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a silly little piece.

Hi, guys.

So, uh, I don't get much time to write fiction. And while I do consider myself a decent writer, I get way too stuck on the same situations and character types. hat being said, here's a little piece that pulls inspirations from my two most over-used and abused subjects: lovestruck fools and college. Oh NOES!

Please, any constructive criticism is welcomed; just keep in mind I'm more embarrassed/shy than anything to share my fictional writing with others!

If it were possible to hear a stunned silence, we definitely heard it that day.

And what a day it was: warm enough to shed my jacket and don a short sleeved top over my favorite pair of jeans and just hope that there was enough UV light to darken up my winter skin. I missed being tan. It was the first warm day we’d had – and what better way to spend it than goofing off in the grassy fields outside our dorms?

I’d just gotten out of class and made a beeline for my friends, three of whom were playing catch, two of whom were just kicking back to watch and one of whom was nowhere in sight.

“Hey, where’s Ben?” I asked as casually as possible.

Of course I wanted to know where he was; I always did. I had forged friendships with several of my guy friends over the course of a year and a half of college, but I was starting to realize that I had a particular fondness for Ben that often couldn’t be explained. We didn’t ever spend any time alone, so I’d never be able to gauge the situation. As far as I was concerned, nothing was going to come of it. But even if it had to be amongst all his hallmates, I still loved spending time with him. I loved hearing his often exaggerated stories and we shared a common passion for the Yankees and Texas Hold ‘Em.

My roommate, who used to pitch softball in high school, threw a hard curve and turned to me. “He’s grabbing money for pizza. Me, him and Jeff got a pie each.”

“No one’s getting mine,” Jeff called from the sidelines.

“You can have a slice of mine,” my roommate offered.

“Abby, if you ordered what you always ordered, we can’t be pizza buddies,” I said. Her guilty look gave it away and we both burst into giggles.

“Sorry, roomie,” she said.

“No worries. I’ll steal from Jeff.”

“No you won’t!” Even from across the field, Jeff could sense when his food was in danger.

Right on time, a white car pulled up to the curb and the delivery guy stepped out. I watched Jeff hand him some cash and eagerly grab three white boxes in exchange.

Something compelled me to run over and grab the remaining two boxes. As Jeff happily munched on his first slice, plates and napkins be damned, I jogged over to my roommate, yelling, “Special delivery!” Might as well make a dramatic entrance.

Poking my head into top box, I immediately knew it was hers: she loved Hawaiian pizza, and the smell of grilled pineapple was a dead giveaway.

This left one box for Ben, who had just stepped outside, looking triumphant at the sight of dinner. He grinned at me, beckoning me to hand him the box.

“Surrender the pizza and no one gets hurt,” he said. “There’ll be something in it for you, if – hey!”

I playfully started taking steps backward, and Ben quickened his pace.

“Don’t make me come after you. I run two miles a day, you know.”

Always such a show off. He closed in quickly and grabbed the box, placing his hands over mine. His touch was surprisingly soft and I could smell his musky deodorant. He grinned at me and I let go.

But he was pulling, and spun away as he pulled. I watched the rest in slow motion.

I watched him spin, watched as only one hand held the box, watched as the fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza flew out of the unguarded side – why did they have to use such crappy pizza boxes? – and then I gasped as it hit the grass and the dirt and the rocks cheesy-side down.

There was no five-second rule and no way to save it. Ben’s dinner was done. Not one bite. All that was left was its memory – that heavenly smell that still hung in the air.

Like I said – you could hear the stunned silence that followed.

“Ben. Ben, I am SO sorry. I’ll buy you another one. I’ll give you money for it.” I felt regret and stupidity rise up in my throat like bile.

He didn’t say a word. And for someone who never stopped talking, his silence was absolutely awful. He dropped the box and walked back inside, never saying a word.

“Ben!” I called after him. The glass door shut and I couldn’t get in because I didn’t reside there. I saw Jeff stretch out his hand, offering his keys, giving me a look that said “go fix this.”

I knew my crime. I had come between a man and his dinner. His time, his money and his patience were embedded in the ground, covered in grass.

And quite possibly worse than that, I thought as I climbed to the second floor, was that this was never how I imagined I’d talk to Ben one-on-one.

