Other Literature, You Say? Feliciano's Short Stories

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Other Literature, You Say? Feliciano's Short Stories

Post  Feliciano on Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:58 am

Yup, this'll be a collection of short stories that I write. Most of them will be for some class or other, and I'll be looking for some critiques to help me tweak it. Just be aware that most of these stories will probably be around the 10 page mark, double spaced, in a standard document. I have only two rules for critiques: be specific, and don't be afraid to tell me if it sucks. Tell me what you guys think!

The following story contains minor profanity.


Fifteen Minutes
by Feliciano

It was one of those classes.

The kind where the teacher lectures vaguely in a heavily monotonous accent with no notes for people to follow along. The kind where they never use e-mail or post anything -- even study guides for tests – online. Where the hour long lecture was pulled straight off of Wikipedia and could be summarized in ten minutes by just reading the article they’d copy-pasted it from. It had ten million textbooks that you never needed to open (except when you did), and you had to be a goddamn mind reader to have any idea what they wanted for papers. Even then, you were likely to get it wrong.

Ari sighed, sinking deeper into her seat as the scrap of leather known as her professor droned on about something or other having to do with the historical clusterfuck known as World War I. Everything about this woman was the same shade of brown. Straight, plain brown hair. Dull brown eyes. Skin so leathery that it would have been a better fit on an old suitcase than a person. Ari imagined that even her professor’s voice had a brown tone to it; the thick Eastern European accent was delivered in such a monotonous whisper that weighed itself down until it was dragging through the same mud as the trenches she was supposed to be talking about. But apparently, even a mid-range, fairly prestigious university felt that it had to be cheap when it came to hauling in the guest professors for a few years.

Ari slid her phone open and shut, open and shut under her desk, waiting for the professor to end her lecture so she would have an opportunity to send her boyfriend Slone a text and tell him that she would be meeting him for lunch. They would meet on the third floor of the commons, as usual, and each have a couple slices of pizza, as usual. Lunch with Slone provided a calming sort of regularity to the frantic dash that always seemed to accompany life during the last week of classes. The classroom was just big enough to be a lecture hall rather than a regular classroom – only just. Necessity dictated that Ari sit near the front by virtue of being slightly taller than a hobbit (though thankfully without the large feet that accompanied it), but in the middle of the row and on the opposite side of the room from the professor’s podium, she doubted she’d be seen and doubted even more that anyone would care if she were. She stole a quick glance at her phone’s clock; fifteen minutes to freedom – and lunch. Fuck.

She nearly jumped out of her chair when the small device buzzed in her hand, and scrambled to turn it off. Who in their right mind would be sending her a text message? It was the end of the quarter, everyone knew she had class until one. She paused for a moment when she saw that all of the other student’s phones had gone off at the same time. Even the professor’s had rung, and Ari couldn’t help but feel secretly pleased at the irritated frown she wore at having her lecture interrupted. Ari decided to check what the message said – after all, it must have been important, if even the professor had gotten a message.

Re: Students
A small explosion has occurred in the chemistry building. While we do not believe that anyone was harmed, several dangerous fumes were released into the air. Students are to immediately enter the nearest building if they are outdoors. If indoors, students are to remain there until further notice. We expect the fumes to take approximately fifteen minutes to blow over campus and dissipate. We apologize for the inconvenience.


A ripple of panic swept over the class – wasn’t the chemistry building just a few buildings over? – but Ari remained totally still, frozen in place and feeling like she’d just swallowed a pound of rocks. Didn’t Slone have a chemistry lab at this time? The ripple turned into a full-blown uproar when the professor calmly walked over to the doors leading out of the hall and locked them. The clunk of the heavy metal lock rang out, sounding oddly like the thud of an executioner’s axe – or so Ari had to fervently convince herself that it didn’t.

Professor Ivankovna didn’t seem fazed. “Ve vill be continuing the lecture as planned.” she announced in her usual stoic drone. “No one is to leave until the danger is pass.”

Ari had made it a rule for herself that she wouldn’t text in class, that she would make an effort to pay attention. After all, her grades certainly couldn’t afford it, not with how bleak the prospect of her passing Italian was looking this quarter. But this? This was an exception. A completely, totally justifiable exception. Fingers shaking, she opened up a new message and quickly typed out her question, pressing ‘send’ before letting out a breath she hadn’t been aware she was holding. There was a time and a place for keeping it all together, and this certainly wasn’t it.

Fifteen minutes…

She didn’t think that she could wait that long. She certainly knew that any form of concentration she’d had was now thoroughly decimated. She wasn’t like her friend Rebecca, who had the damned ability to never take notes in class, but still get perfect As on the tests when Ari was getting Cs and Ds despite her constant note-taking.

Her phone buzzed again, and Ari all but dived for the small device on her desk. When she slid it open and read the message, however, she swallowed, trying vainly to get rid of something very large that had decided to lodge itself in her throat. Speak of the devil…

“What a nuisance. They really ought to be more careful. Come to the commons. Your class is basically done, right? You hate that class anyway, just hurry over here before the fumes get to this side of campus.”

