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Life Is Chill

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Jeremy felt the slick, ice cold mud pressing against his cheek first. Feeling flooded back through his body, and he was hit in the gut with a deep chill running through his bones. Jeremy sat up quickly, the splattering of the rain on his soaked clothes already making his teeth chatter.

 

Shit. My cardigan is definitely ruined. Jeremy stumbled to his feet before he realized he had more to worry about than mud stains. A wind whipped through his soaked hair, causing Jeremy to shiver from the spikes of chilly air. He couldn’t see what was the cause of the disturbingly powerful weather. Jeremy struggled to his feet, his breathing starting to pick up.

 

How did I get here? What the hell is happening? Jeremy looked around frantically for any sign of human life. Anyone that would have dragged him here. The only living things in view were the trees waving in the wind. Jeremy felt his breathing pick up as the fact that he was stuck in a storm in a unfamiliar place started to catch up to him. Jeremy saw a bright beam of light sweep over the sky, raindrops catching the light.

 

Wait… There’s a lighthouse! I could be safe if I make it up there… Jeremy started to push through the wind, which was tugging and whipping his clothes against his frozen skin. He followed the dirt path up, squinting through the rain. Jeremy kept his eyes on the ground, only slipping once. He reached the top of the hill, the wind worse than ever. He only allowed himself to look up once he reached a bench, clutching the back of it with numb fingers.

 

“Holy shit …” Jeremy gaped, his grip going slack. The lighthouse had an amazing view of the ocean, as well as the violent typhoon headed towards the town nestled in the bay. It was the largest storm he’d ever seen. It could take out the whole town. Jeremy’s gaze was caught by a boat that was coming a little too close…

 

The boat slammed into the lighthouse. Jeremy froze as he started to panic, the lighthouse crumbling with the blunt force of the boat. It slid down dangerously, toppling towards him.

 

No!”

 

Jeremy woke up with a start, jerking up in his seat as his heart hammered against his chest. No one noticed, of course. He was Jeremy Caulfield after all, the loser of the year. His breathing leveled out slowly, letting himself relax as his surroundings came back to him.

 

Okay… I’m in class… In the real world. Everything is chill. Jeremy bounced his foot, soaking in his surroundings. The teacher, Mr. Jefferson, droned on and on about something photography. On any other day, Jeremy might have found it interesting. He watched as Rich threw a paper ball at Jenna, snickering. Jenna sighed and glanced at the paper ball mournfully, but she didn’t pick it up. Jeremy frowned a little. He felt bad for Jenna; she had always been nice to him. Even when she was cool. Jeremy’s thoughts drifted back to his ‘dream’.

 

I don’t think I fell asleep… And that sure didn’t feel like a dream. Jeremy frowned. Weird. His thoughts were interrupted by Chloe’s phone going off, causing him to jump. Jeremy sighed, annoyed with himself. Stop. You can calm down now, there’s no fucking storm.

 

Jeremy looked down at his photo for the Everyday Heroes contest. He was standing in front of a collage of his favorite photos he’s taken over the years. I feel so egotistical putting myself in that photo. I’m not really a hero, per say… Jeremy balled his hands into fists. Maybe I should take a picture if I’m so stressed. He picked up his camera, facing it towards himself. One picture can’t hurt, right? He pressed the button before he could second guess himself. Jeremy felt his shoulders relax, distracted by the Polaroid producing the photo and watching it fall onto his lap.

 

“Shh, I just believe Jeremy has taken what you kid call a ’selfie’ .” Mr. Jefferson directed everyone’s attention to Jeremy, causing his face to heat up. “A dumb word for a wonderful photographic tradition.” He continued, pacing the room. Jeremy was definitely paying attention now, cringing in his seat.

 

“Now, Jeremy, since you have captured all of our attention and clearly want to join in on the conversation, can you please tell us the name of the process that gave birth to the first self-portraits?” Mr. Jefferson looked at Jeremy expectantly, causing him to choke up. Jeremy averted his gaze, fiddling with his photo.

 

“ I-I did know!” To Jeremy’s horror, he stammered and went quiet. Jefferson leveled him a look of disapproval.



I don't think my face could get any hotter.

 

“But I k-kinda forgot…” Jeremy finished, Chloe giggling with Rich, who was holding back snickers. Jeremy sunk lower into his seat.

 

Maybe I can just crawl under the table.

 

Mr. Jefferson sighed, disappointed. It made Jeremy’s gut clench in shame.
“You either know this,” Jefferson hit the table to accentuate his point, causing some students to wake up from their stupor. “Or not, Jeremy. Is there anybody here who knows their stuff?” He said, exasperated. A few kids coughed awkwardly. Chloe raised her hand, not giving Jeremy any notice as he tried to will himself to disappear.



“Louis Daguerre was a French painter who created ‘daguerreotypes’, a process that gave portraits a sharp reflective style, like a mirror.” Chloe smiled triumphantly. Jeremy could feel Chloe’s piercing gaze on him, waiting for the moment to make a snide remark about him. He felt his burning cheeks with the back of his hand, trying to cool them off.

