Stories Inside of Stories


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    This is a story of boy meets girl. It’s not what you may think, however. The usual story of boy meets girl is exactly that; a story, with one plot, two main characters, and a happy ending that’s as simple as could be. This one is different, though. It may not seem like it, but this story is actually multiple stories in one. Not one of us realized it at the time, but you can never really fully understand what’s going on until you can look back and see how beautifully all of it fell together.

    So yes, I am telling a true story about myself. Who am I? Well, I’ll let you try to figure that out. I’m going to start a little ways back before my part of the story started, back before I was even in the story at all.

    So let’s get started, shall we? With her story.

    It was a normal day on the college campus. Well, as normal as a day could be when the semester was coming to the end. Okay, honestly, it was chaos. There were two types of people these days: Type one people were driving themselves crazy studying for exams, and type two people were partying themselves crazy, trying to forget about exams. The second type was probably going to regret their actions soon, though, and start to become the first type.

    Elise was neither, though. So I guess there were more than two types of people? Or perhaps she was just an exception, because she wasn’t worried a bit about her exams. She’d done well all semester and had made many growing study guides throughout the semester for each class. Elise was well prepared and confident, unlike her roommate, Francesca.

    “Elise!” Francesca whined. “Please? I really need help studying for this math exam!”

    Elise rolled her eyes. “Remind me again why you took Calculus?”

    Her dramatic huffed. “Because I had to have a math in there somewhere, but I put it to the side all of my other years, so I had to squeeze it in this year.” Elise shook her head. Francesca always procrastinated on everything.

    Francesca continued her pleading, this time, with more desperation. “Please, Elise! I…” she stopped herself, embarrassed. “If I don’t get a good grade, then I’ll fail the course.”

    That got Elise’s attention. “How high of a grade do you have to get?” she asked, hoping it wasn’t too high of a number. Elise was smart, but she wasn’t a miracle worker.

    Francesca tilted her head, thinking. “I think my professor said…I had to get a 98?” she said, her voice going up at the end in guilt.

    Elise closed her eyes and sighed. “Fine. Come on- let’s get started. We’re gonna have to study a long time.”

    Francesca smiled brightly, shouting “You’re the best, Elise!” as she ran off to grab her text book.

    That Friday, Elise was sitting in the shade of an oak tree in the quad, vaguely doodling something as her mind wandered. As her mind always did when she wasn’t thinking about something else, it wandered to Chester, her lab partner in one of her many science courses. She sighed happily when she thought of him, imagining his mysterious dark eyes and black hair. True, he didn’t really pay much attention to her, but that was okay. Maybe he was just playing hard to get. Maybe he-

    “Elise!!” Francesca shouted in her ear, tackling her to the ground in a hug. “I got a 97.5!! It counts!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

    Elise laughed at her friend’s enthusiasm. “Congrats and you’re welcome. So you pass, then?”

    Francesca’s head bobbed quickly up and down. “Yup!” She sighed happily, still hugging Elise as if she was the best thing in the entire world. “How could I ever make it up to you, Elise?” she gasped over-dramatically.

    Elise laughed, but then thought about it. “Well…you said you and a group were hanging out at AppleBee’s tonight, right?”

    Francesca rolled her eyes with amusement, seeing right through Selena’s question. “AKA, you wanna spend time with Chester.”

    Elise blushed, ready to defend herself. “What, no, I just thought that maybe-“

    Francesca waved her hand flippantly. “It’s fine, really. I was gonna ask you if you wanted to tag along, anyway. We’re all meeting there at six, so you might wanna go get ready.”

    Elise looked at her watch. 5:30pm it read. She said a quick goodbye and headed back to their dorm room to get ready. The first thing she did when she got in her room was rip the doors open to find something to wear. At that moment, it seemed like she had a completely empty closet. She searched through it until she found her favorite cream and black striped sweater, some jeans, boots, and mustard-colored scarf. It would have to suffice.

    She tossed her hair up into a bun and tugged on her outfit, grabbing her purse and heading out the door to her car. As she drove to the local Applebee’s, her mind felt like a hurricane of thoughts. Would he like her outfit? Was the mustard scarf too much? Did she remember mascara? Check in the mirror. Yes, she did, thankfully.

    By the time she arrived, she was shaking in her boots from nerves. She got out of her car at the same time as the person in the car next to her did.

    “Elise, hi! Didn’t expect to see you here.”

    Elise turned toward the voice that called her. She saw Adrian smiling at her brightly as he always did. Adrian was in her English course and often helped her along when she wrestled with getting her thoughts together for yet another essay about Shakespeare. He was always kind and was always wearing some sort of checkered shirt and a mismatched bow tie.

    “Hey, Adrian,” Elise greeted with a small smile.

    “Nice scarf,” he complimented, as he also always did. Elise wondered how he was always so positive and happy and encouraging. He always seemed to make the people around him feel the same way he did.

    “Thanks,” she said as he opened the door for her. It was easy for them to find the others, who were all sitting in the middle of the restaurant where they’d pulled together multiple tables to make one large, long one. Elise instantly took a seat next to Francesca, who happened to sit across from Chester. Adrian wound up way down on the other side of the table, sitting in the only seat left and looking just slightly disappointed.

    Francesca greeted Elise enthusiastically and immediately started chatting. As the dinner went on, not a word was spoken between Chester and Elise, to her disappointment. Instead, she sat there, feeling her heart sink at Chester’s atrocious behavior and cringing each time he ordered yet another alcoholic drink. It felt like she’d been stuck in that restaurant for an eternity, but it had only been an hour when she stood up and left with the excuse of needing to study.

    She walked outside, shivering when she felt the cool December air. What a waste of a night this had been. She felt crushed…and maybe angry. Okay, she was definitely angry. At herself or at him? How could she be angry at someone she hardly knew? It wasn’t like he knew that she’d centered her world around him and what he thought of her. Either way, she was upset and kind of just wanted to go home and cry and banish this night from her memory.

    She sniffled, wiping away a lone tear as she pulled her keys out of her purse. ‘Just leave… it’ll all be okay once you’re out of here,’ she told herself.

    “Elise! Wait!”

    She turned and saw Adrian running up to her, his jacket in hand. “You left so quickly that I didn’t get to say goodbye,” he said, seeming awfully sorry about it.

    Elise gave a bitter-sweet smile. “Sorry, I just didn’t, ah…feel like sticking around, you know? Not really my kind of party,” she joked lamely.

    He nodded with the same sort of half-way smile she wore. “Yeah, I know what you mean.” The two stood in silence, one wanting to leave, one wanting to help. “You know, ah, um, if you want, I know a really good coffee shop if you maybe, uh, wanted to go there instead? Nice and quiet, and they’ve always got a fire running, if, uh, you were interested,” he offered, his eyes a mixture of hopefulness and nervousness.

    She smiled, suddenly feeling just a tiny bit better. “Yeah, that’d be nice.”

    Do you understand now? What was part of the end of her story was just the beginning of mine. I’d had a crush on her for months and hadn’t gotten a chance to get the nerve up to say something. She didn’t hardly notice me at all; I was just a minor character in the background. But she, she was the main character of my story- the damsel in distress which I was determined to save. I just had to wait for the right moment. What was the climax and resolution of her story was just the introductory of mine. So you see…life is simply made up of stories inside of stories. And sometimes, those stories collide to make a brand new one. Like the one I’m living now, sixty years later, with her.

    But wait a minute- I can’t just end it like that. Four pages? What kind of a novel writer do I think I am? I’m getting too old to be doing this…anyway, let’s continue, shall we? There’s still plenty more to tell.





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