Patrick Miles III vs. Reunions (MT#9)

I decided that the gap between the last post about Patrick and the one prior to it is too large.  This section will be all about Tammy and how she and Patrick became reacquainted.  

The freshmen carnival came and went.  I stayed away from any rides, no matter how many times Art and Chris demanded that I go on.  Call me boring, but sitting on a plastic chair that spins around in circles until the world blurs doesn’t sound like fun.  Just as we started to head back to the dorms, Art blurted out that he was starving and needed coffee that instant.

For someone who seemed so indifferent towards everything, especially his appearance, Art held high demands.

We headed over the café on the other side of campus, dodging through floods of students with bright, smiling faces.  I shielded my eyes, wondering when exactly the sun was going to set.

“Hey, watch it,” someone suddenly snapped.  I turned my head, oblivious that I smacked into someone.

“Sorry,” I muttered, glancing towards the girl.  She was tall, only a few inches smaller than me, with honey brown hair and green eyes.  It took me only a moment to realize that I recognized her, even through her icy stare.

Her eyes lit up as she realized who I was, as well.  “Patrick?”

“Tammy?  Well, isn’t this a surprise?”

Before I knew it, she threw her arms around me, burying her nose into the crevice of my neck.  “Oh my gosh, it’s been like, what, two years?  How have you been?”

Tammy Frasier and I met in my freshmen year of high school at a large party, which many wealthy Texan families attended.  We didn’t see much of each other, but when we did, it always reminded me of those terrible, cliché reunions from a sitcom.  She would hug me and remind me how much she missed me, then we would catch up, grow bored, and promise to do it again, soon.

“I’ve been pretty good.  I didn’t know you were coming here.”

“Yeah, neither did I,” she giggled.

Suddenly, Art cleared his throat.  Before Tammy could say anything, he introduced  himself, Chris, and Cameron.  She wrinkled her nose and only gave a name as her reply.  Then, she turned back toward me and began to gush about how long it’s been.

I glanced towards Art, who rolled his eyes.  The past few days, my fondness for him began to increase, but only a small bit at a time.  He had this certain charm about him, something I couldn’t place my finger on.  He always searched for a good time, yet was conscious about what everyone else wanted to do.  Between  him and Chris, I always had someone around.  It was an odd sensation, but pleasing and, well, reliable.  No matter how crazy Art drove me, he never intended to hurt or use me.

“Well, I’ll catch you around, okay?” Tammy cooed, running her fingers across my palm.  I stopped myself from yanking my hand away.  She examined Art for brief moment and then scurried off without another word.

“I think she likes me,” Art laughed.  “Maybe I’ll ask her out on a date.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

He just laughed again.

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Patrick Miles III vs. Jenga (MT #8)

Dark clouds consumed my surroundings, veiling me from a world which became so familiar to me.  My bed–I knew where it was, yet I couldn’t find it.  I reached my arms out, sweeping them across the air, searching, looking, missing.  And suddenly, my fingers brushed against something; a splinter burrowed under my finger and I hissed from the pain.  The clouds faded, revealing a mass of wooden bricks piled high above me.  They consumed my room, and I knew what I had to do.

Keep steady I repeated to myself as I wrapped my arms around one of the blocks.  Don’t fuck up now.  My knees trembled as I pulled a piece from the foundation.  Don’t fuck up.

The block’s weight became unbearable in my arms and they turned to jello.  A rumbling sound erupted from deep within the structure and the blocks groaned and trembled from the disturbance.  I turned to run, but my legs gave in underneath me.  Something slammed into my back.  Another brick thwacked my shoulder.  And the tower suddenly tumbled down towards me.

I woke up with sweat plastered across my cheeks and neck.  It took a few moments for my palpitating heart to calm down.  “Stupid Jenga,” I groaned as I sat up, wiping the slime from the back of my neck.  I stared at my clammed up hand before I hopped out of bed and headed for the bathroom.

The night before, Art, Chris, a guy Jimmy from down the hall, and I decided to play Jenga, or as Art referred to it, “Drunk Jenga.” We were already plastered after a few girls from the floor above us visited Art and Chris’s room with a bottle of Bacardi.  I refused to drink at first, until Art held the shot glass under my nose with a too-excited grin on his face.  So, I took it and swigged it.  And then another.  And then another, until it was four in the morning and Chris retrieved his game of Jenga.

My head pounded as I stumbled towards the bathroom, extending my sweaty hand away from me.  A mirror welcomed me in the bathroom, sneering at my unruly hair.

Art’s favorite activity became irritating me as much as possible.  Last night, I was attempting to get through at least part of Atlas Shrugged when he pounded at my door.  His voice slurred as he demanded I come out and, after a few minutes of his nagging, I gave in.  Not because I wanted to, but he gave me no other choice.  And as soon as I opened the door, he ruffled my hair and laughter bubbled from his lips.

I examined my reflection a bit longer and grazed my fingers against the raw skin underneath my eyes.  It had been two weeks since I first arrived at Palixton and although sometimes I had to escape from my suffocating room, the University began to grow on me.  I met a few people I could actually associate myself with, including Tammy Frasier.

