This story is by Janice Indajang and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I stand my rubber erasers straight up, just so I can flick them off my desk. It’s been something I do a lot more recently, building miniature walls of rubber just to knock them over one by one. Sometimes I flick them hard enough to send them bouncing across the room.
So I stack erasers next to each other, all pointing to the ceiling like a strange set of mismatched fence poles. It’s mundane and boring but it’s better when I get to knock them off the desk. Send those little pieces of rubber sailing across the room, or watch them fall like dominoes.
I take eraser dust and roll them together to make tiny erasers, I knock those over too. There really are better things to do, write, read, or draw but I stack erasers. Just to knock them over.
I stare at the same ceiling, rolled on the same bed and did some homework at the same desk. Posters and photos line the walls mostly featuring my teammates and I hanging out. I play, used to play on the school team and while we weren’t that good, we were a tightly knit group.
I flicked an eraser on the picture in front of me, where I had a milkshake in one hand grinning goofily at the camera as I slung an arm around my best friend. My best friend who was on the same soccer team with me, what was her name?
Shoot. I’ve been here so long I can’t even remember someone’s name.
I lean back taking a long look at the photo one more time, drumming my fingers on the edge of the table in hopes of drawing up some memory. These lapses have been happening more recently, I don’t know why. Last Tuesday I forgot what came after Monday, and I was late to all of my online classes. Now I have a calendar stuck on my wall, each day crossed off as we go along. That doesn’t change the fact that I can’t remember my best friend’s name but I should probably start writing things down more.
I look around the room again, racking my brain for any morsel of information on my best friend. Getting up from my desk to take a closer look at the photos around the room. It’s all the same photo, me and another girl who I can’t remember. She stands next to me mirroring my expression of joy with an arm slung around-
That doesn’t look right. Wasn’t I the one who had an arm around the other girl? Which one am I in the photos?
I rip off a picture from the wall, glaring at the dimly lit image. Two girls, milkshakes, and soccer gear. I began grabbing at more of the photos, ripping them off with enough power to leave chips in the paint where they were. They all had the same subjects two girls decked out in pleats and uniforms clutching milkshakes.
Why did I have so many photos of these two girls? I keep tearing more of the pictures down until the walls are bare once more. I blink. And they are all back up again. All of the photos of the girls are bigger and covering the ceiling and the floor. Their bubbly smiles plastered everywhere the eye can see.
I need to get out.
I don’t know why.
I sprint to the door, clutching at the round handle like a lifeline. I try to turn the door knob only to find it stuck, I jiggle it violently while pounding on the door.
The pictures grew, melting into the bed and the desk and the erasers, going everywhere. The girls’ faces kept smiling with the same joy their eyes locked on me.
I can’t take it anymore.
I pound harder on the door, pulling, shaking and sobbing as it stayed shut.
There were more now and they were making their way towards me, I can hear the moment. The sweat and stain of green, the laughing and joking at the diner, the sweet sticky drip of the milkshake. There was yelling, a lot of it all muffled and distorted. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but it got worse, the voices got louder yelling and calling each other names.
Then I could feel it, being jostled and moved against my will like a force pressing against me. I pushed back, feeling it move away. It came back, so suddenly and quickly that I had no time to react. I stumbled watching my feet fly out from under me as I flew right into the door. My head made contact first, feeling the wood scrape against the back of my skull and a sharp point dig in deep into my brain. My vision blurred with tears as the yelling had turned into a startled shriek.
Something dark was above me, distorted but all encompassing. My hair was soaked and sticky, liquid wrapping the back of my head like a crude pillow. More voices seemed to gather and the floor seemed to move away. Sirens blared as I laid there, trying to blink the tears from my eyes.
Then it was quiet and I stared at a familiar ceiling. Slowly, I picked myself up looking at the doorway I had crashed through. It was open now, and the room was quiet, no voices or pictures just my erasers stacked neatly on my desk. Waiting to be knocked over.