
"Oh, okay." I was disappointed, but I tried not to let it show on my face. Just then, Dad picked me up and propped me up on his shoulders.
"Pretty soon you get to be a big brother," he tells me.
"I know," I reply. I know.
I step onto a half empty school bus and show the driver my bus pass. The look on his face pretty much tells me he would rather be anywhere else at this moment. I don't blame him.
"Hey Sam!" I hear my name and turn my head to the source of this.
It's my friend, Cole. He lives a little down the street from where I do. On his lap lies a pile of forgotten worksheets, and something tells me he doesn't plan on completing them on his own for the bus ride. Regardless of this, I sit next to him.
"Hey, wanna help me ou..."
"No, Cole," I cut him off.
He frowns but I know he's not offended. "Oh come o.."
"No, copying is wro..."
"Oh, Dont give me that crap again Sam, you know I can't do this on my own."
He's half right. Cole isn't dumb, but he's not too motivated either. I've always wondered why he decided to test for honors the previous last year.
I pulled out the five people and began reading, starting from chapter one, which was titled The End.
He gave up. "What did you write your short story for English on?"
"My dad," I told him. I'd rather not say any more than that.
"Where are we going Dad?" I asked. He had just finished dropping Mom off at her pregnancy exercise clinic and this time, instead of staying to watch and help out, we had taken off in dad's white truck.
"To my sis's place," he told me.
"You have a sister?"
"Yeah I do, she's your Aunt Liz," He explained, "Sometimes she has a hard time managing a kid all by herself, so I go over there a few times a week."
"So I have a cousin?" I asked, perplexed.
"That ya do kiddo. Her kid's name is Eric. He's the same age as you, too. Hope your excited, because pretty soon you too are going to start school together."
"OK dad." And I smiled. It was the kind of smile that little kids use, where the ends of their lips stretch on for miles.
"Just don't forget about Mom, OK?"
"I won't. I promise."
And he kept that promise.
Until the day he died.
If All Writers in the World Died Out
Mitch Albom writing can sure get the brain thinking. First of all, he starts his book off with an old man destined to die. How crazy is that? Nothing at any point in time can save this guy, so Mitch pretty much narrates the last thirty minutes of his life, complete with flashbacks and even remembers to count down until all of the sand in his life's hourglass trickles away.It was like visiting a hospitalized stranger. Every day, he gets worse and worse, and you know that soon, he's going to falls asleep in a comfy hospital bed and wake up somewhere in heaven. Thats sort of what it feels like to read the first chapter of The Five People you Meet in Heaven.
Of course, this isn't just a random monologue I'm going on about. It's the wording for my book reflection for english class.
"Alright, pass your work to the person in front of you down the center so you can begin editing your short stories." That was the voice of my period two english teacher, Ms. Avis. Contrary to the popular stereotyping, Ms. Avis was a very young, and very cool person. She's the kind of teacher that students can tell she knows what she's doing, and doesn't rely on textbooks to teach us new things.
"I like how you start this," it's Nickie. She's been my best friend since forever, which is about how long we've known each other. Yeah, my best friend is a girl, and it's a lot easier than it seems once you get out of the elementary-school-gender-segregation-phase.
"You kind of foreshadow what kind of hardships your main character has yet to encounter in your first paragraph," she tells me, "A few grammatical errors here and there, but I really like your style of writing. It's like your talking to someone in real life." She smiled.
"Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it then," I tell her, "I liked the dialogue you got your people to say. It's really... real."
She laughs, brushing a light brown bang from her eyes. "Nice description, Sam. You could paint a picture with those words."
I grin and can't help but be taken in. " I try."
We share a laugh and begin self-editing our stories. She had added so many commas to my work and changed the wording so much times that the sentences actually began to make sense as I read through it. Nickie's the only person who can do that to my writing, since usually it flows about as well as hot tar.
"You know, you didn't edit this very much," she tells me a little while later after reading her story through.
"I edited about half as much as you, which is plenty," I tell her, "Besides, its not as if you actually need the extra help. Your writing's fine."
"Is it really any good?" she asks me, frowning. Her frowns, however, are different from Cole's. When Nickie frowns, something is up.
