The stars were lit up in colors I hadn’t known it was possible for stars to be. They always looked kind of silvery-white to me before, but they were different somehow that night. Outlined in silver, but a rainbow of colors showed through – metallic sort of pinks and blues and purples. I felt myself craning my neck as I stared up into what felt like forever.
I could feel everything that had once seemed solid dissolving around me, and I honestly had no clue how to cope with it. It was all too much – too overwhelming. Was there any way to stop this horrible process? It was starting to hurt, but what could I do about it? Nothing had happened yet – it was just waiting to.
“So, confess then,” Marisole pressed. “What’s your real reason for being late? I’m guessing the fire thing is bullshit.”
He rolled his eyes at her but didn’t see any reason to hide the truth. “I was reading. For a class.”
He laughed. “A Tale of Two Cities. Not that it matters. I’m way behind in the class and I was hoping to catch up. It’s not such a bad book; I lost track of time.”
Derrick grunted. Talking to Marisol was always difficult terrain to navigate. Usually, she was great. But if she was in a bad mood, she went from cheerful to offended before Derrick had time to realize he had said something that might be misconstrued. He liked her a lot, maybe too much, which certainly didn’t help matters.
“You don’t need to be in a bad mood. Cheer up, Pup. Things aren’t as bad as they seem,” she said cheerily. It was a classic comment for her to make if she was in a good mood. Well, at least he had that going for him.
Juliette stormed off in her typical managerial rage, and Derrick was getting ready for work when she returned.
“Don’t try to claim the hours that you missed, either,” she snapped, before heading off again, much to the rattled young man’s relief.
“Late again, hm?” teased Marisol, one of his coworkers who had the annoying habit of being on time usually. “You’re going to get fired, Derrick, and who will entertain me if you do?”
It was impossible to ignore that Juliet didn’t believe him. Everything about her posture was shouting signals that she was definitely not buying his story. And why should she? He didn’t want to admit it, but Derrick knew it was a pretty preposterous story.
“There really was a fire,” he said lamely. “I mean, everything’s okay and stuff, but…”
“This is your third time being late this week,” Juliet snapped. She didn’t even try to expose the lie, instead going right for the throat. “One more time, and you’re finished.”
“Well, you see,” he said, clearing his throat and shifting from foot to foot. “There was a fire.”
Juliet, the manager on duty, looked taken aback. “I’m sorry, what?”
“A fire!” he said again, taking what had popped into his head and rolling with it. “In the apartment next to mine. It was a big mess. Fortunately it didn’t spread, but I had to stick around until everything was contained.”
Never let it be said that he wasn’t a creative liar. Then again, he’d used up every plausible excuse in the book ages ago.
“So, what excuse for being late do you have conjured up today?”
Derrick had been scheduled at 5:30 and it was now 5:45 – not such an unusual circumstance for him to find himself in. He had a tendency to lose track of time, especially when he was invested in something he found particularly interesting, like video games. He winced a bit. He’d been hoping the manager on duty would’ve been one of those who was more lenient about tardiness.
“You would learn faster if you worked harder at it,” Issa pointed out. I was trying to do math homework, and found her advice largely unhelpful. After all, I worked pretty damn hard at my math homework. It just didn’t come naturally!
“We can’t all be good at all things,” I said glibly. “I happen to be terrible at math, but that’s okay. It makes me unique. Special, even.”
It had been a busy week. Having the week off always meant weird days with Cal, who liked to marathon things. When most people marathon, they watch a lot of TV shows in a row, or maybe in rare cases do a lot of running, but Cal marathons things like coffee shops and Italian restaurants, going to as many as he can in as short a time span as manageable. So when he declared the week to be a week of the theater, I knew that I’d be spending a lot of time watching a lot of plays, ranging from godawful to phenomenal, and everywhere in between.
“You know, I could just leave. It’s not like you have any legitimate claims on my time, you know.”
Paris and Jacob were sitting at a coffee shop. Paris was clearly anxious to be on her way – annoyed that she had to be here at all. It was almost a mystery why she had come in the first place.
“You’re in such a hurry all the time. It’s been weeks since we’ve seen each other. I just wanted a few minutes to catch up…”
“Just slow down a minute and think about this!”
He was so angry. I was a bit taken aback as I watched him pack up his things, throwing clothes and books into suitcases and boxes with none of his usual careful fastidiousness.
“What is there to think about, Eric?” he turned on me, anger glinting in his eyes. “I don’t think getting too drunk to think straight is a very good excuse for sleeping around.”
We were to be married in the spring. I couldn’t quite get over the image of it in my mind. I would go about my day like normal, and that simple thought – that Joseph and I were to be married in the spring – would invade, and fill my whole reality. Sometimes, it terrified me. I had never been married before. I didn’t know HOW to be married. Most of the time, though, it just made me feel tingly all over – in the tips of my fingers, in the roots of my hair.
This is an old fashioned word. Usually I write a story or something in this little blurby moment, but when I saw the word swell, all I could think of was how old fashioned it is. Not that that makes me dislike it. I happen to be a fan of old fashioned words, and I think this one is quite charming. I just don’t know if I could ever use it in dialogue convincingly without raising a few eyebrows.
The news was a bit of a shock, but I guess it didn’t catch anyone completely off-guard. Thalia had changed a lot in the last six months. She had proclaimed so vehemently – even days before her wedding – that she would never have kids, so it was lucky that her husband to be was accepting of that idea. Yet, here she was appearing before us, pregnant. And glowing.
I didn’t quite know what to make of it. A baby is a happy thing, so I was happy for her – but I couldn’t help but feel uneasy with her general change of disposition.
The word carried a lot of baggage, in Maria’s opinion – manager. It was never something she had really thought to strive for. She worked hard because she had been raised that hard work lead to success – and because she thought it rather immoral to slack off when you were being paid. She showed up on time because she was a punctual person by nature; she was nice to people because usually, that meant people were nice back.
It had never occurred to her that these behaviors might lead to a promotion; the responsibility of being a manager weighed heavily on her mind as she considered whether or not she would accept the new position.
She had always figured she’d know it when she saw it – that spark of real affection, the genuine chemistry that always accompanied true love in her mind. Lace was a big believer in love at first sight. Raised on a steady diet of romcoms and fairy tales, could anyone blame her?
Not that she had any real life representation of what true love was. Her mother was a lonely woman, who had gone through a string of men throughout the course of Lace’s life. And her father was a bit of a manwhore, her parents ultimately divorcing after one of his affairs was uncovered.
He wagged his tail eagerly, waiting for praise. He HAD been a good dog all day. He hadn’t barked at any squirrels or chewed up anyone’s shoes and he hadn’t peed on the floor even once! Not even when he really had to go. He figured he deserved a treat for all that hard work, maybe a nice long walk with the man.
Jake headed into the house and sighed at his dog, who was barking excitedly at the sight of him. “Bad dog, Conner,” he scolded, frustrated. “Shut up! Go lay down…”
She didn’t like him. He gave her a politician sort of vibe – like he’d say anything to get her to agree with him, even if it meant compromising his own principles. It gave her heebie-jeebies, and she wished she could wriggle herself out of the conversation.
She had never been good at ending conversations, though, so she wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. She just had to listen – and it was pretty dreadful. She just wanted him to shut up!
It was winter.
This was always obvious, not by the bite of cold or the onset of snow, but by the smell in the air. Winter had this very specific smell, something like snow and oranges and nights curled up in heavy blankets in front of the TV. It wasn’t like anything else.
It hit me one bright November morning, just out of the blue. It was too sunny, I thought, to really be winter – but I’m rarely wrong about this sort of thing.
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