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Perception and Memories

written by Dan Ness

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About this story

Published: 1997 | Size: 34 KB (6868 words) | Language: english | Rating: PG-13
Average: 4.3/5   4.3/5 (20 votes)

based on stories and characters created by Winnie Holzman

Disclaimer: All characters contained within are owned by Winnie Holzman and the suits at the company with the "I dance by the light of the moon" jingle. What’s their name now; Bedford Falls? I could be mistaken. Anyway, they own the lot, even though the characters skip merrily though my head on their own accord. They’re alive I tell you! Anything else is mine. Redistribute with out my permission and I will hunt you down and kill you like the dog you are. Any coincidences with living events and past persons is purely coincidental. Read the Review and Breathe the Astral, Dudes!

(As a writer, I know how perceptions can change when you are writing Your characters grow, your plot gains a life of it’s own, your ending is written and rewritten in your head, and when it comes to reading the thing, you come across some lines which leave you thinking "Gosh, did I really write that?". For better or for worse, the story you finish is never the same one you started. When I decided to write a My So-Called Life fan fiction, I wanted it to be different. There are so many fan scripts; everyone wants to be the next ER Holdridge - and with good reason. I didn’t believe that I can beat Shobi at his own game, so I didn’t try to. Instead, I became Brian Krakow, a few years into the future. That’s easy, because if my story sucks, I can blame it on Brian. Hell, it’s not as if he isn’t used to everyone blaming everything on him. So Brian wrote this story, and as he wrote it, his perceptions of the events changed. This isn’t the bitter nerd we all know and love; this is who that person grew to be, but he still remembers events the way he experienced them. That is why there is a sudden about turn in the middle of the story. Brian has to reconcile who he was then with who he is now - and this is the turning point in his life after all. Or something. Make of it what you will. I tried to keep to what we have been given in the series. I never thought that Angela would leave Jordan for Brian - that’s something for lusting Brian fans only. Neither did I want a neatly tied ending, because life isn’t like that. Anyway, enough jawing. I hope you all enjoy the story. Remember: A writer’s fans are the greatest fans of all.

Oh my God. I know I’m gonna puke again. I’ve got that feeling in my stomach, like its trying to turn itself inside out. A tight feeling. I am knelt by the ol’ porcelain microphone, my knees touching the pure white base of it and my hands resting on the rim of the bowl either side of my head. I lift one and smooth back the lank curls of hair that are hanging over the dyed blue toilet water. The hair falls forward again, but it’s too late to move it out of the way, ‘cause here comes lunch in a sour rush that pours into the bowl in a multicoloured waterfall that splatters pieces of partly digested food over the inside of the toilet. I heave again, and here comes some more. Now my hands are sticky with the macaroni cheese I had yesterday at school. The very thought of this makes me heave again, and again, and again, until there is nothing left to bring up because my gut is empty and shrivelled into a small tennis ball at the base of my throat. My system doesn’t get it that there is nothing left to bring up, that this bug has sucked me dry, and my gorge strains to find some moisture like a dying man digging in the desert, and now, for some reason, my testicles are hurting.

Man, I feel bad.

Slowly, the cramping creeps away and I release my grip on the lavatory and curl up against the bathroom door. I look at the toilet. There is more than a little sick around the rim. It drips tiredly to the blue rug that Mom’s so proud of, leaving little circles of green in random patterns. That stuff is on my hands, too, but I can’t be assed to wash them right now. I try to disown them by holding them out in front of me, my elbows resting on my knees. I turn my head so that I’m not looking at the eggy channels it makes between my fingers. I try not to feel the puke.

The smell! It’s almost enough to make me barf again. It’s like disinfectant. It’s like I puked disinfectant in the damn bathroom. Hell, I can’t remember drinking disinfectant *ever*. Maybe Mom or Dad’s been feeding it to me when they get home from work. They talk psychology and eat pizza and argue, and when they’re done, they say: "Hey, Brian’s asleep, let’s give him some Toilet Duck to keep his insides pine fresh and germ free." They tiptoe up the stairs to my bedroom and run a clear plastic tube into my mouth - no, up my nose; you force feed someone through their nose - and put a funnel into the other end and pour a gallon or two of Toilet Duck down the tube and into my gut, yank the tube out and go to bed. No wonder I get so many nose bleeds.