"Yes, of course it's good. What's up with you? Its not like you to act so self-hating." Her story was titled "If All Writers Died Out". It was about a young girl with an exceptional ability for literature. She reads and writes, day after day, and eventually is discovered by a girl from her school's newspaper and website committee. The girl publishes some of her work to the school, and is read and enjoyed by both teachers and students of the school. The girl keeps her name anonymous, and continues to write for the school. She shares her ideas and recognizes in the end, the true importance of writing and what society would be like without it.
"Well, actually, I'm a little jealous," She says, tracing her fingers over a pencil mark in her desk. "I read yours and... and its good. I mean, you could always work on your commas and stuff, sure, but when I read what you write, the things that you say seem just... natural."
After she told me this, I responded with something really intelligent. "Whaaaaaaaaat?"
"No way, Nickie, your the best writer in the world, what do I have that you could possibly be jealous about?"
"I can think of a few things, Sam, but I don't exactly have the most time in the world."
Just then, the bell rang, and Nickie left the room without another word.
I sat there and thought about what the had told me just now.
Remnants of her last words still lingered in my mind as i got up and followed her out of the classroom.

"Hey, Eric, where's your dad?" It was the third time I visited Aunt Liz with dad. I enjoyed seeing them. I especially liked playing with Eric.
"Gone," Eric responded, sliding a plastic fire truck across the room.
"Gone where?" I asked him.
"Dunno," he said, unperturbed, and continued to play with his toys. "Was before I was born."
A few minutes later, Dad ran into the room.
"Sam, you have to stay at Aunt Liz's tonight." He was talking fast. His hands were shaking as if he needed to get out of the room as fast as he could.
"Sorry, I have to go."
And he ran out of the room. Seconds later, I could hear the screen door slam shut.
Joseph Owens ran out of his sisters house on a lazy sunday afternoon. To him, however, the day had risen to a point of extreme urgency- a feeling he had only experienced once before. A phone call was all it took. Truthfully, he had predicted the events now happening. He had prepared for them the best that he could. But when Mr. Owens received the call on that lazy sunday afternoon, to him, it felt as if everything he was going through was happening for the first time. In his mind, there were only three words being repeated over and over. Get to Susan.
Joseph started his car up and picked up speed. Sixty miles an hour. He felt like the road was collapsing behind him. If he slowed down now, his car would fall beneath the hole.
Seventy-eight miles an hour. He's not yet out of the suburban neighborhood and takes a hard turn. He can hear his tires skid from inside of the car. His window clips the pole of a stop sign, but he loses no speed. He takes another turn and continues into the highway.
Eighty two miles an hour. Joseph is almost to his destination. He spots a streetlight fifty feet in front of him. The color changes from green to yellow. He speeds up to ninety miles an hour. The light turns red.
Please god, Joseph thinks as he speeds through the highway intersection. I want to see my daughter.
A large truck clips the back of Joseph's car. He goes into a spin and tumbles off the highway. Down and down the car tumbles, until it slams onto the cold unforgiving earth below.
Sixth period of the day and I have just about lost my mind. This is how I rank my classes in order.
Period one- social studies. The study of things that happened before to get us where we are today. Frankly, I can't think of a single job that the information I gain from this class would actually succeed in this class, aside from being a social studies teacher. I guess that's a career worth looking into.
Two- english. One of the more practical classes to choose from. I learn lots from english, like "writing like I talk" as Nickie puts it. Next week Ms. Avis has decided to teach us proper punctuation which, I am a little less than thrilled about. This suggestion was brought up by Lincoln School's very own Nichole Philips. Thanks a lot Nickie.
Three- P.E. We learn sports, and the proper way to perform them. We run a mile once a week, and are supposed to get at least thirty minutes of exercise outside of class daily. Personally, I don't. I wonder if anyone else does. I can't image anyone would go out of their way and exercise just because some old lady said it was best for their bodies. I wonder how much minutes of exercise she gets daily. Hmm...
Four- science. Cole once tried to get out of doing his homework in this class saying that it had violated his religious principles. Our teacher then suggested that he should give the homework back and accept a zero. Nice one Cole.
Five- band. I play the drums. If I was supposed to advertise my instrument, my sales pitch would probably resemble that of an infomercial. You order a drum and you get a free cowbell included. We'll throw in a pair of woodblocks as well. How about the triangle? Bass drum? Timpani? you've got it. Playing is easy as learning how to read music. No blowing required. Side effects may include an inability to keep in time, read properly. Be cautious because side effects may lead to the band director screaming his butt off at you whenever they may occur. Regular practice is considered.
