Inspiration | Teen Ink


September 11, 2010
By Shana SILVER, Trinity, Florida
Shana SILVER, Trinity, Florida
6 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

“Do or do not; there is no try,” Goosebumps rose up on Laura’s arms as she watched the small, but mighty green monster address Luke Skywalker. If only she could write a winning line like that. If only she could write a dialogue, or a line that would be remembered forever, that people would interpret as their own, using it as a motto for their own lives. But she couldn’t; no matter how much she tried; every time she had written a brilliant conversation, or paragraph, the next afternoon or morning she would look at it, wondering what had gone through her mind at the time, realizing with a pang of disappointment, that it wasn’t as outstanding as she had originally thought.

But, that was her life.

Laura sat, criss-crossed, against the back of the couch, her bulky black laptop resting uncomfortably on her lap, opened on a blank document page, the cursor blinking at her, mocking her. Instead of writing, what she knew she should be doing, Laura was watching an old rerun on Star Wars, basking in the corny dialogue and special effects.

Lying above her, on the soft cloth sofa, was Laura’s dog, Chipmunk, a small beagle mix that she had adopted at the shelter a few years ago, based on her Dad’s suggestion. Chipmunk was fast asleep, his stomach rising up and down as he slept peacefully, occasionally snoring. As much as she loved Chipmunk, and as much as Laura appreciated her Dad’s attempts at making her happy, Chipmunk was sort of a letdown. Laura, when she had originally imagined having a dog, pictured one like Lassie, a best friend, a constant companion that gave her happiness and a feeling of importance. Instead, she got Chipmunk, who mostly slept all day, and who, if she took him for a walk, would nearly tug her arm off at the first sign of a squirrel.

“I better you wouldn’t rescue me from a well, would you, Chipmunk?” Laura gently stroked him, scratching him behind the ears. Chipmunk’s eyes fluttered open, taking in Laura’s hand, and then he was back to sleep. “Lassie,” Laura mocked, in a girly, high-pitched voice, “Did Timmy get stuck in the well?”

Laura turned her attention back to the television, but it was on a commercial, so she decided to get herself a snack, for lack of anything else to do. Deep down inside, Laura felt guilty about her snacking habits, how whenever she was bored she would eat, even if she wasn’t hungry, but she couldn’t help it, and it wasn’t like she was overweight or anything. Actually, it was the opposite; at five foot eight, Laura was one of the tallest girls in her class and also the skinniest. Apparently, her growth rate had made up for all the unhealthy food she consumed.

Walking over to the pantry, she read the note her father had posted on the refrigerator:

Won’t be home for dinner, sorry. There are some leftovers you can heat up in the fridge. See you later, Dad.

No, I love you, nothing of that sort. Laura sighed, knowing she shouldn’t expect that much of her dad, but she still wanted to. She knew he loved her, but sometimes she wished he would show it, and not just in buying her things either, but in real ways.

Curious, Laura opened the refrigerator, and sure enough there were a stack of tuber ware containers, each containing part of her dinner; there was a container of chicken, peas, and mash potatoes, the exact meal they had eaten the night before. Laura just sighed, letting the refrigerator door close itself.

Opening up the pantry door, Laura helped herself to a tube of Pringles, feeling the chips crunch in her mouth but not really tasting them. She grabbed herself a warm Diet Coke, drinking it straight, too lazy to pour it in a glass with some ice.

Hearing the blaring Star Wars theme song, Laura strolled back into the living room, kicking Chipmunk off the couch so she could stretch out, alternating every few seconds between a chip and a gulp of soda, completely forgetting about the blank white screen the awaited her the next time she turned on her laptop, a constant reminder of her lack of productivity.

For the remaining hour of the movie, Laura eyes stayed glued to the screen, taking in what the characters said, but not really hearing, just viewing everything on a superficial level. Sometimes life was just easier that way.

For a good ten minutes, Laura stared, blank faced at the TV not even realizing the movie was over. Looking down, she realized she was covered in crumbs, her soda can was empty, and that she had eaten the entire tube of Pringles. She didn’t even want to think of how many calories that was.

Horrified at herself, Laura jumped up, muttering an apology to Chipmunk as nearly stepped on him.

