The following is the final collection of short stories I wrote for my Creative Writing course in high school. Like the second collection, these stories aren't related and don't have to be read in any particular order.
or Why Throwing Toys off a Balcony Is a Bad Idea
I think it was during the weekend, something tells me Saturday, but it could easily have been a Sunday. I know it wasn’t a weekday because it’s very clear in my mind that I didn’t have school that day. I don’t know exactly how old I was, but I was probably four or five, any older and my mistake would’ve been more stupid than funny. I’m not sure exactly what I was doing before it happened, but knowing me at the time I was probably watching some silly show on TV. I was always quite fond of Spongebob… I got off track, apologies. No matter what I was originally doing, there came a point where I was overwhelmed with a feeling to play with my toys. Innocent enough on its own, but that day I felt like trying something new.
I believe the first toy I decided to play with was a yellow dump truck. It had the Caterpillar logo on the side, you know, the one that says “CAT” with a small yellow triangle under the A? Yes? No? Oh well. I took it out of the red wooden box that held my various playthings and set out pushing it along the floor. Quite normal. But as I said, there was just something different about that day. My father was at work, and my mother was in the shower, and I really wanted to try something different. Despite the urge to do that something, my little child brain insisted that I needed some sort of permission. So I went and got it.
Casually walking towards the bathroom door with my dump truck in hand, I knocked a couple times and shouted “MOM!” She, understandably surprised, yelled back a “What?” over the sound of the deluge.
“Can I play with my dump truck?” I asked, with all the sweet little innocence a four or five year old’s voice tends to impose.
“Uh, sure!” she replied quizzically, probably wondering why I was even asking in the first place. It wasn’t as if I normally asked to play with my toys. Well, I had the permission I was looking for, so it was time to finally try that new something.
Did I mention that at the time, my family lived in an apartment building? 11th floor. Our balcony faced out over the front lawn and parking spaces. I like to consider that a fun fact. Another fun fact, I have always been interested in science. For a long time I thought I wanted to be a physicist when I grew up. Maybe I’m over analyzing, but perhaps that’s what led to me trying that new something that day. Physicists did study gravity, did they not?
Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter how I rationalized it back then, or what drove me to try it in the first place. I can’t really remember anyways. Doesn’t change the fact that I took that yellow dump truck and chucked it over the side of the balcony. Spiraling through the air, the yellow dump truck filled my young mind with gleeful curiosity. Four or five year old me probably thought it was cool. I mean, I can understand now that the spiraling was likely caused by a mix of wind and the shape of the truck as it fell through the air, but I guess I’d still think it was cool… Again, sidetracked. Sorry about that.
With the first toy resting on the front lawn of the building, seemingly undamaged - side note: it was very much so damaged - I went back to the red wooden box to find another victim -er- I mean subject. Yes, let’s just continue from here as if it were all an experiment. With a new subject, I had figured it would only be fair if I were to acquire permission yet again. Who knows, maybe mother would object to playing with Batman. The only way to be sure was to ask.
“Mom!” I yelled at the bathroom door, supplemented with a few knocks like the first time.
“Yeah?” She still sounded quizzical.
“Can I play with my Batman toy?”
“Yes,” she responded confidently. I figure that by that point she knew I’d be asking to play with my toys, and it would be easier for her to just say yes and move on.
In the movies Batman would always glide with his cape. Unfortunately, my Batman did not have such abilities. He bellyflopped, quite painfully I might add, onto the grass beside the dump truck. It just struck me that I must’ve been like the demon child from Toy Story who abused his toys. Oh well.
As you can probably guess, this pattern repeated itself quite a few times. A “Mom!” here, a couple knocks there, a “Can I play with [insert toy here]” followed by a “Yes you can.” As I said earlier, the details aren’t as clear as they once were, but I’m sure that approximately ten or twelve toys fell to their doom. The “experiment” would’ve continued until I ran out of toys had I not almost hit the roof of some man’s vehicle.
“HEY! WHAT’RE YOU DOIN UP THERE?” the man yelled from his black pickup truck. He seemed pretty mad, so four or five year old me ducked back inside the house. Something unimportant happened between then and the next important detail, so let’s just say I was watching more Spongebob until that understandably angry man came knocking upon my door.
