The Wave.




I began to re-write Sunday’s college class story closer to how
it happened, but then I remembered I’d already written it. Amazingly, still
preserved in the bowels of my desk, here is a story from my 2004 creative
writing fiction class. To maintain the integrity of my 22 year old self, one
year removed from the incident, I’ve tried not to edit too much… 😉
The Wave
She had written a poem about the back of his neck, and the
“myopic neglect” of such, before she knew his name. She had sketched the
angular side of his face from two rows back, and laughed inwardly at his witty
comments to his friends beside him. The haphazard moles that spotted his neck
and cheek were points of endearment, and the unwashed hair a point of
For two months, Shayna had pined for this film amateur, his
tight black jeans and his yellow plaid shirt. There were a few – two –
occasions where she’d actually looked him in the eyes while passing in the
hallway, and for her, time drew in its breath and hollow echoes of the world bordered around her. Those two walking-on-water moments merely intensified Shayna’s
belief that this man/boy was part of her destiny.
And so, on a late October day, before her Art of Cinema
class, she approached Craig, having learned his name from the class roster they all signed. Craig was just parking his bicycle outside the building,
and none of his entourage were present. Entourage was perhaps not the right
word, as Craig was by no means self-important and his friends were not
followers, but Shayna was always intimidated by this group, who wore shaggy
hair and gads of knowledge. Especially Chloe. Perhaps ‘intimidated’ isn’t the right word for how Shayna felt about
Chloe; it was more like bewilderment and vague dislike. Her class points were
empty, and her daggers for Shayna were fat. Though never overt about her
passion, Shayna sensed that Chloe had her own gravitational pull toward Craig.
So that when Shayna orbited near the two of them –outside the building,
leaning on the rail, comfortably smoking cigarettes—she was inclined to keep
her distance.
Therefore, on this October day, Shayna grabbed the wing of
Fate and approached the lone, if winded cyclist.
“Hi.” Craig looked up as Shayna continued, “I know this
might sound weird, but I was wondering if maybe you wanted to get a cup of
coffee or a drink sometime?” And then Shayna’s world froze…
“I know this is awkward, I mean, I don’t even know your
name,” she lied, and smiling, held out her hand. “I’m Shayna.” Craig reached
forward and held the outstretched hand. She could feel the adding-machine of his
brain attempting to compute who this stranger was, trying to download a person
in a touch.
“Craig.” He let her hand go, but maintained the gaze that
stapled her to the spot like a stuck butterfly. “Um, yeah, let me get your
number,” and he slid his cell phone from a tight black pocket.
She watched him type in the numbers. “Shayna,” she repeated,
confirming. Craig looked up at her and nodded, sliding the phone back. Trying
to make more of the scene, but inwardly dying to escape, “So, what do you think
of this class?”
“Which one?” He was grabbing a paper-bag lunch from the back
of his bike.
“Belton. He’s a little… I don’t know if ‘long-winded’ is the
right word…”
“I think he just takes time to put his thoughts together.”
He looked at Shayna, expecting perhaps more than she had scripted.
“Yeah… Okay, well, I guess I’ll see you in there.” And
Shayna turned, walking toward the entrance, unsure if she was more distraught
now having actually approached Craig, feeling perhaps like a stalker, an idiot,
an insecure American female. In the fog of her mind scrolled the adage: “Best
to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
Classes passed as they had, with Shayna sitting not too
close to Craig, but within the orbit of his voice. There was little opportunity
for acknowledgement on either part, because Shayna did her best to bolt from
the classroom before another encounter could occur. She wanted him to call, so
she could fill out the stick-figure image of herself she was sure she’d
conveyed. She wanted him to call, so she could laugh aloud at the things he
said. She wanted him to call, so she could etch into her memory the smell of
his unwashed hair. But despite her fantasy, Shayna felt that any casual
small-talk would just make her appear a foundering oddity. So, she fled, and
his only image of her remained a stick-figure in motion.
One Wednesday, Shayna left the building a few minutes late.
She saw through the glass-paned front door Craig and his intellectual group
loitering outside, and drew in a deep breath. Craig looked up at her as she
exited, and…waved. Her heart trampolined. Other members of the group turned to
look at who he could possibly be waving at, and puzzled, studied Shayna. She
could not brave approaching the whole seething frontal lobe, having to prove
her likability – her cool factor – to their prickly group antennae, or to draw
herself out in front of Chloe, standing at Craig’s side like one of his moles.
So, she smiled demurely into his eyes alone, nodded, and
walked into the night, leaving him to explain her relevance, or to allow his
advancement to fall as an innocuous gesture to an anonymous ghost. 

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