Chapter 9

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"Ben," I heard Miss Rivers call my name as the school siren rung for the next period. Everyone in my critical thinking class had started packing up to leave, and I barely heard her above the noise of desks and chairs being moved and arranged.

"Please wait behind," she said, voicing my worst fear. Wyatt and Ji-Hun gave me apologetic looks as they packed up their books. Aiyana didn't seem to notice what had happened because she was busy on her phone.

The class emptied out soon after, and it was just me and Miss. Rivers. I stood by the table I'd been sharing with the rest as Miss. Rivers stared on at me from her position beside her desk. I watched her look away, picking a spiral bound report from her desk before heading over to me. She stopped in front of me, handing the report over before folding her arms across her chest.

"What is that?" she asked as her filled in brows cocked into a frown. I looked down at the report, opening it to find the first sheet with my name printed in a large bold text. It was my personal statement that I'd submitted a day ago.

"My personal statement," I muttered under my breath before looking up to find Miss. Rivers rearranging the bangs of her brown hair that she'd cut into a pixie cut.

"That's your personal statement?" she asked, making me nod slowly at her question. She shook her head, reaching her hand out to me. I looked at her pale palm for a while before eventually handing the personal statement over to her. I watched her flip through the two-page large font print out as she shook her head.

"This is your personal statement?" she repeated before looking up at me. "Ben, this is roughly five hundred words of you rambling on about school work. Save the fact that it's below the eight hundred word limit, I don't see anything here that will point me to what your career choice is, or at least a miniature plan for the future."

I hung my head, feeling my throat clog up. Why was she asking me about this? It's just a stupid class project, she should have just gone ahead and failed me.

"Ben, what do you want to do in the future? What about school? What school do you want to attend?" she asked, making me look down at my sneakers as I tucked my shaking hands into the pockets of my trousers.

"I don't know. I'm not going to college," I eventually said. The bustle of moving to the next class had probably ended since there was less noise coming from the hallway behind the classroom door. I looked up a little, catching Miss River's unimpressed look.

"Why?" she asked as her red colored lips curved down in a frown. "You could easily get a scholarship, so the problem is definitely not money."

"I just—I just want to work at my dad's repair store."

"Is that what you really want? You seem unsure. If that was really what you wanted I would have seen it right here," she said, looking down at the report in her hand. "Have you tried to look up anything at all? You know, to see if there are any courses you'd like to do?"

I shook my head at her words, making her nod. She turned away from me, heading back to her desk. I watched her drop the report, making to search through her drawers. She eventually took out some magazines and pamphlets before heading back to me.

"Please look through these and tell me what you think about any of these colleges and the courses they offer. I'd like you to tell me soon as well," she said, handing the stack to me. I nodded, turning to my bag that was sitting on the wooden table to put the pamphlets into it.

"Wait, let me write you a late pass," she said as I zipped up my bag. I waited by the desk and she eventually returned with a piece of paper that she handed over to me.

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