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foxbunny

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I had an idea. I started a story here. There's only light characterization and a handful of names, but the setting is there. I'd like to invite folks to continue the story with three notes:

  • The perspective is third person limited. The camera is behind Emily. You can go close or far, but don't switch to first person.
  • The setting should stay on campus or immediately nearby. To note, Southern Methodist University in Dallas is the inspiration, but not the actual setting.
  • The central conflict in the piece revolves around the sense of inferiority linked to "otherness." Someone who is outside the norm is not necessarily subject to discrimination, but still may not feel as though they fit in. 

Otherwise it can go wherever. One way around the setting issue (if you see it as such) are to use flashbacks.

I may work on this more as well.

 

Emily ran her pencil over her notebook in mindless doodles. Class was always so boring. English Composition I felt like a review of her high school English classes. She didn’t see the point. She did the writing and reading and turned everything in on time (if not early), but it wasn’t interesting. Dr. Brand’s voice, though, was the worst part. It was a weird mid-tone drone that ran on for an hour and a half every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. It felt like a punishment. A class she had to pay for. She didn’t really pay, her scholarship did, but it still wasn’t like high school.

 

She could mostly tune out during class. Not completely, though. She needed to pick up on assignments and catch a few notes here and there. Things about Horace and Shakespeare and prosody. She could answer when called, but that wasn’t common. Pass the tests, turn in the papers, and get through the class. Her advisor, Dr. Angleton, said to think of the first three semesters as a way to see if a student is serious about college. Easy, almost mind-numbing classes, weed out the malcontents. Classwork was non-existent. Everything was homework. She considered, halfway through the semester, unlistening to Brand buzzing on and on about the beauty of the words, whan that aprill with his shoures soote, that she might be one of those malcontents.

 

She could do the work. She was smart enough, she was sure, and she wasn’t averse to digging in to her studies. That wasn’t the problem. It was the school. The culture. She felt like she didn’t belong. She was one of maybe ten mice out of six-thousand undergraduate students. There were more students in her freshman class than the entire population of the town where she grew up. And she figured that her girls in her dorm could have probably pooled their allowance to buy every house on the street where her parents lived. So she kept quiet. She tuned out.

 

Emily folded her spiral shut and pushed it into her bag. The strangest thing about college was having no bells. No signal that class was over until someone started packing up and the professor called out the reading for the next class. Tasha, her roommate, said she should skip class sometime. A lot of students did. Two or three absences over a semester don’t really hurt and can be refreshing. Emily’s athletic scholarship kept that from being an option for her. Someone at a desk outside her classes had a clipboard where she had to sign in and out. It was usually the rabbit girl who ran errands for Coach McEwen. If Emily missed a class, she would have to be sick or at a competition. She couldn’t just skip because she needed a break. Of course, if not for the scholarship, she wouldn’t be there.

 

She sat down on the steps outside Manger Hall. There was an hour before she needed to be at Athletics for her workout. Mandatory, Coach said. Emily didn’t mind the workouts. She enjoyed them, in fact. Focusing on technique and routine, controlling every muscle precisely took her mind off slog of her classes. That was also the time when she was around the most of her own kind. She wasn’t prejudiced, she would say, but she was just more comfortable with other mice. 

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I think it should just be about the mouse Emily living in a place where she feels she doesn't fit in. I'm interesting in where others can take it.

Will she try to modify her perspective and fit in?

Will she have some friends of similar background to her at the worship services in the student center?

Will she feel rejected by those around her because she doesn't fit in and make some bad choices because of that?

 

Is there anything you feel would be a good (or interesting) path for her?

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**I made some changes and added part of another scene.**

 

Emily ran her pencil over her notebook in mindless doodles. Class was always so boring. English Composition I felt like a review of her high school English classes. She didn’t see the point. She did the writing and reading and turned everything in on time (if not early), but it wasn’t interesting. Dr. Brand’s voice, though, was the worst part. It was a weird mid-tone drone that ran on for an hour and a half every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. It felt like a punishment. A class she had to pay for. She didn’t really pay, her scholarship did, but it still felt like a waste.

