May 2, 2017

Standard

Distractions 

Ian stares at Casey as she checks her phone for what seems like the millionth time in the last five minutes alone. “Are you done yet?” he asks, irritability seeping into his tone. They came here to study, as the books piled around them clearly tell, but Casey can do nothing but stare at her phone and ignore her friend. Ian takes a drink of his coffee, tasting more bitterness and anger than actual coffee. 

Casey glances between her friend and her phone, hesitating a moment longer than she should have. Ian sits back in his chair, distraught. “I didn’t mean it like that, Ian!” she protests, but at that very moment, her phone buzzes and her attention zips to it, contradicting her previous statement. Seeing the name JARED PFAFF 😎😍 appear on her screen, she cannot contain her excitement, her chair clattering to the ground as she stands. Her fingers fly over the buttons on her screen, letters filling the box. 

When Casey looks back up to her friend, Ian has disappeared, the stacks of books and empty cups and plates littering the table as before. Casey feels her heart drop to the pit of her stomach, a sickly feeling arising. “I didn’t mean it like that, Ian,” she says, despite the addressee’s absence. Packing up her books and Ian’s too, she heads out. 

Meg, I think I screwed up. 

Her phone buzzes and the name BEST SISTER IN THE WORLD 😘💕 appears on her screen. 

What happened, Case?

Releasing a breath of relief as she reads the words, Casey knows her sister’s concern from those three words. 

Ian left in the middle of our study date. 

She pauses before sending the next text: 

I think I deserved it, though. 

Her sister’s exasperation shows in her response. 

What did you do this time? 

Casey winces. She hears the words ringing in her head in her sister’s voice, tone and cadence clearer than their obvious relation. 

I couldn’t stop looking at my phone. Which in my defense doesn’t bother most people anymore. 

Meg’s reply wounds Casey to the core, the words hitting her harder than she knew words on a screen could. 

Ian is obviously different, Case. He’s one of those special few who want a genuine connection with people, and especially with you. Have fun gaining his trust back. 

Casey slips her phone into her pocket and trudges back to her dorm room, losing the emotional battle warring inside her. Ian is one of her only friends–other than her roommate and her sister–and to think that she may have screwed that up sends Casey into a minor panic. When she arrives back at her dorm, she drops her bag to the floor with a heavy bang and curls up in bed, nestled under her covers, and sobs. 

***

Prompt: Write a story about characters in a work in progress. Revisiting Elegance and Idiocy here again! 

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May 1, 2017

Standard

Turn Back Time

Running into the bathroom, she slammed her stall door shut, the lock soon following suit. “Jessie, come out,” her best friend pleaded. ”I’ll take you to the coffee shop down the street. The one you like so much , with the cupcakes and pastries and the comfy chairs? I’ll buy.”

“Go away.” She sat on the toilet, head in hands, her focus anywhere but on her friend’s voice. Not even the prospect of a free cupcake could tempt her and Jessie’s love for cupcakes knew no bounds. Her appetite had fled when the tears flowed in. No one in their right mind, or so Jessie believed, could have an appetite at a time like this. Even the idea of found seemed wrong.

Her friend’s incessant knocking revealed her differing opinion. ”Jessie, moping won’t do you any good. You’ll feel better after a cupcake.”

”I’ll feel better after you leave, Kate,” Jessie retorted. Giving Kate no time to react, Jessie popped up from her makeshift chair and glanced around the stall. She spun the toilet paper roll twice. She slammed the lid on the waste bin, the tinny sound echoing with each slam. One… two… Three. When that didn’t satisfy the violent urges rising, she flushed the toilet and kicked its base with an agonized grunt. 

The lights shut off. The world began to spin. The ground seemed to slip from under her feet. Jessie stopped breathing, the air squeezed out of her lungs.

When Jessie woke up, head still spinning, she pushed herself onto her elbows, the tile of the bathroom floor chilled against her bare skin. No knocks sounded on the pale green door of the stall. Jessie glanced back at it. Green? Wasn’t it blue? Running her fingers over the tile, Jessie noticed that this, too, had changed.