I feel a little better now. I’ve got used to the smell, and pain has eased off a bit. Time to clean myself and this place up. I’ll use soap, not disinfectant.

I wash my hands until they are baby skin soft, not the texture of your average high school kid’s hands, I know, but the only hand damage you’re likely to get through math is a paper cut from a brand new textbook. Mental exercise for me, not football or baseball, or any of that stupid jock crap. Keeps my hands soft and pale pink.

I run a bowl of hot water and drop some deodorant soap into it, mixing it up until I get a lather. I use a jay cloth to wipe off the sick from the toilet, the rug, my hair and even from my T-shirt: another place where the puke managed to travel to. I empty the bowl into the toilet and listen to the too familiar sound it makes as it flows from bowl to bowl. I pull the flush and the doorbell rings.

God! What a time for someone to ring! Mind you, that’s how my luck runs. It’s, like, *I’m* the one this kind of thing always happens to, like I’ve got some sign on my back addressed to the universe that says "Kick me", or whatever. I’ve just got to clean my self up a bit. I go into my bedroom and take off my shirt hoping to change before . . .

The doorbell rings again. "All right!" I yell down at the caller. I’ll have to go down in my vest, but that’s okay. I’ll just stick my head through a crack in the door. No problem. Just so long as it isn’t her. Because that would be, like, so much my luck it would be unbelievable.

I leave my room and run downstairs to the door, undo the bolt and open it just enough to let my head through and see who it . . .

Damn. Kicked again.

"Hey," she says, and tucks her hair behind an ear. Not, like, all of her hair, you understand. Just some. A few strands. Enough.

"Hey," I say back. Why didn’t I put a new shirt on, or at least just leave that puke splattered one on? I could have, I don’t know, folded my arms over the stain, or something.

"So," she says, awkwardly. She looks ill. Not *ill* ill, but, you know, ill at ease. Because of me, probably; me and that stupid letter. "How are you?" she asks. I try smiling, but I can tell from the expression on her face that I failed and grimaced, or something.

"I’m okay," I say.

"Because, like, I missed you at school. No one knew what was wrong." She asked about me? " I asked, you know. Around."

Despite the fact the door is all but closed, there’s a wide enough gap to let the cold air outside in - scratch that; let the warmth out. My skin turns to gooseflesh under the vest.

"So," I say, hoping my teeth don’t start chattering. "Do you want to, um, come in?"

She smiles a little. Relief from the cold, she thinks, *not*, *wow*, Brian asked *me* into his *house*, I’m, like, *so* *lucky.* "Sure," she says, and I try to hide my wimpy, goose flesh ridden body behind the door as I open it.

She comes into the house. She’s wearing this coat and scarf, and these huge mittens. It makes her look like a skater or something, from one of those Christmas cards. Or the inlay of a chocolate box.

I finally shut the door and step out from behind it. She’s surprised to see me in my vest, obviously. I make an excuse. "I was, uh, just . . ." She sniffs, smelling the air, and her nose wrinkles.

"Brian, have you been sick?"

"Um. Yeah. Kind of. I was just clearing the place up." My voice cracks. I still feel like puking. Please God, don’t let me be sick on Angela Chase.

She nods, sympathetically. "Why don’t you go into the living room?" I say "I’ll just go upstairs and put something on."

"Okay. I can’t stay long, I’m . . . doing something. I just came over to see how you were. And to, you know, give you this." She passes me a black folder. Homework. Great.

"Whatever. I’ll just go up then." She nods and smiles, and I feel her stare on me as I go up the stairs to my room.

Why did I write that letter, you may ask. Well, not really. It’s not like you’re really interested in my life, because my life sucked back then, and, to tell the truth, it still does. Not that I’d tell *her* that. No, not her *Angela*, her - as in my girlfriend now. Yes, I have a girlfriend, and yes, she *is* great. But I still don’t like to go out and party, or whatever, when she goes to a club with a group of friends. Rickie (that’s the guy I went to High School with; the, uh *different* one?), he sometimes worries about me; says if I don’t go out more often, that I’ll lose her. Or something. But, see, she’s different. *She* understands. Not that I’m slamming Angela Chase, because I’m not; I mean, she was a great friend, you know, *after* all that business with the letter and Jordan Catalano. But she never really understood me. Because, if she ever *did* understand me, it would mean having to give *him* up, and since she didn’t do that ever, even after he had slept with that Graf girl, I guess that she didn’t want to understand me. Or something.

