Scuffed-up Vans

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  • #7718

    This is a short story I wrote for English. The assignment was to develop a character. Please feel free to suggest edits; I’m looking for feedback here!


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Come on, Jake! We’re gonna be late!” I shouted, assembling our lunches. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“So what?” He mumbled in response. “It’s not like I want to go, anyways.”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I halted, and turned to him. “Is anything wrong? Those asses aren’t messing with you, are they? I thought I taught them a lesso–”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“No no, nothing like that. Never mind.” He sighed. I shook my head and turned back to the task at hand. Bread, mayo, turkey, cheese, bread, done. I dropped the sandwich in a Ziploc bag and tossed it over to him. Then, after packing my own lunch, I headed to the front door.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>As I passed through the living room, I paused. Dad lay sprawled on the couch, his thin limbs like spider legs, bent every-which-way. An empty bottle lay at his feet, and I could see a blurry photograph in his hand. Mom.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I ran to his bedroom and pulled the comforter off the bed. I then laid it across him.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Robin?” Jake whispered, standing next to me as I gazed at dad with worry lines etched into my face.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Yeah bud?”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Why are we the ones that have to take care of Dad? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I gave him my best attempt at a smile. It wouldn’t have fooled a toddler. “You see, Jake, Dad ain’t used to being a “dad”. He’s used to being a husband. And, well, without Mom, he can’t be a husband anymore, now can he?”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“No,” he breathed, “He can’t.”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Exactly. Just give him some more time, eh?” I ruffled Jake’s hair. “Now, betcha I can lace my shoes faster than you!”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>We sprinted to the front door, where the single pair of shoes we each owned (besides our fancy shoes for “special occasions”) were left. I slipped my feet into the Vans, which I conveniently kept laced, and jumped up. “Beat ya!”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Nuh uh! That’s no fair; you didn’t even untie them!” He whined, still on the first shoe. I just laughed, and walked out the door.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>_______</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Despite the odds, we weren’t late. We did, however, arrive soaking wet. It had begun pouring rain on us halfway through the walk to school, so we’d had to run the rest of the way. Thinking about it now, actually, that was probably why we weren’t late.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>For the fifth time in the past hour, I cursed the outpour of water that had resulted in my clothing becoming nearly see-through and my shoes making squelching noises wherever I walked. </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>That</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> one, the shoes, had resulted in another nickname being added to the already existing list that the asses who “ruled the school”, as they liked to think, enjoyed pulling out on a daily basis. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Duck feet’s coming!” They had called out, snickering and high-fiving each other. I had merely rolled my eyes, not letting them see how much it bothered me. There was no way I was gonna let them know how much the constant taunts and teases bugged me. Nope. That was weakness, and I didn’t have time for being weak.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Robin? Are you with us?” Ms. Ross called out.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I shifted uncomfortably on my stool, and blushed as the class broke out in titters. “I’m paying attention, ma’am.”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”> I swore to myself that one day, I was gonna move to the desert, where it don’t get no rain. The only thing the rain was good for, was helping you sleep at night, and you don’t even need the rain for that anymore! You could just put on one of those videos with rain sounds, and poof! All taken care of.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”> Ms. Ross’s English class was the only room in the entire school that had stools and tables instead of those confining structures the school liked to call “desks”. For a completely unrelated reason, it was also my favorite class. Unrelated. Completely.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Well class, as I was saying, we’re going to be doing a project. And, before you all ask, yes there will be partners, and yes, I will be picking them.” The collective groans in the classroom imitated the sound I imagine a dying whale would have made.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Ms. Ross smiled. “Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you guys about the project! I promise, it’ll be interesting.”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>A voice in the back of the room interrupted her. “Ms. Ross, I hate to break it to you, but more work is never ‘interesting’.” Echoes of agreement sounded across the room.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Oh ho ho, but this is! The project is pretty simple. Each of you have been partnered with someone that you don’t know very well. In fact, I tried to pick completely opposite pairings for this. In one week, you need to get to know this person. And I’m not talking about simple stuff like ‘What’s your favorite color?’, I mean the really deep stuff. This will be a bit uncomfortable for some of you, but it is what it is. To help you all, I’ve got a list of questions that Jasmine over here is passing out. I want you to keep these somewhere you won’t forget, like a folder or a binder.” </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Sure enough, the teacher’s pet was busy handing a sheet of paper out to everyone. When she got to me, I snatched it out of her hand and skimmed my eyes over the list. Questions like, “Would you rather be rich but lonely or poor but happy? What do you wish was different about your life? What’s your biggest regret?” covered the sheet.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>With a snort, I put the sheet into my binder as instructed. Like hell I’m spilling </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>my</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> guts to someone that’s essentially a stranger.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>After she had given everyone a chance to take in the information, Ms. Ross continued on with her explanation. “So, once I tell you who your partner is, I’m going to need you to write me at least a paragraph on what you think of this person. Don’t hold back, alright? This’ll only work if you’re completely honest, as we will be revisiting these sheets after the week is up so that we can do part two of the project. After all, the truth is the truth, no matter how ugly it may be.” I rolled my eyes, but took mental note of the quote. As silly as it may sound, it was pretty accurate.