Saturday, February 27, 2010

Diana's Song


After a long day of school and work, I collapsed onto my bed. I tilted my head on my pillow and faced my desk on my left side. I saw a little black book of poetry. “Ugh,” I grunted and turned the other way. I was not a big fan of poetry and I was supposed to read a poem by Lord Byron for homework. I drifted off to sleep and thought I would just read it in the morning.

I fell asleep only to find myself in a dream, which was quite unusual for me. Due to the exhaustion I collected throughout the day, I usually collapsed into an everlasting darkness until the sun rose into the sky the next day.

I found myself on a white porch of an old house. I stood up, dusted off my clothes, and noticed a lake at a distance. I walked off the porch and into a field of grass, where I heard a noise. The sound of music drifted from the fields. The music was so natural among the sounds of nature. Crickets chirped and jumped; frogs sat on lily pads and croaked. The song called out to me and drew me in like a siren’s song. I pushed through the grass until I was finally at the lake, where a woman played a violin.

She stopped immediately after she heard my footsteps. The violin cried out as the bow quickly slid off the string and to her side.

“Hello?” I called out.

Silence from her. The crickets and frogs continued their music, but she did not.

“Were you the one playing?” I looked at her white dress and noticed she had been barefoot in the mud.

“Yes,” she turned around, “I was.” Her eyes were like burning coals underneath the moonlight of my dream. Her hair was colored brown like the color of the dirt she had firmly planted her feet in. Her hair was short; it had white bows and leaves mixed in it.

“That was beautiful.”

“Thank you.”

“Can you continue?” I stepped closer to her.

“Do you know who I am?” She squeezed the bow in her hand.

“No,” I told her truthfully. “Are you one of my characters?”

“My name is Diana,” she stepped into the water of the lake. She washed her feet covered in mud and dirt just by stepping forward. The particles floated away and danced in the lake around the reflection of the full moon.

“Diana,” I repeated underneath my breath.

“But I’m not a normal character to you. I’m here to tell you something that the others did not. I’m here to tell you to stop limiting yourself.”

“Limiting myself? The others?”

She stepped out of the water. Some of her dress now dragged behind her; it had gotten wet when she washed her feet. “The other characters think you are limiting yourself by always writing stories. Your stories are always written in prose, aren’t they?”

I shook my head in agreement.

“Well, some of us, we don’t work in prose. We work in poetry or in plays. We’re not all the same, you know?”

“I guess I can understand that.”

“So, I’m here to tell you to write ask your characters how they want their stories to be told. It can’t always be your way, Vatche.” She stepped forward and stared at me. I noticed she was a bit taller than I was. “You must escape your boundaries.”

“Escape,” I repeated.

She pointed the bow of her violin at me, “Escape.”

“Well, how do you want to be written?”

She looked at her violin and then back at me, “A poem.”

“I suck at poetry,” I pleaded, “and I’m not that big of a fan of it either.”

“Didn’t you always say to other people, who are learning to write, that they should always practice? Why don’t you practice poetry a little bit? Maybe you might actually enjoy it. If you want to hear my song,” she poked me with her bow, “if you want to hear my story, you have to write it in a poem.” She went back to the lake and looked out to the other end, which was clouded with shadows.

“I’ll listen. I’ll write. Please, Diana, tell me your story.”

She turned around and gave me a smile, “Thank you.” She closed her eyes and brought the bow and the violin together. The music drifted onto the lake and caused ripples of silence among the animals. Everyone and everything listened. I took my seat on the dirt floor and joined the audience.

I listened as she hummed the tune of her violin.

I listened as the stars gleamed and the moon radiated white.

I listened to her music as it floated into my ears.

I listened until the dream ended with me writing the poem for her.

Diana

She steps onto her white porch,

Her stage.

The stars stare back at her,

Her audience.

The shadows,

Her curtains.

The Moon,

Her spotlight.

“Tonight will be the night,” she whispers.

