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Happiness is Overrated

Author's note:

More chapters coming!  Please stay tuned!

Author's note:

More chapters coming!  Please stay tuned!

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Chapters:   1 2 Next »

Chapter 1

“Look.  I understand you are just here for some community service crap.  I get that.  But these kids…they need something.  They need someone.  You can help them, so please try.”

 

I’ve zoned out slightly, not really comprehending what the Autistic Group Meeting’s Manager was saying.  I notice everyone else is starting to walk in through the door, so I rise to my feet and follow.  From what I heard, the Manager was right.  This was only for community service hours.

We enter the room, and it looks similar to a third grade classroom.  The floor is composed of multi-colored tiles, and there are beanbags and tables scattered everywhere. 

“This is going to be something.” Landon, one of my classmates, says.  I don’t respond—then again, I rarely do.

All of my classmates are migrating to families of their choice.  I clearly didn’t act fast enough, because every family was occupied by one of my peers.  I turn around and see a boy, not more than 11 years old, trying to build a card house with his mother.  “He’s autistic?” I mumble to myself.  I look around one last time just to see if any other families are free.  Negative.  I slowly walk over towards the mother and son, and I sit down making sure I don’t hit the table.

“Yes?” The mother questions rudely.  I shift a little in my chair, not sure how to tell her that I’m only here for a community service project.  “Hi.  I’m Auburn Reed.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my 12th grade classmates and I are here to spend time with these…nice kids and their families.”

She laughs sarcastically, almost offended that I didn’t say what I was thinking straight to her face.  “We aren’t stupid, Auburn Reed.” She begins, motioning around the room.  “Our kids are autistic and you are only here for community service hours.  Nobody comes to visit a special needs program meeting for pleasure.”

I swallow hard, reluctant to continue the conversation.  “This is your son I’m assuming?” I ask.  The lady nods and responds, “His name is Riley Dawson.”  I force a fake smile and study the boy.  He has dusty brown hair that is swept to the side, and his eyes are a piercing green.  I look deep into his eyes, and I see it.  Happiness.  My stomach flips and I start breathing rapidly.  I feel myself sweating more and more.  As I am having a minor panic attack, Riley knocks over the card house.

“Are you alright Auburn?” Ms. Dawson asks, gathering the scattered cards.  I can tell she is slightly concerned, even though she doesn’t really know—or like—me.  I guess it’s a mother thing.  Concern for one’s well being is a notable attribute.

I begin to catch my breath, but I cannot even glance at Riley.  “Sorry,” I say between breaths, “I’m sorry.”  Ms. Dawson is still examining me, but she seems to be more focused on her son smearing the cards across the table.  “What happened?  Are you feeling okay?” Her mother-mode kicks back in.

“I have cherophobia.  Unlike most people who fear spiders or the dark, I fear…happiness.” I explain.  My heartbeat has regulated, and my sweating has reduced.  Ms. Dawson laughs, which I find quite peculiar.  “You must be joking.  Is this some kind of act, Auburn Reed?  Because this isn’t the place for your show.  But I will admit, you really had me there for a second!” She is cracking up, and I feel glares penetrating my soul.

“I’m serious about this Ms. Dawson.  I…wouldn’t make this up.” I defend.  She is still unconvinced, and now I am the one offended.

“Just go.  You didn’t want to be here in the first place, and now you have a chance to leave early.  You can exit where you came in.  Have a good day.” She is standing now and pointing to the door.  I mildly throw my hands in the hair, and stand as well.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Dawson.  I didn’t mean for this to happen” I say.
“Of course you didn’t.  And that’s why it happened.  Goodbye now.” She replies.

Now all eyes are on either Ms. Dawson or myself.  I push open the door and look at the AGM Manager and mouth the word “sorry”.  He shakes his head in disappointment, and I decide it’s best for me to continue walking.

I am making my way to the parking lot when I notice a boy that looks kind of similar to Riley.  I shake my head, trying to erase the thought.  Then, we make eye contact.  We make that eye contact that is really awkward, you know?  I look away fast, but then, out of the corner of my eye, I realize he is walking towards me.  Oh no.  No, no no.  I pick up the pace slightly, shuffling towards my car.