 

Shit. I wasn’t planning on crying today.


“Very good, Chloe!” Jefferson’s approving look stung more than anything that Chloe could say. Jeremy sighed and wiped his eyes to dry them. As soon as class gets out, I’m going to the bathroom.



“The Daguerreian Process brought out fine detail in people's faces…” Jeremy’s mind started to drift, his surroundings starting to fall out of focus when the bell rang.



“And everyone, don't forget the deadline to submit a photo in the ‘Everyday Heroes’ contest.” Students started to get up from their seats, packing their bags. The ambient noise from outside of the classroom grew louder. Jefferson had to raise his voice to be heard. “I'll fly out with the winner to San Francisco where you'll be feted by the art world. It's great exposure and it can kickstart a career in photography. So Stella and Alyssa, get it together. Brooke, don't hide, I'm still waiting for your entry too.” Jeremy started to hastily stuff his things into his messenger bag, pretending to ignore Mr. Jefferson.


Please don’t mention me, please don’t mention m-

“And, yes , Jeremy, I see you pretending not to see me.” Jeremy sighed and put his camera into his bag, standing up. Rich stood up as well, shoving Jeremy a little.

 


“Nice purse, hipster.” Jeremy’s face burned as Brooke and Chloe laughed behind their hands. Jeremy sighed, watching as Chloe walked up to Mr. Jefferson.



Chloe really doesn't waste a second kissing ass… Jeremy’s thoughts even seemed bitter to himself. He looked over at Jenna, rounding the table. She looks so sad and lonely. Poor Jenna. Jeremy walked up to her, trying not to trip over his own feet.



“Hey, Jenna.” Jeremy offered up a small, awkward smile. Jenna looked up, surprised. She returned the smile.



“Oh, hi Jeremy.” Jenna’s voice was scratchy. Is she sick? Jeremy fidgeted with his sleeve. He was worried about Jenna, even if he didn’t vocalize it.

 


“I hope I didn't embarrass you with my lame answer.” Jeremy laughed awkwardly, looking at the ground. God, I hate my laugh.



“It sucks to be dragged into the spotlight.” Jenna’s smile was sympathetic.

 

“Unless you're Chloe.” Jeremy scoffed, causing Jenna to laugh weakly.



“She's got nothing on you, Jeremy.” Jenna sounded so earnest. Jeremy really appreciated the compliment, Jenna and Chloe were once friends after all.



“Well, I should get going. Maybe I can slip away from Jefferson before he notices.” Jeremy looked over at Chloe and Mr. Jefferson. They still seemed to be talking.



“Talk to you later.” Jenna smiled as she looked back down at the desk. Jeremy waved, his gaze falling on the paper ball. He frowned a little and made sure Jenna wasn’t looking as he picked it up.



Dear Jenna,

We love your porn video

XOXO - Blackwell Academy.

 

Jeremy shuddered as he read the note. He crumpled it up and shoved it into his pocket. God, this is horrible, I wish I hadn’t read this. It makes me wanna puke. He sighed and shook it off as he started towards the door when some etchings in a desk caught his eye.



‘Jake Amber 4 ever’… Huh. Might make a good shot. Jeremy took his camera out and snapped a quick photo, putting both of them back into his bag. Jeremy crept towards the door, hoping not to get caught by Jefferson.



“Excuse me for a moment, Miss Chase.” Jeremy could feel it coming. Mr. Jefferson had spotted him. “Mr. Caulfeild, come over here for a second.” Jeremy cringed, walking dejectedly over to Mr. Jefferson’s desk. Chloe sighed and stepped back. Even the mythic bitch of Arcadia Bay couldn’t object to a teacher.



“Don’t even think about leaving until we talk about your contest entry.” Mr. Jefferson crossed his arms and Jeremy’s throat went dry.



“I-I didn't have any time... Way too much homework..?” Jeremy tried, smiling nervously.



“Jeremy…” Mr. Jefferson sighed. “You're a better photographer than a liar... Now I know it's a drag to hear some old dude lecture you...but life won't wait for you to play catch-up. You're young, the world is yours, blah, blah, blah, right?” Jefferson put his hands on Jeremy’s shoulders, looking him in the eye. Jeremy froze up. “But you do have a gift, you have the fever to take images, to frame the world only the way you envision it. Now, all you need is the courage to share your gift with others. That's what separates the artist from the amateur. You could be popular , a star even, Jeremy. You just have to reach out.” Mr. Jefferson stepped back. Jeremy nodded, looking at the ground. Chloe grabbed Jefferson’s attention again, leaving Jeremy free to go.

 


Jeremy left the classroom, taking deep breaths.  Welcome to the real world… The idle chatter of the hallway filled his ears. It almost seemed like too much right now.



I need a serious timeout in the bathroom. Splash water on my face and make sure I don't look like a total loser. Jeremy leaned against the wall, fumbling with his earbuds as he took them out and slipped them into his ears. He sighed, letting the song push his worries away as he gathered himself together and headed to the bathroom.