Our writing professor asked us to write the beginning of a new story whose first-person narrator begins telling her story in the moment of crossing a major life threshold of some kind. This is what I wrote–pretty much how I feel right now.
“It was the end of my second year and I was already sick of school. Sick, sick, sick, sick. A sophomore with the soul of a 5th year post-doc, a 19-year-old that wore the fatigue of life on my face like a veteran wearing the death of his comrades on his battered uniform. In the morning I lied in bed with my eyes staring out of the window, my head pointing towards the door. Mom said only dead people slept with the head towards the door—that’s how they always place the coffin at the funeral where she grew up—so that their soul could exit the house unhindered. Maybe my soul was looking for a way out too.
It was probably noontime—the shadow of the leaves was falling on top of each other, so thick the ground seemed to be shifting under its weight. A squirrel scoured around in his daytime business, sniff, sniff, sniff. What are you sniffing for, squirrel? Do you have any hope and dreams other than getting the fattest nuts and having a sexy time with another clueless squirrel when the urge hits ya? The squirrel paused to look at me, a brown seed looking like Sisyphus’s boulder in his tiny little hands, didn’t answer. Or maybe he did, I just didn’t understand. I never understood anything in this whole wide world. Sniff, sniff, sniff. He went back to his sniffing business and I went back to the equation of saving my soul. I imagined myself having a burning reason to get out of bed. I wanted to be mad, mad to breathe, mad to live, mad to be out there because I knew if I wasn’t out there for a moment I would be missing out on something important and the world as I knew it would never be the same again. But I wasn’t mad to be to out there. I knew exactly what was going to happen out there. I would go to a class with the same professor who tried too hard and the same guy sitting in the front who asked too many smart-sounding questions that didn’t help anyone. I imagined myself coming up to him and said: “Dude, cut it out. You sit in the front, we know you’re smart.” But I never did, just like nobody ever did anything that wasn’t expected of them in this valley. Later on when I passed by him in the hallway we would exchange some pleasant how-are-you and how-are-the-classes and what-are-you-doing-for-the-summer. Then I would eat at one dining hall or another—they all looked the same with the same wooden tables under red umbrellas that were meant to trick us into believing that we were somewhere in Europe and the same butter plate that had been there since the day I moved in and the same chicken that was either too dry or too raw in the middle.”