Friday Favorite: Short Story

I wrote this in high school, almost fifteen years ago. It’s one of the few short stories I was able to put down on paper. It feels very dark when I read it back now, but I think we all have an angsty dark phase when we’re teenagers. I remember showing it to a teacher at my all girls Catholic high school, and he had some interesting comments when he got to the end. Nowadays, no one would bat an eye.

I present it here, full and without any edits.

Choices

Jonathan sat at the Formica table in his yellow and white kitchen. His mother had designed it, and he hated the decor. That feeling went right along with the others he was having as he sat there, staring at his glass. He took a swig, feeling the alcohol burn his throat. Slamming the glass back down on the table, droplets sprayed his wrist. He was sick of his parents. Sick of life in general. In all his sixteen years, he had never felt so uncared for, so unloved. He had no friends, not even people he could consider acquaintances. He took the knife from one of the drawers–yellow handled, of course–and sat back down at the table, contemplating his bare wrist.

He took another swig of the whiskey. He was slowly but surely getting drunk. He’d never before had alcohol to this excess, and his head felt a little fuzzy. He laid the blade against his skin, ready to draw it across the blue veins and pink arteries, prepared for the blood to spew forth. He hoped that it stained the yellow and white tile of the floor.

Just as he started to wonder what he should have been thinking about as he prepared to die, a voice interrupted his thoughts.

“Took you long enough,” the male voice sneered.

Jonathan was so surprised that the knife fell to the tabletop, only nicking his skin slightly.

“Who the hell are you?” he demanded, more than a little angry. He’d finally been about to accomplish the deed of killing himself, and here was this stranger, in his house, making stupid remarks. Jonathan sprang out of his chair to face the man.

The guy was Jonathan’s height of six feet, and didn’t appear to be much older than Jonathan’s sixteen years. His hair was sleek and black, pulled back into a ponytail. He wore a red turtleneck with black jeans and a black leather jacket. Around his neck hung a wrought iron skull on a thin chain. His eyes were dead black, which surprised Jonathan. He’d never seen someone with eyes that color.

“I can’t really tell you that,” the man said with a trace of ironic apology in his tone. He added a slight shrug.

Jonathan glared at him. “Well, get the hell out of my house.”

The guy grinned. “What apt phrasing.”

Jonathan stepped around his table, heading for the phone. “I’m calling the cops.”

Suddenly the man was in front of him, and Jonathan stopped in surprise. “And then what are you going to do about killing yourself? I came here just for that reason.”

He was confusing Jonathan. His mind was still fuzzy from the alcohol. “What are you talking about? Who are you?”

He grabbed Jonathan’s shoulders. “I’ve come to take you with me, as soon as you finish what you were about to do.”

“Who are you?” demanded Jonathan, twisting free from his grasp.

“I have too many names to list tonight, and I don’t really feel like bothering. So let’s cut to the chase.”

“Well, tell me one name, and then we’ll chase to the cut,” Jonathan slurred.

The man frowned for a moment, then reached around Jonathan to take the glass from the table. He sniffed the contents. “You’re drunk,” he sighed. He addressed the ceiling. “Does this count?”

It was right then, when the guy started speaking to the ceiling, that Jonathan knew he’d had more than he should have drunk. Maybe he was hallucinating.

Another guy appeared in the kitchen, wearing a white tee shirt and light blue jeans. His hair was short and blond. He frowned at the first guy. “You know it doesn’t. The kid is drunk, and he’s not even dead yet. You’re breaking a lot of rules.”

The black haired guy smiled. “Well, that’s what put me into this line of work in the first place. Fuck the rules.”

The blond sighed. “The profanity is rather unnecessary.”

“Screw you, Mikey. You aren’t supposed to be here. He’s mine.”

He crossed his arms across his chest. “Well, actually, that’s why I’m here. We want him upstairs.” He jerked his head towards the ceiling.