Tammy’s family raked in old money from her grandfather’s gold mine oil discovery in his property.  We met a few days before and when we introduced ourselves, she immediately recognized my name.  She had this habit of half-smiling towards me with one lip curled up, and she gazed at me with big brown eyes.  Two nights ago, she told me I had really nice hands and proceeded to intertwine our fingers together.

There was something fresh about her.  We recognized our life styles, and with her, I towered above everyone else; above Chris, above my father, and especially above Art.

“Hey,” someone grumbled from the bathroom door.  I turned to face Art, who carried heavy bags under his eyes and a half grimace across his lips.

“Hey.”

“Er–.”

I glanced towards him and just as I did, he sprang to one of the bathroom stalls and slammed the door behind him.  Pangs of disgust spiraled up my spine as a splash followed a harsh cough.  I began to wash my hands again, running my fingers through my disheveled hair.

He pushed open the stall door, placing his forehead against it.  I made a note to myself not to touch his forehead.  “Sorry,” he threw me a half smile.  “Your hair looks ridiculous.”

“Not as bad as yours.”

He laughed lightly, just as he did every time I snapped at him.  “You going to that dance thing later?”

“Dance thing?”

“Yeah–that thing.  With all the freshmen.  That dance thing.”

“I guesst.”

“Let’s pre-game?”  A half smile ran across his lips as he slumped farther against the stall, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand.

“For the dance?”

“Yeah–the dance thing.”

I hesitated.  The thought of drinking again made me nauseous, but (although I hate to admit it) I had fun with Art, Chris, and Jimmy last night.  Even when the Jenga blocks tumbled down, causing an eruption of boo’s.  At first, I ignored their laughter, but as they kept howling, I found myself joining right along.  Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe I finally discovered why people claim laughter’s contagious, but it felt good; it felt natural.

“I’ll think about it.”  But I had already made my decision.

Cyber-bullying (MT#7)

It took a while before Eileen (my wonderful roommate) and I decided what topic we wanted to focus on in our documentary.  We skipped around from dreaming, to cyber-bullying, to stress, and then back to cyber-bullying.  The cyber-bullying problem always struck home to me because I’ve known so many victims (but don’t we all?).  In fact, I was a target at one point.  I dated this guy whose friends despised me, so they used to make nasty comments on my pictures.  I’m only admitting it because it seems so silly now; how could I get so worked up over people who I considered idiots?

My cousin was victimized, as well.  Someone posted a picture of her and her friend on Facebook, and a few people began to post crude comments.  And my cousin was only 12 years old when this happened.  Thankfully, she’s strong-willed and approached one of her school’s counselors about it.

Cyber-bullying, although a seemingly harmless problem, has become an epidemic amongst the younger generations.  They’re so susceptible to raw emotions (thanks to hormones and puberty) that nasty comments gnaw at them.  Megan Meier, a 13 year old girl, was bullied to the point that she hanged herself in her closet.  Although Megan’s story is tragic, it reminds us that this is a huge issue which effects approximately 35% of teens (it’s hard to get a specific number, so I’ll have to look into it).

So why is cyber-bullying so effective and popular?  Behind the computer, everyone’s strength suddenly flares and an unknown courage is found; it’s easy to type up a mean comment and click send.  Suddenly, someone can say a nasty comment that they were thinking before without having to worry about facing the person’s reaction.  A cyber-bully may believe that his/her comments are only words, but those words can tear the victim apart.  A victim can hardly escape the ridicule, as well.  Unlike playground bullying, cyber-bullying follows the victim home; it constantly tortures the victim.

Megan’s story is horrifying, but the sad reality is that she’s not alone.  Eileen and I want to shed light on the effects of cyber-bullying.  Some might be as simple as blocking a person online and moving past the situation.  Other times, the victim might lash out against the bully (which only creates more negative attention).  But sometimes, in very particular and certain situations, the victim might be pushed too far.  Without cyber-bullying, the internet might feel like a safer place for teens to enjoy themselves and fully open up; first, the cyber-bullying must end.

Update:
Here’s our documentary.  Enjoy!

Patrick Miles III vs. Morning Rituals (MT #6)

I’ve been mulling over the idea of Patrick playing football on his first day and decided to trash it.  Although I haven’t physically done it yet, I will during another re-write. 

Nightmares plagued my childhood, ranging from getting buried alive to being trapped in a room covered in dirt.  The latter kept me awake at night.  At least the notion of death and a final end comforted the buried nightmare.  However, I couldn’t escape that room.  No matter where I put my feet or hands, dirt stuck to my skin.  The dreams died down as I got older; I guess I realized how stupid they were.  But that night, I found myself trapped in a room covered in dirt.

Fear cascaded through my fingers as I jolted awake, unsure where I was.  As sleep’s intoxicating effects wore off, I recognized my dorm’s familiar features. the nightmare jumbled up my memory, or maybe the crushing desire to go back home disoriented me, but I forgot where I was.  I  scratched my arm, ignoring the anxiety building in my chest.

