Author's note: This is the first story I ever posted here at , back when I was
into long paragraphs and minimal spacing. I guess seeing a long unbroken stream of words scared
off a lot of readers. So I reformatted this to see if I could entice a few more reviews out of
people. Not my best story, but still one of my faves.

"The ancient Greeks believed in fate. They had myths regarding the three sisters of fate..."

I feel so sorry for her. She tries to be perky, but it comes off more like desperation. I
guess it's because she's a new professor; got lots of people breathing down her neck and all the
other professors looking down on her because she's only thirty something and they all predate
rocks. At least she grades easy. That's the nice thing about humanities professors; they never
want to offend anybody. Every opinion is valid, although every time she tries to open it up for
discussion like she wants Tom butts in and trashes her. He's always trying to get people to
argue with him for fun, and he never shuts up once he gets going. It's a good thing I broke up
with him when I did.

As for me, I'm content to pay enough attention to follow what's going on and meditate on the
motion of my pencil as it rolls down my desk into my lap, where I pick it up and watch it roll
down the desk again. Oops, missed the lap.

It rolls across the floor into a scruffy sneaker. Benjamin picks it up and sets it on my desk
with a quick smile.

Claire turns around, looks at us, and gives me a "pay attention" look. She believes in fate, and
that certain people are sensitive enough to sense fate's intentions in the near future and are
obligated to share these intentions with the world at large. Such a person is commonly known as
a psychic, for the uninitiated. She's not what you would call powerful, but she does receive
visions from time to time. Or at least, that's what she tells me. She does have a thing for
long bright skirts and peasant blouses, so who knows? She gives good advice, at
any rate. I guess that's why we've been friends for so long, even though we're really not that

Benjamin tries to get my attention, but Claire wards him off with a look. He slumps down in his
seat and looks forlorn. I don't know why she keeps trying to get rid of him; I think he's sweet.
There's something about him that just makes you want to go over and talk to him. I'm in the
minority on that, I know, most people just ignore him because he's so quiet.

The lecture moved on to free will, I think, while I was distracted. I pushed my hair out of my
eyes. My jacket's getting kind of dirty; I think I need to wash it. It's not that I mean to be
messy; I just get distracted easily.


What? Oh.

Professor Coleman was looking at me hopefully. "Do you have any thoughts on the lecture?"
I could see in her eyes; Please, anyone but Tom, please.

Tom took the opportunity to jump right in. "I don't believe in fate, because I don't like the
idea of not being in control of my own destiny." Thank you for sharing.

I smoothly interrupted. "I don't know about fate the way the Greeks meant," (Tom looked smug)
"but I do believe in some form of fate. I guess you could look at it from the free will angle
too. People are controlled by their personalities; we're limited by stuff we would do and stuff
we wouldn't do. We make decisions from the stuff we would do, and that's free will. But what
about the stuff we wouldn't do? If we did something that was totally against our personality,
our values, everything we were brought up to believe in, what would happen? If there is
such a thing as fate, and it limits our actions, would doing something against our natures cheat

"Get that from Claire?" Tom said.

Professor Coleman started to say something, then the bell rang.

I swept my notebook and pencil into my bag.

Tom shoved past me on his way out.

Claire looked up at me with slight disapproval on her face.

Benjamin was just staring at me like I punched him in the gut.

"What was that all about?" I asked Claire as we got into the hall.

"It's the first time you've ever done anything in class except watch your pencil. He was most
likely just as surprised as I was that you were paying enough attention to formulate a coherent

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

"Well, your mind does have a tendency to wander. You just need to be more aware of what's going
on around you. You have such talent, and you don't apply it properly. I find that

I noticed Benjamin coming up the hall towards us.

Claire ushered me into the bathroom.

"What do you have against him anyway? He seems really nice."

"That may be, but there's something about him that's not right. I can feel it."

"Oh, come on."

