The other day I found a short story I wrote back in college. For those waiting to read my novel can maybe enjoy this in the meantime. Although it’s a little dated, I still like it.
It was a typical night outside for Anthony, except that it really wasn’t. He always found himself sitting on the old wooden bench in front of his condo, watching the sky and enjoying the breeze; this night was different, however for he had a guest with him. The wind blew against his shaggy blonde hair, leaving it a mess. He merely smiled though, and brushed his head with his hand. He glanced at the girl he secretly admired for months, also known as Alex. “So, are you always out this late, Anthony?” she asked.
Anthony nodded. “At this time of night, the breeze always feels good. That and I like to look at the sky at night. It’s a really nice way to pass the time.” Alex was staring at him. Anthony laughed, “Sorry, I must be weirding you out, huh?”
She shook her head and chuckled, “Not really. I mean, whatever floats your boat, right? I guess I feel that way whenever I go out and practice basketball.” Alex sighed, “I wish I had more time to do that.”
Anthony continued to tap his fingers on the table. Every once in awhile, he would steal a glance at her face, and try to memorize the details. Short auburn hair, white but not pale skin, and a nice, slim figure. Her bust was a nice size too, but he tried to avoid thinking about it. He distracted his sexual thoughts of her by staring at the field ahead of them; the grass swayed with the breeze while an old, muddy soccer ball slowly rolled in the direction of the wind. A child’s Big Wheel had been carelessly placed in the middle of the plastic terrain of the tennis courts.
The couple was silent for what seemed to be an eternity. He bit his lip slightly: why did the conversation just die? He knew he had to say something, before she would grow bored of him and decide to head home. His eyes were focused on the basketball court a few yards ahead of him when he finally thought of something. “Hey! Why don’t we shoot some hoops now then?” he bursted out.
“Hey, good idea! I didn’t think you were the sports type,” she replied. “If you think of it, you’ll be enjoying the wind while I’ll be enjoying shooting hoops. Best of both worlds, huh?” she giggled.
“Yeah, a win-win situation,” he said. He smiled and was glad that he brought up the idea, even if felt forced. Perfect weather with the perfect girl. Nothing could go wrong.
Alex grabbed an half-inflated Rawlings basketball from the basketball court. “Wow, I didn’t think this was still here. Nice!” She tried to spin the basketball with one finger, only to have it fall flat on the pavement, with no bounce.
“Is that your ball or something?” Anthony asked.
“Yep! I’ve had this sucker for ages!” Alex picked up and embraced the ball. “I grew up with this ball so I was a bit worried when I lost it. But it looks like it needs to be retired though…” she frowned.
Anthony walked up to her and grabbed the ball, “Yeah, it is in pretty bad shape, but we can still shoot some hoops with it.”
Alex smirked, “You’re right, it’s better than nothing!”
A female voice came from behind. “Anthony! It’s getting too late! Come back in and get ready for bed!” His mother was waving at him for the front door of their condo. No, not now! Sadly, he knew he had to comply or he would get a lecture the next day. He looked at the old basketball for a moment and tossed it back to Alex. “I’m sorry, I guess I better be heading back,” he said.
Alex merely shook her head. “It’s okay, I understand. I’ll practice by myself for a bit. Go on!” She smiled, which bothered Anthony. She was smiling, but he felt sadness coming from her for some reason. He waved at her weakly and ran towards his house, the last place he wanted to be in.
“Man, I completely blew it!” Anthony groaned. He let out a huge sigh as he looked out of the tiny window from his school bus. He was informing his best friend Zack, of the unfortunate incident the previous night.
“Wow, you’re actually talking to her now? I’m impressed!” Zack gave a hard pat on Anthony’s back. “To think, you were afraid of just saying hi to her a week ago!” he laughed. “But man, your mom has you on a leash! It was only nine when you headed back home? The night had just begun!”
“Yeah, yeah. Tell her that, not me. Besides, you know how useless it is arguing with her. She’ll just start her lecture about how now that I’m in high school, I have to focus on my studies more and get more sleep at night.” Anthony replied. Now that he was in high school, his mother had been pestering him more than usual. Despite the abrupt ending to his previous night, Anthony couldn’t help but grin. He did manage to talk to his crush, Alex, for a few minutes.