I  grabbed my toothbrush, slid into my slippers and wandered down the hall to the bathroom.  The bathroom didn’t sparkle like it had the night before.  Around the showers were splotches of mud and a few strands of hair.  Some people are such pigs.  I wrinkled my nose, carefully avoiding the dirt strewn across the tiles.  When I got to the sink, hair and odd stains clogged the drain.  I couldn’t brush my teeth in something so vile.  Nausea erupted in my stomach.

“Mornin’,” someone called behind me.  I pivoted to face Chris.

“Morning,” I mumbled.
He joined me in the sink next to me and began to brush his teeth.  I watched as his toothbrush accidentally touched the tip of the sink’s nozzle, then went right back into his mouth.  The nausea escalated.

“So, we’re gonna go graf freakfast in a fit…wanna come?”

The toothbrush  still dangled from his mouth as he spoke.  A bit of toothpaste flew from between his lips onto the mirror in front of him.  I suppressed the urge to tell him to wait until he finished brushing before he spoke.

“Sure.”

He grinned at me as the toothpaste foamed down his lips and dribbled down his chin.  I wanted to brush my teeth.  I hate the taste of morning breath—who doesn’t?  But I couldn’t bring myself to do it as Chris’ rabid smile faced me.  He finally spat into the sink, washed his toothbrush, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Come by my room after you’re done.”  He smacked my back with the hand he just wiped his mouth with.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  When he left the bathroom, I frantically peeled my shirt off, checking to see if he stained my shirt.  Nothing.

I succeeded scaring myself shitless.  But, that’s the price I pay for despising dirt so much.  It’s not that I’m necessarily afraid of it so much, no matter how terrible it feels when it’s buried deep within my nails; it’s the purest form of disgust.  And can you blame me?  Dirt is disgusting.

It took a few minutes, but I mustered up the courage and brushed my teeth.  Even as the toothbrush brushed passed my lips, I shivered in fear of staining my perfectly white teeth.  It’s not crazy.  Everyone as their dose of fear and phobias.  Mine just happen to revolve around maintaining perfect order and keeping everything polished.  A clean room is a happy room, after all.

And Chris and Art’s room was far from happy.  Clothing leaked from their half un-packed bags and an unfinished bag of chips already lay on the table.  It’s large mouth greeted me as I walked in.

“Dinin’ halls got good food, I hear,” Chris announced.

A large lump of blankets on one bed muffled something incoherent.

“Get up.”

“Jusf-five moreminufs.”

Strands of crimson hair peaked from the covers as Chris yanked them off the bed.  Art grunted, squirming and shielding his eyes.  “The fuck?” he groaned.

Then, he glanced towards me.  I suddenly couldn’t figure out why I accepted Chris’ offer.  Nothing good would come out of Art and I attempting to be friendly.  The chip bag’s mouth on Art’s desk snickered at me.

“Morning Pat,” he mumbled.

“It’s Patrick.”

“Kay.”

He rubbed his blood-shot eyes and glanced around the room as if uncertain where he just woke up.  We headed to breakfast shortly after.  Art had an uncanny ability to get ready under five minutes.  In fact, I doubted he brushed his teeth.

The dining hall’s ceiling towered far above our heads, strewn with ‘Welcome Freshmen’ signs and too beautiful pillars aligning the walls.  I stopped for a moment, admiring the architecture.  At home I attended a church which held a resonating style.  Sure, I rarely listened to the preacher much (religion and I never cooperated well; I just attended for my family’s sake), but I could examine the spectacular archways and masterful craftsmanship for hours.  And us Texan men, especially those of us who understand culture, can really appreciate good craftsmanship.

“Holy shit,” Art muttered.  I almost expected him to comment on the architecture.  Alright, expected isn’t the best word–I hoped he would.  But instead, he said: “They have pancakes.”

Patrick Miles III vs. The Scuffs (rewrite–MT#5)

I revised the last two “Patrick Miles III” posts and combined them.  So, here’s a the new introduction to Patrick’s story!  I hope you guys enjoy it. 

College: the time when stupid teenagers become stupid adults, and all the rest of us get a front row seat to the show.  Even Palixton University, one of the most prestigious universities in Texas, has its circle of idiots.  What’s the point of college if you don’t want to learn anything?  Obtaining knowledge should be a form of entertainment, but it’s not.  Instead, we become zombified versions of ourselves, engrossed in watching television, binge drinking, and gossiping.

I thought college would be different.  But haven’t we all made incorrect assumptions at one point?  My name is Patrick Miles III and I don’t think I’ll ever understand.

Understand what?  Everything and anything.  I watched the world through a polished stain-glass window at Miles Manor in Gladewater, Texas.  But I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been sheltered your entire life: everything outside of your original life seems surreal.  You learn something.  Not just about the world, but about yourself.  And sometimes realizations are incomprehensible.

So where did this epiphany stem from?  My first year of college, when I finally stepped into the real world.  It wasn’t as pretty as I had hoped.  On the first day, someone tapped a tiny hammer in my stain-glass window, cracking it.  Sure, it was a small crack, but I noticed it.

I noticed it like I noticed the scuffs that stained the white walls in my new dorm on my first day at Palixton.  I counted thirteen in total.  Thirteen stains and one giant boot print planted on the wall above my bed.  I had prepared myself for a flawed room, so it shouldn’t have bothered me.