"I know how you feel, but I'm telling you, there is bad karma there. Nothing good can come of
it; and I think he knows it. That's why he's been fighting it as long as he has."


"He's been watching you all semester, yet in all that time you two haven't spoken a word. It
has nothing to do with shyness, this is something else. Don't ask me to explain, but I know."

"Well, if the spirit world changes its mind about him, let me know."

If you would pay attention, you would notice these things as well."

"Maybe there are just some things I'm better off not knowing."

"If you wish to live your life in ignorance."

I left Claire seething in the bathroom and went to go get some air, before I said anything else I
might regret. I knew Claire would be looking for me at the Union for lunch, so I walked twenty
minutes to Subway. It was a little before the lunch rush, so there was only one person in front
of me.

The people who worked there were talking to each other and totally ignoring him. "Can I help
you?" one of them asked me pleasantly.

"Actually, he was here before me," I said, indicating the guy next to me.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't even see you there," the lady said to him.

"Happens all the time," he said, with an attempt at a smile. I just realized that it was
Benjamin standing next to me. Talk about being out of it...

"Wasn't sure if you saw me or not," Benjamin said after we got our sandwiches.

"It took me a second," I said. I sat down at a table, and offered him the seat across.

"I, um, never got a chance to say hi before. Your friend, she's very, possessive."

"She just likes to mother people. It makes her feel important. You looked surprised at what I
said in class today."

"I was surprised." He paused for a moment, searching for words, then went on, "I didn't think
anybody had the guts to cut Tom off," then finished with a wry grin.

"He's not that scary, once you get to know him," I said.

"But who would want to?" he said, then looked startled at what he had done, like I would get mad.

I laughed, and said, "I honestly don't know."

The smile came back up.

"Hey, what are you doing eating lunch all by yourself?" I looked up and saw Tom and his stooge
friends looking back at me.

Benjamin looked so hurt I wanted to strangle the life out of Tom on the spot. Instead, I pushed
the blind rage back down, and said with all the venom I could muster, "You insensitive bastard,"
and stormed out, pulling Benjamin along by his sleeve.

I heard Tom say behind me, "What did I say?" and his friends laughing.

"I'm really sorry about that," I said, but Benjamin was hardly paying attention.

"That's okay. I should really go."

He looked so HAUNTED, I said quickly, "You don't have to."

Benjamin gave me a real, winning smile that lit up his whole face, and said, "I'll see you in

I started to walk back towards the dorm, but I looked back. He looked back at the same moment,
and I started grinning like an idiot. Damn, I think I'm in love.

I was actually looking forward to humanities class. Benjamin said hi and sat down. I could
tell he felt as warm and squishy as I did.

Claire came in just as the bell rang; she looked awful, like she hadn't slept. She's usually so
punctual with everything. "I need to speak with you after class," she said as she sat down. Is
this the part where we apologize? "It's important," she said with a look.

Professor Coleman came into class looking frazzled but perky, as usual. She launched right into
her lecture on Plato, something about a cave and shadows on a wall being reality, and the people
being chained up and not seeing the sun. Believing only what they see, I think was the point.
Professor Coleman finished up, and said, "Okay, everybody, now's the time to discuss your term
paper." Groan. "I will make it easier on you guys. Take a topic from class and relate it to
your life. Even easier, I'll assign you a peer editor who chose the same topic and you two can
bounce ideas off each other and edit each other's work. Yes, I do expect a two page peer review
of both rough and final draft on your partner's paper. Term paper is five pages, double spaced.
I'll write topics up on the board, and you pick one and put your name and your partner's under

Claire went up first and put her name under "The Odyssey". Um, no, can't relate to that. I got
stuck behind the crush of people.

Benjamin stood up on tiptoe and got my attention. He indicated "Fate vs. Free Will" and made a
signing motion. I nodded, and he signed both of us up.

When Claire saw what I had done, she looked horrified. With the way she was acting, you'd think
Benjamin was a mass murderer or something.

