Wish Fulfillment Excerpt: Small Talk
The following is a censored version of the original text. All strong language or curse words have been blanked out.
The two friends agreed to meet at Rolo's house first then drive together to the party. As the two drove along, they noticed dark storm clouds moving in. It had been a pleasant summer's day a mere two hours before with clear skies and radiant sunshine. Now, a thunderstorm appeared imminent.
"Well, that's an ominous sign," said Jake with a bit of a chuckle.
"Oh shut up, it's just Midwest weather," Rolo responded as he continued driving. Despite his dismissal, the sight of storm clouds didn't exactly calm his nerves.
"I just hope this goes well," he thought as they pulled up to the driveway of the address they'd been given.
Andrew was in the living room when he heard a knock at the door.
"Hmm, did someone order something," he wondered as he went towards the front door.
The moment he opened the door he saw two unfamiliar men standing there.
"Uhhh, hey," said the shorter of the two men with obvious nervousness.
"Can I help you with something," replied Andrew.
For several seconds which felt like consecutive eternities, the short man in front of Andrew didn't answer. He simply looked up at him like a deer in headlights.
Sensing his friend's loss of nerve, the taller of the two opened his mouth and responded, "Umm, we're here because we were invited to a house party or what not by a uhhh, Charlie I believe."
Finally, realizing who they were, Andrew said, "Oh right, yeah, yeah, yeah."
He stood aside and opened the door wider for them, "Well, come in. The name's Andrew by the way."
"I'm Jake and this is Rolo," said the taller man once more speaking for himself and his shy companion as they stepped through the front door and into Andrew's kitchen.
"Okay cool, I'm gonna go see if I can get Charlie."
Andrew had only taken a single step when suddenly someone exclaimed loudly, "It's Rolo!"
Rolo was surprised to see Andrew answer the door. Although of the four members of the Official Podcast, he was only particularly enamored of Charlie he nonetheless recognized the other three.
"Does he actually live here," thought Rolo to himself as if it was somehow unfathomable that Andrew should abide in the same Southern Illinois milieu as him. Before his feelings of surprise had a chance to fade away, the voice of someone entering the kitchen exclaimed, "It's Rolo."
"Steve, hey man," said Rolo with some relief when he saw it was Steve Dunham who yelled out his name.
"Oh, you two know each other," asked Andrew, now himself somewhat surprised.
Approaching Rolo, Steve replied, "That we do. What's up man? Didn't expect to see you here."
Steve's arrival made everyone else in the room feel relieved albeit for different reasons. For Andrew, the fact that his friend Steve knew Rolo made him feel even more confident about his decision to allow Charlie to invite him and his friend over. Jake was reassured he wouldn't need to babysit his friend the whole time since he at least already knew one person at the party. Finally, Rolo was just glad to see such a familiar face.
That said, it still struck Rolo as jarring to see his former best friend Steve and his current best friend Jake standing side by side. While Jake was the image of the non-confrontational, non-threatening white bread suburban male, Steve with his piercings, tattoos, and dyed hair still seemed like someone eager to communicate his ongoing rebellion against suburban norms. He hadn't changed a bit.
Steve and Rolo used to be best friends back in high school. They stopped being best friends not because of some dramatic fallout, but because as adults they lived separate lives now. Every few months or so they would bump into each other at the grocery store, a restaurant, or some other place, and attempt to catch up. In such instances, a mutually shared desire to hangout some time would be expressed along with cursory plans to do so. Their lives, however, proceeded on such different tracks that those plans pretty much never happened. It had been about a year since the two had last seen each other.
As the two former best friends began making small talk with one another, Andrew went back to finding Charlie. Jake, not wanting to interrupt the two, found himself wandering into the living room.
"So, how do you know Andrew," asked Rolo once Jake and Andrew had left the room.
"Oh, I met him just one day at a party like this actually. We started hanging out and the rest is history. But, uh, what the heck's been up with you? It's been forever since I last saw you."
"Not much," Rolo reassured him, "Just the usual. Work and everything else. How about you?"
