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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Creative Writing: ‘Storrs, Connecticut will fall off the face of the earth’

Published: March 25, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

Graphic by Ariel Wittenberg/the Hoot

Sitting slumped against the window, I was fully aware of just how impossible it is to actually sleep comfortably on a bus. They have those foot stands for you, the ones that fold out and click into place, but let’s be real: you can’t sleep on a bus that easily. No one really sleeps; they just trance. They sit on the bus and, maybe if they’re exhausted enough then, they fall into a sort of half-asleep, half-awake state. It’s the funny zone where dialogue slips in and you can’t be sure if it’s real or if it’s a dream. Maybe something goes off in your brain that’s so real that you feel it has to be actually happening at that moment. That’s all that can be managed, and that’s the state I was in for a good part of the ride down.

Of course, I had brought a book with me, something for one of my classes. But somehow whenever there’s work to be done, that’s the best time to sleep. You never sleep as well as you do when you shouldn’t be sleeping.

Regardless of whatever tests I had coming up the next week—I don’t even remember at this point—I was fully intent on having an awesome weekend. After the past few weeks, I really just wanted to go down, visit my best friend, do some illegal shit, maybe find a girl at his school, maybe have sex with that girl at his school, and make my way back fully rested and ready to move forward. But to be honest, I didn’t even know direction forward was anymore. I knew what backward was. I’d been going backward far too much. That definitely had to change.

“We’re different people you and I.” I jolted up and saw the trees outside, soaked in rainwater crashing down to the hard and dirty pavement. One of those highways that’s barely a highway. Maybe it was a highway 25 miles ago, but here it’s just trees on either side of the fullest, darkest green with maybe a country-style wooden sign saying that you’ve entered a town you’ve never even heard of, and that they’re very glad to have you in addition to its vast and growing population of 1,700.

Her black hair was perfect, soft and long, curly with a few strands here and there that didn’t quite fit. Bad hair day to her, not to me. Those strands just made the picture better. She had character, and yet she tried to stifle it, tried to apologize for it. I didn’t want to hear it. I just wanted to look at her. I just wanted to stroke her cheek, enticing her already inviting lips to want mine as badly as mine wanted hers. Just like it was a thousand times before. So it would be tonight. Or, this afternoon on the bus, I thought in my half-awake trance.

But it wasn’t so. Before I knew what was going on, she was crying. Don’t bother crying, just stop this from happening. Tell me you’re sorry and that you wish you could take it back. And mean it. I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to end us. You’re forcing me to.

Thunder clapped overhead. You might think that this would jolt me awake, but not this one. This time I came back slowly, and gently became aware of the strangers around me, and the glass my face was rather awkwardly pressed up against.

“UConn!” the conductor announced to the passengers. I looked around and saw everyone standing up around me. I then grappled with all of my stuff. Had to get the book I was trying to read back into my duffle, smushed in with my laptop, charger, pair of jeans, polo and pineapple boxers. Yes, that’s right. I said pineapple boxers. I can imagine at this point a significant amount of jealousy might arise in any average reader. Who wouldn’t want boxers with pineapples on them? I could have left that out, but I really just wanted to tell the story as accurately as possible. Once I had my stuff together I zipped up my jacket and made my way off of the bus to wait for my friend in this strange land.

BUZZBUZZ. My phone went off. Probably my mom. Yep, it was my mom. “Hi! Sorry to bother you, and I won’t bother you again this weekend, just wanted to make sure you made it down there alright! Don’t ignore me. That would be very rude. Love … Mom”

I texted back: “Yep. I’m here.” Sometimes I felt bad about being so curt with my texts but c’mon; was it really necessary for me to tell her every step of the way where I was? Look at it this way. I’m in college now. I can do nearly anything without her knowing, provided I don’t get into trouble with the school or the police. Or I suppose the school police, but that would just be kind of a joke. Like “Hey BranPo! You really trying to get me in trouble? Really? Is this happening?! Ha!,” and then I just walk away chuckling quietly to myself. The point is, though, that if I hadn’t told her that I was going down to UConn for the weekend, then she wouldn’t have had any idea that I was going at all. She’d have assumed I was just chilling out in my dorm, safe and sound. Solid argument for just not telling parents stuff, but then again, I guess it’s good to communicate with parents. I just wished that she wouldn’t force it. BUZZBUZZ. “OK, have a great weekend!”

“You, too, Mom!”

