This week's assignment was to think of someone - it could be a fictional character, a public figure, someone you know - who gets under your skin, and write a piece from his or her perspective.
Okay... just talk like a normal person... breathe in.
The awkward boy of fifteen sucked in a deep breath, pulling up the waistband of his loose swim trunks and brushing dark bowl-cut bangs out of his eyes.
He pushed the breath out hard, some spittle dripping down his chin, which he embarrassedly wiped away with the back of his hand as two bikini-clad girls walked by. They barely glanced in his direction and his shoulders slumped.
No. No getting down on myself today, he thought more forcefully, forcing himself to stand up straighter as he walked out to the public pool, Just remember what Mom said. These kids are just as awkward as I am and I just have to act like I'm one of them...
He placed the smile on his face that took him an hour to perfect in the mirror at home, but one weak corner of his mouth gave him away. He sidled up to a group of classmates that he was pretty sure were his friends. He had spent the last two years at school with them in the library courtyard at lunch. He went to their parties and had his Mom help him pick out their birthday presents. They had even been to Frankie's Fun Park for his birthday last year, all of them donning laser tag gear and winning little bronze tokens after eating a cake in the shape of a Jigglypuff, which they didn't even laugh at him for.
Even so... he was never quite sure if they were really his friends or not.
"He-... hi guys," he said, tripping on the steam in the concrete, but catching himself on a lounge chair.
"Hey Walter" chorused the group at large before going back to listening to Brandon's speech. Brandon was the glue in the group - you know, one of those kids who everyone just wants to be around and keeps everyone interested. He was just a cool guy to be around. At the moment he seemed to be telling them about a book he had recently been reading.
"... so then the bounty hunter corners the criminal, only to have him reveal he's the bounty hunter's dad - so totally a Star Wars hack, man, but it's not that bad. And this guy, he's hunting - the dad - he's a total badass. His bounty is worth, like, a trillion dollars or something ridiculous like that, so everyone is out to find this guy and turn him in, but once our bounty hunter figures out that his father only abandoned him to save his life he starts helping him on the run. Totally badass," Brandon finished impressively.
"Yeah, that sounds awesome, man,"Charlie affirmed.
"They're making it into a movie, I heard," added Katie, one of the two girls in the group.
"Yeah," Walter joined in. "It reminds me of this anime I really like called Trigun. There was an animated series and then a movie that came out more recently. I went to see it in the theaters. It's about this total badass," he continued, borrowing Brandon's words," who has a bounty of like sixty-thousand million-"
"You mean sixty billion?" Katie asked with a small laugh in her voice.
"Yeah - sixty billion double dollars. And he -"
"Double dollars? What's that?" Charlie interrupted.
"I don't think it means anything special. It's just about how much money he was worth for all the stuff he'd done. And he's called The Human Typhoon, but his name is really Vash the Stampede. And in the series there's this whole thing in the first episode with this guy named Descartes and you start to get that Vash is kinda like this nice guy all along. And he's totally cool and kinda dark, but complex, you know? And the movie came out - I saw it in the theaters - and they tried to keep the original seiyuu, so the animations a little wonky and stuff, but it mostly works. The only thing is I don't think it's really true to the original series because Vash is all over Amelia and she's not really into him, so he comes off as kinda pathetic and if you ask me it's really so that they could get more girls to watch the movie and the series, but he's really a total badass, so if you ignore that part of the movie, it's really good - you know what I mean?"
Walter actually looked at his friends, rather than imagine all the parts of the movie he liked, for the first time since he had started talking. He realized with a suddenness that made his armpits itch with sweat that they were all looking confused or bored. The girls had looked at each other and started giggling. He could have drown himself in the two foot kiddie pool next to them as he felt himself turn red.
"Yeah?" Charlie tried.
The silence continued as Walter tried to think of what anyone else would say... What would Mom-
"Did everyone put on sunscreen? It's really bright out today and it's really important to put your sunscreen on. You could get skin cancer if you don't cover up," he blurted.
Everyone looked more confused at this random outburst.
God... I must have dork Tourette's.
"Yeah - we did. Thanks, Walter," Brandon said, smiling genuinely. He sometimes did that - saved the day when Walter needed. "Hey - you wanna go swimming guys?"
"Sure, let's go."
As everyone moved to the pool, Brandon smiled and gave Walter a soft, but manly shoulder punch.
"There you go again, trying to impress the girls, Walter." They shared a smile before cannonballing into the pool, causing all of the girls to shriek.