“Ma’am, your son’s been throwing things off your balcony.” For some reason, every time I remember him saying this, it’s in a very pronounced Southern drawl.
“What?” My mother was very confused, as I had made it fairly clear that I was playing with my toys, not throwing them off the balcony. Or at least, that’s what she believed.
“One of his things nearly hit my truck. You should keep a closer eye on him.” He was trying to be polite, but his displeasure was palpable.
“Uh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.” My mother replied in disbelief, but it very, very quickly turned into fury as the men left and she turned to face me. I don’t know exactly what I said in response, but I do remember I was crying. But don’t feel bad, I kinda deserved it.
Fast forward a few hours, and I’m sitting on the couch in the living room. Mangled as they were, my toys had been returned to the safety of the red wooden box, where they’d remain until they next time they had to answer the call of duty. My mother got only more angry when she had to search among the grass to find my subjects while I stood by and watched. I like to tell myself that I helped somehow in the cleanup promise, but that’s a lie. Eventually, my father came home and my mother explained the situation. Understandably, he too was pretty angry. After a well deserved punishment along the lines of no more TV for a couple days, everything was back to normal. Except for those toys I threw off the balcony. They were well and truly broken. But everything else was normal. I think. Having learned my lesson, the whole thing was just a bad idea.
Mac and Cheese
or Why Telling Your Friends You Don't Know How to Make Mac and Cheese Is a Bad Idea
To cook can be quite therapeutic. But in my experience, or rather lack thereof, it’s been quite the opposite. There have been many times where an attempt of mine has gone horribly wrong. Once, when making ramen, I left the lid on as the water boiled. Almost a minute had passed before I realized that was a very bad thing to do, but by then there was already a wet, noodly mess on my hands.
I was well aware of my own ineptitude, and home alone, which is why I figured asking my friends for help was the best solution. At the time, I had a craving for mac and cheese, but I simply couldn’t make it on my own. Well, to be accurate, I could make it, but it didn’t come out the way I wanted. Following the instructions on the box yielded a watery sludge that resembled mac and cheese only in color. However, mac and cheese was what I needed, and without my parents home to guide me, my friends were my only salvation.
Just like every day after school, I was in the group voice chat with my friends. Now, the chat was generally used while we played video games together, but at that time we all were doing nothing but talking to each other.
“Hey guys,” I began, “could you help me with something?”
“What?” Jeff asked, uninterested.
“How do I make mac and cheese?” I asked casually. That got his attention.
“Wait. What? You don’t know how to make mac and cheese?” Jeff asked condescendingly, and I could hear Sam chuckling in the background.
“Well, it’s not that I don’t know how, it’s just the box lied to me the last time I made it.”
“That made even less sense! The hell do you mean the box lied to you?” In retrospect, I can understand Jeff’s surprise, considering how I phrased myself.
“Well, the box said I need a cup and a half of milk, and it came out too watery. Can you just tell me the right amount to add?”
“Hold up,” Sam interjected, “do you want me to just walk you through this?” His chuckling grew louder.
“Uh...I only needed the amount of milk to add...Ok whatever let’s do this, walk me through.”
“Ok. Grab a pot, put water in it, and boil it.” Sam commanded, yet with the intonation as if he were talking to a child.
“Alright, the water’s heating up.” I responded, having done as he asked. I paced around the kitchen impatiently for a minute or so until I saw some bubbles rise from the pot.
“Hey, the water’s boiling. What now?”
Jeff, who hadn’t been talking for a few minutes, spoke up to check my work.
“Yo, I don’t think the water could’ve boiled that quickly. What does it look like in the pot?”
“Uh, well there are a couple bubbles. That means it’s boiling right?”
I could hear Jeff sigh while Sam resumed his chuckling from before.
“No, it doesn’t,” Jeff said, exasperated, “It’s only boiling if there’s a lot of bubbles that constantly come up. How do you not know how to boil water?”
“I’m sorry that I’m not a master chef! Fine I’ll wait another couple minutes. Sheesh.” I returned to pacing.
