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Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by loser.companymachine, Jul 28, 2014.
As Alexander watched the fire, he remembered one of the worst days of his high school career or, at least, of his chemistry class. Todd or maybe it was Steven, one of the football players at least or so Alexander thought, had “accidentally” thrown some very hot and volatile substance into the wastebasket. He couldn’t remember what it was, it didn’t matter anyway, but it had made the trashcan explode into a ball of fire and everyone had to be evacuated…in the middle of January, with three feet of snow on the ground. Christine or Chris, as Alexander was sure she would prefer to be remembered, had been at his lab table, even though she wasn’t part of his lab group, and she had grabbed his arm on their way out of the building and had made suggestive comments to him the entire time while an impromptu snowball fight got out of hand and he was hit by a stray ball that showered snow all down the back of his shirt. The entire event had been miserable and they’d only been lucky that the entire school didn’t burn down.
Alexander wasn’t so lucky this time. The building in which his new apartment was about to no longer be was already old and structurally unsound without the fire licking at it. That had been part of its charm, that and the amount of space for the money…which was likely linked to the age and structural insecurity. Of course, it wasn’t as if he’d put a lot of effort into finding the place. The idea of returning to a normal life with a job and school and other normal social constraints after he’d so successfully shucked just that twelve and a half months prior had made him irritable enough to head to a local bar where he downed some beers and thrown some darts and generally appeared more manly than he actually was. Between the beer and the darts, he’d come up with the highly suspect plan of throwing darts at a local map and renting the closest apartment within his price range to the dart. A few beers later, and he was actually throwing darts at a map and by the next morning he must not have sobered enough to realize how risky this plan was because before he knew it he had an apartment. He’d been rather lucky in his choice…until now.
It seemed that, only minutes ago, his neighbor had been banging on his door, yelling at him that he needed to get out because the building was on fire. The idea had been so surreal that Alexander had even paused to think of what a considerate neighbor he had. He’d then carefully gathered his most important things, his laptop, his phone, his wallet and keys, and calmly went to the door. It sunk in then that this wasn’t a silly fire drill; the building really was on fire. Logically, he knew everything that had to be done but fear and panic set in and he couldn’t think of anything but running for the door. The only thing that saved him was the fact that his apartment was on the ground floor and the exit was only feet away.
Once outside, Alexander could only watch in horror as the fire ate all of his meager possessions. He wished now that he had had insurance of some kind, not that he had anything worth insuring that he hadn’t carried out with him (just the laptop and the phone) or the means to pay for insurance. He vaguely thought of his landlord and if he had insurance (he had to, right?) and what it might cover. It could have been worse, he told himself. His upstairs neighbor had a goldfish or, rather, had had a goldfish because that neighbor was not holding a fishbowl and the fire had started upstairs.
By the time the firefighters arrived, it was clear that the building would not be saved. The best they could do was to try to prevent the fire from reaching the surrounding buildings. As the firefighters did their jobs, all that Alexander could do was to stare at the burning building, rooted to the spot. He kept telling himself that he needed to find a place to stay for the night, that he couldn’t just keep standing there, but he couldn’t move.
tab"Are you sure you're sober enough to walk home?" Kae asked her co-worker who, at the moment, was leaning against the bar door laughing about something the chicken had said three nights ago on her TV.
tab"Yeah, yeah, I'm -- I'll -- it's gonna be great! Tooooottallllyyy finnnnneee. I live, like, right, like down there, right there, so close so fast so safe!" Her slurred words and teenage girl demeanor forced a smile on Kae's face, but inevitably, she nodded and waved at her coworker making her way toward her apartment complex. "B -- hiccup -- byeeeeee Katttttiiiiieeeeee!"
tab"Thanks for inviting me out, Annette!" She waited until the woman made it safely across the street, feet away from the entrance, before turning around and heading back to her own home.
tabAnnette was nice; it had been their first time hanging out, only because the woman's usual drinking buddy was out sick and Kae was the next best thing, but that was alright with her. She was just glad that she hadn't morphed into the wallpaper as another nobody. Kae would have to decline on making this a nightly occurrence, though, but maybe every three weeks or so wasn't so bad. Annette's jokes were pretty funny, too, but they made less sense the more she drowned herself in booze (and boy did she quickly drown herself in booze; they were there for only an hour and a half).
tabThere was a crowd up ahead, buzzing with rumors and gossips and -- was that lady in a bathrobe and slippers? Black tendrils reached toward heaven, coiling and snaking and dancing in the air feverishly. The firefighters were in a frenzy, looking as though they had just arrived on the scene, but they were organized and their hoses were powerful. From what Kae could gather as she approached, a fire had started at the rickety apartment complex. Thank god she had signed her lease with somebody else.
tabThere was a swarm of people around her that was thicker than the smoke, a mix of onlookers and the homeless and residents (now newly-formed homeless), all staring at the bloodied flames and creaking house. They even took up the other side of the street and the ocean of concrete, slowing cars down and creating traffic, and blocking her way, more importantly. Kae shifted her purse and tightly held onto the strap. Only one way through.
