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 Meeting People is Easy (Rev. II)

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Join date : 2009-09-22

PostSubject: Meeting People is Easy (Rev. II)   Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:50 pm

GRACELESS: i used to go there when i was a kid.

TEMPORARILYSTAIRS: so that was, what, three years ago for us?

GRACELESS: no. back when i wasn’t supposed to leave the house.

TEMPORARILYSTAIRS: oh. right. x:

GRACELESS: there was this one path which ran by the river, and the trees were aligned in such a fashion that they seemed to simply go on forever. if you went out far enough, you’d come out to another trail which led to the highway. but further out there was this one hill, and it overlooked everything in the city, from the farmer’s market all the way to the episcopalian church and the streets inbetween, and i could see my friends’ houses, and the movie theater, and the middle school where i first was kissed behind a dumpster in second grade, and the other river where we tried to go skinny dipping last spring but the water was too cold and Carolyn didn’t want to jump in because she was afraid of getting ticks. oh, and the sun set right inbetween these two hills, and it was just so.

TEMPORARILYSTAIRS: so.

TEMPORARILYSTAIRS: ...why haven’t you gone back there?

GRACELESS: i don’t know.

GRACELESS: come with me.

TEMPORARILYSTAIRS: i’m sorry, i’m deathly afraid of ticks too.

TEMPORARILYSTAIRS: you know, you could still go there yourself tonight. it’s not even midnight yet.

GRACELESS: yeah.

###

Seamus was waiting as usual outside my front door, the black oversized SUV both an eyesore and an endangerment to the quiet streetcorners that now cowered away from the roar of the engine: the very portrait of uprooted suburban bliss. The streetlights did little to illuminate the shadows now occupying the space, and while I stole a glance from a second-story window, I regarded it with as much animosity as the light. Momentarily, I could almost feel the air tensing up right outside the two panes of glass. Then I heard the howl: wind hammered against the window. It was nearly fall and the leaves began escaping in a whirl of ecstacy, momentarily distracting myself from the internal battle I was fighting against my feet, frustrated that they decided to pin themselves to the ground. I felt the vacuum outside balloon, and then the howl, the hammering. I began to notice the sun setting far more quickly than normal. My thoughts weren’t leading me anywhere new, and before I knew it, ten minutes had elapsed as my phone seized in my pocket. I grabbed for it and slammed the button face, ending the call. Perhaps that would get the point across as easily as would walking outside.

I did my part to prepare for the colder months by layering myself in sweatshirts and gloves; Seamus did so by igniting another cigarette. Already I could see the whisps of smoke like the frigid car exhaling, and I anticipated the mixed smell of tobacco and french vanilla air fresheners as I opened up the passenger side door. Seamus looked disposessed, as he always did. Dispossessed of all things: his life, his condition, his friends, even the cigarette he was holding. Like he didn’t give a flying fuck about the world outside him, even though the slight whine in his voice would immediately betray that this was out of a selfish-minded obnoxiousness, rather than a detachment from the mortality of all things. I sometimes wondered if he could read the same in me. Maybe I just hid it better.

“Close the door, I’m getting cold,” he complained to the world. My feet were like concrete.

“You have a window open,” I finally countered, clumsily sliding into the leather front seat. The black and faux-wood interior matched the outside of the car: pretentious and made to intimidate. It was almost comical that Seamus was presently driving it, knowing that neither of us were nearly in the pay grade to afford such a creature.

Seamus exhaled, not wanting to retort for fear of having to amend his hypocracy. Instead, he flicked his cigarette toward the ground, a minor insult to the packed nicotine. “What took you so long? I’ve been waiting out her for like... twenty minutes. It’s already after sunset.”

“Yeah, I know,” not wanting or being able to defend myself. “It’s already an hour and a half drive. What’s another half hour.” And another box of cigarettes, I silently added. Seamus inhaled, and didn’t push the issue. I wished I had the motivation to genuinely apologize. But then I moved on. “You sure you’re all set to drive the whole way? I could try and drive if you...”

“No, I’m good. I’ve got another carton of cigarettes. We’re driving on the highway. It’s cool,” he puncuated, turning on the radio. Hammered by 80’s rock. “Plus, I don’t think my parents would ever let anyone but me drive. They don’t even really let me drive.”

“Did you talk to her at all?” I blurted out suddenly. I could not form the words, they could only escape me.

“No. She said some... bullshit about like, having to spend time with her mother today, and then she had to be at the school by six.” Seamus switched to a CD, dangling his cigarette by his other hand. “Did you?”

“No.” Lie. “Not really.”

After another few moments of drawing out the music selection, Seamus finally shot the car into gear, almost to make a point to himself about holding the car up even longer. The engine jolted from having been in park for so long, shaking the suspension of the car and jostling around the lit end of Seamus’s cigarette. It seemed to draw golden patterns against the darkened night. I wondered if the patterns wouldn’t just burn there forever, long after we’d driven away.

##############

INSERT DRAMATIC CONFLICT HERE :O

1. We go visit Grace!
2. Party after her performance!
3. Excerpts from past conversations narrator and she have had!
4. Her interaction with the narrator!
5. Other past conversations!
6. Betrayal! She goes for Seamus!
7. Disillusionment with meeting her in person!
8. The awkward car ride back!
9. Seamus and I fight!

############

I slept through the first two calls, making the third call all the more urgent. I didn’t wait for his mom to finish speaking; somehow, I knew.

