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18 March 2005 @ 12:15 pm
On the way out...  

Okay, so I haven't gotten the chance to finish listing authors for Fan Fic Author Appreciation Week...and I'm not going to be able to in this entry since I'm on my way to pack the car to go home for Spring Break. Yay! But I just had to do a short story for my class (first out of three) and I thought I'd post it in case anyone was interested in reading it now that I've actually revised it and figured out what I wanted to do with it. So here you go, the finished version of my short story. Hope you guys enjoy, I'll post the authors on a different day and um...oh! Let me know what you think! And just in case anyone wonders or something, it switches between past and present. *crosses fingers and hopes I get an A* Wish me luck!

 

It was a quiet night when we decided to break in. There was no sound, except for the occasional cricket chirping, and it made me want to curse. I was almost wishing that it’d be noisy so that whatever noise we happened to make would be covered up. A car driving by would be great. This wasn’t the case and I wasn’t going to think about the fact that this was my first little venture in breaking and entering.

"This is a really bad idea."

I glance over at Tom who’s shaking his head as he looks over at Jim and Luke, who are grinning. Saying that this was a bad idea was a serious understatement. Who’d ever heard of breaking into a school just so they could go swimming?

Besides my friends obviously, who thought that breaking into a high school was the best idea in the world.

"Cops." Luke said, from his lookout position. Jim’s hand jerked and he almost fell off the window ledge. Luke burst out laughing, causing Jim to glare at him. It had been Jim’s idea to do this, though it hadn’t been very hard to convince Luke to go along. Jim was always the first one to try something new, the one willing to accept any dare given to him.

"Very funny. You’re a laugh a minute." He muttered.

"This is why it’s a bad idea. Do you know the kind of trouble we could get in?" Tom demanded. It was like him to look ahead at all the possibilities, to weigh the pros and cons. And then he’d work on trying to make Jim and Luke see the consequences of whatever half-brained idea they’d come up with. Jim just looked at him, not saying anything before shrugging.

"You two are really stupid, you know that?" Bill interrupted as he looked up at Jim and Luke who were sitting on the ledge trying to figure out how to get the window open. His tone clearly said that he had no idea why he hung out with them. Neither one of them took the tone too seriously. That was just the way Bill was. I liked to think of him as the defender of our little group. He was always the first to let fly with a sarcastic remark when one of us was being picked on and that’s actually how I’d met him.

"What’s so stupid about it? We’re going swimming. It’s almost summer anyway, which is the type of weather that people go swimming in." Jim’s logic didn’t really make sense to me but I knew that somehow it would make sense to him.

"What are we going to do if we get caught? Have you guys thought about that?" And again, Tom was trying to use logic against them. Jim sighed at that and looked over at Luke as if asking for help. Luke paused and frowned a bit.

"You know, Jim, he’s got a point."

Jim groaned as if he’d been expecting this all along, which wouldn’t surprise me. It seemed that however simple the logic, Tom always managed to talk them out of something if it was a bad idea.

"Fine, but I still want to go swimming in the school when there’s no one else around." As Jim said this, Luke grinned, a sure sign that he had an idea.

"Why don’t we have Rob do it?" he suggested.

"What?" Where had that idea come from and why was he volunteering me to do something anyway?

"Yeah. Tomorrow, Rob can go talk to Coach and while he’s in the office, he can sneak the keys out. If he gets caught, he can just talk his way out of it, the way he always does." Luke was really warming up to this idea and if the looks on the others’ faces were anything to go by, so were they. I groaned.

"Do I even have a choice in this?"

"Not really." We were all laughing by this point, enjoying the fact that by this time tomorrow, we’d be breaking some rules again…

The sound of my apartment door opening brings me out of memories, causing me to look away from the computer screen. It’s not that big of a deal since I hadn’t been able to get any work done in the past hour anyway. I don’t bother getting up since there weren’t many people who would be comfortable enough to just walk into my apartment without knocking. Those that were comfortable were always welcome, though most of them had left by now.

"Hey Jim." I smile as one of my oldest friends walks into my apartment, almost as if he lived there. I haven’t seen him in ages it seems and I wonder what brings him by now. "What brings you by?"

"I came to see your ugly face and see if it had improved any." Jim jokes as he grins and drops onto my couch. He’s still taller than me, even after all these years, which gives him less room to stretch though it doesn’t seem to bother him.

"Do you ever get tired of hearing your own jokes?" I ask, turning my chair so that I’m straddling the back and facing him. Jim’s always been like this and it’s good to see that some things never change.