“It doesn’t help that your mom is a teacher at our school either. Man, she was talking to me the other day, saying that I ‘shouldn’t steer you into the wrong direction’ whatever that means.” Zack said.
“Did she really say that? Just ignore her. That’s what I do,” Anthony said. Anthony’s head jerked forward and hit the back of the seat in front of him. He cursed, hearing some laughter from the seats behind him. “Looks like our ride is over with,” he grumbled. All of the students from Peterson High School got up from their seats and got off, in a mechanical-like manner. Anthony was glad that school was over for the day, it went terribly slow because last night was the only thing on his mind. Anthony and Zack waved to each other and parted ways.
It was a sunny day out at the Westwood Acres, the condominium complex where he and a lot of his classmates lived. Anthony walked under a large pine tree to get out of the sun for a bit. He pulled the collar of his school uniform. He wished he could take it off, but mother would throw a fit if he wasn’t wearing it when he got home. The giant pine trees did not blend well with off-colored yellow condos which surrounded the entire complex. The place definitely looked better at night, when all the condos would light up, as if it were a landing strip.
A light breeze blew against Anthony, much to his delight. He stopped and closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of the cool draft that wrapped around his sweaty body. All of his worries seemed to blow away from his mind.
“You weren’t kidding when you said you enjoyed the wind, huh?” He heard a familiar giggle come from his side. He quickly opened his eyes. Alex was looking at him curiously. Her dark blue eyes were really close to his own, making him feel uneasy.
“Oh, s-s-sorry! I got carried away I guess…I bet I looked stupid, huh?” he asked. Even if he knew who it was, he was still surprised that he would be talking to her again already. He would have been happy if last night were the only time he talked to her.
“Not really, you looked like you were at peace. Even I felt relaxed just by looking at you,” she said. “Care if I try with you?”
“Um..sure?” he answered. The pair stood still, and as if on cue, a gust of wind blew by. Anthony opened his eyes; Alex was seriously mimicking him. Her eyes were shut as the wind blew against her short, light brown hair. She didn’t look stupid at all; in fact it was the opposite. The wind complimented her beauty; strands of hair flew forward, landing on her smooth, skin. She smiled gently, enjoying the air pass through her.
“This really does feel nice! I didn’t think standing still like that would be so relaxing.” Alex said.
Anthony simply nodded; he didn’t have the strength to speak. He brushed his hair back whenever the wind blew it, making sure he didn’t look dumb. He made sure he enjoyed every minute of his life right now.
“Well, I’m making progress, I think.” Anthony said to himself as he entered his home and threw his backpack on the corner of the living room. He plopped himself on the leather sofa and turned on the TV. Just like the wind, her presence always soothed his worries away and made him feel happy. Sure, he was nervous, but it wasn’t like with the other girls. He wasn’t extremely nervous around her and he had more confidence than he ever had when it came to approaching women. Most importantly, she accepted him for who he was and didn’t ignore him like all his other crushes did. There was also the matter of…
“I’m home! Anthony, don’t wear your uniform in the house, it will get dirty,” her mother said as she entered the house. Anthony took off his uniform vest nonchalantly and folded it up and went back to watching TV.
“Hey now! What are we missing here?” Elena asked.
“Oh sorry…” Anthony hugged Elena, adding more force into than usual though. “Is that better?”
“Whoa, settle down! You kill me and you’re screwed!” she groaned. Anthony laughed and let go.
“Anyways! How was your day at school, dear?” she asked.
“It was alright, nothing special. How about you?” he said.
“Same old, same old. Your classmates think they can get away with a lot of things just because they know I’m your mom. They’ll just never learn though, will they?” She chuckled to herself. “They don’t pick on you because I’m a teacher, do they?” she said. Her usual worried tone came in, and Anthony knew he had to put some effort into his response this time.
“No, of course not. Actually, it’s pretty much the opposite. I don’t get picked on at all, for some reason.” He was telling the truth. Perhaps it was because his mother wasn’t exactly the stereotypical mother but rather an easy-going, laid back woman who would always joke around. He would always hear stories from his friends how his mother would joke around with them and calling her “the coolest mom ever”. He used to agree, until she started being stricter with him all of a sudden.
