With three more weeks before graduation, I’m disheartened to see my Independent Project coming so quickly to an end! The experience and amount of time I’ve spent working with my incredible mentor has been utterly invaluable, and though I wish I could prolong our partnership, I’m grateful for every second he has set aside his own work in order to teach me. I owe my immense improvement in writing to his inspirational style of teaching and naturally powerful way with words. While we can’t continue our weekly chats, I’m glad we’ve compiled a packet of tips for me to use as if he were still reading and editing my work.
Speaking of which, my final project is due in a week! After months of prompts and writing, we’ve decided that my final project will consist of two of my literary sketches, both polished and complete. Granted, writing these short (very short) stories was out of the norm for me, but working on them has helped me develop a skill set and awareness of points I need to address when working on my larger and longer pieces. I’ve enjoyed coming up with these various worlds, plots, and characters as well as getting the chance to blog about them and I may continue to write short stories more frequently in the future.
Seeing as this is my last blog post (at least in the Independent Seminar Blog), I want to share an excerpt from my final final project (1 out of the 2 final sketches) in thanks for all the support people have given me. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite pieces, entitled, “The Last Chance” :
Brandon stared at her door with the extinct ocelot motion-poster, the familiar brown feline eyes shifting from side to side. Becky was supposed to have met him at the mudflats of the pond in the Dome Garden. There, they always dug up good material for research and experiments. Even with the Emergency Announcement that was broadcasted in everyone’s homes last month by the holographic Mr. Finney, their parents wouldn’t extend their bedtimes past 8:30; work had to be done on the weekend mornings. But meeting her today was especially important. Wednesday, April 30, 2153, would be the last day to remember, which was why Brandon insisted that Becky find him before all the chaos started. She hadn’t.
With a deep breath, Brandon nodded at the wildcat with sentimentality, raised his chin, and knocked on Becky’s door. When no one answered, he gave the mental command open, heard his ear-chips beep, and watched her door fade into thin air. The motion posters covering the walls of Becky’s bedroom slowly became visible, including Brandon’s favorite of the periodic table with the dancing cartoons under each element. He recognized her favorite, too: the Milky Way Galaxy swirling above her bed.
Before he could talk himself out of it, Brandon strode into her room, ready to burst.
He broke off upon seeing her, his mind now drawing a blank at the speech he had planned and rehearsed all night. Becky was sitting on the floor, legs sprawled in front of her and leaning back on her hands. Her attention was fixed opposite him on the potted rutila bellis, a small not yet bloomed flower they recently planted together, now standing in the corner of her room. She wore the blue science museum shirt her mom had bought her on their trip last weekend and tattered black pants with holes at the knees. Beside her were her designated “exploring shoes,” dirt-smeared boots that Brandon remembered being green when she first got them. Her brown hair was pulled back in a long braid, revealing the small cylindrical blue metal pieces inside her ears; she had changed the red color of her ear-chips’ coverings to match his.
Brandon’s mouth felt dry all of a sudden, his palms sweaty. He tried to think of what to say, but nothing came to mind. Becky then looked over her shoulder at him and mouthed something. He watched her in confusion until she tapped her right ear piece. With a start, Brandon mentally turned up the volume on his ear-chips, now remembering he had turned it down to block out the commotion in the lobby. With everyone having off from school and work, they were all getting ready to leave for the shore, the tops of buildings, or someplace outside where they’d claim a good view of the last sunset. Brandon thought they were foolish to go out in the open at a time like this.
“Sorry,” he said sheepishly to Becky. “What did you say?”
“I said, ‘you what?’ You didn’t finish your sentence.”
“Oh.” Brandon stuck his hands in his pockets, trying to remember his words. “I—uh—” None of them came to him. “Your mom wanted me to tell you that breakfast is ready,” he said off the top of his head, the sweet smell of food now wafting into the room. He turned up the volume of his ear-chips to hear Becky’s mom and dad talking in the kitchen. “Blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, and orange juice.”
She scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. “You came over this early for breakfast?”
“Uh—yeah,” he lied, tuning the volume back to normal. “Well, my mom said it was okay. And you live down the hall from us.” As he was making up excuses, Brandon’s eyes drifted down to the white carpet and rested on the blue stain he and Becky had made with a chemistry lab kit. The stain had to be at least two years old by now, though he couldn’t understand why she refused to get it removed. It was supposed to be medicine for an injured centipede, but the experiment had failed completely. Brandon now wondered if his final attempt to talk to Becky would fail, too. When he looked back up at her, she was staring at him like he had two antennae in the middle of his forehead.
“Well, we were supposed to meet up in the Green Dome this morning,” he said.
Her eyes widened in realization. “Sorry,” she said guiltily. “I got distracted.” Becky glanced in the plant’s direction.
“It’s okay. I figured that’s what happened.” After becoming friends in the 3rd grade, Brandon learned that while Becky was more punctual, he was the one with more focus.
She smiled and glanced at his feet before staring back at the flower. “You forgot to wipe your shoes again.”
Brandon looked down at his mud-splattered sneakers and the crumbs of dirt he had left in his wake. Rushing in from the garden this morning, it had occurred to him to scuff the soles of his shoes on the entry matt, but it was a fleeting and insignificant thought in comparison to finding Becky.
“Right,” he said in dismay. “Sorry.”
Brandon slipped off his shoes and joined Becky on the floor, sitting the way she did with one of his hands resting close to hers. The flower was only a few inches tall, a small round bud having sprouted between the first two shoots. The rutila bellis was supposed to bloom around this time every five years, its large red petals bursting open for one day before they fell off the next.
“What do you think is going to happen to it?” she asked. “To all of the plants?” She tilted her head considerately, both curious and a little remorseful.
The same thing that’s going to happen to all of us, Brandon thought. This was his only chance.
“Do you think it will bloom in time?” she asked.
“Becky,” Brandon started, pushing the plant topic aside. “If this is our last day—”
“Brandon,” she cut him off, her voice becoming sharp. “I’ve already told you, the sun dying tomorrow doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. No one else thinks it’s the apocalypse.”
“But it could be!” he snapped. “The sun is a star. And when a star dies, it explodes and becomes a black hole!”
“That’s only sometimes,” she frowned. “You’re just trying to scare me with your theories.”
“No! It’s just I wanted to let you know that…if it was our last day…I don’t really understand girls, but…” Brandon’s heart pounded quicker. A tingling sensation built up in his stomach and he could feel his face going red. Without time to think, his mouth blurted, “I think you’re pretty cool, for a girl—I mean, a pretty cool girl.”
The room fell silent as Brandon waited for a response to what had to be the worst confession of his life. A few minutes passed before Becky said, “You’re really weird.” Brandon tried to come up with a response to ease the ache in his chest when she leaned a little to the side, letting her hand rest against his. “But I don’t mind. Weird is pretty cool, too; apocalypse craziness and all.”
“Right,” he said as they continued to wait for the flower to bloom, the corners of his mouth upturned. “There’s still a chance, though.”