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"Education as a Lifestyle"
“Anna! Anna, are you even listening to me?”
“Yeah. Sorry, Syd. I guess I just spaced out again.”
As the two girls were walking to school, Sydney was going off about her weekend again. It’s almost a ritual; Sydney tells Anna about her exciting weekend and the boys who she met at a concert or a party, and Anna nods her head, pretends to listen, and throws in a few ‘Oh’s and ‘Ah’s.
“You really, don’t care do you?” Sydney asked.
“No, I do. I really do.” Anna dully said. “It’s just, I don’t know anyone you’re talking about. And from the sound of it, I don’t really want to.”
“You’re such a goody two shoes. Do you ever have any fun? I know a guy who would love to go out with you; he’s from St. Peters, a sweetie.”
“No, that’s fine. Father wouldn’t be too happy anyways.” *RING* “We better hurry, we don’t need to be late for first hour.”
Mother Catherin was her usual self today, telling the rest of the nuns how and what to do. She has been head at the school for almost ten years now, right under Father Doug.
Anna has lived with the father for almost five years now, ever since her parents’ accident. Anna was about ten when her dad came home late one night when he killed his wife and committed suicide; no investigation followed. Leaving Anna and her little brother Toney a gruesome scene. Tony and Anna went to live with their grandparent’s, but the second Anna was old enough they shipped her off to a boarding school for young women.
There was a knock at the classroom door causing Mother to jump a little. One of the other nuns who Anna doesn’t pay much attention to walked in and whispered something to Catherin; she nodded and looked at Anna.
“Father wishes to see you, Anna. If you would get the notes from someone in class that would be wonderful; also a reminder to finish your readings. Test Wednesday.”
“Thank you, sister.” Anna got up and headed down the hall.
Walking down the hall, she thought about what Father could possibly want from her. He has recently been encouraging her to move back home when she graduates to help her grandparents with Tony. She didn’t really like that idea. She hasn’t lived with her grandparents in years, and by this time, Tony and she have been disconnected, excluding awkward Holliday visits. Father was her family now. He has raised her and helped her.
Father was waiting for her in his office. The room was small, and the lights were dull leaving the only useful light the one from the stain glass window making the room glow with rainbow patters and making it obvious that someone desperately needs to dust.
“Morning.” Anna said sitting down.
There was paper work spread over his desk and books open with pages marked. He had his system, but to the ordinary eye, it was a complete mess. He was leaned back in his chair shuffling through a few papers and grinning. Anna didn’t think his posture was surprising; they were comfortable around each other. But the way he was smiling made her feel suspicious. He never was happy when he had to do paper work; he’d much rather be out working with people.
He could tell she was studying him, “What’s up, darling.”
“Nothing, I mean didn’t you call me here?”
“Yes, we have some good news. Some very good news.”
“Does it have anything to do with the way you’re actually happy to be cooped up in an office?” she said with a grin.
“Haha, No. I still can’t stand just sitting here, but do you know what I have in my hand? I’m sorry, but I did some poking around at some colleges just for fun.”
“Oh, tell me you didn’t” Anna rolled her eyes.
He smiled “Oh, but I’m telling you I did. You have worked so hard and I haven’t seen so much ambition in someone, you are a very smart girl. Might I remind you, we are at school where I am obligated to have equal love for all my students. I’m not just saying this because you are dear to me. You were just accepted to Stanford University. Not only that but, you’re eligible for a full ride, all they are asking is for you to write an essay.”
Anna’s heart started to flutter. She has always gotten excited about her education, and she would love to go to college but it has always been out of her price range.
“I’m flattered you would take your time to go through all this trouble, but I’m afraid you’re just wasting your time. I’m not smart enough for something like this, especially at a school like Stanf-“
“Enough. I will not have you tell me this. You have a gift; you’re a very smart charming girl. You would be able to get into any school if you tried to. You amaze me every day being able to have such a good attitude along with exceling in school givin your.. er.. situation.”
“With my parents.”
“Yes, Anna. With your parents. You’re very brave. “
“Thank you, but I’m not interested in another scholarship program for orphaned children.”