Her mother grabbed the TV remote and hit the “Off” button. “Now now, no TV until homework gets done, okay?”
He groaned, “Yes, mother…”
“Elena. Elena! You know I don’t like the M word,” she said.
“Sorry, it slipped out of my tongue, mother,” he smirked. Knowing what was coming, he tried to cover his head but it was too late. His mother had already got him in a neck lock and began to press her knuckles against his head. “Okay, okay, I was just kidding!”
“Hah! Looks like we got a joker here. Well then, son, get cracking before I crack your head!” she joked.
He couldn’t help but smile. He loved his mother dearly, but she was getting too strict with him nowadays. She wasn’t like this before, so why is she being all hard now? Anthony grabbed his backpack and went to his room. He pulled out his Biology textbook and started studying. The faster he finished his homework, the sooner he could get out of here. The second Alex told him about her basketball, he knew this was a big chance to impress her. Alex took out his wallet; a few crinkly five dollar bills were at his disposal. The textbook displayed pictures of a typical “biosphere”, along with end of the chapter questions involving photosynthesis. Anthony moved his fingers under each sentence, stopped, and closed the textbook. Photosynthesis…who cares? I’ll just look at it this weekend.
Anthony left his room and ran into his mother while heading down the stairs. “Oh, you’re already done with your homework?” she asked.
“Yeah…it was just a few review questions which I was already working on the school bus,” he lied.
“Hm, is that so? Well, alright. Taking off then? Leaving me to suffer alone in this dreaded apartment?” she exaggerated.
“Oh hush, Elena! I’ll be back in an hour, tops,” Anthony shook his head as Elena laughed at herself. He couldn’t help but smile though; it sure beat a normal mother.
Anthony left the house and headed towards the shopping mall that was only 15 minutes away. His mind began to block out his surroundings as he imagined Alex’s reaction when he bought her a new ball. Happy? Excited? Nothing? Either way, he wanted to get one, despite of the outcome. He hadn’t been very confident in the past, but his encounter with her as of late has changed his way of thinking. “At least I can say I tried,” he said to himself. However, when he purchased the ball, he began to have doubts; the ball felt heavier and heavier as Anthony walked back home. The sky turned into a mixture of scarlet and purple swirls, replacing the bright blue shade that covered the sky. Anthony picked up his pace and headed towards the bench in front of his condo, hoping he could see her tonight once again.
He threw his body on the bench when he arrived, taking deep breaths. His breathing was ragged, no matter how much he tried to calm down. Girls…they really are something else. He sighed and glanced at the basketball court further ahead. It was empty, as expected. After a few minutes of silence, he decided to go shoot some hoops as it might calm down his nerves. He grabbed the Rawlings ball and went towards the court. While he wasn’t the greatest, he occasionally practiced shooting hoops at night, but he couldn’t remember if he started doing it before or after he noticed Alex. He never thought that his six-month (and ongoing) crush would join him last Wednesday for a game of horse. The two had never talked before; they only saw each other in the crowded hallways of school. He figured she was like the rest of the popular girls in school: perky, ignorant and only aiming to be the most recognized in school. However he was dead wrong after she talked with him that night. Somehow, he knew she was different.
Anthony threw the ball one-handed from the three-point line and watched it slam against the backboard, only to completely miss the net. Drops of sweat began to fall down his cheek. The beautiful crimson sky was replaced by darkness. Just how long was he out here, throwing this ball around? He dropped it and closed his eyes as the night breeze cooled down his body.
Opening his eyes, he noticed a figure was approaching the court from a distance. Anthony squinted his eyes and a smile slowly grew on his face when he recognized the stranger.
Alex waved at him and chuckled, “I always seem to catch you enjoying the breeze, Anthony. You must really love the wind, huh?”
He grinned, “Definitely. What brings you here, Alex?” Anthony asked, trying to act surprised.
“Ah, I was just coming back from a friend’s house when I happened to see you here. I figured I’d say hi,” she replied. “Oh, is that a new ball you have there?”
“This?” Anthony was lost for a second. “Oh yeah! It is. Um…this is actually for you, Alex.” He passed the ball to her.
