Monday, June 27, 2005
I wrote this short story in high school, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I updated it in college for a creative writing assignment. Now I'm updating it once again for my blog. It's a flawed piece, but it is what it is.

The Collection

I was thirteen and my world was a confusing mesh of childish whims and adult desires, as if some demon had possessed my body with an array of skin problems and mood swings. I could have easily dealt with the physical changes, but the feelings were the sort I hadn't experienced before and didn't know how to confront.

Into this swirl of pubescent angst entered Amy, a person whose beauty and quiet confidence made my awkwardness seem a sick joke played on me by a cruel or at least arbitrary God. She was pretty, but so much more than that. She rose above the peroxided masses with her quick wit and infectious charm. She also had the largest record collection in the free world.

The first time I saw the collection I was speechless. The albums, CD's still years away, sat in cardboard boxes stacked from floor to ceiling, taking up almost all of Amy's bedroom. She started sleeping in the family room when getting to her bed proved too difficult.

For all of the records she owned, Amy never listened to a lot of music. The collection was actually started by her late sister Jennifer before Amy was even born. Jennifer was twenty when she died of leukemia; Amy made it her life's mission to ensure the collection would live forever. She spent most of her babysitting money on albums she would never hear, all in an effort to keep her sister alive.

Amy used to tell me of Jennifer's love of music. When she was very sick Jennifer would listen to a few songs and just for a few minutes forget about the pain. Music was her very soul. Whenever I looked through those records it was like being able to visit the afterlife and walk through eternity with the blessed dead. I never got a chance to know Jennifer but every time I walked out of that room I missed her.

That's what makes what I did so unbelievable to me now. As the weeks went by I grew closer to Amy and the novelty of the collection began to wear off. All Amy ever did was go to school and come straight home to sort through records. I loved Amy. It was a thirteen-year-old's love but it felt so real to me then. I longed to spend time with her and discover other aspects of her personality besides "keeper of the collection." Just once I wanted her to pay that much attention to me.

I soon began to channel all of my impulsive hatred to Jennifer's albums. I blamed them for all of my problems, all of my character flaws, every shortcoming I had up to that point. That's why my idea seemed so reasonable at the time. I was only thirteen and my life was sinking into the thickness of an obsessive musical inheritance. Jennifer's memories were more powerful than my actual being, so her memories had to go.

At first I thought of destroying the albums, but that would have been like damning Jennifer forever. I couldn't end it so violently. Instead I bided my time until summer. I would steal the collection while Amy and her parents were on vacation, storing it in an empty room in our basement. I wouldn't murder Jennifer's soul but I was quite willing to kidnap it.

I took advantage of the family's trust by using the key they left so I could feed the dog and water the plants. I'd wait until the middle of the night, climb out my bedroom window, and effortlessly enter their house.

Stealing the collection was the slowest process of my life. I'd take just a few crates at a time and wheel them down the street in a rusty old wagon I'd played with as a child. It took three nights of hauling but I finally did it. I even broke a window in Amy's bedroom so she'd think it was breaking and entering. All of Jennifer's records were in my basement and I had delivered Amy from the spirit world.

On the day Amy was to come back from vacation I waited for her to call and tell me the collection was gone. I imagined quietly consoling her for a few days before engaging in normal teenage activities. Her transformation from eternal keeper to ordinary girl would at last be complete.

The phone rang at exactly 5:17pm. I picked up the receiver expecting to be delighted by Amy's anguish. But it wasn't Amy - it was her dad. In a shaky and barely audible voice he explained how Amy had become ill during the vacation. She grew weak and the doctors didn't know what was causing this mysterious sickness. After three days of agonizing pain and unfathomable suffering, Amy died.

I just stood there staring at nothing and moving my mouth with making a sound. I could feel my blood leave my body all at once as the phone receiver bounced off our hardwood floor.

I'm an adult now. It's been so long since I killed my girlfriend I can barely remember her voice. My parents are moving out of my childhood home and I have to do something with the collection. In the immediate years after Amy's death I kept the records so I could feel her presence, just as I had felt Jennifer's spirit before. But I never did. The collection was Jennifer, not Amy. God knows I tried to feel it. Late at night, sometimes even after I had moved out, I would go to my parent's basement and sit at the door to that room and pray I would sense Amy, but I only envisioned Jennifer. Each and every time.

To really sense Amy I had to go to the corner of our garage and find the old wagon placed against the back wall. I'd cower in the far corner and remember how I pulled that wagon up and down the street, each creaking turn of its rusty wheels bringing Amy closer to the end.


Blogger katarina said...

I'm speachless.

Blogger Cincysundevil said...

Great writing! Good stuff ... very dark but very real.

Blogger MoDigli said...

I really liked that! You should be sure to put some kind of copyright tag on that or something. I've seen "creative commons" copyright logos on some blogs, I wonder if that's what you would need?

That was really a good story!

Blogger Crystal said...

I agree. Really, really good. I'm sure that's all you were waiting for, my approval. Now your life is complete.

Blogger n.v. said...

Wikked story, Todderick. Got any more?

Blogger yournamehere said...

Thanks for the encouragement, folks.

Crystal, my life won't be complete until your image appears before me in my breakfast cereal.

Dena, I have some other things I might update. Nothing quite as depressing as this.

Anonymous Kath said...

Damn. You're gifted. For serious sure.

Blogger Brookelina said...

Amazing. Really amazing.

Blogger Steve Caratzas said...

This would definitely work as a Twilight Zone episode. Quite chilling.

Blogger Evil Petting Zoo said...

Very cool. How much truth is there to this?

Blogger MsAPhillips said...

If someone told me that this was the adolescent pivot-point event that made Stephen King Stephen King, I would believe it.

Plus, it's one of those rare stories that I would want to re-tell, like a campfire story ("and on the car door handle, they found... a hook!").

Blogger Ruben said...

Good! Intense, but good.

Blogger Rob Danger said...

That was way cool!
I totally didn't see that coming!

Blogger Heather said...

Totally wicked awesome story YNH. I was visiting from Andi's blog when you just blew me away. I've read your blog before and thought you sounded like a writer, now I know it for sure! Really great writing!

Blogger Kristina said...

Wow, that was an awesome story. Dark writing; much like the Virgin Suicides.

This may inspire me to bring out some of my high school writings. Nothing as good as this....

Blogger Jorge said...

Nicely done.

Blogger sb said...

Good stuff.

Blogger Spinning Girl said...


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