”Where am…” Her voice dropped. Her eyes widened. ”High school.”

As quickly as possible, she ran out of the stall to the mirrors. The hair, the clothes, the makeup revealed to her the exact date. The day that changed her life forever.

“Crap. Owen’s going to ask me out.”

Stunned, Jessie left the bathroom. Everything seemed so familiar, like she had walked these halls only yesterday, when in reality she hadn’t in almost ten years. The walls still stood in all their awful green glory. The lockers still looked like they had travelled from forty years ago, the paint scratched and peeling. The floor still led its students like some degraded yellow brick road, its alternating yellow and white tile even matching in color. 

”Jessie!” her high school bestie, Violet, called to her, waving her over to table. Their table in their corner. The table they sat at every day for lunch. The table they had all engraved their names in the wood of the underbelly. The table that knew all their joys, woes, and secrets. 

Jessie hadn’t seen Violet in years. An unexpected longing overwhelmed her and she rushed her friend, knocking her out of her chair to the ground. Only slightly miffed, Violet shoved her off. Standing, she laughed, “Oh my god, Jess, it’s not like we haven’t seen each other in years. We literally had class together only an hour ago.”

Accepting Violet’s assistance, Jessie joined her at the table. She would have to remember that not everyone had come from the futur–or present, to Jessie– and thus wouldn’t have the same knowledge she did. She decided to play it off. ”I know, it’s just…” She glanced around. No one listened, all too focussed on their own friends and their own lunches. She lowered her voice. ”I think Owen’s gonna ask me out.”

Violet screeched. ”Oh my god, what?”

Shushing her, Jessie nodded. “I don’t know why, but I just get this feeling, you know?” 

”Owen, as in our Owen? As in Owen Zimmer? As in Owen your best friend Owen?” 

”As in the Owen I’ve known since I was like two? Yeah, that Owen.” 

Violet leaned into Jessie further. ”Are you sure?” Stifling an urge to shout out her absolute positivity on the matter, Jessie nodded. ”What are you going to say?” 

Somehow, the question caught Jessie off guard. The first time (the real time?) this happened, Jessie laughed in Owen’s face and rejected him. She lost him that day. He pushed her away. Refused to talk to her. He made their friends choose between them. Most chose him. Jessie’s rejection made her the loneliest girl at school. 

It affected her for the rest of her life. Rejecting her best friend at sixteen resulted in major self-esteem issues when her friends abandoned her. It resulted in heartbreak and heartache when every boyfriend she’d had since then couldn’t understand an handle her insecurity. It resulted in therapy and the bills to match, but little else to show for it. 

It resulted in her boyfriend-recently-become-ex panicing and breaking up with her when she tried to have a reasonable conversation about their future together. 

Maybe that’s what this was all about. Maybe she had received the opportunity to change her past and thus change her future! Jessie shrugged. “I think I might actually say yes.”

Violet shrieked again. “Oh my god, are you serious? You two would be like the cutest couple in the school! Everyone has wanted you two to get together since pretty much ever. I’ve even told creeps who were interested in you that you had a boyfriend and pointed Owen out and the creep just responded with an, ‘Oh, I should have known.’ Jess, this has got to be the most exciting news!” Violet pulled Jessie into a violent hug. 

“Vi, he hasn’t technically asked me yet.” 

Violet’s grip loosened but not enough to allow for Jessie’s escape. “I know but I still don’t care.” Holding Jessie out at arm’s length, Violet trapped her with her eyes. “Promise me that if he doesn’t ask you, that you will be the strong independent woman that you are and ask him.” 

“Fine. Alright. I promise. But–” catching sight of a nervous Owen approaching– “I don’t think I’ll have to.”

Owen stopped at their table and cleared his throat to catch the girls’ attention. When Violet noticed, she popped up from her chair with a bubbly excuse and rushed around the corner to leave the two theoretical lovebirds alone. Owen took her vacated seat beside Jessie. 

Jessie’s heart fluttered but she couldn’t tell why. Was she remembering how she felt the first time–scared, apprehensive, worried that something had gone wrong and Owen needed an ear to listen? Or was she feeling all the emotions of a girl in love? Everything seemed to blur together and she couldn’t quite separate the different emotions. 