The second after he said it Rolo immediately regretted asking Steve the seemingly casual question, "How about you?" He already had an inkling of what Steve's reply would be.
Steve shook his head before answering, "Oh man, let me tell you..."
That statement began a tirade in which Steve listed all the woes and supposed hardships life had thrown his way in the year since they last saw each other. Rolo could barely stand it. It lasted only a few minutes, but felt like an eternity as he listened to Steve whine and complain.
While Rolo didn't know every detail of the torrid tale, he knew a significant part of Steve's life since high school had consisted of a failed attempt at stardom. He tried to be an actor. People at their high school theater program had told him year after year how great he was, and so the idea grew in his head that the universe had destined him for such a profession. The long and short of it was that he moved to L.A. where the universe informed him the hard way of how very wrong he was. Whatever alignment of stars and chance circumstances separates successful actors from failed ones, apparently never happened to him. Eventually, he beat a hasty retreat back to Southern Illinois, and became a plumber.
A plumber is by all means a respectable profession. Most people will need the services of a decent plumber at some point in their lives. Nonetheless, ever since his return to Southern Illinois it seemed every conversation with Steve made some direct or indirect allusion to the bitterness he felt about dashed hopes and dreams. His bitching didn't just annoy Rolo; it struck him as immature.
"Get over it. Just shut the ---- up and get over it. Most of the rest of us aren't living the dream either. Geez," Rolo wanted to say to Steve every time he went on one of these tangents.
By the phrase 'most of the rest of us' Rolo was of course referring to the cohort of peers who'd graduated high school along with him and Steve. While Rolo didn't know the exact fate of every single person they went to high school with, he imagined their lives with few exceptions had all turned out basically the same way. Whatever dreams stemming from youthful inexperience they possessed coming out of high school were eventually tempered by the realities of adulthood into something far less grand, but at least much more realistic. Many of his former classmates had likely attempted to reach for the stars as Steve had, but had managed to quietly settle for whatever piece of comfortable mediocrity on Earth life had ultimately given them. Unlike Steve, they had done the sensible thing and moved on.
Fortunately, Rolo didn't have to break out of his habitual politeness in order to get Steve to stop. Instead Andrew inadvertently came to the rescue when he shouted from the garage, "Hey, Steve get over here. Wanna show you something."
"Coming," bellowed Steve in response, "Well, it was nice catching up with you man. Are you planning to stay awhile?"
"Yeah, I might. You know me. I never was one for parties or social gatherings in general."
"I know. In any case, I'm hoping maybe we can hangout sometime soon."
"Yeah man for sure. I'll let you know," replied Rolo more out of reflex than anything else.
With that Steve went to go into the garage. This left Rolo alone in the kitchen. For some moments after his conversation with Steve, he was lost in thought. Despite the annoyance a run-in with Steve could cause him, it did have the distinct benefit of serving as an invitation to reminisce on days that even as they receded further and further into the past became more precious to him with each passing year. On most days Rolo simply had no good reason to bring up these memories. He usually kept them tucked away in some corner of his mind as things of immense sentimental value, but little practical use. Standing in Andrew's kitchen, he indulged in them like a guilty pleasure one was finally at peace to enjoy. It was the sound of footsteps behind him which broke him out of his reveries.
Initially, Andrew tried to keep everyone in the party together. He wanted his local friends who he invited to meet and mingle with his visiting ones for at least a little bit so they could get to know each other. After basic introductions and small talk, he was pleased to find everyone getting along nicely. Eventually, the party reached a point where the various people assembled drifted off into separate groups. In the garage, Andrew, Steve, and Jackson formed a conversational trio. Greg, another local friend Andrew had invited, meanwhile chatted with Kaya. They too were in the garage, but were separate from the trio. Back inside the house, Rolo was of course in the kitchen. This left Jake alone on the living room couch with the only woman at the party.
"Wow, so tell me what happened next," exclaimed Bree, a third local friend Andrew invited, as she responded to a story Jake had just told her. Her fascination was genuine.