She sings with her crying violin.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Mental Snack (5)


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"...We maintain a different relationship with death. We play with her. We write to her as if she were an old friend. We invite her in like a drunk who visits unannounced." ~ Leopoldo Gout, Ghost Radio

Do you believe this to be the way that modern society interprets death?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Being a Good Samaritan


After work today, I went with one of my co-workers, to Smart&Final, a supermarket, to get a few supplies that I needed for my family. After we were done shopping, we started loading up the car with our supplies when a woman came up to me, “I’m so embarrassed to ask this,” she asked my co-worker, a forty-year-old man instead of me, a seventeen-year-old teenager, “but my ATM card isn’t working and I need to buy some food for my son. All I need is thirty dollars. Please can you lend me some money? I promise to pay it back.”

She was a husky, Hispanic woman with blonde hair. She wore a black dress and high-heeled shoes that matched, so she wasn’t poor obviously. “Please,” she repeated the word to my co-worker; she was almost in tears. It must’ve been very hard for her to ask a complete stranger for money.

“Sorry, I don’t have any money,” my co-worker lied. I knew he had money in his pocket inside a tiny plastic bag, but he didn’t want to give it to anybody. As soon as my co-worker said that he had no money, she began to walk away with one of the most depressed faces I’ve ever seen.

I thought of the money I had in my pocket. I had twenty dollars saved for a parking permit for school and six dollars in lunch money, which I didn’t even use. “I have money,” I called back to her.

“What?” She walked back in her high-heeled shoes, which slammed against the black asphalt of the parking lot.

“I have money,” I repeated as I searched through my pockets and brought the money out. I thought about all the consequences of giving her money and threw them out of my mind. I live just fine, I thought to myself, and she’s in need. She needs to feed her family.

“Thank you. God bless you, sir.” She tried to give me a handshake, but I didn’t accept, instead I hugged her.

“I understand that the economy is bad and all—”

“I’ll pay you back,” she interrupted me.

“It’s ok,” I let go of her and waved my hands in front of me, “you don’t need to.”

“What do you do?” She stared at me with stunning green-eyes of interest.

“I work at a dry cleaners,” I opened the door to the van.

“I’ll be sure to come by and give you a big stack of clothes,” she smiled. “Can I have the phone number for the dry cleaners?”

“Umm…yeah, sure,” I shuffled through my backpack to get a notebook and a pen to write down the number of where I worked. I handed her the sheet with the number on it, “It’s just right down the street from here.”

“Okay, okay,” she shook her head. “Thanks again.” She walked off to a beat-up car and inside was a Hispanic man in a baseball cap and a little boy. “God bless you again.”

“No problem,” I called out to her as I shut the door to the van.

“How much did you give her?” My co-worker started the van.

“Don’t worry,” I looked him dead in the eyes, “just be happy that you’re not like her.” I didn’t know what came over me when I said this to someone twice my age, but somehow I just blurted it out. He just shrugged his shoulders and went to our next delivery.

During the entire trip, I thought of how lucky and thankful I was for what I have. I also thought of never seeing that twenty-six dollars again, but I didn’t really care. Money was always money. A good deed was always a good deed. I know somehow I’ll be repaid.

Karma exists.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Leave Me In Peace


I was driving back home with a friend. Steve was a guy I could always rely on for a ride because he lived in my neighborhood and enjoyed the company of others. After a fishing trip with a few of the guys, we ate some food, chilled at a friend’s house, played ping-pong, and went to the mall. A lot of stuff happened in one whole day and I was in a daze the entire time, but the one thing that made my night was her.

As Steve drove up Tampa Avenue, I stared at the cars that passed by and the scenery of a beautiful winter night in California. Streetlights guided us towards home like lighthouses. Fireflies flew across the sidewalks as children smiled and tried to catch them with their tiny hands. The wind blew kisses and everything was calm.

I looked into the other cars and noticed a green Honda with two teenage girls in the back. One girl with blonde hair stuck her index and middle finger up and showed the sign.

