Author: Katie Mae

Chapter 5
Pride & Prejudice

"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better." ~ Abraham Lincoln


Teagan Roemer was a college freshman. She was going to become a novelist, an artist of words. She was going to be famous. She was eighteen, and she had a lot of lofty goals. She never partied, she always turned in her homework on time, and she was generally well-liked by most people she met. She was, in her mother's words, "the perfect child." She was just a simple girl who knew what she wanted in life and was ready to do everything she needed to do in order to be the person she eventually wanted to be. She had never even been in a serious relationship before, though she had dated in high school, and believed relationships to be a waste of time. Even now, while her roommate was out enjoying the day with her boyfriend, waiting for a party that she was going to attend that night. Teagan, on the other hand, was happily sitting underneath her favorite tree, reading Pride & Prejudice again for the fiftieth time or so. It was her favorite book.

She had chosen to wear a blue sundress, sitting on a blanket to keep it from getting any grass stains. Her long brown hair was down and had been straightened that morning. Her shoes, which were light blue flip-flops that matched the dress, were sitting on the blanket next to her. She loved her solitude, and she thought this was a good way to start her Friday afternoon. She was going to be working on a project all weekend, and figured this was the only time she would be able to just sit and relax.

"Excuse me," she heard someone to her right say. At first, she wasn't sure he was talking to her. "Do you have a light?"

After a moment, Teagan looked up from her old book like a deer in headlights. She glanced quickly to her left and right and realized that this man was actually asking her if she had a light. This rough-around-the-edges, scruffy-looking dude who could have passed for being homeless in her book. His blue jeans were very faded and had a hole in the right knee; the T-shirt he was wearing looked like it had been worn a thousand times, a very faded gray color with "Pink Floyd" donned across it. His hair was a story all on its own; it was very dark brown, probably black, and was so untamed that it looked as though he had stuck his finger in a light socket. It was his kind-looking eyes that made her give him a small smile. They were large, brown, almost inviting. He seemed harmless enough.

"No," she answered, shaking her head slightly. "I don't smoke. Sorry."

Looking back down at her book, Teagan figured that the man would walk away. Instead, out of the corner of her eye, she saw him pull out a blue lighter and light the cigarette that had been haphazardly hanging out of the corner of his mouth. She glanced up at him for a moment, feeling a little confused.

"That's okay," he said to her while he took a long drag of the cigarette. "I didn't really need a lighter. I just wanted an excuse to talk to you."

"An excuse?" she asked incredulously.

He nodded.

"I don't really think you needed an excuse," she replied, looking at her book again. "You could have just walked up to me. A simple 'hi, how are you' would have sufficed I think."

Teagan sounded a little annoyed, and the man grinned slightly at her. After a moment, he asked, "Do you mind if I sit here?"

"Actually," she began, still making a half-hearted attempt to read her book. "I do mind. There are other trees, take your cancer stick somewhere else."

His smile grew and he plopped down onto the grass next to her. "Let's start over. Hi, how are you?"

By now, Teagan simply wanted to be left alone. "I'm busy, thanks."

The man took a drag of his cigarette and Teagan made a face of disgust. "Busy reading?" he asked, looking at the cover of her book. "Pride & Prejudice? You read that shit?"

"As a matter of fact, yes. I do."

"You looked smarter than that."

"Excuse me?" Teagan didn't appreciate the insinuation that she was stupid. "What do you mean I 'looked smarter than that'? Jane Austen is a wonderful author - and her writing is captivating. She's everything that a good author should be."

He half-smiled at her comment and took another drag of his cigarette. "Her writing is okay," he replied with a shrug. "As far as what kind of person she is, she hated herself, had no respect whatsoever for women."

"What?" Teagan snapped, as though the man were saying something sacrilegious. In her mind, anyway, that's what it felt like.

"Look at everything about that story," he reasoned, finally plopping himself onto the blanket next to her. "Look at how the main character pines after a man who basically treats her like shit from the git-go. He's always ignoring her, being rude to her - and isn't it true that authors often show their true feelings in a lot of what they write? I mean, look at Poe."

"You're going to compare Jane Austen," Teagan said slowly, trying to make sense of what he just said. "To Edgar Allen Poe?"

He nodded. "Yeah. Look at the stories he wrote - dark, gloomy, sort of mirrored his own beliefs about life and the things that happened to him. That's what authors do, kid: they use real-life experiences and their beliefs in the stories they write. Jane Austen clearly had man issues."

"So, that would explain why you think she doesn't have respect for women, then," Teagan said aloud, trying to make sense of what he was saying. "Since she had 'man issues,' that made her not respect herself."

"No one who respects him- or herself would pine over someone who treats them poorly, that's simple logic. Think about it: if a guy were a dick to you, and yet you continued to want to be with him, wouldn't that mean you don't have enough respect for yourself to find someone who treats you right?"

Teagan thought this man was ridiculous. "Okay, so why would you say she hated herself?"

"For a similar reason," he said. "You'd have to in order to throw yourself at someone like it was nothing. That's what the main character does - and it's a reflection of Austen."

"You're an idiot."

"You sound upset."

Teagan rolled her eyes and leaned against the tree, trying to focus one more time on reading her book. "Go away. I'm trying to read."

"I'm just saying, that's a terrible book. Read something about Joan of Arc or someone who at least deserves some amount of respect. Reading that book says a lot about you."

"I said go away. You're bothering me."

"Okay," he said with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. He stood up and took one last drag of his cigarette before tossing it into the grass a few feet away. Shoving both hands in  his pockets, his stare fell back upon Teagan. "You want to go out with me tonight?"

"Excuse me?" she snapped, shooting him a dirty look. "What the fuck is wrong with you? No, I don't want to go out with you. You insult my favorite author, call me stupid, and insinuate that because you think Jane Austen didn't have any respect for herself - which, by the way, she did - that I don't either, and then you want me to go out with you? You must be the dumbest person on this campus. Go away!"

As she looked back down at her book, he nodded. "Okay, fair enough." He paused for a moment, then gave her a serious expression. "My name's JD. I'm playing at Pub 13 tonight, around ten. If you're interested, you should head up there. Even if you don't want to talk to me, I'd like to see a friendly face in the crowd."

Teagan didn't respond.

"Just think about it."

After standing there for an awkward moment, he turned around and walked away. Still angry at her encounter with him, Teagan looked up and made a noise of disgust. She didn't want to see him again and would make sure of it, though the oddity of the conversation she had just had with him made her wonder what his real intentions were. No one could treat her that way and expect her to want to be go out on a date with him; then again, she never expected to eventually want to see him again either.


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