Three Line Third Wheel Stories
His voice is all I can hear,
And she calls him “dear.”
Can I please just disappear?
—Marisa DelFarno ’18
Walking out of my dorm, my two friends see me and invite me to come to the dining hall.
I find their booth, and they are both sitting on the same side, already done eating.
I sit down and eat in silence, as they feast on each other with their eyes.
—Connor Zimmerman ’20
I love my two best friends, we do almost everything together.
We three drink, sleep, eat, play, and laugh all day,
Sometimes they make it weird and kiss and hold hands, but I don’t mind.
—Jay Willett ’20
It was kind of like the third person on the sidewalk
Because I hear one of them whisper, “how do we get rid of her?”
—Sam Pellman ’20
by Jay Willett ’20
The crimson tablecloth sprang up with the cold fall breeze,
My great uncle had opened the window for a smoke,
But the wind rejected it, spiraling it in our full faces.
We were all there, hadn’t happened for a while.
We all lived across the country, some in others.
But this holiday was different,
My heart hung on the edge of my seat,
We weren’t brought together by celebration
Or new life
It took time, nostalgia, and misfortune.
We laughed, at each other, with each other,
Smiling because the wind outside was finally outside for a moment.
When the meal was finished, the kids cheered on for dessert,
While the men hollered for more beer,
The women grinned and sipped more of their wine,
And I sat still waiting for auntie to bring back the most delicious apple pie
I was lucky that I got to live near her all these years,
She lived close, unlike the rest.
Her apple pie would be the star of dinner
Its slices would glisten like wet autumn leaves outside
She smiled as she placed the platter
I took my eyes off the dessert for a second,
Her eyes were locked on the wind outside and sighed,
“A shame we can’t do this again next year.”
by Jay Willett ’20
Whether it’s exercise or stress, the sweat is the same,
Slow, hot, sometimes worth it, sometimes not.
She made me feel like I sprinted 200 laps,
She watched me run and run, as fast as I could,
Until the breath I was breathing wasn’t my own.
Still I gasped for air.
The goal still tens of laps away,
Already ran far from where I began.
Willingly, passionately, adamantly,
During breaks the laps increased.
She wasn’t cheering me on at the finish line anymore.
My back twanged, my ears burned, my heart sunk deep,
To watch her’s float to the shallows.
I feel the same sweat trickle down my throbbing legs.
She was cheering again, too far away to see for who.
Warm wind from the south.
I look back.
The track seemed unfamiliar, but nostalgic.
She can wait at the finish line all she wants.
I turned, and took the first step back.
A Friartown Christmas Story
by Jay Willett ’20
You don’t have to attend Providence College to know the spirit and energy that comes with every winter season. Frigid winds tear apart my lips, and make me cough and sputter on my own breath. No matter how much thick clothing I have my mom send me in the mail, I always end up shaking in the cold. That changes when I stroll between the dorms, as Christmas carols and pop songs echo across Aquinas Lawn. The freezing winds still have me, but I only feel warmth as I sing along to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and a tingling wave of goosebumps and excitement runs up my limbs.
Then I hear some kids in McDermott playing Cardi B and I laugh because they clearly didn’t get the memo. Banners and tinsel line the windows, and people decorate for the holidays like it’s their job. At this point on my trip to Slavin I’m goofily skipping to the jingle of “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
Then I recall last year’s holiday concert when Mariah Carey had that awful performance due to technical difficulties and her inflated ego, so I stuff my hands in my pockets out of embarrassment and memorial. The wind slows for a brief moment and I look up to see the massive metal structure in front of me, glowing a dull green.
I shift my gaze to the corner of the Slavin Lawn to see the dimly lit Christmas tree in the distance. Small as it is, I always stop and take a quick moment to be reminded of home and smile at the thought of how close I am to being with my family again.
But seriously though, I think, why isn’t the tree bigger? Or located at the center of the lawn? Questions for another day I decide, as I struggle to open the heavy Slavin doors. Inside I take a moment to hope and pray that the Dunkin’ line isn’t as bad as it was yesterday. Campus record was next to Santander, and it was pretty close.
Much to my dismay, the line ends at the bookstore, and I silently cry to myself as I slump to the back of the line. I don’t know what comes over me, but I cut the line unintentionally, as I look to see that the line had exceeded past the Friars Club office. Oh no, I think to myself, my hands pressed against my cheeks like in Home Alone.