Man, it was freezing out there. The crisp, windy Storrs air was definitely getting to me. I texted my friend. “Hey man, I just got here! Your campus is way too cold, and I blame you fully for this. Please consider inventing something to make it warmer with your intense engineering brain!”

BUZZBUZZ. “Haha, I’ll see what I can do. Where are you exactly? I’m coming to find you. Hold tight!”

“Yeah, I’m by the Co-Op,” I said, as I read the sign above the nearest building.

I walked in, found a nice little cast-iron chair and grabbed a seat. The campus seemed kind of quiet, but then again, it was Friday at around 7 p.m. What campus isn’t a little quiet around that time? It’s like the quiet before the storm. Surely later there would be parties, random drunken escapades, maybe someone running down the sidewalk naked chanting “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine to the tune of “Friday” by Rebecca Black (well, not really by Rebecca Black, but you get what I mean). As I sat down I went into trance-stage again. I was, after all, pretty tired.

“Hey! Ya know what would be fun?? If we went to a movie together, and you were dressed as Indiana Jones, and I was dressed as Princess Leia.”

I smiled. You’re awesome, ridiculous … and awesome. “Hmmm I’m not sure how that would work out. I feel like we’d get a lotta odd looks. Plus why would you be Princess Leia and not … hmm, I don’t even know who the main female character is in any of the Indiana Jones movies.”

“Exactly! No one knows! Princess Leia is like 10 times stronger of a character than any dumb Jones bimbo!”

“Bimbo … ?”

“Hey you sonuvabitch!” I was violently brought out of trance by my best friend. He had somewhat of a coarse sense of humor. Don’t get me wrong, we got along and still do. Everything flowed with him. Just saying, sometimes he didn’t know when to stop.

I smiled and stood up, grasping him in a hug. “Good to see you man! How you been?”

“Awesome, orchestra’s driving me crazy, but it’s all good. Dude, this is my roommate Jerry.”

Jerry had a goofy look about him. He was wearing a hat that literally looked like a squirrel. Not squirrel fur molded into something hat-like, but actually a real-live, nut-eating adorable critter. And he wore it like it was nobody’s business. I admired that. I shook his hand. Then I picked up my stuff and at my friend’s word we took off toward his dorm.

The moon was a tiny little crescent in the sky, providing very little light. But, through the miniscule amount of illumination, I could make out the general surroundings. I was atop a brick sidewalk, next to a road that looked like maybe it was used as a main road at times, but was really just meant for college people. On both sides there were solid brick buildings. Not old brick. These buildings were obviously new, not decayed quite yet, and with classy iron plaques indicating the names. In a way, they screamed both “New England” and “I just made a lot of money off a research project involving rhesus monkeys so I donated it to my school to get a building named after me!” at the same time and in perfect balance.

“I hope you’re ready to get fucked up Dude!”

“Sounds damn good to me, Bro, I’ve had a hell of a week.”

“Aw, I’m sorry man, what happened?”

“Eh, we can go into it later.”

“On the bright side,” my friend started, somewhat ignoring the fact that I did in fact have a rough week, “my friend Jessi has someone visiting tonight. Get it in!”

I can’t deny I was a bit intrigued. The prospect of any new girl, even just for a night, was inviting to say the least. “Haha, sweet. Sounds good, but first I gotta get some food. I’m starving.”

“Aw, yeah, no problem, Dude.”

So off we went to his favorite dining hall. I feel I should stop the story here just to clear up some possible misconceptions. It’s natural to read this opening of a story and come to some basic conclusions. For example, a reader might conclude that it is a standard story of some 18-ish kids searching for ways to intoxicate themselves, finding said ways and then proceeding with wild, stupid adventures. A reader might also conclude that this is a story about some sad-sack trying to get over a girl, or a few girls who didn’t treat him that well. Maybe he’ll complain a little bit and then have some magical epiphany. A reader might also conclude that Jessi’s friend is going to be central in the coming pages. She’s a new girl, and it’s perfectly logical to think “Oh, the main character’s had some rough times, and now he’s going to get just the rebound he needs. Jessi’s friend will probably be the perfect sweetheart to inspire the main character to move on and believe in himself again.”

I just needed to clear these up because frankly, all of those stories have been done multiple times in many different ways, and, if I were a reader, I’d be a little tempted to just stop reading at this point. Let me assure you though, this story, while it will include elements of what has been mentioned above, will be something unique. It will go places unexpected and do things perhaps a little controversial. Be prepared.

To be continued in a future issue of The Hoot …