God, Graf! I wonder whatever happened to her.

She wasn’t a high school girl, or even a force of nature, because that would, like, imply that she was natural. Which she wasn’t. She didn’t go to school, she just appeared there, and blew about the place like a tornado, or that Tasmanian devil in those Bugs Bunny cartoons. She had hair that was oh so greasy, and these dummy lollipop things, and wore clothes that made her look like some kind of a bag lady. And she drank. Boy, did she drink. That’s how she ended up in the back of Jordan Catalano’s car with Jordan Catalano. I filmed them. On video. Using a camcorder. I didn’t want to, but it was like when you see a roadkill, and you don’t want to look, because that would be sick and depraved, but as you turn your head away in disgust you sort of see it in the corner of your eye, and before you know it you’re down on your haunches, trying to figure out the make of the tire that killed this animal from the tread imprinted on it. I still feel guilty about it. Angela Chase and that Graf girl were tight; they were good, close friends, and I kind of took that away. I mean, I didn’t particularly *like* Graf, but I didn’t hate her either. Sometimes, she would come on to me - not for real, but for kicks or something - and it would leave me so shaken. I’d go home and think "How unfair; she’s picking on me; she’s a bully" and part of me would go "No, she really likes you, Bri, they all do". I guess all those kids who get bullied because they’re fat, or wear glasses, or are smart feel like that sometimes; that they are an essential part of school life. Because, if they didn’t get laughed at or beaten up, who would? That kind of kid *knows* that they are needed, to take some of the heat off the others; to share the wealth, as it were. Maybe, if I wasn’t a punching bag for (and here I spit before writing his name) Kyle Vinovich and his cronies, things would have been a lot tougher for Rickie, or that kid who painted shoes, or other flamboyant types. But more on Rickie later. I was writing about Graf, and I’m still writing about her.

After she and Angela fell out, because of that video, she became distant. For a while, she was friends with Sharon, but that didn’t last. She went out, got drunk; God knows what she did, but the next day Sharon wouldn’t even look at her. I guess that was in the summer, June I think. By Christmas, Graf and her Mom had left town, moved someplace else to get a fresh start. There were rumours, but then there always are when someone quietly ups and leaves. Someone said that Mrs Graf - if she *had* married that girl’s (damn, what’s her first name?) father - had been going out with some guy who got into trouble with the police, and that he had kidnapped them both. Of course, no one *really* knew what had happened. By that time, she had grown so distant, it was likely she was never in school. Not that she was ever in class, but she used to hang around the ladies rest rooms, and Angela and Rickie and Sharon would see her there. I wonder where she is now. I wonder if she really *was* kidnapped by her Mom’s psychotic boyfriend.

Yes I did say that Rickie would often see Graf in the Girls’ bathroom. And yes, Rickie *is* of the male persuasion. But, see, things like single sex bathrooms never got in Rickie’s way, because he was so far outside the everyday rules you and I follow, it was like, incredible. He’s toned things down now, though; "mellowed with age" he puts it; but when we went to Liberty High, he was really outrageous, really flamboyant, really . . . I guess what I’m trying to say is that Rickie’s gay. That was in the days when being gay was . . . well it wasn’t really looked down upon, but it wasn’t really approved of, either. Remember that TV show with that short, blonde . . . "Ellen", that was it. Not that I watched it, but I guess one of Rickie’s intense media studies courses has kind of leaked into me (I didn’t watch much television before I graduated. Since then, Ricky tries to bring me up to date on a hundred years of pop culture). Anyway, it was about the wacky adventures this bookstore owner and her twenty - thirty something friends had. Good ratings - no problem. But then, there was this great media event when the character, Ellen, was "coming out". What’s more, it was tied into this *bigger* media event, because the actress who played Ellen (I forget her name), was *also* coming out. The bible belt tried to ban it, and loads of others tried to ban it, and the network that held the franchise said they were one hundred per cent behind the move. And after the season had ended, they cancelled it and blamed falling ratings. That was how it was back then. Back then - God I make it sound like it was decades ago, like it was in the nineteen forties, or something. Can the world really have changed so much in five years? I mean, I know that you go through . . . changes . . . when you’re a teenager, but things seem so different now. I guess it was all a lead in to the millennium, or something. The millennium bug. Everyone thought that the world was going to end because computer programmers in the sixties and seventies had less than adequate insight. It didn’t matter that most of these people knew nothing whatsoever - like they think as soon as you buy a computer you’re going to get some virus into your hard drive, and it’ll screw up all the information you’ve got saved there. What am I trying to say? I don’t know - maybe that’s a sort of . . . a metaphor for Rickie. No one understood him; what he was going through. Not that he did much to disguise the fact - he’d wear make up, and go into the girl’s bathroom all the time, and wear these, these *clothes* that were so out there he thought that *my* clothes were fancy dress. Not that he should have had to disguise it; I’m not saying that; it was a part of who he was. So, anyway, his uncle leaves him, just runs away from his own nephew, and Rickie ends up homeless over Christmas. Of course, I’m Jewish, so that, like, doesn’t apply to me. But Rickie was a Catholic or something, and to be alone at Christmas; it destroyed him. He could have stayed over at my place, my parents weren’t home - they’d gone on a cruise, or something - if I had known about it, if he hadn’t hidden his pain away from me. Because I’m good with that. With pain. But instead he ends up with Angela Chase and her family. Which was cool. Because, like, now Rickie was a part of a family, and they didn’t care about the situation - they had a son and a brother for the holidays, and he was one of them and . . .

