A piece of variety…

So, I just stumbled upon this piece I wrote when I was still in school. The story is untitled, and started out as a short story, before it took on a life of its own and became more like the first chapter in a book. It was my first foray into writing a story that was less fantasy and grounded a little more in reality. I’ve thought about continuing it, but it’s one of those projects that seems to be on a perpetual back burner, forever waiting to be finished. It was more of an experiment for me, really, in writing from an unfamiliar perspective in a genre I’ve never tried. When I came up with the idea I thought of it with the potential for a science fiction story, and that might still be true. Who knows, maybe someday I will go back into this story (when I finish The Breach Trilogy) and it’ll become my next big project.

A quick synopsis: Michael’s father left him a final request just before losing his battle to cancer. As a researcher, he worked for a pharmaceutical company developing various treatments, and eventually volunteered as the human subject to the most recent drug. While the drug was unable to save him due to how advanced the cancer was, it has the potential to save thousands of lives, if applied correctly. For reasons unknown to Michael, the company refuses to go public with the almost perfect drug, or test it on any other human subjects. His father’s dying wish was for the drug to be made available, and Michael sets out to do just that.

So, without further ado, here’s a peek into Michael, the character who has been begging for some attention lately. Enjoy!

~~~

Trust is difficult to come by, especially when you’ve pushed people away for the better part of your life. Granted, I recognize that I’ve done this, but it doesn’t change my decision. My inability to trust others, in turn, doesn‘t allow others to trust me. Even my mother has her doubts about me.

I smirk to myself as I think this, wondering if this will always be my mind set. I hate waking up this early, three a.m., because all I can do is think. I’ve become an insomniac as of late, my only nocturnal company being Kyle’s loud snores through the wall. Why I ever agreed to let him live with me, I’ll never know. Snores, however, are a decided improvement from certain other sounds that sometimes escape the confines of his bedroom. Clearly, I wouldn’t be getting much more sleep tonight, so I got out of bed and grabbed my towel, heading for the shower. Maybe after a warm shower I’d be able to sleep a few more hours. I only had one class today, and it didn’t start until noon. I could afford at least seven more hours.

Once I stepped foot in the living room, Kyle’s snores were nearly completely muted. The entire apartment was shrouded in darkness. Had I not already been fully awake, I would have had to take a moment to let my eyes adjust. Rubbing my arms, I tried to warm the gooseflesh away. It was strangely cold in the usually stuffy apartment. Carefully, so as not to awaken Kyle, I made my way to the bathroom. As soon as I flicked the light switch on, I had to squint, shielding my eyes from the offending glare of light on white walls. A few blinks later, my eyes had finally adjusted. I tried to avoid my reflection. I hadn’t really looked in the mirror in a while, but I knew how exhausted I was. It had become harder and harder to sleep at night, forcing me to steal naps in the day when I could.

After a quick shower, my muscles relaxed from the hot water, I made my way back. It wasn’t even four yet. Frustrated, I climbed back into bed, hoping for sleep to take over. Not even the hours I worked at the restaurant were enough to tire me out fully. I must have been awake for another hour, before finally giving in to my exhaustion. The next thing I registered was the annoying, incessant chirping of my alarm clock. It felt like only minutes had passed, and in my frustration I couldn’t help but pound on the alarm clock with a fist, groaning at the thought of getting up. Once the chirping had ceased, I could hear music flowing from Kyle’s room. His morning person tendencies will never cease to amaze me.

Throwing on a pair of jeans and a hoodie, I couldn’t help the yawns that inevitably escaped me. Exhaustion wouldn’t let me sleep and now it kept me from waking fully. The smell of pancakes wafted in through the crack under my door. That was enough to verify the thoughts I’d had earlier that morning. Kyle definitely had a girl over. He definitely didn’t cook. When I walked out of the room, I had to fight the urge to cringe at what I saw. From my spot by the door, I could see a girl, probably a year or two younger than me, in nothing but a large t-shirt. I was fairly sure she wasn’t wearing anything underneath. My urge to cringe was overruled by my annoyance at Kyle.