Six- algebra. Math was hard enough when there were only numbers to deal with. I wonder why that is. Maybe its because instead of solving the problem, you now have to work your way around it. Sure, its easy to find the answers, but making the questions a little prettier is something I lack much experience at. Looks like I can scratch being an architect or an engineer off of my list of possible career choices.
Algebra, amazingly enough, is the one class Cole really does well in. Sure, he doesn't do his homework, but for algebra, he doesn't need too. The textbook work is optional. The options go like this: do the work and understand the material given, or don't do the work which would lead to your failure. Cole, however, has found an alternative solution to things: don't do the work, yet somehow understand whatever the hell we're being assigned to do.
Cole is currently pulling the highest grade in the class with a ninety nine percent.
"You forgot to distribute," he told me, looking over my shoulder.
"Gee, thanks Cole."
"Don't mention it. You know what, Sam, sometimes i get the feeling you really don't like this class."
"How did you ever come up with that assumption?" I let the sarcasm drip from my mouth, burning a hole in the floor as it landed.
Cole remained unfazed. "Because you suck at it."
Can't argue with that.
"As far as I'm concerned, I suck at all classes that require me to think at all."
"So what does that leave?" Cole said, attention focused on the pen he was spinning between his fingers.
I thought that question for a little while. "Probably English."
Cole raised his eyebrows and spun his pen. Spin spin spin.
"You sure thats not the only reason you like it?"
I narrowed my eyes at him. I knew where this was going.
"What are you implying?" I asked. The subliminal messaging in my voice was whispering to him say it. I dare you to say it.
Spin spin spin. "I'm only saying," spin spin, "Maybe you should have a little more enthusiasm. You'll hurt Nickie's feelings."
I clenched my teeth. "There's nothing happening between us."
"Come on, Sam, everyone, including you, knows how she feels," Cole said, still focusing on his pen. Spin spin spin spin...
That was true. Word like that spread around quite easily, and eighty percent of the time they're true. Yes, Nickie likes me, but to me, thats not what registers. She's my friend. As far as I'm concerned, love is about acceptance. Many people do believe it's an involuntary reaction, and I'm not going to argue with that. It is involuntary. But it's up to you to decide whether or not you have it. I haven't accepted the fact that I feel that way for her yet. Call me scared, insecure, whatever. Call me stupid, and I agree with you. In denial, however, I am not.
"I know nothing," was my response.
"You sure don't." Spin spin.
Annoyed, I whacked the pen out of his hands.
Spin spin...The pen went as it sailed through the classroom air. It hit the person on the seat in front of me and landed on the floor. He turned around and scratched his head in the place where the pen had hit him.
"This belong to you?" Holding out Cole's pen was my cousin, Eric.
Eric was a big kid, a good six inches taller than me. He had wispy brown hair and always wore black, indiscreet clothing. He was quiet, so he didn't have many friends at school.
"Yeah, thanks," Cole said, grabbing it quickly. Cole was afraid of Eric. Most people were.
"Yup," Eric said in monotone voice. He then turned around and continued working.
Eric is three and a half years old. His mother is in the kitchen, crying. His dad is gone, left his mom a long time ago. His uncle is dead. Eric ponders over whether he should start crying as well. He doesn't. He just sits, plays with his toys, and waits for his mom to get better. She's been sitting and drinking out of green and brown bottles for the past week now. He really hopes she gets better.
Death Sucks at Driving
It's after school and I'm at my aunt Liz's house. I go there occasionally to see how she's doing.
Her house is located in a long line of old and rusty homes. She and Eric have been living pretty well, but the one very problematic part about all of that is her drinking problems.
This house is here everything began. It's were dad rushed out on that fateful Sunday evening. Its where Liz first started drinking.
I walk up the stairs to the porch. The door creeks open and there stands Eric, looming over me.
"Hey Eric, where's Aunt...," and that's all I get to say before he nails me.
"Aunt Liz? Where do you think?" His voice was indifferent. If he hadn't just socked me in the face, I probably wouldn't have guessed he's angry with me.
I wiped my upper lip. Great. Blood.
"All that she's ever been doin' since your daddy died was drink away all of her problems." His expression was blank. The words coming out of this mouth were blank. Crap. That makes it extremely difficult to get mad at him.