"Not really." He lifts his feet and props them on top of my coffee table, which is 18th century mahogany, causing me to wince. The man has no respects for antiques…or furniture in general for that matter. He must’ve seen the look on my face because he lets out another laugh. "Oh, get over it. It’s a table, and it’s not even a table that you eat on so it shouldn’t matter if I have my feet on top of it."

"Says the guy who managed to damage a recliner so badly within a few weeks that the store wouldn’t even take it back." I can feel myself fighting not to laugh at the memory and Jim doesn’t even bother to try.

"I still say that a lot of it was your fault." My eyes widen at that and this time the laugh escapes before I can do anything about it. The very idea that I could get any of the blame for that was laughable. I wasn’t the one who had decided that using the recliner as a catapult would be one of their better ideas. Not even Tom had been able to talk them out of that one and Bill and I hadn’t even tried.

"My fault? I don’t think so, pal. That was all you and Luke, as usual. I don’t know how the hell the two of you managed to do it, but you ruined that thing. It died a brutal death at your hands."

Jim doesn’t argue and I know it’s because he can’t. After all, he and Luke were always the ones who came up with the ideas that were just bound to get us in trouble. I think they were born with the ability, frankly.

We sit there in a comfortable silence for awhile, neither one of us making a move to start talking. It’s the kind of silence that comes from being friends since grade school. But as nice as the silence is, I’ve never been able to stand the quiet for too long and I’m the first one to break it.

"You ever hear from the guys?" I hadn’t heard from any of them except Jim in awhile now and I wonder if something’s happened or if we’re just at that stage in life where we all begin to drift apart. It doesn’t really seem a possibility when I think about us as a group of teenagers who were determined stay friends no matter what. Jim lets out a sigh and shakes his head.

"Nah, I haven’t heard from them in awhile. The last time I talked to Bill though he was doing pretty good in Atlanta." he says. I nod. By now, most of the gang was scattered all over the country from Tom in Los Angeles to Luke in Maine. We were all doing our own thing by now and Jim and I were the only two who hadn’t moved yet. To top it all off, I’d recently lost my job after being there for almost five years.

This line of conversation doesn’t last long but that doesn’t surprise me since I’d only been asking so that I could fill the silence anyway. Ken once told me that sitting next to me when we were supposed to be taking a test was one of the best ways to break concentration. And it was true. I’d start fidgeting in my seat, bouncing my leg up and down, tapping my pen on the desk. It was almost impossible for me to sit still.

I notice that I’m bouncing my leg now and Jim does too. He doesn’t say anything, just smirks a bit and shakes his head.

"Do you want to get a beer?" I ask, standing up. "I don’t have any but there’s a bar not too far away." Jim nods at this suggestion and then we’re getting ready to leave.

This was nerve-racking. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. Or, I should say, had done this. I was now in possession of the keys to the school’s pool. And I was insane. I didn’t have a good feeling about this, as a matter of fact, every instinct I had was telling me to put the keys back and lie to the guys. Tell them that I wasn’t able to get the keys, that I got caught, that I couldn’t talk my way out of it for the first time in four years.

But I didn’t listen to my instincts and I pocketed the keys with ease, strolling out the door with Coach none the wiser.

It seems to take forever for the school day to end and the hours to pass until it was time to meet up with the rest of the guys outside. That in itself was strange since I knew time usually passed too fast before you didn’t want to do something but time seemed to slow down so that I could sit there and actually contemplate what it was we were doing. But I wasn’t going to say anything, not this time.

And there they are, waiting out in front of the school. They’re lounging about, Jim’s lying on the ground and staring up at the stars, Luke is sitting on the curb next to Bill and Tom is leaning against a tree. I grin as Jim practically jumps up from where he’s lying and turns towards me as I climb out of my car.

"You got the keys?" he asks, looking for all the world like a kid at Christmas. I don’t answer right away and I know it’s just killing him. The others can see it too and there’s a grin on each of their faces as they see me hold up the keys. Jim grins right back at us and grabs the keys out of my hand. "You bastard. Come on, let’s go."

There’s something in the air as we all practically run after him, waiting impatiently for him to open the door. It’s open in a matter of seconds and then we’re running in, shoes flying off so that we can get into the pool. It’s a good thing we all decided to just wear shirts and swim trunks or else somebody’s jeans would’ve been ruined.

There’s lots of shouting, splashing, and swearing. None of us are being too careful about the noise we make as we take advantage of the lack of people. Hell, we get even louder as Jim climbs to the top of the high dive and does some crazy flip off it before landing with a big splash. He’s laughing as he resurfaces and we’re all joining in.

