Sandman Stories--The Film Study

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(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 05:43 AM)

I stared at the blackboard in annoyance, frustration, unhappiness, and utter disappointment--or at least that's probably what I'd have been doing if I could actually see that blackboard. The blackboard in question was across the classroom from me. And as for me, well, blind as a bat is how I usually put it. Literally. Vision = 0/20. So, more accurately I guess, my fingers did the staring. They were resting on my braille display, absorbing the notes that the prof had just dictated as she put them up on the board for everyone to see: FILM STUDY ASSIGNMENT. The rest of it went sorta like this:
This assignment will be based on a film that we'll watch during next class. We'll analyze it as a class and you'll have to write a paper about it or something resembling that. And don't forget the best part: This assignment will be worth 100 marks. Also known as it could effect your overall grade. AKA you've gotta do it.

That was the gist of it. Except for one very important part--I HATED film studies. No, not hated, despised. No, not despised...well the topic had actually rendered me beyond words, so despised would have to do. I remembered back in Grade 9. It was a perfect rainy day in May, and then ... The first film study I ever had to do. And after it was done, I prayed it would be my last. The sad part about it was, I really liked the movie. I mean, the Matrix was awesome! The first time through. Things went downhill pretty fast though. The second time through, the teacher paused it so much to analyze it and summarize it, that it took us almost 4 periods to get through it. And of course, the visual aspect of the film was most of what was being analysed. That was one part of the movie that I just couldn't rap my head around, never having been able to see and all, and having people try and describe it to me. And then came the worksheets! But the fun didn't stop there. Oh no. Apparently there must've been more plot summary and symbolism stuff that we somehow missed, 'caus we went through it again. And by then it had been dissected so much that it did what any dissected thing usually does--it died. And I was as confused by all the talk about the visuals and special visual effects that if I hadn't fallen asleep, I would've been bored beyond insanity. To this day I still couldn't watch the matrix... But you get the picture.

Couldn't lose my head though, not now. I had to find a way out of this baby. There's about 100 ways that I wouldn't mind spending a nice Wednesday morning and studying a film wasn't one of them. I figured I'd try and pull the blind card--desperate times do call for desperate measures. In a few minutes after this class was over, I'd go up to the prof and say something like: "Ms. Dumass, I'm not sure I'll be able to get a lot out of this film study assignment. I mean, it involves watching films, and I can't really see in the first place. Some, if not most, of the important visual references will probably just fly right over my head." No more assignment. No more boredom. Problem solved. And maybe even a few classes off to do whatever I wanted. Awesome! And, I thought, if that didn't work, maybe I'd randomly catch this really bad cold that'll last a few days. It's happened before--I hated English classes of any kind--it could happen again. Or I could just not go to class. How much could this possibly effect my final grade, really, with the term being almost over. I had a lot of options open. Good timing too, class had just finished. I gathered up my stuff and shoved it into my backpack, which I slung over my shoulder. Then I made my way to the front of the room while pulling my other arm through the strap. On my way to see Ms. Dr Dumass, professor extrodinaire. I still got a kick out of that every once in awhile. At the beginning of the semester, she insisted her name was "Duu-mass" not "Dumb Ass", but it didn't matter. Things like that just stuck. I didn't really like the prof, but that could've been because she taught English. There was nothing really remarkable about her; she didn't give too much work, but she also didn't cut too much slack. There was nothing extraordinary about her in any way, good or bad. Definitely not someone you'd remember a few years down the road, I thought. But yet I couldn't call her plain or drab, and I couldn't figure out why. Unremarkable yes, but dull, no. Maybe that was what I didn't like about her. It really didn't fit, but it made sense somehow. And that didn't jive with me.

There was no one else left at her desk when I arrived, so I got right to the point. "Ms. Dumass, I wanted to talk to you about the film study assignment."

"Oh yes! I'm really excited about it! It's the first time I've done it on this film, so it'll be new for all of us. There's some pretty cool effects too. And its not very visual, so you'll be able to get a lot out of it."

Aww crap! Done. But I went on anyways. "Awww really? That was actually what I wanted to talk to you about. It's happened before with another film study. It went way over my head."

"No, I think it will be very different. In fact, I think you'll really like it." She didn't even miss a beat. I had lost this epoch battle--time for retreat.

"Well, I guess if that won't be a issue, all will be cool. Thanks." I turned to go.

"See you tomorrow, Meg!" Oh great. I guessed now was the time when I was supposed to declare that yeah, I would indeed see her tomorrow when I showed up to the class tomorrow. Let morals and stuff do the rest.