“Hey, Owen, everything okay?” she asked. The same words she had used the last time. Half subconsciously, she reached out a hand and placed it on his knee. His shaking rattled through her bones but her touch had a calming effect on him. His violent shaking lessened to a mere quiver. 

Owen nodded. “Yeah. I- I’m not sure exactly how to do this. We’ve been friends for so long, I’m not sure if I’m reading things correctly now. Especially with everyone speculating about us constantly. I just…” He paused to take a deep breath, but Jessie couldn’t leave him hanging. 

“Do you want to go out with me sometime?”

Owen stared at her, a look of confusion and relief. “How did–”

“I know?” she asked, a laugh painting her tone. “Like you said, everyone’s already been speculating that we were a thing for a long time. According to Vi it’s been since like middle school. I figure we should at least give us a shot, right? And if we don’t work out, we can both agree to still befriends, right?”

“Right.” Owen shook his head. “Still can’t believe that you asked me first.” 

“Don’t get too ahead of yourself, O,” Jessie laughed. “We have to even set a date.”
A week later, Jessie waltzed into her house after her date with Owen, her heart dancing in time to the beat of her steps. She hadn’t expected things to go so well with Owen, but after the initial awkwardness passed, both lightened up and became the people that they knew each other to be. It felt familiar, despite being the first date. 

The first of many to come. Jessie and Owen continued their little romance. Their junior year passed and their senior year and before they knew it they had graduated. Even through all of college, at separate colleges, all the way across the country from each other, they continued their romantic ventures. True, they had their rough times, but since when did a strong relationship not? The rough patches only made them stronger. 

When they reunited after their college graduation, Jessie could have sworn she had read the exact scene in a novel somewhere. Anticipation and separation can do that to a person. 

By the time Jessie and Owen had reached their twenty-sixth birthdays, Jessie had put her old future behind her. This one pleased her more than any other could have. She still met Kate, but she didn’t lose Owen or Violet. She didn’t have to experience the heartache that she had before. Her life held for her many an adventure and many a joy. She couldn’t ask for anything better, frankly. 

She would always wonder, however, how it had happened that her random combination of frustrated responses in that bathroom stall could change her life like that: spinning the toilet paper twice, slamming the trash bin lid three times, flushing the toilet, and kicking its base. It carried some sort of magic. Who would have guessed that such a mundane response could trigger such a life-changing adventure? 

It turned back time and Jessie would have it no other way. 

***

Prompt: Turn back time in someone’s sorry to relieve a regret that they have. 

(Sorry for the absence! When emotional drama hits, you sometimes have to break from things you love dearly.) 

April 24, 2017

Standard

Let the Adventures Begin!

EXT. HOSPITAL 
Reva hugs Philip and Susana before grabbing her bag and heading inside. 

Susana waves to her husband, who awaits Reva at the doors of the hospital, and directs Philip back into her car. 

INT. HOSPITAL LAB 

Kumar leads Reva into the lab where Moss hands her a hospital gown and Fowler ushers her into a nearby bathroom. 

While they wait, Fowler straightens the sheets on the bed once more. Belrose and Kumar check the machine one final time. 

Upon Reva’s exit from the bathroom, Moss takes the bag from Reva to stash it away. 

Fowler leads Reva by the elbow to the bed, where she hands her a clipboard full of paperwork. She points to a few spaces.

FOWLER 

Sign, please. 

Reva takes the pen and signs, finishing just as Fowler removes the clipboard. Fowler bustles to the other side of the room to hand it off. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Hook her in, Belrose! 

Snapping to his task, Belrose eases Reva baking against the pillows before he drags each wire and places it in the exact position required.

BELROSE 

Excuse the cold hands. 

Moss moves in to connect Reva to an IV. 

Fowler stalks back over, planting herself beside Reva’s bed, arms crossed over her chest. 

FOWLER

I assume you understand how this works. 