“Oh yes,” someone says behind me.
I jump and turn around to see an old man with a broomstick in his hand. At first, I think for sure he’s going to murder me, but considering the two essays and one project I have due the next day, I decide it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have happen.
“Can I help you?” I ask the man.
“You must learn of your actions Jay, and realize the true spirit of PC Christmas!” The fact that he knows my name could only mean one thing.
“I knew it! Santa is real!” I immediately take my phone out to take a selfie with him like everyone did with Phill Lewis from Suite Life when he was on campus not long ago.
“No! I’m not Santa! I’m the janitor, but you cut the line so now I have to show you your Christmas past to make you feel bad and stuff!” He chants with his hands waving in the air.
“Or I could just get to the end of line?” I ask with a shrug.
“Oh, yeah, I guess you could do that,” he pouts with a sigh like we had just skipped a whole plotline. Suddenly the man is enveloped in a blinding light and disappears faster than my Friar Bucks.
“Wow!” I stammer, my eyes gleaming with Christmas joy.
“Hey, what do you want, I don’t have all day,” Kevin calls from behind the Dunkin’ counter. I look around me to see that the line has completely vanished, my one and only Christmas wish made true.
“I’ll have a medium caramel swirl iced regular please,” I wink and toss him a grin. He makes a disgusted face and slowly types in my order. Truly it is a Christmas miracle.
Maybe Next Time
by Jay Willett ’20
“Damian! They’re here! Damian!” Alyssa screamed over the bank’s sirens. I tossed aside the weeping attendant and ran for the glass door. Blue and red lights flashed across the Roman marble, blinding me as I peered from behind a column. The ride we had left on the curb was missing and was replaced by blaring police.
“Where the bloody hell is Jacob?!” I hollered at Alyssa, as she shuffled the remaining pounds into the duffle bag.
“Gone! The bastard got up and left us!” her voice cracked. Alyssa tossed me the bag and I reloaded my pump-action shotgun. The first shots were just warnings, nobody was supposed to get hurt, but these next shots I knew would count. Alyssa took cover beside me, gripping the .44 magnum that she had stolen from her father.
“We’re actually going to do this, huh?” she smiled through her panicked tears. I smiled back, having one hand on the gun and the other in her warm hand. We were just two kids running from the past, our parents, and relentless society—the whole bloody lot. As cliché as it was, we felt pride in being the British Bonnie and Clyde.
“Come out now kids, let’s talk about this, huh? Damian? Alyssa?” the megaphone roared over the alarm. I didn’t want to look back out around, all I wanted was to spend the rest of my petty life crouched and looking into her blue-eyed gaze. Oh God, how I wished time would just take a break and let us freeze for a while longer. Alyssa’s tears hit the floor, and against my own will, my body positioned and fired the gun to shatter the glass. I scowled and felt my life’s frustration release along with the trigger.
Troopers yelled, the first bullet tore open my shoulder, the second pierced my abdomen. I reeled backwards, laying upwards as Alyssa’s sobs grew louder than the troopers’ footsteps outside. I smiled when she brought her face close to me, I wiped away her tears and parted her long hair around her ear.
“Look at us,” I chuckled, our hands still together. She smiled through the tears and held my hand up against her cheek.
“Do you think we would have ever made it?” she asked.
The marching footsteps grew louder.
“Maybe some other time, Lyssa.”
The sirens tuckered out, the silence of the hall left only her soft breath and the marching soldiers audible. God, I loved her so much. She leaned down and kissed my bloody lips. That was the worst kiss we had ever shared, but it was the best all the same. They probably saw Alyssa’s pistol, because the guns rang through the silence and entered our hearts.
Yeah, I thought for the last time, maybe next time, love.
Run, hurry, faster! No, don’t look back, stop it! I fling my body around the corner into the darkness, my dripping hand sliding along the old marble wall. Down the stairs I glide, holding the wall to feel where I am. I reach the ground and a sudden tranquility streams through me. It’s over, done. I don’t have to think about it anymore. He’s not chasing me this time. I feel along the wall for the light switch, and as the light flickers to a steady brightness, I see flashes of my burgundy hands, still sodden with the warm liquid. He’s not even real, I tell myself. He’s nothing but fabricated by your mind! It’s not a crime when you’re not causing any harm to the living. But no! I can hear them coming. I run to my room, in the corner of this otherwise obsolete basement, and collapse into my bed to ease my accumulating terror. I close my eyes, waiting for the cloudy chimera of sleep to drag me to the shake that will awaken me on the other side. This time, however, I close my eyes to see nothing but a door that is locked and bolted.
