Strangers

Strangers

A Story by jmt8921
"

What if the person you felt closest to was a stranger?

"

 

 

Strangers

 

When Daniel came home his mother was already sleep, sprawled on the couch like a rag doll. He glanced around for a bottle, but saw none. Maybe she was just napping. Possible, but unlikely. Either way, he was glad for the quiet.

            Daniel went to the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker before raiding the snack cabinet. His arms filled with food, he walked to his bedroom and settled in for a long night.

His desk was covered with notes: an unending sea of algorithms, equations and variables. Daniel opened his textbook with disgust. Algebra. And tomorrow was the midterm. Great. He turned on his ipod and tried to lose himself in the music.

            A door slammed in the background. Daniel turned up the music. More algebra. A world of music and numbers. Then the yelling started.

            He turned the music to full blast. Nothing else mattered. A world of music. The sound of shattering glass. Everything else pushed aside. Just the music. Nothing else.

 

“Good morning Daniel, how are you on this most splendiferous day?”

Lauren threw her arms around her friend and squeezed him tight. Daniel looked down at his friend with just a hint of a smile.

“Fine.”

“Don’t be a mumbly Melvin! What’d you say?”

“Fine,” he said, slightly louder.

“You sure? You don’t sound fine. Is something wrong?”

 “No, I’m just tired, that’s all.”

Daniel was beyond tired, as evidenced by his drooping face and darkened eyes. Still, he managed a grin for Lauren’s sake.

“Okay then.”

She left him with another quick hug and half-ran half-skipped down the hallway. Daniel shook his head and continued bravely on towards his waiting algebra exam. Before he’d even made it three steps he was nearly tripped by a ginger blur that flew into his path.

“Dude, dude. Seriously, dude. Guess what I did today.”

“What Foley?” said Daniel, with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

“Dude… I kissed a girl.” Foley slicked back his hair with an enormous grin.

“Lovely.”

“She was cute too. At least a four. Maybe a four and a half.”

“Isn’t that kind of low?”

“Nah, man, I’ve adopted a five point scale for simplicity.”

“Of course.”

“Anyway, what’s up with you?”

Daniel started to speak but was cut off as Foley walked away, supposedly distracted by some shiny object. Daniel sighed and waved to Foley’s back before once again heading towards his perilous exam in that most evil art of algebra.

 His hands were twitching from a mixture of nerves, sleepless nights, and endless cups of coffee. That morning he had considered staying in his nice warm bed and avoiding this day altogether. Leave it to him to make the wrong choice. He approached the door and reached for the handle.

A moment before he made contact Daniel was overcome with a wave of nausea. The next few minutes were almost like a dream. He found himself sprinting towards the library. He’d just be sick today, that’s all. Take some time to study, and then ace the test tomorrow.

He walked to the farthest corner of the library and collapsed against the wall, trying to control his breathing.

“Come on Daniel, you’re freaking out for no reason. You just need to calm down.”

“But you wouldn’t be freaking out if there were no reason, now would you?”

“Oh god, I’ve started talking to myself. I must really be going crazy.”

“Come on, be positive. You seem perfectly sane to me, maybe a little eccentric, but that’s a good thing!

Daniel felt a hand on his shoulder and nearly collapsed as he spun round. There was a girl sitting at the table beside him.

“Oh, I didn’t think anyone was back here, sorry, I’ll go find somewhere else to sit—“

“No no no! You can sit with me. I promise I don’t bite. Not hard anyway, and even then only if you ask.”

“Uh… okay.” Daniel was a little uneasy as he pulled up a chair. “So what are you doing here?”

“Well, I was reading, but now I’m wondering why you’re so discombobulated. What’s up?”

“Not much.”

The girl focused on Daniel, pulling down a pair of thick black glasses and revealing her piercing brown eyes. “I meant that you know.”

“Huh?”

She sighed. “Look, when most people ask ‘What’s up’, they’re just being polite and expect to hear some BS answer instead of what’s really on the other person’s mind. But I actually want to know. So, let’s try this again. What’s up?”

Her tone was overly confident, but not cocky or rude, just playful. Daniel couldn’t help but smile. “Well, I did meet a girl today that was surprisingly open.”

