Date of Award
Languages & Literature
“Hey, Jake,” Maria called as she approached the back porch. “You 'sleep?” “Yep,” replied Jake gruffly, as he stroked the fat orange cat that lay curled on his lap. “Mind if I sit?” she asked. “Sit wherever you want; you own the place,” Jake responded flatly. “But I ain’t got another chair.” Maria’s dad owned the house Jake was renting, so he felt obligated to refrain from telling her to leave whenever she showed up, but he didn’t care for her very much. She was actually pretty attractive; they had even dated once in high school. Her hair was dirty blond and unkempt; her skin fair, but her eyes seemed sunk into her head, and her cheekbones protruded sharply from of her face. She had gotten a lot thinner—too thin, Jake thought. She plopped down on the top step at Jake’s feet and leaned her head on his knee. He slouched in his chair, staring at the back of Maria’s head, refusing to begin a conversation with her unless he was forced. The cat began to purr and rub its head on Jake’s leg, but stopped purring and perked its ears in the air at the sound of barking dog. “It’s okay, buddy,” Jake said to the cat, running his hand over its back. “You should go over there and show that mean oT dog who’s boss, huh.” The cat looked up at him as if understanding what Jake had said. “Don’t take this wrong,” Maria said suddenly. “But it makes me sad. You had so much going for you in high school. Popular. Coulda gone to college, and left Rainey. There wasn't anybody that wouldn't have traded places with you. But look at you now.
You’re turnin’ out just like everybody else around here.” Jake furrowed his eyebrows and his face wrinkled. “Everybody’s always barking at me about how great I used to be. And the great things that I could have done. Bark, bark, bark. Just shut up,” Jake said, growing angrier, but keeping a calm voice. The cat jumped off his lap as he stood up and walked over to the side of the deck. Maria got up from off the steps and sat down in his chair, staring straight ahead. “You shouldn’t let one bad thing ruin the rest of your life,” she said.
Roche, Newell, "Burnout and other stories" (2005). Languages and Literature Undergraduate Theses. 33.