Challenge Submissions List

Monday, June 15, 2009

1. Making up: Sahar

He didn’t often visit Sergei—normally it was the other way around. Normally they would sit and talk in the darkness of his own apartment, not vice versa. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had visited Sergei. But they hadn’t talked for quite a while now—a week at the very least—and he was sick of it. He was sick of lying in bed along at night, he was sick of not talking to Sergei. He was sick of waiting every single night to see if he would hear the familiar rapping on the door to his apartment. Truth be told, he felt a little weak without Sergei to talk to and to be with, even for just a little while. He didn’t feel totally weak. Just a little. Almost like a part of him was missing. A very important part of him.

And so here he stood on the night marking the eighth day in a row that the two of them had not spoken to each other, trying to figure out the reason behind all of this. The reason behind their lack of communication. Maybe Sergei had been taking his advice. Maybe he’d been taking it a little too seriously, a little too literally. Yes, he’d said, “You can’t cling onto me forever!” But he hadn’t said, “Don’t cling to me at all.” It wasn’t that he hated it; it wasn’t that he couldn’t take it. He just knew that Sergei could handle it. He knew that all Sergei needed was a little push in the right direction. Maybe he’d pushed a little too hard for the other’s liking. Which explained why he was here. To apologize. To reconcile. To take back what he had said (or to explain what he had said) and to explicitly offer an ear and a shoulder.

He took a deep breath and knocked on the door, then waited a little while. Nothing. He waited for a few more seconds. Nothing. He knocked again. Nothing. He waited for a few more seconds. And still nothing.

He wasn’t going to scream, not like how the warrior Achilles did thousands and thousands of years ago during the Trojan War. He wasn’t going to scream to get the other’s attention the way Achilles did. He didn’t want to intimidate anyone. Besides, he was in an enclosed space, and it was nighttime. If he yelled, everyone would rush out of their rooms to see what was wrong. If he yelled, he would make a scene. And he couldn’t do that. He didn’t want to do that. He wanted it to be a simple apology, a quick “I’m sorry” so that they could go on with the rest of their lives. He just wanted to speak in a low voice through the crack in the door if he could. But he wasn’t even sure if Sergei was on the other side of the door. He could have been in his bedroom, in the bathroom, anywhere except the one room where he’d be able to hear the knocking at the door.

“Hey, Sergei.” He didn’t even bother calling the other boy by his nickname. That would just automatically imply that they were talking again, without any real discussion, without any real reconciliation. It would imply that he wasn’t taking Sergei seriously—and at this point it was the least he could do. It would make the apology more effective, hopefully. “Sergei, it’s me. It’s Sasha. I…” He sighed softly and rested his fingertips upon the cool wood of the door. This wasn’t going to be very easy. “I don’t know why… why you shouldn’t cling to me, I mean. I didn’t say that you shouldn’t cling to me at all…” He coughed and tapped his sock-clad foot on the soft rug of the hallway. “I like when you talk to me, you know? When you tell me what’s on your mind and all that. What I mean is… you can do it. You can do it. You can live without me. Without always clinging to me. I don’t want you to, but I know you can. You don’t need me to go on with your life.”

More silence. It was probably a useless effort.

“Fine.” He sighed softly, shrugging his shoulders and letting them fall again. “I guess you didn’t hear me… I’ll go now… Maybe I’ll come back tomorrow night if you’re not still shunning me or whatever you want to call it.”

It was as he was turning to go back to his own apartment that he heard the lock click and the door open.


He turned and swallowed noiselessly. “Hey there… Sergei.”

The other boy was blinking into the darkness curiously, rubbing at his eyes with one hand and groping along the wall with the other. Probably trying to reach out for his hand, Sasha thought to himself with a faint smirk. “Did you mean everything you just said? Everything?”

He rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling and sighed softly. “Yep. Every word. Listen.” He reached out for the hand that was groping along the wall and took it lightly; it was soft, but it was cold. “You can do it, okay? You can support Syeira and Alexei. Look at me—I support Tuvya. I’m going through the same thing—well, not the same thing. I gave up school for him. You didn’t. And being able to do all this… you’re strong, can’t you see that? Something is keeping you from being as strong as you are… what is it? What’s keeping you from being strong?” He smirked more broadly, though he wasn’t sure if Sergei could see it or not. “You shot two cleansers and made it just fine, but you don’t think you can make it without me.”

He felt the hand squeeze his own, and rather tightly at that. “Don’t talk about that. That lost me both my parents and my brother. I was not fine at all. And I’m still not… It…” He could feel Sergei shivering, could clearly see the tears running down his cheeks. “Not fine at all… it hurts… it’s so scary… Like you wouldn’t believe. You’re lucky you never had to go through anything like that…”

He pulled Sergei into a gentle hug. An awkward hug, but a gentle hug nonetheless, and he didn’t let Sergei lift his head. He buried Sergei’s face into his shoulder. “You can do it, Seryozha,” he kept on murmuring. “You can be strong. I can help you become strong, but it’s up to you to maintain that strength. And if you need someone to fall back on for some help or an ear or a shoulder… well, you’ve got me, hm?” He smiled faintly before pulling away for a moment, looking him in the eye and smiling. “You’ve got me, okay? Now go to sleep. You’re going to need your rest if you want to start becoming strong again, aren’t you?”

