Marta Macedo


Marta Macedo was born in Portugal in 1998. Expecting to start a Creative Writing degree in the University of Bedfordshire soon, she has never had a personal work published. Still, that did not stop her from testing her luck and sending her first finished short story, in the off chances that one might find it interesting enough. She must admit: she rolled off of her bed when she found out one had. 

So, Yeah, Maybe

To Jo,

because only a handful of people can manage to keep grunge jokes just borderline offensive.

         Through joy derived from isolation and enthusiasm for the dark, I speed through life, aware of its lack of meaning. It's only as short as you make it and I intend on living it briefly and overwhelmingly, trying to not try so hard. What are the odds of a world changing ability having landed on my chromosomes? Few. Very few, to be precise. It’s not like I'm dumb; not by a long shot. I just don't have the willingness that drives people in the pursuit of that thing. It's a thing until you define it and you can only define it when you know what it is.

         I don't know what it is. I know I don't have one and I have come to terms with that. It wasn't that hard, I promise.

         But the definition of world-changing can vary and that's how the big Miles-Angela cold war began. You see, I know what world-changing means – Angela was the one who didn’t.

         It starts on a Tuesday.

         She calls my mobile and after the seventh ring I pick up. I didn't even know mobiles could ring for seven times straight but apparently such miracle is possible because the stupid ringtone has been disrupting my efforts at trying to ignore it for seven rings. I politely begin with a "What?!".

         "It is very nice to hear from you, too," is her choice of words and at the moment I think of how Angela is still to discover that she does not live inside a TV show.

         I repeat my former word. She says she wants to know the homework. I know better than that – I make sure she knows I know.

         "Is this your ludicrous notion of flirting? Because, if it is, you should look up the definition."

         Silence on the other end and I wonder whether I have crossed some line. I try to care. Such attempts are in vain.

         I don't speak until she does for I am not the one with a burning interest in this conversation.

         "Fine. You want to act like that, go ahead."

         I had expected that to be it. It wasn't, however, and I must admit that I am a bit let down because, for once, I thought Angela might step it up one bit and actually not pull the whole drama-queen shit on me. Oh, why am I so hopeless?

         My phone starts blaring at me and I stare at it, holding it at a distance, reaching for my cigarette at the same time. When I press it against my ear again, Angela is - thank goodness - already mid-way through her speech. I only catch parts of it because I don't like smoking and listening to her whining at the same time. Cigarettes are holy and Angela is not.

         "You can act all tough and whatnot," I take a drag. I exhale. "I know I'm not the only one," one more. I take a sip of my soda too, wishing it was tequila. Unfortunately, my prayers go unanswered and the changing-of-beverages miracle does not take place yet again. "It's okay to have feelings, they don't bite," the cigarette that I balance between my lips comes too close to crashing with the ground when I find myself amused by her stupid attempt at a joke and end up chuckling for a bit. I know she hears this. Maybe that's what shortened the speech because when I hold the mobile up again there is but silence and her breathing.

         After some seconds, she speaks.


         I look up as she says my name, hoping for that movie moment during which I know I'm falling for her just by the way she says my name. It doesn't come. Of course it doesn't.

         "Angela," I risk. I'm taking a serious chance here because, knowing how (un)lucky I am, odds are this girl is already in love with me.

         "Miles, it's okay."

         I exhale. This much talking I can take while smoking.


         I stay quiet for the following moments and wonder about how uncommonly normal it already is for me and Angela to stay like this. How uneventful it has become for our talks to just drift off into nothingness that ends up not being total blankness because she always breaks it after a few seconds or a few minutes. And I wonder about how I always end up not hanging up though I never really want to pick up the phone in the first place.

         I wonder why I've never hit ignore.

         She knows I'm still on the line. I don't breathe and I don't have to because no matter how silent I'll be, she knows when I am and when I'm not listening.


         "It's okay."

         "I know it is."

         "That's a first."

         "Trying to be funny, are we?"

         "Ha, we're a 'we' now?"

         "Don't flatter yourself, dear."

         "It really is, you know that, right?"

         "Know what? That it really is the sun that allows any form of life on Earth and, unknowingly to some but very believable to me, on other planets too?"



         "You're something else."