But the laughter is cut short when we hear sirens.

"Shit." Luke swears. There’s a moment where we’re all frozen and none of us seem to know what to do. As if someone flicked a switch, we all start moving. We scramble to the edge of the pool, hoisting ourselves out as easily as we can and we barely stop to pick up our shoes and the keys before we’re bolting out the door. We don’t have time to pause since the sirens have gone silent, which means that the cops have stopped. And they’re close.

We’re quiet as we possibly can be as we run to my car, putting on our shoes as we go to make it easier in case we have to ditch the car and make a run for it. I don’t know if the cops can hear us and I really don’t care at this point. I knew that this was a bad idea. Tom had tried to talk them out of it last night and none of us had listened. That probably should’ve been the first clue that we shouldn’t do it at all. Tom just seemed to have this sixth sense about when trouble was coming.

We sure could’ve used it.

"Get in the car." I say as quietly as possible. Jim gets in the passenger seat, the other three piling in the backseat. We all breathe a sigh of relief as I pull away from the curb but the relief is short-lived.

"Shit." This time it’s Bill that says it. "Looks like we’ve been spotted. Speed up, Rob. We’re going to have to lose them."

I glance in the rearview mirror and sure enough, there’s a squad car coming up behind me. Well, hell. I push down on the accelerator and we shoot forward. I already know where I’m going. There’s a lake a few miles away, along with a bunch of side roads. If I can lose them there, if we get caught on the way back I know we’ll be able to say that we were swimming at the lake. Tom seems to know what I’m thinking and he points to the left. It’s a sharp turn and for a minute there, I’m not sure that the car’s going to stay upright.

We all let out a sigh of relief when the car doesn’t flip over and I can feel myself start to relax. Somewhere along the way, I’ve managed to lose the cops and I can feel all of us starting to get past the panic that had gripped us at the thought of getting caught. Suddenly we’re all laughing and I slow down, turning the car around to head back towards the lake. I catch a brief glimpse of the lake and I grin at the thought that we actually managed to get away with it.

It’s fairly quiet on the way back into town and none of us can seem to manage to get rid of the grins that are on our faces. It’s crazy.

"I’m going to have to sneak back into Coach’s office tomorrow and put the keys back." I say. Jim tilts his seat back a bit causing Luke to frown and kick at the seat, hoping for more room.

"Yeah. Too bad. That was fun too." Jim glances at me and then twists around to face the others in the back. "Think we should do it again next week?"

None of us get the chance to answer his question though because the next thing we hear is someone honking a horn as they barrel around the corner and the lights blind us.

I glance around, looking for Jim. I had gone to get the beers and he had gone to find a table. I squint through the smoke and smile a bit, shaking my head when I see that he chose a pool table. I make my way over, cutting through the crowd while trying not to drop the bottles or anything like that.

There’s another comfortable silence between the two of us as I set his beer on the edge of the table and grab the pool cue that he’s set aside for me. This is one of the few times that the silence doesn’t bother me. During a pool game it’s not really that big of a deal.

I grin in triumph when I manage to sink a couple of solids on the first try. Jim scowls at me, though I can tell he’s joking. It looks like I’m up again. Of course, this nice little bit of luck that I seem to have going for me doesn’t last and I miss the next shot.

"Now that’s more like it." This time it’s Jim who breaks the silence first as he nods in satisfaction. It’s good to see that the fact I can’t seem to improve my pool skills makes him happy because it does nothing for me.

"Yeah? Let’s see how much better you do." It was a well-known fact between the two of us that Jim’s pool skills were only a bit better than my own. This game was probably going to take forever. I notice that one of the guys at the next table is looking at us a bit strangely and I nod at him before turning back to Jim. "See that? You’re getting funny looks because people wonder why you’re even bothering to go up against me." Jim rolls his eyes as he turns to the table. He leans over and I can tell that he’s lining up his shot. I frown when he makes the next two shots. So maybe Jim’s gotten better at pool. This isn’t looking too good for me.

We continue the game for the next hour. I turn to grab the chalk and notice that I’m still getting strange looks. I frown again and turn back to Jim.

"Hey, Jim—" I stop speaking just as suddenly as I started as I stare at the empty spot where Jim should be standing. The beer is still sitting on the edge of the table but the foam that had been there before had long since disappeared and I’m frozen as I watch the drops of condensation sliding down the bottle to gather in a ring on the wood. It’s all coming back to me now, everything about that night.

