I wish I wasn’t Samantha. She's boring and plain looking. She sits at the end of the hall and writes in a dog-eared old notebook while everyone else is talking to their friends. It’s not that she's a nerd, or a loser; she isn’t even one of the goth kids, all sullen and sour at the world, or an art club member, who talk with their hands and wear bamboo clothing and lots of beads. She's the kid-that-sits-at-the-end-of-the-hall-and-daydreams-all-day-and-constantly-talks-about-being-a-writer. That’s Samantha’s thing. My thing.
Today is the last day of school before summer starts. I should be excited like the rest of my classmates. Instead I sit on the corner bench at the end of the hall with my notebook propped up on my knees, ignoring the chatter and laughter going on around me. I know what the start of summer means - it means dad is going to make me work full time at my job now, instead of just Saturdays and twice a week after school. I work at the bakery down the street from our house. It’s called “Mm-mm-Muffins”, which, if you ask me, is the most unoriginal name ever. The job itself isn’t bad, it’s my boss. Mrs. Beth has run the muffin shop for fifteen years and it must have made her crotchety and bitter because she’s ‘mm-mm-mean’. Dad says she’s good people, but I don’t think dad knows anything about good people.
I don’t like work, and I don’t like school much either. What I do like is writing. When I write, time comes to a halt. I come alive in the pages. I write all kinds of stuff - poetry, short stories and even novels. I have one story I’ve been working on for nearly a year now. I don’t want it to end. My character’s name is Anastasia and she’s the queen of all Mary-Sue’s. I learned that term in English (the one class in school I like) and it suits Anastasia perfectly. She's everything I wish I could be. She's medium height and curvy, not too tall, not too skinny. She's got long luxurious red curls instead of thin brown hair, and blue eyes that sparkle instead of glasses. And Anastasia is a fighter -she knows what she wants and goes after it. I know the story is silly, ridiculous even, but it’s a vacation from life. Everyone at high school knows I want to be a writer since I stupidly announced it on the first day of school in Career and Personal Planning. The CAP teacher, a tall, big-boned blonde lady who was fired later that year, said something that day that I've often heard repeated from my dad - “Don’t quit your day job.”
I wasn’t crushed when she said it, just put off. I wondered what right this Amazon woman had to brush off my dreams so scornfully.
No one at school seems to make fun of me even though I sit on the bench during lunch and scribble away furiously. Some people even gravitate towards me, curious what I’m writing. Occasionally a well-meaning student or teacher will ask, “Anything published yet, Sam?”
And I'll shuffle my feet and swallow my pride and say, “No, still nothing yet.”
“Well you know what they say, got to keep on trying!”
I know all about “keep on trying”. I pin all my rejection slips on the wall above my dresser as a reminder. They make me angry enough to keep writing. Dad says I’ll probably end up wallpapering my entire room that way. When I think about it, it’s sort of funny, but Dad hadn’t meant it as funny.
I wonder about my classmates as they mill around me, talking to one another, cheerfully cleaning out their lockers and exchanging summer plans. Do their fathers crack jokes at the dinner table, or read their report cards and say good job? Maybe they offer to help with homework. Or hug them...
In my story Anastasia is going to fight a dragon. She's strong and plucky and brave. My heroine will slay the dragon that guards her and break free of the palace that she was locked in. That’s why I sit here by myself, writing feverishly as I wait for the buzzer that will signal the end of a school year - I wish to be sucked into the story.