Small Things

So I found this from two years ago and decided to type it up, even though it’s admittedly a sad attempt at teen fiction, I’m literally keeping it for a single line – “Small things for one person aren’t the same as someone else.”

The moon’s really bright tonight, hopefully he’s not a vampire.

Rose rolled her eyes at her best friend Kristine’s text. She was sitting on the couch when she replied, her leg bouncing up and down from nerves.

Uh, yeah, I think you’re getting vampire and werewolf confused.

Whatever. Hopefully he’s not either one. Or a frog, either. This was followed by a string of frog emojis and crowns, which was then followed by a series of lips emotes and a winky face.

Rose was about to reply when she heard his pick-up pull into the guest spot outside, so instead she grabbed her jacket and headed out the front door.

There he was in the pick-up, anything but a werewolf, vampire, or frog. Rose didn’t really know what he was, not to her anyway. He was just Sean.

Some might say that fate would have it that in a chemistry class of 400 people they’d sat next to each other. Well, lately she’d been thinking that if really was fate she’d like to blow up fate with a bunsen burner.

Because in that class they’d learned about mixed properties and Sean had been helpful in explaining that to her but he was really a master of sending mixed signals.

“It’s nice to have a friend in a class like this,” his words from lunch earlier that week jackhammered around in her head as they got out of the car and started out on the path. She wished the words would shut up so she could hear more important things, like the possible approach of rabid wolves or bears. Or what he was saying.

“But you said you didn’t like Blink 182, right?”

She was partially paying attention to his question, partially second guessing why they’d thought it would be cool to come out on a nighttime walk in the creek bed behind her house. She was glad the moon was so bright. Because the path was not. No, with the overhanging tree branches and the shadowy twist in the roads, it was anything but bright.

“Well, no, I said I just didn’t really know any of their songs. Just that one they always play on the radio,”

He chuckled. “Which one?” How was it even fair to the rest of humanity for his green eyes to be that bright even at night? She was pretty sure her poopy brown eyes were not having the same effect. It’s nice to have a friend… Friends? Was it because her hair was flat and straight and her eyes didn’t shine in the dark?

Oops. That nighttime daydream again. She snapped out of it. “Oh, it’s that popular one. They played it at my high school graduation. It can be sad, depending on where it’s played, I guess.”

“At your graduation? At mine they played Pomp and Circumstance.”

“Yeah, yeah, well they played that too. I mean after that. The Little Things?”

“Oh! You mean All The Small Things.”

“There we go! The small things.”

She sang the start of the opening verse then he joined in and they didn’t stop until they reached the end. “Say it ain’t so, I will not go…”

She was a little less worried about rabid wolves now because chances were they would be scared away by their terrible rendition.

After they stopped, just back to talking, she couldn’t help but notice both their hands were shoved into the pockets of their own jackets.

All the small things.

Getting shushed in the library by the girl with the braids because they were laughing too loud at pictures on their old Myspace account when they were supposed to be doing their group project. Getting disgusting chicken at the wing place on campus and finding out that he was colorblind and he got mustard instead of ketchup out of the big squeeze tank. That he wasn’t put off by her addiction to ranch dipping sauce and that fact that even though the chicken was terrible they still wanted more. That they both thought fishing on TV was hilarious. When the wind messed up her hair in his car because the air conditioning was broken and he always had them down. The way his eyelashes curled up at the corners. How he was always looking at her taking notes instead of taking notes himself because he understood it already.

How he just casually mentioned he just got out of a long relationship so he wasn’t looking for anything. She thought that whoever that girl had been, she probably had not noticed all the small things because if she had she never would have given them up.

She also wished that she had held on because now Rose was left agonizing about what all the small things meant and summing them all up into one big seven letter word – friends. She kept on going because all that some people wanted in the world were friends, so maybe this wasn’t that bad.

Friends, her breath puffed into the rising fog. They usually walked the trail in the day, but today they both had to work so they decided it could be fun to go later. Rose had no anticipated later would involve quite so much creeping cold, locked barbed wire fences, gates, dogs whimpering at them through those gates.

“Look, the creek is all dried up,” he said, leaning over the rail.

She pressed up against the metal bar, and she felt the cold through her jeans. The light from the moon cradled the rocks in the creekbed below. At certain points of the year a river flowed right through it, but right now it was just about as dry as the roof of her mouth when she thought about telling him how she felt.

“Yeah, it’s because it’s manmade and they turn off the water supply to save water from evaporating when they don’t need it.” As she was talking she realized she was talking about water supplies, for God’s sake.