The water was boiling, and taking the initiative I had placed the macaroni inside to cook. Once that had been completed, I strained the water out and grabbed the milk. This was the source of failure upon my last attempt, and so this was where I returned to my guides for help.
“Yo guys, the macaroni’s cooked. I’m adding in the cheese powder and milk now. How much milk do I add?”
“Bro, follow the box. Add whatever it says to add.” Sam retorted, engrossed in some game.
“Dude, I’ve told you this. The box lied to me. The last time I did what it said I got watery mac and cheese. It made me add way too much milk.”
“Ok, it’s simple, then,” Jeff said, voice dripping with annoyance, “just add less milk.”
“But I don’t know how much less!”
“GUESS!” they both said in unison, tired of my endeavor. Alas, the entire point of asking for assistance had been missed. My hopes shattered, I grabbed the milk. However, fate was on my side that day. As I began to pour in the milk, which most likely would have yet again been too much, my mother arrived home from work.
“MOOOOOMMM!” I yelled at the door, catching her by surprise.
“What! Why are you yelling! Is something wrong? Are you ok?”
“I’m fine. Can you make me mac and cheese?” I asked nonchalantly.
“Sure, fine, just don’t yell like that again. I thought you were hurt or something.”
“Nah, I just really wanted mac and cheese. I tried making some, but it didn’t work out.” With my macaroni now in better hands, I retired downstairs to my computer. After all that commotion, and I ended up asking my mother to make it for me anyways. Even worse, Jeff and Sam won’t ever forget the time I had to ask them how to make mac and cheese. All in all, it was a pretty bad idea.
or Why Watching Horror Movies in the Dark Is a Bad Idea
Out of all my friends, I’m the one that gets scared the most easily. Yet I love watching horror movies. I’ll find a new flick, present it to my friends, and get everyone watching it late it at night. Except I’d be watching it through my fingers, crossed over my eyes in attempt to prevent being scared. Somehow I still find it fun.
One day, my friend Jeff had told me of a great horror movie that he had just seen, Housebound. He didn’t tell me much else other than the fact that it was a horror movie and it was good, but that was enough to convince me to see it. So later that night, I asked Sam if he wanted to watch it at as well. Using a new web-app I discovered online, we watched the movie at the same time through Netflix. However, Sam knew I was easily scared, and wanted to up the ante.
“Hey, you know what would make this even better?” Sam asked.
“What?” I asked in return.
“It’d be way scarier if you turned off the lights.”
“Uh, yeah, it would be. But why the hell would I want to do that when I’m home alone.”
“Bruhhh. I’ll do it too.”
“How will I know you actually did though?”
“Google hangouts bro. Video call me.”
It seemed reasonable enough. Having someone there on a video call did lessen the feeling of being home alone. But I hadn’t realized it was all part of Sam’s plan to scare me more than I normally would have been.
One thing about you should know about my basement, the room where I was watching the movie at the time, is that there is a small device plugged into the back wall beside a yoga ball. It makes a high pitched noise to keep out bugs, or so my dad says. All I know is that it has a red blinking light. Or rather, I know that now.
About thirty or so minutes into the movie, with a few scares here and there, Sam began having his type of fun.
“Uh, Rudy, I don’t mean to alarm you, but I think there’s something behind you.”
“WHAT! WHERE! WHERE!” I screamed in terror, spinning around in chair to face an empty room. I could hear him laughing pretty hard.
“Ugh, you jerk.” I tried returning to the movie, but this pattern repeated itself quite a few times. I took too long to learn. However, at one point there was something that even scared Sam.
“Hey Rudy, I’m being serious now, what’s that behind you?”
“Yeah ok, nice try.” I replied, tired of his cheap attempts to frighten me.
“No, I’m being serious, there’s something on the back wall.” A seriousness entered his voice, one that hadn’t been there the whole night before. Fearful, I moved my head to the side, so that my webcam could see past me and show what was the cause of my dread. Behind me on the back wall were two bright red dots, the eyes of a demon burning into my soul. I let out a yelp, and clenched my fists in preparation to defend myself. But then the eyes disappeared.
Then they came back.
Then they disappeared again.
This happened a couple more times as I slowly became less frightened and took a closer look at the demonic eyes behind me. When I discovered the source of my fear, I laughed.
