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Creative Writing Assignment

Tonight's assignment comes to us from one of my favorite writers:

New Assignment - Finish this story:"Who here understands what I'm saying?" the old man asked. Jen raised her hand.

“I do,” I say.
I inhale sharp. It’s like that fantasy where you scream in church only this is real.

The other students shift, electric in their seats with their spiral notebooks, their faces washed and stomachs full of apple slices or oatmeal or toast with peanut butter. I don’t talk in this class.
Except now:

“I understand that you don’t know what you’re saying.”

His pacing stops and he half turns, won’t even give me his full ugly face.

All of a sudden I’m not sitting at my desk anymore but am standing, with one leg planted firm, one leg bent at the knee, resting against the yellow plastic scoop seat, bump in the middle for the space between my legs. Standing like a stork, which is comfortable for me, which people have made fun of me for my whole life, which right now is in defiance to him, as if to say: you’re so full of shit, I don’t even need both feet on this classroom floor to stand up to you. My arms hang at my sides, fingers grazing my thighs. I don’t know what to do with them. I never know what to do with my arms.

“All year long you poke holes in me. I’m late. I’m slow. I’m rude. I’m a lot of things. And today I’m a mirror. And while you look like a teacher to everyone else here – maybe look like someone with power, with grey hair, with a gut – against my surface you look like the kid that got too good-looking too fast, didn’t know what to do with it, then the good looks went away only you didn’t know it yet.”

David laugh-snorts. I realize I’m fiddling with the seam of my jeans and I force my fingers to stop it. My mouth is very dry.

“Is that all?” he asks, and his voice is a cold, dry wind.

“You are a teacher, though,” I continue, and I can’t believe it: I am a good kid. There was a time when I really wanted him to like me. I make all A’s. I’m on the Homecoming Court. I also can’t stop talking and I realize I’m saying “you’ve taught me that people don’t really change when they leave high school. I keep thinking people will grow up, will move past this place, but you didn’t. You stay here, every day, trying to prove to ghosts that you’re better than them. That you’re better than us. Better than me. I don’t care who you were then so don’t make me pay for it anymore.”

The silence is thick and I won’t look away from his eyes. They are green with the whites gone milky and we spend a long moment there, breathing. This is what my grandmother meant when she said I had a will of my own. I've never encountered it before but here it is, in this moment with the ticking clock and my nerves and I am powerful and terrified. But no one is saying anything so I scoop up my green Jansport and I walk past the three desks between me and the door and out.

Keep walking because I don’t know what to do and I wonder if I’m just like him now and if I’ll just keep trying to outlive this moment for the rest of my life.

5 comments:

Lira said...

really nice imagery! Hooray!

Phoenix said...

Good GOD this is amazing. What an incredible story. Fantastic. I can keep throwing positive adjectives all day, but I'll stop for fear of getting redundant and seeming like I'm drowning in hyperbole.

I loved this.

Phoenix said...

PS re: your Tacoma inquiry, the boy I'm dating wanted to get out of town with me for Valentine's Day and has some family up in Tacoma. So off we went!

Did you really go to the "Ten Things I Hate About You" high school? JEALOUS.

Arnold said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I

would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have

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