Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Writings #2 - Daydreaming with Huck

Donald stared blankly ahead as Ms. Jones scribbled something on the blackboard. His eyes scanned the words without interest and his ears barely registered the lecture she gave the class. The tip of his pen rested lightly on his paper and from time to time he glanced down and made some nominal scribbles on the page. Normally, Donald enjoyed English class and he truly liked their current reading assignment. But he had read and discussed Huckleberry Finn last semester at his old school in Brunswick. This was the third time this month that one of his classes was covering a subject he felt had already been beaten to dust before he moved to Lincoln.

So, he tuned his ears to listen for his name, but otherwise zoned out of the lecture.
It didn't help that Ms. Jones had one of those melodic voices that rose and fell like the soft ripple of a mountain brook. Or that she was wearing an orange and red oddly patterned shirt with just enough shine to it that as she moved, patterns flickered and danced with the light. Her face reminded Donald of his grandmother, generally smooth, but with a few lines and bags starting to form along the creases of her mouth and the edges of her jawline. Her hair was somewhere between blond and grey as though it was still fighting to decide whether or not it was time to age.

Donald took a subtle glance at his watch and sighed. Nearly 30 minutes before lunch. He had no lunchtime expectations and yet he felt that any change would be preferable to the current situation. At least lunchtime meant he could stretch his legs, or maybe relax under one of the trees outside. He'd been at Lincoln High for 6 weeks and so far hadn't made any strides in the friends department. Sure there were kids who were nice enough to him and would let him sit with them or join in on their conversations, but so far he hadn't really clicked with anybody.

He looked casually around the room. Across the aisle from him, Jon Lambert frantically scribbled down notes, trying to capture every syllable Ms. Jones threw at them. Jon was a good enough guy and was friendly, but he was just far too intensely involved in schoolwork to really become friends with. Jon was one of those guys with serious goals for school but who also had to work very hard to even maintain a C average. The first few days of school, Donald had spent a little time working with Jon on a homework project for Chemistry. Donald found the assignment a little tedious at times, but generally not too bad. But working on it with Jon gave Donald a migraine that took 2 days to recover from.

In front of and behind Jon sat two girls Donald hadn't yet gotten to know. Their names were Samantha Jones and Dana McIntyre, but Donald still didn't know which was which. He watched as they sat relaxed, yet poised in their chairs paying moderate attention to the lecture and writing occasional notes. They were both very pretty girls and his first impression was that they were likely part of the "IN" crowd. Since he was the new kid and had no stereotypes associated with him yet, he'd said hello to them a couple of times and they usually smiled and returned his greeting. This was encouraging at first but neither girl ever let the conversation go much beyond 'hello'.

At first Donald thought they were the stereotypical snobs and that he should just forget even trying to get to know them. They definitely had the fashionable clothes, the cool new phones, the nice hair and the general demeanor of the snobby girls he knew from Brunswick, but they were different. As Donald watched them off and on over the first few weeks he was there, he noticed that they never really talked with anybody except each other, and even then it was in hushed whispers or in the far corners of the cafeteria or library. While the other popular girls spent time giggling in groups to garner attention or frantically tapping text messages into their phones, Samantha and Dana were solitary, subdued and generally seemed to disappear into the surroundings. All of which made Donald even more intrigued by them. He'd actually made up his mind that he would, in turn, ask each of them to the Spring Fling dance in two weeks. Even if they said no, it was bound to at least open up a larger conversation.

"Donald? What do you think?"

Donald whipped his head back to the blackboard, hoping that it had looked more like he was idly glancing around the room and not staring at the girls in the row next to him. Ms. Jones was looking at him expectantly. Murmurs began to rumble slowly at the edges of his hearing. He stared at the board behind her, trying to determine what her question may have been. Ms. Jones brow begin to furrow slightly in disappointment and her mouth opened to speak.

"About Huck's father?" Donald threw out a wild guess, knowing what today's reading assignment had covered. Ms. Jones tilted her head and pursed her lips in thought. More whispers and a giggle fluttered around the class.

"Not specifically, Donald, no. Although if you've read ahead or read this book before, I can see where you might want to take the discussion. But let's hold those thoughts for next class. Right now my question is about interactions between Huck and Jim and your thoughts on why Jim trusts Huck implicitly and even acts in many ways to protect and help Huck, such as protecting him from the images in the floating house. All of this in spite of Huck's being so untrustworthy."

Donald nodded thoughtfully, glad he had at least made a random statement that could at least partially apply. Ms. Jones took Donald's silence as not having any more to say and proceeded to ask for more feedback. Tanya Smith, a bubbly redhead at the far side of the room, began rambling on about the dynamics of slavery and the strange customs and beliefs that Jim had. Donald watched as Ms. Jones' face became softer and she nodded slightly at Tanya's remarks. He was just set to zone out again when one of the girls next to him leaned over the aisle and whispered to him.

"Nice save Donald. We were sure you were dead in the water."

As she sat back up in her chair, she gave a half smile and a wink. That short sentence had nearly doubled their conversational count over the past few weeks. Donald vowed that after class he would figure out if she was Samantha or Dana and he promised himself that by the end of the day he would have asked her to the dance.

He looked at his watch again. Only 10 more minutes until lunch. He spent most of it trying to come up with what to say to Samantha or Dana. He tried to ignore the near-silent-treatment of the last six weeks and imagine positive scenarios in which he not only asked her to the dance, but that she said yes and they became good friends. Once he envisioned them as boyfriend and girlfriend, but he quickly decided that was taking things too far. After all, he didn't even know her name.


logankstewart said...

Another great short story. No major events like last weeks, but still intriguing enough to enjoy. There's an air of mystery about the two girls... The internal struggle between the mundane and the complex life of a high school student brought back memories.

Great job, once again.

Phoenix said...

Again, you write characters incredibly well. Your descriptions always draw me in and I'm usually left at the end of your creative-writing posts wanting to read more. Definitely a good thing.

Glad you put the award I gave you to good use!

Okie said...

Thanks. For some reason I keep getting drawn to classroom/school settings. I enjoy looking for the balance between tedium and excitement.