 

She could mostly tune out during class. Not completely, though. She needed to pick up on assignments and catch a few notes here and there. Things about Horace and Shakespeare and prosody. She could answer when called, but that wasn’t common. Pass the tests, turn in the papers, and get through the class. Her advisor, Dr. Angleton, said to think of the first three semesters as a way to see if a student is serious about college. Easy, almost mind-numbing classes, weed out the malcontents. Classwork was non-existent. Everything was homework. She considered, halfway through the semester, while unlistening to Brand buzzing on and on about the beauty of the words ‘whan that aprill with his shoures soote,’ that she might be one of those malcontents.

 

She could do the work. She was smart enough, she was sure, and she wasn’t averse to digging in to her studies. That wasn’t the problem. It was the school. The culture. She felt like she didn’t belong. She was one of maybe ten mice out of six-thousand undergraduate students. There were more students in her freshman class than the entire population of the town where she grew up. And she figured that the girls in her dorm could have probably pooled their allowance to buy every house on the street where her parents lived. So she kept quiet. Turned in. Tuned out.

 

Emily folded her spiral shut and pushed it into her bag. The strangest thing about college was having no bells. No signal that class was over until someone started packing up and the professor called out the reading for the next class. Tasha, her roommate, said she should skip class sometime. A lot of students did. Two or three absences over a semester don’t really hurt and can be refreshing. Emily’s athletic scholarship kept that from being an option for her. Someone at a desk outside her classes had a clipboard where she had to sign in and out. It was usually the rabbit girl who ran errands for Coach McEwen. If Emily missed a class, she would have to be sick or at a competition. She couldn’t just skip because she needed a break. It initially seemed a small price to pay. After all, if not for the scholarship she wouldn’t be there.

 

She sat down on the steps outside Manger Hall. There was an hour before she needed to be at Athletics for her workout. Mandatory, Coach said. Emily didn’t mind the workouts. She enjoyed them, in fact. Focusing on technique and routine, controlling every muscle precisely took her mind off slog of her classes. That was also the time when she was around the most of her own kind. She wasn’t prejudiced, she would say, just more comfortable around other mice.

 

She probably should have used that time to study or get ahead in her coursework, but she didn’t want to. Those minutes between class and practice were hers. She could dictate what she did and where she went. Mostly. She couldn’t go home. She couldn’t go back and tell herself to not take the scholarship. Stay in Herndon. Go to the junior college and get a nursing certificate like her mother said. Closed doors are closed. The past is gone. Keep on keeping on. All those sayings her grandma used to turn to when the little white mouse with the big blue eyes would miss a quarter-turn or fall off a beam went through her head.

 

“Y’all OK, M&M?†came Lily’s slow drawl from off Emily’s shoulder. Coach’s little helper. A lop-eared rabbit with creamy fur and a ready smile. There was a sort of instinct to dislike her among the athletes. She was a little on the heavy side and had a tic that made her squince up her face when she blinked behind her thick glasses. Coach was always nice to her. There were rumors. She does spend a lot of time alone with Coach. If nothing else, a common target strengthened the camaraderie of the team. Emily felt badly for the times she had been cold to her, though. The rumors were baseless. She’d never heard Lily say something bad about anyone.

 

“I’m good,†Emily said, nodding without turning around.

 

“You sure?†Lily pressed, stepping down to sit next to Emily. Even then, sitting at the same level, the rabbit was still more than a head taller the mouse. “It looks like y’all are working something over in your head that don’t want to be worked.â€

 

“I just need some time to think about things.†Emily pulled her hands into the sleeves of her sweatshirt and hugged her knees up to her chest.

 

Lily nodded. “Well, I just wanted to say that I’m good at listening.†She nudged Emily and flipped her long ears between her fingers. “I got plenty of ears to spare.â€

 

Emily forced a smile. “Thanks.â€

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Later that day, Emily sat in the study hall reviewing literature for English Composition. Some of the stories were good, but some of them made her uncomfortable. She was reading one such story, "The Storm," when she began to remember a short lived romantic relationship from her high school years. She had never been a jealous type, but her confidence had not been high as she had only begun dating. A handsome albino mouse whith a notch in his left ear had asked if he could escort her to the homecoming dance. She almost couldn't answer (she had been crushing on him for a few months and did not realize that he acknowledged her existence in the slightest. Obviously she was flattered, so much that her lips refused to form the response required. Instead she made a nervouse noise while managing a quirky half grin and nodded happily.

