OBVIOUS


This is a short story I’m going to submit to the school paper. Well, at least it’s one of the two I recently wrote.

Nick was tapping his foot while inside his parents’ car. He was listening to his iPod the whole time. Then he placed his hands like he was playing an invisible guitar. E. B. F#m. A. E. B. F#m. A. He thought of the chords of the song that was playing in his playlist. He hummed to the tune of the song. He closed his eyes and felt heavy in his chest. He didn’t understand why. That must have been the effect of the song he was listening to.

His mom tapped his knee.

“We’re here,” she said. Nick opened his eyes and smiled. He kissed his mom on the cheek and nodded at his father. He got out of the car and climbed up to the building. He walked slowly while in the lobby to turn his iPod off and place his headphones around his neck.

While on his way to the gymnasium. She saw her climbing the stairs alone. She must have gone to the loo. The loo was on the second floor and there was no light in the hallway. Nick stopped at the staircase to wait for her. She didn’t ask for him to wait for her. In fact, Alayne didn’t even see him.

Alayne was no one special. Just his friend he became close with, in his freshman year. They were already juniors so it was their third Pisay Night. Almost half of the population of the school was already in the gymnasium.

Nick tapped his foot to the music being played at the gym. Big and loud speakers. He thought. He sat on the stairs and kept glancing above him. Thack! Thack! He heard the click of her heels.

Nick laughed. Is she seriously wearing heels tonight? He looked at his watch and then, heard her giggle.

“What are you doing here?” Alayne asked.

“Waiting for you,” Nick smiled. “Aren’t you scared The Grudge will appear?”

It was always their inside joke. On their very first Pisay Night, Alayne had dragged Nick upstairs to look out for her since she was scared of the dark.  As she put it, “The Grudge might be around.”

Nick would laugh.

“I’ve grown,” Alayne grinned. She climbed down the stairs. Together, they went to the gymnasium and easily broke apart as Nick went with his friends and she went with hers.

The program started and the whole school began the feast. The competition began so everyone went up closer to the stage. Nick looked around for Alayne and found her sitting alone in their table. He came to sit with her and found her texting.

“Who’s that?” he asked. As he took a seat beside her, he knocked over the chair beside hers. He reached his hand to grab her phone but Alayne pushed his arm out. Her eyebrows knit and her lips curved to a frown.

“None of your business.”

“It’s that senior guy again, isn’t it?”

“Go away, Nick,” she said jokingly.

He leaned back on his seat and stared at her.

“Stop staring. I’m busy talking to someone over the phone,” she said.

“You’re not talking to each other. Your texting,” Nick said.

“Okay, genius!” Alayne laughed. “But don’t you have other friends to bother?”

“No,” Nick grinned, “You’re particularly my favorite to pester!”

They laugh.

The performances had started. It was a dance group. The performers did all the back flips and tumbling.

“See that?” Nick said, pointing at the performers. “They really can’t dance. They do all the these cool stunts so that people could praise them and call their performance great.”

Alayne raised an eyebrow. “You don’t even know how to dance yourself.”

Nick frowned, trying to be cute. Alayne shove his face away. Then, she laughed.

“You always do that,” Alayne said. Nick grinned.

“I’m thirsty,” she said.

“Would you like me to get you a drink?” He stood up and pretended to be a gentleman from the middle ages.

Alayne laughed. “Why yes, you kind Sir.”

He smiled and went to the food court. He asked for an orange juice and went back to his seat. He lend the glass to Alayne saying, “Here’s your drink, Milady.”

Alayne took it and sipped. Just as Nick sat, she punched his arm.

“What was that for?” asked Nick, rubbing his arm.

“You’re a geek,” she said, taking a sip.

“So you had to punch me?” Nick raised an eyebrow.

“Aha,” Alayne said. “But you do make the best impressions of the middle ages.”

Nick laughed. “Of course!” He did his middle age impressions again. “I am Ser High Lord Nicholas!”

Then the second performer was introduced to the audience. Nick and Alayne clapped since the second performer was from their class.

“Whoo!” shouted Nick.

Their classmate started to sing.

“Well, she’s not bad of a singer,” Nick said.

“You have a good ear for someone who can’t even sing,” Alayne laughed.

