Sunday, January 21, 2007


I had an assignment for English class, and as I was writing it, it occurred to me that I was writing non-fiction. Creative nonfiction. Kinda like what I do on this blog. So I might as well share it here.

The assignment was to describe a scene that happened in the last week that involved "characters you can delineate and dialogue you can remember." So I tried to think of a recent scene I remembered the dialogue for (characters aren't an issue, really, my friends have a LOT of character), and all I could come up with that was something I'd share with my teacher was something that happened like, ten minutes before. Basically, me reading my book and randomly talking with my roommate. It kinda works, because you can sort of see the relationship we have.

I was sitting on my bed, reclining really, my legs tucked up under me and my head resting on my right hand. The crumpled mess of white sheets, the neutral, beige blanket, and the wine-red comforter lift my upper body up, making me more comfortable as my left hand holds the book. Somewhere in the pile is a pillow. I should make my bed more often… but it’s so much more comfortable unmade.

I was facing away from the window, the only source of light in this room during the day. The bed runs parallel to the window, with my headboard against the wall; the bedstead is a light-colored finish that completely clashes with the darker windowsill. I’ve always wondered why the windowsill was so much darker than the rest of the wood in the room. There’s a cold chill, not quite a breeze, just cooler air that slips around the poorly insulated windowpane and penetrates the back of me long-sleeved t-shirt that’s almost, but not quite, the exact same color as the comforter. The window view is cut a little less than halfway up by the support beam for my bed frame, since the bed is designed to convert to a bunk and, without the upper bunk to complement it, the slated head and foot boards would pull apart.

My roommate sat at her desk, which is under her lofted bed. The bed and the desk and the end of my bed, which is perpendicular to hers, forms a little corner office for her. I kind of like her office, but she can only do it with the lofted bed and I’m mildly afraid of top bunks. She was facing away from the window, reading something intently. Suddenly she stood up and turned to me. “Do you mind if I turn on the radio?”

It was very quiet in the room; the only noise we could hear was our neighbors playing a violent video game and talking, or sometimes shouting and swearing. Footsteps in the hall, male and female voices communicating just softly enough to be heard but not understood… “Oh yeah,” I shrugged. “Sure.”

She flicked on the Christian-rock radio station. Her music, not really mine. Some song about the glory of God came on and I tuned it out. I was trying to focus on the reading, something about dialogue, and I finally surrendered and skimmed it. I’ll take notes later.

The music on, she took her light blue reading pillow, the sort that supports the back while you sit in bed, and placed it on the new rug I bought over the weekend. The beige and blue carpeting hides the harsh tile that boasts yet another shade of white, though the “off” of it’s description is more due to the oddly colored flecks and the general dirtiness. No amount of Pine-Sol can bring up the grime, and we used a lot of Pine-Sol. The pillow rested against the side of her orderly desk, and faced my much messier desk and chair. She went to push in the chair, then paused. “I’m just going to push this in,” she informed me, then, in a more inquiring tone, “You aren’t going to sit here, are you?”

“No, go ahead.” She pushed it in and went to sit on the floor, book in hand. It’s on food and society, for a class: she was reading interesting tidbits from it to me earlier. She’s a nutrition major, I’m in Biology, but our academic interests are similar. After a pause, it occurred to me to clarify my earlier statement. “I might sit there later, I’m just going to read this first.” I knew I had a paper to complete after I finished the chapter.

“Okay, just tell me when you do,” she replied, implying she’d move. I nodded, though I’d already decided, between the time I spoke and the time that she did, that I’d probably just take my laptop to my bed. She looked quite comfortable where she was, and I kind of like sitting on my bed anyway. I sit at a desk too much already. She paused, then glanced at the book I’m reading. “Is that- like, a novel?” she asks. “No, it’s for my English class,” I replied. Wait. English classes usually involve reading novels. Luckily she picked up my intent. “It’s like a book on-”

“Yeah, on writing and stuff,” I replied simply. She nodded and went back to her own work, and I return to reading. We often study at about the same time, or she studies, and I, being the less studious roommate (not to mention the one who actually has a computer to distract her), play computer games or write blog entries. But we’ve often spent hours like this, in simple silence, broken by the occasional movement or five-line conversation. Or the sound of gunfire from next door…

Any opinions?

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