This was a short story I wrote for English. We all got to create characters, and Claudia was mine. Then my teacher assigned us someone else's character to use with our own. She assigned us one as the antagonist and the other as the protagonist. Jerry was the other character I was assigned, created by some moron named Devon. The bio said his best friend was Doug and his enemy was Tom. (Tom and Jerry, very clever, Devon). Jerry was assigned the antagonist. But I didn't really like that. Why do we have to label one person as the good guy and the other as the bad guy? I couldn't really think of any possible way to make Jerry seem like a villain, so I just had Claudia be really mad at him and see him that way (It'll make sense when you read it, don't worry). So here it be. VOILA!
By Lilith Gray
A gentle breeze swept over the soccer field of a small elementary school in Fairfax, Virginia. It was a Friday in September of 1995, shortly after school and sports practice had ended. The weather was getting colder, and it had been that way long enough for all the students to start complaining. All of them, that is, except for two nine-year-old boys who knew just the thing warm them up. Their names were Doug Jenkins and Jerry Shrinkleman, and they were running around like madmen on the soccer field—or in this case, the lacrosse field.
"Here it comes!!"
"Catch it catch it catch it!!!"
"It's going really far!!"
"Then run over to it!!"
"What does it look like I'm doing?!"
"You missed it!!"
"You know what?! You take it!"
"You got hit!"
"Nuh-uh! I didn't get hit! I blocked it! …With my face!"
"You wanna block it with your face again?"
They weren't really playing lacrosse. They had just been throwing the ball up against the wall and catching it. Jerry would throw it, then Doug would catch it, then he would throw it, and so on. But it later went from that to throwing it at each other. It was an odd little game, but it kept the two best friends entertained until their parents came to pick them up. They were having a great time…Until someone else decided to join them.
"Hey, guys!" yelled an older boy running up to Jerry and Doug.
"Great," Doug murmured, "Here comes Tom."
"Yes, what is it, Thomas?" Jerry asked mockingly.
"Shut up, Shrinkleman," Tom snapped, resenting the usage of his full name, "I told you I was gonna come here after practice was over."
"You didn't tell us what for," said Doug.
"I'm getting to that," said Tom. "Check out what I found." He reached into his backpack and, to the boys' horror, he pulled out a gun.
"What the--?!" Jerry stammered, "Is that real?!"
"Of course it's real," said Tom, "I found it in a drawer in my mom and dad's room."
"Well, put it back!" said Doug. "Are you trying to get expelled?"
"What were you doing going through your parents' stuff, anyway?" Jerry asked.
"If you have to know," said Tom, "They took my Game Boy and I was looking for it. Glad they did, too, or else I never would have found this."
"There's no reason to bring it here!" Jerry scolded. "It could've gone off in your backpack!"
"I took out the bullets," said Tom. "It's not gonna hurt anyone."
"It's a GUN, you lunatic," Jerry scowled. "It's made to hurt people!"
"We can play cops and robbers!" Tom protested.
"Or we can play put the gun away before someone calls the principal!" Jerry yelled.
"When did you turn into such a killjoy?" Tom asked.
"When did you turn into such a homicidal maniac?!"
"THERE ARE NO BULLETS IN IT!"
"Give me the weapon!!" Jerry demanded.
"GIVE ME IT!!" Jerry said again, trying to snatch the gun away from Tom.
Jerry and Tom tugged at it back and forth, trying to keep the other from keeping it. And just when Jerry thought he had it… He dropped it.
Tom hadn't taken out all the bullets after all.
It landed just right so that it went off.
Jerry gave Tom the worst death glare that one could possibly imagine.
"YOU SAID IT WASN'T LOADED!!" he screamed at the top of his lungs.
"I—I thought I—I didn't know there was—" Tom sputtered, dumbfounded.
"Do you have any idea what could have happened if someone—"
"G-guys…?" Doug whimpered. Jerry and Tom both looked over to him. Doug's face was pure white, his eyes were wide, and a trembling hand pointed off in the distance.
Jerry wasn't so sure he wanted to see what scared Doug so much. Reluctantly, he turned around and looked.
Out in the parking lot, sprawled on the ground, was a man.
His shirt was covered in blood.
Jerry couldn't bear to go to the funeral. What would people think when they saw this man's killer there? All he could do was watch from a distance and look at all these people whose grief he had caused.
Even though Tom was the one who brought the gun, Jerry was the one who dropped it. He set it off. That made him the murderer. If he had just called the principal in the first place, this wouldn't have happened. That man would still be alive. But no. He had to try and take matters into his own hands. And now this man was dead because of it.
His name was Harold Clements. He was out by the school that day because he was meeting with the principal in hopes of teaching there. He was married to a woman named Claire who was now eight months pregnant. Now that child would have to grow up without a father. And that woman would have to suffer through the rest of her life without a husband.