"See ya!" I said over my shoulder on my way out. Let her make of that what she would. And besides, I had to go. I couldn't keep my ride waiting. I chuckled to myself. The bus left at 3-30. And those things don't tend to wait around for you either.

(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 05:47 AM)

Mid-morning next day found me taking my customary seat in English. Oh trust me, it wasn't joyfully. It wasn't until I'd finished my evening run that I remembered that there would be almost no point in skipping tomorrow's class. I had to come to that place anyway. I was the lead guitarist of a band that a few of us students formed. We needed to rehearse real bad for a gig we had coming up on the weekend. We didn't exactly want it to turn out like last time. Besides, I had to do some hardcore studying in the library if I wanted to pull off a good grade on my Calculus test. So in order to ditch English I'd need to get a ride to school, get a ride back home, and then get a ride to school again about an hour later. It didn't help that home was like a half hour away from school when there's no traffic. No point, I thought. Screw it, don't do it. Ahhh well, I'd probably only have to suck up a few crappy boring English classes. Nothing I couldn't handle. I was even prepared. I thought about bringing my little travel pillow and blanky, but then I thought better of it. I settled for refreshments. My backpack was currently loaded with a bag of freshly obtained kettle popcorn, a bag of Sweet Chile Heat Doritos and a nice bottle of Fruittopia. The good kind. I figured I'd need something to get me through this ordeal, and the movie theatre theme was fine with me. I brought along my nice soft warm hoodie as well, just in case I didn't make it. So, with my bases covered, I sat back in my seat, relaxed, and prepared to do exactly the same thing for the next few hours.

(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 05:53 AM)

Everyone else was settling in as well. Now enter Ms. Dumass, stage left. Class was officially in session. Ms. Dumass started with the opening lines:

"OK, we're going to be watching this movie, and we're going to analyze the plot and all that good stuff. Now in this movie, there's all the elements of a story, like foreshadowing and symbolism and metaphors. And in the climax, somebody dies."

If she'd intended to create a dramatic effect, she failed. Quite dramatically. These days, people died in movies all the time--and they usually didn't even wait for the climax.

So on went the movie, without further adieu. The previews were as uneventful as they ever were. I guess Ms. Dumass didn't believe in fast-forwarding. And then the movie actually started and the volume got turned up a little. Had to give the school credit for this--this was a pretty intense sound system they had installed here. What a pleasant surprise! It's not everyday you learn that you're classroom's equipped with at least 7.0 surround sound. I personally wouldn't have guessed they had it in the budget. The opening scene was of the inside of a car driving down a gravel road, and I could hear, almost feel, the engine rev. Either the car was speeding up or the road was getting steeper. These subs were absolutely amazing! I stretched out my legs in front of me under my desk--and kicked something solid. Awww why! I was just kicking back to enjoy this and the guy in front of me had to move his seat back. Lame. But whatever, this was too cool to miss. I heard the snap and scratch of small twigs and bushes as they lost their battles with the oncoming vehicle. The crunch of gravel under the tires. The muffled sound of wind blowing outside. Sounds were coming from all around me--and it was so real. You know you're really into the movie when it starts making you cold. Man, the crappy plastic chair I was sitting in even felt a little softer, like the cushioned seat of a car. I reached down for my backpack on the floor, to fish out my hoodie, and that was when a got a little surprise.

