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Autopilot

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“Hey Tessa!” Thorn had yelled from across the beige tiled hallway. Timberwood, the creatively lacking name of this awful penitentiary called high school. But then again, you hear good stories in the movies and books about high school, but that’s all fake anyway. I am Christina Violet, the girl with the long amber hair and poop brown eyes- a lovely shade, or so I’ve been told-. Of course I’m an over achiever (if it’s even possible to be an over achiever at being average). I never do sports clubs or any extracurricular activities. My only outstanding quality is I am a nerd, filling my boring days with Algebra and History. Of course, like everyone else I have some small circle that resembles friendship, molded together in a desperate attempt to give the illusion of strength.

Everyday was a never ending cycle, day in, day out, same routine, same trek home. It was a day just like any other. I looked over at Thorn, my friend, and watched as she made her way to my locker. I put my head down and went through my schedule trying to remember the classes I had homework in.
“What are you doing today?” She asked me, her greenish hazel eyes begging me for their desired answer.
“Sorry, I have a lot of work to do.” I blatantly lied. I could tell she knew I was lying, but she accepted my response.
“Well if you have the time later, there is a new music shop that just opened up around the corner. You should take a look.” I only partially absorbed her words, but I nodded at her as if I analyzed her every word as if they were god’s. She didn’t look fooled. She just sighed as if she was dealing with a small child and walked away. She may have distantly uttered a goodbye, but I didn’t hear it.
That was the last time I saw her. Three years to the day. I will be graduating next month. I think about if I had gone with her, maybe that runaway car would have missed her, maybe I could have saved her simply by error. But if I couldn’t have saved her, I would rather not have seen her silver head dyed red. Sometimes I think of the music shop, where it is and if it’s still in business.
I woke up this morning and by some will inside of me came to school. I really don’t understand why I continue to paste myself to this cycle. It is seventh period. I can leave after this. I can leave now. I will. I raise my hand and curse in my mind at the teacher who refuses to excuse me to use the bathroom. There goes my rebellion, right out the window.
After Classes are over I go to my locker. I stand there for a second, my hand clenched on the lock, just thinking. Once I snap out of it, I hastily stuff my bag full of random books that I either did or didn’t have homework in, I didn’t care. As I walk down the hallway in the direction of the exit, I keep my head down. I didn’t do this to make myself disappear I was just watching my feet go over each tile, slowly. I did not think I was going slowly. I only got this impression from the fact that people were going around me in the hall when it was usually vice versa.
The double push doors are couple feet in front of me and I observe them as I push through them. Once I’m outside I walk down the steps onto the level sidewalk. I usually turn right because it’s the faster way for me to get home and it just became habit, but today I turned left.
This didn’t seem like a huge deal to me, I had gone this way before. A long time ago, or so it seemed once I was on the walk. I turned the corner and approached what looked like a little strip mall. I looked through each of the store windows and remember walking into some of them my freshman year. I recognize a clothing store, a market booth, and three supply stores. That left two stores. An empty one that looked bankrupt and vacant and one that had a faux-steel door with darkened windows.
That store caused two adverse reactions. Some people ran into it, others ran from it. Who in the world would want to go in anyway? It was dark and looked like only stereotypical punks would want to go in. For some reason my eyes lingered on it longer then they were supposed to. I needed to go into that store. I walked past but I knew I would have to come back.
I speed-walked the rest of the way home, so as not to lose any more time. The time went by so quickly that I didn’t even realize how much time had passed until I got home. “What took so long for you to get home? You haven’t gone out with your friends in ages.” My mother questioned in a monotone voice, that conflicted with the observation put across in her question.
“I just took the long way home Mom, and you know that ever since the accident, we have all drifted apart.” Which was true, I just wish that Thorn had done the opposite: brought us together. Now we all have only a nodding acquaintance with each other. I seemed to be the only one from our old group who hadn’t found another friendship or person to pass as a friend. She just nodded and left the room. The rest of the evening passed as a blur, but once I was lying in my bed all I could do was stare blankly at the ceiling. Something was gnawing at the back of my subconscious pulling any chance of sleep from me.
By the time I drifted off, it was too late for sleep to make a difference. When my alarm went off I convinced myself to get out of bed and dressed in an appropriate enough way to pass as normal. I threw my hair into a half combed ponytail and ate a generic breakfast. I put on my green jacket and ran out my front door without saying goodbye to my parents. I thought to myself about why I was in the same position that I was everyday, wondering what the point of school was.
I got all the way to school and went through the double doors, I didn’t look down; I kept my eyes parallel to the tile. Once I made the way to my locker, there was someone sitting below. This wasn’t uncommon, I was forced to have a double locker, but I knew the person who used the locker beneath mine, and he was not that person. “Excuse me.” I said. He looked up at me as if I, the smallest piece of trash, had interrupted him from the most important thing in the world. “You’re sitting in front of my locker.” I continued.