Oh my God. I’ve just remembered something. That Christmas, I was feeling pretty lonely, being at home alone and all, and I called one of those, those Samaritan lines. For people who are depressed. Only, I thought that I had misdialled or something, because the woman who answered . . . well let’s just say she *didn’t* sound like a Samaritan. But that voice, it was *so* familiar it . . . it . . .

It was Graf!

See, that is like, *so* indicative of my luck. I try to get a little sympathy, and I end up with that hoyden breathing heavily down the line. God I feel so *violated*, now.

Anyway, I’ll just shudder and put that horrible incident behind me, and get back to Rickie. He stayed with the Chases for a while, but the seasons magic fairy dust faded away, and he began to feel awkward around them, and he ran away - just looking for some place he would *really* belong. And he ended up living with Katimski. Yes, *that* Katimski, the one who was in the news, like country wide. Because, someone’s parent found out about it, and told someone *else*, and it all snowballed out of control. I mean, a student living with their teacher? Newsworthy. But if that student was gay, and that teacher was *also* gay, and had a, uh, a same sex partner . . . everyone wanted a piece of them. But you know how *that* story ended. Thank God.

So. This is meant to be about *me*, about *my* life. But that’s what my life *was*. It was a composite; each event that happened to my classmates, happened to me. I didn’t have anyone to talk to; if I did tell them my fears, I’d have alienated them, or something. But instead, I’d be quiet, and listen, and watch, and help out where I could. Sometimes it’d pay off; sometimes it wouldn’t. At that time, though, I’d do almost *anything*, just to make Angela Chase happy. Or just to make her smile. Or even *talk* to me.

"So," she says.

"So," I say. There is an uncomfortable silence, or there would be, if it weren’t for the ticking of Mom’s clock on the mantelpiece. It’s one of those gold and glass ones, with the balls in the lower half that rotate. I don’t think they’re even *meant* to tick, because of those rotating balls. Better keep that thought to myself.

We’re sitting at opposite ends of my couch. I try to pretend that the distance between us is because she’s afraid of catching this bug, or because she’s afraid that I’ll puke on her chocolate box perfect clothes. So am I.

"Do you know what’s wrong?" She fiddles with her mittens, which are now off her hands.

"Doctor Westphall says it’s a thing that’s going around. I’ve got medication, but," I shrug, "it doesn’t seem to be doing much. I feel ill most of the time and," I stop because she looks uncomfortable. She’s thinking, "Since when am *I* the dumping ground for all of Brian Krakow’s problems".

"Well," she says, in this *really* small voice, "I hope it isn’t serious."

"Oh no. At least, I don’t think it is. I’ll be back to school within a week."

She bobs her head, looking at the carpet. "Good. That’s . . . good."

There is some more silence. Then, I change the subject. Who wants to talk about me, anyway? "So, anything happen today? How’s the play going?"