Off Reva’s nod. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Once we get you hooked up–

Belrose and Moss look up from their tasks, to Fowler, to each other, before returning to their duties at a faster pace. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

We’ll start the procedure. Last chance to listen to your mother.

 Reva stares up into Fowler’s eyes, a challenge sparkling in her own. 

Fowler huffs and turns her back on Reva to face Kumar. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Stubborn girl. I like her. 

KUMAR 

She takes after her mother in that. 

But Fowler has already moved on. 

MOSS 

Done! 

BELROSE 

Done! 

FOWLER 

Excellent.   

Fowler injects the drug which will induce a coma. 

FOWLER 

Nighty night, Sleeping Beauty.

***

Prompt: Another excerpt from The Aurora Project. Hopefully, I won’t give too much away. The first act was just pretty self explanatory. The second act should get more into the fun part of thestory, the more or less unexpected part. 

April 23, 2017

Standard

Familial Confrontation

INT HOSPITAL ROOM – AFTERNOON

Staring up at the ceiling, Reva lies on her bed. Her food tray sits untouched. In her hand, a crumpled picture: she and Jacob on one of their first dates. Her fist closes around it.

The door opens and Philip runs in, jumping up onto the bed beside his mom, his joy returned a hundredfold. Taken aback, Reva hugs him, overwhelmed. 

PHILIP

You’re okay!

He pulls away from her, looking her straight in the eyes

PHILIP

You scared me, Mom.

Reva brushes over it, ruffling his hair and plastering a smile on her face which fades as she sees her mother and father standing in the door, waiting for her attention.

Dev lifts his hand in a timid wave, which Reva returns.

Susana, having received her signal, pushes past her husband and perches on the chair near Reva’s bed. She folds her hands in her lap, all business.

REVA

There’s no need to lecture me.

SUSANA

I wasn’t going to lecture you, Honey.

Reva’s eyes burn into her mother’s skin, Susana shifting under their gaze. 

REVA

Mom, lectures are kinda your thing. You’ve given me the same one over and over again.

(Hesitant)

But I understand what you mean. 

Susana glances from Reva to Dev, unsure if she heard correctly. Dev sets a hand on Susana’s shoulder, squeezing comfort, assurance, into her.

SUSANA

Well, that–

Noticing Reva tensing, Dev squeezes Susana’s shoulder again, a warning.

SUSANA

–is good to hear, Sweetie.

REVA

It doesn’t mean I’m going to do it your way, Mom.
SUSANA

I wouldn’t expect anything different.

REVA

I’m going to do it my way in my time. I don’t want you interfering in this. 
KUMAR

I promise I’ll hold her back if she gets antsy.

Reva nods, a little smile flitting across her face, but her tension doesn’t ease.

REVA 

Thanks, Dad.

(Pause)

It’s good to see you. I hear things have been busy at work.

Dev chuckles. 

KUMAR

Audra won’t let things slow down. Never has.
REVA

Mom said that you were working on a new machine.

Dev stays silent for a moment, glancing down at the ground.

KUMAR

Maggie and Chase finished putting it together just before…

Reva interrupts him before he goes too far.

REVA

So progress. That’s good.

(A beat. A breath.)

How long can you stay?

KUMAR

Not long. I’m sorry, Reeves.

Reva’s face falls as she nods, pushing her disappoint away. 

REVA

No, no, I understand. This project is important.

KUMAR

It could help a lot of people, Reeves.

REVA

It’s a big accomplishment, Dad. I know how much it means to you. 

Dev nods, stays quiet. His heart aches with how much he wishes he could stay. He slips his hands into his pockets and his face brightens.

He pulls out his wallet, opens it, and pulls out something. A picture: a much younger version of himself with a three-year-old Reva on his lap, laughing her heart out. With a smile, he shows it to Reva. 

KUMAR

I’ve carried this picture around with me since it was taken. 

Reva takes the picture, her hands shaking as she holds it almost reverently.

KUMAR

It reminds me why I do what I do, Reeves. That little girl in the picture… She’s counting on me and I can’t let her down. 

Reva hands the picture back to him. 

KUMAR

Keep it. You need the reminder now more than I do. 

