Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Award-winning teen fiction post #8

Here is another story from one of our top nine writers in the POV Story Writing Contest. Angelo is 15 years old and is in grade 11.


Chance
by Angelo Waterhouse

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Click.

The blaring sound of my alarm clock stirs me from my sleep. I glance at the clock as I hit the snooze button: 7:15 a.m. Man, I think, only 4 hours of sleep? I pull the covers back over my shoulders, still wiped out from the late night study session I had taken. My door eases open, revealing my mom.

“Aha!” she says as she sees the covers still pulled up over my shoulders. “Stayed up late studying for that math test you have today, didn’t you? Come on Samantha, I told you that a good night’s sleep always beats cramming!” She walks away, leaving me to get ready for school.

I throw the covers off and sit up in my bed. I turn to the left, where my Calculus book and notebook still lie face open, and start to stand up--

And step on my still sharp pencil.

“Ow, dang it!” should’ve been the words I used to express my pain.

“Language!” my mom calls, because they weren’t.

My name is Samantha Barnes. Today is Monday, November 6. I have a test in Calculus today. I have a pop quiz in English today.

I will die today.


7:51 a.m.

“So, what time did you get to bed last night?” Sarah asks as I sit next to her in our first period class, World History.

“Like three or so,” I reply, weary eyed. “I think I’m ready for the test though. Gimme a problem.”

“Umm…” Sarah reaches into her bag, pulls out her Calc book, and flips to the section on derivatives. “Here.” She shows me an equation: f(x)=3xcos(3x)

“Uhh… can we start with something simpler?”

“Come on, Sam, the test will be full of stuff like this.”

I try to derive the equation, but there are so many rules that I have to follow, and this problem has one of the really annoying ones. “Ugh,” I exclaim, distraught. “You’re still gonna help me at lunch today, right?”

“Of course. Oh, and the answer was… gimme a sec… this.” She shows me her answer:

3cos(3x) - 9xsin(3x)

“How would I possibly have gotten that?” Before Sarah can explain, the bell rings. The class sits in silence as our boring teacher calls attendance in his monotone voice, dragging out each word.

“Aaanderson?”

“Here.”

“Aaavery?’

“Here.”

“Baaarnes? ...Baaarnes? ...Baaarnes?”

“Wake up!” Sarah whispers.

“Huh?” I mumble. “Oh! Uh, here!”

Our teacher sighs, then continues. He drones on for the rest of class, boring as ever, and I slowly drift back to sleep.

12:06 p.m.

“Man, why did Ms. Edwards have to give us a pop today?” I mumble. I, of course, was too busy trying to learn Calculus to actually read the book we were assigned. As I grumble, I start walking toward the library. I enter, and, seeing that Sarah isn’t here yet, sit down and open my math book.

I start reading, surrounded by the noises of kids talking, or on the computers, or on their phones. After a couple minutes, I start to wonder where Sarah is. Her last class isn’t that far from here.

“HEY!” She suddenly yells in my ear.

I jump from my chair and my knee hits the table. “Ow, come on!” I speak through Sarah’s laughs. She and I both know I get startled really easily.

“Ha ha ha! Come on, that was a good one, you know it!”

“Yeah? And you know I’ll get you back for this. You’ll never see it coming. I’ll be like a shadow in the night.”

“Uh huh. Let's see you try.”

“Oh, by the way, I shouldn’t even tell you, but you have a pop quiz next period.”

“Oh man, really? I should’ve known. I wish I knew earlier, I could’ve studied during 3rd period. Oh well, we have to get you ready for math.”

3:10 p.m.

The bell rings, signifying the end of school and of my math test.

“Pass in your tests please!” the teacher calls, and students begin passing their papers

forward.

“How did you do?” Sarah asks from her seat next to mine.

“I don’t know. I'm about to find out though. See you tomorrow.”

“Okay, later Sam!”

As students vacate the room I walk up to the teacher. “Excuse me, Mr. Soderstrom, do you have a few minutes?”

“Of course. I assume this has to do with the test?”

“Yeah. I wanted to know how well the combined efforts of cramming and Sarah influenced my grade.”

Chuckling, he flips through the tests to find mine. “They sound like a force to be reckoned with. Ah, here we are.”

Mr. Soderstrom looks through my test, shows me where I went wrong and how to fix my mistakes. My grade on the test? 78%.

3:25 p.m.

“Nice! That’s a pass, right?” My mom had called me on my way home.

I chuckle and reply, “Yes mom, I passed. C+. If it wasn’t for Sarah, I probably would have barely gotten a D, if that.”

“Well, good job honey. How about a pizza for dinner tonight?”

“Sounds great! See you soon.”

I hang up and look at the houses as I walk by. I pass by a house with short, bright green grass and beautiful flowers. I notice the street is empty, and all is quiet.

As I start to walk away I hear a loud bang, like a gunshot, only louder. Then everything goes black.

7:15 a.m.