         "Now, see, that's the whole thing: I'm really not."

         She sighs. She always does because in her head I'm this great someone who'll be this great something and will end up doing this great thing. Only I'm not and I don't even know why she got that idea in the first place.

         It's a very troubling life.

         "Just because I believe in aliens it does not mean I'll be the one to prove their existence."

         Another sigh. A more audible one this time.

         In her head I'm simply self-deprecating. In mine, however, I'm extremely self-aware.

         We fall into silence again and I take the instant of quietness to light up a second cigarette.

         "Well, it wouldn't hurt to try. That is, if you don't die from lung-collapsing in the meantime."

         "My lungs shall not collapse, Angela. That I can assure you."

         "You smoke like a chimney. Aren't you worried they'll cave in one of these days?"

         "Why would they? They know that, without me, they're nothing. I'm what makes them."

         "I really hope you're still talking about lungs, Miles."

         When the blow of the light breeze laces with my exhalations and they hit me square in the face while I ponder on whether or not to shoot the characteristically ironic question "What else would I be talking about?", I take it as a sign and keep quiet. I keep quiet for long and I know that Angela is, just like me, also wondering why I haven't verbally assaulted her notion of a talk as I would have on any other day.

         See, I'm not someone who believes in signs. I'm not even someone who believes in something. I'm someone who knows there's nothing to believe in because all this is but a chance of DNA and should my great-great-great-grandparents not have fucked some two hundred years ago, I would not even be having this conversation. Hell, if my mom hadn't chased my dad away about five years prior to today's events, and decided that, because there was only one person to take care of me at the time, I should receive a mobile phone in order to always be reachable and always having the option to reach her would that be a necessity, I probably would still not be having this conversation. But I took the naturally produced movement of air that was bound to exist and was not simply placed there for me to interpret it in any way I saw fit as a sign. I did and I kept quiet because even I don't take any pleasure in squirming the little love bites out of someone's beating heart.

         Out of Angela's heart.

         "Yeah, I was."


         Wednesday and the sun forces its way into my room and I curse and shower and curse some more because everyone knows this is an ungodly hour to even be awake let alone walking to school.

         I reach the stupidly narrow gates that only allow two students to walk between them before 8 a.m and immediately regret turning on my clock the night before because the first thing I see upon arriving at school is Angela’s pattern-thingy backpack that’s just overall too attention-calling and I want to turn around and sprint back home but even I know that’s dumb.

         She talks to someone while I mentally debate my options and beside me stands a kid going through his bag, presumably trying to find his card, who eyes me sideways, probably inspecting my facial expressions. I scowl at him and that’s enough to get him leaving.

         While my hand rummages the inside of the soft black fabric, searching for the contents of my pencil case – assuming that’s where I put my card – Angela turns around and I’m there facing her with the meanest looking face I can muster before I even know I’m doing it.

         And, for once, I find myself surprised for, though I do stand there and do nothing but stare back, she does but smile kindly and turns back around, not grinning or speaking, not even walking over to me like she so often decides to do. And that’s it. She walks to her classroom and I find my card and I have English while she’s putting up with Ms. “The Biology Bitch” Pincott and I swear to God this is the first time I don’t know what Herman Melville is talking about.

         I try to forget about everything that I know I'm not meant to let slip my mind and I focus on the obsolete manners my brain finds when it manages to work and we leave class and I practically jog to her classroom and I don't know what I'm doing and God, do I crave a smoke right now and she sees me and oh what what what and of course my mind decides to gain sentience at that precise moment and purposefully dismiss the aforementioned manners, which leaves me standing on white tiles, surrounded by white walls, staring at the rays-of-morning-sunshine-reflecting window that lies behind Angela.

         That lasts for the entirety of the time it takes Ms. Pincott to gather her too-loose binders.

          I think I've been silent. Maybe for too long. All her idiotic-looking peers have left both the room and the hall and she's still there and for what I'm pretty sure is the first time in forever she eyes me sideways and boy, do I feel like laughing at this kind of strangely-not-so-unwanted irony.

         Perhaps I should utter something that at least resembles a word. Or maybe I'll let her do the talking. She's always been the expert so why not put the skills to oh so good use?

