Short Story Text
“You’d think that after over 100 days of school, the students would’ve actually learned how to participate in class. But sadly, that hasn’t been the case. Jesus Christ, there are these things called ears on the sides of your heads – maybe you should use them! I have a degree for this? They jump out of their seats and are out the door in an instant, without giving enough time to assign the homework. Would they’ve done it anyway?” Alice’s continuous inner monologue says angrily. Before leaving, she marks off the day on the calendar she keeps behind her desk. Day 119 out of 180. She turns off the lights and heads to the Teacher’s Lounge. She has 45 minutes to recollect herself before the afternoon wave of stupidity. Weaving and dodging through the crowded hallways filled with the overwhelming stench of Axe Body Spray and moldy gym clothes, she arrives at the lounge.
She enters the drab, dingy dragon’s den of lingering odors and disappointment. The sound of grading papers is deafening. She grabs her usual seat next to Sharon, the head of the science department and the teacher she hates the least in this poor excuse of a teaching staff. Sharon’s wearing her usual outfit; khaki pants and blue college sweater. She’s already laid out her lunch meticulously along the table. Four apple slices, a small tupperware of pretzels, and a thermos filled to the top with chicken noodle soup. They exchange a couple words. She brags to Alice how much she loves each of their students (and how much they love her) and proceeds to show off the class average score from the recent final exams. Alice feels self-conscious. Her students hardly ever participate. Is she the problem?
Alice slowly rises out of the cheap blue plastic chair and walks toward the refrigerator. The second she opens the door, Alice is instantly met with the pungent smell of fish. Fantastic. Daryl brought his “famous” tuna salad again. You’d think it’s obvious not to bring fish into a poorly ventilated room, but not to Daryl. Her lunch is almost a complete juxtaposition of Sharon’s. This healthy 3 course meal consists of a bag of barbeque chips, an old granola bar from the First Aid Kit, and a coffee. She returns to her plastic throne and almost immediately, spills coffee on her shirt. She rises angrily and rushes toward the bathroom.
Alice stares in the mirror as she dabs her old red button down shirt with a damp paper towel, she’s glad that the drink didn’t get on her only pair of blue jeans. She stares blankly into the mirror. The black frizzy hair with streaks of grey and the dark eye bags contrast her extremely pale skin. She turns to exit. The soles of her white New Balance shoes stick to the grimy bathroom tile as she exits.
The rest of the school day was a blur. Shoving the paperwork into the back seat, she gets in the dented, old, paint chipped Toyota and begins the 2 hour long drive through rush hour traffic.
She arrives in the apartment complex parking garage around 7. She stops to grab the mail whilst walking through the lobby. Advertisement, advertisement, bills, bills, coupon, more bills. Damn. She forgot to pay her rent. The flickering LED lights are harsh against the backdrop of the setting sun.
After climbing 3 flights of stairs due to the fact that the elevator in her complex is still broken, she arrives at the doorstep. She turns her key, pushes the heavy door, and enters the only place in her life she enjoys. She sets her keys down on the table by the door, and turns on the answer machine to hear her voicemails. None. No surprise. She reaches into her back pocket and takes out a packet of cigarettes. She begins smoking one, then puts it out into an ashtray to the left of her. She remembered that she’s supposed to quit using them. But she couldn’t stop herself. She smoked two.
She glances over to her bookshelf. On the top is a dust covered folder containing her long lost dreams of adventure. Long ago, Alice spend years planning a magnificent trip. She wanted to go to key places in history. Before she was a high school history teacher without tenure. Her hope was that the trip would trigger a more exciting life, but sadly, the trip never happened.
She microwaves leftovers for dinner, reads the news, then goes to bed.
Day 137. Forty three days to go. Routine is normal for the most part, Sharon wasn’t at work today, she’s in Disneyland with her family for the week. How fun.
Day 152. Twenty eight to go. Regular routine. A voicemail is left for Alice when she gets home, “Hello, you have 1 unheard message: “-Hi Alice this is your landlord. You haven’t paid rent in two months. I’m renting your apartment out to someone else in the new year. You have one month to move out. Effective immediately.-” The trip is back on. There’s nothing else to do.
Alice climbs up to the top of her bookshelf and pulls down a dust covered folder containing photos and loose papers falling out the sides. The details to the trip. She spends hours taping them to a wall and meticulously replanning this adventure.