I gasp and sit straight up. What was that? I wonder. Must’ve been a dream. Of course! How could I ever have actually passed a Calculus test? As I come to this conclusion, I notice two things: That my alarm is blaring, and that I am really, really, tired.

I fall back and let my head hit the pillow just as the door eases open.

“Aha!” My mom says, seeing me slumped in my bed and my textbook wide open on the table. “Stayed up late studying for that math test you have today, didn’t you? Come on Samantha, I told you that a good night’s sleep always beats cramming!” She walks away.

I start to stand up, when I suddenly stop my foot, just above the ground. I look down at the ground beneath my foot and see my pencil. I quickly grab my phone and look at the date: November 6. Wait, what?

7:52 a.m.

I walk into class, as tired as I was… yesterday? I can’t exactly call it that, but it wasn’t today either. So what was it? A dream?

“So, what time did you get to bed last night?” Sarah asks.

Okay, so it wasn’t a dream. Things are happening too close to how they did… before.

“Hey? Sam? Are ya with me?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, sorry.”

“Geez, you must’ve gone to bed late if you’re this out of it.”

She has no idea that this is the second time today has happened. If that is even the case--maybe it isn’t? Maybe this is just some serious déjà vu?

“No, that’s not it. Well, a little, but not just that.”

“I know. But hey-- I believe in you. Plus, we’re still doing a study session at lunch, right?”

“Yeah, yeah. Hey, could you just give me a problem real quick?”

“Sure.” After finding the section in her book, she shows me a problem: 3xcos(3x). The same problem she showed me yester-- whatever! I’m calling it yesterday now!

Before I can begin however, the bell rings. Huh. I guess we talked longer than we did before. “Never mind,” I say, passing the paper back to her. If our teacher saw us doing anything but listening or taking notes, we would be in trouble.

“Aaanderson?”

“Here.”

“Aaavery?’

“Here.”

“Baaarnes? ...Baaarnes? ...Baaarnes?”

“Wake up!” Sarah whispers.

Ugh! Not again! “Here!”

Man, why do I have to sit through this class again? It's bad enough when it's a new lecture, but I already went through this one!

“Oh, by the way,” I whisper. “I have it on good authority that there will be a pop in Ms. Edwards class today.”

“Really? Man, I haven't even opened that book yet. Where did you hear that?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

12:10 p.m.

I sit at the table, expectant of what will come next.

“HEY!” This time it isn’t startling, just loud. Also just on cue, same as the rest of the day has been so far.

“Oh.” I calmly reply. “Hey Sarah.”

“What? How did that not get you? That always gets you!”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“You’re not making that a thing, are you?”

“Maybe I will. Also, the pop was legit. I was able to do pretty good this time.”

“What happened last time?”

“Huh?” It takes me a second to realize that she's talking about the last pop we had, not about yesterday. “Oh! Same old same old, R.I.P.”

“Alright then, down to business.”

3:10 p.m.

RIIIIIIIIIINNNNNG!

“Pass in your tests please!”

“How did you do?” Sarah asks.

“Easy as pie, right?”

Sarah gives me a funny look, then grabs my arm and pulls me outside.

“Hey!” I complain. She lets go and quietly speaks.

“You’ve been acting strange today. Especially you doing well on a math test. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen.”

I think for a second, then tell her. “Alright. I’ve lived through this day before. That's how I knew about the pop, was ready for the test, and wasn’t scared by you at the library.”

“What, like Groundhog Day?” She asks excitedly. “Have we had this conversation before? Is this like your hundredth time going through this day and you’ve already mastered Calculus and everything and probably finished that book for English by now and--”

“No! I’ve only been through today once. I probably only got a B on that math test.”

“Oh. That’s not as interesting then.”

“Not really the reaction I was expecting.”

“I know you.” Sarah says matter-of-factly. “You’re not really a liar, and I’ve already seen enough proof to see that you’ve had some experience with today. So, you just went to sleep and woke up in the same morning?

“No, I--” I suddenly remember the bang. An explosion. It sounded like it came from that house I was walking past. “I think I died.”

“What?” Her tone goes from excited to serious in a moment. “How?”

“I’m pretty sure a house I walked past blew up. I didn’t see it, only heard it, but that was the last thing I heard.”

“Oh my… Well, what are you gonna do about it?”

“Huh?”

“Well, you gotta stop it.”

“Screw that! I’m not going anywhere near that house!”

“Sam, you have been given a second chance. Who knows how many people died in that explosion? How many lives you could save with the knowledge you now know?”

I am silent.

“Do I have to?”

“Yes! Now go! How much time until that house goes sky high?”

I look at my phone: 3:22 p.m.

“Not enough.” I sprint down the hall. “I’ll let you know how it turns out!”

I didn’t see it, but Sarah gave me a huge grin as I ran off.

3:24 p.m.

My phone rings, but I let it go, knowing it’s my mom. I sprint down the street to where I know the house will be. Will I have enough time? It doesn’t seem like it, but hey, I was given a second chance for a reason.

