Writers: What's the worst thing that could have happened to you in high school?


Here’s to a creative writing week. And, on a personal note: Here’s to the Butler Bulldogs. (Maybe if they win the NCAA championship tonight, anyone who still has outstanding journalism degree  loans will be absolved?)

(Image: go.butler.edu)


WRITING PROMPT:
Back to School

Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your
response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your story to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.


In your opinion, it was always the worst thing that could have happened
to you in high school—and it’s happening to you at the high school
reunion right now.

Learn
how to help your writing career survive—and grow—in the
current economy. Break into corporate writing. Discover the art of taxes
for writers. Absorb lessons and insights from an author-turned-agent.
Read Elizabeth Berg’s thoughts on life after Oprah. Click

here to check the March/April 2010 issue of WD out.

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

6 thoughts on “Writers: What's the worst thing that could have happened to you in high school?

  1. K. M. Pitts

    "Who is the Real Alise Ellenburg"

    The worst thing that happened to me in high school was also the worse thing that I did, but to fully tell this story I have to begin at the beginning: where and when I first met Alise Ellenburg.

    I first met Alise in kindergarten, but didn’t give her much thought back then. Not until I got to fifth grade, that is, when she, who was white, and these two black girls thought it would be a good idea to get physical with me in the girls’ bathroom. Physical violence hurts, and it got to the point where I started faking stomach cramps, although some where real, just because I realized I could go home and get the next day off. As a result of my small lie, I got the women talk.

    As for Alise, what I remember of her in kindergarten was that she was skinny, but from fifth on up to high school she had packed on some weight. She was morbidly obese. The only guy I saw her talking to was Brandon Medlin who was an out of closet homosexual even back then. Sometimes I wonder if that is the reason for the harsh words she threw at me in high school and the punches she threw in fifth grade.

    My story ends one morning in high school when I finally got fed up with the insecure overweight women’s harsh words and decked her. At first it felt good but it felt stupid when I realized that I was getting thrown out of high school. Probably because the administration was afraid of a lawsuit. The only thing I miss about that school was my AP English classes. My teacher had a knack for literature, and that I would make an excellent writer someday.

  2. Dorraine

    Great stories, guys.

    Oh, my, Zac, this brought back some memories!

    The Thistle

    Lori Lagrone was a freshman from Detroit Michigan, sprouting up in our town like a thistle among wildflowers. I was the same age, but soft and country, that purple coneflower from Mansfield, Missouri, fresh on the bus with a belly full of mom’s pancakes washed down with cold milk.

    We had assigned seats on the bus and hers was in front of mine. That icy morning in January, I met her for the first time and wished I hadn’t. Her greasy black head turned and she eyed me through wide rimmed glasses.

    “Lori from Detroit. You’re lucky that you’re sitting behind me instead of in front of me.”

    “Oh.” To tell the truth, she looked like she’d been raised on jelly beans, no muscle mass whatsoever. Her voice was a high pitched squeak, which only managed to irate me. Flipping back around in her seat, she threw paper wads at the third grader in front of her, who kept looking like she might pee her pants.

    Initially I felt sorry for Lori and tried to be kind, but after a few weeks of the bullying, I came to believe she was evil. Every day on the bus she tormented the little kids with spit wads, name calling and punching. One morning I’d had it. “Knock it off, you big jerk.” I told her to meet me after school next to our bus.

    “Are you threatening me?” She said, sneering.

    “You got it.” Now my knees were knocking but I covered them with my books so she couldn’t see.

    I really didn’t think she’d show,but there she was after school, waiting with fists clenched. I swallowed hard and walked right up to her. “You leave those kids alone.” The minute I’d said it, I thought of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall and that line, “Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone.” Something about that loosened me up, made the wildflower fearless. She threw a punch at my face, grazing my eye, and I slammed her up against the bus, the kids cheering me on through the open windows. It seemed everyone was there except the bus driver. One punch to the arm and she was reduced to teary-eyed blabbering.

    “I’ll stop, I’ll stop. Ah, ah, don’t hurt me.”
    “What a freakin’ baby. You leave everybody alone and I mean it. I’ll be watching you.”

    Lori rubbed her upper arm, now turning an angry red. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry. God!”

    I hadn’t thought of Lori until a recent high school reunion. I heard the whine first and then spotted the inky black hair. A thistle still.

  3. Martha W

    Wow, Mark. This was fabulous!

    ***************

    Hovering at the edge of the stage, it was my worst nightmare come true. Somehow I managed to avoid any public speaking throughout four years of high school – no matter the sports, the journalism, the after-school clubs… but one freaking hour at the ten-year reunion and here I stood.

    About to make a speech.

    My face alternated between paste white and explosive red, depending on what my blood pressure was doing at the moment. I would have thrown up but for one person. Jack.

    Just before the reunion I had rushed into StarBucks for my daily jolt of caffeine and there he was, waiting in front of me. I recognized him, of course. Who wouldn’t know the all-star quarterback, the class president, the most gorgeous guy in our class?

    He, on the other hand, wouldn’t have a clue that I was the door mouse who used to help him do homework. Or rather, do his homework.

    Jack ordered a double espresso, paid and slid to the side to let me move to the counter. As I ordered, he leaned forward to see into my face. Even knowing him, I leaned away. What the hell was he doing?

