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Anybody (Original Fiction; PG-13)


Obsessive Shipper
Ok, so... this is something I've been working on for my fiction class. Any and all constructive criticism is appreciated!


What does it feel like to be a divorcee? Don’t ask me, I don’t know. I should, but I don’t. Maybe that’s because I never felt like I was married in the first place. Some mornings I wake up in my dorm room, and it feels like none of it ever happened. But it did, of course. I have the legal documents to prove it. We met the October of my first semester at college, and I was struggling to adjust. I’d usually made strait As in high school without studying much, but now I made mostly Bs no matter how hard I tried. In high school, I’d had a close group of friends, but I was having trouble making new ones. I’d fallen in with some of the girls in my art class, but I didn’t know any of them very well. They were people to sit with at lunch and greet when I saw them on campus, not much more. I felt homesick and lonely. Instead of joining clubs and meeting new people, I stayed in my room studying and watching TV.

That evening was especially depressing. It was my 19th birthday, my first birthday away from home. No one around me knew it was a special day for me, and I wasn’t just going to tell them. That would’ve been too easy. I’d been waiting for someone to ask me when my birthday was, and when no one did, I took it to mean no one cared. I sulked all day.

That evening, though, I got tired of feeling sorry for myself. It was stupid to wallow in self-pity when I could be having fun. There was no reason I couldn’t celebrate my birthday on my own. I decided to go for dessert at Applebee’s. To make the night feel more special, I wore make-up and the dress I’d been saving for the parties I’d never attended. What a dress that was! It was covered from hem to plunging neckline in sequins of every color, arranged into nonsensical patterns of spirals and loops. It was a size too big, but I didn't care. I thought I looked fabulous. Only later did I how truly grotesque that dress was. But if it weren't for that dress, he never would've noticed me.

It's not that I'm ugly, or even plain, just... common. You know, the girl who you describe as "that girl who looks like Laura," or "Becca" or whoever. An anybody. But in that dress, I could at least pretend I was a somebody. Even if I was eating alone. Maybe I'd ditched a boring date, or maybe I just "wanted to be alone." I tried to exude an air of seductive mystery and wondered if I was actually fooling anybody. Pretending to read the menu, I looked around, compared myself to girls at other tables. They were dressed casually and sat with friends or dates, easily laughing and talking while they ate. Confident women. Suddenly I felt like a little girl playing dress up. I was ridiculous, a supposedly grown woman sitting under the display of high school football pictures and trophies, hunched over and trying not to cry, make-up running with escaped tears. I was sure everyone could see what a fraud I was, and I fought the urge to crawl under the table. The whole outing had been a mistake.

I was thinking about leaving without dessert when the waiter approached my table and said "Excuse me, Ma'am, but a man at the bar said he'd like to buy you a drink."

I couldn't believe it. Somebody wanted to buy me a drink? It was just like something out of a black and white movie! My heart palpitated as I turned around in my seat and scanned the dimly lit bar for my admirer. Five or more backs faced me, but one man glanced over his shoulder at me and smiled shyly. He wasn't the tallest man there and his glasses were too big for his baby face.I didn't care. I smiled back at him and waved at him, flirtatiously, I hoped, then turned back to the waiter and told him to tell the man that I would take something virgin. The waiter brought me my drink, and I nursed it while I waited for the man to approach me.

Finally, he came and sat at my table. He introduced himself as John, a second year chemistry major who wanted to become a pharmacist. His family was well off. He liked old movies and classical music, though sometimes he listened to rock. I told him about myself in turn- my hometown in Vermont, my indecision about my major, my favorite TV shows. We both loved Casablanca and Jimmy Stewart movies, hated rap and metal music. I can’t remember everything we talked about that night, but by the end of the evening, he had my number and another date.

John was the boyfriend and I was the girlfriend. We went on the kinds of dates I’d always imagined- to the movies, chick-flicks where handsome men fell in love with beautiful, quirky heroines. Fancy, overpriced restaurants with white tablecloths and chandeliers dangling from high ceilings. Parks where we had picnics and fed the ducks. John listened to everything I had to say, asked questions and laughed at my jokes. He made me feel beautiful and interesting. All week long, I’d look forward to when I could see him again, mentally plan our weekend dates during class. It didn’t matter that John’s hand felt clammy and limp in mine, or that his tongue felt like a wiggling worm in my mouth when we kissed. I really thought I was in love. He popped the question at the Applebee’s where we’d first met, about seven months after we’d started dating. I knew it was soon, but I sure John was “the one.”

My wedding was six months later, shortly after classes let out for winter break. It was the fairytale I’d always dreamed of. I wore a gorgeous, pure white gown- sleeveless with a form-fitting, beaded top and a flowing, lacy skirt. I crowned a complicated up-do with a lace veil and rhinestone tiara. The church was decorated to match my dress and blue rose bouquet, lace and ribbons everywhere, even on the cake. Everyone I loved was there, and as I stepped down the aisle in time to “Here Comes the Bride,” all eyes were on me. When I reached John, he took my hand, and the priest led us into our vows. We kissed and everyone cheered. I felt just like a princess. At the dinner, John and I sat at a table set apart from the rest with our immediate families. My father, mother, and a couple of high school friends made speeches about how much they loved me, and how happy they were for me (though they’d advised against my quick marriage before). My wedding day remains the most exciting day of my life.

The honeymoon was a week in Hawaii, a place that before had only existed in TV land for me. Everyone was ready with congratulations for the newlyweds. We got special mention by the hosts of luaus and free desserts at restaurants. Every day offered brand new experiences. We saw volcanoes seeping lava red-hot enough to make me sweat, went scuba diving in crystal clear oceans populated by brightly colored tropical fish. I felt like I must be dreaming.

