Although I am not doing Camp Nano I am working on other projects. Here’s a sample of one of my short stories in progress. Let me know what you think.
I am experimenting with transitioning between Past/Present so this will be interesting.
The room was a hospital white but the natural light coming from the window softened the closed in feeling. From the open window came the sounds of birds and people talking. Laying on the bed was the still form of Jonathan Cooper; the only life came when the door opened and a young man in a business suit walked in.
“Ah, grandfather can you hear that? First signs of Spring are the birds whistling.” He dropped his sports jacket on the extra chair before settling into the cushioned one beside the bed. A wrinkled hand reached up and he gently grasped it, patting it gently.
“A-Andrew?” The voice was weak, confused but the grip on his hand became stronger.
“No, grandpa. It’s Charles.”
“Ah, Charlie.” Another wrinkled hand came up to pat the smooth hand.
“It’s Charles, grandpa. Charlie was a nickname from when I was a little kid.”
“I’ve always called you Charlie…I don’t want to stop now.”
“But Charles is more professional.”
It was a dance of words between the two men. Each sentence a step in the complicated dance that had started two weeks ago. They had it nearly perfect by this point. Next came-
“But I’m family not one of those silly suit men.”
At first this statement had angered Charles, a lot of things his grandpa said did, but he had learned to get over it quickly. The old man could barely remember who anyone was let alone be expected to understand why Charles hated the name Charlie. It was just so childish. Just like being called his father’s name had upset him at first but then he had learned to move on from it. Charles and his father had their height and Aryan loos in common but nothing else.
“I prefer Charles, please.”
“And I prefer Charlie. I’m a dying old man…give me that little bit please.”
Cue awkward silence. Charles shifted uneasily at his grandfather’s blunt acceptance of death. But even this pause was momentary as the business side of him took over. Another calculated moment in this dance.
“Grandfather, don’t say tha-”
“I want to tell you a story.” The words died on Charles’ lips at the sudden injection. This was not a part of the conversation. Two weeks of habit suddenly became confused and distorted as his mind scrambled for the proper response.
“Don’t be silly. You need rest and telling stories will just excite you.”
He fiddled with the table beside the bed, giving his hands something to do as his mind caught up with everything. His grandfather’s old hands closed over his, forcing them to stop. When he looked up blue eyes met blue.
“Please.” The old hand gripped his tighter, sudden strength in hands that this morning could barely be lifted. It was like the idea of the story was giving Jonathan life and for that reason alone Charles paused to consider it. Seeing he had won the old man grinned and for a moment it seemed to take years off of his face.
“Help me sit up then.”
Charles was gentle with his grandpa as he helped the man sit up. It took a couple tries for Jonathan to be comfortable but in a little time his pillows were fluffed and he was staring intently at his grandson.
“The story I want to tell you about is about a woman.”
“A woman? You mean other than grandmother?” Over the years he had heard his grandparents talk often about how they had fallen in love and how his grandmother was his father’s only love. To hear of another woman in his grandpa’s life was scandalous.
“Aha! Not like my Maddie! No, this woman is something else, something special. I don’t think there’s anyone living in this world that could love her in that way. Although I am sure there are plenty that do say they love her.”
Charles patted his grandfather’s hand gently, trying to calm the man. “If you get too excited grandfather they’ll kick me out.” He wasn’t sure if that was true but he was hoping to calm his grandpa down regardless. Being so excited couldn’t be healthy for his condition.
“I’d like to see them try!” Seeing his grandson open his mouth to object he waved a hand in dismissal. “Back to the story.”
“Yes, the story.” Charles leaned back in his chair, hands folded perfectly in front of him.
“You know I met your grandma when we were still in high school. Junior year it was although I didn’t even talk to her till senior year.”
“You were scared. I remember grandmother telling me about that. It was her favorite story.” A brief smile crossed Charles lips at the memories.
“Yes, yes. There’s more to that story though. So much more. It was a year of adventures and meetings. That year we met the most wondrous person ever. But I get ahead of myself.”