Besides my twin brother, Mason, I would be the first Miles to attend college.  It was a bit nerve wracking, and my father laughed when I told him I wanted to go, but it’s all I ever dreamed about: Attending college and learning.  The possibilities seemed endless, although I knew where I would turn up after college: sitting behind my father’s desk, watching over the Miles Oil Co..  That’s my namesake, and I hate it.  I know I shouldn’t complain, since I’ve been spoiled my whole life, but it sucks having one path to follow in life.  At least college would add some shortcuts.

My mother walked into the room, dragging a duffel bag that bulged with clothing and shoes (each wrapped in a plastic bag, of course).  She huffed and grunted before giving up and dropping it on the floor.

“Oh,” she gasped.  “Isn’t this lovely?  It’s a lovely room, Patrick.  Look at that view of the—what is that?”

“I think it’s the back of the dining hall.”

We watched in silence as a man pushed through the door of the dining hall, carrying a huge bucket full of—well, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.  He proceeded to dump the bucket of brown slosh into the dumpster.  Then, he wiped his nose and wandered back inside.

“Well, you get a beautiful view of the sky,” she pointed out.

Ladies and gentlemen, my mother–forever the optimist.  Maybe she lost her mind, or those self-motivational tapes brainwashed her, but to her, everything had a positive side.  And I mean everything.  Mason crashed his car into a truck a year before we started college, and instead of scolding him, my mother just shrugged.  It’s just a part of growing up, she claimed.  If crashing a car was a rite of passage, I decided to remain forever young.

“Well, this place sucks!” Lacey suddenly appeared in the door, dragging more luggage from the car.

“Don’t use that language,” my mother demanded.

Lacey was right, though.  Besides the horrific view and the stains, gunk covered the floor.  I silently thanked my mother for forcing me to pack slippers.   Lacey placed my laptop bag on the desk.  Next to the bag, carved in large, deep letters, were the words “EAT ME.”  Who the hell carved that into a desk that wasn’t even theirs?  The concept of respect must have flown right over their head.

I tossed the backpack, which dangled on my shoulders, onto the bed.  The springs squeaked from the weight.  In fact, the bag sank into the mattress.  I suddenly missed my Tempur-Pedic.

Mason and my father brought in the last of my luggage just Lacey and I started to unpack my duffel bag.  Mason snickered as he examined the room.  “You ain’t gonna survive here, Patty.”

I threw him a glare; he knew I despised the nickname ‘Pat’, so he took it a step farther.  Irritating me was his favorite past time.  I tried not to let him get to me, but he drove me nuts.  Up a fucking tree nuts.

“I’ll be fine,” I assured him.

“I don’t know,” he grinned.  “I think my closet’s bigger than this.”

My father suddenly whacked the back of Mason’s head.; the smile on Mason’s face immediately fell.  My father, Patrick Miles II, dressed (that day, and every other) to fit the ‘typical Texan’ stereotype.  A huge cowboy hat sat upon his balding head and a gun holster was strapped to his belt.  I’m sure he could fit me and Mason on his shoulders.

Even though he granted (and yes, granted is the correct word, according to my father) me both his and my grandfather’s name, the two of us were nothing alike.  While he passed the time shooting at squirrels and bunnies (whatever hunters hunted), I curled up in the armchair in my room and read until my eyes burned.  If he could go back in time, I’m sure I would have been Mason Miles.

Both Mason and my father are men’s men.  They hunt, they fight, they argue, they play sports.  Hell, they watch sports.  I barely understand football, which is a sin in the Miles household.  Football bores the hell out of me.  I pretend to enjoy it, for my family’s sake, but I cringe every time new stains appear on the player’s white pants.  Yeah, I know it’s  dumb.  But why would they use white pants if they’re going to be rolling around in the dirt?  It doesn’t make any sense to me.

It took about four hours to unpack and organize and re-organize the room (six times, to be exact).  Finally, after switching the positions of the bed and dresser, the room opened up.  It shocked me how much, in fact.  My mother’s a designing genius.  Miles Manor fits right in with a Homes and Garden’s house.  She put a lot of time and effort into making our home perfect.  Well, maybe not effort (unless you consider calling the contractors effort).  With her skills, the dingy, prison-like room transformed.  It took the edge off a bit; I felt a bit more at home.  But those scuffs…

I used White Out to cover them.  But no matter how many times I painted them over with the White Out, they managed to peak through when it dried.  My father winded up running to the hardware store and buying eggshell white paint.  It finally concealed the stains.  When the paint dried and they remained hidden, I finally sighed with satisfaction.

“So, I guess I’ll see you guys later?” It was more of a demand than a question.

“I’m gonna miss you so much!” my mother suddenly blubbered, throwing her plump arms around me.  “You’re growin’ up so fast.  Come home soon, alright?”

“Whatever you say.”

I ushered them out the door, thanking them over and over for their help.  My mother hiccuped one last sob before my father had to grab her arm and drag her down the hall.  It was strange saying good-bye.  The longest I spent away from them was when I went to New York City with my private school for a week.  Don’t get me wrong, New York City is nice and all, but I was homesick as soon as I stepped off the plane.  Besides, that place is dirty.

