Life at 18 Last Part (or Part VI)… OK 19 here.
This is a short-story I wrote (unedited). I found myself laughing through a lot of it even though it is a bit scattered.
April 12, 1999
I took off running. Beads of water slithered down my neck. No one was in front of me. No one was behind me. I was alone. I was lighting fire through my feet. My status as a budding stock was at stake. I was chasing my life as a concrete object. I was chasing a moment of time, a moment that within itself could contain many years of disappointment. I was chasing something that was faster, bigger, and more decisive than me. I was chasing the city bus and there was no one that could stop me.
I had to take my final exam in statistics. If I missed this test, my school career would be over. My father gave me an ultimatum on this semester, “Do it or lose it.” I chose to do it to please him, so there was no way that I was going to miss this test. The bus passed me but then slammed its brakes.
When I got on, the driver stared out the window with a solemn look and said, “You’re lucky that I saw you.”
I said, “Thank you,” with a smile but he didn’t even turn in my direction.
The smell of the bus was stale and almost suffocating. Every seat was empty. There were holes on the old leather seats and scratch marks on the foggy windows. I sat in the middle near the window and wiped off the dew from the window. I noticed two squirrels chasing each other around an aging oak tree. A large pile of dead leaves laid near a stop sign across the street. A small brown dog wandered carelessly close to the road. He looked confused. He couldn’t decide whether to run for it or to turn back. Instead he started to use his paws feverishly to take off his chain collar. It didn’t appear that he would be successful. The bus then started to drive off and I shifted my eyes to my statistics book attempting to study.
The bus arrived at the next bus stop. A thin black girl with skimpy blue jean-shorts, black heels, and long, braided hair got on the bus along with some others. The driver turned his attention in her direction and shifted half his body backward in astonishment.
He said, “Damn girl, you look good.”
She looked down at the floor and uncontrollably released a nervous-looking smile and then said, “thanks.” She then deliberately chose to put all of her weight into each step she took making sure that everyone around her had to stop what they were doing and pay her attention. The attention she got from me was a sudden urge to scratch my face with my middle finger.
Then my president of the United States got on the bus. She had style. She had grace. She was blonde. She wore a fuzzy pink blouse and a black skirt. Her green eyes were like algae manifesting in a swimming pool. God, I felt like swimming then.
She sat down across from me and opened up her backpack. She pulled out a statistics book and opened it to the same chapter I was looking at. We must have the same class. Just as I was working up the nerve to talk to her, five guys got on the bus. Three of them decided to sit near the girl and I. They all stared at her like she was some sex object. They didn’t care about who she was. They just wanted some ass. I, on the other hand, wanted to understand the complex energy existing beneath her skin. Speaking of skin, she surely showed a lot of it and with good reason. Her legs were shaving-cut free and nicely toned. Not that I was looking, the explanation of dropping my pen twice and my book is quite realistic. My hands are very shaky after not getting any sleep studying all night. Since I didn’t want the perverts to critique every word that I may say to the girl, I decided that I would just wait and see if she went to the same class for the exam.
The bus arrived at my destination on campus. The girl and I both got off at the same stop. Before I could begin my pursuit, I heard a voice calling my name from the distance.
“Dave, Dave, wait up!”
Theresa started running toward me ambitiously. She was rather pudgy and had long, wavy brown hair. Today she had on a turquoise shirt with little roses all over it and beige pants. “Guess what, something totally weird happened to me today,” Theresa said trying to catch her breath.
“Well something totally awful is going to happen to me if I don’t catch that, I mean if I don’t make it to my test on time.”
“Ok. I don’t want to keep you from your test but I have a lot I want to tell you. Do you want to go to the park later and have a little picnic and just hang out?”
“I don’t know. I really have to get going right now. So, see ya.”
“Bye, good luck on your test David.”
Now that I had one obstacle out of the way, it was time to earn my badges of courage and prowess. I saw the girl enter Jansen Hall, which was the same room as me for the statistics exam. I had an immediate sensation of joy that tingled in my stomach and raced up through my chest and I began to smile. I knew that she would be mine.
When I got into the lecture hall, I decided to sit next to her. She didn’t notice me at first so I decided that I would start the conversation and tell her how beautiful and intelligent she was and then ask her to go out with me.