Jonathan settled back, closing his eyes to better recall the memories. His mind instantly brought forward the memories, even if disease was eating away at his mind he had done everything to protect these precious moments. They were kept hidden and safe, just waiting to be called back.
“Maddie had transferred at the beginning of junior year. She was quick at making friends among the different cliques
. In our senior year we had an English class together…”
No one particularly cared for the Senior English teacher. You would be hard pressed to find many seniors who cared about any of their teachers. For them it was the homestretch to the final escape from school. It was a poorer school, only the best would be going on to college. Most were just praying they’d get passing marks.
Jonathan Cooper didn’t mind his teachers really. He wasn’t a bad student but he wasn’t a good student either. Like everything else in his life he fell at just about average. Average grades. Average looks. Average personality. There was nothing really special about him that made him stand out. At least that’s how he viewed himself in his own mind.
Others, friends you could suppose, would say he was trustworthy and stubborn. Jonathan tended to share his opinion often regardless of the opinion of his peers. He went against the grain not because he wanted to rebel but because he truly believed in what he was doing. They would say that he was the kind of guy that girls would adore if he wasn’t so shy around them.
Enemies, because every person has at least one, would say he was an idiot. Jonathan always ended up in fights with people. Not a physical fighter he relied on words. If only words could make physical wounds he’d win every time but most often his enemies fell back on physical when they couldn’t intimidate him. He lost then. On a rare occasion you might find one of his enemies actually admit that they admire his courage to speak out. Most would admit that they weren’t sure if he was courageous or plain stupidity.
Jonathan had watched Madeline Smith for all of junior year. It wasn’t hard to get away with it. The honey colored hair that curled naturally, the bright blue eyes and sweet smile made her a quick like among all the men in the school and the most disliked girl among the women. Compared to her bright light Jonathan saw himself as nothing special. He didn’t even shine. Still, he couldn’t help but watch her. Something about that light awoke a desire in him. To protect, to love, to hold.
Everyone watched her. When she walked into a room everything stopped for a couple seconds before resuming in a flurry of activity. If she realized that she had that effect on people she paid no mind to it. The guys that actually managed to approach her were sweetly turned down. The whole of junior year went this way with Jonathan and every other man invisible to Madeline’s eyes. Senior year brought about a shock for Jonathan. A class with Madeline. His friends congratulated him on the chance, although some complained that it was lost on the woman-shy man. It was a well-founded complaint as Jonathan didn’t say more than two words to her for half the year.
The morning that Jonathan began the transformation to something different began like every such morning did. Completely average. He got up at dawn, helped his father outside for a bit before heading to school. The walk was only twenty minutes and Jonathan always managed to arrive just in time for class. Never late but never early either.
There was something different in the air but he couldn’t place what it was exactly. Only that something felt so very different compared to what it had been on previous mornings. This was all quickly dismissed as his imagination though as he spotted trouble ahead. A young woman was stuck on the side of the road her car billowing smoke. He stopped, knowing a thing or two about cars.
“Miss do you need some help?”
The woman straightened, smoke from the car distorting her image. The gentle wind that had been teasing his hair blew it from her for a moment. She smiled and stepped from the smoke like some ethereal creature. When she spoke her voice was like the water, soft and soothing. “Ah, I think it is pretty much a goner at this point but it’s okay. Your Jonathan right? We go to school together.”
Jonathan had been thinking that she was older than him by at least a couple years but now he saw he was mistaken. She was clearly his age although he could have sworn he had never seen her before in his school.
“Ah, y-yeah I am. How do you know me?”
“I know a lot. I tend to like to get to know everyone important.”
“Well then you have the wrong person here. I am not really all that important.”
“Ah, everyone is important.”
Jonathan gave her a weird look. This was probably why he didn’t know her at the school. She was a weird one and he stuck around mainly the average, sane people.
“If you think everyone is important then do you know everyone?”
“More or less. It’s a work in progress.” She sighed and looked back at her car, “Guess I am walking. Mind if I walk with you or do you have other company?”