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Now, partners!” Ms. Ross clapped her hands with a grin, and began reading off a list on her desk. “Stephanie, Jackson. Makayla, Summaria. Jonathon, Brittney–” a distinct moan cut the teacher off. “Ms. Ross, you know I can’t work with him!” Brittney whined.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“You can, and you will. Moving on, Kaley with Toby…” Ms. Ross continued down the list, and I kept listening for my name. What asshole was I gonna be stuck with? The possibilities were endless.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Robin and Jay–” I jumped out of my seat. “Ms. Ross, you can’t do that!” </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Do what?”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Ms. Ross, I ain’t workin’ with some pretty-boy!”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Like the recordings used in every single sitcom ever made, the whole class erupted in “ooohhh”s. I pushed on, though. “I mean, look at him, Ms. Ross!” I waved my arm in his direction, and noticed that he was blushing bright red. I didn’t care though, and continued. “There’s absolutely nothing that me and this rich kid have in common!”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Robin, I would appreciate it if you could sit down and stop embarrassing Jay! It would do you well to learn that looks can be deceiving, and that you aren’t the only person with struggles here. You will be doing this project with him, and that is final.”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>My mouth opened and closed and opened again, but I couldn’t find any response. I flopped down into my seat like a deflated balloon, and muttered rude words under my breath. I hated Ms. Ross. Truly and completely despised her with every inch — no, millimeter — of my being. I spent the rest of the period scribbling angrily on the table.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>When the bell rang to dismiss us for lunch, Jay approached me. His head was down, and he shuffled when he walked. “H-hey, uh, Robin? When do you, uh, want to get together and work on the project?” His voice had slowly quieted until he had practically whispered the last bit.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Listen here, bud. I ain’t gon repeat myself. I’m not working with you. Make up whatever you want as my answers for the questions, I don’t care, but I sure as hell am not gonna sit through an hour of you complaining about not getting the exact shoes you wanted, or how you wish you had been able to go to that concert that everyone posted pictures of or whatever. Alright?” </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Oh. Um, o-okay. I guess. Yeah.” He breathed. I didn’t stick around to hear anything else he had to say.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Just as I was about to head outside to my regular spot outside where I kept an eye on my brother, I remembered I had a math test to make up. Luckily though, math was one of my better subjects, so I was able to finish the test and still have some time left to check up on my brother.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>As I was walking over to the field, I started getting a sick feeling in my stomach. Usually, I would watch him from underneath a tree, and so when some punks decided to push him around, I could throw a rock at ‘em to get them to quit, and if that didn’t work, I’d fight ‘em. A good lickin was enough to keep them away from him for at least another week.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Sometimes, I really worried for Jake. Not only was he small for his age, at a mere 4’4, but he had also skipped two grades, and so was practically a baby compared to everyone in his grade. My dad had been plannin’ on pulling him out of school and hiring a one-on-one instructor for him, before… well, before.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”> Jake, he was smart. Real flippin smart. But no amount of knowledge on the ins and outs of the stock market, or being able to list off all the parts in a computer and explain exactly what they do is gonna protect you from bullies. And man, did bullies love tormenting him.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I began jogging and scanned my eyes around, trying to locate him. It didn’t take too long; he was being tossed around by some of the bastards in my grade. He was also quite a ways away from me.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Hey! Get away from him!” I screamed. I started sprinting towards them. My eyes were trained on him, and then all of a sudden, I was eating dirt. Someone had tripped me.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I rolled and rolled, and then sprang up. “Who did that?” I shouted, twirling around. There were only two kids near me, and I didn’t recognize either.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“He did it!” They said simultaneously. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Oh, I don’t have time for this!” I reoriented myself, and much to my surprise, I saw that someone else was already at my brother’s side. The other kids had backed off, it seemed. Nevertheless though, I still ran over to him.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>When I got there panting, I realized it was Jay that was at my brothers side. Before I could ask any questions though, Jake flung himself at me and started crying.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Hey, hey, it’s alright, bud. Shh, calm down. You’re okay. You’re okay.” I wrapped my arms around him, and after a bit, I looked over at Jay with my brows raised. “What happened?”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“I s-saw them bugging him, so I uh, I told them to back off. They laughed, but listened.” He stared at the ground, kicking up bits of dirt with his feet. After a moment of hesitation, “Is he your brother?” His eyes flickered up just long enough for me to note their warm chocolate brown color, before he looked back down, blushing.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I nodded, still hugging Jake. He was calming down, thankfully. “Why’d you help him out?” I asked, curious.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Because,” Jay paused. “Because I know what it’s like to be in his position. Being pushed around, I mean.”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I looked at Jay in a new light. Rich boy? Bullied? Maybe there was more to him than I’d thought. Just then, the bell rang. Lunch was over.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Jake let go of me. “You’ll be fine?” I asked him. “Cause we can ditch the rest of the day, if you want.”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“No, it’s alright,” He sniffled. “I have tech now, and we’re starting a new project.”</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>He walked off without another word, and I turned back to Jay, who lingered. Sucking down my shame, I said, “Sorry for what I said earlier. Bad day. If you want, we can meet up at the park after school tomorrow? To work on the project?” </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>He visibly brightened. “It’s fine! Yeah, t-tomorrow’s fine. We can go to the park. Yeah.” He blushed again. He seemed to do that a lot.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>I gave him a small grin as I started walking to the art building. “See you then.”</span>

  • #7720

    That was deeply satisfying.

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