Oh I found my hoodie alright, but by then I completely forgot about being cold. Oh man, I had much, much bigger issues! The feeling was kinda like going to sleep in your nice warm familiar bed, and waking up in a place that was definitely not your comfy bed, which of course you don't remember leaving. I'd never sleepwalked before in my life, but now I thought I understood how it must feel to wake up somewhere completely different then where you went to bed. Not exactly the most expected thing in the world, but in its own way, kinda exhilarating. You see I never got the chance to reach down for my backpack. Turns out all I had to do was lean forward and to the right a little. The car must've chose that moment to turn a nice sharp corner. With most of my weight being shifted forward, the sudden movement it caught me off balance. I fell sideways--and my elbow found my hoodie, propped up against a car window. Heart beginning to race, I tried to get my mind around this. My backpack wasn't that far away--my right foot kicked it as I righted myself in the seat again, head spinning. Seatbelt securely fastened, I noted. Wow! Well at least if anything happened I'd be safe--or the character I was playing in this movie would be. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. First the prof puts on a movie. Than I get really involved in it. Then it becomes so real and I get so involved that I actually become part of it? Did that even make sense? Was it supposed to? Did it even matter if it didn't? No. Not for now anyway at least, some part of my brain told me. I had more important questions to ask right now. Like was I now actually a character in this movie and what was going to happen to the character was now going to happen to me? Was their script now my script? And if so, was freedom of speech--freedoms of anything--suddenly deactivated? I shuttered at the thought. Could I change anything? I looked around me. This didn't feel like a script. Not at all. It felt like a dream--one of the ones that seem really real. One of the ones where it seems like you're not even dreaming at all. I didn't feel like I had to say or do anything though. For that matter, my thoughts were flowing around in my head just like they always did. At least somethings stayed the same. Next question: if I was indeed playing a character in this film, did I have any background that I should know about? Weren't all members of the cast supposed to get some kinda memo on their character along with the script? Like a personality chart or a history or something? But then again, weren't they also supposed to get a plot summary too? Right. I had no idea what I was doing here or where I was going. Or who was driving the car! This could be interesting--right now my life was in their hands. Was I supposed to know them? I turned around to face the driver's seat, and suddenly I got the feeling that I did. Quite well. Even though we never met before now. It was kinda like having a distant aunt or cousin that everyone had met before except you. You knew everything about her from what the rest of your family told you. And then one day you finally got to meet her for yourself.

"Meg, your finally awake! Good thing too, we're almost there. You must be so excited to get to visit your friend--I know how good of friends you guys are. And then she moved out here on the coast..."

Ok. Finally--SOME background here! Something to work with.

"Yeah. Stuff happens I guess. It just sucks that we're so far apart now! I _am really excited to see her though." I was improvising of course, but I wasn't lying; not entirely. The last good friend I had move away on me went to Athabaska or someplace. I hadn't seen her since. Only other friend I could think of who moved moved to Argentina. And the long gravel drive we'd just turned onto was definitely not in either of these places. I knew how it felt to hook up with a good buddy you haven't seen in awhile. And, for some reason--even though I had no idea who I was going to end up hooking up with--I was thoroughly pumped. But then something occurred to me. I'd gotten a role in this movie somehow; so what happens when the movie's stopped? Just go back to my seat in English, I guessed. I mean, where else could I go? This was a film study after all. For all I knew, Ms. Dumass could stop the movie right now to explain something about the introduction. But then, what happens to me after the credits roll?

(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 05:58 AM)

So, in the movie, I was this character who was visiting a really good friend who'd moved to some remote area of the coast. Cool. The car slowed, and then came to a complete stop.

"Well, we're here," the driver said in her irritatingly familiar voice. I know her, I thought, I should know her really well. But I don't.

I stretched out my cramped muscles. It felt like we'd been driving for hours. "Do you know the time?"

"It's almost 7-30. Which means we're right on schedule. Unless you guys arranged another time to meet up yesterday..."

"No," I was really winging it now. I had no idea what was going on, "As far as I know this seems like the time to me."

Time. Hahaha, I still hadn't figured out if I was in the AM or the PM.

I sat there, contemplating whether I should open the door and get out or not. She'd put the car in park and it was still idling. I stalled by collecting my hoodie and backpack from off the floor, and putting it in my lap, conveniently ready for action.

"You got all your stuff?"

"Yeah, I think so," I replied, deciding that it was, indeed, a good time to open my door and begin getting out.

"See you later, Meg!" I heard the driver say as I stepped out into cool, damp fresh air, "have a good time!"

"I will. Thanks for the ride!" I closed the door behind me. It seemed like the thing to do.

I stood on the drive, listening as the car first was put into gear and then slowly began to move. It accelerated, kicking up some small stones as its tires crunched over the gravel. Someone who I was really close to, but never got the chance to know, was driving away. The only person who I knew so far in this place. A cool, fresh wind was blowing in my face, making my hair go in random carefree directions. I raised my hand and waved.

I stood there until the sound of the car's engine was gone. Then I put on my hoodie, got out my cane and began walking at a quickish pace in the general direction of up the drive. I couldn't just stand around waiting for whatever. And, to be honest, I guessed I was as eager as that wind.

(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 06:01 AM)

I'd only been walking for about a minute when I heard running footsteps coming down the drive.

"Hey Meg! How's it going!" The shout was familiar alright, and this time I was pretty certain who it belonged to--or at least, who it really reminded me of. Because the only person who sounded like that was Taya: my real friend, from the real world. And she hadn't moved away to anywhere. In fact, we'd hung out just last week. But, as nonsensical as it seemed, here she was now, standing right beside me. Basically like she always was. But it wasn't her; not entirely. It just couldn't be.

