Lost in Ohio, Elizabeth feels like shes on the curbside, watching her life fall apart.


1. On A Stovetop


“I thought you said you knew where you were going.” Danny said, tramping down the road holding those stupid balloons.

“I thought I did.” I sighed. I used to walk this street every day to Cassie’s house. When I moved to New York for college, I figured all this small town knowledge would stick with me. I guess I was wrong. Leave it to me to forget where I am on Cassie’s birthday. She’s going to kill me…

I turn around, and Danny is sitting on the curb. He’s so frustrating. I don’t know why I brought him with me, all the way to Ohio. He grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and has never left the city. We are both freshmen at NYU, pursuing different art majors. I’m nineteen, but Danny is seventeen. He’s one of those kid geniuses, you know?

He was the first person I met on campus. Neither of us is very good at making friends.

I sit next to him and take off my brand new shoes. “Why did you let me wear heels?” I ask, turning to him.

“You would have worn them no matter what I said. You’re stubborn.”

“I am not.” I say.

“Yes, you are.” He says, still very calm.

“No, I’m not!” I suddenly realize the irony and shut up. I sigh.  I’m exhausted. Cassie and I used to be best friends, but I haven’t seen her since high school. She’s twenty today.

I look down at my feet and I can feel a lump forming in the back of my throat.

“I don’t know what I’m doing, Danny. I don’t remember which street takes you where. I’m failing two classes. I don’t belong here, I don’t belong on campus. Maybe I should just become a hermit.” I hang my head in my hands.

“You belong in the theatre department. Elizabeth, you’re one of the most dramatic people I’ve ever met.” He says, good naturedly hitting my arm.

“I just feel like I’m on a stovetop, and my entire life is just bubbling over. If I don’t pass my next Impressionist Exam, I’ll be kicked out. I’m trying. I am.”

“Why haven’t you asked me for help yet?”

“Because I’m embarrassed. I was supposed to be the first one in my family to finish college.”

“You will be.” He stands up, and using his hand as a visor, looks down the road in both directions.

I look up at him and he is holding out both his fists in front of him. “Pick one.”

I roll my eyes and point to his left fist. He grins and starts walking left. I wipe the eyeliner off of my face and follow him.

That’s the thing about Danny. He can always get you moving again.

“You look nice.” He says.

I take a compact mirror out of my pocket. I have makeup smudged all over my face and my eyes are bright pink. “Thanks.” I say, sarcastically. “You must think I’m a wreck.”

“No.” He says earnestly. “I think you’re perfect.”

I give him a patronizing look. He stops walking and his muscles stiff. “No. I’m serious.”

It doesn’t quite register. I’m not used to compliments, certainly not ones so sincere. I don’t know how to respond to him. “Thanks.” I say softly, barely making sound.

We keep walking, silently. I turn to look at him, and I mean really look at him. He’s shorter than I am, with brown eyes and messy dark hair. He has a round, upturned nose and attractive features. He’s smart. Too smart for me. I couldn’t have the conversations he wants to have. He always tries to talk about eighteenth century literature or quantum mechanics. I don’t know why he would study art.

“What made you want to study art?” I ask him, in my normal tone of voice again. “Why not, science or history?”

“Science and history are about people studying things that have already been made. I chose art because I want to create something.”

“You sound like you had this speech prepared already.”

“That’s because I did. My parents didn’t like that I wanted to be an artist. They thought there wasn’t any money in art. They’re both corporate attorneys. They don’t really understand passion.”

Passion. I have never felt passion. Maybe that’s why I’m not doing well. I need to find something I’m passionate about.

I walked in front of Danny’s path and stopped him. Without thinking, I leaned in and hugged him. “You’re fantastic.” I say.

We keep walking down the road, those stupid balloons trailing behind us.


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