Dev reaches out and closes his daughter’s fingers around the picture, holding her hand between his. 

KUMAR

If I can do anything to help people who are hurting, I will, and right now, my little girl is one of them. You’re the real reason I’m so focussed, Reeves.
REVA

Dad…

Reva reaches up and pulls her dad into a hug, her chin resting on his shoulder.

KUMAR

Listen to your mother, Reva. She loves you as much as I do. She just wants what’s best for you. 

Speechless, Reva nods as her dad pulls out of her grasp. He squeezes her hand once more. 

KUMAR

If you ever need me, I’m right there.

With a quick kiss on the top of her head, Dev leaves, not turning back for fear he will stay longer.

Silence. Susana stays for a moment longer before standing. 

SUSANA

I don’t want to impose.

Philip grabs her hand.

PHILIP

Don’t go, Grandma! If you go, that means I have to go. 

Susana looks to Reva. Reva glances down at the picture in her hand of her and her dad. Without lifting her head, she nods.

Susana sits back down, a smile playing at her lips. 

INT. HOSPITAL LAB – A LITTLE LATER

Kumar enters the lab, spotting Fowler and the younger two gathered around the computer screen. He clears his throat before joining them. 

KUMAR

Is this the list of potential candidates?
FOWLER

Yes.

MOSS

Doctor Kumar, is it true about your daughter?

Belrose elbows her in the stomach in an attempt to shut her up.

With a glare in Belrose’s direction, she takes the mouse from Fowler and highlights one particular name on the screen: Reva Novak. 

MOSS

Is she doing okay? I didn’t think things were this bad.

Kumar stares at the name on the screen.

KUMAR

Take her off the list.

MOSS

But, Doctor Kumar, she’s the perfect– 
KUMAR

I said, take her off the list.

Moss shrinks back from Kumar, a look of surprise on her face as she nods the tiniest of nods. 

KUMAR

It’s too risky. And she probably wouldn’t even say yes.

Fowler presses the delete button and Reva’s name disappears from the screen.

* * *

Prompt: Another excerpt from ”The Aurora Project.” Since that’s what I’m currently working on. 

April 22, 2017

Standard

The Beginning 

Casey Aitken stared up at the buildings in front of her, excitement as thick as the summer heat coursing through her veins. She gripped her bags, her knuckles white on the straps. A bounce in her every step, she glanced at her sister, Meg. For the past two or three years, Meg had attended central, spending her lime divided between the social scene and minimal effort in her studies. The sight of her enthusiastic baby sister bobbing through the campus amused her.

”I can’t believe I’m actually here!” Casey said, her voice more controlled than Meg had expected. The younger girl looked around. The buildings stood low on the ground, short and squat. They didn’t sing of elegance, money, and overabundant intelligence, like those of older colleges. They didn’t warn of evildoers or reak of poverty. The buildings of Central instead stood with arms wide open, offering a warm welcome to students of all varieties. They smiled on each new face that stepped onto their grounds. Central accepted everyone with the same warmth of a grandmother greeting her long-Iost grandchildren, for that was how central saw its students: long-lost children in need of schooling.

Or at least, Casey saw Central in that light. Many others saw a different, darker side to Central, her sister included. These students saw in their university a pal, a drinking buddy, a comrade in alcoholic arms. To them, their university helped to cultivate the culture they demanded, a culture rampant with behaviors once called immoral now called fun, because the university, helpless to stop it, turned a blind eye and allowed it to grow and flourish.

Casey hadn’t come for that version of Central. She wanted the grandmother. The university that would teach her and help her to grow and flourish as a person. Because of these ideals, Casey had convinced herself that the other side of the school, the part hiding (not so well) among the shadows, existed nowhere but in myth and legend. She refused to believe otherwise.

Until she met Jared Pfaff, prince of the dark underworld of Central. From the first moment she saw Jared, the young man charmed her. That came as no surprise to anyone on campus. Jared charmed anyone he met, male and female alike. Many a freshman fell prey to Pfaff and his apparent magnetism. Year after year, from his first semester at Central, Jared left a trail of tears and a path of broken hearts in his wake. Jared Pfaff destroyed more lives than any number of natural disasters, but his charm, no matter how many warnings against it they received, always drew in the kindest, most conservative and romantic young women on campus. His charms didn’t fail on Casey, perhaps the most idealistic young woman of them all, just as Meg had predicted.

