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A Fresh Start

Written by Daniel, Thursday, July 17th, 2008 in Culture, Geek Stuff, Uncategorized

Preface: So I’ve been in London all summer attending Richmond for some English classes and one of those classes was Reading and Writing of Short Stories.  I’ve written this about a freshman coming to college, trying to find his own niche.  It’s something different for Well Cultured, but I figured I’d display my creative side.

I woke up today to the rude sound of my cell phone’s incessant buzzing at around seven in the morning.   I had a late night last night and I felt a little bit groggy this morning.  At home, the thermostat was always kept at a warm, comfortable temperature during the night.  My dorm room had a heater at the end underneath the window, but that thing was long out of commission. 

            “Dude, turn that alarm off.”  My roommate John Allerding mumbled as he buried his pudgy face into his pillow.  He had a very definite look of someone who clearly spent the whole night drinking.  His hair was damp and I noticed sweat spots on his dark blue shirt.  I fumbled around for the small device and knocked it off the dresser.  The phone fell to the ground amidst my pile of clothes.  I cursed under my breath for a moment and grabbed it from off the ground.  I pushed the off switch on the alarm and the room became peaceful again.  A weak light filtered through the curtains.  It was very cold and my covers slipped off my body during the night.  I was freezing cold.  I set my feet on the hard tile floor and a shiver ran throughout my body.  I put on a pair of socks and decided to sit there for a moment.  I ran my hand over my face as a feeble attempt to awaken me.  My body was unresponsive and I felt like collapsing back into my comfortable bed. 

            “Rough night last night?” I asked.

            “I’d fucking rather not talk about it.  I’m going to be puking my guts out all day.”  John said with his face still buried in the pillow. 

            I finally mustered enough motivation to stand up.  I felt very weak this morning.  I felt as though my brain was going to burst out of my skull.  My throat was dry, with that awful taste that I get when I sleep with my mouth open.  The mixture of alcohol and cigarette smoke was still fresh and it tasted awful.  It lingered around my tongue like a bad piece of food that I couldn’t spit out or swallow it.  I stumbled out of my room and walked awkwardly towards the showers as if I had whole cucumbers taped to the bottom of my feet. 

            “Mornin’ Jeremy.”  Someone said quietly behind me.  I looked at him but I couldn’t quite tell who it was until he got about a foot away from me.   I still wasn’t sure who it was.  I know I had seen him the day before at orientation but I hadn’t met him personally.

            “I’m doing fine.  What’s your name again?”

            “I’m James Christianson.  We talked a bit at the party last night.  You were fuckin’ crazy dude.”

            I paused to reflect back on the night.  I remember dancing on a table with a really cute dark haired girl. 

            “Shit, I hope I didn’t make myself look like too much of an ass last night.”

            “You looked pretty trashed last night.  I saw you dancing on that table with Gina.

            “Man, that’s right.  I remember that.”

            We went to the shower room together and kept talking about the night.  James was a freshman in my class, from Omaha, Nebraska and a business management major.  He seemed like the kind of guy that had a lot of friends in high school.  He was athletically built and had an air of confidence about him.  I couldn’t help but to be impressed with how he carried himself.  He invited me to a party and I told him I would consider it.  Before last night, I had never been invited to any parties.  In high school I was typically into really nerdy things.  While most of my classmates enjoyed talking about sports or movies, I was more inclined to talk about Japanese animation and video games.  I went to a very small school in Nebraska where everyone seemed to have the same interests except for me.  While most people enjoyed hunting or doing things outside, I would rather be at home doing programming on my computer or reading science fiction.

            My morning was very uneventful.  I spent most of it trying to circumvent my hangover with Gatorade and hot pockets.   I finally realized this new freedom I had being away from my parents.  Every morning I would make myself eggs and toast, but now that I was in college I could eat whatever I wanted at whenever I was hungry.  There is something ultimately rewarding about having this freedom.  It feels good to me.