…and the devil shall appear. Rebecca always was the type to put the world under her thumb and expect everyone to comply with her demanding whims. Normally it wasn’t a big deal, as it meant someone other than Ari would step up and make plans, but as the year wore down, so did Ari’s tolerance for her friend’s behavior. It had gotten to the point where she was actively making excuses not to hang out with her and taking the subsequent guilt-trip Rebecca would ‘subtly’ impose on her in stride. ‘Last chance to hang out’ indeed. It wasn’t like none of them were coming back next fall, or had a Facebook to plan summer visits.

Ari’s hand clenched around her phone, and she grit her teeth. She was not in the mood for Rebecca right now. She wasn’t all bad – just very, very opinionated. “The professor locked the doors.” she typed, fingers shaking for a whole other reason than fear. “We can’t leave.” Not that she’d want to, anyway. She’d leave their other friend Mandy to handle the lecture Rebecca was probably giving right now about the incompetence of everyone other than herself. Speaking of which…

Her phone buzzed again. Rebecca was a fast texter. “What? That can’t be allowed.”

“Don’t you have a chemistry lab with Slone right now?” Ari replied. It didn’t matter if the professor’s actions were allowed or not. All that mattered was that Slone was okay.
She glanced at the phone’s clock again. Twelve minutes.

Ari crossed her legs in an attempt to stifle the urge to get up and race out of the room, padlock be damned, straight over to the chemistry building. She still hadn’t gotten word from Slone, though she kept her eyes glued to her phone, willing it to light up and buzz; to show her his familiar name and a reassurance that yes, he was perfectly fine, so sorry for making you worry. It would be just like Slone to cause an explosion and get himself hurt in the process. Scenarios began to flash through Ari’s head, each worse than the last. Maybe the explosion had collapsed part of the building and he was trapped. Maybe he had gotten burned and was being taken to the hospital at this very moment. Maybe...she choked. Maybe those fumes were deadly, and he hadn’t been able to get out of the way quickly enough. He could already be...be...

No.

Slone could be dense, but he wasn’t stupid.

He wouldn’t get hurt. He probably just didn’t hear his phone go off. That’s all.

That’s all...

Eleven minutes.

He had to be all right. He just had to.

Ari gripped her desk tightly, shifting her weight back and forth and forcing back a tiny whimper as she glanced impatiently at the door. She hated feeling this helpless. Sitting still while others were in trouble had never been her strong point, but here she was, trapped like a rat and unable to do anything while her boyfriend could be on his way to the hospital for burns or lung damage or God-knows-what-else.

She closed her eyes, trying to drown out the mental images of her boyfriend. Of his messy, pale blonde hair, and the way it contrasted so sharply, yet so naturally when it mingled with her own black hair. Of the way his bright, smiling blue eyes reflected her stormy grey ones so clearly. Of his gentle, nimble fingers combing through her hair, smoothing out the kink that came with her habit of always putting it in a ponytail. Of the way he would suddenly lift it up and smell it, claiming that he loved the shampoo she used, and to pet it gently when he was done, whispering softly to her in French even though he knew perfectly well that she didn’t understand a single word. Of the sound of his voice, tired and husky and beautiful as they lay in bed together, assuring her that he would never, ever leave her side.

Ten minutes.

It was no use. They’d been together since high school, when he was a junior and she was a freshman and he had been the first to break through her angry outer shell and refuse be pushed away for it. It was as impossible for him to get out of Ari’s head as it was for Ari to sprout wings and fly over there to save him, pulling gas masks out of her ass and carrying him away to safety. She looked forlornly once more at her phone, and blinked. She’d missed a message. But she knew it wouldn’t be from who she was hoping for.

“I finished early, so I left. What, is your boy-toy not out yet?”

That did it.

That did it.

Ari’s fingers flew over the keys faster than she thought they could. She didn’t care that she was about to press Rebecca’s berserk button – she was about to start it again, and Ari had to, again, show Rebecca that she meant business, even if it meant airing some dirty laundry. Thank God for phones with keyboards. “You KNOW he’s more than a boy-toy, Becky.”

Nine minutes.

“My name is REBECCA, Ari. Though I’m not surprised you’ve forgotten. You spend all your free time with him, we never hang out anymore.”

Eight minutes.

“That’s BS and you know it. You claim your separation issues so much to guilt us all into hanging out with you that I haven’t seen him outside of lunch in a week. I’m practically more your bitch now than his. Do you even understand what the words ‘I want to go to bed early tonight’ mean?”

Seven minutes.

“Because eleven o’clock is SO late. We don’t have many more chances to hang out, but you just toss us aside and spend all your time with your deadbeat boyfriend who lives a few blocks over! Don’t you care about your FRIENDS anymore?”

Six minutes.

“He could have been caught in that explosion and dying right now and you expect me not to worry about him? I figured you were fine when I heard from you – I haven’t heard anything from him! Besides, blowing him off for reruns of Glee and bad 80’s movies and existential conversation with you guys before I play Mandy’s designated chauffeur at two am isn’t exactly what I have in mind when I think I’m neglecting my friends!”