“Just me and I can’t say no. If we are both going to school then we are going the same way. I can’t tell you no that just doesn’t make sense.”
“Wonderful! That’ll make things easier for me.” She moved back to her car and opened the door, pulling out her bag and books. It gave Jonathan a moment to actually study the strange girl that he was now going to be walking with.
While he could have sworn she was wearing a black skirt when he first saw her he know realized that was she was wearing jeans. It made him wonder how he could’ve made that mistake in the first place. Probably the smoke and his overactive imagination. Looking about eighteen she had short black hair that was cut in a a-line bob style. Her eyes were dark and with the slightest upturn of the corners, accenting the Asian feel given off by the dark hair, pale skin and dark eyes.
“What’s your name by the way?”
“Hm?” She poked her head over the car door and looked at him. “I didn’t tell you? Sorry, I am use to people knowing my name. I am Tarin.”
“Never heard it.”
She didn’t looked too upset by the idea of him not knowing it and instead just gave him a thoughtful look. “No I suppose you wouldn’t know it. Well! Now you do. Just a moment and I’ll be ready Jon.”
“I don’t like people calling me Jon. It’s Jonathan please.”
The request fell on deaf ears. She was already back in her car, pulling out who knew what. Women and their things. Finally though she shut the door and locked it. “I’ll have to let my brother know it’s here.”
“You have a brother?”
“Yup, don’t worry he doesn’t go to our school. He’s beyond things like that or so he says.”
“How old is he?”
Tarin smiled briefly, slinging her bag over her shoulder. “Old enough to be annoying.”
“Has anyone ever called you weird?”
“Only every person I’ve ever met.”
Jonathan couldn’t help but smile at the dismissive tone. “You don’t seem much bothered by it though.”
Tarin smiled at him before shrugging her shoulders again. The movement, just like her voice, was as fluid as water. “No point in getting so upset about it. I am strange and a bit weird and there’s nothing wrong with it.”
“Most people wouldn’t say that.”
Tarin laughed and shook her head, “I’m not most people.”
“Apparently.” Jonathan stopped at the entrance of the school, having just caught sight of Madeline. Tarin followed his gaze to see what had stopped him and grinned.
“She’s cute. Why don’t you talk to her?”
“A-Are you kidding me?! Me? Talk to her?”
Tarin stared at him like he was stupid, “Yeah. You talk to her…that’s what normal people do when they like someone.”
“No! I don’t talk to girls! Especially not Madeline.”
“You’re…talking to me.”
Jonathan stepped away from her, “You, you are different!” Jonathan walked over to his locker, putting in th combination with shaking hands. Tarin sighed and walked over, ignoring the looks she got. She covered his shaking hand with her calm one. “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to push.” She smiled at him, “Another time then.”
Tarin winked and slipped away from him, brushing past Madeline with a small smile. In seconds he lost sight of her and within moments after she became a thought at the back of his mind. Jonathan headed to his English class, sitting the furthest from Madeline even if he wanted to sit right next to her.
As the class went on Jonathan did what any student did: he daydreamed. About the strange walk this morning but mostly about Madeline. He wished he could talk to her but whenever he got close he forgot how to talk.
“Now this latest project will be in groups of two. Before I let you choose who you would work with but that ended badly. So this time I will choose the groups.”
Jonathan’s head shot up. A project? Oh god. Projects were his worst nightmare! He always got stuck being picked last or with someone who left all the work to him.
“Jonathan Cooper. You’ll be paired wit-” A knock on the door stopped the teacher. He blinked and walked over, opening it. “Yes?”
Tarin gave her sweetest smile to the man, “Sorry to interrupt.” She leaned over, speaking softly in his ear.
“Ah, yes. Of course. Thank you for telling me Ms. Lee.”
Tarin nodded and stepped back from the teacher. For a second she caught Jonathan’s eye and he could’ve sworn she winked but then she was gone.
“Where was I? Oh yes. Jonathan Cooper. You are paired with Madeline Smith.”