I run as fast as I can. The building is in sight, so I’m just in time to see it.

BOOOM!

The house goes up in flames, and part of the next-door houses are destroyed too.

“Oh no.” I walk past a crooked telephone pole and look in on the house I had failed to save. I spent too much time talking to Sarah, longer than I had spent going over my test with Mr. Soderstrom.

There is a loud creaking noise.

I turn around just in time to see the telephone pole falling toward me.

“Oh, son of a--!”

BEEP! BEEP!

7:15 a.m.

BEEP! BEEP! BEE-- Click.

“Ugh. Well I’m still not dead.”

The door eases open. My textbook is wide open, and I’m laying flat on my bed.

“Stayed up late studying for that math test you have today, didn’t you? Come on Samantha, I told you that a good night’s sleep always beats cramming!” My mom walks away.

I stand up.

“Ow!” How could I have forgotten the pencil?

All I know is I am not looking forward to hearing another history lecture today.

What is it Sarah said last morning?

7:45 a.m.

“So, what time did you get to bed last night?” Sarah asks.

I hand her a piece of paper. It says, “So what time did you get to bed last night” in my

handwriting. She gets a confused look on her face. “How…”

“I’ve lived through this day before, and I didn’t want to have to wait until the end of school to tell you.”

“What, like Groundhog Day? Have we had this conversation before? Have--”

“Yes, yes, and no, this is only my third time today,” I retort, cutting her off before she runs off with her trail of questions. “Anyway, long story short, there is an English pop--”

“R.I.P.”

“I do pretty well on the math test--”

“Nice.”

“And I die from an explosion on my way home.”

“Oh--” She looks at me, surprised and knows I’m serious. “...well then… wait you said today is your third day?”

“Yes.”

“So you’ve died twice?”

“Yeah.

“You’d think that would be something you’d try to avoid the second time around.”

“Well, ‘yesterday’” I do air quotes, “I told you that it came from a house. Surrounded by other houses. Now, I was all for running in the other direction--”

“But I stopped you. I told you to save those people,” She suddenly looks guilty. “I got you killed…”

This isn’t going how I had planned it. “What? No no no, I was gonna die anyway. You gave me something to do with the second chance I was given. I guess I’m really supposed to change something or else I wouldn’t have been given this chance either.”

Sarah looks like she's about to say something else, but the bell rings, and class starts. I better get it right this time. I really don’t want to have to sit through this lecture again.

3:10 p.m.

The bell rings. Test was easy. Aced the pop quiz. Time for seriousness.

“Pass in your tests please!” the teacher calls once more.

I start to stand up, and Sarah grabs my arm. “Try not to die. It would be mildly inconvenient for me.”

I smile. “Third time's the charm,” I reply as I run off.

3:20 p.m.

I check the time on my phone as I approach the house. Five minutes, I think. The house blows at 3:25, and I have five minutes to find out how it happens, let alone how to stop it.

I walk up to the house and ring the doorbell. It creaks open and a gray-haired man opens the door. “Yes?” He says in a pleasant voice.

3:21 p.m. “Hi, I’m taking Statistics, and my assignment was to go to houses in my neighborhood and take a survey.” My school does offer Stat, but I’m not currently taking it.

“Well, come on in. I was just about to set some tea to boil.”

Well, that was easy. Getting in seemed easy enough, but now I have to actually stop the explosion.

3:22 p.m.

We walk in on a nicely decorated living room. A little kid runs in. “Daddy, daddy, who is this?”

“No one, David, go on and play.” The kid runs off to do whatever little kids do. Okay, more pressure on me now, kid’s life at stake and all. “Here, let me go and put the tea on the kettle.”

3:23 p.m.

I follow the man into his kitchen. “This is a nice house, Mr….”

“Thompson.”

He approaches the stove, and I smell something funny. “What is that smell?”

“I don’t know. I first smelled it a couple days ago after I caught David messing around in here. I have someone coming in tomorrow to find out what it is.”

3:24 p.m.

My phone vibrates in my pocket, but I ignore it. It means that time is almost up.

Mr. Thompson turns on the burner on the stove, but no flame comes on. Instead, the smell gets worse. “Oh darn, the pilot light is out. Give me a second, would you?” He reaches for a box of matches.

By now I’ve put two and two together. Just as Mr. Thompson is about to strike a match, I cry out, “No!” and reach for his hand.

3:25 p.m.

The book of matches falls to the ground. “What was that for?” Mr. Thompson isn’t angry, merely confused.

“That smell is the gas from the stove, and it is starting to fill this room! If you had lit that match, this whole house could have gone up in flames!”

Without another word, I vacate the house and head home, leaving a startled man still standing at his stove.



8:00 p.m.

I lie in bed, for the first time in three days. I’m curious. Why was I given those chances? How important must it have been for me to have saved both my own life, and many others? Every so often in my life, I reflect on the events of this day. I never forget.

Especially not when I find out, years later, that a certain David Thompson is running for president.

###


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