Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chapters 45 thru 48

Phyllis Warren’s Dream:
Recommended Reading

     It’s due tomorrow.  She asked me for it over a month ago.  Pasty-faced little girl, how could she be a Senior in high school when she looks like she’s twelve years old?  Every year they look younger and younger.  By the time I retire, am I going to come into school and see a bunch of infants sprawled on the seats?  Shit, I have to stop procrastinating.

To Whom It May Concern:
     I am pleased to recommend Megan Brogen as a candidate for admission to your school.  I have taught Megan in two classes, English 9 and Greek Myths, and have found her to be…

     Oh, God, I just can’t do it.  I simply cannot fill in the usual blanks again, tell the usual lies. It will kill me.  The custodian will come in and find me tomorrow morning, my feet sticking out from under my desk like the Wicked Witch of the East flattened by Dorothy’s house.  My integrity will be so polluted by producing this dreck that a fungus will envelope my organs, and I will suffocate on my own bile.  No.

To Whom it May Concern:
     I am appalled that I have agreed to write this recommendation for Megan Brogen.  I only said yes out of a strong sense of pity and an unnerving level of empathy.  Listen:  the girl is a piece of unbuttered toast.  Her intellect sparkles like mud.  I’ve had her in two classes, and I found her performance, in a word, forgettable.  I have to give her parents a little bit of credit for coming up with the name Megan to pair with the last name Brogen--the metrical pairing is commendable, but the poetry ends there.
     How many Megans have I taught in my life?  To avoid writing this recommendation, I looked up the popularity of the name Megan.  15 years ago, when a bland couple copulated effectively enough to conceive the child about whom I am writing, and then, nine months later, when these dime-a-dozen depictions of the doldrums went to name the kid, they came up with the 18th most common name in America--Megan.
      Excuse me, what?  You want me to get back to my recommendation?  Of whom, again? I keep forgetting.  I’ll check my seating chart.  Oh, yes—there she is, right next to Dani Spaziani, who wears freakish makeup and frankly scares me, but at least she’s  memorable, unlike the subject at hand. 
      I am pleased to recommend Megan Brogan to your college or university or technical school or penitentiary because she sat three rows back, two rows over in my English class virtually every day except when she got the sniffles or felt a little pukey.  I am pleased to recommend Megan Brogen because, a year from now or even six months from now, should I happen to see her, say, in the grocery store or at the gas station or some other venue besides my classroom, in some other spot besides three rows back, two rows over, she’ll look vaguely familiar to me and I’ll assume I once had her as a student but I won’t remember one damned specific thing about her, including her name.  You should definitely accept her for admission to your fine institution because every fine institution needs hundreds of these innocuous, dirt-dull people to act as foils for those students/inmates who actually stand for something.
     I think it only fitting, since I had Megan for Greek myths, that I share with you the Greek myth that actually applies to her.   
     One day, Aphrodite--sated after several mad sexual encounters with several mad sexual encountees, both mortal and immortal--looked lazily down from her couch on Olympus and noticed what she at first thought was a pale hunk of fungus growing on a rock.  Looking more closely, however, Aphrodite noticed that this fungus seemed to take a vaguely human form, and it occasionally even moved.  It was not a fungus at all.  It was a mortal girl named Tediumda.  Aphrodite, the very epitome of romance, adventure and, frankly, straight-up lust, was fascinated by Tediumda.  
     How, thought Aphrodite, could anyone be so boring?  After all, the Earth had treasures galore to fascinate the mind and the spirit:  rolling seas, bristling trees, ferocious beasts, flowers and plants of every shade and shape, men with oddly-pointing penises--how could this Tediumda come to the same spot day after day and do nothing but stare into space?  How could she do nothing but convincingly impersonate a fungus?
     Aphrodite rolled off her couch and floated to the Earth, landing softly beside Tediumda. “Maiden,” said Aphrodite, “what is your name?”
     “Tediumda,” said Tediumda.
     “I am Aphrodite, goddess of love and imagination!”
     “Okay,” said Tediumda, and yawned.
     “Do you yawn in my presence?” said Aphrodite, appalled.  “Do you yawn and sit on the same rock day after day when this world is filled with rolling seas, bristling trees, ferocious beasts, flowers and plants of every shade and shape, not to mention men with oddly-pointing penises?  Surrounded by such splendor and mystery, is this how you choose to spend your days?”
     “Pretty much,” said Tediumda.
     “Well, then, I’m just going…” sputtered Aphrodite as she mentally scrolled through the catalog of miseries the gods had inflicted upon humans:  the ever-rolling boulders, the unfillable jars, the liver-eating eagles, the unreachable food and drink, the labors, the curses, all designed to fit the crimes.    But what to do with Tediumda?
     “I’m going you into a high school teacher and curse you to write college recommendations for bland students like yourself for eternity!” screamed Aphrodite.  And thus did Aphrodite.  And thus poor Tediumda is sitting on her rock, writing college recommendations.  Just.  Like.  Me.  
     Listen, accept Megan Brogen.  She’s all right.  She’s not so bad.  She’ll be where you tell her to be.  I suspect she won’t even have the gumption to go on Amazon to get her college textbooks for less, so that’s a plus.  
Phyllis Warren
English Teacher