Peace.

She banged on her window with her peace sign and I stuck up my two fingers too. She smiled. I smiled. It was like a strange reflection from two separate cars, two separate worlds.

“What are you doing?” Steve concentrated on the road with both hands on the wheel; he was rather tired tonight after a long day and could not look me in the eyes.

“That girl gave me the peace-sign; I thought I should return the favor.” I smiled as the wind ruffled my hair from the open window.

“That’s just awesome,” he stared at the oncoming street sign. “Now, that is something to write about, huh?” He quickly hit my shoulder with a light punch to get my attention away from the window, away from the girl, who was still going in our direction.

The girl’s friend, a brunette with a beautiful smile, gave the peace sign too. She wore a green-striped white shirt that stuck out in the darkness of her car.

“Way better than getting the middle finger any day, huh?” Steve said as he turned toward the window to see that the green Honda was speeding up and now was directly in front of us. The girls turned around and pounded their peace signs on the rear window as they drifted off. Their driver made a right turn onto the freeway and I never saw them again, but my memory of them remained.

I put my two fingers down, the peace sign turned into a fist. I rolled my window up because I couldn’t take the kisses from the wind any longer.

“Are you back yet?” Steve asked me because he knew I would drift off on people at times into my thoughts and moments like this one.

“Yeah,” I sighed, “I’m back.”

“So,” he ruffled his muffin-top black hair and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, “what did you think of today?”

“Awesome,” I unraveled my fist and put my hand flat on my lap. “It was pretty chill.”

“Cool, cool,” he nodded his head in agreement.

I turned on the radio in the car and decided to continue what the girl in the green Honda had taught me. I waved the peace sign throughout the streets with my window open again and received smiles back from people in their cars.

This was what life was all about, spreading peace throughout the world, one car at a time. All it took was lifting up two fingers from a teenager to make some people in the world smile. Two simple fingers that made a V-shape to make someone like myself wander in thought for days. The memory will remain embedded inside my mind forever.

I wish you all peace, my friends, from my computer screen to yours.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Mental Snack (4)


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“The brain is a microcosm creating its own stories. People then live out these stories.” ~ Seiichi Kirima, Boogiepop Phantom

Monday, February 15, 2010

What Dreams May Come



Usually, I collapsed and saw nothing when I slept. I saw darkness during those hours. There were no dreams or nightmares. Lately though, I’ve been plagued by a single dream. A dream that involved two characters I created over a year ago and now they’ve returned.

The dream was merely a scene from the story about twin sisters, who wanted to be rockstars. They were stuck in a small apartment that was in shambles. The apartment had wallpaper that peeled like oranges, but didn’t have the same sweet smell. The smell was of wet mold and decay. Rats scurried into their hiding places and scratched their claw marks onto the wooden floors. All these two sisters had to sleep on was a single bed and a couch, which had too many stains and tears to count.

Megan, the older twin by only a few minutes, practiced her guitar on the couch. Her brown hair was tied in a ponytail and she was in her comfortable gray sweatpants that were not like those tight outfits she wore onstage. She tried to sing along to the beat but couldn’t find the right words. They didn’t escape her mouth or her mind. She had a spiral notebook on her lap and continued to scratch words onto the paper, then would erase them with an elegant dash across the page. She flipped to the next blank sheet when there was no room to write and had a new start, a clean slate.

Sonia, the younger twin, just barged in. She slammed the door and didn’t answer Megan’s calls. Sonia was obviously troubled as she entered the bathroom. She clicked the lock into place.

Megan rushed to the door and banged her fists like hammers. The wooden door creaked only and didn’t fall down. Megan called out, “Sonia, open up!” She barraged the door with fury. “Where the hell were you?”