"And hows that working out for her?" I asked, rubbing nose with my sleeve. I slowly backed off.
"It's so-so," he tells me. He takes a step forward.
I think about the possible options I have here. Number one, I can stay and fight. Although this option is pretty simple, I lack both the stature and the guts to even consider it. He's a good half foot taller than me anyway. Two, I can run. If I get caught, I'm in worse shape than if I chose option one. Three, I can apologize and leave it at that. Worth a try right?
"Look, Eric, I'm sor..." Wrong answer.
His fist comes out of nowhere, knocking me onto the dying grass in front of his house. I scramble away, but he catches me as I got to the middle of the road.
Finally, his expression changes. Now, I can clearly see that he's mad, which is exaggerated by being pulled by the collar, my face forced into an uncomfortable position, inches away from his.
"I don't care Sam. I don't care that your sorry. Do you know what kind of problems Mom went through when Dad left? Do you? Because I can clearly remember her coming home from work every night, breaking down on the kitchen table. I was two, please Sam, tell me, how many freaking things can you remember when you were two?" I could feel the spittle on my face as he pronounced two.I wrinkled my nose in disgust.
"And when your dad died, what happened? I'll tell you what. Nothing. Your mom's job is enough to take care of the both of you." His eyes were glaring deep into mine. "And Liz? She started drinking! Why the hell, Sam, do I have to suffer if its your own god damned dad who died? WHY?" Great. Now he's screaming when I'm three inches away from him.
"Your breathe smells like crap, Eric," I tell him. His eyes bulge and he raises his fist to hit me again.
But death comes before it happens. Death drove in with his car, a small rusty red frame with two black stripes
running down the center. The car was out of control, and swerved back and forth, almost methodically.
However, it wasn't death who was driving the car. It was an intoxicated Aunt Liz. That made more sense. I couldn't picture death being such a bad driver.
Great... I'm Dead
Death came without pain. Strange, because I would have expected that being slammed by a car at fifty miles an hour would hurt, maybe even a little. But it didn't. It was as easy as closing your eyes, hoping for the best, and waiting for all of the little things you cherished on earth to drain away, drop by drop, until all of the drops ran out.
The First and Last Person I Meet in Heaven
I awake, or whatever you call it, standing in the living room of Aunt Liz's house. It's quiet. I look around, waiting for something to happen. Nothing does.
Giving up, I slump down on Aunt Liz's couch. Geez, is does death really soboring?
Again I fall asleep. When I wake up, I'm no longer alone in the room. On the couch across from me sits a man. He appears to be somewhere in late thirties.
"Can't say its good to see ya here, Sam," He tells me, "But since you are, I thought you may have wanted to see me."
"I know who you are," I blurt out. And I do. I don't know how or why, but I know. "I knew I'd see you here, Dad."
"Some father I was," he said, chuckling, "I left when you were just an infant."
I was quiet for a minute, then asked him. "Dad, why are you here?"
His answer is simple. "Because you died."
"I guess that makes sense."
"So tell me son, what kind of life have you been leading?" He asked me.
I thought about that question for a minute. "Pretty ordinary I guess. I had my mom to take care of me, I went to school, and lived the best I could."
"Any regrets?"
Again, I thought carefully before providing a good answer. "Maybe I could have helped Cole more with his homework. I should have been nicer to Nickie too." I clenched my teeth. No point in stopping now. "I should have helped them. I should have helped Eric and Aunt Liz too. Crap, now its too late."
But dad just smiled at me. "It's not too late Sam. It never is."
I looked up, meeting his gaze. "But Dad, I'm dead."
He took a deep breathe. "Sam, not everyone moves on after the first time they die. You lived a good and honest life. You did the best you could with your life and I'm proud of you." He smiled an old, wrinkly smile.
"Death is very forgiving, Sam. Unless you have bad intentions with life, you never have to die your first time around. And after your first time, you are given the chance to improve your life. Knowledge is power, so you use this power I'm about to give you to help all those around you.
"Pain is a tricky thing, Sam. It exists in all of us. In Eric, in Aunt Liz, and even in your friends Cole and Nicole. It's evasive, and sometimes not even the person harboring a large quantity of it realizes they have it. Help them, Sam. If they are suffering, offer a hand. They won't turn you down.