“Yeah. And?” He interrupted me. “Can you move?” I scolded him. He scowled at me, got up, and walked away. As he did, I could feel myself becoming pale. I didn’t have much of a reputation, and it seemed I had made an enemy.
I now dreaded every visit I had to make back to my locker. But every time, my fears were always wrong as he was never there to beat me up, or whatever people do these days. By the end of the day I was so flustered by the events that had taken place that I didn’t even think on my way home. By the time I was walking up my driveway I realized I had turned right upon exiting the school. I just told myself I would go left tomorrow. Mentally I knew that I needed to go to that store.
Then my mind thought of the boy sitting front of my locker. What was his name, what was he doing that was so important, would he remember who I was and was he going to come back and cause me trouble? All I could note about him was the fact that he was tall and thin with hair that hadn’t been cut in months. I haven’t talked with people in a while so I didn’t know who he was. He was an enigma, a mystery I needed to solve. I sat and did homework that I, in all honesty, didn’t know how to do, until I had to go to sleep.
I saw her. She was sitting in a plain desk, similar to the ones at school, her hands folded neatly on top of the desk. She had a small scratch on her face and from what I could see the back of her head cracked open and looked like a puzzle, but she wasn’t bleeding. It was almost like she had gotten into the accident, gone to the hospital, gotten cleaned up, and had just woken up, no way to heal or get hurt further.
She just sat there and didn’t say anything. Her eyes stared smugly into my subconscious. Eventually I murmured “Thorn.” She quickly stood up, separating the desk from the chair, it then disappeared, she didn’t need it anymore. She started to spin like a dancer, not in an uncomfortable manner, either. She looked like all the stress was flowing out of her pale shoulders. As I started to reach out to her, she disappeared and I woke up to a disturbingly familiar drone from the alarm clock. It was then I realized the blank room I was in previously had morphed back to my room and I had fallen to my floor. I looked to my side and didn’t see anything other than basic clutter and day old laundry. I flipped onto my stomach and put my head down, inhaling deeply, overwhelmed by the familiarity of the scent of the carpet.
After I got up and- to my dismay- out the door, my eyes immediately flew to the dingy gray morning sky. I hated the feeling it gave off, dark and foggy enough to make you feel utterly alone in the immense world. As I walked along the weather worn sidewalk I kicked a pebble along, watching only my feet. As I looked up from the ground I lost track of the rock and saw Timberwood.
I looked back at the rock and sighed as I turned toward the steps of the school. I could tell they hadn’t washed the doors last night. You could see the finger prints that harbored an emotion that belonged to every teenage hand in the school, the readiness to escape. As I pushed through the doors my eyes fell to my feet.
The rest of the day I had one thing running through my head. The dream, she had disappeared, leaving me as alone as she did before, right after I reached out to her, as she had to me. As the end of the day drew near, I knew that there was a slim chance I would ever recall what I had been taught that day.
As I made my way to my locker someone cut me off in hall which not only pissed me off but made me gasp. I hadn’t had an abnormal breath since I last connected with my friends. I didn’t even go to my locker, rushed to the doors and tripped over my own two feet in the process. I had fallen to my knees. I just sat there and thought. My days flitted past me in a flash. I vaulted to my feet and started walking. I had no clue where I was going. I just was.
My pace grew faster as I moved along, growing to a sprint. I clipped the edge of the curb from my sharp turns. Left and left then I stopped. I stood in front of the shop, and my eyes widened as a tear fell from eyes. I had no idea I could still cry, I hadn’t had the slightest motive to since Thorn’s funeral. It must have rained during the school day because when I neatly collapsed to the sidewalk it was damp. I just sat, my legs crossed, tears flowing from my eyes and stared at the shop. Time stood still for me. People passed as I sat, I put my head down in fear someone would see me, like anyone would care. It started to drizzle again; I put my head up and craned my neck until it completely faced the sky, the cool rain cascaded down my face, masking my tears.
Something inside me snapped. I started to laugh I stood up and began to spin in the rain as if it was a tonic. I clenched my fists and screamed into the sky, sure I got some looks, but nobody knew me enough to care. I started to walk again, not in autopilot like a robot. I was unsteady at first but once I had started I couldn’t stop. I had a voice again, a mind, a choice, emotion. I had lost all this to blame and guilt. I skipped home, a grin on my face that I hadn’t felt in so long, it hurt. When I walked into my home, I went to my room, cleared a spot on my floor and changed into dry clothes. I walked into the kitchen and sat down.
My mom walked into the kitchen, I could see she wasn’t sleeping well, the bags under her eyes were pronounced. Her eyes evaluated me and she ran over to me and gave me a hug, we both cried for an undeterminable time. When we stopped we both looked like we had been to hell and back. My mom smiled at me, like she knew I had figured something out.
I didn’t have any books so I ate dinner and went to sleep. When my alarm clock started I woke up immediately. I sat up and didn’t think anything against it. I walked over to my closet and opened up the doors, and for the first time in I can’t even think of how long, I chose an outfit with my reputation in mind. I looked in the mirror and observed my face. I went into my bathroom and combed my hair out delicately, I looked in my drawers and found exactly what I was looking for, I put the small clip in my hair and washed my face. I looked at my face and felt presentable.