"C'mon, I'll show you around the house."

We followed the driveway and ended up on the front steps of the house. Taya opened the door and let us both in. Which is where, I'll admit, I started getting a little weirded out. Me and Taya--the real one--were pretty close friends. We'd been hanging together for at least 4 years now. I knew her family like she knew mine--a result of the countless times we crashed at each others places. We were all pretty close. But when we got in her house, she began making introductions. I couldn't help reacting with shock, no matter how many times I told myself that this was just another curveball this crazy movie was gonna throw me. I could feel this starting to get personal. Taya--the one I knew so well--wasn't quite Taya, and neither was her family. Something was drastically wrong here. She introduced me to her Dad--who also looked extremely similar to Taya's dad, only a little less reserved. They showed me around their house. It was pretty small and quaint. We met up with her mom, who didn't look like Taya's mom in real life at all, and they introduced me to her older sister, who was about my age, whose friend was staying over. This just gets stranger and stranger, I thought. The Taya I knew had a younger brother, but definitely not an older sister. I sighed. Just another attack on my sanity. I didn't recognize her or her friend from anywhere, but they seemed nice enough. Next was the backyard. It was one of those really nice ones, with a trampoline and everything. Taya's parents announced that they were going to have breakfast right away, but I hesitated. I couldn't quite figure out why. And then it came to me in a strange compelling rush.

"The beach!" I said, "I want to see the beach first."

(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 06:05 AM)

I had no idea why I wanted to go--needed to go--right now, but I'd kinda got that feeling. I'd always loved the ocean, from the moment I caught the sound of surf breaking in the distance for the first time. It made a thrill course through me.
Me and Taya walked down together.

It was a big, open, rocky beach. I walked quickly over the band of pebbles by the shoreline. I could smell the fresh, wild, briny smell of salt on the carefree sea breeze--the warm sun contrasting with the cool, misty wind as it swept through my hair. I could hear the rhythm of the waves breaking over the rocks. It was a really nice beach. To the west of it was a boat-launch.

When we got back to the house, over breakfast, the dad was telling me about this new motorboat they'd just gotten. He seemed pretty excited. He wanted to know if I wanted to go fishing with him and Taya on it after breakfast.

"It'll be great! We could give you a tour of the area, and maybe hook us some big ones! It'll be her third voyage!" The smile practically leapt out of his voice as he said this last.

I opened up my mouth to reply that yeah, it sounded like a awesome way to spend a morning. But then suddenly, I remembered what my English teacher'd said about someone dying. I thought that if someone was going to die, there'd be more of a likelihood of it happening at sea, on a new boat, then on land. Awwww crap factory! Of course! But what was I supposed to do? Time to pull out one of my many talents, I guessed. I started making up excuses.

I said the water had looked really choppy when we'd gone to the beach. He said "that won't be a problem once we got out to the open ocean."--although the mom kinda shook her head at this.

We eventually finished breakfast, and me and Taya were sitting out on the trampoline while her dad got everything ready. I tried to postpone the trip by going in and having a second helping of food, but the sun was shining, the weather was fair, and I've always loved the ocean, boating and fishing, so I went out to the dock. What the heck--choppy waters never have bothered me.

(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 06:08 AM)

So we went out and it's good times. The dad gave me a tour of the surrounding waters and islands and inlets and stuff. But the waves never did get any smaller--they stayed pretty big the whole time--which kinda added to the excitement of it for me. The boat wasn't a very big one. It had a sail and a good motor, so when the wind was right, it could just rip. We didn't end up catching anything--not for lack of trying--but it wasn't the end of the world. I had fun, but the thought of somebody dying was as persistent as the rocking waves.

(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 06:13 AM)

We got back around mid-afternoon, and sat around with the older sister and friend in Taya's basement. Wow, that's a shock, I thought as soon as I made it all the way downstairs. It was exactly like it is. In reality, I mean. Whatever that was. I chuckled a little to myself. I didn't know, but this whole thing felt pretty real. No fake Hollywood scenes, no dramatic sappiness that had to be a act; nothing like that. It was all real enough; I guessed it had become my reality now. And then, suddenly, it was night.
Just like that.