     I look at what I’ve written.  I look at the box on Megan’s common app, the one that indicates she has waived her right to see my recommendation.  No, I think.  I shouldn’t.  I couldn’t.  
     I print the letter.  I fold it in with the common app. I put the papers in the stamped envelope Megan has so dutifully provided.  I hold the envelope to my tongue.  I really shouldn’t.  Oh, who gives a shit?  I lick, I seal, I send.  So sue me.  

Reality Check:  Dream 45
ü  Phyllis Warren’s on-line pseudonym:  wrmwud2dmax.

ü  First line of Phyllis Warren’s recommendation letter for Megan Brogan:  “I am pleased to have this opportunity to recommend Megan Brogan.”

ü  Number of recommendations Phyllis Warren has written beginning with the sentence “I am pleased to have this opportunity to recommend (name of student).”:  87. 

Dani Spaziani’s Dream:

     This is definitely a problem.  Jeff Freed sits in front of me.  This is Humanities with Draper, the dictionary definition of boredom, so Jeff has his left arm extended as a pillow for his head.  The trouble with Jeff’s position is...his neck.  With his arm like that, with his head like that, Jeff’s neck stretches out in perfect view.  And it looks absolutely delicious.       
      Eliza Denton, sitting next to me, reaches over and puts her hand on my leg.  I realized I’ve been pumping it up and down like a piston.  “You’re shaking the table,” she whispers.
     I can’t stop staring at his neck.  Lightly tanned, unblemished, toned.  Oh, God, I can see Jeff’s pulse dancing through his jugular--rhythmic, tantalizing.  I’m going to drool, I’m so hungry.  For his neck.  His blood.   
      Technically, I’m not a vampire because I haven’t yet drunk anyone’s blood.  The other day, though, I was in the guidance office because I’m not doing so hot in my classes, and I saw this quote on a poster:
    I know for certain that what we dwell on is what we become.”  --Oprah Winfrey.  
    I realize that some people think Oprah is a joke, but I happen to think if she’s practically the richest woman in the world, she’s got to have something going on, and that quote of hers really smacked me in the face.  Because if anybody ever dwelled on anything, that would be me dwelling on vampires.  
     I more than love them.  I have to be one or I’ll die.  Of course, I realize the irony of that statement because vampires are a type of living dead.  But of all the types of living dead--zombies, werewolves, ghosts, all those--vampires are by far the most alive.  Their fashion sense, their way of thinking, their sexiness, their language, their love of the I said, I more than love them, and I more than dwell on them, so I know I am destined to become one eventually.  Destined.  
    I’m just wondering if now, 5th period on a Tuesday, is the best time for me to fulfill my destiny.   Jeff’s neck, though...perfection.  I know necks.  I could probably identify over half the student body with photographs of their necks.  I know the moles, the tendons, the adam’s apples, the whiskers, the fine hairs, the scars on hundreds of necks in this building.  I have often been tantalized by them, but never, ever, have I felt the need I feel now, staring at this delicious link between Jeff’s head and his shoulders.  Would you look at that pulse!  The music of his life-force begging to burst out and dance with my tongue.  I know for certain that what I’m dwelling on is what I must become, and if I don’t become it in the next five seconds I also know for certain that I will either shrivel or explode!  
