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So when I have a large block of free time during classes (generally English) I like to write. This is the only completed product of those writing sessions. Whether you see more or not depends on how many more end up halfway decent. Criticism is very very welcome, and very very appreciated. Do not hold back. But it is worth noting that this is only the second draft. So it is still pretty bad with continuity at an all time low. Also worth noting that this story is more of a set-up for an eventual larger series of stories. So look forward to the conclusion of the conflict in those, or never read anything I put up every again ~~~~~ I came in through the front door of the gym. They had already begun playing music, though the lights were still on. In the back were two tables with drinks and snacks available. They had already cordoned off the area for dancing with walls of those mobile bleachers. The scene was familiar. This was what all the dances looked like. Once I had wondered aloud why they created that dancing cage instead of just using the entire gym. The answer had been logical. Since so few people came, only 50 some even available and much less than that actually attend, a smaller area creates a more crowded and full atmosphere. I strode through the gym, the heels of my shoes clacking against the ground. I looked up, my gaze attracted by the calls of my classmates. I smiled slightly at them, brushing a lock of auburn hair behind my ear self-consciously. I made it to them eventually, my pace not being too quick considering I didn't want to trip. My dress and shoes looked pretty, but were subpar when it came to moving quickly. My best friend sidled over to me and smiled widely. "You look so good! I'm glad you came!" Amelia exclaimed excitedly. "Thanks, you too." I said, though my tone was as always, notably quieter. I don't know why I come to these dances. I'm not crushing on any of the boys, nor do I enjoy dancing. I would say that it was because I like spending time with my friends, but sometimes I feel left out. An extraneous addition to my group of friends. For example, the conversation I had just joined went on without stop, as if I had not appeared. That alone would not be cause for concern, but weeks and months and years of it, well, it got a bit old. Supposedly they wanted me around, yet I rarely added anything. An occasional sarcastic comment, a correction, a laugh at someone else's joke. That was it. Amelia says they like my honesty. I suppose that could be true. I tend to be blunt about things. Sugarcoating things is a pointless act that occurs simply too often. She also claims that they enjoy the fact that I'm always calm and true, like a mountain lake. I doubt that image remained intact after the events of that dance. People continued to arrive in the gym. The conversation continued. It touched on our outfits for the night for a bit. Amelia's knee-length dark blue dress with a golden rope around the waist was as usual stunning in its simple beauty. I really hate to admit it, but I envy her fashion sense. My own dress was not nearly so trendy or pretty, but it was functional in it's deep orange and brown. The conversation drifted away towards some anecdote from Lindy. I glanced towards the clock. It was nearly time. Of course, as soon as I thought that, someone turned off the lights. That was the cue for the party to begin. Everyone moved into the bleacher prison, and the music was turned up to eleven. With the pop songs loud enough to make you forget your name and the strobe lights was turned on so that no epileptic would dare come within a mile, people could officially start dancing. Only one or two people had any semblance of dancing talent or skills, so everyone else just moved their bodies in miserable imitations of actual dancers. But everyone knew that was the fun of it. If we limited dancing only to those who knew what they were doing, well, the party would become more like a spectator sport. So we all dance, and we all laugh at each other. Well, most of us do. As usual, I stood close to the walls of our cage, arms across my chest conservatively. Amelia stood next to me, though I knew she could just as easily be dancing with everybody else. Across the way were a few guys doing the same, chatting and laughing at each other but not dancing. This scene was familiar. Of course it was. It was the same thing every time. Every three or four songs was a slow dance. Slow dances were awkward little events. A guy asks a girl to dance. The girl says yes. Guy puts his hand on the girl's waist (or below, but those go generally unmentioned and unpunished and unrewarded). Girl places her hands around the guy's neck or on his shoulders. And don't forget that there needs to be enough room between the two for two or three grown adults to have tea in the middle. After all, who knows what the world might come to if we're closer than three feet away from each other. Amelia was quickly asked by Ray (who had the most obvious secret crush on her), leaving me by myself. I wasn't expecting to be asked really. I was just me. I wouldn't say I'm unattractive (especially considering I was all dressed up), but I don't put myself out there as much as the others. I'm quiet, never much for socializing with people outside my friend circle, or even with people inside my friend circle. But lo and behold, a guy was approaching me. Easton, a wide white smile on his lips. The closest thing to a cliche jock in the school. "Can I have a dance?" He asked, hand outstretched. I didn't answer at first, not trusting him. He had a reputation for being a general jerk and selfish person. I did step closer to him, interlocking my fingers behind his neck. His hands held my waist as we began the casual swaying motion. I looked into his eyes, trying to figure out what those shining blue peepers were up to. He laughed suddenly. "What are you doing?" He inquired. My face must have looked rather severe. "Nothing." I muttered, eyes darting to my shoes, my cheeks turning red. We continued for a few moments in silence, my embarrassment at being so judgmental filling my thoughts. "So how has your night been so far?" Easton asked in a very clear attempt to strike up some form of conversation. It was doubtful he wanted to spend these minutes in silence. "Fine I guess," I responded quietly. "Only fine? Tonight's a dance! You came to mess around and hang out right?" I shrugged. Why I had come was still a mystery. I felt some sort of obligation to my peers. "And surely your night has become better since I'm dancing with you right?" I looked up at him in shock. What kind of ego causes a person to say something like that? "Aren't you the one that asked me?" I said in reply, my anger leaking