I tore out of the parking lot in my older brother’s car and nearly forgot to switch out of reverse. It was a breakneck urgency springing from adrenaline and obligation; it didn’t feel to me like I legitimately cared for Seamus’s welfare, but in the heat of the moment, I had no time to act like I didn’t. This I debated incessantly until the sirens were finally close enough to hear. Then I began to worry. I had heard the words fire and Route 1 and accident, and didn’t quite assemble all the pieces until the evidence was right in front of me.

There it was, the black creature, totalled on the side of the road. Only this time it wasn’t encased in shadows: it was swallowed up by a brilliant yellow light, bright enough to cast shadows across the firemen who were now circling it, but dark enough to still maintain its ominity in the dead of the night. The sound it made was like a rushing waterfall. It was beautiful.

I tried crossing the barrier, but the fireman would not permit me, instead relegating me to a corner, where I stood amount chatting police officers and people with no association to the event. I was tempted to shout, “My friend’s in there!” to nobody in particular, as though asserting my presence would somehow expedite the rescue, but I was too afraid even to draw attention, that I might be pinned for the blame. And so I stationed myself by a police officer who was mumbling into his radio, “...crashed off the barrier. It’s not a gas fire yet, something must have set it off,” he deduced. I made out the faint image of the dashboard underneath the rolling flames. Seamus, you stupid bastard.

And it was my envisioning of a loose cigarette dangled from an unconscious hand that prevented me from noticing when the firemen all ducked in unison, or the loud hissing sound that had been intensifying in the last few moments, until I was suddenly face-to-face with the most brilliant burst of light I’d ever witnessed. It felt like my skin were being pressed against an oven door. I hoped Seamus appreciated it as much as I did.

The funeral was that week, and then it was over. One boy, forever under the ground; a million lives unaffected. I silently cursed Seamus’ inability to make other friends, cursed the people I knew for only being able to feign sympathy, if only because for the first time I found myself in a legitimate state of fear and confusion and had no one with whom to sympathize. I consoled his family as best I could. I couldn’t, but I did enough to make them smile. I wondered if I had told them what happened that night, if they would still think so highly of me, but I think Seamus would prefer that I made them happy.

The actual cause of death: drunk driving. It seems Seamus had a flask on him for particularly heavy situations, this didn’t surprise me in the least, and he proceeded to down it all on the long ride back. As such, he was drunk, or perhaps he just fell asleep, and so he collided with the barrier. He was smoking a cigarette at the time of course, and it must’ve dropped out of his hands. It wouldn’t even have been such a horrific accident if the car wasn’t made of such chintzy fake wooden paneling on the inside; as it stood, the interior nearly engulfed in flames before the fire department even arrived. I was shellshocked for some time, wondering how any one person had managed to accumulate so much bad luck.

It got to the point that it was three days later until I managed to tell Grace, a very awkward and overly polite phone call. Apparently she already knew; his mother had informed her. Apparently they knew each other. Grace mentioned passively that she was planning on staying over Seamus’ house for a weekend very soon, and it wasn’t until then that I actually began to feel a pang of anger and emotion, and then guilty that it took this to move me, rather than the death of my friend. As we kept talking, though, I realized this was the first time we had ever talked openly about Seamus as being a part of either of our lives. In his death, I guess we could admit to ourselves exactly who he was to each of us. It hurt me a lot to hear all the wonderful things she had to say about him; at one point, I had to excuse myself, promising to pick up the conversation where we left off at some ultimately nonexistant conversation in the future. I thanked her for talking, and hung up. I cursed Seamus one last time, for being the only person out of the two of us who could make Grace happy, and blowing it.

###

To this day, I’m still uncertain how Seamus and Grace ever met. I wonder if it weren’t something intensely personal, that they wouldn’t have kept from me for the latter part of a year for fear of my whole idea of them coming into perspective; perhaps not even they liked to talk about it. But I suspect it was something much more mundane, as all encounters are. Even still, whenever I talked to Grace from then on out, it was with a seemingly mutual understanding that there was simply a part of our relationship that was missing, and that we couldn’t go on with that shadow hanging over us. So we chose not to.

Sometimes she does send me postcards, letters like we might have sent before it all happened. And so one day, several months later, when I’d gotten too used to classes and schoolwork and a normal life, I sat down with all of them, and wrote out a letter describing everything that had gone on since we last spoke and just asking how she was. But she never responded to that, just sent more postcards. I suspect that to her, I was just a release valve of something huge and important she couldn’t handle by herself. Or perhaps she never got the letter. I sometimes think to call and ask; but then I think of Seamus, and call it my debt to him that I never try and find out. Some things in life, you just never know.
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Moonbeam



Posts : 46
Join date : 2009-09-22

PostSubject: Re: Meeting People is Easy (Rev. II)   Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:14 am

This is really good. I particularly like:
-Like he didn’t give a flying fuck about the world outside him
-a minor insult to the packed nicotine

Your narrative kind of drifts out, though- it's a little too wordy, slowing the action. Or maybe I'm just distracted by the videos playing next to me. Anyway, it's really good.
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maryshelley



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Join date : 2009-09-22

PostSubject: Re: Meeting People is Easy (Rev. II)   Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:28 am

Forklift, you are a wonderful writer! but you do get carried away by your own quickly churning prose and often forget your reader. Your notes for conflict suggest to me that you are using your original plot line, but it's nowhere evident in what you've written thus far--so I'm a little confused. And your very tragic ending here also seems separate from the conflict. why does seamus need to die in order for the story to be satisfying? I don't see the need in the conflict. But you write so beautifully and forcefully that I am willing to read most anything you write! Still, keep in mind your plan and don't stray: this is the challenge for you, I think.
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