         But she's not talking. She's not speaking to me and I don't understand why not nor why I'm even affected by it because this is just another day, right? Right.


         I've never jogged to her classroom.

         I've never even met her at her door.



         "Is it really?"

         I hate her jokes.

         Let me rephrase that: there's this feeling of assumption piling up left and right inside my mind of hate towards her words and jokes that's meant to be filling my insides right now because it so often does but doesn't today. I'm, thus, being filled with nothing. But it’s not a total void, though, because there's something there that prevents the crippling emptiness from taking over. Oh, sweet fucking Morgan Freeman, what is this?

         I turn on my feet when I decide I do not need the answer to that particular question.


        It has been nearly two hours. I’ve managed to attend both Math and French class and come nowhere nearer to knowing how to explain a graph function – I guess Einstein was right, after all[1] – or how to say anything other than fous le camps (which, unsurprisingly, stands for something related to “fuck off”).

         I don’t think I can say I’ve made any sort of progress, thus far.

     I still don’t understand and the screams of incredibly-short-yet-perfectly-capable-of-handling-a-punch-to-the-nose freshmen aren’t helping and the presence of the imminence of our conjoined attendance to Mr. Morrison’s shiver-provoking Chem class is just hovering over my head and clouding my already very distressed thoughts.

         I have no idea what I’m doing.

Or what to do.

         Incidentally, there’s two minutes left of introspection and then I shall sleep my way through the Periodic table.


         She noiselessly plops herself next to me. The distance of something thinner than a leg hangs between us and it’s so stale it’s sickening.

         She kind of screams without opening her mouth.

         Stupid deafening silence.

         Stupid Mr. Morrison.

         Stupid life.

         “What are you doing?”

         I give in. I can’t handle something I’m not even sure what it is.

         I can’t handle the uncertainty.

         “Just jotting down a few things.”

         Stupid answer.


Sixteen minutes left.

         I feel like I’ve walked through hell and back.

         My chin hurts from being pressed against my palm.

         She hasn’t said another word.


Four minutes till the shrieking bell that I’ve longed for blares through my ears. Oh, how long I’ve been awaiting you.


Fifty seconds.

         Mr. Morrison drools something out and everyone starts stuffing their too colorful bags and someone gets up and immediately sits back down and I swallow hard before I say something I know is not Miles-worthy.

         “So, see you around, I guess.”

         I have been doomed to let myself down every minute of this day, apparently.

         I dread what will come next though I don’t think there’s a single atom of dignity left to be shredded.

         She flicks her hair and turns to me, her back facing the door to which she’s already made her way to. Somehow I find myself standing up as well, my backpack already stuffed and yet incredibly light as it has a tendency to be.

         I notice a small freckle on the side of her nose.

         I scold myself for such inadequate perceptions.

         She lifts the left corner of her mouth before speaking, only putting more emphasis on the aforementioned freckle, and I remind myself that Angela has yet to read the How To Smirk: Step-by-Step chapter of life. It sort of has the expected effect on me, though.

         “You might.”

         She turns on her feet.

         The bell shrieks.

         Mr. Morrison limps away from me.

         Stupid Angela.


         As I delve into another effortlessly assembled sandwich I had somehow managed to make the night before, I pull from my backpack the book which has been the only thing weighing on my spine for the past few hours.

         I let out a mixture of a laugh and a howl which, thankfully, goes unnoticed by the majority of the cafeteria, as in my hands rests the cover of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, a book through which I could not get farther than two pages without attempting to swallow myself such was the intellectual misery, covering Cecelia Ahern’s Love, Rosie.

         I smile to myself as I think of how amused I constantly am by my own actions and how I’m not fooled into thinking anyone here notices the thickness difference between the two books. That’s how much I discredit my peers.

         That’s how right I am – no one says a thing.

         Then again, no one speaks to me either.

         Angela sits two tables behind me.

        Her back’s turned my way. She’s speaking to someone. To an actual human being. She speaks to someone who does not, in the simplest of ways, resemble me and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this person with her before. Not even at school, actually. I’m not entirely sure he even goes here.

          I toss the remains of the tuna mess in the bin before thumping my way to the library.