            I decided the best thing I should do is to go and meet some people.  I met a group of guys at orientation that are very much like the kind of people I would hang out with, but even I don’t know who exactly these people would be.  I spent most of my high school life isolated and I didn’t want college to be much of the same lifestyle.  I despise popular people but at the same time, I desire to be one of them.  I desire to be able to hang out with anyone that I choose.  Popular people always seem to have everything going for them.  They could eat babies and people would still love them. 

            It was a very beautiful August morning.  The air was still cool from the night before, but the sun was making its way up a cloudless sky so the weather was bound to be sweltering by noon.   I took a walk by myself around campus for a while.  I always have admired the architecture of this university.  That is one of the reasons why I chose to attend this place.  The campus was kept very nice and clean with a beautiful mixture of old brick buildings and newer concrete buildings.  The main campus was rather tightly packed in, you had Mallard hall, Fisher hall, the student union, Morgan, Alby and Simon dorms all packed into about an acre of land.  It all seemed to fit together nicely, like a giant game of tetris.  There were other buildings that were part of the university, but those were spread out in a mile radius in the city.  I walked around for over an hour to get myself familiar with the land until my cell phone rang.  It was almost shocking at first because my cell phone had hardly ever been used before.  My initial thought was that it was my parents, but when I looked at the screen it read ‘Gina’ on the screen.  I was so surprised by this that I nearly missed the call.  

            “Hello?” I said.

            “Hey Jeremy, where are you at?”

            “I’m out and about.  What about you?  How’d you like the party last night?”

            “Oh my God, that was so fun.”  She said in a really cute, excited voice. “How did you like it? Are you okay?  I was worried that you got hurt.”

            I was puzzled and I tried to remember what happened.

            “What are you talking about, I feel fine.”

            “Well, you took a pretty nasty fall last while we were dancing on that table.”

            I finally remembered what happened.  As she and I were dancing on the table, it started to wobble and it tossed me to the floor.  I didn’t think much of it then, but now I felt really embarrassed about it.

            “Yeah, no, I’m fine.  I guess I should scale it down a little bit next time.”

            “No you’re fine, that was hilarious.  So what are you doing today?”

            “I don’t have anything planned right now.  I just woke up about an hour ago and so I’ve just been walking around outside, enjoying the scenery.”

            “Are you coming to the palace tonight?”

            “What’s the palace?”

            “There’s this house over on 45th street.  Some juniors live there so they’re throwing a kegger.  You should come.”

            “I’d like to, but I don’t know.  Last night was pretty rough on me.”

            “I understand.  You should still try to make it out though.  I’d really like to see you.”

            “You just want to see me look like an idiot again.”

            “Oh, you need to just chill out.  You had a good time last night, admit it.” She said with a laugh.

            “I suppose so.  I’ll think about it.”

            “Awesome.  I’ll see you there, bye.”

            I hung up the phone and I could feel my face getting red.  I didn’t want to go to that party.  I knew that once I showed my face, I’d be the laughing stock.  People made fun of me enough in high school for weird things I did and I didn’t want to deal with it again in college.  I wanted to go back to my dorm room immediately for fear of being seen out in public, and all I wanted to do was be alone for the rest of the day.  The last thing I needed was to see someone point at me and let everyone know that I was the guy that made himself look like an ass the night before.  I darted from one end of the campus back to my dorm room in Morgan Hall.  I moved as quickly as I could through the building, ignoring people, trying not to make any eye contact at all.  I got back to my room on the 5th floor and my roommate already had three other guys in our room.  They were watching Sports Center on the television and looked at me as I walked in.  I was horrified to discover so many people in my room.  I wanted to just be alone, but this would not work for me.  I paused for a second as I watched them watching me and eventually they lost interest and started watching the television again.  I walked back out of the room and I started heading towards the kitchen.  I figured there would be no one in that room but I was wrong.  As I opened the door, James was talking to another freshman on the couch.  James sat with his legs up on the couch as the other one sat with his back against the backrest.  James looked up and seemed happy to see me.