Her face immediately changes; I can *feel* her relief. "The play’s going fine. I mean, it’s not as if *I’m* doing much," she tucks some hair behind an ear again, "I’m just helping with the scenery, you know, painting it, and stuff. But Rickie . . . Rickie seems to be doing so much; too much, even. I swear he cut all his classes today, just to work on the play."

"It means a lot to him."

She looks at me, smiling shyly, like she’s a little surprised. Hey, I *do* know what people are feeling! I mean, I’m sort of friends with Rickie. I do know what he likes and dislikes.

Of course, I don’t say that out loud. "I mean, if he cut class, it must mean *something*. Right?"

She looks back at her feet. "Yeah," she says, "I guess so. Delia says he spends all night working on it too. God knows what he finds to do at Katimski’s."

Oh no, Delia. The dreaded "D" word. It’s like she’s haunting me, casting her shadow over me for eternity. Can’t someone talk to me without mentioning her, just once? I mean, it’s bad enough that Cherski thinks I’m the anti-Christ because of what happened at that stupid dance. She got together with Rickie, didn’t she? Can’t she see me as, I don’t know . . . as a matchmaker, or something, instead of some girl hating demon?

Delia Fisher. Now *there’s* someone I haven’t thought about in a long time. Well, since I graduated, at least. My history with her - well, you do *not* want to know my history with Delia Fisher. It’s enough to say that I was meant to be going with her to this dance and, well, I was faced with this choice. I could go for the obtainable, or strive for the *un*obtainable. I made my decision, and, for better or worse, I was stuck with it. Maybe if I chose differently, I wouldn’t have had all that grief I had over Angela Chase. I don’t know. Things worked out pretty well in the end I think, wrong decision or no.

"Does he like it there, at Katimski’s?"

She looks at me strangely, but it’s not a look that is disgusted at me for being nosy. It’s a look that wonders why *I* am asking her this, when I should know the answer already.

"Yes. He seems pretty comfortable, considering he’s living with the biggest bore in the entire *galaxy*." The words "after you, Bri," go unsaid. "But then, he seemed pretty comfortable at my place, over the holidays."

"Maybe he felt like a fifth wheel, or something." She looks at me sharply, and I have to speak fast to explain what I mean and avoid a tongue lashing. "Because, Christmas is all about family, right? And you already had a family, and Rickie was an outsider," the sharp look grows sharper. I speak faster. "I mean, you didn’t mean for him to be an outsider, but maybe that’s how he felt inside, because he didn’t have a family, I mean, he had *yours *, but they’re, you know. *Yours*." How lame am I? But no, I must have said something right, because she’s still sat on my couch, and now she even seems to be smiling a little.

"How did *you* feel, without your parents here over Christmas?"

I take a deep breath. Should I tell her? No. "It wasn’t so bad, you know, with the Jewish thing and everything. Actually, we’re more like Atheists. It’s not like we go to synagogue any time of the year, and that includes Christmas, uh, Hannukah. It wasn’t like I was missing anything."

"Danielle would have to disagree. She loves Christmas. It’s the presents."

I nod my head. "How is Danielle? Is she learning an instrument yet? For band?" I was going to teach Angela’s little sister to play the saxophone. That kind of . . . fell through.

"She’s fine. And no, I think that she’s given up the idea of being in the Band. She’s moved onto boys, now. She’s got this boyfriend, only he’s more like a puppy, or something, because he follows her around constantly, and she hardly acknowledges that he’s there."

Sounds familiar.

Then I see something in her eyes, as we both look up. She realises that this scenario *is* familiar. Only with her in place of her sister. And, like, me, instead of this anonymous boyfriend.

And then it begins. "Brian, about that letter . . ."

"No," I almost shout. I am about to rise, and then I see the look on her face, and just drop back onto the couch. This has to be dealt with. And if that means that Angela Chase never wants to see me again, then, then that’s just *fine*. I mean, God, I’m making myself sick! To Hell with what Westphall says, this isn’t ‘some bug that’s going around’, I’ve got a bad case of the Angela Chases, and the only way to cure it is to get it out into the open. I have to talk to her.