I went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. I observed the food inside instead of just grabbing the first thing I saw. I took an apple and cleaned it off in the sink. I inhaled deeply and started out the door. I promised myself I would start to try today. I walked into the building and down the hall, my eyes meeting everyone else’s.
I made my way to my locker and saw my first test, the boy was sitting in front of my locker. “Hi.” I mumbled. This time he didn’t even look up.
“Hey,” He muttered. “Who are you?” He continued. “I saw you on Thore Street yesterday crying your heart out, literally even.” He looked up and I saw he had ice blue eyes.
“Umm.” I fumbled or the words to explain my behavior. There were none. “I’m Tessa Violet. I was living yesterday, in every sense of the word.” I hoped that it would work as an explanation.
“Are you still alive? If so you should stop starting at the shop and just come in. We won’t kill you.” I could feel my eyes widen. If he was in the shop and he saw me freak out, then everyone else in the shop could as well. He slowly got up “You’re different than you were yesterday; you look like you needed that cry. You’re pretty when you live.” He said as he walked away. He waved without turning around. I opened up my locker and threw out all the clutter I had collected and grabbed my books for first period.
I walked down the hall and could see eyes watching me as if they had just seen a miracle occur, how awful did I look before? “Tessa!” I heard a high pitched voice that I knew was familiar to me. I turned around, enjoying the feeling of my hair hitting my shoulders. I saw Sophie, aside from Thorn she had been my closest friend. She came up to me with her wide brown eyes and ever present smile. I was still taller than she, but this didn’t stop her from giving me the biggest hug ever. “I’m glad your back, I can just tell, you are wearing the clip!” Was she always this loud? This happy? Or had she suffered like I did, while I was too busy with myself to care?
I smiled a forced smile while holding back tears; she had been watching me, for all these years, waiting for me to come back to sanity. “Thank you, Sophie.” I rested my head on her shoulder as I tried to control my emotions.
“My class is in the other direction, I don’t want to be late. So I’ll see you later right? Let’s do something after school. Okay?” She smiled a smile that had masked her now dissipating sadness as she genuinely smiled with her eyes. She ran off leaving me alone, but still not feeling alone.
I actually paid attention in classes today. By the end of the day, I knew what I would be doing for homework. I walked over to my locker and started to get my books together. “Hey Tessa! What are you doing after school today?” I could easily identify the voice as Sophie’s. I finished putting my books into my backpack before I responded.
“I’m planning on going to this shop on Thore. You want to come?” I knew I was not getting out of visiting the store or else I would have an unhappy visitor tomorrow morning. I looked over at Sophie and she was nodding furiously. Today I walked out the door at the same pace, but not alone, in any sense of the word. We walked in silence, but it was not awkward at all. I knew that it would be weird if I went into the shop slowly but I’m not sure if I can rush.
I stood in front of the shop and looked at Sophie; she was intrigued by the look of the shop. I grabbed the handle. It was cool to my touch. The door was heavy, but not to the point of stopping me from going in. I closed my eyes as I entered. When I opened them back up it was overwhelming, the sudden realizations I made. The walls were lined with a red fabric that tickled when I ran my hand over it. The wall had a black wood trim in geometric patterns. The floor had classic black and white square tile that had gone out of style decades ago, but it worked here. I inhaled deeply and fell in love with the shop’s musky scent. Inside I was anything but alone, something that I remembered from yesterday’s cold nothingness. In the back of my head I could hear chatter as well as a long guitar riff that only a professional would ever attempt.
I walked in and looked from shelf to shelf; it was obviously a music shop. Music shop. Then I knew it. It was Thorn’s shop. The one she wanted me to come with her to on the day she got hit. “Thorn.” I quietly said, in a voice that I was sure only I could hear. I put my head down and let a tear bounce off the tile for her. I then felt a warm hand on my left shoulder. It was him, Sophie just stood there, like a deer in headlights. I wiped her memory from my eye “Who are you?” I asked him.
“Alex Tennant. But my name is not at all important. I know you were extremely close friends with Thorn. She used to come in here often and we would talk for hours. The last time she came in here, she told me she was going to bring her friend, Tessa, the next time. I always saw you two together at school, so I figured you were the girl she was talking about. Today when you said ‘Tessa Violet’ I knew was right.”
I honestly didn’t know what to do or say. I sat down on one of the faux leather chairs arranged for listening to music. I felt like I was in complete shock. I put my hand on Sophie’s shoulder and she gave me a hug. She let a tear fall as well; we regained our composer and just looked at each other. “Don’t leave me.” I said with determination. Sophie grabbed my hand and Alex put his hand on my shoulder.
“Never.” Sophie said to me, a sad little smile on her mouth. I stood up and inhaled deeply. I closed my eyes.
“I know you probably weren’t talking to me but, I won’t leave you either.” Said Alex. All of us just laughed. I hadn’t laughed since Thorn had left. I hadn’t felt blessed until now. And for the first time ever, I felt as if an end can bring a beginning.