“It’s just that! I just sent in a recommendation letter and your transcript. I never mentioned you’re living conditions. They want you just for your beautifully gifted mind.”
Anna blushed. “I don’t know what I would have done without you, Father. Thank you so much.”
Father relaxed a little and slid papers over. “These are the requirements for the essay. They are due this next weekend. I’m sorry; I know it is last minute, but I know if anyone can do it, it would be you.”
She took the papers. “Thank you, I will consider it.” She said with a smile.
Later that evening, she was looking over the requirements for the paper, “I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes.” –Maxine Hong Kingston. What paradoxes do you live with?
Okay this shouldn’t be so hard she thought. There are so many things that could have went different in her life, her parents could have still been here; she could still be living with her brother and have more of a relationship with her family. Maybe she wouldn’t be so dull, maybe she should have joined a sport or got a boyfriend.
She opened a window as she started getting fired up and mad at how things fell into place. “I am happy with my life; I have a good education and Father who loves me.” She said to herself, but she continued to write. Scratching words of wishes and hate about a life that could have been. The wind started blowing more and more the more she wrote. She last track of how things were going until the curtain caught her hand. The room was growing dark and cold, and then she, fell asleep.
She woke up the next morning in bed with her alarm blaring. “Shit, I never sleep in.” She jumped a little, surprising herself with her vulgar language. It was when she sat up she noticed that her head was pounding, and her ears were ringing. Standing up she staggered a little. “Jesus.” Again her eyes widened a little, she never has had a mouth on her.
Looking in the mirror she sighed. She started rummaging through the drawers and found a scissors, without much thought she started chopping at her long brown hair; cutting it to her shoulders, and then continued to chop her bangs giving her a new edgy look. “What is going on she said when she was done?” She never has been one for being in style. She ran out the door in horror of what is going on with her.
“Hey, is that you?” Sydney yelled as she was running up to her. “Whoa. What happened to you. I mean it looks good, but it doesn’t look like, you.”
“Hey, I wanted a change; if you wanna make something of it we can, but I have my reasons and you have yours on why you do the things that you do.”
“Sorry” Her arms raised a little to show defense.
“No, I’m sorry I don’t know what has come over me. This morning has just been weird for me. I guess I just needed a change is all, do you like it?”
“Yes! I just never thought I’d see you pull of the shaggy chic look. You’re going to definitely turn a few heads today is all I’m saying.”
And Sydney was right; Anna has never gotten so much attention in her life.
Lunch was definitely a change in her routine.
“Well, look what we have here.” Melony came waltzing up to her pulling on a strand of hair. Anna jerked away from her grasp. “Looks like pretty little Anna is wanting to be a little more sexy.”
Melony has always been the center for drama in the school; she never really bothered Anna considering how boring of a topic she is and no one would believe Melony if she even wanted to make up a rumor about her.
“Leave her alone.” Syd said.
“What she can’t fight her own battles? This is new though. You being the talk of the school. It’s not like you.”
Anna could feel her cheeks grow warm. “Maybe, I just didn’t want to have my name coming out of your mouth all the time.”
“Woah, looks like she does have a little fight to her.”
Anna had enough. She wouldn’t take anymore. Standing up, she reached over to a girls tray and grabbed a handful of the luke warm spaghetti, and without hesitation smashed the handful into the Melony’s hair. Causing the whole room to fall silent. Melony stood there staring at her wide eyed and mouth open. Somewhere a fork fell on a tray. Breaking the silence, Melony let out a whine. “HAVE YOU COMPLETELY LOST YOUR MIND?”
Anna’s mouth fell open in horror of what she just did. “Sorry.” She mumbled as she walked out of the room, head down avoiding the countless eyes that follow her out the door.
“Wow! I never thought I’d see you pull something like that!” Sydney said after she chased her out in the courtyard.
“I really don’t know what came over me.” She said quietly. A smile spread over her face as she looked up, “But it felt nice.”
“First your hair, now this? I don’t know what you’re doing anymore. I love you; I really do but, I’m worried about you. I mean if this is your way of trying to find yourself or just some type of midlife crises, you need to slow down or you’re going to give me a heart attack.” She laughed weakly.