Professor Coleman said, "Rough drafts in two weeks; thank you, have a good weekend."

Claire made a beeline for me, but I slipped out and caught up to Benjamin. "Do you want to work
together on our papers?" I asked him.

"Not really. I mean, I want it to be a surprise when I give it to you, so you can just give an
opinion without knowing anything else."


"I'll see you around though."

"Yeah." I watched him walk away. He liked me, I know he liked me. What did I do wrong?

Claire clung to my arm so hard she almost pulled me over. "You have to stop seeing him. Right
now. He's in more trouble than even he knows, and if you get involved he'll destroy you right
along with him."

"What are you talking about?"

"He, I can't explain it in ways you would understand. Just understand, that the future you are
meant to have will never be if you stay with him. The future your children should have, and
their children, and everything after that will never happen. It's horrible, more horrible than
you can imagine."

She was serious. God, she was serious. "Was this some dream you had?"

"More than that. You are one of my best friends, and I would never forgive myself if anything
happened to you. Please, leave him alone. There's no future in it."

What could Claire mean? I wish I could have seen what she saw; maybe I could make more sense of
it than she could. Maybe it's nothing, but Claire seemed so sure, and she's been right before.
But then again, she's been wrong before too. But she's really not the type to get concerned over
nothing; she wouldn't have told me unless she was sure.

I went to the library, and tried to study at one of the tables, but I couldn't concentrate. A
flash went off to the side of me. "Aaa", I said, and looked up.

Roomie!" Kayla exclaimed, then collapsed on the edge of the table.

What are you doing?"

"Taking pictures for photography. Remember, serious art can strike when we least expect it.
Maybe I can win a contest for money."

"Not with pictures of me, you can't."

"Don't be so hard on yourself. Whatcha workin' on?"

"Idea for a paper."

"Oh, well, good luck. Murray and I are going to carnival tonight. Wanna come?"

"Guess so, sure."

"Great! I'll see you back at the room. Work hard!"

"You too."

Still no ideas for a paper topic. Did all the rest of my work for the weekend though.

Kayla came bouncing in just as I finished, dressed in hi liter colors that made my eyes want to
bleed. She was dragging Murray in tow. "All ready?" she asked me.


"You can't wear that."

"Why not? It's not like we're going clubbing or something, just losing money at dart tosses and
riding the ferris wheel."

"We're going to have to work at improving your mood," Murray commented.

"Just give her some cotton candy and a roller coaster and she'll be having fun in no time," Kayla

I did have fun. Murray won Kayla the biggest stuffed bear I ever saw in my life, and I got the
promised cotton candy and rode all the rides in the car behind Kayla and Murray, with Kayla
grabbing onto Murray and screaming for dear life. I went to go look for a porta pottie, but got
distracted by the man selling glow necklaces. I shrugged them off as too expensive, and found
that porta pottie. I wished Benjamin could have come. When I came back out, I was greeted by a
bright green glow necklace, held by Benjamin.

"I'm sorry I blew you off earlier, but Claire was watching, and she looked like she might have a
heart attack if I didn't let her talk to you."

"Actually, I'm here with some people..." Damn, I forgot where I left them.

"I'll help you look for them." He fell in step with me. We passed by the roller coaster.
"Hardly any line," he commented, and looked at me.

God, Claire, I hope you're wrong. Please be wrong. I nodded, and we got in line.

The rest of the evening is a blur. We played games, rode rides, and finally sat on a bench
under a tree next to the stage, where the band was playing dance music under the strings of
white lights. We talked about everything and nothing, about how he grew up in town and about
all the different places I had lived. We talked about how we both enjoyed writing and hiking
and about how much we loved the Matrix and Sixth Sense and Tom's superiority complex. We had so
much in common, right down to preferring Pepsi over Coke and loving Milky Ways more than any
other candy bar. His arm around my waist felt so right. Everything did.