I knocked softly on his door. “Ben?”

More of that awful silence.

I slid ten dollars under the door. “Get some pizza with this, please,” I said.

There was noise and the door opened. Ben picked up the ten and tossed it back at me.

“No, I don’t want the money,” he said, and flopped back on his bed. I ignored the fluttering money and stepped into his room before the heavy door could shut me out.

This was the first time I'd ever been in his room. His half was atrocious-looking: books, clothes and papers were strewn all over the place, though that musky deodorant still permeated the air. I almost cracked a smile when I saw an opened accounting textbook marked with an index card on the desk; he was fibbing a bit when he bragged to me about never studying.

And now, Ben lay on his bed – the mattress was barely covered by his tangled sheets - refusing to look at me.

“Ben, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine,” he replied, trying so hard to act unconcerned.

My heart sunk. “Please take the money.”

“Keep it.”

There was another heavy silence.

And suddenly: “I was going ask you to share it. You said the other day you hated when Abby ordered Hawaiian.”

I wasn’t sure how to interpret that. How could someone take a tiny detail from what seemed like meaningless conversation at the dining hall yesterday and make such a kind gesture like that? I didn’t think we were pizza-sharing friends. But I guess Ben thought otherwise. Now an entirely new set of questions popped into my head. I didn’t know how to respond.

“Make sure you get some food before the hall closes,” I told him, my head still wrapped around the whole sharing offer (What did it all mean?!). “I’ll see you tomorrow at lunch. Ben – I’m sorry.”

No response.

I shut his door behind me and looked down at the money. I shoved it under his door once more, but hadn’t taken three steps before it slid back out.

Too much of a nice guy to take my money, but too stubborn to forgive me. I had a feeling this was about so much more than grass-stained pizza. But there was no way in hell that he was going to admit that.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
Aw, Jess. You've managed to perfectly capture the awkwardness of the college crush and the college phenomenon of a seemingly little thing turning into catalysts for something much, much bigger. I liked that bunches.

And "grass-stained pizza" is such a visceral image. I absolutely loved that line.

Are you planning on fleshing this out? I'd really like to see how far and in what direction you can take this.

I'm so happy that you guys are actually getting some use out this community! <3

Edited at 2008-10-29 09:18 pm (UTC)
Nov. 5th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
I appreciate your willingness to put this out there! As an infant writer I have yet to muster up the courage to share my writing with others, so maybe your bravery will be the impetus I need. One particular line in your piece I connected with was "there was noise and the door opened." At first glance it seems so simple but it's packed with a ton of meaning and started me thinking about all of the possibilities for these two people. I like when words are put together in a way that gets my mind going.
Nov. 11th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
Yay, Jess! Thanks for posting! (...she says two weeks later, but hey, better late than never, right?)

OK, here goes.

I like the first line. It drew me in right away, served as some nifty foreshadowing, and it kept that promised "stunned silence" through the end--I like how you still have dialogue after the pizza's demise, but it largely anchors the narrator's thoughts and the latter half sounds (reads?) quieter than the first.

I knew my crime. I had come between a man and his dinner. His time, his money and his patience were embedded in the ground, covered in grass.

I like this paragraph. It made me giggle, as did the description of Ben's room. So true. Oh, college boys.

The thing I didn't really get was Ben's reaction to the pizza, and the narrator's reaction to his reaction: I just felt like Ben was overreacting and being childish about it. It did make a little sense when he said that he wanted to share the pizza with her (that's sweet!), and it was endearing that he was upset that was ruined. But it bothered the hell out of me that he had to storm off to his room like a spoiled little girl, and further irritated about the way the narrator's perception of him changed. I understand her reaction, but at the same time I wanted her to step back and see how immature he was being.

But was that the reaction you were going for--irritation? Honestly, Ben's hissy fit reminded me of someone else we know who's first name also ends in "en." And from being there and dealing with that sort, I sort of rolled my eyes and groaned to myself. Not that that's a bad thing at all because, hey, I was able to connect with it.

And in writing all the above, I realized (a) I wanted to mention before how you keep a consistent pace through the story (I guess all that journalism-ing helps out after all, eh?), and (b) I like how the narrator changes the way she perceives her relationship with Ben by the end (even if I don't agree).
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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