—Erin Lucey ’20
I was never scared of ghosts. Ever since I was just a kid, I had seen them watching peacefully on the walls or in the shadows. My mom would always praise me as some psychic, but all I could really do was watch them and sometimes read the words off their wispy mouths.
Horror movies always make ghosts look like demonic figures that want to possess and kill people, but that is not the case. Ghosts recognize that they had their time, and watch everyone they love have theirs. That is, until last night, where I met the soul that would murder anyone it could out of pure, unfiltered rage.
As the sun set and the shadows began to stretch across my old house, the spirits awakened and wished goodnights. They were all friendly to me, as one waved to me from afar. Suddenly, an unfamiliar mist wrapped itself around the hall, and the ghost beside me dropped. As I strained to see through the dark, the ghost’s connotation morphed to fear.
“Run,” the ghost mouthed as the mist entangled him. I fell backwards, trying to breathe, but realized that the mist had already grasped me too. I laid there writhing, suffocating—I could feel the vapor filling my lungs. The misty figure lowered its sullen face, revealing its wrath through its empty eyes and crooked laugh. My body went into spasms, my brain went into shock, and the world spun violently around me. It wanted me to have a slow death, I’m sure, but the neighboring ghosts wrapped their shadows around the mist. It screamed, threw a loud squealing tantrum, as I rolled and wheezed on the floor. As I was beginning to lose
consciousness, I watched the sickly hand reach for my face as he plunged into the floor with the others.
The paramedics came, and as they loaded my still body into the back of the ambulance, I heard them talk about a possible heart attack. I chuckled with what little breath I had left. Though I had never felt fear in the face of the undead, I felt nothing but it now, as my vision blurred silently into one cloud of vapor.
—Jay Willett ’20
Dreaming Versus Reality
“Who goes there? What do you want?” Nobody responds, but the piano keeps playing the same old tune. I can recognize it from anywhere. It is the song that my aunt played at my husband’s funeral. I decide not to wrack my brain thinking too much about the sole piano that continues to play. I ignore the melody and make my way up to my bed.
“Who goes there? What do you want?” I look around aimlessly. Nobody is there; I am extremely confused. I do not respond, and this makes the wandering voice angry. The invisible essence grabs my neck and holds me against the wall, as I’m being nailed to the cross. The voice then tells me, “We will be together forever.”
“Who are you?” I ask the voice, which snickers hysterically.
“Your husband is my love now in the Kingdom of Heaven. Stop wishing for him to come back. He never will for he is mine and for the rest of your existence, I will bless you with my presence.”
“Excuse me?” I ask the invisible spirit.
The spirit laughs uncontrollably and tells me that she will be back tomorrow.
Just then I open my eyes and look to my right. There my husband lays and the ghost of Halloween’s Past is nowhere to be seen. The next night I go to sleep and we encounter one another again. She apologizes for her crude introduction to me the previous night. Our conversation seems too realistic not to be true. I begin to wonder what the difference between dreaming and reality is.
“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
“I just found my husband lying lifeless on the ground.” I check for a pulse and there is none. “Come as fast as you possibly can.” As the tears fall from my eyes, the piano begins playing the harmonious melody and the spirit tells me that I have killed an innocent man through my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. The voice laughs relentlessly as the paramedics carry my husband’s limp body out into the ambulance on the stretcher.
I continue to weep, and she continues to laugh. She comes back for many days, never failing to remind me that she is my husband’s new lover.
Maybe there is no true difference between dreaming and reality.
—Kiley McMahon ’20
The black, velvety water pillows the boat. My only company are a pair of oars and the lonesome sea. Nightfall flushes the sky into a moonless abyss, and the dim stars rupture through the clouds. Fog has invaded and heavily dusts the sea’s surface. My flame-lit lantern, my only source of light, fails to shine through the fog. The wind begins to snarl in my ear, the only sound besides my boat slowly wobbling in the otherwise stagnant water. The coldness of the wind reduces me to shivers and goosebumps. I am left guideless. There are no patches of land in the horizon. Just endless, open water. I have a strange hunch that I’ve been rowing in circles. Suddenly, a headache clouds my mind. I place both palms onto my temples. The vessels in my brain feel like they are going to erupt. What’s going on? Where am I? Why am I here? These are questions that rattle my mind. Overwhelmed, I turn my head to the side of my shoulder and gaze down below the murky fog. I illuminate the water with my lantern and look at my reflection. I see a face; a face that isn’t my own.