The funeral was just about over, and all Jerry could think about was all those crying people. He made this happen. The word kept flashing through his mind…
Jerry gasped and looked up. There stood a woman dressed in black. She had long brunette curls and large blue eyes, and her stomach was nearly half the size that Jerry was.
"Are you Jerry?" the woman asked.
Oh, no, Jerry thought, unable to respond, This must be his wife…
"My name's Claire," she said.
He was right. It was her. Fumbling, Jerry backed away from her.
"Hey," Claire said softly, "Just answer the question. I'm not gonna hurt you, okay?"
Heart pounding, Jerry nodded.
"So it is you," said Claire, somberness in her voice.
Jerry tried to run away, not wanting to face her.
"It's okay," Claire insisted, "It's okay… Do you think I'm mad at you?"
There was silence.
"Look…" said Claire, "I heard the whole story… You didn't mean to do that. It just happened… It's not your fault, or anyone else's."
"But… I'm the one who set the gun off…"
"It doesn't matter. I can't pretend that what happened to him hasn't affected me. It has. And I know that it's just as hard for you. But you're sorry, aren't you?"
"Yes… But that doesn't fix anything. Me being sorry isn't gonna bring him back… You'll still have to live without him... Everyone will… Including your baby."
"You want to make up for it, then. Is that right?"
"Come closer," said Claire, reaching for Jerry's hand, "I'll tell you how." She took his hand and placed it on her belly. "Do you feel that?" she asked.
Jerry nodded; he did feel some movement.
"You said she'd have to live without a father," said Claire, "And even though the one she could have had can never be replaced… She still needs someone to take care of her. I don't think I can do this alone. So I want you to help me."
"You… You want me?"
"I can't think of anyone else who could do a better job of protecting her. Can you do that for me?"
Jerry paused, unsure of whether or not he could really do this. He had killed a man… How could he possibly live the rest of his life taking care of his daughter? Could he do that without seeing a dead man the little girl's face?
"…For Harold?" Claire asked.
Claire was right. He couldn't fix what he did… But by doing his best to fill that void for this child, he might be able to make amends. This wasn't just reparation… It was duty.
"I'll do it," said Jerry. "I promise…"
"I'm sure she'll be thrilled," said Claire.
"What are you going to name her?"
"Harold wanted to call her… Claudia."
14 years later…
Everything was black. Claudia could hear a loud beeping, but couldn't see anything. What was going on…?
Then it came to her. It was always different in her dreams, like the one she had just woken up from, and so she still wasn't quite used to it. It had been this way for eleven years now, but all the same, every morning, she would forget.
Claudia was blind.
She groggily felt around for the alarm clock, and found the button to end that incessant beeping. Once that was done, Claudia plopped back into bed, still tired and not ready to wake up.
It was very strange that she could see in her dreams. And this one… This one was by far the strangest of all. She and a boy were running through a forest, away from something or someone, but she had woken up before she could find out what.
Claudia's train of thought was interrupted by someone knocking on her door.
"Claudia," called her mother's voice from behind the door, "It's time to get up."
"I don't want to!" Claudia moaned, "I'm tired…"
Claudia heard the door open, and the sound of her mother's footsteps against the carpet came closer to her. She felt her mother grab her shoulder and begin shaking her.
"Come on," said her mother, "Mr. Shrinkleman's gonna be here soon. Up!"
"I've known him since he was like ten," said Claudia, "He doesn't want me to suddenly start calling him 'Mr. Shrinkleman' instead of Jerry." Actually, he had even said she could call him "Shrink," as most of his friends did, but it felt weird for Claudia to call him that, so she stuck with Jerry.
"Well, regardless of his name," said Claudia's mother, pulling the blanket away, "You still need to be out of bed and dressed by the time he gets here."
"But, mom, all the public schools get out today! Can't I have a free day, too?"
"And how would you spend it? Just sleeping?"
"Yes," Claudia said, pulling her blanket back over her face.
"So, Jerry," said Claudia, having lost the argument with her mother, "How about we just sit here for a significant amount of time so my mom thinks we actually did something?"
"I believe her exact words were, 'no matter how much Claudia gripes and pleads, she must learn today'," Jerry quoted.
"Fine," said Claudia. This was one of the things she didn't like about being home schooled. Aside from having no friends her age, she didn't have all the free days. Sure, she got a pretty good education, but wasn't there more to life than that?
"So what do you want to start with?" Jerry asked.
"Actually, I have a question about Ethics… One of the scenarios the book gave was kind of confusing."
"What was it?"
"It was…" Claudia began, running her fingers over the words, "Luke's friend gave him a gun. Luke didn't want it, but he also didn't tell anyone in authority that his friend had brought the gun to school. He accidentally dropped it and it shot someone. If at all, how responsible is Luke for the injury?"