         Here’s the funny thing about taking a Philosophy class in high school: nobody else does it. It’s literally just me, the she’s-probably-a-bat-by-night teacher and six more weirdos who had no idea what they were getting into upon signing up.

         That sort of explains why I sit next to Angela for another forty-five minutes.

         “Had a good lunch?”

         I can make such quality small talk, honestly.

        “Yeah, it was okay,” says Angela without really looking up from her notebook. She’s doing something that apparently works as a motivation for my brain to not internally shut up without even lifting her fucking pencil.

         Bruce Almighty – meet Angela Colt.

        “The meat kinda sucked.” She taps the paper twice with her index finger and I notice a ring that I’d never taken note of before and it’s one of those that’s stuck mid-way through the finger and I just never understood if those were made for people with fat fingers so they wouldn’t look so chubby – the fingers, I mean – and I take a quick passing glance at the rest of her right hand and at her left too and she wears no other rings. My brain’s assaulted by the notion that I’d never considered such trivialities before and I think of how I didn’t care about this girl, much less her hands, until yesterday – not that I give all those many fucks about it today, no way – and it’s so brief it’s unsettling and when I look up to her again she has raised her head too and I feel my eyes wanting to roll in the far back of my skull but for some reason they don’t.

         I open my textbook instead.

        “Didn’t see you at the cafeteria, though.”

       “Yeah, I had business to attend to,” I answer back, releasing a choked laugh from the pits of my esophagus which seems to have been lodged there for hours as it’s finally exhaled.

        “Such beautiful euphemisms for the disgusting act of blowing smoke from both your mouth and nose at the same time. It really must take talent.”

         It’s only as she says it – with a little more than a distinct hint of disdain – that I realize I haven’t smoked today. All day.

         “You seem to have me more than sussed out.” Books really get to me, apparently.

       She looks up from the text we’re supposed to have been analyzing for the past three minutes and faces me questioningly, possibly wondering what “suss” even means.

         OK, so that was mean.

         But she has pretty eyes, and the fact that I’m now mentally able to acknowledge such a dreadful reality should make up for every shitty thought of the last decade.

         She does indeed have pretty coffee-brown eyes.

         “I might.”

         “Or you might not.”

         She momentarily smiles and it sort of wrinkles the bags under her eyes and my mind drifts back to how some moments with Angela exponentially increase my craving of cigarettes.

         “Miss Colt.”

       Angela gets called out for distracting me. I do as much as roll my eyes at the teacher but she just smiles at me and simultaneously glares at her and Angela shakes her head, focusing again on something probably written by Plato.

         I don’t bother checking the page.

         Somewhere in the distant first row someone goes on and on about how knowledge can only be acquired through mathematical and logical treatments of a subject and I mutter very loudly “Kiss ass!” and Mrs. Coplan doesn’t bother to unglue her eyes from the page although everyone can see the hint of a smirk she does her best to hide. It comes to end in a strange scowl.

         Angela is mid-way through nudging me in the shoulder when the girl whose lips are so deep into Mrs. Coplan ass she can probably tell me what Mrs. Coplan had for lunch turns to me and very sassily asks, “Excuse me?” and I can’t help but be slightly disappointed she didn’t say “Excuse moi?”.

         It’d just give it a bit more of a flare, that’s all.

         “Oh, shut up,” I start. “Close Wikipedia and then we’ll chat. You don’t know the first thing about Positivism.”

         “About what?”

         “See?! My point exactly.”

         “And you do?” I turn to my right to face Angela, honestly believing I must have fucked up my hearing during lunch, but there she is, a quirked eyebrow which at the same time manages to frown and her lips are slightly parted and yeah, she was definitely the one who said that.

         “Well, wouldn’t it be pretty stupid of me to scold that crawling oaf and not know what I’m talking about?”

         I register the muffled sentence “Crawling what?” someone in the front voices but don’t take my eyes off of her.

         Angela raises the left corner of her upper lip and my heart has permanently taken residency somewhere along the extension of my trachea.

         “And you still didn’t answer the question.”

         Around the room someone “Whooos” her. Guess there’s one more person to add to the list “To Punch”.

         “Why the curiosity? It’s not like you’re particularly invested in the subject.”