“Huh?” The catch of the pass pushed Alex back slightly. She scanned the ball closely, pushing her fingers into it. “Are you serious?”
Anthony nodded, “Yeah, you said you wanted to retire your old one, right?”
Alex’s lips slowly formed a smile, “Thank you Anthony…I don’t know what to say. You know, you didn’t have to buy one.”
“I know, but you know…” Anthony didn’t know what to say.
Alex interrupted him, “Oh, that reminds me! I’m glad I ran into you tonight Anthony. I have a pair of tickets to a basketball game…I was going to go with my friend, but she doesn’t seem to want to go. Would you like to go with me?”
Anthony’s eyes widened, “Are you serious?” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” she asked. “Anyways, it’s for next Friday, is that okay?”
“Definitely! Count me in!” he grinned. They began to take turns at shooting. The only sounds heard throughout the night were the gentle hum of the court lights and the bounce of a basketball. It seemed like hours had passed by without a word being said.
Once again, a voice came out in the direction of Anthony’s house. “Alright kiddo! Time to come back in!”
Anthony passed the ball back to Alex and waved goodbye to her. She simply chuckled and waved back at him. Silence is golden sometimes.
The days passed by slower than usual ever since Alex asked Anthony out. He had not seen her since that fateful night, but he didn’t have time to worry about it. The SATs were coming up and Elena was making him study even more during the week. No matter how much he tried focusing on his studies, his mind would linger back to her.
On Thursday night, Anthony heard a knock on the door. He opened the door, surprised at who was behind it.
“Hey! Are we still up for tomorrow?” Alex asked.
“Yeah, of course! “ he replied.
“Good! I just wanted to make sure because I haven’t seen you in awhile. Been studying or something?” she asked.
“Yeah..the SATs are coming up, my mother wants to make sure I do a good job. You know how that goes.”
Alex patted his shoulder. Her slightest touch on him made him shiver. “Well, it sounds like to me you deserve a break, courtesy of moi!”
Anthony groaned, “Believe me, I need one. Especially since the SATs are-“ Shit! The SATs are on Saturday morning! How could I have possibly forgotten? He clenched his fist.
“Something wrong, Anthony?” Alex’s soothing voice calmed him down and brought him back to reality.
“Oh no! I was just trying to remember what I was going to say, but I forgot.”
Alex flipped her hair back, “Well, just swing by my place at around 8 o’clock tomorrow, okay?”
“You got it.” Anthony forced a smile. He shut gently and leaned back against it, cursing to himself. His exam was at 7 AM, meaning that he would get no sleep or able to do review unless he wanted to cancel the whole thing. Who would be stupid to do that though? “Ah screw it, I’ll just go,” he said. The SATs don’t define your college of choice, plus he could always re-take it.
“Oh? Is that so?” Elena asked. She was halfway down the stairs, which just happened to be located right next to the door. “And where would you be going?”
“Ah?! Oh um…just going out with some friends to do a group study session,” Anthony stumbled through his excuse. He knew she wasn’t going to buy that, but it was at least worth a shot.
“Wow Anthony, that was a pretty bad lie!” she laughed. The laughter didn’t catch Anthony off guard. Elena had always reacted differently from “normal” parents, she would prefer to toy around with someone before scolding them. “Well, maybe I would’ve believed you if I didn’t hear the whole conversation.”
“What? You heard everything?”
“That’s right. What luck, huh?” she said. You know your SAT test is on Saturday, there is no way you’re going to go out on Friday night,” Elena’s tone of voice changed. She was not joking around with him.
Anthony threw his arms out, “But I’ve been studying this past entire week! I can’t go out just for a few hours? I promise I’ll be back as soon as I can…pleaaase?” he threw in his famous “puppy eyes” look at her.
“Ha! No can do. You aren’t going to screw up on this just because of some girl, Anthony!” Elena said. “Also, why should I believe that you will be back so early? You lied to me about that Biology homework last week.”
“What? How do you know I did?”
“I asked your teacher the next day, apparently you had a couple of things due. But seeing that you did it anyways, I didn’t bring it up,” she said.