Sonia didn’t answer. She just stared into a mirror in the dimly lit bathroom. In the mirror, she saw the green wallpaper behind her; it was covered in white flowers and dark smudges. Sonia saw her pale reflection and her long, blonde hair cover her eyes. She pushed her hair away from her face and behind her ears. She then saw her bloodshot eyes. Her eyes that stared back at her pale skin. She couldn’t handle the rockstar life. It was too much for her.

“Sonia,” Megan continued to bang and started to cry, “please, just talk to me.”

Sonia put one finger on her cheek and guided it through her entire face. She tried to feel something: pain, happiness, sadness, anything. She couldn’t feel at all. Her face and mind were numb. Her thoughts were erased like a chalkboard after class. She could not remember what drug she had taken to make her feel this way. She could not remember who gave it to her. She could not remember how she even found her way back home. Her thoughts raced across her mind as she tried to remember what was happening, what had happened, and what was about to happen. Then, everything froze for her.

Another bang was heard in the apartment, but it was not Megan’s pounding fists. It came from the bathroom. Sonia had fallen into an unconscious state and Megan knew it. Megan knew Sonia had a drug problem, but never addressed it and instead ignored it. Megan panicked for a moment; she screamed and cried to God, “What the hell am I supposed to do? Why? Why? Why?”

Megan examined the room for objects to break the door with, but then had noticed the telephone. She ran because this time her sister’s life depended on it. She dialed the number: 911.

That’s how my dream ends. It has been recurring every night for five nights now. Obviously, Megan and Sonia want me to write about their story. My characters talk to me, whether it’s in my dreams or through my waking moments.

They speak; I listen. I don’t really have a choice. Is it a gift or a curse?

Megan and Sonia have a story to tell to the world and they have to wait like the rest of my characters. Right now, I think by telling you, my reader, a scene from their story will suffice with them for now. Maybe now I can go back to sleep.

Good night.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Reflection of My Soul

It resided in a corner as it collected dust and spider webs. I could almost hear it cry every time I walked by. I ignored the creaks and squeaks that came from my piano. I remembered the notes used to weep every time I played them. The notes cried music, harmonies, and melodies with pain.

Playing piano used to be a chore. I hated playing it every time. I believed that when my parents signed me up with a piano teacher that it was so that they could brag about my skills instead of learning it for fun.

They used to call me downstairs, “Vatche, play us a song!”

Every time I heard that call, I would yell back, “I’m busy!”

My piano teacher, Saheed Dehimi, was blind and in love with music. He couldn’t see the keys in front of him, but he knew them well. He knew the keys for their sounds and not for their locations. He would immediately call out and tell me which note I pressed wrong without seeing my finger placed on the key.

Because he was blind, I would guide him along by placing his hand over mine. He would feel my anger, my resentment, through the pressure of my fingertips on the white and black notes.

“Why do you hit the keys so hard? Are you playing with your fingers or a hammer?”

I would tell him that I was sorry and tried controlling my hatred towards every note that was pressed throughout the session.

After eight years, I eventually quit because of homework and grades kept getting in the way.

After a few weeks, I started hearing the cries.

After a few months, I heard the music playing in my mind. The music that wanted to be played. It wanted to played on that piano.

I walked over to the instrument and struck a key, not with force, but with passion. It resonated a sound that brought back memories. These memories had no hate, anger, and force. The memories that drifted back had a mixture of happiness, passion, and nostalgia.

I sat on the piano bench, drew back the red covers of the black piano, and struck another familiar note. The memory only grew stronger. I remembered with every note, the memories of working hard to perfect beats and timing. One note after the other, seismic quakes occurred in my mind. I realized all the memories I had deep within, not only in my mind but also in my fingertips.

I played a piece I couldn’t remember until I saw the keys again. It’s strange how the hands can remember things that the mind could not.

Stopping suddenly, I opened the piano bench and inside it I found sheet music. I realized that it wasn’t trash anymore or useless papers, but a treasure chest filled with lovely jewels.

I laid out the sheets of music and read the piece. No thought involved, my hands took control and followed my eyes. I did not pound on the keys anymore, but lightly touched them, caressed them, with my fingertips.