"When you wake up, you won't remember is conversation," He told me a little while later, "You'll be in bed, just like any other morning. I'm pretty sure your memory will be the same, only the car would have stopped harmlessly in front of you. If truly wish to help them, Sam, those feelings will be remembered."
After hearing everything he said, I finally understood. Aunt Liz was hurting herself. That was hurting Eric. And the only person that could help either of them was me. "Okay, Dad." I said.
"Good boy," he told me, "Are you ready to go then?"
"Wait, can I ask a question?"
"What is it, Sam?"
"If people don't die after their first time... Does that mean you already died twice?"
Again, he smiled. "I died just once. Sometimes though, it takes a bit longer to give people the proper memories."
Then the room and my Dad vanished, taking every trace of heaven with them.
Recap (Don't Worry, Won't Take Long)
I woke up, and I remembered.
I remembered Eric on top of me, about to slam his fist in my face.
I remembered the glaring headlights of aunt Liz.
And I remember dying.
Most peculiar of all, however, I remember seeing my Dad, telling me that I wouldn't remember any of that.
Now I see him in the kitchen, eating along with me and Sylvia and Mom, just like he's always been there. Maybe he has.
I want to talk to him about nothing. I want to talk to him about everything.
But I don't. He won't remember anyway.
Aunt Liz doesn't drink anymore. Apparently, she didn't even start. That's why she didn't kill Eric or myself when we were on the road. I'm not sure how this whole system or whatever works, but I'd rather leave it left alone. I'll find out eventually. Hopefully not in the near future.
Fixing Cole
I sling my bag over my shoulder, say goodbye to Mom, Dad, and Sylvia, and half walk, half run, out of the house.
According to Dad, there were four people who need my help. Ever since he came back, however, Eric and Aunt Liz have been in good shape. Liz doesn't drink. Isn't angry. Its as simple as that.
The ones I need to help are Cole and Nickie. I don't know how or why, but its what dad told me to do.
I stepped into the bus and walked through the aisle, scanning the seats for any signs of Cole. I spot him in a seat near the back, as always, he's buried up to his waist in papers.
"Hey Cole," I say as I take a seat on the side of him.
"Hi," he says, his voice sagging.
"What, late night?" I asked.
"You could say that."
I looked a the homework he hadn't even started on. I think I understood the problem.
"The reason you don't do your homework isn't just because your lazy, is it?"
He met my eyes for a few seconds, then he smiled.
"Not entirely."
I waited for him to continue. When he didn't I asked him, "Why don't you tell me what's going on."
He stared at the paper in front of him, as if expecting them to answer for him. When they didn't he started talking.
"My folks, they work pretty late," he laughed, somewhat dryly, "But I guess thats to be expected when you have to feed me and my siblings. They do a good job, but since usually its just me and three kids, I have to be the parent."
"Cole... What kind of grades did you get last quarter?"
He though about that for a minute. "Three F's, two A's, and a B."
"Geez man, three F's?" I said, definitely surprised. I expected him to be pulling C's or B's. At least.
"You gotta start doing your work."
He just smiled. "I can't, Sam. I can't stay up till ten o' clock every night watching the kids, then another two hours just to get of my work done. I'll take summer classes, I'll make it through."
"We'll thats a good way to ruin your future."
"I know Sam. But there isn't that much a waste of space like me can do anyway."
I pulled out a large, multi-purpose folder out of my bad. "Well, you can start by doing your work."
"You don't mean..." his face broke out in a grin. It didn't last long.
"No I don't," I told him, "I'm not gonna let you copy, Cole, but I'm gonna make sure you get everything done. If you can't do it at home, then we're both gonna get it done during school." I knew he wouldn't pass this up. Cole spent all of his morning and recesses trying to finish his work anyway.
He breathed out and smiled. "Thanks, Sam. When we're done, I'll give you some pointers for algebra."
"Its a deal," I told him.
Then we got to work.
Fixing Nickie
It's English class and Nickie seems distracted. Instead of normally feeding off of every word coming out of Ms. Avis's mouth, her attention focused down at her desk. Throughout the class, it seems like she's purposely been avoiding my gaze. Not a good feeling.
The puzzle pieces were laid out in front of me.
Something only I could help her with.
She's self conscious sitting next to me.
Yesterday, she walked out of the room under the impression that I was far superior than her.
