Through the Christmas holiday, I’ve been making an effort to at least dedicate an hour at night to the revisions. Granted, I haven’t been terribly successful with my attempts, but I have made it at least through five pages, so there’s that. (Only one-hundred and forty to go. Wheee!)
But it’s Christmas, a time for sharing, and I figured it was only appropriate to share what I have done so far with whoever wants to burn away a half-hour of their life reading a so-so blog by a pretentious amateur writer.
If you’re just that person, then Merry Christmas!
I am not an inordinately popular kid, but a lot of people do know who I am.
I run the morning gauntlet of “Hey Wendoll!” “Hi Wendoll!” “Wendoll, hey!” Half the people I don’t even know. They don’t know me either, just recognize me as a vaguely pleasing shape they’ve passed by before.
Samantha Ross, a particularly cute girl who I suspect has a crush on me, smiles and silently waves with just her fingers. She has a funny way of doing it, by keeping her fingers together and bending them only at the bottom knuckle. She does it quick – fwip fwip – and then she’s passing by.
I have a sudden, deeply pleasing fantasy of her fingers falling off at the knuckles as she does her little wave. I do not ride it out long enough to imagine the look on her face afterward.
Stephanie leans against my locker. She looks tired, like she always does in the morning, but her eyes and her smile are awake for me.
She holds a bottle of Coke in each hand, and hands me one when I reach her. I really do hope I love her.
Hi beautiful.” I crack open the Coke, take a swig. The cold acid and the sharp bubbles crisply burn my throat, like a sweet, invigorating poison. I take another drink.
“You’re phone was off last night.”
“Yeah. Homework was a bitch.” I smile, and she gives a pleased, if surprised, laugh. She, like most folks I know, is always taken a little off guard when I swear. Which is odd, considering that I do it pretty frequently. I smile. “You’re cute when you laugh.”
She smiles back. “Only when I laugh?”
“Eh, nobody’s perfect.”
She sends a quick, surprisingly powerful punch to my bicep, and gives me a shocked “Hey!”
“From my lips to God’s asshole, I guess.” I shrug. “C’mon, sexy, let’s get you to class.”
We take off down the hallway. Individually, we’re only moderately well-known, but we seem to be one of the power couples in school. Even most of the faculty knows that Stephanie and I are an item. We’re one of those rare matches where the sum is greater than its parts. We complement each other like a handbag and a pair of shoes.
Dudes I don’t know bob their head at me, girls Steph doesn’t know smile when they pass. We’re a commodity for them, a token bar they can hold themselves against and say: “See? Me too.”
Stephanie’s class is two doors away from mine. We break hands, slowly, lingeringly, stretching our arms to make the moment last. We blow kisses, and then she’s gone, leaving me only the image of her pert butt rolling in her jeans.
I go into class, and surreptitiously hand my homework to Patrick Majors and Nathan Spiel. They pay me sometimes to hand them copies of my answers, and it’s pretty quick money. For twenty bucks apiece I also sell answers to tests. It pays for folks to think you’re a brain, even if their concept of your prowess isn’t entirely accurate.
I sit down, open my book, and class is over, for me anyways. Nothing that will happen in the next hour will ever reach my ears. It’s algebra, and algebra comes to me as easily a breathing.
I stare, stare, stare, deep past the fading black letters, down into the chiasmic gray depths between lines of text. The hum of the lights becomes a rush of sound, the teacher’s voice a thunderous storm far away, in a country I’m not a part of.
There are breaks between classes, stolen kisses with Stephanie, and then it is time for lunch.
Steph has second lunch, I have first. We’ll pass each other in the halls. But for now I can be alone. Quietly alone.
There is a tiny lavatory in the second floor of the vocational building of our school. We aren’t really allowed in there during lunch, but I sneak inside anyway. No one is there at that point in the day, and I can just saunter out once the building fills with people again.
It’s almost cramped in here. The room is basically a water closet, a toilet, a sink, a mirror. I stare into the mirror with an empty eyed, dying look. My mouth hangs open as if I’m about to vomit. The dim forty watt bulb gives my skin a sickly yellowed hue.
My curls look limp, my lips look gray, my skin almost seems to sag. When I am in this room, I am a man who looks as dead as he feels.
I like it. I wish my room at home had this kind of lighting.
I stare into the dead glass as minutes turn into years, until the dull tones of the electric class-changing signal sound outside.
I wait, quietly, until I hear footsteps fill the hallway. I gather my things, and nonchalantly join the herd.
The crowd moves at a brisk, moderate pace, but I want to move faster. It isn’t a desire to move faster or get to where I am going. I simply want to spin, and swing, and lash out at the crowded space around me.
I see Stephanie, and the quick heat in my blood tempers a little. She smiles, sweetly, and waves excitedly over the unnoticing, uncaring heads.
Steph. How long ‘til I burn her away, the way I burn myself?
– From “Finer Points.” © Copyright 2010, Sean Ganus. All rights reserved.