"ALLISON!" I looked up, to see Kayla running toward me. She looked frantic.

"I'm so sorry! I tried to find you guys, but I ran into Benjamin and got sidetracked. Really,
I didn't mean to freak everyone out like that."

"Why didn't you keep looking for us after he left? If he's worth making us worry over you, he
should at least have the decency not to leave you alone."


Murray came running up from the other direction, knocking Benjamin over to the ground. It
didn't even register to him as he came up. "You found her! We thought the clowns got you or
something," he said. Benjamin picked himself up. It wasn't like Murray to knock people down
without helping them up; he's too nice, like Kayla.

"Left me alone? He's right over there..." I started.

"There's no one there, sweetie. He probably just slipped away when you weren't looking."
Murray and Kayla both put one arm around me and led me away. My God, could they not see him?
What's going on? Am I losing it? Or are they?

When we got back to the floor, one of the girls from down the hall had left a message on our
door that some guy from Kayla'sphotography class had left her photos and to come down and get
them. Kayla was jumping all over the place, and we all sat on her bed while she thumbed through
them. We oohed and aahed, especially the one with the little kids playing in the construction
zone. From the angle, it looked like a natural disaster; she wanted to call it rebirth. When
we got to the one with me studying, she let out a yelp. I looked at it and could hardly keep
from screaming myself. I was there in the picture, studying, but I wasn't alone. Benjamin was
sitting in the chair across from me, with a look of pure love, like a guardian angel.

I could hardly sleep that night, and when I got up I was exhausted. The phone rang just as I
was finishing breakfast.

"Allison? This is Professor Coleman. I know it's Saturday, but would it be possible for you to
come down to my office today?"

"I guess so. What's going on?"

"It's about Benjamin; everyone's very concerned. I received a rough draft of his report last
night, and well... Has he shown it to you?"

"No, why?"

"It's probably best if you read it for yourself. Come as soon as you can."

I went to Professor Coleman's office right away. She was there, along with a man I didn't

"This is Mr. Halwood, Benjamin's father."

"I understand you are a friend of Benjamin's," he started.

"We talk in class sometimes, and I saw him at the carnival last night."

"That's more than anyone else has done, ever since his mother died."

"Allison, has Benjamin been acting strangely lately?" Professor Coleman asked.

"I don't really have anything to compare it too, but no, not really. Why? What's this about?"

Professor handed me the rough draft of Benjamin's report with a sympathetic smile. I started to

Benjamin Halwood Fate/ Free Will Essay

My mother was the most important person in the world to me. She always knew exactly what I was
thinking and feeling, and whatever she told me was going to happen when I did something did, so
I learned to follow her advice. One day when I was 14, she came down to breakfast late. She
smiled and ruffled my hair like she always did, but something had happened.

She said, "Benjamin, if anything should happen to me, or it looks like something will happen, I
want you not to stay and try and save me, but to run and get help. Can you do that for me?"

I told her not to send me away, that I was brave enough, but she made me promise to do that for

"I know you're brave, Benjamin, but I want you to do this for me, because neither your father or
I could bear to see anything happen to you. "

I promised, even though I didn't want to. Two weeks later our house was robbed while my dad was
away on business. I heard a crash in the bedroom and her scream. I ran in and saw three men
standing over her, holding her down with a gun to her head. I wanted to rush in, to try and
save her, but she mouthed "You promised" with a brave smile. I ran down the hall and down the
stairs. One of the robbers shot at me, but I just kept running. I ran to the neighbors and
they called the police. They took everything and killed her. Nothing was the same after that.