As I played, I began to whistle and blow the dust collected on the piano into the air. The air was not only filled with dust, but also music that flew high and into people’s ears. Let them remember, what I remember: the happiness, the joy, and the nostalgia of the whispering notes.

If I could now answer my teacher’s question, “Why do you hit the keys so hard?”

I would stare at his closed eyes and big smile; I would tell him, “I play with my heart. Whatever I feel is reflected on these keys, whether it’s anger or happiness, resentment or joy. The piano is a mirror to my soul.”

I no longer heard the piano cry. I heard it sing like my soul.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Mental Snack (3)



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“I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school. They don't teach you how to love somebody. They don't teach you how to be famous. They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer. They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind. They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying. They don't teach you anything worth knowing.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Man Who Wanted to Fly


We all sat in our chairs at the table. Each of us had our own designated seats. My father sat by my mother. Both of them were tired after a hard day of work. My aunt sat by my right side and continued to exchange glances with my father. My brother sat by my left side and had his right hand holding his head in place. I sat with both my legs crossed in my chair. I could read everyone’s looks by the way they were sitting.

These family meetings were common and happened almost every week. After dinner, our family would gather around a big glass table with coffee, raisins, and cookies set on paper plates. We would discuss things about the next week, our family in the Middle East, or just life in general.

“We got to talk about my future,” I looked at my father with his pepper-colored hair and mustache, his face a slight red. He gripped the arm of his chair with muscular hands. He knew I wanted to be a writer, but something about it angered him, and I didn’t know what. My mother snatched a few of his fingers with her slight, feminine touch and loosened some of my father’s grip.

“What are you going to do? Are you going to be a writer and starve on the streets?” my aunt, Clara, said. Her hair tied into a ponytail had bobbed back and forward as she shook her head. Her hands were frail, but shook with life.

“I’m not going to starve,” I turned towards Clara, “by being a writer.”

“Be a doctor,” My father added coldly.

My brother watched with his green lake-like eyes; he was waiting for an explosion or some type of eruption to happen between us, but we were all calm.

“A doctor?! I have a brain that creates stories; I could never focus on working on medicine with my type of mind. I should put it to some good use and become a writer.”

“Why not use your brain to save lives?” My aunt added as she waited for my response. She examined me like a scientist would wait for a reaction from a lab rat. I felt the hot, white spotlight on me. All their eyes penetrated my soul, adding fuel to the fire of my anger with their badgering.

“I don’t save lives, I know that, but I make people think.”

“Oh, yah,” my dad smiled with interest, “and what can you do with words?”

“I. Make. People. Think.” I repeated, but slower and with force.

“We can think just fine by ourselves,” my father took a sip of coffee from his mug.

“I want to make people think differently! Make them open their eyes to the world and to their dreams. Is that wrong?”

“He is an artist, hun,” my mother whispered into my father’s ear.

“Pfft…an artist,” my brother added.

“There isn’t any money for writing books anyway,” my aunt threw her voice and thoughts out onto the table.

“What about writing screenplays, huh? Or writing for a newspaper or a magazine? Do you,” I focused my attention and eyes on my father, “understand that this is my passion?”

My father got out of his chair, “I worked my butt off; it’s because of my hard work that I’m here today. I wanted my kids to live an easy life, no worries like me, that’s why I gave up on my dreams.” He left the table and with him, my mother and brother followed. My aunt and I still sat at the table, side by side.

“You know your father wanted to be an airplane pilot when he was younger? He always wanted to fly, escape the world, and live in the skies. Now, look at him, a dry cleaner, but he’s very successful. You should be happy you have all of this,” she gave a slight smile as she opened her arms wide. “All of this. He worked hard for whom?”

“Me,” I admitted.

“Follow your dreams, Vatche, your passion, or whatever you like to call it. He’s not mad; he’s not disappointed. He actually can never be happier for you,” she stood up to go wash the dishes as I started to clean up the table.