    His brows cinched together. "Do I know you?"

    "Probably not." I paid and slid the opposite direction. No sense testing my will power. He was still gorgeous.

    "You look so familiar." He moved around the next person in line to stand next to me. "Are you sure? What’s your name?"

    "Amy." That’s all he was getting.

    He cocked his head. Green eyes glittered in the florescent lighting. "Hhm."
    Our coffees landed on the counter at the same time. He scooped them both up and headed for the creamer isle. What could I do but follow? He had my coffee, after all.

    He kept walking. At the little bar with the cream and sugar, he popped the top from both drinks and fixed them up. He added four creams and three sugars to mine.

    The same way I’ve been taking my coffee since high school.

    "So, I don’t have a date for the reunion," he said. "You?"

    "Um… No."

    "Good. Now you do."

    I stared at him over the counter only averting my gaze to take my coffee. "Okay."

    "I have all your books."

    I felt my eyes grow round and could feel the flush creeping up my neck. "You do?" I hated this part.

    "Uh-huh." He nodded as he sipped his drink. "I talked with your agent too."

    My eyes narrowed. This was not shaping up well. "And?"

    One eyebrow lifted. "She didn’t tell you?"

    "No, but you will."

    "You’re the keynote speaker at our reunion tonight."

    If he hadn’t been there, I surely would have needed a shower before the reunion. As it was, he saved me and my coffee.

    "What-" I cleared my throat. "What do I get out of it?"

    "You get me."

    Staring out at him from the stage, I know. This nightmare is worth it.

  4. Mark James

    When I opened the envelope, confetti spilled into my coffee.

    My mail always came by way of my next-door neighbor. The kid who stuffed our mailboxes couldn’t tell the difference between Stanley Clarke and Emma Stanley. By the time I got the invite to my twenty year high school reunion, I only had one night to think about whether or not I was going.

    I showed up at the Hilton late enough to stand by the door and see who I wanted to avoid the most. An hour into it, everybody was holding a drink, Michael Jackson was singing about a thriller, and she was standing right where I knew she would be. She always got in the North corner if she could. Earth was her element.

    Thirty moons. That’s what she called herself in high school. Nobody ever knew her real name.

    I told myself I wasn’t eighteen anymore, wasn’t a virgin, and there wasn’t any way I was getting on my knees and begging in front of a whole room of people, like I did in high school.

    Then she turned around.

    Her green eyes still sparkled, her dress was still too short, and her long black hair still made me wonder what she’d look like under me, calling out my name.

    I don’t know how long I stood there, but it was long enough for Ace to find me.

    “Stanley,” he said, “you didn’t get old or fat or bald.” He shook his head. “That’s so wrong.”

    Tony ‘Ace’ Hickman had been the class clown all through high school. He was round and balding, but his eyes still looked like you’d hear the best joke ever if you’d just hang around another couple minutes. “You still making them laugh, Ace?”

    “My kids laugh at me every day, but my wife, she only laughs at me in bed. Things got better right?”

    I looked for her in the corner, wondered if she was Mrs. Thirty Moons now. But she was gone. “Yeah,” I said, “used to be, they laughed at you and didn’t get in bed.”

    I spent the next hour with a drink in my hand that I didn’t touch. After a while, with the music, the familiar voices, I felt like I’d spent the last twenty years playing at being a grown up.

    It’s funny how none of us talked about thirty moons. We all acted like there’d never been a witch in our senior class. I looked for her most of the night, but she was nowhere.

    Going on around midnight, I put numbers in my cell phone that I knew I’d never call, and said my goodbyes to people I’d never see again.

    When I got out to my car she was there, sitting on the hood, long legs crossed.

    “I didn’t have the heart to make you beg in there,” she said, “but I promise, if you beg now, I’ll give you the night that’s haunted your dreams for two decades.”

    Her voice was smooth like I remembered, smooth enough to bring any man to his knees for a promise.

  5. K. M. Pitts

    Who is the Real Alise Ellenburg
    by
    K. M. Pitts

    The worst thing that happened to me in high school was also the worse thing that I did, but to fully tell this story I have to begin at the beginning: where and when I first met Alise Ellenburg.
    I first met Alise in kindergarten, but didn’t give her much thought back then. Not until I got to fifth grade, that is, when she, who was white, and these two black girls thought it would be a good idea to get physical with me in the girls’ bathroom. Physical violence hurts, and it got to the point where I started faking stomach cramps, although some where real, just because I realized I could go home and get the next day off. As a result of my small lie, I got the women talk.
    As for Alise, what I remember of her in kindergarten was that she was skinny, but from fifth on up to high school she had packed on some weight. She was morbidly obese. The only guy I saw her talking to was Brandon Medlin who was an out of closet homosexual even back then. Sometimes I wonder if that is the reason for the harsh words she threw at me in high school and the punches she threw in fifth grade.
    My story ends one morning in high school when I finally got fed up with the insecure overweight women’s harsh words and decked her. At first it felt good but it felt stupid when I realized that I was getting thrown out of high school. Probably because the administration was afraid of a lawsuit. The only thing I miss about that school was my AP English classes. My teacher had a knack for literature, and that I would make an excellent writer someday.

COMMENT