Here’s the first draft of a completely different story that I wrote a few days ago. This too is part of a larger series of stories that I wanted to write, but in a very different sort of style.
“Where are you right now? Let me come find you. Please.” Her hysterical sobbing was starting to make Zach nervous: he was afraid she might go home alone. His insides began to turn inside out as he imagined all the terrible things that might happen to her. Even at night New York certainly wasn’t the mugging, murder, and rape central that it used to be, but the stories his parents had told him before he had come to live in the city were enough to make him not want to take any chances. Especially not with her.
“I’m just a couple blocks down. I’ll wait for you,” Arianna managed to squeeze out in between bouts of sobbing. Her crying was really starting to get to him; as soon as he had hung up he was running off to find her. They were in a safe neighborhood, but still, what if? What if? He didn’t want to think about it and instead focused on getting there faster.
He saw her from a block away, sitting on a fire hydrant, her hands up to her face as she wiped away her own tears. He jogged up to her, slowing down as he got nearer to straighten himself out: he thought she would think him uncool if he looked too worried. He stopped just in front of her, looking down at her as he wondered if she would be okay. Arianna looked up from her hands, smiling through her tears. “Hi,” she said. Zach smiled back. “Hey.”
There was a moment’s silence before she suddenly got up and hugged him, burying her face into his jacket. She half laughed, half sobbed onto his chest. “I must seriously be PMS’ing.” He chuckled as he wrapped his arms around her to comfort her: girls were so incomprehensible sometimes. They held each other for a moment before separating. She looked at him, giving him a smile he couldn’t help but return; it made him happy to know that he could make her smile even she was so clearly upset.
“Come on,” he said, “let’s get you home.” She nodded in that funny way she always did.
They had walked this path many a night before this one, a habit they had enjoyed together ever since a couple of weeks ago when an overly concerned Zach had refused to let her go home on her own. He had recognized his own over-protectiveness quickly enough as they traversed an entirely empty city night after night, yet he had truly come to enjoy his walks with her; she was just so weird and foreign and interesting to talk to that he couldn’t help but hang onto her every word. She was certainly a very pretty girl, but every night that they walked together he found himself more amazed at how much more beautiful she became with every word she said. Even tonight, her face soaked with tears as she complained about the many things that seemed to be bothering her, he couldn’t help but be entranced by her, as if she were casting some sort of incantation on him.
“I’ve just got so much going on right now; it’s all just so overwhelming. And I’m about to get my period which makes everything so much worse!” She let out a frustrated sigh. Zach frowned a bit. He really wanted to make her feel better.
“Look here,” he said with as much joviality as he could muster, “you just need to find a way to let it all out.”
As he said this, they came upon the university’s iconic park, closed off for construction. Just up ahead stood the only part of the park still open to the public: the school’s famous arch, lit up by spotlights against the dark sky. He was suddenly struck by an idea: “Come here for a sec!”
She followed him underneath the arch, wondering what exactly he had planned. He guided her to the very middle of the arch. “Okay. Here we are. Now I want you to scream.” She looked at him curiously. “Just take all of that crap that’s bothering you and just let it out. Just yell at the top of your lungs. Do it, just do it.”
Arianna smiled somewhat nervously. “Okay then. Here I go.” She cleared her throat, pausing for a moment as a bemused Zach silently looked on. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and then proceeded to belt out what was probably the loudest shout he had ever heard. He was really quite taken aback: he didn’t think that the normally soft-spoken Arianna was capable of such decibels.
But just then, as he stood there watching her scream, something clicked into place. He was looking at her face, scrunched under the strain of yelling, and for a brief moment he felt something strange blossoming within him. Time seemed to slow down considerably. He thought everything was spinning, the echo of her scream crashing all about him as the world around him turned onto its side. Soon the only the thing that was still was her, the rock that held his mind in place, and for a blissful moment, nothing else mattered. But just as he began to wish that the moment wouldn’t end, it was over.
Arianna had stopped screaming, but her eyes were still closed as she drew a breath. She slowly opened her eyes, looking up at him with a wide smile on her face. Zach, for a moment lost in thought, quickly snapped back to reality. “Feel better?” She nodded in that funny way she always did. “Good. Now let’s get out of here. I’d rather not have to explain to someone that I wasn’t trying to rape you.” She laughed happily as they departed the scene.
They arrived in front of her dorm safe and sound. Arianna made a move toward the door before turning to face him. “Thanks for that. I feel a lot better now.”
Zach smiled perhaps a bit too happily: “Anytime.” She lingered for a moment, looking up at him. He wanted to kiss her so badly, but his nerves got the better of him: “Good night. Sweet dreams,” he said as he mentally kicked himself.
“You too.” Arianna smiled before turning away. He watched her enter the dorm, the temptation to call out to her stifled by the door as it swung closed. He lingered for a moment before he put his hands in his pockets, turned in the opposite direction, and began his return to his own dorm, a new spring in his step. He certainly felt like somewhat of a chicken for not kissing her, but he told himself there would always be a next time, and that it was probably too soon anyway. For now, he would just enjoy the feeling. The walk home was rather cold and lonely, but somehow it was all overshadowed by a question that hovered in the back of his mind: was he in love?
The warm feeling in his chest seemed to answer the question for him as he traipsed back into the night, grinning like a fool.