But soon enough, the dream was over, and it was time to return to reality. I moved my things from my dorm and into John’s tiny one bedroom apartment. The excitement was over, and I admit I cried my first night there. We visited John’s family for Christmas that year. They were very kind to me, even had presents waiting for me under the tree. But I secretly missed my own family. John’s house was felt too big and empty, and I longed for my smaller, cozier home. Christmas away from it just wasn’t the same. I wanted to relax, but I was always on edge around my new in-laws, trying to impress them. I didn’t get to spend much time with John. We women went shopping for groceries and gifts while the men watched TV. I volunteered to help his mother with the cooking (and almost burnt a bean casserole in the process) while he and his dad watched more TV. On Christmas Eve, though, we sat up late, cuddling together on the sofa while we watched It’s a Wonderful Life on Blu-ray. That remains the most romantic memory I have of John.

I was unimpressed by the diamond heart pendant he gave me on Christmas morning. It was expensive but impersonal, and I was disappointed he hadn’t put more thought into it. I’d picked out his present, an Ultimate Collector’s Edition boxed set of Casablanca, weeks ago, and I’d been sure he’d give me something equally romantic. Though I felt petty to care so much about a gift, I felt let down. I pretended to be pleased, anyway, and kissed him on the cheek. He seemed to be thrilled with his Blu-ray set, at least, and that almost made up for it.

We stayed with John’s family through New Year’s, and though I had fun, I was actually glad to get back to school. My grades had improved with time. I’d started to develop an interest in Theatre, and I was really enjoying my Dramatic Writing class. We were writing one act plays, and mine was about an actress who falls in love with her romantic opposite in the movie she’s filming (the problem is that she loves the movie character, not the actor himself). It was challenging, but I was learning things about plot structure and characterization. My professor told me I was making good progress, and my classmates said they enjoyed my work. I had evenbefriended some of them. We had common interests and lots to talk about. College life was fulfilling now.

Life with John, on the other hand, was not as wonderful as I’d imagined it would be. I guess we seemed like a happy couple to our neighbors. During the day, we both went to classes. He worked part time in the Chemistry lab, so he arrived home later than me. I didn’t mind my time alone, though. Actually, I kind of enjoyed it. I did my homework, cleaned the apartment while I listened to my favorite radio pop stations, and sometimes cooked simple dinners (though usually ate out- neither John nor I were fond of my bland chicken and canned vegetable dishes).

We talked, but it was always small talk now- how was your day, what did you do, what movie should we see this weekend- nothing of any importance. Being with John had become so ordinary that I no longer looked forward to spending time with him. In fact, I began to prefer hanging out with my new friends. I groaned inwardly every night when I heard the door click open and his familiar “I’m home,” dreading another night of forced conversation and awkward silence. I hated sex. I won’t lie, it did feel good. But it was so embarrassing, his pale, sweaty body pressed up against me. I felt gross and ashamed as we thrusted and panted without a word. The next day, John’s presence would stay with me wherever I went- class, around the apartment, even in the bathtub. It was like he’d invaded my head somehow, and I couldn’t get rid of him. Needless to say, I got quite a lot of headaches while we were married.

We played house like that for about a year. In the end, it was just impossible to keep up the charade. I was actually a little relieved when John admitted that he’d been cheating on me with his fellow lab assistant. I was hurt and jealous that he had found someone prettier and more interesting than me (as I assumed she was). I felt like a fool for rushing into this marriage, mistaking excitement for love. But I was so glad for a way out of our sham of a marriage.

Once, shortly before I moved out of the apartment, I asked John what had attracted him to me in the first place. He shrugged and said “I guess I just knew you wouldn’t turn me down.” And that was that. I hadn’t been somebody to him, just the first anybody who’d paid him attention. I couldn’t say I blamed him, though. After all, wasn’t I exactly the same? We’d just been two anybodies hungry for each others’ attention. And now we’d outgrown each other, the way children do their shoes.

It took a whole year for the divorce to be finalized. That was about a month ago. I still run into John on campus sometimes. That girl he cheated with dumped him not too long ago, and he’s seemed down lately. Once he asked me if I could forgive him for what he’d done. I said I could, though it was a lie. Honestly, I feel a little sorry for him. Though I’ve never regretted the divorce, I do regret the way things ended. Perhaps it was for the best. Who knows how long we’d’ve stayed married if he hadn’t betrayed me? Still, I wish we could’ve stayed friends. I don’t need his friendship anymore, but I do miss him sometimes. None of my friends are into old movies, and I miss the long conversations we had on them in the beginning.

I don’t have time to be sad about it, though. These days, I’m constantly busy with school work and friends. I was cleaning out my dresser the other day, looking for things to donate to donate to the Drama department’s costume drive, when I came across that awful dress in the back of a drawer. It was crumpled and missing several sequins, and I knew I’d never wear it again. It didn’t even fit me anymore. Still, I was hesitant to let it go. It had been expensive, I remembered, and I’d held onto it for so long. Silly though it may sound, I was kind of attached to it. As I crouched on the floor, studying the garish looping patterns, I thought about the awkward person I’d been just a couple of years ago, and how much I’d grown since then. It was a little hard to believe everything that had happened in such a short time. I looked at the clock, surprised that it was almost three. I didn’t want to be late for Drama club, so I took one last look at the dress and threw it in the Banker’s box with my other old things. I didn’t need it anymore. I picked up the box and headed out, letting the door close behind me.


Written Insanity~
As I read through it, I really couldn't find any mistakes in your writing. That's definitely one of the more unique fics I've read on here, and I was actually really into it the entire time, surprisingly enough, even though this sort of fic really isn't my cup of tea. You can't help but feel for the main character, and slightly despise the ex-husband. You did really wonderfully with this, and I'd love to read more of your work sometime soon. Excellent job. :)