Jake usually didn't care much for social gatherings in general. Although he didn't suffer from the social anxiety which afflicted his friend, he nonetheless possessed an introvert's prejudice against the sort of superficial small talk which was almost always a necessity at such occasions. So much could be said and to so many people, but all or most of it was of such little value that it felt like a waste to him. It was with some weariness that he ultimately agreed to go to the party with Rolo.
To his good fortune, however, when he stepped into Andrew's living room, the first person he met was Bree. She was on her phone when he sat down at one end of the couch next to her. The moment he sat down, she stopped what she was doing to look up at him. An inadvertent blush came over him when she smiled at him and said, "Hey." She seemed nice enough. What occurred next was something Jake did not anticipate. After that initial "Hey" the two continued talking and an engrossing conversation developed between the two.
He couldn't believe his luck. Exceeding his expectations, the discussion between them felt natural. It was less like forcing a boulder up a hill, and more like simply allowing it to roll downhill. He encountered none of the anticipated effort he dreaded. She had a genuine interest and affinity for what he was saying, and he reciprocated not because he felt obliged to, but because he wanted to. It was refreshing. As was typical, they started with easy, superficial topics, but at some point, neither could demarcate exactly when, they began broaching deeper subjects.
"So, if you don't mind me asking, are you seeing anyone right now," she asked hoping she wasn't being too forward.
Jake paused. Up until that point, he'd been thoughtlessly enjoying himself. Whatever worries or anxieties he suffered in his personal life he was able to put into suspended animation. Now, though, they awoke in him once more. He also remembered that since at least last Sunday he'd stopped wearing his marriage ring which was undoubtedly why Bree felt she could ask him about his relationship status.
"Yes and no," he finally managed to say.
When he said this he looked at Bree to gauge her reaction. Seeing her confused look made him realize how cryptic he sounded. It took a lot for him to say those words. He was admitting to a perfect stranger something he hadn't revealed to his closest loved ones. Somehow, though, it was easier to say this to someone who wasn't yet part of his life than it was to say to them. Unlike Kate or Rolo, Bree could hardly be disappointed or saddened by the news of what had happened.
After another pause he continued, "I'm technically married right now, but my wife and I are separating. Separating permanently, so I won't be married for much longer."
Jake admitted all this in a somber tone with a stilted delivery. He waited with some anxiety for her response.
"Oh okay, I get it," she said after making sure he had said all he wanted to say, "I actually went through a divorce myself two years ago, so I know what it's like."
He looked at her stunned. It never occurred to him that this charming woman around his age could possibly have gone through what he was currently going through.
"You...you did," he asked with much hesitation.
"Yeah," she reaffirmed without hesitation.
"Oh wow, I uhhh I..." he struggled with what to say next. For some time now, he'd wanted a suitable person to talk to about his situation. He wanted someone to relieve him of the loneliness. Although she'd admitted to being divorced, he didn't know how much she wanted to talk about the experience.
"We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. I didn't mean to bring up the subject," she said, noticing his reluctance to speak.
"No, no, no it's fine. It's fine. I just. I'm just not totally used to talking about it," said Jake trying to match her casual demeanor and tone. In doing so, he understated the degree of discomfort he felt discussing the subject.
"I get that," she said with a warm smile, "It took me a while too."
The warmth in her smile charmed him, but also reminded him of a truth which only deepened his present angst.
"She's smiling. She can smile while talking about her divorce because it was a while ago," it inwardly occurred to him, "But how long will it take for me to be like that?" Imagining the weeks, months, and perhaps even years it would take to reach that point, Jake grew disheartened.
The above is only an excerpt from a much larger story. Below is the full link to the whole story: Wish Fulfillment
A Strange Thing Happened to Noah
I don't know what this fanfiction is based on, know nothing of the characters, found some bits a little awkward and don't know why there's only one woman at the party (even if lgbtq) - and still, somehow, I find this piece very interesting and engrossing! Very good on keeping my attention and describing the scene ... congratulations on the DD!