Laura wiped the crumbs off the couch onto the floor where Chipmunk eagerly scooped them up, like a vacuum. Walking into the kitchen, she deposed of her can into the garbage, thinking for nearly the thousandth time that they should start recycling.

But they wouldn’t, because the next day Laura would forget, and if in the rare case she did remember, and happened to mention it to her dad, he would nod in agreement, commenting how it was a good idea, but he would never do anything. If Laura wanted anything done, she would have to do it herself.

Glancing at the kitchen clock, Laura realized half the day was already gone, and she had nothing to show for herself. Not that she usually did, really, but normally, she would have at least written a page or two.

Their kitchen faced the front of the house, and it had a window that looked out into the street, edged by thin, white lace curtains that her grandmother had made as a house warming present for her mother and father. Even after everything that had happened, they still decorated the window. At least it was nice to know some things didn’t change.

Leaning over the sink, Laura looked out into the street, watching as a young boy skateboarded down the road, dressed in the new fad of skate shoes and ripped blue jeans, his short hair blowing in the wind as he raced on, probably off to meet some of his friends.

Laura couldn’t help but feel jealous, jealous that he had somewhere to be, some friends to meet up with, which was more than she had. In the past few years, Laura had turned to writing as her friend, as her main companion, but she was realizing, as much as she tried to deny it, that she was feeling empty inside, that creating her own characters wasn’t satisfying enough. Because as much as she wanted to, she couldn’t create living, breathing people, and therefore her characters would always be two dimensional, stuck on paper, instead of having substance, of being in the real world.

Laura read books and books and books written by authors, authors who were much better writers than she was, authors that could make their characters seem real, authors that could make you believe that they actually existed in the real world, that they were living breathing human beings just like everyone else.

But Laura wasn’t good enough. She had been writing for years, practically since she could hold a pencil, but she lacked the life experience, the creativity. Laura thought if she could become good enough, like Scott F. Fitzgerald or Jane Austen, she could manifest characters in the place of friends, that she could, in an essence, create her own friends, her own community. Or, at least that was what she wanted, what she hoped was possible.

The boy disappeared from her view, taking her thoughts with him. Laura shook her head, pulling herself from her daydream. Still feeling in her own little world, Laura ran the water, splashing some on her face. It worked, waking her up, returning her mind back to reality.

Bored and unfulfilled, Laura paced around in their small kitchen, strolling up and down, up and down, passing between the refrigerator and their small kitchen table at least ten times, before finally plopping down into a wooden chair, leaning back until she was resting against the wall, her legs dangling in the air. She kicked them back and forth, as if she were on a swing.

Seconds passed into minutes, and minutes turned into an hour. Laura gazed out the window, counting the number of cars and people that passed by. So far, she had thirteen cars, five people.

Their street was moderately busy, and contained a good mixture of kids, adults and senior citizens, enough that it wasn’t dull, but it wasn’t crazy either.

Suddenly an idea popped into Laura’s head, and she was rushing to her computer, rapidly shaking the finger pad, her hands tapping against the side of the computer as she waited for it to boot up.

Once the empty screen appeared once for, Laura began typing, her fingers moving effortlessly over the keys as he dictated the computer her thoughts as she crafted her story, her idea. She knew it was a good one, she knew this was the book she would finally finish, the characters she would create that could equal the ones of Hemingway or Lee. She knew this was the one.

A page or so later, Laura read it over, imagining the plot in her head. First, she would begin with a girl, a girl next door kind of girl, not a snotty kind, and she would live in a fairly nice neighborhood, like the one Laura lived in now, on a street, almost identical to Laura’s. The girl- Claire, as Laura would name her- kept to herself most of the time, and didn’t have many fulfilling relationships. They had just moved into the house, and Claire was a little wary because it was rather old. Claire’s mother died several years ago, and Claire’s father suffered from depression and alcoholism, making it tough to live with him, but Claire stuck it out; she was strong. Claire’s bedroom is in the attic, and the first few nights she is afraid, deciding to sleep downstairs in the living room. Finally, she gets the nerve to enter, and discovers she isn’t alone; a ghost is there. But he isn’t just any ghost; he’s a hot, football playing ghost who was killed in a car crash years ago. He is nice to Claire, and against all odds they fall in love.