She likes me (that way).
I don't like her (same way).
And when I put those pieces together, heres what I come up with. Nickie feels lonely and unappreciated.
Only I can help her. I got an idea how.
After the bell rings, I turn to Nickie.
"Hey..." I start. I can feel the idiocy in my voice. I continue. "You think of what your writing your next story on?"
"Not really," she tells me quickly, as if she's ready to bolt out the door as soon as I finish talking.
"Do you..." I gulped. For some reason other than cheering her up, I felt anxious about her answer to the next question. "Do you want to write a joint story with me?"
She was quiet for a couple of seconds. Very slowly, her head came up and met my gaze.
"How the heck, Sam, are we gonna do that?" But her smiling expression- the one that was missing throughout the class- was present.
If I just leave my feelings as "relieved," I would be the worst writer in the world, because now, looking into Nickie's smiling expression, it felt the weight of the universe had lifted off of my shoulders. I tried for an analogy, I get a hyperbole. Close enough.
"You just tell a story in two points of views," I explain, "I get one, you get the other, then somewhere along the lines, those two connect."
"And we can do that?" she asked, incredulous.
"I already asked Ms. Vera," I said, looking at her desk. Hearing her name, she looked up and smiled.
"We're fine as long as the total amount amount of writing for each person meets the required amount."
Instead of heading out the door and leaving me standing again, she put her bag back down and took her seat.
"You don't mind starting now, would you?" She asked in mock politeness. It was a carefully concealed demand. And it made me happy.
"Of course not," and I sat down too.
The way Ms. Vera taught us both to write was to picture the whole story as being a puzzle. We start off with dozens of tiny pieces, all of different colors and sizes. Those were our events. We then take each event and connect them. Two events that you would never think could go together can fit perfectly under the right circumstances.
After that, you keep connecting the parts piece by piece. Each piece getting you closer to the big picture.
Then, when all of the pieces have been assembled, you are left with what you have been working towards the entire time.
I didn't know what kind of puzzle me and Nickie were putting together right now. We still had yet to create a single piece. All i know is that this puzzle is the very thing Nickie needs. I think I need it too.
I'm not sure how I'll feel about Nickie when the story is finished. But hey, maybe thats a puzzle in itself. A puzzle in a puzzle.
By the way, fateful reader.
This puzzle is almost completed.
The Missing Piece
I'm in my dad's truck, and we had just pulled in at Aunt Liz's house. I don't know how Eric is going to react to seeing me, so soon after splattering my brains out in his front yard. I figure I'm safe since all the adults are here.
We eat dinner there. We all laugh. We all talk.
I watch Aunt Liz closely the whole time, but not once has she touched a beer bottle. I'm actually starting to think she never did.
When it's time for us to go, Eric waves goodbye and smiles. He smiles like he used to, at three years old.
I touched the side of my face, where Eric had punched me the day before. There was no bruise. Eric had never hit me. Eric had never been bad.
In the car's rearview mirror, I meet eyes with dad. It lasts for several seconds.
It seems like several hours.
Finally, he speaks. He only says a few words, but they're meaningful, and thats what counts.
He says, "I'm proud of you, Sam."
And just like that, the final piece of the puzzle revealed itself. The picture is complete.
Truthfully, its not what I expected. The image has a strange blend of color. Its mysterious, but it's beautiful too. They're may be marks of pain and sorrow, but along those lines are traces of love and compassion. Traces of hope.
When I get back home, the first thing I plan on doing is taking this puzzle apart. Piece by piece. When I'm done with that, and have all of the pieces written down on paper, I'll probably give them to Nickie.
She needs to experience what it feels like to put the puzzle together, so she can finally get to be part of the big picture.
Only when that happens will all of the pieces fit perfectly together.
I can predict how that puzzles going to look like when it's finished.
And hopefully, after reading my story, you'll be able to see it too.

Submitted: October 17, 2009

© Copyright 2021 PaintedGray. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



A great one. :) But it's better if you can format your story so it can easily be read. :) Other than that. It's great. Keep it up and there's always room for impovement. :)

Sat, October 17th, 2009 8:54am


srry, i know it was kind of hard to read when its not formatted... i downloaded firefox tho so now its alot easier :D

Mon, October 26th, 2009 11:32pm

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