     “Jeff?”  says Mr. Draper.   He jerks awake and looks around like a drowsy kitten, gorgeously cute.  He’s drooled a little on his desk.  “Good morning, Jeff.  Sorry to wake you, but this is Humanities, not nap time.  Why don’t you go get a little drink to wake up and then come back to join us, how about that?”  
    Jeff shakes his head a bit.  “Uh, yeah, okay.”  He looks around sheepishly as he leaves the room.  His neck, so close I could reach out and stroke it, have his pulse beneath my palm, is gone.  I expect to feel myself calm down.  I don’t.  The frantic lust for Jeff’s blood actually increases notch by notch as he grows distant from me; by the time he shuts the door, the fire in my chest chokes me.  I raise my hand.  
    I cough when Draper acknowledges me, barely able to ask, “Can I use the bathroom?”  
    “When Jeff returns.”
   “It’s….” More coughing.  I’m being suffocated by need!  “It’s kind of an emergency, please,” I say, and everyone turns to look at me.  I don’t care.  The room is turning red.  
    “All right,” Mr. Draper says and turns back to his notes at the board.  I walk quickly into the hallway, looking for my quarry.  I run to my right, turn left toward the water fountain.  
     There he is.  Jeff of the perfect neck, Jeff of my destiny, leaning over getting a drink.  My senses sharpen as I approach him.  The running water sounds like a waterfall.  The droplets coming off his lips float down like elongated balloons drifting through the sky.  I swear I can hear the brush of his eyelids against his pupils when he blinks.  Above it all, through it all, sounds Jeff’s blood coursing through his body.  It calls to me with a voice I have no power to refuse.  The seconds it takes me to reach him stretch into hours.  I am running, but time has turned thick and slow.  A strange sensation, an expanding, fills my mouth.  My tongue reaches out to touch my front teeth and finds they have sharpened into fangs.
    Jeff has no chance.  He lifts his arm to ward me off; I brush it aside like a cobweb.  I snatch his hair and pull back his head and bury my teeth in his neck. Jeff gasps.  The first hot spray of Jeff’s blood in my mouth exceeds my fantasies a thousand times over.  Any doubt that I was made for anything but this moment, this life, sweeps away in the rush of that impossibly delicious liquid.  
    “My God!” comes a shout from down the hallway.  I look up to see Principal Connelly standing a few feet away.  His clipboard clatters to the tile as his face turns deathly pale.  I am a vampire now, real and true, and I feel the surge of strength that comes with my transformation. With three quick strides and a twist of my hands, I could easily snap Connelly’s spine in two.  No need.  Jeff is my prize, my prince.  I throw him, unconscious, over my shoulder and sprint past Connelly, who shrieks and cowers against the wall.
    The giant, circular window at the end of the hall is my goal.  I have little time in which to find a dark place where Jeff and I can finish this ritual of intertwining our vampire lives.  Ten feet from the window, I leap.  The glass shatters around us.  I want to hang here in this perfect moment:  amidst a million suspended diamonds as we break the boundary from tedious mortality into a glorious, crimson forever!  
Reality Check:  Dream 46
ü  Two questions on health class handout with Dani Spaziani’s answers:
Who is a hero of yours?  Julia Caples
Why is he/she your hero?  She’s not afraid to pursue her passions.

ü  Name of Internet article featuring Julia Caples:  Meet the vampire-obsessed mother-of-two who drinks half-a-gallon of LIVE HUMAN BLOOD a month.”