“Whew. It’s just the bug noise thingy dude.” I said, returning to watch the movie.
“Wait, the what now?” Sam asked. To be fair, I wasn’t that descriptive.
“It’s this thing that makes a noise to keep bugs out. Has a red flashing light. It was reflecting off the yoga ball in the back, that’s why it looked like eyes.”
Laughing, Sam also returned to the movie. Or rather, returned to attempting to find ways to scare me. I’d be lying if I said he didn’t scare me again. I’d still be lying if I said it happened less than ten more times. Watching a horror movie like that was just a bad idea.
or Why Going down a Steep Hill on a RipStik Is a Bad Idea
Over the summer, my friends really got into skateboarding and longboarding. I tried, yet for the life of me I could not ride one of those devices. However I tried, I always fell within the first few seconds. Surprisingly, despite that fact, I could ride a RipStik quite well. However, there are quite a few limitations with a RipStik. Unlike my friends on my skateboards or longboards, I couldn’t reach high speeds on my own, and going uphill was its own bonafide Hell. In addition, if I ever did get going fast enough, making a quick turn was essentially impossible, and there’s no way to stop a RipStik other than waiting for friction to take away all the speed. All this basically meant that there were just some locations that my friends could go that I could not. But sometimes they forget to mention that…
Near my friend Jeff’s house is a street called Widow Rites. Street is a bad term, a more accurate descriptor would be “really really really steep hill that ends in a cul-de-sac.” Again, this was something that my friends had failed to inform me. One day near the end of summer, while my friends and I were hanging out at Jeff’s house, they decided to go out longboarding down Widow Rites. I, having no idea what this meant, tagged along with the RipStik.
As we began our ascent up the hill, I was quickly left behind. Chris and Jeff zoomed away on their longboards while Phil chased after them on a bike. Realizing there was no way I’d catch up to the them, I picked up the RipStik and trekked to the top of the hill on foot. By the time I got there, my friends were nowhere in sight. I figured the fastest way to catch up would be on the RipStik.
“Hey Phil, where’s Rudy?” Jeff asked.
“I have no idea, he was behind us the whole time.” Phil replied.
A low rumbling could be heard from farther up the hill.
“Oh shit. Is he coming down the hill on the RipStik?!” Jeff was getting anxious. “Did nobody tell him he can’t come down Widow Rites on a RipStik?!”
“Uh I guess not,” Phil said, “but he’ll be fine right?”
As I picked up speed, the increasing wind made it harder and harder to keep my eyes open. Eventually I was just barreling down a hill at something around twenty miles and hour with my eyes half closed and full of tears. As it turns out, just before Widow Rites ends in a cul-de-sac, there is a street going off to the left. That’s where Chris, Jeff and Phil all turned. However, Chris and Jeff had the benefit of sliding gloves, which let them slide into the turn on their longboards. Phil just slowed down and made the turn normally, a benefit of riding a bike, or rather just having brakes in general. I had none of those benefits. As the cul-de-sac came into sight, I could also see Phil waiting at the turn, yelling at me to slow down.
“I CAN’T STOP! I CAN’T STOP!” I yelled back in response. There was nothing to do but keep on going. As I flew past the turn I was supposed to make, I could see Chris and Jeff running back to see the immediate wipeout.
As I entered the cul-de-sac, I was presented with two options. I could either fall on the asphalt and likely get hurt quite a bit, or fall onto the grass and get hurt a bit less. Alas, the grass was wet. For some odd reason at the time, I thought it was worse to get wet grass stains over my clothes. Instead, I attempted to make the turn in the cul-de-sac and go back the way I came.
However, that was simply not possible. The very moment I twisted my body to turn the RipStik, I tumbled off headfirst. My head hit the ground with a resounding thud, but luckily I was wearing a helmet. I rolled a few times before I came to a stop, at which point I jumped up and began shouting expletives due to the pain in my foot. No broken bones, luckily, but scraping across asphalt is never pleasant. Once my friends reached me and realized everything was alright, we returned to our respective modes of transportation and continued back to Jeff’s house. While it resulted in only a few scrapes, going down that hill was a really bad idea.