He did his attempted cute frown again. She was about to shove him again when her phone rang. A text message. Nick looked away.

It’s probably the senior guy. He thought.

Then he jumped to his feet to cheer on their classmate. After a moment, he felt someone shaking his arm. He looked around to find Alayne blushing and grinning.

“What?” Nick asked.

“Diane texted me. She said he’s at the gate,” Alayne said.

“What do you like about him anyway?”

“Well, first off he’s smart, kind, and good-looking,” Alayne said. She blushed even more.

Nick scowled. “Just like me?”

“No! He doesn’t make middle age impressions and he can dance and sing,” said Alayne.

“So what are you going to do about it?” asked Nick, sitting down.

“I have to go to the guardhouse anyway. I remembered I left my coat there,” she said. She got up but Nick pulled her hand.

“I’m coming with you,” Nick said.

“It’s fine, Nick,” replied Alayne. Then she went off, disappearing through the crowd of people surrounding the food court.

He leaned back on his seat. His lips quivered and then he bit his lips. His heart sank. His fingers trembled. Then he murmured, “You have no idea, haven’t you?”

He smirked and whispered to himself, “We’re friends. But something happened inside me. You don’t even notice me when I’m turning on my charm. Or wonder why I’m always where you are. You don’t even notice how I stare when we’re alone or even wonder why I keep you on the phone. I’ve made it obvious. I’ve done everything but say it to you. I’ve had a crush on you for long now but you always get me wrong. I want you to know. But I’m not good with words so I’ll just say it in a love song.”

He grabbed his headphones and placed in on his ears. That moment, he played that song.

I kept on replaying this song in my phone while I was writing this.

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2 thoughts on “OBVIOUS

  1. I read the second part first, but they work well as distinct stories too, so enjoyed both equal measure.
    Now for the nuts-and-bolts feedback. The changes I suggest in what follows ought to tighten your pace.
    1. “said, smiling” cut to smiled.
    2. Cut “as she said it” before “The Grudge might be around” and add instead a colon after “and dark”.
    3. “said, grinning” cut to grinned.
    4. Show, don’t tell that he sat down “clumsily” by replacing the adjective with one half sentence showing him knock over a chair by mistake or similar.
    5. Cut out “She scowled at him and said” – the reader gets this from the line of dialogue, so this explanatory note is redundant.
    6. Cut out “Nick smiled” for the same reason as nr5.
    7. Cut out the weak adverb in “said jokingly”
    8. Nick “said” rather than “retorted” – make your handles invisible by using the ones that the reader customarily does not see, even when there. This way they help keep your reader on track re who speaks, but does not distract them from what is actually said.
    9. Cut “Alayne and Nick both laughed” as it is implied in the context of their banter in any case, and does not read well.
    10. Author intruding into the scene alert: “Nick frowned. It was a cute frown.” Does Alayne think this? But she is not the viewpoint character, so we shouldn’t be able to see what she is thinking. Switching the viewpoint character mid-scene is a cardinal writing sin 🙂 Avoid. If it is Nick thinking it, then he simply can’t know whether his frown is cute or not so he can’t think so. If you still want to keep it, say that he attempted what he thought might be a cute frown.
    11. “Nick asked” can be cut out, as you have action that implies this following it in “He stood up and pretended to be…”
    12. Cut all “mumble” from the conversation as replace with “said”
    13. Cut “They both laughed at the impression” – again, unnecessary as it is implied by the context.
    14. Cut “His hazel brown eyes glint with hurt” for the same reason as nr. 10. Nick would simply not think it, and we are being distanced from the character when the author intrudes.
    15. Cut “Then he murmured” and “He smirked and muttered to himself” – both unnecessary and it’s best to avoid having your protagonist speak to themselves when surrounded by other people. He is in a crowd after all. He’d look crazy if he actually started muttering to himself, so unless you want to make the reader think Nick has serious mental issues, you’re better off cutting those sentences and let the “speech” become thoughts. Remember, you don’t need to announce thoughts either. We are in this story alongside Nick, we are in his head. We know they are his thoughts. 🙂
    Done!
    Hope you find my comments helpful. Best of luck with all future writing x

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