Monday, September 24, 2012

A Separate Peace Story



Hi guys! I know this is a second long post but I really really love this piece that I wrote. I dedicate it to my friend L who inspired me to write this. It was a long night and we were both pretty tired. I was talking to her through google chat and she was required to read A Separate Peace for English Class. I had read it towards the beginning of the year and her conversation inspired me to do this. I hope you guys enjoy it even though it's not Coffee Shop and even if you haven't read A Separate Peace. I didn't like it but I do know a couple people who did. I really took some time to write this and I feel like a little bit of soul is in here. I would love any constructive criticism. It was all in good fun. Please don't be offended for any reason. xx
(It would be dishonest and bad if I put a coffee shop tag right? heheheh ;))
I sat down at the Mess Hall. My bags were already in some room far away from thought. I hadn’t met my roommate yet and wasn’t really planning to. The plan was isolation because being alone meant that no one could hurt you. I ran my fingers through the choppy remains of my hair. It was once a beautiful thing with curly locks all the way down to my shoulders. War was a horrible thing. No one knew how bad war was going to be until maybe the second or third year. People forgot what normalcy was. They didn't question the fact that a strict curfew was assigned or the fact that nobody ate butter anymore. 

No one disturbed me as I ate, unwillingly, the food they put in front of me. After eating, I went up slowly up the stairs. Everyone was still eating but I was disgusted by Devon. I missed my old school but there was nothing I could do about its closure.
“Hey, what was your name?” He walked in, my roommate. I couldn’t help gawking and my mouth forgot how to close. How had I not heard the water rushing from the shower spout? He was standing there with nothing on besides a shabby towel. I stepped back and closed my eyes. One. Two. This is just a dream. One. Two. He scrutinized me and I pushed the brown cap over my hair. I was standing right next to the bathroom door.  Ma had taught me how to squint my eyes a bit and frown; just like how a guy would do it. I tried to swallow my nervousness but it wasn’t going anywhere. I had suddenly forgotten my name, my new name.
“George,” I said so abruptly I had scared myself. I shook my head twice hoping he didn’t hear the surprise in my voice.
“George, huh, I’m Hans,” he said with his mouth curving into a small smile.
“Great, you know I’m just gonna use the bathroom,” I said running forward. I shut the door behind me and locked it too for good measure. I sat with my back against the wall, facing the sink.
“Do you want the towel?”
“NO!” I could hear Hans shrug and I tried not to breathe so loudly.
“That George fellow is still in there.” I heard a familiar voice, Hans. I shook myself awake. How could I have fallen asleep in the bathroom? The knocking came next. I stood up and messed up my hair some more. The cap came on and I was ready to leave the sanctuary of the bathroom.
“Hullo Hans,” I said trying to make my voice go deeper.
“George,” he nodded his head. “These are my good friends, Gene and Phineas.”
“Call me Finny,” the second one said. I tried to stop my mouth from gaping once more. He was so good looking. I couldn’t stop from staring at his wonderful figure. His golden hair reflected the sunlight. I was in love. I couldn’t control my own impulsive feelings. Ma warned me not to get attached to anybody, but here I was already in love with the second guy I had met. The first one, Gene, eyed me suspiciously.
“Gene,” Gene said quietly.
“Nice to meet you Gene,” I said pushing myself closer to Finny. Gene turned his back, blocking my path.
“Well I’ll be going now, won’t you Finny?” He was already turning to leave without so much as a goodbye in my direction. 
“Let me talk to this chap here for a second more, Gene,” Finny said. Hans shrugged. The air was tense and I could see Hans eyeing the windows. 
“I never got to finish my meal,” Hans said slipping away. I was in an empty room all alone with Finny.
“Tell me about you,” I said eagerly listening. The tenseness was gone and it had been replaced with the wondrous charm that Finny carried around with him. 
“I play sports, would you like to join us later in Blitz ball? It’s a game I made up…” His voice trailed on. He was passionate about sports and I admired that about him. 
“Sure,” I said. We causally talked for more than an hour. Devon wasn’t so bad anymore. I had found someone brilliant, handsome, and so charming. Ma always said that I fell in love stupidly and too soon, but this time I knew it was real. I always knew in my gut what I truly wanted, and I wanted Finny more than anything.