            “Hey buddy, what’s up?  You should take a seat at the other couch.”

            There was another couch in the room that connected at the corner of the couch that the two students sat on.  I hesitantly walked towards it and flopped down on it like a sack of potatoes.

            “You still coming to that party tonight?” he said.

            “No, I don’t think so.” I said and he looked at me like I just confessed that I was a serial killer.

            “I’m calling bullshit on that.”

            “Why would you do that?  I really don’t want to go tonight.”

            “Why not?”

            “Because I made myself look like an ass last night by dancing on that table and then falling off.”

            “Dude, that was hilarious.  You were fine and you had a great time the rest of the night.”

            “I know that, but now that I know what happened, everyone’s going to see me and laugh at me.”

            “I can guarantee you that no one there is going to give a shit about you falling down last night.  That’s what drunk people do, they fall down a lot.  You’ve got nothing to worry about.  Sure some people are going to give you shit, but that’s nothing to freak out about.”  He looked at his friend on the couch.  “What do you think Eric?  Do you think he should come out tonight?”

            “Hell yeah man, should be a good time.”  Eric said with disinterest.

            James introduced me to Eric.  Eric was a tall, lanky guy, but he was definitely athletic.  He was a wide receiver for the football team and almost instantly I felt a negative disposition towards him.  I didn’t show it outright because I didn’t want to get on his bad side.  He was actually quite the opposite of what I envisioned him to be and I was quite surprised by this.  He was incredibly soft spoken and didn’t show much emotion other than moments where he would laugh at one of James’ jokes.  He didn’t seem unintelligent and I found myself getting used to being around these guys. 

            “So what do you like to do for fun?” James asked me.

            “I like to do whatever, I don’t know, go to movies I guess.”

            “That’s cool.” 

            “I’m not a real big drinker.”

            “That’s fine, you should still go to the party tonight.  Even if you don’t want to drink, it’s still good to go out and meet people.”

            “Where’s the party at?” I asked.

            “I think on 45th street.  There’s a bunch going on tonight, but that one is a kegger.  They’re going to have like four or five kegs of beer and it’s going to be five dollars for a cup.”

            “Oh, that sounds good.”

            “What time are you going?”

            “We’re probably heading out around nine o’clock.”

            Hours passed from that conversation and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go or not. I deliberated all day.  I didn’t want to go, but the prospect of seeing Gina at the party was too good to pass up.  Nine o’clock came around and I left with James and Eric to go to the party.  It was about a ten-minute drive from campus with a stop at a gas station so that James could pick up some rum and coke with his fake I.D.  I sat in the back as he and Eric talked about the girls that they saw the night before and who they were planning on getting some action from.  Eric mentioned Gina and I felt a pit deep within my stomach.  I could feel my face getting red again knowing that she would immediately fall for Eric and probably never talk to me the whole night.  I felt my throat starting to choke up and I suddenly felt as if I was trapped inside a box that was so tightly sealed that I couldn’t move. 

            We got to the party and I immediately felt like walking back to campus by myself.  I walked in with James and Eric, who were showered with people welcoming them.  Everyone greeted those two and ignored me.  James introduced me to several guys and girls that were there.  The guys gave me unenthusiastic responses and the girls seemed condescending.  I walked around the house like a lab rat that was lost within the maze, trying to find the cheese at the end.  I looked around and everyone seemed to be occupied.  I couldn’t merely walk up to anyone and introduce myself unless they weren’t already talking to someone.  I could feel myself getting red in the face again, so I found a couch in the darkest corner of the house.  The lights were dim while people were dancing to the rap music playing on the stereo.  I was thankful that it was so dark so that no one could recognize me or see how embarrassed I was.  Just as I sat down I heard someone say my name and grab my arm. 

            “Jeremy, I’m so glad you made it.  Get off that couch and come meet some of my friends.”

            Gina took grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to a group of people.  They were all in a circle talking to each other.  She introduced me to them, but I couldn’t say anything.  I turned around and started for the door.  As I exited the house I heard Gina following me.