My phone buzzed in my pocket.  My mother apparently texted me, reminding me (again) how much she loved me and how I shouldn’t listen to my father because he doesn’t understand.

About a week before I arrived at school, my father sat me down in his study and interrogated me to check that I was ready to leave.  I assured him I would be fine, but he just laughed and bet I wouldn’t last a week.  It wasn’t very encouraging at the time, but I guess that was his intention.

And when they finally left and I was finally alone, I started to wonder if he was right.

Maybe it was the silence of the room, or the fact that I didn’t have a bookshelf to hold my favorite books (instead, they were crammed on the top of my desk), but I suddenly realized how alone I felt.  I was far from home, far from my comfortable bed and my perfect room.  I glanced at the spot over my bed where the boot print had been.  Even with the paint covering it, the fact that it was once there irked me.

If people threw their shoes at the walls in the college, I figured I would never fit in.  It’s not like I fit in anywhere else, though.  At prep school, I never understood the other kids.  Their actions and reactions were so foreign to me.  The thing is, they all liked me.  They thought I was clever and funny, but I couldn’t say the same for any of them.  And at home, I was always the odd one out.  I never appreciated sports like my father and Mason, or understood the importance of ‘being a man’.  It all seemed trivial to me.  Besides, my family’s a bit snobby.  They think they’re better than everyone.  But I never thought like that, not me (at least, that’s what I believed when I started at Palixton).

I tossed my phone on the bed, trying to figure out what to do next.  There was some freshmen orientation occurring in the dining hall, but I wasn’t in the mood.  Besides, what would I learn at the orientation that I didn’t already know?  I decided I would re-attempt reading the first of Ezra Pound’s cantos.  Just as I reached for the book, someone pounded on the door.

I hesitated before I walked to the door and opened it.  Two guys stood in the door way, grinning like idiots.  They both wore cheap white t-shirts and baggy shorts.  One had tufts of bright red hair peeking out of a dirty black skull-cap.  He reminded me a bit of a parrot, those annoying kind who scream the same sentence over and over.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hey, we’re your neighbors!  I’m Chris and this is Art.”  Chris pointed at the red-head, who smirked as his eyes scanned me.  Suddenly, an unexplainable, uncomfortable feeling bubbled in my stomach.

“I’m Patrick.”  I extended my hand towards  Chris, which he immediately slapped.  I yanked my hand back from the shock.  I know it’s some sort of guy thing to acknowledge each other by high-fiving (or whatever), but my hand stung and turned bright red.

“Wanna come play football?”  Art asked.  He had a strange accent, which was neither Texan or southern.  I had heard the accent before, but I couldn’t place my finger where.  “We’re asking everyone on the floor.”

I hesitated, glancing down at the Rolex watch strapped around my wrist and my baby blue Tommy Hilfiger polo.  I definitely wasn’t dressed for football; then again, I rarely was.

“No, I think I’ll just hang out here.  Thanks, though.”

“Kay.  See you ’round, then.” It hit me where I heard the accent: New York City.  His words weren’t drenched with the typical ‘New Yawk’ accent, but it was subtle.

Just as I went to close the door, I caught Art’s glance one last time.  He threw me a small smile.  The uncomfortable feeling rushed back.  Maybe football wouldn’t be such a bad idea.  Half of the college experience was socializing, after all.

I swung the door back opened and called out to Art and Chris.   “Where are you guys going to play?”

“Right on the quad,” Chris said.

“See you in a bit then?”

“Yah.”

Chris seemed like a decent guy.  But, I found myself hoping the rest of my floor mates weren’t as odd as Art.  He was from New York, after all.

I threw on something a bit more casual (which took me ten minutes of digging through clothing to find) and headed for the quad.  I reassured myself over and over that football wouldn’t be so bad.  After dealing with Mason’s beatings when I was younger, I could take the pain.  However, I wasn’t sure how much I enjoyed the idea of getting thrown into the grass.  No, actually, I was sure; I despised the idea.

Still, I found myself on the quad, facing about ten guys wearing obnoxious grins on their faces.  We introduced ourselves, but most of their names slipped from my mind.  Chris explained some rules, which I didn’t hear, then broke us up into teams.  Guys spoke to me, and I answered, but don’t ask me what we said because, truthfully, I have no idea.  The only thing I remember was the fear of getting dirty creeping up on me.

When we formed a line, I found myself facing Art (who was on the other team).  At this point, the terror struck me and I felt my knees growing weak.  I managed to maintain my composure (a skill I practiced over the years).

Just as the ball was passed to the quarter back, Art said, “Don’t fall.”

Then he rushed at me.  For such a scrawny kid, he knew how to tackle.  I tried to brace myself, but the mixture of fear and his power knocked me right onto the grass.  My cheek smeared against the dirt as he stumbled off me.

“Christ, aren’t Texans supposed to be all rough and tough?” he asked as he helped me up.

I could almost feel the dirt particles digging into my pores and burying themselves under my skin.  I rubbed my cheek with the back of my hand, but it was no use.  The panic set in and my breathing escalated.