I am able to slip the car key into the handle on the door, but just as I do so, the hood of my car erupts with a bang.  “Jesus!” I scream, pouncing back and hitting the other car.  I look over and there he is again.  I begin to rub my elbow and try to figure out the easiest way to slyly slip into the car seat.  If I ran him over, that would be his problem.  “I love girls.  Once a guy comes up to them, they always think that man is a serial killer or something.”

The boy is cracking up, and clearly doesn’t mind pounding the hood of my car repeatedly.  “Do you mind?” I ask, still collecting myself.  He wears a puzzled look, but then he picks up the hint about slamming the car.  “Oh, right.  My bad.” He replies.  He pretends to wipe off the car with his hoodie sleeve, as if that were going to fix the dent he just created.

“AC by the way.” The boy sticks out his hand as if we had just met.  As if none of this with my car or him being a creeper had ever happened.  I nod, but don’t shake his hand.  “What’s your full name?” I ask.

“AC Dawson.  And since we don’t even know each other’s favorite color, I don’t think you deserve to know what the abbreviation stands for.” He replies.  I freeze.  Of course, it had to be.  “Do you have a brother in the AGM program?” I question, afraid that I already know the answer.
He nods slowly, studying my expressions.  “Why do you ask?” AC counters.  “No, no reason.  It’s nothing.  Never mind.” I open the car door and am about to close it behind me when he grabs hold of the handle.  We make that awkward eye contact once again, but this time, he is smiling.

“You met my mother.” He laughs.  I try to force a laugh as well, not having a clue in the world why this is so funny.  “Who’s your mother?” I ask pretending to be clueless, which is half true.  He nods with his attractive smile.

“Reilly is my brother.  I’m a Dawson.  He’s a Dawson.  My mother…come on.  Put the pieces together.” He explains.  I nod, and he just continues to find this hilarious.  Happiness.  It makes me sick.

“And I bet my mother was the reason you stormed out of there.” He motions to the school building.  I don’t care about how much time I am wasting talking to this guy, and that’s only because I have nothing better to do.  “Why do you suppose that?” I ask.  Once again, he smiles.  I find myself sweating slightly, so I try to take deep breaths.

AC slams my car’s hood again.  “You see, no other parents in there seem to have a problem with visitors.  My mom just hates being pitied.  That’s why she shuts anyone who wants to spend time with Reilly out of their lives.  Just like my dad.”  His eyes, which were once glistening with  content, are now cold and empty. 

I look back at the building.  The bricks, the playground, the sidewalk with weeds fighting their way through to the surface.  I try to feel normal, since happiness is virtually impossible.  This normal feeling…it’s weird.  Not sad, nor joyous.  Just neutral.  It’s almost as if I’m not feeling anything at all.  Then, of course, AC pats me on the arm.  I felt that, at least.

“Do you want to come back inside?  I can lie to my mom and say we are friends.” AC states.  Wow.  Talk about a blow from a guy who was just doing really well in the Awkward Flirtation Department.

“Next time, you might want to word that a little differently.” I say with a fake smile, trying to get him to realize that he just fired a shot.  I hop in the driver’s seat and slam the door shut.  I get ready to speed off like a total bad-ass when AC knocks on the window.  Just ignore him. I think to myself.  His pounding is getting louder and louder, and eventually, I just cant take it anymore.

“What?!  Look, I don’t even know you.  So…leave.” I yell while rolling down the window.   He gasps sarcastically, and begins to walk backwards away from the car.  I slowly begin to accelerate, and am almost out of the parking spot.  Then, out of nowhere,  AC throws an Oreo cookie through my window.  I pick it up and hold it out to him.  “Why?” I question. 

He stands there in  the middle of the parking lot, shrugging. 

“Why not?”

