Short stories (each chapter is a story)
real people "trapped" in their own mind


2. Average

May Berman seemed like an average 17 years old girl. She had an average face and average body. She didn’t trust anyone and preferred to keep all her thoughts and secrets to herself, though no one ever noticed her, so it didn’t matter. Other people never remembered her and she didn’t try to remind them. She hated attention and hated those who wanted attention, or tried to show themselves. On group meetings she always sat aside in silence, not too far but not too close to other people, looking down, to her knees, so her black hair almost covered her whole face, while her right hand doodling something in a tiny notebook she held in the other hand.  The only way people knew she was there was by her signature on the signing sheet. They accepted it, although later, while checking the sheet, they never were able to tell to whom this signature belonged.


Her father was an engineer; he worked in a huge corporation where no one ever noticed him. Her mother was sick for years. Alzheimer's. She lived in a special house where an old nurse took care of her.


At first, May and her father came visit her almost every day, but as the disease became worse and worse, May’s mother started to forget them. Their visits became shorter and rarer, until they almost completely stopped. Mr. Berman came there once in awhile, mostly when his wife was asleep. That way he could pretend she is listening and tell her about his life. When she woke up he tried to remind her who he is, hoping for a miracle that never came. When that failed, he went home.


May saw the suffering of her father, watching his wife dying alone, closed in a cage of her own memories long ago, and she felt sorry for him. She, however, didn’t miss her mother.  


It was the beginning of the autumn; the hot long evenings became shorter and shorter, being replaced by equally hot nights. The studies in the only public school in town conducted properly, or at least, it seemed so from the outside; the teachers came to the classes and the attendance was always hundred percent. The truth was, though, that the teachers taught badly, speaking without paying attention, troubled with their own businesses. The students, on the other hand, didn’t listen to the teacher’s mumbling. Each of them sat in his place, sometimes talking quietly between themselves, but most of the time sleeping or wondering about something.


So did May. She sat in the class, thinking, her head leaning on the table. She thought about this boy, Tom.  He lived next to her and once she saw him on the street walking with his mother. He was small and young but his eyes had a spark of strange smartness. Then, he looked at her once, evaluating her with his eyes. She saw it. She thought he was interesting. Her thoughts went from Tom to other people she knew and soon she forgot all about the little boy.


Suddenly, the silence in the class broke. May raised her head, trying to understand what happened. Students started to wake up, turning to each other, whispering excitedly about something. “Oh well” thought May, “they probably won’t tell me anyway”.


She was going to get back to her thoughts when Dan, the boy that sat in front of her, turned around and smiled at her. It surprised her. “He must be the new student” she thought. She smiled back. Dan introduced himself and asked what her name is. When she answered, he told her what the whole class was whispering about. Apparently there was a fight between a group of the upper class students and some other boy. Nothing interesting. He didn’t know the details but May didn’t care about them. She felt so strange.


Dan said he is new here and with some hesitation asked if she would show him the town sometimes. May shrugged. She didn’t believe he would actually go with her. More likely, she thought, he will find some other girl, more interesting than her. She was wrong. As soon as the day ended Dan came to her locker where she picked up her stuff and asked if they could go now. She agreed.


At first they went quietly. May didn’t know what to say and to break the silence she asked Dan why did he come to this small, boring town. He laughed and soon he was telling her all about himself, where is he from, why did he came, about his family. He talked and she listened. From time to time he asked her things, trying to make her tell about herself, but she just smiled.


She felt strange pressure in her chest and her always organized thoughts became a mess. Dan was nice to her and one part of her wanted to answer to his questions, to tell about herself, but the other part commanded her to be quiet, to remember she cannot trust him, just like she can not trust anyone else.


In her mind the two parts of herself fought each other, yelling, trying to take control, while her face remained smiling. Dan finished his story and again they walk in silence. She craved to say something but each time when she opened her mouth there was no sound came out. After a while

Dan said he has something and went home and May remained alone. She was angry at herself, that she blew off the only chance she had, she was angry she pushed away the only person that was truly interested in her.


The next day, she came to the class and saw that Dan moved to another place. For a moment, she felt the strange pressure in her chest. For a moment she felt it like some weight pressed between her heart and her lungs. For a moment. And then she didn’t care anymore. The weight was replaced with the regular vacuum. She took out her small sketchbook and leaned her head on the table.


Everything went back to normal.



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