Anthony’s eyes widened, “Are you serious? Do I have any privacy at all? Ever since I became a junior Elena, you have pretty much put me on a leash! Why can’t I go have fun, for once?”
“You can go have some fun after the test! Why is this so important to you, Anthony?” Elena raised her voice. “Is it because of that girl…Alex? You shouldn’t be hanging out with her, anyways,” His mother placed her arms on his shoulders; he squirmed, feeling the pressure of her hands
For the first time in awhile, Anthony was scared. Elena’s smile had vanished, only to be replaced by a disappointed look on her face. Her fingers were digging into skin, numbing his shoulders and she was not throwing any jokes around, like she usually would. She was dead serious. Anthony could barely look at her in the eye; her gentle navy blue eyes were piercing into his. However, he knew he couldn’t back down. He had come this far, it would be pointless to submit. It wasn’t just because of Alex, some hopeless crush he had, but it was because he wanted to be free, going and doing whatever he pleased, like the wind. “What’s wrong with Alex? You don’t know anything about her,” he stared right back at Elena’s eyes, with more confidence.
“I have her in one of my classes. I see the way she acts around boys, Anthony and let me tell you, she’s just fooling with you. I know this may sound harsh but don’t try talking to her too much, she would be a-“
“…bad influence to me? Of course, Elena, everyone is a bad influence to me! I’m tired of being tied down to this damn place the whole time!” Anthony yelled. Don’t you care how I feel sometimes?”
“Look here! I’m only doing this because I love you and I don’t want you to become like me. Do you realize how hard it was to get where I am now? If I didn’t slack off in school, hang around with the bad crowd, we could’ve been somewhere better. You can’t be a screw-up like me..” Elena’s voice was no longer loud but calmer. She let go of Anthony and crossed her arms.
“What?” Anthony asked. “I like it here mother, this isn’t some dump. And you aren’t a failure either,” he embraced her as tightly as he could. He could go on, but he didn’t want to start saying mushy stuff. That would be embarrassing.
“Thanks, kid. I appreciate it,” she returned the hug and they let go. “However…that doesn’t mean I want you to go.”
“But! I won’t stop you. Don’t expect me to change my mind with a hug and a compliment!” she smirked.
Anthony simply nodded. He quietly went back to his room to study, attempting to make up for the time he was going to lose the next day and perhaps, to show his mother that he wasn’t throwing everything away for a girl.
Friday night had finally arrived. Anthony closed his SAT practice book and slowly left his room. He moved as slowly as possible, making sure Elena wouldn’t notice him leave the house. She was watching television in the living room, making it a perfect chance to sneak out. Luckily, the back door was conveniently located halfway down the stairs to that led to his room. Anthony gradually opened the door. Almost there..
“Are you off then? See you later.” Elena said nonchalantly.
“Uh…yeah. See you later, mom,” he said awkwardly.
“You know how I am with that word!” was the last thing Anthony heard when he left the apartment, running towards his destination.
“That kid…just like me back then,” Elena sighed. She chuckled at the thoughts of that.
Friday night came and went, as well as the SAT tests. While he was tired as hell, Anthony managed to finish the test with confidence. However, Elena did not let him off the hook, just like she had said. He was grounded for a month, forced to do chores around the house instead of going out. One day, Anthony was pulling out weeds out the front of his house when Alex strolled by.
“Hey there. Having fun?” she giggled.
“Oh yeah. Loads,” he groaned. Alex took off the white gloves, now covered with chunks of dirt and grass stains. He wiped the sweat off his forehead. “What brings you here?”
“Oh, I figured I’d say hello. The other night was really fun. We should do it again sometime,” she smiled.
Anthony nodded. “Yeah, though it won’t be for awhile…”
“Aw, you can’t even skip out on one of your chores? You did when you went out with me!”
“No…sorry. This might sound stupid, but I feel like I have to do this,” he said.
“Oh? Alright.” Alex started walking away. “Well, I guess I’ll just have to wait until then,”
“Eh?” Anthony asked but she was already gone. He must’ve been dreaming that last line. He put his gloves back on and continued to work. A gust of wind blew his way, but Anthony did not stop. As the gust blew through, his thoughts carried with the wind, leaving him with nothing but content.