“Wanna go down there?” His eyebrows were tilted upward and she couldn’t resist his eager spirit. He got an idea in his head and the light in his eyes got even bright when he ran with it.

“I thought you’d never ask,” she said, and jumped over the railing.

“Well, after you then,” he said and hopped over onto the rocks too, following behind her.

She tiptoed down the incline, checking for loose rocks with her big toe from inside her combat boots. “If I break my neck it’s your fault,” she told him.

“Woah,” he said, stumbling on an unsteady rock. “And if I break mine?”

“Still your fault.”

They reached the middle of the riverbed, some of the rocks from the slope that they’d kicked loose still tumbling down by their feet. It was warmer there, with both sides of the path rising around them. All Rose could see now were the treebranches hanging over the edges.

Even though it was warmer, she shivered.

Sean saw her. “We can go back up if you want,” he offered.

“And miss hanging out with all the homeless people down here? Never.”

“You’re right, that’d be a shame,” he said as they kept walking. The gravel and rocks and things long dried up crunched beneath their feet.

“Better than chemistry, right?”

“Better than chemistry. Until one of us gets eaten.” She noticed each of them had their hands inside the pockets of their jackets again.

“Until we go through that overpass?” He pointed.

“That’s where all the homeless people probably live.”

The freeway crossed over the trail, arching over the creekbed. As they got closer, they could hear the cars whooshing above their heads, a high speed whaling.

“Did you happen to bring a flashlight?” Rose asked. Not only was it louder under the bridge, it was darker. Much darker. You couldn’t even see the poop brown of her eyes at all anymore. The concrete walls of the overpass were lit up by a single dim light that actually made the visibility worse, flickering like a fire alarm.

“Nope. I dropped out of boyscouts, remember? I’m never prepared.”

Yeah, she remembered. They’d been learning about covalent bonds and bonding over a mutual love hate relationship with coffee when they started talking about girlscout cookies, which lead to that tidbit of information.

“Yeah, I remember,” she said, wondering if he, in fact, remembered. Small things for one person aren’t the same for someone else. “Still coulda brought a flashlight.”

“But I dropped out before I got a hang of the whole ‘be prepared’ thing.”

She laughed and the sound skittered through the overpass, bounced off the walls, then died in the throat of the exit.

Ahead of them the dried up ravine curved to the right, the turn overgrown with shrubs and trees and long-fingered branches. She couldn’t quite remember where they were in relation to the trail, after walking so long in the dark.

“I think maybe we should -” she began quietly, but Sean was saying something.

“Hey, Rose – wait, what?”

“Nothing. What were you saying?”

Something about the tone in his voice made her forget that dark masses of moss were creeping up the walls and the cars overhead were whispering by without the slightest clue of what was beneath them. Or that they were quickly approaching the turn in the path in the overpass that lead to absolute darkness. The tone in his voice made her think none of that mattered at all.

“I guess I was saying that now seems as good as a time as any to tell you -”

Her heart immediately found its way into her throat, and while it was at it, decided to start beating in overdrive. Above them a siren whirred by then faded.

Finally, finally she could figure out if he was a vampire or a werewolf or a frog or something else, or maybe just Sean. They were out of the overpass now and about to go around the bend.

She couldn’t bring herself to look directly at him.

“-and I guess I wanted to say that-”

She tried to focus on his voice but the sound of the freeway was swelling in her ears.

A horn honked and they stepped around the curve in the path. She really wished she had brought a flashlight now because even though the moon was bright she couldn’t even see a foot in front of her. She definitely did not remember this part of the path. Remnants of light from the overpass clung to her feet, and she really wanted to turn back, but she wanted to hear him even more.

Then she realized he wasn’t saying anything. She spun around.

The moon was bright overhead, the dim light in the tunnel blinking at her. Fog was pooling at the foot of the entrance. But it was silent.

“Hello?” She called out, quietly, because fear was pinpricking up her neck.

She would never be able to find out if he was a werewolf or a vampire or a frog, because he was gone.


7 thoughts on “Small Things

  1. Excellent work. I like the subtle vampire elements that didn’t overpower the rest of the story – especially avoiding teeth. You could also make it a good horror story with just a tweak to the end (like his lips on her neck, keeping in line with the subtlety).

    Regardless, the story was great. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Far from a ‘sad attempt’, Lily, this is an accomplished piece of writing, conveying all the angst and anxiety of teenage relations, while being suspenseful and mysterious and then ending, so agonizingly unresolved.

  3. Hi there,

    I actually read this story and enjoyed it, which usually doesn’t happen on blogs for me….

    You’re a good writer.

    Thanks for coming by my blog before….


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