         “I actually am. I didn’t expect you to be aware, though, so don’t sweat it.”

         “Oh, you are? Never took you for a physics-analogy-to-the-way-society-functions loving girl.”

         “Well, curiously I always presumed this had ‘you’ written all over it.”

         “Really. And, now, why’s that, darling Colt?”

         “C’mon Miles, anything that invalidates irrationality practically screams you.”

         If only she’d said that yesterday.

         “It does not invalidate irrationality. It simply states that no actual knowledge comes from uncertainty. Everything’s defined by pretty much the laws of physics. Ever wondered why they were called ‘laws’? Well, there’s your explanation.”

         “And how isn’t that invalidation? Miles, please, if you take away the randomness of the world, the pure coincidence, the not-strictly-defined aspect of life itself you’re left with a society dictated by the laws of physics and you have nothing but predictions. Then, why even question? Everything is just- just already done with.”

         “Oh boo hoo. What is Positivism to you anyway? Bed-time read?”

         “Everyone has their little guilty pleasures, Miles.” She doesn’t even stutter.

         I’m about to answer literally the first thing that ends up swimming its way up to my mind because by this point I don’t even know what we’re rambling about but I’m guessing it’s not related to Comte anymore when Mrs. Coplan has the decency to finally interfere and there’s really no way to describe how frightened I find myself upon facing six faces who seem genuinely interested in this debate of Philosophical currents.

         “I must say I did not expect this uh, ferocious interest in such subjects, Miss Colt. I’m impressed.”

         Angela sits upright once again before answering.

         “Well, what can I say?”

         Mrs. Coplan nods in sheer content. The lady must thrive on these desultory outbursts.

         “You can start by emailing us the link to the website from where you copied that,” I say between gritted teeth, inching closer to Angela. She seizes the opportunity and kicks my shin.

         I must say I’ve never been more attracted to a human being before.


         But all that ends and class is dismissed and not one more word need I utter for Angela simply rises to her feet and waltzes out, leaving me to walk 2057 steps home – better than the 2064 I’d covered yesterday.

         I haven’t the faintest idea of how she does it but I’m reaching the steps of my house, hand inside the smaller case of my backpack searching for the keys, Tongue Talk pumping directly into my brain cells, and there she sits, one leg stretched over the curb and the other enveloped by her arms.

       Her hair falls to the side, mixing with the brown of her coat. Her skin looks paler in contrast to the white of my neighbor’s fence. Her eyes look the same.

         Maybe slightly shinier.

         But maybe not.

         She mouths my name but the music keeps playing and I take one earbud out – still not sure if she’s worth the absence of music.

         “Miles,” she repeats.

         I breathe in quickly, letting myself spare a moment to wonder if I’ve ever given her my address.

         I’m not sure.

         “Angela,” I test as I exhale.

         “Long time no see, huh.”

         “How’d you get here so fast?”

         “There’s a bus that stops just one street over.”

         As she says it I unconsciously look to my right, searching for the bus stop I have never sat at. “Right.”

        She stands up without much of an effort yet leaning on her right arm for a final push. She leaves her bag on the ground and takes one step towards me, to which I respond by dropping my own bag but not retracting from my place. There’s a hint of sweat forming just below her hairline. My eyes do their best to avoid her face.

         With her left index finger, she points to the iPod that I’d slipped into my jeans’ pocket. “Is that ‘The Holidays’?”

         I wonder if I’ve mentioned my liking on-the-brink-of-obsession for The Holidays.

         I’m not sure.

         “Yeah, it is.”

         “They’re pretty cool.” I simply nod.

         A breeze of cool air oozes its way between us, leaving me to acknowledge how close we are. She shudders almost imperceptibly and I’m left with nothing but goose bumps.

         “I like ‘Tongue Talk’ the best.”

         I try not to show how confused and scattered my brain is at the moment.

        I don’t think I do a very good job at it as she steps back again and slips her hand inside a back pocket. As she looks down, some strands of hair fall onto her face, partly covering her left cheek. I have to lean in a bit to hear as she says, “So, Philosophy was fun today.”

         Well, of course she’d bring it up.

         “Yes, well, I wouldn’t have believed your interest in Positivism otherwise.”

         “It was quite sudden.”