Eliza Denton’s Dream:

     In Spanish class, Senora Backus is saying, “Entreguen sus hojas” when the principal comes over the intercom:   “Pardon the interruption, please.” Senora Backus breaks her own rule of using only Spanish in the classroom.  “Great.  Now what?”  
     Mr. Connelly continues.  “Normally, I would not interfere with classroom instruction for such an announcement, and I just want to say at the outset that this is a highly unusual case.”  Senora Backus sighs as if to say, “Get on with it; we’ve got a class to continue.”  I pull my phone from my pocket and hold it next to me leg, checking to see if I missed the vibration of Scott answering my text.  Nothing.  I don’t know what’s going on with him.  He’s in Tech. Ed. I know he can respond to my texts when he’s in that class; the teacher hardly ever pays attention.  It’s been at least five minutes!
     “This is weird,” Samarra Jones says.  Is she talking about Scott not getting back to me?  How could she be?  Then I see from the sideways position of her head that she’s talking about the announcement still coming from the intercom.  
     “...young man in my office who is having what I can only describe as a romantic emergency.  Perhaps it’s because tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, or maybe I’m a bit of a sucker for a desperate Romeo, but I’ve decided to humor him and the lucky girl out there who is the object of his affections.”  Mr. Connelly stops talking.  All of us look around at each other, questioning and shrugging.  Senora Backus barely has time to say, “Todos, escuchar ahora. Tenemos que...” when my favorite song in the world starts playing from the school’s speakers:  Christina Perri singing “A Thousand Years.”  Everybody thinks it’s a cheesy song just because they like to hate on the Twilight movies, but I don’t care.  I melt every time I hear it.  
     The sound of the song changes, and at first I don’t understand.  Instead of just Christina Perri’s voice from the speakers, the words seem to be coming from somewhere else, too, from many people.  The hallway?  I stand up.  I have to know what’s going on.  Senora Backus starts in a calm voice and ends up yelling:   “Eliza, volver a su asiento, por favor. Eliza, me escucha.  Hey, that’s enough!”  But I’m just the first one to get to the door.  A crowd gathers behind me and Senora Backus gives up.  What can she do?
     Lining the halls is the entire high school choir, dressed in gorgeous gold robes.  Usually they’re pretty cheesy, like when they sing the national anthem for school assemblies, but right now they look and sound like angels.  A hundred of them stand on both sides of the hall, singing my absolute favorite song in perfect harmony.  But why are they here? 
     I look away from the scene for a second to check my cell again.  Still no text from Scott.   What is going on with him?  It’s been, like, close to ten minutes now and he hasn’t said anything in reply to my text:  “Thinking about u.  XOXO.”  Where is he?  
     I’m just about to text him again when Elise Langschmidt nudges me, making me almost drop my cell.  “Hey!” I say, and she says, “Shut up” but it’s not the shut up like stop talking; it’s the shut up like I don’t believe this, and I look where Elise is looking.
     One of the members of the choir, this really pretty girl named Brittney that I’ve sometimes seen Scott talking to and it drives me totally out of my mind when he does even though he says she’s just a friend, she’s still singing but now she’s holding this sign in front of her and walking toward us.  
     The sign is super decorated with all kinds of tinsel and sparkles, like it took somebody hours to make, and the lettering on it is done in really cool, super-swirly calligraphy.  The main color of the sign is this gorgeous light purple, my all-time favorite color. I painted my whole bedroom in that color. I can’t quite make out the word on the sign at first; then, the Brittney hits a little switch to turn on these white lights outlining the word...and I see what it says:  Eliza.  For half a second, I wonder who Eliza is and then I realize, That’s my name!  But why would my name be on this gorgeous purple sign?  Why would the school choir be singing my all-time favorite song?  And why would Brittney who makes me crazy jealous be walking toward me right now and holding out her hand to me?  
     “Go, go!” Elise whispers in my ear and then pushes me toward Brittney who takes my hand and starts walking me down the hall with the singing angels on both sides of us.  Now the choir starts to hum the bridge of the song.  The warmth of the humming, the smiling faces of the angels, the softness of Brittney’s hand holding mine--it’s all so beautiful that I feel tears welling up in my eyes as we continue to walk slowly down the hallway.  
     Suddenly, when the song shifts from the humming back to the words, the choir members open their hands toward us, throwing a shower of purple flowers into the air.  The flowers must be made of some amazingly light material because they hang in the air like tiny parachutes slowly fluttering down, and just as the first bunch of them touches the floor, the singers throw more into the air so a continuous airy bouquet surrounds us.  At the end of the hallway, a bank of white-purple mist coats the floor and suspends in the air along with the flowers.  Now I just can’t help the tears flowing down my face, the scene is so beautiful.  
     When Brittney brings me to the edge of this purple cloud, she lets go of my hand and gently pushes on the small of my back.  She whispers in my ear, “Go ahead, Eliza; he’s waiting for you.”  As I go into the mist with the sounds of “A Thousand Years” still filling the air, I feel as if I’m entering heaven.  The purple-tinged cloud envelops me.  At  the exact moment a bit of fear starts to creep into my mind because I don’t know where I am, a hand reaches through the fog.  I recognize it and take it.  The mist thins to reveal him:  Scott, wearing a pure white tuxedo, holding a single red rose in his hand.  He says, in a low, silky voice, “Happy Valentine’s, Eliza.”
    “You did all this for me?” I ask, breathless.
    He nods and smiles and as we bring our lips closer together and the last strains of the song finish, he says, “I will love you for a thousand years.”  We kiss.  The hallway erupts into cheers of joy and I know, at that moment, that every girl in the world wants to be me.  
Reality Check:  Dream 47
ü  Text from Brittney Lowes to Eliza Denton:  “How bout telling your bf to stop looking down my shirt, bitch.” 