Day 172. Eight days to go. Alice has finished planning. She’s gone through at least 3 packs of cigarettes because of the stress. Her plane leaves on June 6 at 6:45 pm. A few days ago, she turned in her letter of resignation, it’s official. Alice was expecting to feel happy about this, but she felt more nervous instead. Like she’s made a mistake by leaving, but deep down she knows it’s what she wants most.
Day 180. Finally. This is the first day in a long time where she was happy to go to work. She didn’t bother planning a lesson for the day, she just played movies for her classes. At lunch, she entered the den for the final time to find a surprise going away party in her honor, Sharon must’ve done it. There was a rectangular cake with the words, “Have Fun Alice!” Messily written across the top with blue frosting. Alice was happy she was able to say goodbye, even though she didn’t like some of the staff, it felt good to see them altogether one last time. And not under the circumstance that someone brought leftover desserts and they all wanted some.
Alice takes a final look at the billboards scattered across the highway home. She realizes that this is the last time she’ll ever see them, she stares at them in hopes of remembering the cheesy slogans.
Alice pulls into her spot in the parking complex. The spot next to hers is filled with a U-Haul truck, soon to be sent off to a storage facility to collect dust and cobwebs. She walks up the stairs and into the lobby. No mail. The elevator in the building is finally up and running, but she chooses to take the stairs, for old-times sake.
Once she arrives at her doorstep, she detects a strange smell, but chooses to ignore it. She enters, and it’s more pungent than outside, but alas, she elects to overlook that detail. The hallway is crammed with two large suitcases filled with her minimal wardrobe. She pushes past them. The details of the trip are safely protected in a manila folder on her coffee table. Next the the folder is a pack of cigarettes, and there’s only one cigarette left. She grabs it and decides it’s her last one ever, she can’t have her addiction getting in the way of her happiness.
The smell in the apartment begins to make Alice feel light-headed, but she continues to hunt for her lighter. She digs deeper and deeper into her shoulder bag and retrieves the pink rectangle. Alice giddily stares at her cigarette, it’s one step closer to finally living.
It clicks as a yellow triangle erupts from the rectangle. The yellow is suddenly swallowed by a great flood of reds and oranges. The whole apartment is swallowed. Alice is swallowed. But it’s ok. It doesn’t matter. Alice never really lived in the first place.
The sound effects were added to the story using Adobe Audition. All the music used was royalty free and the sound effects I used were from the thousands found in Freestyle.
We made an entire set for walk cycles. The set was created by IsabellaL, SeanL, and me. We chose to make the set a coffee shop because we all liked the idea of coffee cups as light fixtures. We took photos of it, then overlaid the gifs of our walk cycles over it in After Effects. Unfortunately, when I was working on my mood scenes/walk cycles video at home, the files corrupted and I lost all of my work for it. I’m hoping to improve my walk cycles and put them together on the scene in the near future. This set can be seen at Exhibition with all the other sets made by the Animation students!
This was one of my favorite projects to do, and I’m really happened with the way it turned out. We were given total creative freedom for it and I really wanted to use primary and bight colors for it (fueling my bright color obsession). Originally, I wasn’t going to draw the background for it, due to the fact that I would have to redraw the whole thing frame by frame and we only had a few days to work on it, but in the end, I’m glad I chose to.
Narrative Conceptual Design
This was our first group project of the semester. My group was me, JamilY, and ZachR. The project was to pick a short story one of us wrote in our English class, and turn it into an animation. Initially, we couldn’t pick on which story to write, but in the end, we chose to go with a story Jamil had thought of outside of school. Unfortunately, the animation isn’t completely finished, but I thought I should put it up on the website regardless. This project was a really good learning experience in a variety of ways. Compromises were a crucial thing during this project, and at times, I didn’t want to compromise, I wanted the film to look the way I wanted it, and nothing different. But it wasn’t my story, I wasn’t the one in charge, we all were. This was a collaborative project where everyone had a say, and I really had to work on stepping back and compromising with the group. Time management seems to come back and haunt me on every single project I’ve done so far. The two weeks leading up to Exhibition are Open Labs, where the classes stay open until 6 pm every night or even later in some cases. I came after school for the entire two weeks, and even stayed at Freestyle until 10 pm on two nights just to get my work done in time. I’m not entirely happy with my section, there were things I had to cut out just for time’s sake. I had to delete a lot of background animation just because i didn’t save enough time for me to do all of it. The backgrounds seem really boring and bland, but if I have any free time in the future, I will definitely go back and improve it.