tab"Sorry, excuse me, sorry, sorry, pardon me, excuse me." She tried not to push people too rudely, but sometimes it was inevitable when they were rooted to the spot as if their feet extended like weeds into the sidewalk. Kae kept her face tilted downwards, not wanting to meet anyone's eyes for fear of a confrontation or a conversation. She had already gone through her social interaction reserves for the day; any more and she was sure she wouldn't talk to anyone at work tomorrow.
tab"'Scuse me, pardon me, ma'am, sir, mister, Alex?" Her stomach dropped to her feet and tried to gnaw its way into the cement. But, it couldn't be... "Alex, is that? Oh, never mind, I'm sorry, sir, I think I've got you mistaken for someone else..." She quickly dropped her gaze, smiling politely at the ground. Feeling her ears heat up, she shifted her bag and rushed past the bright-eyed man -- only to slam her body into the real Alex not a second later.
Alexander was yanked out of his head and the dizzying thoughts of where he would begin with refurnishing his life when someone ran into him. He staggered a couple of steps and then his foot hit a raised section of sidewalk and then found himself on the ground.
He looked up dazedly at the woman who had run into him. She was somehow familiar.
“Hey, Alex, do you know Aubrey? She’s in our geometry class,” Tyler said, sitting on the top of his desk while they waited for the teacher to arrive in their biology class. He had a stupid grin on his face.
“I know of her,” Alexander replied. He was working on some of the homework his tutor had given him and so wasn’t giving his complete attention to his friend. Tyler was used to this and it didn’t discourage him.
“Well, we’ve gone out a couple times now.” Tyler didn’t generally talk about who he dated with Alexander, not that there was a particularly long list since they were only fifteen and dating in junior high didn’t count anymore, because dating was very high on the list of things Alexander was not allowed to do and he wanted to spare his friend’s feelings.
“Mmhm.” Alexander realized that he’d been going about the math problem in entirely the wrong way and he started to vigorously erase his work.
“And…well, I was thinking that we’d have lunch with her and some of her friends today.”
“Okay.” Alexander had discovered the key to the equation and he quickly scribbled in the answer.
Suddenly, it seemed, biology class was over and he was sitting across from three girls.
“So this is Aubrey,” Tyler said, introducing the girl who was, as far as Alexander was aware, still his girlfriend nearly nine years later. Aubrey smiled and greeted him politely. She seemed to be a sweet girl who suited Tyler completely. “And this is…Chris, right?” The girl sitting next to Aubrey did not seem as sweet as she looked him over thoroughly, like a wild dog deciding whether or not to bite. “And this is Katherine or Katie—I can call you Katie, right?” Katherine or Katie didn’t leave much of an impression. She wasn’t remarkably pretty or ugly and she was quiet, which was a relief in retrospect after the nuisance Chris made of herself.
It was that same unremarkable face that was staring at him now. It was hard to tell in the flickering light of the house fire, which made everyone look rather ghoulish, but Alexander was fairly certain it was her. He hadn’t thought of her in a long time, the quiet girl who always seemed to be in the background. He hadn’t meant to forget her but he’d been thinking less and less about high school since he’d graduated and the quiet, unremarkable people had slipped his mind first.
“Katherine Young?” he asked, quite surprised to see a face from the past on a day like this. He stood up and checked his laptop case, thankfully he hadn’t fallen on it but he would have to boot up the computer before he could be certain that it was undamaged. “I didn’t know you lived in the area,” he continued, turning his attention back to Katherine and her possible need for assistance.
meepWell fuck... She gulped. Just when she had thought she had gotten away from Alex, it turned out that he really had been in the crowd after all. Talk about an unwanted blast from the past.
meep"Uhm. Hey, Alexander. Been a really long time, huh?" Her ears were suddenly feeling hotter than the nearby fire; she was glad that she had left her hair down, as it served as the perfect cover up. "And I a-actually go by Kae now..." Her ears grew warmer at the nervous stammer, mainly because now that he was standing up, in the faint glow of dim streetlights, she recalled the rich color of his hair, the dimple in his chin, his saccharine smile (whenever she had the opportunity to witness it). He looked to be the same as back then, only aged slightly.
meep"My studio apartment is just four streets down there." Her brain abruptly connected two dots, seeing him dust off his laptop and how he was in front of this still sizzling area. "W-were...you staying here?" she asked, pointing the burnt building. "Oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry. That's so horrible; I can't imagine what you're feeling right now..."
meep She couldn't help but wonder if he still kept in contact with Chris. Kae often wondered about how the girls and boys had been, but the only person she still emailed was Aubrey, and even then, it wasn't as though they were in depth and interesting messages.
meep"What are you gonna do now? Do you have a friend in town or anything?"
meepYou could always invite him back to your place.
meep.........That's too scandalous.
meepIt's what a good samaritan would do.
meepShe couldn't tell if it was a demon or an angel whispering over her shoulder.