Chapters:   1 2 Next »


Join the Discussion

This book has 15 comments. Post your own now!

ellwist said...
Aug. 22, 2015 at 11:40 pm
Just read the second chapter, and good God I'm in love with this book.
 
kingofwriters said...
Jun. 27, 2015 at 9:32 pm
My feedback for this is on the thread!
 
pepsi.rules8 said...
Jun. 8, 2015 at 7:22 pm
I like the idea, and your style is great. You really sucked me into the story! The only thing I would suggest would be to hold off a little on the reveal about your character's probia. It just didn't feel very realistic for your protagonist to tell someone she had just met something so personal. Other than that I thought it was fantastic :)
 
drwholockLoki101 said...
May 23, 2015 at 9:22 am
THIS IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!! I love the description and the way you handled the characters phobia, although, she laughs at one point in this chapter, and isn't laughing sort of a happy thing? I have no idea whether it would be considered a happy thing in this situation or not. Also I agree with Beila, the phone conversation seemed just a little bit staged. Other than that it was really good! I hope you plan on publishing it some day!
 
MPMentoThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
May 25, 2015 at 9:22 pm
Thanks for your advice! Much appreciated!
 
BeilaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 22, 2015 at 5:59 pm
:) This is one of those "one step forward, one step back" kind of moments. Yes, you gave us more Auburn! She's awesome, and she has a real family, and her sister's got a name, and I'm totally connected to her now. But... what happened to the dialogue? The phone conversation felt staged, like you were pushing the characters to say lines rather than just letting them talk. The end of the chapter would have been fabulous longer- we needed more natural banter between the two. I'm bummed to say that ... (more »)
 
MPMentoThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
May 25, 2015 at 2:53 pm
You don't know how grateful I am for your critique. Honestly! So sorry about the tenses, don't know why I'm doing that. And thanks for everything, I'll work with what you said.
 
ellwist said...
May 1, 2015 at 10:04 am
Can I just say I love odd phobias and mental disorders? Because I do. This is amazing, very well written. I especially liked how nobody believed her. I feel bad for Auburn, really--does the fact she's afraid of happiness means she's never happy? I'd just like to ask, sorry for being ignorant. Anyway, love the story! Hope you update this soon.
 
MPMentoThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
May 1, 2015 at 4:57 pm
Haha thank you very much! And to answer your whole happy-or-not-happy thing: She sometimes feels happiness, but as soon as she does, she has a minor to severe panic attack. It is possible for her to be happy, but it has almost become impossible since her body and mind have pushed it away for so long. Thanks again!
 
BeilaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 27, 2015 at 8:50 pm
Your concept is both brilliant and unique. You could really take this idea far. I love AC's character, though I'm not sure if I'm sold on Auburn (although I love her name). I think you have to work extra hard to make her believable because the whole concept of cherophobia seems so bizarre to must of us on Teen Ink (I assume). I think hearing more of her thoughts outside of the panic attack could help. In other words, ground her in reality before you make her different; otherwise, it's hard to re... (more »)
 
MPMentoThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 27, 2015 at 9:32 pm
That stuff on Auburn is extremely helpful, so thank you so so so so much for that! Sorry about the tenses, I haven't fully re-read all of it (since I have more in progress). To be honest, AC is my favorite character as well :). I really appreciate all of the constructive criticism and the compliments! Thank you so much!
 
Beck-BeckThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 25, 2015 at 6:57 pm
This is amazing. Honestly, I can't wait for you to write more. I was kind of disappointed there wasn't a whole book. Can't wait to read it!!
 
MPMentoThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 26, 2015 at 8:34 am
Thanks! I'll keep adding chapters!
 
CNBono17 said...
Apr. 25, 2015 at 1:54 pm
This is building up to something, I can tell. I like the idea; it's really unique, I've never heard of anyone who's actually afraid of happiness. I'd guess that AC is going to change that just by being nice. I like it, it's good! My only comment: decide whether you want to spell AC's brother's name as Riley or Reilly, 'cause you used both. Aside from that, I will be looking for the "more to come"! :)
 
MPMentoThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 25, 2015 at 2:35 pm
Sorry about the Reilly/Riley thing! Didn't even realize! Thanks so much anyway, and I'm glad you liked it!
 

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