I’m always excited for the new school year. Maybe it’s the excitement of walking the school halls again or the anticipation of taking new classes after a long summer break. Whatever the reason, I feel especially enthusiastic about this semester despite the fact that I’m taking two 400-level literature classes (Post-War European Literature and British Romanticism), a publishing class, and a writing workshop.
Due to my optimistic outlook, I set out to make a list of goals. Among them, are to read more books and to be more focused in my writing. So far, I’ve been able to do the latter with help from the advanced fiction workshop I’m taking with Jessica Treadway, associate professor and author of Please Come Back to Me. She is simply amazing! Every class, we do a class exercise, and so far, each one has sparked my imagination in creating new characters and plot ideas.
The following is something I wrote two classes ago. The prompt was to start with the phrase, “I used to think”. Instead of using the first person singular, I used the first person plural. I think it turned out rather well, or at least better than I expected. I think I will use it as an introduction for a longer piece.
We used to think that we were invincible, that we were untouchable, too above everyone else, too close for anyone to come between. We were Tommy, Matt, JL and me. We used to think at that age of thirteen and fourteen we could do anything.
During summers, we ran up the steepest hills behind Tommy’s house and stood there at the top, stances heroic. The town below us, just squares and rectangles of green and brown, was conquerable. Sometimes, we would yelp and hoot, making our voices known, making them echo in between the cacti and the tall canyons that towered behind us.
Matt could always howl louder and better than any of us. Maybe that’s why we listened to him. There was something in how he tilted his head and arched his back, splaying his arms outward, as if he was challenging the world. He was ready for anything. It was visceral, as animal as any of us could get.
The summers were hot, but never humid. Skies shone blue and brilliant white, bleaching the world around us. We lived in a quiet, man-made oasis. A long time ago, buildings sprouted from the sands and the trees and grass were planted out of the sheer will of man.
The town was especially sleepy during the summers.
But we weren’t.
Summers were when we ran the fastest and swam the farthest. But one summer – that summer – was different. That summer, the desert nights were the coldest in our lives. That summer, we couldn’t conquer the town, but instead, the town conquered us. It swallowed us whole and we lost ourselves in it.