If you want to know about my history with Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano: tough. Even if this Mac had like a million gig hard drive, and I could just load a forest into the printer, there wouldn’t be enough room to tell you. I’ll try to give you the bare facts, though. See, I was in love with Angela, and she was in love with some guy called Jordan, and Jordan was in love with her. There were diversions, and twists, and special toppings, but that was what it all boiled down to. Of course, I didn’t tell Angela, because . . . well, I wasn’t really the telling kind; I guess I’m still not the telling kind; and anyway, I’m not sure that I really wanted to spoil what they had. But it came to a point where what they had; I had *made* what they had. I had written this reconciliatory note; playing Cyrano de Bergerac, or something; and it got them together, and I felt bitter, what with Christmas and everything, and it just kind of . . . slipped out. And then she knew. But she went with him anyway. And I felt so rejected, and this is *me* we’re talking about, people; I’m like, used to rejection. But after that business with Angela and Delia, where I came off second best because I was after something for *me* for a change. I wanted closure, pure and simple.

"Angela . . ." I begin. My jaw locks up and I’m left shaking my head with my mouth wide open.

"Brian . . ." she says, her voice wheedling a little. She moves a little closer.

"Angela . . ." I begin again, and this time I continue speaking. "I’m so sorry I told you."

An apology? I turn her world upside down, and I can only offer an apology? But it seems to be enough.

"Brian, I’m glad you told me. I . . . had to know . . . the *origin* . . . I guess I needed to get things straight between us. And that letter . . ." She seems on the verge of some kind of breakdown, and that scares me a little. " I mean, I guess I sort of knew. How you felt . . . about me. I just, I just didn’t want to admit to myself . . ."

I feel that a little intervention is needed. "Because of Jordan."

"No! I mean, maybe. Because, you . . . and I . . . we’re like, friends, aren’t we?" So here it is, the infamous ‘Let’s just be friends’ speech - only I don’t really care, because for once it’s happening to me. For once, I’m close enough to a girl for her to say ‘Let’s just be friends’. And, suddenly, that’s almost good enough.

"I guess so. Sort of."

She swallows. I can tell she’s summoning up strength from somewhere. I can tell she’s about to tell me something . . . something huge. "Jordan and I . . . we’re not like that. We’re not friends."

I know *that*! It’s not like I’ve been lobotomised, or I’ve been living on Ganymede for the last few months. My thoughts become facial expressions, and Angela suddenly explains what she’s been going through when I’ve been going through . . . what *I’ve* been going through. "No, Jordan and I aren’t close enough to be friends. We’ve never got that far. He’s my, my boyfriend, but because he’s my boyfriend, that drives *something* between us, like there’s this brick wall between us." She’s mixing her metaphors. God, how sad am I? "I can kiss him, but I can never talk to him. Not like I talk to Sharon, or Rickie. Or you."

She stops talking long enough for that ticking silence to return. What she said, how she said it; it all starts to come clear. I can see that maybe I’ve been the one who’s been wrong all along. But not that kind of wrong that I’m usually in, where I say something stupid, or do some dumb thing, and everyone laughs at me. This isn’t to do with what everyone’s perception is of Brian Krakow - this is about what Brian Krakow’s perception is of everyone else. I’ve been in the dark, and now Angela has switched the light on.

"You see?" She asks, hopefully.

And I do. I truly do.

Looking back, it all seems so stupid. Like when you’re in your second year at high, and in come all the first year students and they all look so tiny, and you’re like "Please, I was *never* that small." I find it hard to believe that I almost cried myself to sleep, thinking "Oh Angela, will you ever be mine?" But then I really look, and see that this was a vital stage in the process involved in making me who I am today. What would I have been if I had left Liberty mooning over a girl who had gone for the guy who was meant for her. And he *was* meant for her; there’s no doubting that. Okay, he wasn’t the smartest card in the deck, but some days when I sat opposite him, tutoring him, it was like Angela was the only thing that kept him going. It was that look on his face, that exact same look as when you’d talk to Angela in the school corridor, and you’d realise that she wasn’t listening, or even looking at you; the look on her face then. And you’d turn, and there would be Jordan Catalano, leaning against a locker, just watching her.