I thought at first it was because she was gone, but only at first. It was little things, subtle
things. People stopped seeing me, started running into me without even noticing I was there.
It was only in places where I had been, where they were expecting me, that people noticed I was
even there. I found Mom's dream diary, and read that she had a dream about the robbery before
it happened. In the dream she described, both of us died, not just Mom. In her dream, I tried
to save her, and ended up getting shot. She had tried to save me from getting killed, but
instead something worse happened. I'm not a real person anymore. I didn't really understand
why until Allison talked about it in class, about fate and how you can't change who you are. I
did something I never would have done. I left when she needed me most, and it shattered my fate.
I'm not supposed to be here, and everything I do from now on just makes it worse. I need to
find some way to finish it, to set things right.

So that was it! And Claire was right all along. I didn't know what to feel.

Professor Coleman said, "I know this is difficult, but we need your help to find Benjamin and
get him some help. He's obviously broken up over his mother's death, and needs counseling to
set it right."

How can I explain that he's telling the truth? "He didn't come home last night?"

"He was gone when I woke up. You said he went to the carnival last night?" Mr. Halwood asked.

"Yeah, he was there with me."

"Did you see where he went after that?" he pressed.

"No, my roommate and her boyfriend came and took me home."

"If you hear from him, please, let us know," Professor Coleman said.

"I will." I went back towards the dorm in a daze.

I cut across the center of campus to save time.

As I came around a corner, I heard Claire talking frantically. "You can't do anything for her!
Don't you understand? YOU DON'T EXIST! You shouldn't be here! Nothing good can come of it;
nothing! You shouldn't be trying to live this life that isn't yours anymore, you should be
trying to find some way to set it right!"

Benjamin's voice replied, "Don't you think I know that! I'm not supposed to have met her; I
know she's for someone else, but that doesn't change how I feel about it! I'm trying to fix it,
I left home, I turned in that report to Professor Coleman. I just need some more time!"

"You've already had more time than you were supposed to. Find a way, and find it soon."

I ducked out of sight before Claire or Benjamin could see me.

Then, Benjamin continued. "Can you help me?" There was a pause, and he said, "I know you see
things. If you can give me a hint, I can figure it out from there."

Claire said something that I couldn't hear, then there was a long pause.

Benjamin called after her, "Thank you!"

I went around the corner, but I didn't see him anywhere.

I got back to the room feeling awful and tired. I wanted to stop him, but I didn't know where
he was or what he intended to do to set it right. I tried writing and talking to some people on
my floor, but nothing had any appeal at all. I felt like I was the one on death row.

I went to bed early. Kayla was unusually quiet; I guess the picture really shook her up. I
dreamed. Professor Coleman... car next to the humanities building...a man...keys falling to the
ground... gunshots... and the snow... falling... falling... I woke up knowing the dream was
true. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the window, where the snow was falling down. I grabbed
my clothes and my coat and rushed out into the snow.

I ran and ran and ran. I saw the building, the car, the man, under the streetlight, all the
same as I saw in my dream. The man pulled out a gun. I ran forward and smack into a guy my age
rounding the corner at the same time I was from the opposite direction. As I hit the ground and
tasted blood in my mouth (I bit my tongue), Benjamin raced by from behind me. I watched,
helpless, as vaulted over the car and jumped in between Professor Coleman and the man, pushing
his arm back. The man fired on reflex, and the bullet winged Professor Coleman. The man's face
kind of twisted up in rage, and he shot Benjamin in the heart at point blank range.

I screamed and ran forward. The man took off. From the size of the blood puddle around
Benjamin and how close the man was when he shot him, I could tell that he was already dead. The
guy I crashed into tried to stop Professor Coleman's bleeding. I ran to the emergency box and
called the police. They were very helpful, taking my name and Jared's (the guy I ran into) and
they took Benjamin away, with Mr. Halwood crying after. Jared held me while I cried, asked me
if I knew Benjamin, I forget what else. He answered questions I couldn't, and shooed the
policemen away when I had enough of their questions. I think I could like him a lot, maybe not
today or tomorrow or next year, but sometime, when enough time has passed by. We tried to get
help for Professor Coleman, but for some reason no one could see her except for us. They
dragged us back to the dorm in thepolice car, leaving her there in the snow.