The Manic Prerogative:
a collection of interwoven short stories

A Writing Assignment

Angels have said worse, yet these eyes stare at me, accusing and murderous. They are greenish squinty eyes, surrounded by a forehead ready to break in rage, a too small nose, and a ribbon for a mouth.

I look blankly ahead, wondering how I managed to get myself here–again. It could not possibly have been the fault of that obnoxious redhead pushing his way though the halls, leaving only screams and desolation in his wake. Or maybe it was his fault.

The ribbon parts and the silence is broken with a hiss. It takes me a few moments to realize that the poor creature is attempting to form words, but once I do, I pull myself to attention, perhaps a short amusement will come of this.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

Ah. The witty type. Notice that I think this with sarcasm. I just stare a moment longer, as if puzzled by the hulking fools words. He glares back. So I grin–slightly–just so that he knows that I am better than him.

I speak slowly when answering, careful to pronounce each syllable so that the fool is not confused, he obviously does not have the brain capacity to understand much. "W-ell, I dare say that it means what the words mean. You see, when I say 'eat shit', I mean that I want you to find a towering pile of shit–that's animal excrement you know–and shove it in your mouth–because that is what you do when you eat something. And when I say, 'you are nothing but a substandard, sorry ass excuse for a pig, that only has friends because his daddy pays them to hang out with him', well, that is what I mean. And if you can't figure that out then you are even stupider than I thought." I quietly blink and stare forward, careful to make no sudden movements; these creatures spook easily.

The fat face before me turns purple. Purple! If you can believe it. His hands, oh, they are looking ready for some action. I really should remember to stop to think about the size of people before I pick fights with them. Shit.

I glance at my watch and almost cry out in joy. I hold my breath, three, two, one. The bell rings and I escape quickly to my first class of the day.

I take a seat in the back of the room and marvel at my narrow escape. Why do I always, no matter how I scream at myself to stop, push everyone to the limit of endurance? Why can I never stop myself while I am ahead? It is a weakness from which I would give anything to free myself. I despise weakness: I want to be the strongest person that ever walked.

But I have not much time to berate myself for the teacher walks in moments after I have taken my place. The man has a smile on his face, so I figure that this will be an exciting Writing class today (though I always consider Writing exciting). I lean back in my chair and calmly wait for the good news that I know will come. I already hear the other students bemoaning their ill luck at receiving another assignment, but I relish it.

Mr. Sarsung clears his throat and calls the class to attention. Most ignore him. He does not really care. He is a pretty cool guy; he already knows these students will receive a failing grade from him, and is only too happy to help the students to get what they deserve. He looks right at me and winks. I grin at him. Oh, am I ever going to enjoy this.

"Class," he speaks in a baritone, "I have a new creative writing assignment for all of you that are tired of grammar exercises and essays." Not everyone thinks that this little addition will spice up their lives.

Sarsung turns to the large chalkboard at the front of the room and begins to write in red chalk. And I find myself loving what I am seeing, ideas already shoot through my head. I chuckle. I cringe. I glare.

The board reads: "Think of a condition or state (of mind, society, government, politics, etc.) that means something to you, and holds a certain level of importance for people as a whole. Write about it. The goal is to create a piece of literary fiction, something a little more than a story. Try to employ as many literary techniques as you can: make it an experiment."

The teacher spends the rest of the period taking questions while I bounce things that I consider of importance around my head. By the time the bell rings I have decided on a topic. As I gather my bag and start to walk out the door, Sarsung asks me to stay back a minute.

He sits at his desk and smiles, going through a few papers which he quickly puts to one side. He looks up at me and asks if I have gotten any ideas yet. I answer that I have. Sarsung does not look surprised.

"I read the story you had published in the Journal the other week. Remarkable. The only thing lacking was a central purpose. I figured that this assignment will allow you to expand on some of your already vivid topics by focusing on one theme." He pauses. "Or at least more related themes." He adds with a steady grin.

I nod, laughing a little to myself. It is a well known fact that I always attempt to do more than I should, trying to include everything that passes through my mind, often leaving my stories in a slight state of confusion. "I agree, sir. I hope that I can restrain myself from trying to tackle too much at once this time."

"Good luck Sawyers."

Sarsung returns to his work as I leave the room, and I pass through the rest of the day in a hazy resemblance of attention, carefully avoiding other people who might distract me from my thought processes. When the final bell rings, I erupt from my seat and am outside the school before anyone else.

At home, I head immediately to my room, ignoring my mother's offers of food, and sit down before the computer. I turn it on, watching as the screen changes from black, to blue, to a blur of colored shapes as my desktop wallpaper takes form. I open my word processor and stare at a blank black page, with a white cursor flashing to taunt me for just a bit.

I close my eyes for long moments, making sure that my plots are clearly formed, before gently setting my fingers to the keyboard. I begin to write. Keys click, letters fly across the screen. Rapidly, insanely, with utter abandon. Everything falls away and becomes something stronger. A story forms.