—Marisa DelFarno ’18
by Jay Willett ’20
One of the first places they showed me when I stepped onto campus was a pond tucked between the back alleys, like a young elementary student who misbehaved and was receiving punishment. Perhaps it didn’t deserve such punishment, being hidden away from all enjoyment and all life. I’ve only seen it once, and during that time, I believed that all things good in life would start from this point onward. Despite it having so little life left, it thrived alone in its mossy hole. The pointed stones that encased it acted as its tomb, a monument to a life through the generations.
I often wonder if a man my age pondered the same 100 years ago. It doesn’t beg for attention, in fact, it acts in utter painful modesty. The frogs that leech off its habitat croak to signify that the pond has died, a cannon to a fallen soldier on the brink of war and destruction. We lost it in time, the stench of alcohol overbearing, conquering, and disrespecting the life that once occupied, the vitality of those mossy banks and its inhabitants. It lays there dead, among the rubbish, among the deceased fish, a reminder of everything that is lost and never to be found.
Perhaps I’ll go there again and consider the possibilities of how and when it might have perished. When did people forget and rip out its soul? That soul, ripped though it may be, still lingers, much like the aroma of intoxication. Still it grips at the edge of the cliff, holding on for no apparent reason.
Even if it does manage to bring itself back up to safety, nothing awaits it except for the frigid stares. People who act warm and comforting, their actions go against their words, their ice pierces and rips the warm blanket that covers them. Even if the water was purified, and revived, the result would be the same.
Even if the world gave it one more chance, it would die as soon as the final bits of fabric freeze over. People would often assume that it died because of its own toxicity, but in the end, the water was poisoned and forgotten by its own creators. People often believe that the pond was the filthiest and most unclean thing on campus, but judging by every right and characteristic, it is by far the purest.
On the cliff, it doesn’t pull back up, instead it loiters there, waiting to die in the hands of the toxic. Rich poison seeps into its veins, turning its blood a venomous green. There it lies on its deathbed, in an eternal slumber, waiting for the day when one of the toxic decides to resurrect it. But it should know that that day will surely never come.
Towers are built and destroyed around the pond on the same day; it is an anchor to the origins of campus. Water spirals down, standing the test of time, but for what? Only to be mocked, to be forgotten, to be murdered by its creators. Isolated, the waterfall weeps its tears over and over again, crying for its deceased counterpart. Polluted, the pond seeps its muck time and time again, hoping for the impossible day that it’s revived.
I’m not writing this in hopes of reviving it either; instead, I would rather that its creators remember and pay respects to what it once was. So, I sit there, not exactly praying, but not in idleness, watching and listening to that dead water flow, acting like it’s still alive.
I knelt on the cobblestone, and peered over into its lonely dark abyss. Everything about the pond was innocent, everything from its birth to its demise. I lift my head and hover over the murky water, watching my eyes blink back at me in the reflection. I smile faintly, the pond had a point. Maybe we have a lot more in common than I’d like to admit. The waterfall is not alone in its cries anymore.
by Jay Willett, ’20
A sunset in a picture doesn’t capture its beauty.
The golden rim, rust-painted wood,
Sleeping alone, cold nights,
What will last longer?
Looked upon as pretty, nobody truly means that.
If it were beautiful, it would be out to see,
Instead it’s put away and marked.
When it arrives only wood shows,
Not that it matters.
It’s part of the art gallery;
A collection of sculptures, fragments of memory.
The child sees these engraved, beautifully designed rocks.
Not as beautiful as what was beneath,
Lined up neatly, she giggles and tugs her mother’s hand.
But they don’t move
None of them do
None of them will.
Perhaps it’s confusion towards art that keeps us alive,
Mysterious allure of symmetry, order, and pattern,
The woman doesn’t move, illustrated with water.
Normally it’s frowned upon to touch such art,
But she grasps the flag, nobody in the gallery halts her
They spend the most time on this work,
All the other stones lay still, watching.
The world is quiet for them
The silence between the tears
The sun sets.