“But what about—”

“He’s jealous of you.”

“Jealous?” I dropped my father’s mug into the sink.

“He’s jealous that you found a dream and you’re willing to stick to it. He’s testing you really. He wants to see if you’re capable of holding onto your dream.” She turned on the water. “I’m also testing you. He let go of his dream and it flew away; it flew away like those airplanes he couldn’t stop talking about when he was younger. He doesn’t want you to end up like him.”

“Really?” I asked as I grabbed a towel to dry the dishes.

“Really,” she smiled.

All the signs, the anger, the constant questioning was now understood. Right then and there, an airplane passed over our house, loud and roaring with life; I took it as a sign. I knew one day that I would be capable of flight and that I would accomplish my dreams. One day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Little Boy





“This is a complete and total failure. Very little of it is coherent. It simply makes no sense. How could you type this up in this condition? How could this go through drafts and still come out like this? See me. We need to talk.”

I looked at the paper a little bit stunned. I found the paper in a folder, which was conveniently placed in the dark abyss that was my file cabinet. The folder had my name on it and a date, the year 2007. That was nearly three years ago.

I rummaged through more of the folder. It was littered with every grade in the spectrum, except for an “F”. As I flipped through the pages from the tests of school years past, I realized how much I’ve changed little by little. This change took over thousands of paragraphs, millions of sentences, and billions of words.

I read the comments and realized that it was because of my experiences in my English class that I had grown to learn my mistakes by having them pointed out to me.

“I should not have to guess about what you are trying to say. Your writing is not clear. Did you proofread before turning in your paper?” The very first test of the year in 2007 on a book titled The Catalyst.

The next exam I took in the class, “Your problem here is your sentences need to end with periods and begin with capital letters. Otherwise, they are grammatically incorrect run-on sentences. I did like the story though.”

My eyes grew wide as I stared at this paper on my growth as a person. I saw the story was there in the essay, but it couldn’t be conveyed if it wasn’t coherent. The story was important to me, even when I was in ninth grade, but I didn’t have the grammatical tools to tell the story. I still had a long way to go and to learn.

“You need to analyze rather than summarize. Also, leave time to proofread to catch grammar errors.” I was doing better with every paper, but still my grades were pretty low. I remembered reading and researching, writing and studying, day and night for these exams. Though the sweat has disappeared along with the fear of failing a class, the memories remain.

My first “A” in the class didn’t appear until three months of taking the course. The comment my teacher wrote, “Very well-written—organized, focused, and often poetic. Good work.” The very first time my writing had actually made a jump of improvement.

I continued to flip through the pages, seeing the rollercoaster of grades reach highs and lows. Comments painted the page with ink from every color, while my writing still remained under the confined black ink. And I realized the mistakes I made in ninth grade, were fixed in tenth grade, and improved in eleventh grade.

Now, in twelfth grade, I’m trying to master these tools to my advantage. This “mastering” will take years to learn, but I’m ready to endure the long, painstaking hours that it will take. I am prepared to take the next step forward by reading all the masters of the art, by writing everyday, by living life, and by listening to the world around me.

I put the papers back into the folder and closed it. The grades forever imprinted in my mind, the ink dried for three years already, and the lessons learned from every comment that my English teacher wrote out on every paper.

The ninth grade boy, who wanted to tell stories, is still here.

He is now just a young man.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Mental Snack (2)


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"Something as natural as walking consists of repeatedly setting the body off-kilter. Each time we shift our weight from one foot to the other, we lose our balance for a fraction of a second. We learn to walk by learning to displace ourselves without falling, by losing and recovering our balance simultaneously. In the same sense, one might say that we are in a constant balancing act between life and death." ~ Leopoldo Gout

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jeremy


A rotation was going around the school with stories. My stories. This rotation included friends, friends of friends, relatives, teachers, and even strangers. I am known as the Writer at my school, probably because everyone knows I write stories and want to be published one day.