“Don’t let Pfaff run away with anything, Case,” Meg warned. “He’s known for hurting girls like you.”

Casey’s friend Ian Martz, a young man she had met while on an orientation tour, joined Meg in her protests. Ian worried for Casey’s well-being. A kindred spirit, Casey Aitken had become his friend before he could say his own name backwards. She made him laugh, a side not everyone knew existed in academic young lady. Her smile never failed to bring one to his face. Every minute he spent with her felt more worthy of his time than even his studies, on most days. Lucky for him, most of the time he spent with her, they spent studying.

Ian would rather die than see the lovely girl he cared so much for get hurt. He told her so, though not in as many words. “Casey, please,” he begged. ”Everyone has heard of Jared Pfaff. He’s bad news.”

Casey simply couldn’t see it. How could she? Their first meeting was, after all, straight out of a story book.

Her nose stuck in a book, as an bookish freshmen tend to do, Casey almost walked right past Jared Pfaff. If only, if only! As she walked by him, she spotted him doing what his sort do best: preying on unsuspecting young freshmen. When one particularly shy young girl tripped as she passed, her nerves getting the best of her, Casey witnessed Jared lean down and help the poor thing to her feet. He even gathered her books, replacing them in her bag. A moment of redemption for the resident Prince of Darkness! If only our dear, sweet Miss Aitken could peer into the soul of this man, she would see his true colors and the blackness of his heart.

***

Prompt: Write about characters in a story pre-developed. Revisiting the Aitken sisters and Elegance & Idiocy!

April 21, 2017 (A Day Late) 

Standard

Defenses Up

They’re ignoring you again, her brain said. 

She stood in a circle with her friends, her closest on her right, standing perhaps too close for the comfort of her friend. She didn’t mind it. The closeness comforted her, let her know that she did indeed exist, with every little brush against her friend’s arm or every little shift of the air as her friend shifted from foot to foot. 

They don’t even see you anymore, her brain said. 

She looked around at her friends, their smiling faces and their laughter inundating her senses, filling her heart. The friend on her right brushed against her as they laughed. It filled her with the warmth of love and affection. 

Yet still her brain protested. They haven’t spoken to you or acknowledged you in years! it said, despite the greeting she had received just minutes earlier when she joined them in their circle.  

True, she noted, that since then, her friends hadn’t spoken a word to her. Their conversation bounced from topic to topic: Star wars to philosophy to marriage to the future. No one minded much. Most had things to say on every subject, but she stayed quiet. She might say the wrong thing. She might sound ignorant. She might deserve ridiculing laughter. Too much was at stake, her dignity above all, to raise up her voice and speak.  

They don’t care about you, her brain said. 

She could feel it in her bones. The prickling underneath her skin. The heaviness weighing on her shoulders. The blank blackness covering her mind. The chasm that seemed to form between them. They started to drift away! Their voices sounded further. She could no longer shift from right to left and feel the brush of her friend’s shirt against her skin. They started to fade! 

They’re leaving you, her brain said. 

And indeed, they had begun to walk away, mouths moving but as silent as the old films. Her closest friend brushed past, but the contact felt like nothing. No warmth passed between them. The affection had died. 

Panicing, she reached out and grabbed her friend’s hand, her fingers enclosing it in a firm grasp. “Don’t leave me alone,” she whispered, the words out of her moth before she even knew the desire to speak them. Her grasp tightened, drawing her friend in closer. Fighting back tears, a losing battle, she whispered the words again. “Don’t leave me alone.”

Arms embraced her, pulling her in with a squeeze. Her senses opened up again, warmth flooding through her veins as her skin made contact with her friend. “Never,” her friend responded, voice lower than a whisper, affectionate and intimate. “Never.”

***

Prompt: Inspired by a conversation I had about defense mechanisms.