Figment – Prologue
It seems I’ve lost the original introduction I had to Figment (and with the site down, I can’t go and reclaim it), so a new one is in order. Right. Well… I wrote Figment nearly three years ago, back in December 2008, and it was my first attempt at uploading a story to the Exchange. I was fairly new to writing stories outside of school work and I hadn’t realised that you were meant to try and avoid clichés. On top of that, my posing and picture taking skills weren’t great and my editing ones were only a step better.
On a whole – Figment didn’t deserve the five-star rating it got on the TS2 Exchange. 🙄 I might not be the best writer today, but I was dire back then. I’m glad to say that I’ve improved somewhat since! Although I like the whole concept of the story – if you’ve read this before you’ll know what I mean – but the way it is executed means it doesn’t have the impact it could have had. Besides, it’s tough going to keep reading to the end. Really, the crappiness is astounding. Consider yourself duly warned.
So… why am I putting it up on WordPress then? The only reason I can give is nostalgia. I have a fondness for Figment that I don’t have for Whirlwind or Shades of Grey or even TBM . It might be a source of embarrassment for me now, but I was proud of it then. Chances are, I’ll never continue it in this format… but perhaps someday, you might read this story under a different title, with different characters but a similar plotline – just minus those dastardly clichés. 😉
My fingers danced across the cool white keys, as if they had never done anything else. It was almost true to say this. I loved to play – as a child I had spent most of my life in our drafty old attic, throwing away the time on our family’s grand piano.
“You really need to get a new hobby, Mozart.”
I jumped. Then with a sigh, I turned around to face the voice. She always managed to sneak up on me without getting caught.
“Still, you’re getting better. The 20 hours of practice each day is finally paying off.”
Despite rolling my eyes, I was quite touched by her compliment. That was nice, coming from her.
Grinning at my little confidence boost, I looked over at her. My best friend’s appearance tended to change from day to day, and sometimes her attempts at ‘expressing’ herself were a little… strange.
Today however, she looked quite nice, if a little eccentric. But relatively calm for Lisette. Her straight red hair flowed over her shoulders, contrasting with the green sweater. The yellow jeans were a little exotic, but they suited her 100%. Her make-up was perfect, as always.
She caught me looking at her. “You want to take a picture? It lasts longer. And I’ll look just as good.”
She walked off in the other direction, towards the stairs, before I even had a chance to reply. I stared after her for a moment, then was just about to follow her, when she turned around.
‘Wow, someone hasn’t eaten their cornflakes this morning. You’re like a zombie. Or perhaps you’re just transfixed by my ethereal beauty. Come on, slowpoke, we’ve gotta go!’
She turned once more and started jogging for the stairs.
‘What’s the rush?’ I called, exasperated. Liz has that effect on people. Well, mainly me.
Well actually, just me.
‘You’ll see!’ she replied, over her shoulder, but she continued to run. With a hefty sigh, I began running after her.
Dashing down the stairs, I caught a glimpse of my parents, sitting in the front hall of the mansion where we lived.
‘Hello son,’ my father said mildly, taking his nose out of the book he was reading, ‘What’s the rush?’
Lisette laughed. She was a good 10 meters ahead of me and was gaining distance with each leg foward.
‘Erm…nothing Dad. See you after school, okay?’
He didn’t even bother replying. Mom didn’t even seem to notice me.
My parents are like that. They’re so caught up in their own little bubble that they don’t seem to notice what is going on in the world around them. I don’t know why they even bothered having a kid, if they were just going to ignore it. Thankfully, I had Liz all through my childhood for company.
Running out into the yard, I saw that Lisette was still running, and was showing no signs of stopping. Hmph. Maybe she actually wanted to go to school today.
‘WHAT’S…THE…RUSH??!’ I hollered, asking for the second time.
‘I’LL TELL YOU WHEN YOU GET THERE! NOW RUN FASTER!’
Cursing, I ran after her. She had to be the most infuriating creature I had ever had the misfortune to meet. Yet I would not be able to function without her . . .
We ran all the way to school, a kilometer away, with no breaks. I was exhausted. Yet Liz still managed to sprint up the steps and in through the steel doors, and she didn’t even seem to have even broken a sweat.
The school was only starting to fill with arriving students. We’d arrived at least 20 minutes earlier than normal.
She was waiting for me at my locker, a grin on her face and smugness radiated from her like light from the sun.
‘Beat you! You are so slow.’
‘Whatever,’ I muttered, rolling my eyes. ‘You going to share the big secret?’
‘There…isn’t one. Well, unless a substitute English teacher counts. I just felt like running to school today. Besides, you needed the adrenaline rush.’
I wheeled around to face her, slamming my locker door shut in the process. Making sure the room was empty, I glared at her.
‘Are you telling me, that we ran all the way to school, full sprint, in the middle of summer, because you felt like it??!’
