by Jake Christie

a story.

Angela, who believed that Dostoyevsky was a particularly cruel thing to do to a seventeen-year-old, skipped her fourth period English class. She slipped out of the cafeteria at the bell, through the kitchen where the lunchladies were busy wrapping the leftover fishsticks in sheets of plastic, and stepped unnoticed into the freedom of an exceptionally hot May afternoon.

Skipping class was not something that the faculty took kindly to, and though her experience was limited Angela knew they'd be watching the student parking lot like hungry raptors. Since hitting the road was an impossibility she decided to take the cross-country trail through the woods to the lake. She had been on the cross-country team for exactly one year, her sophomore year, and then she realized that running in circles in the mud to prove she was better at running in circles in the mud than other people running in circles in the mud was about as pointless as reading about fictional Russians with names like Raskolnikov. Her parents were disappointed, or at least acted disappointed, but she imagined that they were secretly happy to be free from picking her up after practice or going to track meets at other schools. She had the same hope that her disappointing GPA would be their welcome salvation from college orientations and heartfelt goodbyes.

Angela broke into a lazy jog down the path. The steady buzz of cicadas vibrated all around her. She leapt over a gnarled root in the path without even seeing it, acting on some kind of sense memory buried in her subconscious. Her legs began to burn, but she kept going until the feeling passed, then kept going after that. The late bell rang somewhere behind her, but it was so many twists and turns and trees away that she wouldn't be able to see the school's walls even if she looked.

The lake was slate grey and still. It seemed out of place, unreal, almost like it was paved. It seemed absurd that anything could be living inside. Angela stopped at the edge of the water and leaned forward, her hands on her knees, and breathed deep breaths. The water in front of her didn't move. Her lungs were filled with the same smell as the mildewed acoustic tiles in her English classroom. The taste coated her mouth. She sat down and laid back on the grass. The sky, blue and flecked with white, confirmed that she was not, in fact, in her English classroom. She felt satisfied that here, by the lake, she would learn the exact same amount, and on top of that she had at least gotten somewhere.


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