When I was young, Mason decided it would be funny to throw me into a puddle of mud.  He used to be jealous of me or something, since I got father’s name instead of Mason.  So, he’d just release all his frustration on me whenever he had the chance.  One night, we were on the porch, watching the storm, and (as always) Mason got bored.  I guess his idea of entertainment was dragging me off the porch, down to the sopping wet lawn, and throwing me into the mud.  I couldn’t fight back; he’s always been stronger than me.  He held me down and I could feel all that dirt rushing up my nose and into my ears.  I remember thinking I was going to go deaf.  I started to cry.  Hell, wouldn’t you if you were four?  Then, the mud got filled my mouth up.  For a half hour, he kept pushing me down and nearly drowning me.  He thought it was the funniest thing in the world, watching me squirm and cry.

Needless to say, my mother grounded him for a week.  I finally stopped crying when she scrubbed me clean.  Even when she finished, I demanded she keep going.  “You’re all clean, sweetie.  You’ll be okay,” she told me over and over.  But I felt the filth in all my crevices and the taste still lingered on my tongue.

I could taste it again, that bitter sensation.  It clouded my mouth and I spat, missing Art’s shoe by an inch.

And then we were lining up again.  I prepared myself, this time, planting my feet firmly into the ground.  The quarterback grabbed the ball through his legs, and I charged towards Art.  He had this shocked expression on his face as our bodies collided, but he held his ground.  We wrestled as he tried to get passed me.

Then, someone fumbled and it was all over.  We panted, glancing at each other.  “Well shit,” he laughed,  wiping the sweat dripping from his forehead.

The rest of the game, we were each others targets.  I just wanted to hold my ground as he tried to knock me down, but the bastard was strong.  A few times, I found myself sprawled across the grass.  He always helped me up, laughing as my frustration escalated.

I finally understood why football was so intoxicating.  A mixture of the adrenaline pumping through my veins and the boiling anger distracted me from my anxiety.  By the end, we won the game.  Art and I shook hands and laughed, but I still couldn’t bring myself to like him.  And with the dirt clinging to his fingers and cheeks, he was more unappealing.  Besides, I couldn’t get passed that terrible hair color.

The group split by the end of the game.  I collapsed on one of the lawn chairs, studying my dirty finger nails.  As the adrenaline wore off, my heart started racing for other reasons.  I needed to shower.  My fingers trembled as I attempted to wipe my hands on my ruined shorts (which I threw out later).  No matter how intoxicating the adrenaline rush was, it wasn’t worth the after math.

“We’re gonna grab some food.  You coming?”  Art asked.  Chris and Cameron, one of my floor mates who lived a few doors down from me, were already heading for the dining hall.

“I think I’m going to shower,” I muttered as I pushed myself off the lawn chair.

My knees suddenly grew weak and I grabbed the lawn chair for support.  I needed to shower.  I could almost feel Mason burying my face into the mud.  Suddenly, my stomach somersaulted and I wanted to vomit.

“Come over later.  We’re gonna watch a movie.”

“What movie?” I restrained my voice from cracking.

“I dunno yet, dude.  See you later?”

“Sure.”

He ran off, catching up with Chris and Cameron.  I took deep breaths, but the anxiety expanded in my chest.  It became difficult to breathe deeply as I headed back to the dorm.  I tore my clothes off and nearly ran to the shower.

At that point, no one had used the showers yet.  They still glistened in the flourescent lights.  I turned the handle, sighing as the water poured down my body.  I scrubbed my cheeks with face wash until they burned.  Even then, I still felt the particles hiding in my pores.  I held my face under the hot water, ignoring the stinging.  When I was somewhat satisfied, I started on my body.  The washcloth’s rough texture dug into my skin, but it felt better than the sweat and dirt.  Hell, anything felt better than the sweat and dirt.

After about an hour, I finally turned the knob and dried myself off.  I had broken some skin, but I was used to it at that point.  I just needed to be clean.

Back in my dorm, I curled up under my covers and gazed the blank ceiling above me.  Between Art and the dirt, the day wore me out.  I suddenly wanted to go home, but I didn’t want my father to be right.  He’s the kind of man who always thinks he’s right but rarely is.  I couldn’t add to his hot-air balloon ego.  Besides, classes hadn’t started yet, and they would distract me from any doubts I had.

I started to drift off, dreaming of the garden behind my house, filled with lilies and hydrangea bushes.  Then, someone tapped on my door.  I sat up.  Another tap.

“Coming,” I grumbled as I shuffled towards the door.

Of course Art stood in the doorway.  Who else would it be?

“What’s up?” I asked, suddenly conscious of my bed-head.  I smoothed my blond hair down.

“We’re gonna watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  You coming?”

“No, I’m tired.  I think I’m just going to stay in the rest of the night.”

He narrowed his eyes.  “Seriously? Dude, it’s Fear and Loathing.”

“Not tonight.”

“Suit yourself.  Night,” he waved and headed back to his room.

I can’t tell you exactly why I despised Art so much.  So far, he was the friendliest person I met, yet I still didn’t want anything to do with him.  Maybe it was that stupid smirk he always had on his face, or his too casual appearance, I don’t know.  But I couldn’t stand him.