***
I stood behind the wall, nervously. Hans was already asleep. Gene had asked me to meet me. 
I had been spending a ridiculous amount of time with Finny. Gene never wanted to join us. We would laugh together and he had the most wonderful stories. It was late one afternoon when I fell asleep with my head on his shoulder. He had no roommate and I was tempted to make his room my room too. But every time I considered, Hans would always pop up in my head with his caring smile. Finny woke up before me and since it was only early evening, he raced out to go jump into the lake. I hated when he ran off to do that but it wasn’t my choice, what he did. I woke up and immediately ran to the lake, without thinking of course, and he beckoned me forward. He had never asked me to join him in any of his ventures. The other boys were already lined up but Hans was nowhere to be seen. Hans had a talent for avoiding risky situations. I had the talent of throwing myself into them. It was getting harder to hide that I was not a careless boy, or a boy at all. 
“I’ll do it next time,” I told him and he jumped so swiftly. He didn’t seem to care that he could die. I was already walking along the path back to the dormitories. None of the other guys welcomed me and I had always felt awkward in large group gatherings. He raced after me and cornered me, with my back against a tree. I closed my eyes hoping that he wouldn’t hurt me. He was wet and I could feel gentle splashes of water from his hair dripping down. I opened my eyes again slightly. It had been about four seconds and both of us had been stuck in that awkward position. Finny was considerably closer to me and I had only seen this in a film. He was about to kiss me? I stared at him wide eyed. Was he into guys? My thoughts immediately jumped to the next conclusion. 
“Finny!” A voice yelled out. It was Gene.
“I know your secret,” Finny said whispering to me before leaving. “Gene, wait for me!” I stood with my back against the tree, unchanged. Everyone had left and the sun was starting to set. My heart felt heavy and the easiness of my relationship with Finny was gone. I walked off, heart beating faster than anything. That’s why I was waiting for Gene. He had seen something.
I waited absently in front of the building that Gene had asked me to meet him at. I took off the brown cap for just a second. My hair was starting to grow back but I knew that it meant for another unpleasant chopping. I saw him from the corner of my eye and hurriedly pushed the cap over my head. 
“George,” he said noting my brown cap. “You better stay away from Finny,” Gene said biting his lip. There were no other introductions. There was no need for other introductions. 
“He’s my friend,” I said back almost angrily. 
“Just stay away from him, okay? I don’t want to hurt you.” I nodded without saying anything more. I knew. I knew from his eyes and the wavers in his voice. He was in love with Finny, trying to have an impossible fairy tale. I stopped myself from scoffing; because I too was in love with Finny. Hans was worried when I had returned. I hadn’t been gone long and he hadn’t been in the room when I had left. I could tell there was a sense of dread on my face.
“It’s nothing,” I said falling asleep. I felt guilty because Hans always shared his troubles with me. At the crack of dawn, I raced towards Finny’s room. I didn’t know why I propelled myself there but there I was.  I stopped myself from charging in once I saw Gene. I cautiously stood against the wall, just within earshot. Gene was standing in the room looking a bit too cheery and glum at the same time. The curtains were drawn and the sun hadn’t streamed in yet. 
“Are you sure we won’t get caught?” Gene said carefully. It was barely daybreak and I wondered why he was being so suspicious. They were never up that early.
“No, what are you so scared about?”
“Let’s go,” Gene said aggressively. Finny nodded and I saw them leave. I was sure neither one had seen me. I didn’t say one word but I was hurt inside. How could Finny not have told me about this? He didn’t mention it once and this definitely wasn’t Gene’s idea.
Hans was awake when I returned to my room. I started to cry and Hans sat down next to me.
“It’s okay George.”
“I’m not really George,” I said between sobs. I didn’t know why I was telling this to him now.
“I know,” Hans said. “I found a strand of long hair in the bathroom. It looked like my sister’s hair.” I took the brown cap off and looked around for scissors. My hair had gotten dangerously long and I had been too upset to do anything. Hans got up and carried the scissors his parents sent him last fall. It was a peculiar gift but Hans treasured them. I nodded to him and with a simple snip snip, my hair had fallen to the ground. He sat down next to me once more and the hair remained on the floor. 