Claudia didn't hear anything for a few seconds. Jerry was having as much difficulty with it as she was, she figured.
"…What?" Jerry finally asked, with a tone of voice that Claudia couldn't define.
"Did you space out again and not hear me?" Claudia asked.
This time Jerry didn't answer at all.
"I mean, he did drop it by accident and all," Claudia continued, bypassing how strange Jerry was acting, "But it still could have been avoided if he'd just told someone about it. I think he bears some responsibility, but I'm not really sure."
Again, she heard nothing.
"Hello?" Claudia asked, "Are you awake? Jerry, come on. I need help with this."
Claudia suddenly heard the sound of Jerry leaving his chair and running out the door.
She didn't know what to do. All she knew was that something was wrong. What made Jerry flee the apartment? She couldn't chase after him; her mother would panic if she went out alone. And if he was running away, chances were he didn't want her to find him. And so there was no way that she could. But Claudia had to know what the matter was…
"Did you say anything that might have upset him?" asked Claudia's mother.
"No," said Claudia, "Not that I know of…"
"What was going on just before he left?"
"I was just asking him about Ethics… I didn't get one of the examples the book gave me. He acted really weird after I read it to him."
"Was that why he ran out like that?"
"It must have been," said Claudia, "But it doesn't add up. What was so terrible about what I read that he had to leave?"
"That depends… What exactly did it say?"
Claudia reread the textbook's scenario to her mother. And her response wasn't very different from Jerry's.
"Oh, no…" Claudia's mother whispered, "Now it makes sense…"
"What do you mean?" Claudia asked, "Is there something that I'm missing here?"
Claudia's mother sighed, and once again there was a moment of silence.
"Claudia…" her mother began, "Yes. There is something that you're missing… That you've been missing for a long time. I just… I never wanted you to know…"
"What?" Claudia asked, for she could tell from her mother's voice that this situation was much more severe than she thought.
"… I already told you that your father died before you were born."
"Dad…? What does he have to do with—?"
"Just let me finish. He has everything to do with this… What I never told you was how he died. And… It's so hard for me to say this… Because I know… I just know… You're not going to be too fond of it. Claudia… what you read to Jerry out of your book… That happened with him and your father. That… That was how he died."
Claudia wasn't sure she heard that correctly. It sounded like… But it couldn't have been… That couldn't have been what she said.
"Mom…" Claudia said, voice faltering, "Just to be sure… What you just said… You didn't say that Jerry… that he killed Dad… Right…?"
When she didn't get an answer, Claudia started to panic.
"Claudia, I don't for one second blame him for it, and I know it's not easy for you to accept it, but Jerry didn't mean for that to happen."
"So… Jerry's friend gave him a gun… And he dropped it… And that killed Dad."
Claudia's mother sighed. "…Yes."
This couldn't have been happening… Claudia told herself that this was all a bad dream, and that Jerry didn't kill her father.
But then… She couldn't have been dreaming. Otherwise… She would have been able to see.
"No…" Claudia stammered, "No… You're lying…!"
"I'm not lying."
"Then why didn't you tell me this before?!"
"Because I knew this would be how you'd react."
"Of course I would!" Claudia screamed at her mother, "I can't believe you'd keep a secret like that from me, mom! He killed my dad and you've been letting him come here and see me every day like—like he's my brother or something?!"
"Claudia, it was fourteen years ago…"
"I don't even think brother's the word you had in mind!"
"He was nine years old! You can't hold it against him now."
"What were you thinking?! You can't replace my dad with the one who murdered him!!!"
Claudia stormed out of the room, ran into hers, and locked herself in, tears of fury streaming down her face. All this time… She'd been friends with a murderer.
Claudia was sitting in her bedroom again, reading a book, trying to calm down. She hadn't spoken with her mother or Jerry for the past three days. After everything that they'd put her through, how could she? Her mother had tried to talk to her multiple times, but all her efforts had been in vain. She could see that Claudia was angry with her. And it was true. She was. So many terrible feelings were swirling through Claudia, and anger was one of them. But more than anything…
Claudia was hurt. Jerry had killed her father, and both he and her mother had been hiding it from her this whole time. They hadn't exactly been lying to her, but they had been hiding such a grave secret her entire life. They'd betrayed her.
All Claudia really wanted to do was forget this ever happened. This was a secret she never really wanted to know. She just wanted things to be the way they were. But now… Nothing could ever be the same again.
"Claudia?" asked her mother's muffled voice from the other side of the door, "Please, can you open up?"
Claudia didn't answer back.
"I… I had him come here. Jerry, I mean… If you'd just talk to him, maybe you'll decide to give him another chance."
Claudia hesitated for a moment. "…Is he here right now?" she finally asked.