I can hear the whispers in the hallways as I pass by.

“He wrote a sixty page paper for a history class?! You’re kidding me, right?”

“See that thick book in his hand, that’s ‘light’ reading for him.”

“Writing a novel right now, running a blog, and keeping up with schoolwork. Does he have a social life?”

It was a normal day, so far.

I walked down the hallway to be confronted by a tiny seventh grader, “Are you Vatche?” He had glasses and tanned skin. The glasses reflected a vague outline of my image, but I took notice of his eager eyes.

“Umm, I think so,” I joked. I could tell he was nervous probably because I was five years older than he was.

He smiled. “You write, right?”

“Right, right,” I nodded my head.

He laughed and his nerves cooled, “I read some of your work.”

“Really?” I put down my bag and thick book onto the cracked tile floors of the school’s hallway. “Which one?”

“The one you posted on the Saroyan’s Ghost blog, the ‘My Love Life’ one.”

“What about it?” I crossed my arms.

“It was phenomenal. Is it true?” His eyes searched for something, yet I couldn’t tell what it was.

“Yes, it’s true,” I said proudly.

“Do you have any more stories? Any fiction writing?”

“Umm, I do write fiction on my time off. I’m working on a novel right now really.”

“What’s it called?” He looked amused by our conversation.

“Can I ask you something? It should be fair one question of mine for twenty of yours.”

“Yeah, yeah. Sure, sure.” He nodded his head so many times that his face became a blur.

“What’s your name?”

“Jeremy.”

I stuck out my hand, “Well, though it’s late for introductions. It’s a pleasure meeting you, Jeremy.”

He shook my hand, “I never thought you would be such a nice guy.”

“Why?” I raised my eyebrow. “Do I look big and scary?”

“Well, you are a senior.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“I don’t know. The whole age difference might make you not want to talk to me. I was nervous in the beginning—”

“Yeah, I could tell you were nervous, but you got to lighten up. Speak your mind, man!” I patted him on the shoulder. “Just because I’m older than you doesn’t mean I can’t hear you. I’ll listen if you have a voice.”

“Thanks, so much. All I really wanted to say was that I like writing, too. Though I’m not as good as you are,” Jeremy looked down.

“Well, to tell you the truth, I used to suck,” I whispered into his ear, “I wasn’t born a writer, you know?” I bent down a little to make eye contact with him. I wanted him to understand that I wasn’t lying and all I needed to do was give him my eyes.

“Yeah, I get it. Practice, practice, practice. Right?”

“Not just that, Jeremy,” I took the thick book from the floor and put it into Jeremy’s hands, “you got to read, read, read. You read my piece, right? Then, you should understand, Jeremy, that if you want to be a successful writer, you got to read!”

“Jeez, being successful would be a dream come true.”

“Yeah, for you and me!” I patted him on the shoulder as the first bell for our classes rang.

“But Vatche, you’re already published practically.”

“What do you mean?” I grabbed my bag off the floor.

“There’s a circulation of your stories going around. I don’t know where they’re coming from, but everyone’s reading your stories, your blog, and they are waiting.”

“Waiting for what?”

“The next blog post. The next short story. The next chapter. The next novel. Your next piece. Vatche, don’t you get it?” he said as he walked down the hallway and waved goodbye. “We are all waiting.”

“Hey, wait up!” I caught him before he entered his classroom.

“If you need any help, at any time, you just come to me and ask. You can even hand me a story of yours or two, ok?”

He shook his head, “Thanks, so much. I’m glad I talked to you.”

“No problem,” I looked at the watch Amy gave me, “get to class you’re almost late!”

“Right, right,” he ran inside smiling ear to ear.

Though the bell rang, I watched him take out his notebook and begin writing his next story instead of doing classwork. All his thoughts and ideas were made into a reality on that single piece of loose-leaf paper. All his imagination was poured onto the white sheet and drenched the page with color.

He handed me that paper, full of life, one class period later.