“Well, that’s too damn bad.” The black haired guy laid a hand on Jonathan’s shoulder and forced him into a chair. “You want to go with me, don’t ya, kid?”

“I just wanna know who the hell you are,” mumbled Jonathan. “When did my kitchen become such a happenin’ place?”

The dark haired guy was laughing. “No matter how many times I hear that, it always cracks me up. ‘Who the hell am I?’”

The blond sat in the chair next to Jonathan. “My name is Michael, and this is Lucifer.”

Jonathan stared at the two of them. “Lucifer?” He laughed weakly. “Like the devil. Cool.”

“See?” demanded Lucifer. “Everybody likes my name better. Ha. Hurry up, Jon, let’s get going. I’ve got to pick up a chick in L.A. before midnight.”

“So leave him,” said Michael.

“That’s funny,” simpered Lucifer. “Neither of us gets him since he’s drunk.”

Michael leaned over and kissed Jonathan. It was only a slight kiss, but Jonathan smacked him away.

“Get away from me, you fag!” he hollered, an instant before realizing he no longer felt drunk.

“Now that wasn’t fair,” muttered Lucifer. “Now he’s predisposed to like you better.”

“That’s not true,” replied Michael.

Jonathan stared at the two of them again, this time with a clear mind. “So what you’re telling me is that you are the devil, and you are that angel Michael?”

“In the flesh, so to speak,” agreed Lucifer.

“Precisely,” answered Michael.

“And you’re arguing over my soul?” continued Jonathan.

“I like the intelligent ones,” remarked the devil.

“Yes,” replied Michael.

Jonathan looked at him critically. “Well, now, wait a second. The leader of hell came in person, but God sends a little servant? Hmmm.”

“An excellent point,” agreed Lucifer.

Michael scowled. “The leader of hell had just a few–“

Jonathan shook his head, holding up a hand for silence. “I don’t want to hear it. So, basically, when I commit suicide, one of you takes my soul, and that’s the end of it. But right now, I get to choose?”

“Yes,” answered Michael.

Jonathan looked at Lucifer. “You have any music in hell?”

“Well, duh. Of course. Where do you think all those rock and roll legends who commit suicide go? It’s better there. You decide: Kurt Cobain or Zino the harp player.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Heaven has better advantages than guys named Zino. Cold air, for one.”

“Get some AC downstairs, and life—or rather, death—is just fine and dandy. There’s even a pool. Cable tv.”

Jonathan looked at Michael. “Care to counter that?”

Michael sighed. “Consider: it’s hell. Do you really want to walk out your front door into a wall of flame?”

Lucifer shrugged when Jonathan turned to him. “Buy an extinguisher. Discount prices next week at Hellingers.”

Jonathan looked back to Michael.

The angel shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you. He’s giving you slavery, I’m offering redemption.”

Lucifer snorted. “Spending eternity with that harp choir? He’ll want to commit suicide again.”

“A pool?” Jonathan asked Lucifer. “Olympic sized?”

Lucifer nodded.

“We have everything you could ever want,” said Michael.

Lucifer grinned. “We’re getting Nine Inch Nails in a few years.”

Jonathan looked at Michael. “That’s a tough one to beat. And you’ve got that harp thing working against you.”

Michael looked away. “I’m not going to force you into any decision. It’s completely up to you.”

“We have a lot of teen models,” added Lucifer.

Michael said nothing, but he sighed sadly.

Jonathan considered. He glanced at the knife on the table, then back at the two of them. He hadn’t killed himself yet, so there was nothing to worry about. He stood up, yawning. If this was what suicide was going to lead to, forget it.

“Good night, you guys. Turn off the lights when you leave. I’ll see you in about sixty years.” He started for the stairs.

“What?” asked Michael and Lucifer simultaneously.

“Look, you all-knowing spirits, I’m not going to die, so get over it. And, if you want a bit of advice,” he added to Michael, “don’t go kissing any more guys.”

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