If looks could kill Jonathan would have been dead in that second. Every guy in the room had given him a dirty look when Madeline’s name had been called. Not that the young man was paying any attention to that. Jonathan was staring at the teacher in complete shock. Madeline looked over at him and smiled shyly, nodding before looking forward again to hear how the rest of the class was paired up.
By the end of class Jonathan had decided that he must’ve heard things incorrectly. There was no way he was actually paired with Madeline. As he gathered his things together he resolved himself to go to the front and ask the teacher about his partner. Clearly he had heard wrong.
“You’re Jonathan right?” Jonathan jumped, books sliding from his hands and tumbling all over the floor. He stared at Madeline for a long moment before mentally slapping himself. Smooth.
“Y-Yes.” He dropped to his knees and picked up the books and papers he’d dropped. There was a shuffle beside him and suddenly Madeline was on her knees helping him gather them together.
“You don’t have to help!”
“Oh shush. Picking up all these papers by yourself would be stupid. I would feel really mean just standing there and watching you.”
Jonathan grabbed the last paper and stood, helping Madeline up. “S-So you’re my partner? I don’t think we’ve ever worked together.”
Madeline smiled and he felt his heart warm. Whoever was lucky enough to wake up to that smile every morning would be one lucky man.
“Yeah! It’s exciting.” Madeline was watching him calmly. “Can we meet after school? I want to get started on the project as quickly as possible.”
“S-Sure!” He stood there awkwardly, suddenly at a lost of words. He was talking to Madeline. The reality sunk in and he freezed up. “See you then!” And Jonathan bolted.
“Medicine time. Oh-” The nurse froze in the doorway as Charles jumped. “I’m sorry Mr. Cooper I didn’t realize you still had a visitor. It’ll just be a moment.”
Charles stood, nodding at the woman. “It’s okay. I think I should be going anyways.”
“But the story Charlie-” His grandfather started and Charles reached down to pat the old, wrinkled hand. “I will come back tomorrow, okay?”
For a moment Jonathan grumbled before settling back and taking his medicine. “Please do.” He paused, frowning. “Charlie…what ever happened to that girl? What’s her name…” For a moment his lined face scrunched up as he tried to remember the name. “Adriana! That’s it! I would love to see her!”
Charles rubbed his forehead. Of all the people his grandfather had to suddenly remember. Why her? “We broke up grandfather. We weren’t compatible.”
“Such a shame…” He was sinking into his pillow as if exhausted by the effort of remembering a simple name. “I liked her.”
“Sleep grandfather.” Charles turned and walked out of the room, hands shoved in his pockets. His head lowered by the burden of memory thanks to his grandfather. Adriana had been the one for him but she was no more. Something Charles has sacrificed for the job. With a shake of his head he pushed the woman from his mind and focused on what he was going to have for dinner. Stay productive he reprimanded his wandering mind.
It took two days for Charles to get back to his grandfather. An intern had screwed up a business meeting and Charles had been forced to clean up the mess. The story his grandfather had been telling was pushed to the back of his mind and only walking into the room and seeing the frail man did he remember.
“You promised to come back yesterday!”
“Grandfather. I have a job and responsibilities.”
“And I want to tell you this story before my old body gives out on me.” Charles tensed, sensing that he had actually hurt his grandfather’s feelings. Feeling guilty he sat down in his chair pulling off his blue blazer in the process.
“If you’re still willing to tell me then I have time now. I would love to hear more.”
Jonathan smiled and patted his grandson’s hand, “It’s okay. I have a bit more time.” He closed his eyes and frowned. “Now where were we? Ah yes. The day went by in a flash…”
Jonathan wasn’t sure how he had gotten through all his classes. He felt like he was in a daze that he couldn’t shake himself from. Madeline was his partner for a project that he would spend months having to plan with her.
“You look excited.” Jonathan jumped, spinning around to face the person speaking. He was at the entrance of the school and for the life of him he couldn’t remember how he’d gotten there. Standing there, a self-satisfied smirk on her lips, was Tarin. She was wearing a skirt that reached the ground now. Her jacket was hanging off one shoulder as the chill from this morning was gone.