Lisette was bent double. I was concerned for the briefest of moments, until I heard her laughing.
‘Oh chill out, you stick-in-the-mud! You’re so lazy! You do nothing but play the fricking piano and complain. I try to give you a bit of exercise, try to prolong your life a little, but no-o-o, you have to throw a strop, all because I’m concerned about your welfare! I thought I was a drama queen!’
I didn’t bother replying to this – blanking her out completely, I went to my first class. She always did that – turned things around to make me look like a loser and make her look like a saint. I was used to it.
Of course she was there before me, sitting in our space in the back of the class.
‘So, now that you can’t get away from me, d’you think you’ll be going to the dance next week?’
‘Liz,’ I replied quietly, and not to her face, so no-one would notice I was talking to her, ‘do you really think I’ll go to the dance by myself?’
‘I’ll go with you.’
‘I know you will. The point is, it’ll look like I’m going on my own. And us dancing…would scare people.’
Our conversation continued throughout the rest of the morning classes. Of course, I had to shut up as soon as the teacher walked in. I had to reply to Liz’s usual probing sort of questions out of the corner of my mouth.
As soon as the last class finished, I bolted for the cafeteria. I got lucky – I was the first there. Well naturally, Lisette was there before me. Naturally…
Her smile broadened as I sauntered into view.
‘Hey Seth. How’s the food today?’
‘Inedible as usual. But I’m hungry.’
She beamed at me. Of course, she never had to eat the suposedly radioactive cafeteria food.
Lisette chattered on restlessly for the entire time I was eating. I just…ate. I was planning on getting out of here before the majority of my class managed to get here.
Liz was eternally cheerful. I was a fairly pessimistic practical sort of person – we were the last sort of people you’d expect to be friends. But we were. I kept her down to earth. She made sure I didn’t fall into the total depths of despair with my sarcastic musings. We balanced each other out. And managed to annoy the hell out of one another at the same time…
She was babbling on about nothing in particular, but she was annoying me. I felt like throwing my sandwich at her. I contemplated this quietly as I ate. What would happen if I threw the food at her? She’d dodge it, that was for sure. But what if it hit her somehow? Now that would be interesting… No-one was looking…
But like I said, I was hungry.
After finishing the last crust, I hauled back the chair, and made for the door.
‘No, the North Pole.’ Where else had we gone since the year had started?
It was her turn to roll her eyes. She was ahead of me in an instance.
‘Fine, you loser. See you there.’
I wondered how she still managed to get a thrill out of beating me. It wasn’t like I was ever able to get there before her. She was sitting in the library when I arrived, looking bored out of her mind. It wasn’t great being my friend. Still, at least it would be summer soon, we could actually do something fun for once.
The librarian looked at me with some aprehension in her eyes, but she let me in. She was used to seeing me here. Plucking a random novel off the shelves – I’d finished ‘Robinson Crusoe’ yesterday at lunch – I settled down to read. Well, as much as one can settle down when in Liz’s presence.
‘I don’t see why we have to come here every single lunch hour. We could be outside. We could be in the cafeteria – I love people watching. Jeez, we could even go to the computer room, just for a change. Anywhere, as long as it’s not here. I have absolutely nothing to do here. Tomorrow, can we please do something different? Seth? Seth? Seth!’
Of course, I wasn’t listening. I rarely was – most of the time Liz needed only minimal responses from me. Though, I admit it, I could have at least pretended to be paying attention. But I was so lost in ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ that I was barely aware of Lisette.
And of course, she didn’t like that. Lisette didn’t like being ignored one bit.
Before I knew it, my book had flown out of my arms with enough force to break a window. Luckily for the panes behind me, it simply fluttered to the ground beside my chair. I looked up, shock etched all over my face.
It took me a minute to calm down enough to speak, and when I did, it was in a harsh, hushed voice.
‘What the hell is your problem Liz?’
‘You were ignoring me,’ she replied sweetly, her voice full of malice. ‘You’d better watch it – if you don’t want me around, I’ll disappear. Don’t forget that.’
‘I don’t think you’ll ever let me forget it,’ I mumbled back, under my breath. I could feel the librarian’s eyes on me.
She had stood up, and was now standing there staring at me, as if torn between coming over and keeping her distance
The acute expression of confusion on her face said it all. She already thought I was an odd boy; now her suspicions had been confirmed. I’ll admit, it must have looked rather silly.
A teenage boy sitting alone in a deserted library, talking to himself? It would disconcert anyone.
The librarian could not see Lisette. In fact, no-one could see her. Except me, of course. She was the reason I had no real friends. But to me, it didn’t matter. For no friend is better than one you make up yourself.
Yes. Lisette was my imaginary friend. And I was just a little bit older than your average lonely kid…
Return to Short Pieces.