I sank into the bed, closing my eyes.  Exhaustion waved through me.  At home, a typical day consisted of reading and (sometimes) hanging out with my best friend, Julie (who, no matter how much I love her, always manages to drive me crazy).  And just like that, my first day at college ended.

Patrick Miles Vs. Art (MT #4)

A pink color lingers across the sky as we finally finish re-organizing my room for a sixth time.  My mother, Lacey, and I step back, admiring our hard work.  I painted over all the marks with White Out and with just switching the bed’s and dresser’s locations, the tiny room suddenly opened up.  Of course, something still has to be done with the terrible view, but I’ll worry about that later.
“Well,” my mother turns to me with tears glistening at the corners of her eyes.  “I think we have to go.  Are you gonna be alright?”
“I’ll be fine,” I assure her.  She worries too much.
She throws her arms around me, mumbling how proud she is and I shouldn’t listen to my father because he doesn’t understand.  I roll my eyes, catching Lacey’s gaze.  She smiles brightly, patting my shoulder as my mother finally let go.
“I’ll see you soon, okay?  Have fun!” she chirps, kissing my cheek too roughly.  I usher them from the room, thanking them over and over until they’re finally in the hallway.  My mother hiccups one last sob before they head out to the car, where father and Mason are waiting.
The silences is so rewarding.  I collapse on my bed, sinking into the springs in the mattress.  I shift over and over, attempting to get comfortable, but the springs just keep jabbing me in the ribs and the back.
“Great,” I murmur to myself.  I never slept on a spring mattress my entire life.  Even our couch mattress is fluffed with the finest downy and cotton.
Well, I officially moved out of my parents house into some strange dorm.  Now what?  I gaze at the ceiling, frowining when another stain catches my eye.  There has to be more than just lying in bed, waiting for classes to start.  There’s always the freshmen orientation, but I couldn’t bring myself to care enough to attend.  What would happen besides irritating small talk and learning unncecessary facts about that school that I don’t need to know? Probably nothing.
A chorus of laughter erupts from the hall outside.  Suddenly, someone bangs on my door.  I nearly leap from the bed and after a moment of adjusting myself, I open the door.  Two guys stand in front of me with with goofy grins plastered on their faces.
“Hey,” one of them waves.  Tufts of unnaturally crimson hair, probably dyed from by one of those cheap pharmacy brans, peak out from under a black skull cap.  Bags line is his eyes and his cheeks look a bit too hollow.  A red film coats his eyes.  A plain white t-shirt hugs his body and arms a little too tightly.  A stain sits right on his chest.
“Hi,” I flash my best smile, wishing I could tell them to leave me alone without being impolite.  “What’s up?”
“We’re just tryin’ to gather a group to come outside and play some football,” the other one beams.  He’s wearing a baggy t-shirt with our school’s name branded across the chest.  His jeans have tears all up and down, revealing his dirt knees.  “I’m Chris, by the way.”
“Patrick,” I stick my hand out.  Instead of shaking it, though, he smacks it.  I instantly yank my hand away, a bit surprised by the assault.  I  know it’s a thing, to high five or whatever, but it always makes me uncomfortable.  Besides, my hand began to turn bright red.
“I’m Art,” the red-head chirps.
“Art?”
“Art,” he confirms, grinning broadly.
“It’s short for Artie,” Chris teases.  Art chuckles, rolling his eyes.
What kind of people have I surrounded myself with? I step back into my room, leaning agianst the open door.  For a few seconds, I examine them.  They’re completely decked out in cheap, dirty clothing, ready to play football.  Meanwhile, I’m wearing my white Tommy Hilfiger polo with my Rolex strapped around my wrist.  I guess you can say I’m never dressed to play football.
“Alright, well if you want to join us, we’re gonna go knock on everyone else’s doors,” Chris waves and begins to head towards the other room.
Art stares at me for a moment, narrowing his eyes.  “You got a single room?  Hell, that’s no fun.”
“Why not?”
“Ain’t you gonna get lonely?”
My eyes widen as the words pour from his lips.  Ain’t. You. Gonna. Get.  Lonely.  The improper sentence nearly tore at my ear.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging him or anything. It just…bothers me, that’s all.
“No, I’ll be fine,” I assure him.
He suddenly laughs.  His cheeks jut from his face and creases run up the corners of his lips.  His teeth are a bit crooked and yellow.  I run my tongue across my own straight teeth.
“Alright, well, come out to the quad if you wanna play.  And you might wanna change,” he eyes me casually before following Chris down the hall.  Just before I close the door, I catch him glancing towards me one last time.
People are so strange.  I close the door, leaning against it for a moment.  Maybe it won’t be too bad to play some football.  After all, I can meet some guys on my floor and at least attempt to make friends.  Maybe not with Chris, and almost certainly not with Art, but there might be others who aren’t so…
So…
Odd.

Patrick Miles III Vs. The Scuff (MT#3)

Alright, so I’m starting Patrick’s story.  For the first time, Patrick’s living away from his pristine home in the beautiful Eastern suburbs of Texas.  As I’ve said ten times before, this will be a first person narrative based around his first few months in college, where he learns the world outside of his paradise isn’t as polished and perfect as he thought.  Please feel free to critique and give me some suggestions; they really are helpful.  Well, enjoy!

