Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Writing Prompt: Change the World

Lissy stepped out onto the deck and closed the sliding door behind her. She rubbed her upper arms with her hands, and let out a breath, watching it float away from her into the frosty evening.
The house had been a nice temperature when they arrived, but had become exponentially warmer with the addition of the body heat of every guest that joined the party. It was now too hot, and even the gusts of freezing wind blowing off Lake Michigan were preferable to sitting in the kitchen and third wheeling it in the conversation that their hostess was having with Elly.
She'd had enough the third time that Elly was asked what her older sister was up to these days, and the door was right there, and there were so many other people in the house, so neither of them noticed when she made her escape.
The sweetness of solitude could not be enjoyed for long, since about two and a half minutes later the door slid open again and she found Jack joining her in the unpleasant wind. “It’s hot in there,” he said, jerking his head toward the kitchen as he closed out the cold.
She nodded in agreement and they stood quietly for a while.
“Are you writing a poem or something?” he suddenly asked. She shot a quizzical look at him, and he explained, “You’re staring like you’ve never seen suburbs before.” After a moment, he added, “didn’t you say you were a poetry major?”
“I was,” she admitted, “but I switched last semester to--”
She was interrupted by a snort from Jack. “The only thing poetry can do, in the end, is make the world more bearable. It’s engineering that gets you to the moon.”
“Aren’t you studying to be a doctor?” she asked, wondering if he’d come outside only to insult her.
He nodded, turning aside to light a cigarette. “It’s good you changed majors.”
“Well, I’m not going to be an engineer,” she said. “So I guess no matter what I do, I won’t be able to change the world, according to you, at least.”
“I never said that,” he said, sounding as though he hadn’t meant any offense. “It was just a quote I heard somewhere. I forget who said it.” He took a drag and blew the smoke away from her.
His gaze seemed to be seeking her forgiveness, but she ignored him. Eventually, she couldn’t stand it anymore. “I can’t believe you smoke,” she said, making a disgusted face. “I thought doctors were supposed to keep people healthy.”
“It doesn’t apply to us,” he replied. “Have you ever heard the phrase, “physician, heal thyself’?”
“You’re full of quotes tonight,” she observed, then added, “I don’t think that’s what it means.”
He shrugged and blew out another long trail of smoke.
“You know what would make the world a better place?” she asked.
He shook his head.
“If you were to quit smoking right now. Forever.”
He glanced sideways at her and smiled. Then she watched as he stepped over to the trash can that was sitting near the stairs and snuffed out the cigarette on the inside of the lid. He closed it, then pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket and handed it to her.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” she asked.
“It’s better if my mom catches you with it instead of me,” he told her, sticking out his tongue. When she tried to push them back at him, he danced away and opened the door, putting one foot inside. “Well, Lucky Lissy,” he told her, “I quit, so congratulations. You just changed the world.”

Writing Prompt #782

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