Encounters with the Writing Process
|She always sat on the bench by the fountain. It was her move, and Aiden’s countermove was to amble about as if he were taking a walk, ramrod straight to make his body seem taller than it could ever be, imagining his short stature didn’t belong with him and that she seemed to like his company.
Thus, approaching tentatively, he would wave at her, then would make himself comfortable crouching on the bench next to her. It felt like a cosmic event and it had seemed to be working as Aiden’s long -term goal was to establish an emotionally close relationship with Penny.
“Hi, Penny, how are you, today?”
Then, they would begin chatting. All through his planned coincidences, Aiden never sensed any resistance from Penny. It was as if she approved of these so-called chance meetings.
Until today, when Aiden walked toward the bench by the fountain. When he caught hat sight of Carter, sitting next to Penny. Carter, the tall guy who was both on the basketball and the football teams and on the Dean’s list to boot. Carter sat sprawled with one arm behind the bench where Penny was, obviously expressing his ownership of her.
Aiden slowed down feeling a terror in his bones as if he were losing his gait. As if his being there was now a forbidden act. As he slowed down, he saw Carter put something in Penny’s hand. Penny looked startled and at the same time her eyes found Aiden walking on the path. Carter saw Aiden, too, and waved at him; then Penny did, too. Aiden waved back not daring to disturb their universe or the universe in general that always backstabbed him. It was the pattern of his life, the fabric of his being with bits and pieces of his past following his shortness throughout his life.
So, he kept on walking all the way to the other end of the campus. On his way back, he saw that the bench by the fountain was now empty. He went to it wanting to kick it, wanting to break every slat on it, but he just sat on it exactly on the spot where Carter had been sitting and sighed. His sad frustration now overpowering him, he closed his eyes and felt the place where Penny was sitting when his fingers hit against something, something cold, small, and metallic, but he couldn’t grasp it. Baffled, he opened his eyes and saw that there was nothing on the bench where he sat. Immediately, he heard several shrill clanging sounds right under the bench. What was it he had made fall through the slats?
He stood up, his eyes searching the cement ground. When he bent down to look under the bench, he saw the small key chain with only one key on it. A serrated tiny metal thing encompassing its own entry, a cherished possession. That key had to have the ability to stop or enter someone’s life, but whose was it?
Suddenly, he realized it. He had seen it. He had seen Carter put something in Penny’s hand. This keychain had to be it. A romantic talisman, an invitation, a self-packaging of importance. The importance of the tall, handsome Carter, a tangible reality of what the world was made up. This bulkily knotted world identifying only with its only brand of choice—the outward looks of things and people. Aiden wasn’t going to let this world get to him. He would face it and throw the keyring at Penny’s face.
He found her in front of her dormitory, talking to another girl. “Penny,” he called to her triumphantly, “I have something that’s yours.” The other girl smirked at him before leaving Penny’s side and entering the building. “Aiden? What is that?”
Aiden held the keychain up high and jangled it. “See? This!”
“That is not mine!”
“I saw Carter give it to you.”
“Carter didn’t give any such thing to me. The only thing Carter gave me was a piece of gum. Where did you get that?”
"It was on the bench where you were sitting with him a while ago.”
“Silly! Carter had to go to practice and I had to drop a book at the library. It must belong to someone else. Give it to me. I’ll give it to the house mother, so she can find who lost it.”
Aiden dropped the keychain in Penny’s hand. A coincidental mishap? Of course, he didn’t believe her, but why expose his feelings for her? Why risk being vulnerable?
“Yeah,” he said, “Sure, you take care of it, Penny.”
Oct. 03, 2020-- CONTEST ROUND: Plot Background Story
All the other non-contest assignments are in "2020 NaNo Prep"