I groan as I open my eyes. I almost feel as if I have a hangover, not something that I know too much about but I know enough. My head is pounding as my eyes adjust to the semi-darkness. The last thing I remembered was bright lights and a car horn.

Someone hit us. I spin around as much as I can in my seat to look at the others, checking to see how they’re doing.

"You guys okay?" I ask. Tom nods, rolling his shoulder a bit, wincing as he does so. Bill runs a shaky hand through his hair as he nods.

"Yeah. I think so." He glances over at Luke who is frowning as he looks down at his legs. "What’s the matter?"

"I’m stuck. Feels like it might be broken." He sounds amazingly calm as he says that, all things considered and I think it’s the shock. "Jim, move your seat back up, will you?"

It’s only then, when there’s no answer, that we seem to realize that Jim has been unusually silent throughout this entire conversation. I can feel myself getting worried as I glance at the others who have similar expressions on their faces.

Time seems to slow down as I turn back around to face Jim. He doesn’t look any different, just a few cuts and I can’t help but wonder if he’s just been knocked out. I reach out and touch him on the shoulder, jerking my hand back when it seems to sink in how still he is. This time I’m leaning over, hand on his shoulder as I try to wake him.

"Jim. Come on, man, this isn’t funny. You can play a joke on us or something later. Wake up."

I can feel the dread seeping through me and denial is starting to set in as well. I shoot a panicked glance towards the back and I realize that they seem to be holding their breath, waiting for Jim’s eyes to fly open so that he can laugh at us and tell us what morons we are for thinking that something was wrong. But he doesn’t move. I turn back to him and shakily press my fingers to his neck, searching for a pulse though I have a feeling I already know what I’m going to find.

Nothing. There is no pulse and if I watch closely enough I can see how still his chest now is and it doesn’t seem right. He doesn’t look dead and I think that there must be a mistake. When a person dies, they look a certain way, don’t they? They look…dead. And Jim just looks like he’s sleeping. He’s too young to be dead, we’re only a few months away from graduation. But denial doesn’t seem to be willing to stay with me right at this moment. I lean back and I can already feel myself shaking.

"He’s…dead." My voice is dull when I tell them and I can see the shock, the denial, the grief on their faces. The truth seems to settle over us like a thick blanket and Bill looks like he wants to scream or hit something. It doesn’t seem to click how helpless he must be feeling. The self-appointed protector who wasn’t able to do anything to stop something from happening to one of us this time. And I have to say, have to repeat it because it just doesn’t seem real though I know it is. "Jim’s dead."

I know now why I was getting strange looks and I know now why I haven’t heard from the rest of the gang. It’s because I forgot. More that I chose to forget and now that I can’t anymore I don’t know what to do. Everything from that moment on seems surreal and I realize that all these years when I thought I was speaking to Jim, I was doing nothing more than talking to myself. Holding onto the memory of one of my best friends.

We couldn’t stick together after that. I know that most groups would probably band together and we tried. Damn, did we try. But it wasn’t any use, the gang wasn’t complete anymore, there was a piece of us missing. The grief, the guilt of blaming ourselves split us apart and we were never able to get back the closeness that seemed to have died with Jim.

I was fine for the rest of that year in high school and I think it was because the others were there, around me. It may not have been the same but it’d been familiar.

Once college started…that’s when I started seeing Jim. I started talking to him, he would come visit me. It wasn’t often at first because at first I still kept in touch with the guys. But the further apart we grew, the less we talked to each other, the more Jim came around. And that’s when I chose to forget the fact that my friend had died only months before graduation.

But I know now. I know that he’s gone and that he’s not coming back. I know that, I even accept that. It hurts like hell, feels like I’ve taken a sledgehammer to the chest. The gang of teenagers who thought they were invincible is broken apart, scattered across the country.

And I’m all that’s left.

 
 
Feeling: accomplishedaccomplished
Soundtrack: "Until the Day I Die" by a band who's name I don't remember
 
 
 
¤ Leira ¤ Storm-Destiny ¤midnight_divine on March 19th, 2005 12:41 am (UTC)
The band, my dear, is probably Story of the Year ;)
Until the day I die, I spill my heart for you or something of that persuasion.

Awesome awesome piece. I think you'll get an A+, and if grades went higher? You'd get it! Great work.

-Marlena
Nicoleblue_icy_rose on March 21st, 2005 03:30 pm (UTC)
Ah ha! Finally! It's been driving me nuts not knowing the name of that band. Yay!

And thank you! ^_^ Now if only you were in charge of grading. LOL. But anyway, thanks for the confidence!