Alex’s Challenge

Challenge AcceptedTime to come back to another challenge issued by another reader. The fourth comment on my initial blog post came from Alex, who provided the following prompts…

  • Character Name: Pablo
  • Setting: Law School
  • Object: A candle
  • Emotion: Sad

“Doesn’t it feel like the 19th century?” asked Wash as he brought two more lit candles over to Pablo’s desk.

“How do you figure that?” Pablo said, clearly annoyed with his roommate’s constant interruptions.

“You’re reading by candlelight!”

Pablo looked up from his book and rubbed his eyes. “No. It doesn’t feel like the 19th century. It feels like I’m still in the 21st century and I’m desperately trying to study for an exam on constitutional law in the middle of a very inconvenient blackout while my roommate attempts to sate his boredom due to lack of X-Box and WiFi.”

“Yeah, that about sums it up,” said Wash as he picked up a large textbook from the pile on the edge of the desk. “Torts: Cases and Problems… What’s a tort?”

“A wrongful act or an infringement of a right leading to civil legal liability,” said Pablo as he returned to copying down notes.

“Dude, did you memorize that?”

Pablo sighed. “Yes. I did. Look, I appreciate the extra candles. God knows my eyesight will probably be shot trying to read and write in the dark. But I really need to concentrate on this stuff.”

“You got it, buddy. Say no more,” Wash said as he turned to leave Pablo’s room.

“Thanks,” said Pablo.

He took a deep breath and dove back into his 863 page text on constitutional law. He tried to regain the concentration he had prior to the lights going out. Reading in the dark made that difficult. Intermittent interruptions from a roommate who failed to understand the rigors of law school made it more so.

Pablo ran a hand through his hair and turned the page. He skimmed the first few lines in a paragraph introducing Article IV, Section 2 of the US Constitution. As he read, he realized he had no idea what he had finished reading on the previous page. He was spinning his wheels. Studying in the darkness was getting him nowhere.

He’d been studying nearly non-stop for days. His exam was the next day. Yet he still felt he was not fully prepared. Pablo realized it was just a little depressing.

He wasn’t feeling sad because he was unprepared for his exam. That was frustrating for him, sure. It was thinking about his friend sitting out in the living room binge watching Lost on Netflix while he sat in his room with the door shut. That’s what made him sad. He could take or leave Lost. He just missed hanging out with his friends.

Wash had been able to go out with everyone without considering consequences. Because he had none. He could go out to eat. He could go see a movie. He didn’t have to worry about writing papers or studying for tests or, eventually, passing the bar.

That’s what Pablo missed. He missed having a carefree attitude in his social life. He hadn’t even seen his girlfriend in a week because she understood how crucial it was for him to hit the books. He’d spoken with her and they Facetimed once or twice, but it wasn’t the same as sharing a meal or watching Wheel of Fortune together. He didn’t even like Wheel of Fortune. But Amy did. And he missed her, too.

Pablo slammed his book closed. He stood up and blew out the four candles sitting on his desk. Walking into the living room, he said, “I’m done studying until the lights come back, or until I take the exam, whichever comes first.”

“Yes!” yelled Wash.

“Let’s go loot the hardware store!”

“Okay,” Wash said, grabbing his jacket. “Wait, I’m not the future lawyer, but I have to think that’s some kind of illegal.”

“Yeah, it is,” Pablo said, “but we’ve gotta get out of here and find something to do. Someone must be having a blackout party somewhere.”

With that, the roommates walked out of the apartment and stumbled through the darkened hallway in search of a cure for Pablo’s sadness.

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