         “Was it?”

         “Yeah. I dunno, I guess, in some way, it started after that essay last month. Remember? You got an A.”

         “I recall.”

         “Yeah, well… I dunno. It looked sort of interesting. Everything looks sort of interesting if I attempt to look at it from your perspective.”

         I don’t answer her. I can’t bring myself to say anything that might resemble a coherent response to that because I can’t decide whether I’m frightened to death that she thinks so highly of me or if I want to fuck her because she thinks so highly of me. I believe it’s a beautiful combination of the two. I think that’s possible. That’s got to be possible.

         Why wouldn’t it be possible?

         But then again, Angela has always been a bit of a breathing conundrum.

         “Yeah, you know, it’s the same with ‘The Holidays’,” she continues. “I mean, I think I’d heard about ‘em before – I’m not really sure, though – but then we had those Chem classes in the beginning of the semester and you sat next to me for like, five or six in a row and I noticed your little doodles on some pages of your notebook – which is like, permanently torn – and yeah.” She laughs nervously while taking a strand of hair between two fingers and tucking it behind her ear.

         I try to focus on the wind. It doesn’t prove to be as difficult as not looking at her has been today.

         “Well, I really like them now so that was totally worth it.”

         “I guess,” I mutter after a while.

         “Yeah, yeah, totally. Uh, anyway, I’ve been meaning to tell you this for some time and hey, now’s as good a time as any so…”

         I’m not sure she’s expecting some form of acknowledgement from me. I don’t present her with one, either way.

         “Yeah, well, I just wanted to like, tell you that, you know, I’ve been reading up on some stuff about that whole Positivism thing and all. I mean, it’s pretty neat.” I try not to respond physically to the usage of the word ‘neat’. “Yeah, it’s like, totally revolutionary. I guess you feel that way ‘bout it, too, no?”

         “In a way.”

         “Oh, yeah, yeah, totally.” She’s a nervous mess. Her hands all over the place, her hair completely untucked, her eyes forming shining droplets, she rambles on and on. I observe closely.

         I think this is one of the things that has always puzzled me the most about Angela: self-approval is never quite enough.

         “So, you know what I mean now, don’t you?”

         “Sorry, what?”

         She looks down for a second. A sharp intake of cold, damp air. Her gaze meets mine once again. “You know, how I said you were – are – something else.”

         I merely shake my head.

         “’Cause… Well, you see, if it hadn’t been for your scrambled jots and two-feet long essays, I would have never been exposed to this kind of stuff and my being and entire existence would still be reduced to this – this nothingness. Well, not nothingness per say but you know what I mean… What I’m trying to say is: because of you, of your tastes, of your interests and recollections and incomprehensible outbursts and undeniable intellectuality, I could better myself. You, in some way – in some prying and probing way – improved me. That’s what I meant by world changing.”

         It takes me a few eternities and mental shots of firey vodka to recover from this whole declaration of lack of independence. My throat burns with words that I could never spit out – not after this. They claw at each other. I have beings inside of me. Somehow, I do a cool and very diminishing selection between them all. “Angela… That’s. No.”




         “No. No as in, ‘no, that invalidates the whole concept of world’.”

         “What – what do you mean?” There’s a slight and quiet hiccup between her words. There’s a quiet sniff between her breaths. I wish she hadn’t quiet, watering eyes.

         “World is something that encompasses far more than you and I.”

         “But there is a number of realities. There are individual realities.”

         “Look, if you reduce it to such exclusivity then there will be no society for everyone will be too focused on their own little realities, playing house and universe at the same time. World-changing isn’t that.”

         “But – Miles, there are – there can be – different notions of reality! Of world!”

         I stare at her; I gaze upon her weeping eyes and her dripping nose and crimson cheeks and I try to hate myself but it’s to no avail. For a moment or two, for those her crying does not pierce, I contemplate on how, now, I can’t see past this crumbled wreck that she is.

         I slip one hand inside my right pocket.

         “But world-changing can never be you reading a few more pages than required from a textbook.”

         I pull out a cigarette.





















[1] A/N: In reference to Albert Einstein’s famous quote “If you can't explain it to a six year-old, you don't understand it yourself.”

© The Acentos Review 2015