Laura stared at the ten pages she had filled, her heart nearly brimming over with happiness. Feeling as if she might jinx it by writing any more, Laura shut her laptop, holding it in her hands as if it were made of gold.

Gently, she set her laptop onto the coffee table, slinging back onto the couch, her mind still buzzing about her new story.

Sunlight poured through Laura’s bedroom, and her eyes blinked open, instantly locking on the alarm clock next to her bedside table. It was seven o’clock and time to get ready for school.

Unlike normal teenagers, or the teenagers she had read about in books, and watched on TV and in movies, Laura was a morning person, a lark. She woke up in the morning fully rested ready to start the day.

Laura took a shower, braided her hair into one long, French braid, the same way she wore it every day, and then walked into the kitchen, still in her robe, grabbing her laptop on her way.

Her dad was already up, mixing himself an egg sandwich. “Good morning,” He said, in a dry voice, like the morning really wasn’t good. He glanced gave Laura a once over, and seeing that she looked okay, that she didn’t need his immediate attention he went back to cooking his eggs.

“Morning Dad,” Laura chimed, opening her laptop. The story she had written last night popped up on the screen. Laura sighed, reading it over. It certainly wasn’t as magical as she had previously thought. Actually, the plot was moving way too fast, and had several holes. For instance, Claire’s reaction when she first saw the ghost; most people would scream and run away, not strike up a conversation with him. The more Laura read through it, the more she realized her idea was stupid. Before she even starting making herself breakfast, she had deleted her story.

“Still doing homework?” Her dad asked, smiling at her, but before Laura could utter a response he was gone, into the living room to watch TV while he ate. He didn’t’ even bother to ask Laura if she wanted a sandwich.

Checking the clock, Laura knew there wasn’t enough time to make herself a hearty breakfast, so she just settled on two Pop Tarts, toasted, of course.

She could hear the news station her dad listened to, along with his groans as he read the daily stock board. Her dad was a business man; he worked for a large real estate company that had recently been taking some cut backs, on pay and workers.

As Laura ate, she slid into a depression, her disappointment in herself, and her father overwhelming her. She had really wanted to finish that story; last night she had thought of it as the most brilliant thing ever. Laura didn’t know why she did that, why she lost motivation so quickly.

After breakfast, Laura washed and dried her plate and silverware, putting them away in their proper places. She returned to her bedroom and got dressed, pulling on a simple green t-shirt and jeans. Laura believed in being practical, at least with her wardrobe.

Laura heard her dad shout a goodbye, and then she watched as his car left the parking lot. He owned a simple black Honda, not too expensive, but not too cheap either. That was the way everything was for Laura; she fell directly in the middle, not standing out on either side of the scale. She didn’t have best grades, but she didn’t have the worst, she wasn’t the prettiest girl in school, but she wasn’t ugly, she wasn’t rich but she wasn’t poor. The only thing she stood out in was her height, and weight, which she was sure other girls would envied her for, but she didn’t want. Laura was satisfied being the middle, flying on the radar, so to speak. She didn’t like standing out; she was perfectly content to drift around school having no one notice her.

At exactly eight o’clock her bus came, pulling up on Laura’s street corner, its red lights flashing, waiting as kids meandered out of their houses, not wanting to go to school.

She said goodbye to Chipmunk then grabbed her backpack and lunch money, locked the front door behind her, and was enveloped into the ground, taking a seat on the front of the bus so she could be the first to get off.

She listened to the other teenager’s conversations, rolling her eyes at some, and taking an interest in others. Laura realized that, like the other she had seen skating down her street, she was jealous of every person on the bus. She wanted to be like them, to be involved in extracurricular activities, to go to parties every weekend and to have a boyfriend. The problem was that Laura didn’t know how to get these things. She didn’t have the confidence to talk to many people, and therefore she had few friends, and she didn’t have the talent to play sports, or join any clubs.

By the time the bus arrived at school Laura was feeling even more down about herself, if that was even possible. Inspiration was hard to come by, and easy to lose.

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