"He's outside waiting," said Claudia's mother, "Just go out and take a walk and talk with him. Some fresh air will do you both good."
"You're trying to get me to make up with him, is that what you're saying?"
"He doesn't have it any easier than you do."
Claudia sighed. In the end, she didn't really have much choice, did she? Reluctantly, she got up and opened the door.
"However long this takes, you owe me that much of my life back," Claudia scowled, walking out the door.
"You out here?" Claudia asked, waiting for a response.
"I'm here," said Jerry. Claudia nearly shuddered at the sound of his voice. The last time she'd heard that voice, it had almost made her feel concerned. This time it was exactly the opposite.
"I think you know what I'm going to say to you," said Claudia as he led her out onto the sidewalk, "So I'll just save my breath and not say it."
"I know," said Jerry, "I know you must hate me right now."
"What gave you that idea?" she snapped.
"And you have every right to."
"Oh no," Claudia interrupted, "No way am I falling for that. You can't expect everything to be okay just because you sent yourself on a guilt trip."
"I don't," said Jerry, "Not at all. Really, it was your mom who wanted me to do this. But, if you really don't want to… You don't have to forgive me."
"Good, because I don't."
"So… is that it, then?" Jerry asked.
"I guess it is," Claudia replied.
"You don't have anything to say?"
"What were you expecting?"
"I don't know… I thought you'd say… something. Something to make me feel worse."
"Didn't I just tell you not to give me that?!"
Jerry's footsteps stopped, clearly startled by Claudia's tone.
"You're not fooling me," she went on, "Just saying you feel bad won't do anything. Apologizing doesn't fix what you did! You can't win back my respect and nothing you can say will bring back my dad!!"
Claudia could feel herself begin to cry, and so she turned and ran. All she could think was how she'd been betrayed. She couldn't think about anything else… So she didn't hear Jerry calling her name.
She didn't hear the screeching tires of the car that was about to hit her.
The second Claudia became aware of what was happening was when Jerry pushed her out of the way. Soon after this she heard a loud crash.
"Jerry…?" Claudia asked, heart pounding.
Just as she feared, this was yet another question that Jerry didn't answer.
Claudia quietly opened the curtain around Jerry's hospital bed. She pulled a chair up beside him and sat there. After that… She didn't know what to do.
Jerry could very well have saved her life. And his injuries weren't dreadful, but the impact had sent him into a coma. And one would think that this would cause Claudia to forgive him… But she really didn't know.
It made her feel terrible. She wanted so badly to forgive him, but she just wasn't sure.
How was she going to resolve this?
…How did it all start?
Then Claudia got an idea. Her mother had told her to take some of her schoolwork with her, and so she did. She had brought English, History… And Ethics.
She read over the scenario again. And this time, she flipped to the back where the answer was.
"The act of dropping the gun was completely involuntary. While this act could have been avoided, Luke was under the influence of fear. Not informing proper authorities does put slight responsibility on Luke's shoulders, but he did not intend to drop the gun and certainly did not intend to shoot anyone. The blame goes much more to his friend than to Luke, and the injury should not be held against him."
Claudia clasped her hand over her mouth and began to cry once more. Her mother was right all this time…
It said that "the injury should not be held against him." But that was exactly what she had done. And not only that; in a way, she caused this. If she hadn't lost her mind and run out into the street like that, Jerry wouldn't have had to push her out of the way. He wouldn't be in the hospital right now.
Was this what Jerry had been going through? No, it was far worse for him. Every single day, just seeing her face… She was a constant reminder of what he had done. Claudia couldn't believe how truly unfeeling she had been.
There and then, Claudia vowed that the day Jerry awoke, she would immediately tell him that she forgave him… And she would thereafter ask him if he could forgive her. Little did Claudia know that that day would come much sooner than she anticipated…
…But that's another story.
In every loss, in every lie,
In every truth that you denied,
And each regret, and each goodbye
Was a mistake too great to hide.
--Linkin Park, "New Divide."
Sad, right? Sigh… All the stories I'm forced to write are doomed to be sad… But this was really the only way that I could make Jerry an antagonist. And I still don't see him as one. Though I originally DID hate him. As I was looking over his bio I was all, "What the heck?! I got an idiot who's obsessed with lacrosse! How am I supposed to write a good story about him?!" Before I finished the story, I even called it "The idiot who was obsessed with lacrosse and the girl who hated his guts" XD. But as I was writing him, that changed. I grew to really like the guy. But perhaps that was because I took the incredibly shallow Jerry and gave him depth. MUAHAHA. …Why does that make me do an evil laugh…? Anyhoo, what's this "other story?" Well, the assignment was to write a Realism short story, but I'd created Claudia for a fantasy… I will say no more. Hehe… My evil shines XD You fan fiction dot net people know that already.