No way! Not fair! Just as I was beginning to accept how real this whole thing was, I get leapfrogged ahead by at least 5 hours. Talk about mental whiplash! But it did make sense, once I thought about it. I'd seen plenty of shows that had time jumps like these. The directors found it necessary; a means of cutting out irrelevant stuff, and cutting down on the length of the film in the process. I guess nothing important had happened between then and now. Nothing relevant to the main story--my main story--anyways. But still, even though I understood it, it was a bit unnerving. Kinda like passing out after you drank too much and suddenly waking up at a totally different time of day with no recollections of the time that had passed. Like that minus the headache. I wonder how the film crew would react if they got a letter from me about it, say, a few weeks down the road.

Taya'd apparently gone to bed, and I was hanging with the older sister and her friend. This wasn't unusual for Taya. She could act all she wanted, but in truth, she was a bit of a pansy at staying up late. I was the exact opposite: a night owl. It didn't surprise me one bit that she'd hit the hay already. So that left me and the 2 older girls--Taya's "sister" and her friend. I wasn't sure where the parents had got to, they had either gone out somewhere or crashed too. I couldn't tell how late it was, but the sun was down. It had went to sleep as well, I thought to myself. But the stars weren't. They were out in full force. And the moon. It was waking up too, big and full and round. It cast the house, the yard and the beach in a erie, mysterious quicksilver. It was tangible; you could feel that glow. You didn't need to see it.

We hung out for a little bit around the house, but it didn't take us long to discover that we were really bored. So we went down to the beach. It was one of those dark, warm nights where the last thing you wanna do is sleep. None of us were the least bit tired. We wanted to do something.

We kicked back on the rocks for a bit with some music, just hanging out and talking in the silky night air and the creepy moonlight. Then one of the girls suggested we take the speed/sail boat out for a midnight jaunt, just for something fun to do. That sounded like a good, adventurous idea to me--I guess I'd kinda gotten tired of waiting for this impending death--so we walked to the boat launch. They steered the boat out around the rocks and into the ocean. They started talking about how they'd just moved, and some of the people there, but I was kind of an outsider since I didn't know any of them. We were just having a good time, giving the motor full throttle, riding on the swells, letting the night air blow in our faces--when the teacher stopped the movie.

Chapter 9: Ah!!!!!!!
(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 06:20 AM)

That was what had to have happened, because the next thing I knew I was back in the classroom, sitting in my old plastic chair, clutching at the desk in front of me. I could barely wrap my head around this! Couldn't even think straight it was so disorienting. But Dumass was speaking.

"There's been a lot of foreshadowing and plot development, which will ultimately lead to the death." she said.

I was like: awww crap! Waita ruin my whatev--and that's when I realized that I didn't know who was going to die, but it was going to be someone--or everyone--on the speedboat. But there was nothing I could do. I figured it was something to do with the high surf and the relatively lightweight and small craft we were embarking on. It had been built for speed over stability. I knew we all would just have to try and ride out whatever was coming, and hope we stayed afloat. What else could we do? It was going to happen! It didn't matter if we turned the boat around at once, or if we just kept going full steam ahead, or even if all of us just jumped ship. It was going to happen! And soon.

There was a little panic butterfly in my head. I had to warn them! I had to try and save someone. They had no idea what was coming. Well, neither did I, but I knew that whatever it was would be bad enough to be fatal. To take a life. I had to try and save whoever I could. And maybe I could do it too; if there was time. Time! I needed to be there. _Now! Oh please, I thought desperately at Ms. Dumass, please don't go off on a rant or lecture or analysis now! Don't hand out a worksheet, don't explain anything just turn the movie back on I need to say something I need to warn them please!

Suddenly--abruptly--Ms. Dumass complied. Turned the movie back on. And I was aboard again. Finally!

(by Meg, added on 19 March 2012 06:25 AM)

The 2 girls were talking like nothing had happened. I had to warn them! I opened my mouth--and got a face full of saltwater. A huge rogue wave washed over the boat. I could feel it's overwhelmingly powerful tug making the boat list forward as it almost swept me away into the undertow. Then I was in the water, with the stern of the boat looming over my head. I could hear the other people yelling, but I couldn't make out what they were saying over the roar of the giant wave.

The video got paused again, and I was back at my desk. Oh god, was I even wet? Was the whole class staring at the figure in the back row who was suddenly drenched from head to toe? My head was spinning. It didn't matter.

"OK, there was a lot of irony in the way the boat capsizes, so we're going to watch that again--Meg, I'm going to show you what's happening." Ms. Dumass was at my desk before she had finished her sentence. She put this model boat in front of me, stood it up vertically and then flipped it over, just like the speedboat had done overtop of me. It felt wet. I couldn't tell if it was sweat or saltwater on my hands. And then she switched on the movie, and there was water.

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