“Thank you for not telling anyone,” I finally said. How many other people knew my real identity?

Hans nodded his head solemnly. “Finny only cares for you. He’s going to tell Gene that.” What? I blushed slightly. Hans nodded again and smiled, patted me on the shoulder.
“Where are they going?”
“The beach,” Hans said. “No one was supposed to tell you.” I nodded meekly. Why had Finny kept this a secret from me? Even Hans didn’t dare try to answer that. 
***
Finny and Gene were gone for just one day. Gene seemed incredibly angry when he returned. We had trigonometry together and he had almost missed the big test. Finny caught me in the hallway and pushed me into the storage closet.  
“I had to do it,” Finny said without any apology or explanation. In some ways, one wasn’t needed. “If we want to be together I had to, George. Do you mind telling me your real name by now? I told Gene that he was my best friend and that I couldn’t live without him. But I also told him that I can’t return his feelings. He gave me no response. I don’t know what to do with him, George. I can’t ruin his whole god damn life.”
“My name is May, as in Mayflower.” I couldn’t help but smile at Finny. He was so caring and na├»ve but those were two attributes I especially liked about him.
“You have a wonderful name, May,” Finny said. We left the storage closet. It was the first time he held my hand.
I told Hans all about it when it became night. He seemed preoccupied with something else but I decided not to let it bother me. These days, Hans always looked so haggard and worried. I had tried asking before but he brushed me off in his usual smiling manner.
“Can I talk to you, M—George?” Finny asked from the doorway.
“Yeah, see you Hans,” I said. Hans opened his mouth but closed it soon afterwards. I didn’t look back twice before following Finny.
“You are the…” We were standing outside in the hallway; the hallway where Finny and Gene had agreed on escaping to the beach together. He was about to say something else but Gene had appeared from nowhere. 
“Are you coming Finny?” Gene looked angry. He glared in my direction before pulling Finny along. I shook my head. What was Finny going to tell me?
***
I raced to the hospital wing as soon as Hans told me what had happened. Finny was there laying on a stretcher, lifeless. I was so afraid, I started to bawl. Hans didn’t say one word. Gene didn’t look too worried about anything.
“You,” I shouted once we were out of the hospital.
“You can’t say that I pushed him,” he yelled back.
“Awful creature,” I said crying.
“You would’ve done the same thing if some girl rejected you. If I can’t have him, no one can. He said his heart had belonged to another.” Gene said. His voice had escalated to a shout. “Why are you so sad for that bastard anyway?” I realized that Gene didn’t know that I had the key to Finny’s heart. How could he be so blind?
“Finny’s not a girl,” I said quietly, almost a mumble. I didn’t know where the courage to say that came from. 
“Well I don’t like girls but I would suppose ole’ normal brutish George would.”
“He’s not a bastard either. He’s my friend and your friend.” I am not brutish.
“Whatever,” Gene said. I was so relieved when Finny awoke. He forgot what he was saying to me but I couldn’t care less. Gene didn’t look so happy.
***
It was a cold blistery day when Hans and I were assigned room-cleaning duty. The other boys were shoveling the railroads. Well, Finny was still in some hospital all the way across the world. I had received two letters from him and then the correspondence just stopped. I heard from a little rumor that Gene would be venturing there later.
A few months had passed and I was missing Finny and Hans like crazy. The empty room always had such an eerie feeling and I tried to spend as much time as possible in the library or the Mess Hall. Hans had never told me but he was being sent into the army. My mind flickered back to the one time he tried to tell me. I felt guilty just thinking of his smiling face. I was a confused mess. 
I was minding my own business, doing a little favor for one of my teachers. I heard someone shout in the hallway and the librarian went out to go shush them. When she didn’t return I left too, trading an empty room for the empty hallway. I heard a huge ruckus happening somewhere. While running through the hallways, I tried to be careful, only to bump into someone.
“Hey!” I said realizing my brown cap had fallen off. My hair was growing longer, day by day. I couldn’t bring myself to chop it all off again. I was annoyed that someone had stopped me on my way to find out what had happened. I stared up to see Finny’s face. I think my eyes started to water but I wasn’t sure. It was so surreal that he was in front of me. He looked like he was in a terrible rush, almost as terrible as mine. He touched one of my hazel locks and I reached out to grab his hand. 
