A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY GREGORY HIRSCH
The love between Angelina and George was never to abate.
George was not new to the feeling of love but ignorant when he felt it for another person the way he did for Angelina. He was an insatiable kind of being, the type to commit to something until things were done perfectly. With this mentality, George accomplished many different and strenuous feats.
His father was always the one to push him, but no matter the height George rose to, it was never enough. This venerable man eventually passed, leaving George petrified of never having satisfied his father’s goals for him. George would often recall a scolding phrase of his father’s: “The worst crime in life is complacency.” However, George never told anyone that, and never spoke of how this loss traumatized him. His ambition did not diminish, but he did not exhibit the same zeal he once possessed.
Years later, when George met Angelina, she challenged him. They competed to achieve. Angelina helped him accomplish his goals and vice versa. His addiction to earning the validation and affection that came with pleasing her captivated George, especially when she awarded him with accolades of her love. Angelina worked harder than anyone George had encountered barring his father; this made George work harder than he had in a long time.
They fell madly in love, improving themselves and each other constantly. Whenever Angelina spoke of the love she felt for him, feelings of reassurance finally led George to a safe haven of satisfaction — a refuge from the insatiable.
George and Angelina moved in together and began to disregard their friends in order to become what they believed to be “more productive.” Spending time with others (except some, such as Angelina and her mom) became unsatisfactory. Becoming perfect for the other was the goal. The time they spent together — awake, asleep, thriving, or sick — was never enough. The passion for their pacific love became incurable. Other people became extremely… other.
Once, Angelina mentioned marriage. Soon after, George immediately shot a ring onto her finger.
Both wanting only the best, the two planned an exorbitant yet august wedding. The venue for this event was the largest cathedral they could find. The gargantuan church doors resembled golden gates and welcomed everyone to the ceremony of a lifetime. The elegant walkway that Angelina would stride across to her lover was long and white — stainless and immaculate. This path would lead the couple to the focal point of the celebration: a large podium, elevated above the attendees, towering above the pearly stairs on which Angelina was to ascend. The vaulted ceilings were ornately gilded. Under these golden arches, Angelina was to kiss George. Any mortal witness would describe the scene as not of this world — it was heavenly.
Angelina’s family had a long line of obeying marriage traditions. One such antiquated rule was that the bride and groom must not see or communicate with each other for a minimum of twenty-four hours before they would meet under the arches. Although George did not wish it, he complied with the traditions of Angelina’s bloodline.
The hours before their wedding would be the longest time the two spent apart since they moved in together.
George, unlike Angelina, was unsettled by this for multiple reasons. He knew Angelina’s mother planned a celebration for the women of the family, while George had no bachelor party, due to his father’s death and his neglect of friends and relatives. Hence, George decided he would spend the night alone and prepare for the upcoming event. After all, the only thing he desired was flawlessness for his lover.
George went to find The Pacific Suite: the room in the hotel next to the church that was reserved for him. It was equipped with locks that would make it hard for any being of this earth to enter. The thick doors with black moldings and the solid red walls inside made all feel secure and important.
It was not long before George noticed that the flowers Angelina selected for the wedding day may not have arrived at the church. Therefore, without hesitation, he picked up the room phone and dialed the florist’s number. This was done expeditiously because he had already memorized the number in case of such a situation. This was the kind of absolute planning George utilized whenever he wanted perfection. He often did. But, what came as a horrible surprise to George was that the phones in the hotel seemed not to be working and his mobile had no connection. George reassured himself because he knew they were at least on their way. George’s nerves tensed. This pain seemed at first otherworldly but soon numbed. In order to ease his mind and body, he decided to take a shower.
As the shower water arbitrarily hit George’s body, he realized that the way his tie had been left in the changing room may have caused it to be wrinkled. George then realized that his backup tie was subpar. This aggravated him, especially because he knew that the changing room was now locked, and that Angelina had not seen what he was going to wear. His wedding apparel was of immense importance. Particularly, because Angelina normally dressed him, he wanted to prove himself.
The water in the shower suddenly burned him, irritating his mental and physical state as many needles may prick a sensitive wound.
George decided sleep was the best answer because no matter what, he wanted to look rested, ready, and perfect for Angelina. If George knew that anyone thought he might appear tired, he would want to reschedule the entire wedding. Therefore, he reached over to take sleeping pills that read “take in moderation” on the bottle. He then called the concierge and asked for a wake-up call as he was setting both of his alarm clocks. Normally, this excessiveness would give him a feeling of contentment; however, he was unable to find what he was looking for. He thought, if one of the clocks break, I sleep through the other one, and they forget about my wake up call then everything goes to hell. George was beginning to notice his restless thinking. He thought of how Angelina left to have a good time with her mom and trusted George to make things perfect the way they wanted. He thought of perfection. He plummeted into thoughts of how he was going to be tired, and not know where the flowers were, and have wrinkled clothes, and only have grotesque backups. George took more pills and tried to sleep. But these thoughts only continued to eat at him like maggots. He thought of the people making fun of him for not looking the part. He thought of how Angelina would hate him to see his plans in disarray. He thought of her leaving.
George took more pills. “As many as it takes,” he stated out loud. He turned off the light and tried to close his eyes. No more than five minutes passed when his nerves tensed again, astronomically more intense than the previous times. This is when he thought, If Angelina is out having fun and I am here, maybe Angelina will not think of me as fun, maybe she will never look at me the same way. The pain was strangely familiar to something he experienced years prior. He arose from his bed. George took more pills. This is when he started to drift.
George awoke in his own sweat and immediately thought of the flowers; and his wrinkly clothes; and how if someone spilled something on him, his backups were hideous; and how Angelina was going to see him as boring, lazy, and a careless planner.
George felt it was impossible that he would regain the love Angelina once had for him. He was coming up short of satisfaction. Starting to think again about how pleased he had been simply knowing the flowers were on their way, and how oblivious he was to the wrinkle in his tie, George became disgusted. Imperfection rampaged through his veins. George felt a scolding presence so strong, he shrieked the words: “I’ll fix it!” He jerked up from his bed, turned the lights on, and ran to the door.
It was locked and then the lights slammed off.
In the naked darkness behind him, he watched the figure stand tall as it stabbed a stare into his soul. The figure made George appear as an adolescent.
The Figure Spoke: “Why… were you satisfied?” George’s senses heightened; memories flooded his head
The smell of new shoes
Pep talks before the first day of school
Extra hours of conditioning, punishment for
not winning the championships
Shaming for an A-
His cold shoulder at mom’s funeral
The rejection of a first girlfriend
George was speechless. The figure took him away
* * *
The hotel called The Pacific Suite regarding the wake-up call but received no answer. They called again every fifteen minutes. Eventually, the concierge received notice that an alarm clock has been going off in the room for the past hour. Services knocked on the door multiple times. With no answer, they tried opening it. Discovering that the heavy-duty locks had been used, the hotel called the police to break the big locks confining the suite. Hours had passed since the wake-up call.
Everything was ready at the wedding: the bride in the gown, the guests who arrived, the priest waiting to wed. The music began playing; the bride, ready to walk.
A policeman arrived at The Pacific Suite.
They began beating down the door. Angelina began walking.
The policeman broke through the door and arrived in the room. Angelina arrived at the podium.
Both arrived to a speechless George.
Gregory Hirsch is 16 and lives in New York City where he attends The Fieldston School of Ethical Culture. He wrote this piece in order to explore the themes of satisfaction and perfectionism, issues that teens grapple with every day.