“Do you have a pencil I can borrow?” I said.
“Sure, hey, weren’t you on the bus earlier?”
“Yeah, I almost missed it this morning because I was studying so much last night.”
“So, do you think you are going to do well on this test?”
“I am not sure. If I don’t pass it, my dad will kill me and I will end up having to drop out.”
“Well, good luck,” she said.
“Thanks, hey, is there any way you would want to hang out sometime? I mean, we live so close and everything.”
“Well, maybe,” she said and then let out a sigh and started scribbling with her pencil, “How about this, give me a call in a couple of days after the final and we can get something to eat. Does that sound good?”
“That sounds terrific. Well, if that’s what you want to do. I will give you a call. Good luck on the test.”
She forced a smile and then we both began our exam. I couldn’t believe that she gave me her phone number. I started to draw hearts all over my exam. I found out her name was Karen and started to write our names inside the hearts.
Thirty hearts and fifteen “Dave loves Karen” phrases later, I looked up at the clock and realized we only had twenty minutes to finish our test and I hadn’t even started. I began to work the problems frantically and found myself guessing on most of them. Though I realized that I didn’t do well on the test, I didn’t care. I was in love and there was nothing that could stop me from feeling this way.
When I got on the bus to head home, I looked at the bus driver with a huge smile and said, “Hello man, how are you doing?”
He turned toward me with a huge smile of his own and said, “Great buddy, just keeping it real.”
I decided to sit in the first seat. I looked across from me and the black girl from this morning was in the chair directly behind the driver. I went to scratch my face again but I decided that she wasn’t so bad and gave her a smile.
When I got off the bus, I felt so good. I decided that I would skip back to my apartment complex. I didn’t care if someone noticed. On my way, I almost ran into that stupid oak tree. But when I got inside, I felt an urge to give Karen a call. I knew that she told to me to call in a couple of days but I just had to talk to her. I had a reasonable excuse to call anyway. I was curious if she thought she did well on the statistics exam. After talking to her, I would kick back and drink some beers in celebration. Before I could call, the phone rang.
“Hey Dave, it’s Theresa. How did that test go?”
“It went great. I think I got an A.”
“Well, that’s awesome, I am so proud of you. So, do you want to go out to dinner tonight? It’s a little too late for the picnic but I still want to go out. I have so much I want to tell you.”
“I would Theresa but I have so much I have to do tonight. I have to read and then do a computer program for my class tomorrow. We can go some other time.”
“Alright. Good luck on your program. What else did you say you had to do?”
“I said I have a program and, and, what is this a pop quiz?”
“No, talk to you later. That is, whenever you feel like dealing with me.”
She hung up immediately. I didn’t know what her problem was. I said I was busy. A man can’t be free every second for every woman. Women just don’t understand a man’s desire for space. I grabbed the phone and dialed Karen’s number.
“Hello,” a guy answered.
“Yeah, is Karen there?”
“No she’s not, who is this calling?”
“I’m Dave, who are you, her roommate?”
“I’m her boyfriend, so get the fuck off the phone. She’s not here, she’s fine.”
“She’s fine? You’re her boyfriend?”
He hung up the phone. She never told me that she had a boyfriend. Why would she give me her number if she was already with someone? This didn’t make any sense. I felt an immediate sinking within me. The pressure pushed down into the pit of my stomach. I felt sick. I decided to call Theresa.
“Hey Theresa, I’m really sorry about the way I acted before. I was just feeling the stress of exam week. Do you still want to go to dinner?”
“It’s ok Dave, but I realized that I have two exams that I have to study for tomorrow.”
I couldn’t tell if she was joking or serious. “Ok then, I guess I’ll talk to you later,” I said half-jokingly.
“Yeah, that’s how it’s always been anyway.”
She hung up. I decided to go out for a walk. I walked to the edge of the road and stared at the bus bench across the street. I turned and noticed that the bus was coming this way. It was the last bus of the day. The bus stopped across the street. I wasn’t sure if I should cross or not. If I got on, I didn’t know where I would go or if I would come back. If I stayed, I would have to deal with failures. I decided to turn away from the bus. I sat underneath the oak tree. I put my hands on the ground and I found something in the grass. It was a chain collar. I knew it was time to go.