into the words. "Hm?" "Since you asked me, aren't you the lucky one? I didn't have to say yes." These words were coming from somewhere beyond my normal mind. It felt like an entirely different person had taken me over and was spitting these words out. Easton looked shocked. Apparently he didn't think this was like me either. "Yeah, but, y'know," He trailed off, still not quite sure what he wanted to say. The song was nearly over. I wanted to know what his thought process was. We continued to dance, the swaying motion like a small boat in a big storm. He took a deep breath. Here it was. What kind of excuse had he come up with? Or perhaps he was actually going to apologize. "I'm me, and you're you." The song ended. I stormed off, leaving the confined area. It was like the encounter with Easton had been a trigger. I felt like a hotbed of emotions. I breathed shallowly, attempting to make sense of the endless stream of thoughts in my head. Yes, sense. That was what I needed. My anchor, my rock, my lighthouse. Everything can be made into logical sense if you break it down. Except for people. Of course. That was always the exception, and the one time I needed the sense I always rely on, is when the exception applies. I reached the snack tables. I grabbed a plastic cup. Filled it up. Sipped and swallowed. Repeat. Now here I was acting like a child, trying to drown the feelings. As a bit more time and water passed, I began to feel a bit more in control. Why did I care what he said? He was no boss of me. Easton was trying to get through life on basketball and a smile, certainly no superior to me. But that didn't make me feel better. "Hey! I saw you dancing with Easton. How was that?" I whipped around, surprised by the sudden voice. Amelia leaned away, startled by my sudden movement. Should I tell her the truth? I could. I really should. "Fine." I lied. "How was yours?" I asked, shifting focus away from me. She looked to me suspiciously. I couldn't hope to keep my emotional breakdown from her. She was my oldest, closest friend. I met her gaze and sipped my water. Letting it go for the moment, she turned back to the snacks. "Just as always. Too shy to look me in the eyes, let alone hold a conversation. He confuses me. I don't know if he's the shyest guy or the most self-confident. Probably both." She began talking about Ray, though I was half listening. My own storm of emotions had priority for now. Why had I lied? Once again, why did I care enough about something a dumb jock had said to lie to my best friend? Over five words I had just lied to the most important person in my life right now. "Hey, are you sure you're okay?" Amelia asked. I looked over to her. I didn't know what she was talking about until I realized that tears had run down my cheeks. I wiped the water from my face and nodded. I was fine. Wasn't I? I set the cup of water back down on the table and gestured towards the dancing arena. "Let's go." I suggested. Amelia reluctantly nodded and joined me as we strolled back towards everyone else. As we left the snacks, some small part of me, maybe the same part that started all this with those words to Easton, piped up. I cared because I felt like it was true. We entered the small square. Only a few moments passed before I was swarmed by the other girls, like flies to honey. They began to berate me with questions about Easton. I remember being confused as to why until I made the connection. Easton never danced with anybody, and half the girls in front of me had a bad crush for him. I remained quiet until the rapid stream of questions slowed. "He's a dumb jerk, a narcissistic egomaniac, and above all, a mediocre dancer." I managed to say in an attempt to sum up their questions. Silence followed for a few seconds. "Well yeah." Lindy said. I looked to her. I hated her. She was shallow and gossipy. "We all knew that. We just wanna know the good stuff." The good stuff. The shallow stuff. Stuff that didn't matter. I ran away. Like Cinderella at midnight, I ran from the ball. Except if Cinderella had danced with the least magical prince ever. Open. Shut. A breeze. The stars, the flowers, the moon. I could still hear the echoing, the pounding of the horrendously loud music inside. Suddenly, standing out there surrounded by an empty school campus and the night sky, I thought about my actions so far. I was normally a reasonable, well-mannered, and quiet girl. But tonight, I had lied, I had run away, I had pushed Easton into giving me the truth that I didn't want to hear. The truth? When had those words become the truth? When that little voice in my head had told me it was? Probably. Standing there, with the muffled music, the bright stars, and a waning moon, I guess everything clicked into place. I was soft-spoken, passive, a dying candle outshone by bright fluorescent lightbulbs. Almost no one ever asked about my day, my feelings. I was just a given, a single raindrop in an entire storm. I was lucky to be noticed, fortunate to be given a second thought. That was what Easton had said, though he was too dumb to say it so clearly. And since Easton hadn't made it clear enough, Lindy had given me a second chance to understand. No one cares about me, or my deep philosophical view on life. No one ever would, not when I'm surrounded by bigger, louder things and bigger, louder people. I had suddenly come to this realization, standing there in the night, a withering moon enveloped by the light of the stars. Open. Shut. I knew it was Amelia without looking. Silence. "What are you doing out here?" She asked. I replied quickly and with a hostile tone. "Why would you care?" "Because I'm your friend?" "Are you sure? Because all you are is drowning me out." "What are you talking about?" "I want to be my own person, be given my own chance to shine as bright as you." "Then come back inside. Partying and dancing sounds like a good start to that goal." "You don't get it." "Get what?" "I can't do it with you around Amelia. No one will ever see me if you're standing next to me." And then I walked away, paying no heed to her calls, her arguments. I gritted my teeth and clenched my fists. She could never understand, not the way she is. I would never get anywhere with her beauty, with her smarts, with her outgoing personality. A single teardrop hit the sidewalk. ~~~ That's all I have for now. I feel like my main problem is not really getting across how she is interpreting everything that is said to her, but if you have something else please tell me. And if you want to read more about these characters, my story Him will probably be a part of this series of stories that I am creating, go read it if you want to! If you can figure out who the two characters in that story are, you'll be my new favorite! And above all, thanks for reading!