            “What’s wrong, Jeremy?”

            “You wouldn’t understand.  I’m not trying to sound mean or anything, but you don’t know what I’ve been through.”

            “What makes you think that?”

            “Well, you seem really popular and that’s not who I am.  I don’t really have any experience with this.”

            “What about last night, you were at that party.”

            “That one was smaller, and everything was fine before I made myself look like an idiot by falling off that table.”

            “Jeremy don’t worry, you were a little drunk, that’s probably the least harmful thing anyone has ever done drunk.”

            “People are still going to laugh at me.  I can’t take that.” I said and she put her hand on my arm.

            “You might not believe me, but you have nothing to worry about.  I know you’re insecure right now, but no one is.  No one at this party is going to make fun of you for falling off a table.  You’re in college anyways and it’s so big that not everyone knows about it.  It’s not a big deal.”

            “It is to me.”

            “I know it is, but you have to trust me.”

            “I don’t know if I can go back in there.”

            “Well let’s go for a walk.  It’ll calm you down.”

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6 Responses to A Fresh Start

  1. Yum22Yum23 says:

    I won’t hide it, I find the beginning of the story extremely tedious, with quite heavy overphrasing, I took the liberty to change a few things to it thus:
    I woke up today at around seven in the morning to the rude and incessant buzzing sound of my cell phone. I had had a late night and felt a bit groggy. At home, the thermostat was always set to a warm, comfortable temperature during the night; but my dorm room only had a heater underneath the window, but that thing was long out of commission.
    “Dude, turn that alarm off.” My roommate John mumbled as he buried his pudgy face into his pillow. He had a very definite look of someone who spent the whole night drinking. His hair was damp and I noticed sweat spots on his dark blue shirt. I fumbled around for the small device and knocked it off the dresser. The phone fell to the ground amidst a pile of my clothes. I cursed under my breath for a moment and grabbed it off the ground. I switched the alarm off and the room became peaceful again. A weak light filtered through the curtains. It was very cold and my covers had slipped off my body during the night. I was freezing cold. I set my feet on the hard tile floor and a shiver ran throughout my body. I put on a pair of socks and decided to sit there for a moment. I ran my hand over my face as a feeble attempt to awaken myself. My body was unresponsive and I felt like collapsing back into my comfortable bed.

    this is of course just an idea, I’m nowhere near close of being a writer, even less a good one, but sometimes a tedious beginning makes it impossible to finish a story.

  2. Yum22Yum23 says:

    last part of the 1st paragraph, remove the 2 but s and switch them with respectively nothing and “and/unfortunately”

  3. Daniel says:

    Actually, I agree with you. One of the things I was going for with that beginning part was to sort of make the reader feel a little disoriented like the character. That’s kind of the problem with me, I’m not much of a story writer, I much prefer to write articles. I always seem to take a more visual approach when it comes to my creative writing, but I know that sometimes that approach can create problems. I guess I should just be a director then. lol.

  4. Yum22Yum23 says:

    As long as you enjoy what you do, I don’t see a problem.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yum, your rewrite contains the following:
    “At home, the thermostat was always set to a warm, comfortable temperature during the night; but my dorm room only had a heater underneath the window, but that thing was long out of commission.”

    Here you have incorrectly used a semicolon and used “but” twice in a row which is actually much more irritating to read than the heavy over-phrasing in the original.

  6. Chris says:

    Hah… I read the whole thing while glossing over the first paragraph, so without that there I would have thought the story was real. And it’s a pretty spot-on write-up of the feelings of insecurity and awkwardness that come with a nerd’s first year in college and first drinking parties. Key things I liked: the remembrance and accompanying shame in the protagonist’s head after the phone call with Gina, the anxiety at not being able to lock himself away when his roommate’s friends were in his room, and the trying to explain away one’s insecurities over the dreaded “next party” (the one that you don’t feel like handling but everyone else seems hell-bent on having fun at). Good work.

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