Scott Dundee’s Dream:
Get It On

     Third period history, we’re supposed to be doing group work figuring out questions about the Revolutionary War, getting ready for a debate between the loyalists and the rebels.  We’re the loyalists and the debate is tomorrow, so David Monroe, this total dork  who actually gives a crap, is after all of us to be ready for the debate, be ready for the debate, have you studied, are you ready for the debate?  
     He’s going on about how we have to undermine the credibility of the rebels, that we have to prove guys like Thomas Paine are nothing more than criminals, common criminals, and, bottom line, Brittney Lowes’s tits are driving me out of my mind.  Who gives one single solitary turd about the Revolutionary War?  It’s over, and guess what?  We won and now we’re the United States of America, yippee, ra-ra.  Who can even give half a brain cell to a lame debate when Brittney’s tits are falling out of her shirt, plus she’s wearing a perfume called “Eau de Do Me Now”?
     Brittney looks over at me staring at her chest, so I pretend to pay attention to David. “Do you have your list of strategies memorized?” he’s asking me.
     Come on, people, if you want me to pay attention, do not stick me in a group with females, especially ones like Brittney who is now bent over texting somebody, which she’s not supposed to do because it’s against the rules and she’s also not supposed to do because I can see that she’s wearing a lacy pink bra so now I need to adjust myself.  
     My phone goes off in my pocket.  Great.  As if I need vibration in that area.  I sneak a peek.  Who is this?  The text says, “I’m going 2 the bathroom. Meet me.  I want you.  Brittney.”  I read the message three more times. I don’t dare look up.  This is probably a joke.  A very cruel joke I don’t deserve, but maybe I do because she caught me looking at her boobs all the time, but, hey, what’s a guy supposed to do?  I read the message again, especially the three words at the end:  “I want you.”  
     There’s an old poster of Uncle Sam on the wall near the door, from the days when they needed soldiers. He’s got his finger pointing out, and the words at the bottom of the poster say, I Want You.  I check Brittney’s message.  Same words.  So is this an Uncle Sam come-fight-for-me want you or is it a...?
     No, it couldn’t be that.  
     I shouldn’t look up.  I have to look up.  I shouldn’t look up.  
     I look up and, swear to God, Brittney’s staring right at me and then, swear to another God even higher up, she licks her lips!  With her tongue!
     She gets up, strolls to the front of the room and talks to Mr. Draper.  Then she goes to leave.  But before she does, Brittney turns at the door (now she’s standing right next to the Uncle Sam poster and he’s still wanting me), and crooks her finger at me like she’s saying, “Let’s go.”
     Christ almighty, what am I supposed to do now?  What if this was happening to somebody else?  What if old Jackson Cruze came to me and said, “Dude, Brittney Morgan just texted me that she wants me.”  
     “No way,” I’d say.
      He’d say, “Swear to God.”
     “Get outta town,” I’d say.