“If you’re talking about me, you’re wrong you know. I’m not usually like this. It’s just the glasses; they do alot to boost my confidence.”

“Really now?”

“Yup. I don’t even need them to see, I just wear the frames because they help me get over my shyness.”

Daniel cocked an eyebrow. “You’re shy?”

“Unbelievably so.”

“And how exactly do the glasses help you?”

“Because they’re cute, duh.”

He chuckled. “Maybe I should get a pair.”

“Well, they are an excellent cure for all types of timidity. You can borrow mine if you want! But first you have to kneel.”

 “You want me to do what?”

“You heard me, kneel. Stop being difficult.”

Daniel got down on one knee and looked up at the girl. She slowly removed her glasses and placed them on Daniel’s head as if knighting a courageous warrior. “Now arise with confidence fair sir and tell me of your troubles.”

“You know what, I do actually feel a little better.”

“So now are you going to tell me what’s on your mind?”

Daniel sighed. “You don’t even want to know.”

“Hey, didn’t we just go over this? Don’t make me hurt you.” She winked.

“Fine, you win, but I warn you, it’s pretty complicated.”
            He waited for her to say something, but she simply folded her hands in her lap and waited for him to continue.

“Well,” he started “I’ve been kind of depressed lately. It’s not that easy to talk about… My parents fight a lot, and I think they might be getting a divorce.” She took his hand between her two and squeezed it tight. “But they’ve never really gotten along, so I’m used to it. It’s more about all the little things that are piled on top of that. School, college applications, girls—“

“Yeah, girls are pretty weird. I wouldn’t trust them if I were you.”

Daniel smiled. “Yeah, girls. And just the future in general. I could deal with all that though, but I just feel like there’s no one I can to talk to about how I feel so it all gets bottled up and sometimes I’m worried that one day I might blow a gasket or explode, or, or…”

“Shh, it’s okay. If no one else, I’ll still listen.” She ran one hand through his hair while the other squeezed his own. “But I’m not convinced. Everybody has friends; why can’t you talk to them about how you feel?”

Daniel blushed and wondered just how personal this conversation was going to get. “I don’t know. I have friends that I talk to and I guess they like me well enough, but I never see them outside of school, and I don’t think they would care about all my silly little problems. I just don’t feel close to them, like I’m tolerated more than anything.”

“Have you ever tried talking to them?”

Daniel sighed. “No, I’m afraid I’ll make them feel awkward or push them away and that they won’t want to be my friend anymore, or if they do, things just won’t be the same.”

He took a deep breath. “I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway.”

“Yes it does matter you silly thing! If you want to get closer to someone you have to reach out sometimes. Who cares if you fall? If the person isn’t willing to catch you, they were never really your friend to begin with.”

Daniel looked down in thought, idly playing with the zipper on his bookbag.

“Are you a therapist by chance?”

“No, not really. Sometimes, but I don’t get paid. I do read a lot though, so maybe that has something to do with it. The glasses too.”

“Well, now that that’s explained, I still have one more question.”

“Yes?”

“Why were you willing to catch a complete stranger? You don’t know me, you don’t even know my name.  And don’t tell me it’s because of the glasses.”

“Why wouldn’t I? People care about other people, usually anyway. And you my friend, happen to be a people.”

“I think you might be a bit over optimistic about human nature.”

“Maybe, but what’s wrong with that?”

Daniel smiled.

           

 

 

© 2008 jmt8921


Author's Note

jmt8921
Be brutal. Be Constructive.

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Reviews

Aww. She's cute. She kinda reminds me of Amae. Oddly outgoing, yet not really outgoing. Very caring. I like it!

Posted 15 Years Ago


I don't think there's any cause to be brutal. The flow of the work, and the pains it appears you took to edit it speak for themselves. I liked the exchange between them, and the algebra and 5-point scale...nice touch!
Nice work, and a compelling storyline.
GO DUKES!
M

Posted 15 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on July 13, 2008

Author

jmt8921
jmt8921

Front Royal, VA



About
My name is Justin and I am a freshman at JMUl. I am a theater dork. I spend most of my time reading and writing, and my favorite book is The Princess Bride. I want to be an English teacher and maybe e.. more..

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