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This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

mum2one said...
Feb. 2, 2011 at 11:09 pm
Fantastic story! It reminds us to do what we all should do on a daily basis... LIVE! Well written!
 
hannah said...
Jan. 28, 2011 at 10:44 am
Really enjoyed the story. It has great descriptions and details, which make you feel like you are there..."in" the story. : ) 
 
happy teacher said...
Jan. 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Impressive writing style.  Your story kept me interested from the beginning to the end.  You should try having it published.  Keep writing!

 

 
Wap1 said...
Jan. 20, 2011 at 7:07 pm
Very well written and impressive! Keep writing!
 
jbcp said...
Jan. 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm
This is a very interesting story.  I had no idea how it would end, which is the mark of a good tale.
 
Mary said...
Jan. 20, 2011 at 9:08 am
I think a friend of mine said it best when he said "I think it's a wonderfully crafted (minimalist) story about how we choose to run our lives. We can get into the stinking rut of not accepting consequen...ces and just going mindlessly along. This shows that you can really turn yourself around by being driven to effect positive change in your life. The details are scattered sparingly throughout the piece-much different from the habit of overload that early writers are used to." Congratu... (more »)
 
Donna Marie said...
Jan. 19, 2011 at 10:21 pm
That was a great short story! Hard to believe a teenager wrote it. I look forward to reading more of your writing.
 
bvwhitesox said...
Jan. 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm
You should absolutely try to get this story published.  It's terrific!  I'm very impressed with the writer you are.  You did a great job here and I'm very proud of you!
 
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