I notice the scuff marks painted across my new dorm walls before anything else; not the room’s prison size, or the thin mattress, or even the horrible view, but the stains ruining the white walls.   The black lines streaked across the wall aren’t my main concern, though: it’s the two shoe prints.  Someone must have pulled their dirty boots off and slammed them against the wall to create such vivid marks.  Besides the boot print, there are thirteen other scuffs.  Too bad for them, though.  I brought White Out just to fix any impurities on my walls.  They won’t get the best of me.

My mother pushes passed me, a bit too excited to set up.  Empty rooms are like blank canvases to her.  But as soon as she gets a good, long look at the room,  her eyebrows furrow.  My mother’s the kind of woman who focuses constantly on appearance.  If something looks out of place, she has to fix it or it gnaws at her.  Our house always sparkles from the inside out.  She puts a lot of money and effort into it.  Well, not effort, unless you count hiring workers as ‘effort’.

“Oh,” she gasps softly.  “Well, isn’t this nice?  It’s nice, sweetie, right?  You have a lovely view of—what exactly is that?”

“I think it’s the lot behind the dining hall.”

“Right, of course.  It’s lovely.”

We both watch silently as a man in an apron dumps brown slosh into a dumpster, splashing it on the piles of garbage.  Some splatters against the lid.

When he waddles back inside, I mutter, “Maybe I’ll just keep the blinds down.”

“Don’t worry about it, Patrick, darlin’.  We’ll make this place good as new.  And at least you get a nice view of the sky.”

Maybe it’s all those self-motivation classes she attends, or maybe she’s actually losing her mind, but somehow she manages to extract optimism from every situation.  Believe me, it’s exhausting to listen to.  When my mother discovered that Mason, my twin brother, crashed into a truck (which cost my father thousands of dollars for our car’s and the truck’s repairs), she just smiled calmly and proclaimed she was happy no one was hurt.  Then, whenever my father brought it up at the table, she hushed him and said Mason was a growing boy and it was just a part of life.  My father would just glower at her, rubbing the edge of his eyebrow with his pinky.

I glance over my shoulder at him.  He lowers his eyes steadily, locking them onto mine.  A week before, he bet that I wouldn’t last two weeks in the dorm.  I shrugged the remark off, at first.  But this room…Besides the scuffs ruining the walls, gunk is splattered across the floor and marks cover the desk.  Someone had carved, ‘Eat me,’ in huge letters across the wood.  Suddenly, backing out doesn’t seem too bad.  I could go home, curl in my bed, and finally start Pound’s Cantos.  I’ll never have to think about this horrid place again.

“Wow, you’re livin’ the dream.”  Mason suddenly smacks his hand on my back, sending waves of pain down my spine.  “You regrettin’ this yet?”

“No,” I lie.  Mason grins maliciously at me.  He always knows when something unsettles me, and my forced grin isn’t helping my case.

Alright, I’ll admit my expectations might have been a bit too high.  After all, I lived in ‘Miles Manor’ my entire life.  That sounds awful, doesn’t it?  A gold plaque sits right on our stone fence, reminding its readers just how wealthy we are.  And I know what you’re thinking–I would believe I’m spoiled and pretentious, too. But I’m not.

“Can y’all get out of my way?” my father suddenly chimes from behind me.  We immediately scoot over, allowing him to pass.  Patrick Miles II is not a man you want to mess with.  He stands at six foot five and can probably fit both Mason and I on one shoulder.  A gray, bushy mustache covers the top of his lips and, whenever he speaks, it dances along with the rhythm of his voice.  And, like all typical wealthy Texan, he has a five hundred dollar cowboy hat settled on the top of his balding head.

Patrick Miles II has run Miles Oil Co., for nearly twenty-seven years.  He intends for me to take over the family business, soon.  That’s why he so generously granted me the name Patrick Miles III.  And yes, granted is the correct term (at least in his opinion).  My name is his gift to me.  Here, son, instead of buying you one of those stupid baby boy caps to keep your little baby skull warm, I’m just gonna go ahead and put Patrick Miles III on your birth certificate.  You’ll thank me later.

Of course, it also implies I can’t choose my future; my father created a path for me, and if I don’t follow it,  I’ll be cut off from the family money.  Thanks, dad.  I would’ve preferred the cap.

Being wealthy should be a privilege, but it’s quite tedious.  Originally, my father laughed when I asked to attend Palixton University, one of the most prestigious universities in Texas.  They accepted me and even granted me a scholarship, but all he did was lean back in his chair and laugh until he turned red.  Maybe growing up rich infected my father to the point that he couldn’t grasp the concept of living outside of his shelter to obtain an education.  He doesn’t appreciate learning, but I’m not like him.  I swear I’m different.  All I want is to do is devour more knowledge about life and the world before I’m trapped behind my father’s desk.  By then I’ll just watch huge men mine oil, while listening to employees complain about customers complaining, then dealing with customers complaining that employees aren’t understanding their complaints.  Sounds like my ideal future.

I scratch my eyebrow casually, examining the room once again.  With my mother’s touch, it may not be so bad.  Another stain catches my eye.  Yeah–I’ll be just fine.  I promise.