“Here,” Finny said appearing before my eyes. It was truly him. Our hands brushed casually and I could feel that electric spark. I never wanted this moment to end. I had that sinking feeling somewhere up in my throat that something bad was about to happen. Was it a hallucination? He was dangling some sort of note in front of me. I nodded my head and took it trying to follow him. At this point, tears were running down my face. I was just so relieved to see him. My brown cap was ignored and there was no one to see my longer strands of hair anyway. He stuck his hand out and made me promise that I wouldn’t go where he was going. How could I possibly lose him again? I ignored the feeling that I still had and he seemed so sad. I didn’t want to add to that sadness. I made that promise foolishly and opened the note. He was staring at me as I viciously tore open the envelope. When I looked up again, Finny had disappeared from that hallway. I felt a lurch in my stomach. He was limping about with a metal cast attached to his leg. I heard it scraping along the floor. When had he gotten out of the hospital? That question had just entered my mind. 
You are the prettiest girl I know. Once we get out, be my girlfriend, May? – Finny
I cried all over again and raced after him until I saw him bent over at the bottom of the staircase. Had he known that this would’ve happened? Gene was standing there at the top staring down with an expression that didn’t relate to the situation one bit. He had a stony expression; one that didn’t express sorrow or regret. I stared at him maliciously with my red eyes. 
“You!” I shouted crying out to the world. Gene said nothing to my accusation, confirming my doubts. Finny was dragged away and taken away from me once more. The hospital tried everything they could but nothing worked. I visited the hospital every day. My hair was tucked beneath the brown cap even though Hans had given his scissors to me. The school had some sort of melancholy spreading to all the hallways. Everyone tried to ignore Finny’s absence but he naturally came up in conversation. Every time his name was mentioned, there would be an awkward pause and a shifting glance towards the floor. No one played Blitz ball anymore and one by one, everyone was sent to war. Gene went to war later too, one of the last, and that was the last I ever saw of him. I couldn’t believe he didn’t know that I too loved Finny, not even at the very end.
***
The letter was hung above my bedpost once I was finally able to return to the warm beaches of California. I couldn’t stand the cold bitter winters that reminded me so much of Finny’s passing. He was in a happier place, watching down on me. War finally ended and I was released from that prison where Finny died. My days at Devon were long past. I smiled at the recollection of memories. If Finny were here, he would have been proud of me. I tried to forget about him sometimes and move on but he was always there in my heart. I could never truly forget his sparkling blue eyes. Sometimes I sent letters out to Hans but he barely ever replied. I knew he settled down somewhere near Devon. He was planning to marry a schoolteacher. I still hadn’t returned his scissors and he made no mention of it in any of his letters. 
It was a Saturday morning when I entered the old bookstore. It was close to my house and had nothing to do with Devon. I loved this little bookstore by the edge of the ocean where the balminess of the air melded together with the saltiness in my mouth. I reached for a book only to find someone had already grabbed it from the other side of the bookcase. 
“Sorry,” someone said as they bumped into me. His voice didn’t sound apologetic. I was zoning out, thinking about Finny. I was book keeping that day in the library when he had died. I wanted to sob but I quickly tried to take a sip of coffee. No one really saw that you were crying when you were doing something ordinary. The stranger eyed me oddly and I realized that there was no coffee in this cup. I stared down at the spilt coffee that was at one point soundly in my hand. When had that happened? None of it had spilled onto my summer dress. The stranger looked into my eyes before saying anything. I felt my mouth drop down again. I tried to close it but was unsuccessful. Was he someone that I recognized?  
“Let me buy you lunch,” he said walking a bit closer. “It’s a shame you won’t have coffee. Name’s Clark.” The book that we had both wanted was still on its book shelf. 
“Never mind that, I’m May. I’d love to have lunch,” I said nonchalantly.  I ran my fingers through my long hazel hair. It may have been twisted and tangled but I loved every inch of it. I smiled up at Clark. Finny had sent him here, that I was certain of. 

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