    The time came for the dance and she was wearing a modest dress that accentuated her lean shoulders. The homecoming dance had never been a very formal event so the dress was cute, but not extravagant. The boy mouse, Aaron, arrived at her door five minutes early and was equipped with a small bouquet. He was a proper Gentlemouse and wanted to make her night special. When she came down, Emily's parents were having a nice conversation with her escort who seemed a bit nervous. She asked if he was ready to go and they were off shortly after.

    There was nothing notable about the dance. It was a typical gathering of youth exploring the idea of love. He had made her feel special, danced with her, brought her punch when she was thirsty, the usual things. Emily thought he was interesting and they seemed to hit it off quite well. She couldn't help but hope they would have other dates and he seemed to really like her. There were times of course when they both talked briefly with a few friends seperately before coming together again. They had a nice time and it was over too soon, they both felt this to be the case, and when it was over, he took her home and left her with a kiss on the cheek.

    At this moment Emily's memory began to swirl and shift a bit. It grew cold and bitter and pulled her in deeper against her will. The next memories came in segments... She arrived at school early the next day and immediately looked for him. She found him talking to a girl he used to date. They were laughing but he stopped to introduce her, it seemed as though they had never stopped seeing eachother. She wasn't mad, she didn't know how to feel...      She saw the flowers on her dresser, only they were in grayscale...  She saw him smiling from across the lunchroom at her, only to return to his conversation with "her"... She saw the flowers again, this time they were droopy... She saw them kissing under the bleachers at the edge of the football field... she saw once again the flowers, this time in color although there was not much color left to see, they had become brown-yucky-green and were bare... Aaron didn't talk to her much after that. It was as if they never talked, danced or met. All except for this one time when he came to her with a soft expression and said "Emily?..." and again "Emily?" this time it sounded a bit odd.

    "Are you okay Emily?" a stocky Rat whose name Emily wasn't sure she had ever known had been talking to her for a moment now.

Emily stammered, "Y-YES! I'm fi-"

    "Uh, I'm sorry I didn't mean t-"

    "No! no, you're fine! I was... I was deep into this story. Please, I didn't mean to be rude. Its nice that you wanted to check on me.

    "Well ok then, I uh, I guess I'll see you around." he began to walk away. Emily felt stupid. She tried to shout to him to catch his name, but instead all she got out was, "Hey! I like your shoes." He turned around looking a bit confused before saying, "Thanks?"

    "It's over," she thought, "Not even halfway through semester 'uno' and already she was the incarnation of a faux pas. She dropped her head to the desk as he started to turn.

    "Hey, actually," he said turning back around, "would you like to study with me somet-" Emily wasn't sure if the blush of her cheeks was visible, but to her it felt as if they were glowing. She had snapped upright as he spoke but not quickly enough. There was an awkward pause before he began to walk away the second time. Her brain resuming function just in time this time, she called, "Uh hey, you didn't tell me your name."

    "John," he said, "but everyone calls me 'Biff' usually."

    "Well, John, I would love to study with you sometime" she said mustering false confidence," see you tomorrow?" To her suprise, he actually smiled almost looking nervous before he spoke," Yeah absolutely! Great, tomorrow then." She let him walk away this time. Making sure he was out of sight, she put her head back where it belonged on the table and let it bounce purposefully a couple of times muttering, "Great! What now you idiot?" switching to a mock tone "How can I further embarass myself tomorrow?" and back to her voice, "Oh, I'm sure you'll figure something out..."

   "Emily? you ok?" Lily had walked in right on cue.

   "Actually Lily," she never lifted her head from the table, "I think I might have just died"

Lily looked very confused, a look her face was accustomed to, but after a moment just smiled and sat down at the table beside Emily with her books and began reading.

Edited by Thomas Maltuin

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