How did it turn out? Don’t ask me. For a while after she and I had that little talk, she and Jordan took a break. I don’t know, maybe she felt guilty, or whatever. Maybe she waited for *him* to tell her who really wrote that letter, and he didn’t, so she left him. I know that by the time we graduated, (Jordan passed exams with colours that weren’t so much flying as still scraping the runway, but he *did*, pass them, and I kind of felt proud for having a hand in his future) they were a couple again, but by that time . . . well, Angela and I were still friends, but I had moved onto pastures new. She and Jordan took a year out - actually, I think they eloped, but that’s how Mrs Chase always put it: "Angela . . . took a year out." They left town, and I haven’t seen or heard from either of them since. I got into Morgan University - so did Sharon - and Rickie eventually moved away from Katimski, and we got a place together; not *together*, together; Rickie’s seeing some guy - Joe - that works at a local bar; but it’s kind of nice having a place where I don’t feel so alone all the time. And Sharon . . .

"Brian! Hurry up and finish that work will you? Joe’s here!"

Brian turned from the keyboard and monitor, leaning back on his swivel chair to squint at the front door. Rickie, overdressed as usual, was hopping on one foot, trying to shoehorn the other in to an enormous black boot. Outside the flat a car’s horn honked loudly.

"Hold on, I’ll be finished in a minute."

"Well, hurry up!"

Brian shook his head, smiling at Rickie’s enthusiasm, and turned back to the computer. His fingers tapped swiftly at the keys.

"You know all about Sharon. So here it is. The end of my essay. I guess that by now you’ll know everything you ever wanted to know about Brian Krakow, and much more besides. This was the turning point; the defining moment of my life, and for the first time I’ve shared it with someone who *wasn’t* Angela Chase, who *didn’t* define my life. To Angela and Jordan, wherever you may be; I hope that your so-called lives contain as much happiness as my so-called life does."

After typing the last line, he went to the very top of the essay, and read the title. "My So-Called Life: The defining moment of my life so far, and its impact upon my life." He placed the mouse cursor on the line below, and typed again. "By Krakow". For a few seconds he frowned at this. Then a grin broke out. He backspaced slowly, deliberately. He typed with one finger, and saved his work. "By Brian Krakow" He powered down the computer as Rickie yelled at him again.

Who would have thought that Brian Krakow would ever have taken English, and not Calculus or Physics at university? He thought. He stood and switched the computer off, before hefting a heavy green bag. Joe’s folks had lent him and Rickie their summer house for the early holidays. "Room for four," Rickie had said, hopefully. "Why don’t you bring you-know-who along?" So he had asked her, and, of course, she had accepted. But then, Sharon and Brian had been inseparable since high school graduation; even Brian’s English teacher had commented on it. But they were a good couple, even more so than another good couple Brian had once known.

She’d be waiting in Joe’s van, smiling that true smile, that "here’s Brian Krakow" smile. And he’d smile back. And they’d drive off into the sunset, hoping that it would always be like this, that it would always be the two of them, and their so-called lives.

And maybe, one day, Sharon would define his life as his first love had done. All she had to do is say "I do".

"Come *on*, Brian!" Rickie yelled, almost in his ear. Brian slapped him on the back and opened the door, leaving his home to see his girlfriend. And continue his so-called life . . . no, he smiled; his life.

Rickie closed the door, and the two friends walked towards the van.

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Reviews for this story

Rating Distribution:
Average: 4.3/5   4.3/5 (20 votes)
  • Dude Love commented on 05 Mar 2002:
    WOW! I have to give this story a perfect 10! (Although I don't believe Angela would have ended up running off with Jordan [or anyone else from high school]. That's a matter of opinion, of course ;) ). Anyway, this is by far one of the most beautifully written and imaginative stories on the site. I love the fact that you didn't feel the need to write in the "screenplay" format. I love the fact that you "got" what happened at the end of episode 19. You didn't just write what you think was "supposed" to happen. I mean, your continuation makes sense in light of the series. I've gone on too long already, so I'll just say: Brilliant!
  • anonymous commented on 07 Aug 2002:
    NO WAY!!!! that was awesome.. i am thorougly impressed. Sharon and Krakow.. now that is a lightning bolt to the senses. Very Very Good!
  • Ben Hoback commented on 23 Jan 2003:
    Excellent story, beautifully done. One of the best stories on this site.
  • TASHA commented on 04 Jun 2004:
    the begining very discriptive,,,i like the sharon and brian getting was ok.
  • Heather commented on 24 Jul 2004:
    that was done very well

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“Lately, I can't even look at my mother without wanting to stab her repeatedly.”

Angela Chase, Episode 1: "My So-Called Life (Pilot)"