And for the first time in what seemed like forever, he got to see Sergei smile, and he was happy that his eyes had gotten so accustomed to the dark.

Case closed.

Things were back to normal.

1. Making up: Connie

Orange soda poured out of the mouth of the bottle like a waterfall of carbonated water as it slipped out of her hand. Time seemed to stand still as the plastic container took longer than normal to fall the three feet to the floor. With a soft crunch it hit the wood floor, a river of Sunkist racing towards the door, forming a lake by the base of the door.

“Hi to you too,” Eli’s nervousness would have almost been cute if Carrington wasn’t infuriated by his very being. She’d been dreaming about this day for months. Opening the door to a frantic ringing of the door bell only to be face to face with the one man other than her daddy that she truly loved. She just didn’t expect it to be six months later. Each dream had been different. Some dreams she’d launched her body in to his arms, raining kisses on his cheeks and forehead before finally settling on his lips. In other dreams she’d slammed the door in his face after unleashing an angry tirade on him, not giving him a chance to explain why he’d come back. In neither scenario had she lost her nerve to do either and dropped her pop when she’d seen him.
“Hi,” What was she supposed to do? Kiss him? Kick him in the shins? Flip a coin and let fate decide?
“Carrington we need to talk,”
Here he was. It was about to happen. She was finally going to get to let him have it. She needed to get away from him. Now. Holding up her hand as a sign for him to stop, she shook her head, “I need to clean this up before it gets sticky,” Not giving him a chance to say anything, she disappeared into the safety of her house no doubt leaving him just as confused as she was half a year earlier when he’d told her he was leaving and didn’t give any reason as to why.
Scrambling for old cleaning rags in the kitchen, she forced her heart to slow down and her thoughts to follow suit. She could do this. If he could leave what they had before really giving it a chance to begin, he didn’t care as much as he claimed. Her resolve returning, she squared her shoulders to revisit her past one last time before she moved on.
Avoiding eye contact, she sunk to her knees to clean up her mess. The twenty – four ounce bottle had about half her beverage in it now. Putting on the table by the door, she concentrated on ignoring him. Even though she wasn’t looking at him, his musky cologne let her senses know that he was a still a little too close for comfort. She’d spent long enough staring at him that his maple syrup colored eyes were burned in to her memory. Damn him coming to her house looking better than she’d ever seen him.
“Here, let me help,”
Her heart rate accelerated again when he bent down, not waiting for an invitation to take the second towel and help her clean up.
“What do you want?” Her voice was as shaky as her resolve seemed to be. Kissing him was becoming a better idea than kicking him and really he deserved the later.
Her brain screamed for air about thirty seconds after she stopped breathing. That explained a lot. This was all a dream. This wasn’t actually happening. Abandoning her efforts of soaking up the liquid, she jumped to her feet, needing space between them.
“You can’t be serious,”
“Why not?”
Thankfully he gave her a reason to go off, “You leave the way you did six freaking months ago and then you walk in here and expect to just pick up where we left off? Freaking really?” The emotion behind her statement shocked even her, but it was time to direct the anger where it really belonged instead of keeping it in. If the Sunkist bottle got to explode, then so did she.
“It wasn’t just that easy you know,”
She knew what he was talking about, but wanted to hear him say it. Directing her attention to the towel on the floor, she pressed her brightly painted toes in to the soft, comforting fabric, watching it turn a darker maroon as it soaked up more pop, “What wasn’t?” As much as she needed to hear him say it, she didn’t want him to see the emotions swirling in her eyes.
“You act like the decision to leave was as easy as deciding what I wanted for breakfast. I did what I thought I had to do Carrington,”
“Not returning even a thank you for the birthday card is what you thought you had to do?” So maybe that was childish, but he could have at least told him grandma to tell her thank you. All this time not a peep from down state and here he was asking for forgiveness like what he did was a minor infraction.
Even after all this time his deep chuckle still revved up her hormones. “I got the card girl. Granny told me that the look in your eyes was enough to make a sinner repent. I couldn’t stand the thought of you sheddin’ any more tears over me especially around the holidays so I thought I was doin’ the right thing,”
Tears lining her eyes, she finally looked at him, “You weren’t,”
Pulling her to him, he wrapped his arms around her crushing her body to his, “I know girl, I know,”
They were quiet for what seemed like forever, standing on the towels, his fingers combing through her hair. The faint thump of his heart lulled her fears in to submission.
Pulling back just enough to look at him but not enough to untangle from their embrace, she conjured all the courage she could.
“It’s not going to be this easy you know. You can’t just walk back in here like nothing happened,”
Gently tucking her hair behind her ear, he nodded, “I fully understand that. I just wanted back in the door,”
“You were never out it,”
With a wide smile, he bent down putting his lips on hers, thanking her for the invitation back. She sighed contently as their tongues met. This ending was definitely better than anything she could have dreamt up.