“I can take care of myself you don’t have to worry about m-“ Anna was cut short in amazement of the scene coming her way. Nadia, Brandi, and Miranda were making a bee line straight her way.
“Excuse me, but could Anna and I have a little alone time.” Nadia smugly said to Sydney, clearly not actually asking for her permission.
“Um, yeah.. I’ll see you later..” she said as she flashed Anna a confused look.
“Honey, I liked what I saw back there. You’re starting to show some true potential. Tonight, you’re going to come with us; we’re going to be looking for new dresses for the winter formal. We’ll pick you up at four. Kisses.” Then, just as fast as they came, the girls were gone.
“You never told me about what those girls said to you.” Sydney was trying to pry out the gossip from Anna as they were going home after school.
“They didn’t say much. Just they want to hang out tonight is all.”
Stopping in her tracks, Sydney’s mouth hit the pavement. “You’re joking right.”
“No, they just said, I show potential.” She made a sour face.
“You’re not going with them are you? They are bad news.”
“You know, maybe I am. And you know what else I think, you might be jealous of me! Like I said, I don’t need you to baby me. I can make my own decisions. Goodnight.”
Anna was getting ready when she heard the door open.
“Anna, your friends are here.” Father yelled up the stairs.
“Okay, I’m coming.” She caked on some more mascara.
“Oh my Gawd. That would look so perfect on you!” Miranda was looking at a shirt that Anna had picked up from a rack.
“Ha. Yeah, but look at this.” She flipped the price tag around in the air. “There is no way I could afford anything like this.”
Nadia took it from her hands and gingerly folded it. “Now, you look at this.” With one swift tug she took the tag off and slid it in her bag.
“You’re kidding right? You’re stealing that?”
“Live a little.” And the group waltzed out.
“THAT”S WRONG AND YOU KNOW IT!” The girls turned around and Sydney was standing outside the store, red faced. She stomped toward Anna. “This is not you, and you know it. I can’t believe you. I hope you know I’m not going to let this just slide. Father is going to hear from me.”
Nadia and the girls were eyeing Anna up and down, looking for a reaction. Her face showed none.
“Okay.” Anna said without even batting an eye. She stepped up and pushed Syd making her fall into the fountain in the middle of the food court. Sydney looked at her in horror and still without a reaction, Anna turned “Bye.”
It was about eleven when Anna got home.
“Anna, could you come in here and talk to me.” She walked into the living room and saw Father sitting in a chair looking quite concerned. “So, I can tell that you are going through some things, but I was letting you express yourself. I think that’s very important. But Sydney stopped by earlier; she told me what happened. She has always been there for you, and you need to be nice. I really hope you can fix things with her. Also, I want to talk to you abo-“
Father’s mouth dropped. “Excuse me?” He looked more scared than appalled.
“Fuck you. I said. I’m busy tonight. You aren’t my real family, never have, never will be. You make me sick the way you think that there’s hope. Haven’t you figured out yet that that’s not the way the world works! There is no happy ending! MY PARENTS ARE DEAD! THEY ARE IN THE GROUND! MY DAD MURDERED MY MOM AND KILLED HIMSELF, AND NO ONE WILL TALK ABOUT IT, but I know what happened.” Anna started to grow calm. “He was scared, and crazy and he did what he thought was best. Then there’s you. You think there is hope for everyone for me. You want me to go to college, and make change in the world. No. I am the daughter of a killer. Now, I bid you goodnight.”
She started going downstairs.
Father, still in shock, gathered his thoughts quickly. “That’s not your room. What do you think you’re doing?” He followed her downstairs. It was dark and musty with only a hot furnace making a low hum.
“Where is the hope, Father.” Anna started to breath deeper. “I am the daughter of a killer.” Looking in Anna’s eyes the father saw no life, only the monster that had consumed her.
“MAY THE LORD LAY HIS HAND ON THIS HOME!”
“I admire your commitment. But you know what they say, how things run in the family,” Her eyes got red and she grabbed the father. With unreasonable strength she threw his thrashing body in the furnace.
“Ashes to ashes.”