I kind of like it in bite sized and tasty morsels like this. The edited version here, really doesn't feel less natural to me. I don't think the more realistic banter of the original really added much to the overall composition. All the key points are still here, and I don't think anyone who hadn't already read the uncensored version would even know it was missing anything.
It is like how Marvel movies always stick to PG-13 ratings. It just makes the story more approachable, and your story is cute. I actually really relate to your story in several ways. First, I think I know which YTer you based the love interest on, and I applaud your exceptional taste. If he is who I think he is based on, I am embarrassed to mention in case I'm wrong.
Okay, even if I am wrong I still think Sean is very, very cute. He needs to come back and make more videos again! I miss his content so much! T^T I am a big fan. I even wrote a poem for him back when he started his coffee company. PLease let me know if I guessed correctly, or if you just totally made up Charlie ex nihilo.
Second, I miss living in southern IL. Of course in my case it was Carbondale, not O'Fallon. Man, what gorgeous country. My wife went to college at SIUC. We got married after her Freshman year (at a junior college) and then transferred down to the Carbondale campus after her sophomore year. We sometimes think about moving back to that region just because we miss it, even though we haven't lived there in over 25 years. We miss all the scenery and amazing fishing.
So I am very curious to hear your reply.
Also thank you for your feedback about the censored version. I'll definitely keep that on mind. That said with the original uncensored version I definitely wasn't trying to make it R rated, but I was trying to make the dialogue more realistic. In the future I'll keep in mind that maybe fewer curse words is fine for realism. Thanks.
I didn't mean to say the original was overly explicit, Those matters are highly subjective. Of course we both know some people get easily offended. Granted those sorts of people are likely not your target audience in the first place, but it never hurts to appeal to a larger demographic as long as it doesn't impair your creative process.
Pleased don't feel like you need to overly censor yourself. You can always rate a work as mature if you want to be more uninhibited. Then if anybody reads it anyway, it is on them.
Yes. I did read the whole thing earlier. Okay I was WAY off on who the YouTuber was., and as I said, I am very embarrassed. I wish I hadn't mentioned it. So yeah, I am a big fan of jacksepticeye aka Sean McLoughlin... that adorable little Irish piece O'... what was I saying. I lost my train of thought. LOL (secretly wishing ti had been Sean) lol although I should have known better because of the long hair. Oh well.
Not me personally. I am married to the SIUC alum. But we were married while she was in college. In our case it was something of an advantage because married students are not required to house on campus. She did work study and I worked fast food to help put her through school. That plus all her scholarships meant that she graduated with no student loans to pay back.
I wish I was too! But it was largely because I had racked up some that both of us were determined not to repeat my mistakes. I was and am still, very proud of that achievement. However my sister blew our minds by getting all her school bills from getting her phd completely written off by a grant right before her graduation! O_o Eight years of college, some at private colleges, completely erased.
Of course in her case it was because she had a complete psychotic break while in college, diagnosed with schizophrenia, and still managed to power through in spite of it, with only about a year's break after her sophomore year. It turns out that just after she turned in her doctoral thesis, she discovered a huge grant specifically to aid students with severe issues like her. We are very proud of her. She really did overcome a ton..
This comment section is getting knotted Lol so I'll try responding in one comment. Wow that's an incredible story about your sister. I mean the grant money is great I imagine, but it probably sucks she had to go through so much to get it. In any case good on her for persevering.
In terms of appealing to a broader demographic I definitely get what you're saying on the subject. Unfortunately, like you said these matters are definitely subjective. The reason why I ultimately censored the text was because DeviantArt's filter doesn't really distinguish between mildly mature content like mine and some of the real graphic content this site houses. I didn't want people to come into the story thinking it was more explicit than it was.
Wow thanks for reading the entire original text. Lol, you're probably one of the few people who have. Hmmm, playing detective I'm guessing you read it as an admin for BreakthroughArt which is why you read the uncensored version. It seems like so long ago when I submitted the piece to that gallery then was glad it got accepted.