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The International Writers Magazine: Fiction

Andrew on the Bus
Julia Gordon

Andrew was taking a test. He chewed his pen anxiously and looked over his shoulder. The sun was shining hotly outside. The light blue of his eyes focused on the light blue of the sky and for a split second he was happy. Then he glanced back down at the multiple choice and short essay questions on his paper and his spirits sank. "Because?" he thought to himself dully. "Because why? Why life?"
The question seemed intense to him and it beckoned him away, out of the sphere of his existence. "The sphere, the sphere, the sphere," he thought, drawing a circle around the letter D, none of the above. Unbeknownst to himself the answer was actually B, "aeroplanes", but Andrew had no way of knowing this and so forlornly circled D, "The grade I'll be getting in this class," he thought bitterly. "Oh, I can be wry," he thought, "I can laugh in the face of life. Life, fuck you!" thought Andrew, as he boldly circled three more incorrect answers.

Andrew felt happier when he was outside of the gray-brown building, the sun reflecting off his disheveled dark blonde hair. He smiled abstractly as he squinted in the bold light, waiting for his bus. The failure of the test had left him now and he only felt clean and light and free, although maybe slightly lonely. His gray tee-shirt began to cling to him as he sweated in the already hot sun of early April. He stepped in his scuffed shoes onto the college transit and thought about what he would do when he was free. "Absolutely nothing, "he thought vengefully. The world was a vast nothing, what Andrew referred to as a vast ball of suck. "It's the black hole we're all stuck to, indefinitely," he was frequently heard to say, with a glum look of foreboding.

On the bus he put on his headphones, as usual, and stared raptly out the window. A girl with short brown hair intentionally sat down beside him and pretended not to notice him at all. Andrew actually didn't notice her. He was thinking now about what an asshole his teacher Mrs. Snelling was and about how she had rigged the test, causing him to fail it. "What an asshole," he thought vehemently. "And that old man, that janitor walking over there, what an asshole, ugh!" He frowned, staring at them all disdainfully.

The girl thought he was so handsome, frowning like that. She tapped his shoulder. He jumped and turned around to meet the gaze of her curious green eyes. He smiled rather abruptly, somewhat confused.
"What are you listening to?" she asked.
"Whah?" said Andrew, lifting an earphone.
"Oh, I just wanted to know what you're listening to."
"Death Cab for Cannibals!" Andrew began enthusiastically, "Have you heard of them? I have all 4 of their cds. Of course, the 4th isn't anywhere near the caliber of the first 3. I personally prefer the second. That's the one I'm listening to now. Here, listen to this song," he said, thrusting the earphones at her.
"Uh, ok," she said, rather taken aback. She put on the phones and listened intently for the next couple minutes. She took the phones off afterwards, looking confused.
"No," she said. "I definitely don't like it," she sighed, looking disappointed. "Oh, this is my stop!" she got up and walked off.
"Fine," Andrew thought as he put the headphones back on and continued listening. "Who asked you anyway?"

Andrew came to his green car, Oblonsky, shining like a beacon in the sun, in the hot parking lot. He drove home to his apartment on a shady street on the west side of town. It was kind of a hovel but Andrew liked it and he liked his roommate Ed because Ed was even less responsible and therefore didn't make him look bad. Ed was gone to class now, so Andrew made his way into the filthy kitchen to make a sandwich. The sun came through the shutters, touching some malnourished, decrepit looking plants. "Do my poor babies need water?" Andrew asked them sympathetically. "Well too bad!" He said scowling, and walked with his bologna sandwich into his room.

Maybe Andrew would come to a realization. He thought about this as he sat on a rather large pile of clothes in his room and ate his sandwich. "Will I come to a realization?" he thought. "Will I?" He squinted with effort. "I realize I need to clean this room," he thought, looking around him at the various articles of clothing and other things. Did he realize he had no ambition? Perhaps this was true. Momentum, ambition, seemed lost somewhere in the vast messiness of his room. Coming to sudden decisiveness, he began to clean the place. Putting down the sandwich and turning on some music he cleaned the entire room until it was spotless. It took all day.

Ed came in around dinner time and walked into Andrew's room, staring. "What did you do man? You're upsetting our Fung Shui!" he screamed.
"I'm taking control of my life," Andrew said seriously, looking up at his friend from where he sat before his computer, his blue eyes intent. "I realized something today. I can have no ambition or make no progress in this mess, this hovel. This room represents the inside of my soul, once messy and disordered, now clean and in accordance to all my belief systems."
"You don't have any belief systems! " Ed said in exasperation, and walked out of the room.
Andrew Shrugged. He figured this was true.

© Julia Gordon October 2007
sushibuca at

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