The girl was friendly enough, trying to pass off her surprise at seeing me by smiling, albeit awkwardly. It would have been hard enough to stop staring at her, and the shirt only made it worse. I gave her a nod, immediately turning to knock on Kyle’s door. I was greeted by a content looking Kyle, a smug grin on his face. I’d give anything to wipe it right off. He saw the murderous look in my eyes.

“What?” I always hated it when he feigned innocence. Last time it actually worked we were nine, and we’d hidden his sister’s favorite toys, my own sister being too young to pick on. Just goes to show the kind of trust he had in me.

“Don’t give me that. At least have the decency for her to dress in something other than your shirt. Or tell her you have a roommate?” The disgust was evident in my tone. I felt sorry for the girl, probably having thought she was cooking only for herself and Kyle. He just continued to look at me, shrugging. “Idiot.” I couldn’t help but mutter my nickname for him. Now, as always, I was left to clear the tension with the one night stand.

I headed back to the kitchen, fixing my easy grin into place. The girl was completely red in the face, despite trying to play it off. She was surreptitiously tugging at the hem of the shirt.

“Sorry about Kyle’s lack of tact. He’s not always this stupid.” Again, I offered her a smile, and she returned a faint one. At least some of the awkwardness was dispelled. “My name is Mike, by the way, as I’m assuming Kyle didn’t tell you.”

“Claire.” Yeah, probably never going to see her again. I didn’t bother remembering the name. I was polite, though, and shook the hand she offered.

“Pleasure to meet you.” Her smile came easier. I suppose she thought I would be upset or awkward about her being there unannounced. I excused myself for a moment, deciding to further ease her embarrassment by snatching Kyle’s robe out of the bathroom.

“Here. It’s not usually this cold in here.” Again, she offered a smile, this time of gratitude. She shrugged the robe on, and I could tell by the red tinge in her cheeks that Kyle hadn’t done anything like that for her. When Kyle walked into the room, she wasted no time in demonstrating her frustration.

“Why didn’t you tell me you had a roommate?” She seemed to be making an effort not to sound annoyed, and her tone came off as more like pleased to know I was there. Kyle’s annoyance at the way she smiled at me came through loud and clear.

“Guess he thought it would kill his game or something.” She giggled in response, and I looked towards Kyle, smirking. Sensing tension from him that I had created, but had no desire to help with, I grabbed a pancake and quickly left, offering her another smile. My smile simply earned a glare from Kyle. He knew she wouldn’t come back, even if he wanted her too. And if she did come back, it would be to seek me out instead, as had already been the case once or twice before.

My charm never fails, and it annoyed Kyle as much as his one night stands annoyed me. On my way out of the apartment, my cell phone started ringing. Flipping it open, my mood changed at the sound of my mother’s voice.

“Hello, sweetheart, how are you?” Her tone was light, but I could sense some apprehension beneath it. She had a somewhat heavy accent, showcasing her Spanish roots, something that was easily transferred to me, though not as thickly as hers.

“Hey, mamá, I’m good, on my way to class.” I unlocked the door to my car, slipping in and throwing my book bag behind me. After a few more small talk attempts, she got straight to the point of her call.

“I was wondering if you wanted to come to dinner tonight? Your sister and I miss you, and there’s something we need to discuss.” The way she said “discuss” brought me back to high school, back to when she’d needed to have “the talk.”

“Of course, ma, I’ll see you around seven? I don’t get out of class until five.” Luckily, I had the day off from work, but the drive to my childhood home would take a little under two hours, not to mention having to stop at my apartment beforehand.

“I’ll see you later then, mijo. Love you.” Her childhood endearment for me did not go unnoticed.

“Love you too. Bye.” By the time I hung up, I was already parked in the campus lot. I hurried to class, not really able to focus on the material. My mother’s need to discuss something with me had brought with it a strange anxiety in the pit of my stomach. What was so important that it couldn’t be discussed on the phone?

~~~

Hope you enjoyed that! Someday I’ll go back to this story…once I get the million other things I want to do out of the way!

As always, think happy thoughts!

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