      “She texted me that she was going to the bathroom and she wanted me. Then she went to the door and she turned to me, Scottie, and she licked her frigging lips at me and she did this finger thing that said ‘Come and get it’ and then she left.  Scottie, what am I supposed to do now?”  
     What would I tell old Jack if he came to me with that?
     “What the hell are you still sitting here for?  Go, dude, go!”  I’d tell him.
     So I go.  I get permission and I leave, hoping not to get totally punked.  I walk down to the bathrooms.  I look at the text again.   “I’m going 2 go to the bathroom. Meet me.”  Am I supposed to meet her in the girls bathroom? I mean, not that I can’t handle being in the actual room, but do I just waltz right in?  “Honey, I’m home!”  Do I knock?  Stamp my foot?  Text! That’s what I’ll do.  I take out my phone.  New problem:  What do I text?  “Yo, Baby”?   I don’t even get the first letter down when Brittney herself comes out and leans against the doorway.  
     “What took you so long?”  
     “I, uh, I…”  
      Suddenly, she grabs me by the front of my shirt and pulls me in tight.  “I don’t want you to talk,” she growls in my ear.  “Just get in here and get this done.”   
     The next thing I know we’re in the bathroom stall yanking off each other’s clothes like we’re four-year-olds at Christmas and our bodies are the presents.  And what a present Brittney’s is!  She must be feeling the same way about me because her tongue is in my mouth and her hands are all over me before I can even get my jeans all the way off.  
     I know the ideal first time is supposed to be all about friendship and foreplay and mutual understanding and all that happy horseshit.  The way Brittney’s breathing and pushing against me, she obviously doesn’t care about any of that, so I’m not stopping to make meaningful conversation, either.  After I make a few desperate pokes, she wraps her legs around my waist, part A slides into part B and we’re off.  She’s moaning and I’m groaning and for a second I worry that the walls of the stall aren’t built for this kind of action.  After another second I’m thinking I don’t care if the whole place falls down because the end line is rushing up toward me and Brittney’s shouting, yes, yes! and then we’re crossing it together, together we’re making it and man, what a finish!  
     I’m still breathing heavy, pulling my t-shirt on when Brittney leans back, her arms crossed over those amazing twin peaks, and stares at me.  “What?” I ask, and she smiles.  “What?” 
     “I feel bad.”  I start to stutter out an apology.  She leans in quickly and stops my words with her kiss.  “You know what I’ve always been taught?”  Brittney asks me.
     “Uh, no.”
     “When you find something good,” she says, “you’re supposed to share.”  
     She can’t possibly mean what I’m dreaming she means.  But after she tells me to stay put and ten minutes later she comes back with Zoe Chase and Andrea Sykes, and all three of them have that flush in their cheeks and that gleam in their eyes, I see she did mean what I dreamed she meant and oh my holy God what an educational day I’m about to have. 
Reality Check:  Dream 48
ü  Text exchange between Meredith Sutton and Eliza Denton:
ü  “Why’d you break up w/Scott?”

ü  “Too shy.  He hardly ever even held my hand.  Terrible kisser!”

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