Five minutes.

Oddly, no response.

Ari found herself panting slightly, as though she’d just won a physical argument. But damn, did that feel good! She wasn’t the submissive little Ari that put everyone else’s happiness above her own anymore – she had a spine! For a moment, she’d almost forgotten about…

Her heart plummeted into her stomach, and Ari could have sworn she heard the splash. She’d almost forgotten about Slone. Her knee started to bounce restlessly. Oh God, how could she have forgotten about him, even if it was only for a moment? The sick, hot taste of bile crept up the back of her throat as her stomach found her heart a little too indigestible. No…fuck, no! What kind of horrible bitch was she that she would get distracted so easily from the fact that her boyfriend might be dying?

Three minutes.

Ari’s phone buzzed once more. “If we’re going to fight, we need to do it face to face. I can’t afford to text everything I’ve got to say to you.”

Ari sniffed. “Be my guest.” If she was going to possibly lose a friend, she’d rather do it that way, anyway. And it wasn’t like there was any room to back out now.

One minute.

Not a moment after she’d pressed the ‘send’ button did her phone start to buzz again, this time in unison with those of her classmates, who had been frantically chattering amongst themselves like so many hushed monkeys the whole time. Ari’s heart briefly soared at the prospect of a message, but it crashed back down once she realized that the other student’s phones ringing only meant that it wasn’t from Slone. She was barely aware of the professor walking to the back of the room and unlocking that massive padlock with another thud of the axe.

Ari remained in her seat slightly dazed. The message said only that the danger had passed, but nothing about any injuries. Mechanically, she reached down to pick up her bag, and walked out of the room. The bright late spring desert sunlight barely caused her to blink. The clouds of cigarette smoke barely caused a cough. She barely noticed the crowds of people that she made her way through on the way to the commons, or the line for pizza. She didn’t even think about her order; two slices of pepperoni, as always, except when they were out, and then it was two slices of cheese. Why bother? She hadn’t heard from him, and if it was safe to go out and she hadn’t heard from him yet, that must mean…

The elevator dinged softly and Ari stepped out of it, scanning the third floor couches. No familiar heads caught her eye. No matter. If they weren’t here, then they were off in a hallway to the left. But no, guess they weren’t there after all.

Ari spied a free couch at the very end of the hallway and made her way towards it. The semicircular pieces of furniture were quite comfortable, and she didn’t have another class for an hour. She decided that she might as well take a nap when she was done eating. She set her food down on the small wooden doughnuts the school called tables and something in the back of her mind pushed the coherent thought that, right, Rebecca had class right now, and Mandy was likely walking her there. So much for that, then. At least she could enjoy her lunch in peace. But the pizza was tasteless and rubbery – she couldn’t eat more than a few bites before she became sick with worry once again. Where was Slone?

A pair of arms suddenly flung themselves around Ari’s neck, and someone’s face pressed into the crook of her shoulder, fitting there perfectly as though it had been sculpted specifically to do so. “Hello, beautiful. Did I keep you long?”

Ari jumped so hard, the only thing keeping her from bashing her head on the ceiling was those arms. She whirled around, not daring to believe that voice belong to who she thought it did. “Slone!” she sighed, voice cracking with a sob as she leapt to her feet, pulling him close and nuzzling into his chest. She ran her hands around his waist, feeling his swimmer’s muscles and memorizing every dip, every groove of his body all over again. The smell of chlorine and ink and him was mingled in with that of smoke and some various other chemicals, but Ari didn’t care. It was him, it was her Slone, her best friend, her lover, her Slone, and he was here, safe and real and it wasn’t a dream.

His arms tightened around her back and he nuzzled into her hair. “I’m so sorry… some stupid guy dropped some chemicals… they’re still cleaning up, but they wanted to check us all out, make sure we didn’t inhale any of the fumes or anything, and they wouldn’t let me at my phone…”

Ari sniffed, pushing back away from him. His blue shirt was stained from her tears, and more were dripping down her face, but she still managed to look angrily at him. “Slone, I swear, if you ever scare me like that again, I’ll – ”

But suddenly his mouth on hers cut her off and he was kissing her, deep and slow. It was a regretful kiss, an apologetic kiss, a kiss full of relief but begging for forgiveness at the same time. “I’m sorry…” he finally repeated when he pulled away. The look on his face melted Ari into putty. He wasn’t lying. She knew, he could never lie to her. She could read him like an open book.

Ari reached up and tangled her fingers in his hair. “I know.” she said, pulling him down and pressing her forehead against his.

Slone let out a low chuckle, flashing her a grin, obviously attempting to lighten the mood. “I told you I’d never leave you.” he reminded her.

Ari blushed, looking down and scuffing her foot sheepishly. “For about fifteen minutes, I thought you had.”
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Feliciano
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Posts : 12
Join date : 2010-07-19
Age : 28
Location : Southern California

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