TWO

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It didn't take long for Ronnie to spot me.

     "Eden!" she said, her seat in the third row from the back. She was sitting on the end, with her backpack taking up the seat next to her. She waved her arm to get my attention.

     Grateful, I walked over to sit next to her. I didn't have a plan prior to walking in and I had quickly realized how terrible of an idea that was. The auditorium was not equipped to fit the roughly 2,000 in the student body, turning the room into absolute chaos. Students were lining the walls and there were spare chairs set up on the stage, facing out to the rest of us. The room was buzzing with anticipation and nerves. It felt like all we needed was a spark and the entire room would explode.

     "Wild, huh?" Ronnie asked, picking up her bag from the seat and letting me slide past.

     "It's definitely something," I responded. Ronnie and I had a tendency to view the student body from an observational standpoint, something that probably rooted from having spent so much time writing about them. Or maybe our disconnection from the people around us, our tendency to view the student body as potential sources and subjects, made us want to write about them.

     "So," she turned to me, pushing her curly, dark-brown hair out of her face. She had a number of reading glasses she liked to switch between and today she had decided on massive round ones, making her hazel eyes seem even larger than they were. "I was thinking you would tackle this story."

     I hesitated. "Don't you want to take this one on? There is a lot of potential here."

     Ronnie moved her head from side to side slightly, weighing my words. "There is, but I feel too connected to the problem to write about it."

     "We're both seniors," I told her.

     "But I don't think I can handle this from a balanced perspective," she said and placed a dark hand on my arm. "Look, you know me and so do most other people. I am not exactly quiet on certain viewpoints I have and I don't want it to impact my credibility."

     "It's not going to," I responded and turned to her. "Everyone here is going to have an opinion on this issue; it's hard to stay balanced or even remotely neutral. You being openly political isn't going to impact that."

     She took her glasses off and rubbed the bridge of her nose. "That's a fair point, but I gotta be honest, I'm worried about talking to sources."

     I considered that for a second, knowing she had a point. Both of us were pretty strongly political, but Ronnie was more open about it than I was. It was rare for me to get into a discussion about my viewpoints unless I was talking to people in the newsroom, or talking with people I felt comfortable around. Ronnie would proudly attend marches or utilize hashtags and while she knew it might make being a journalist more difficult in the future, she didn't want to throw away her youth just to avoid potentially having people question her credibility in ten years.

     Her opinions weren't lost on the student body and it had caused a pretty intense stir, particularly with the wealthy, white and male crowd at St. Joe's. They were the majority here and they recognized it. Ronnie, on the other hand, stood out as one of four black girls. She became even better known as she aged and decided she didn't care about keeping her politics private.

     "I'm sure it'll be fine," I told her, but even I knew the lie was weak.

     "I think you'll do a great job," she said. "I'll still help contribute and I'm sure almost everyone else on staff will, too. This is an opportunity, Eden. Seriously. You can't pass this up."

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