Sunday, August 16, 2015
1st 5 Pages August Workshop - Pennington Revision 2
Name: Valerie Pennington
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Title: Opposites Collide
I’m honestly surprised that The Murph hasn’t kicked me out of school yet. One look at my grades will explain why he’s so hesitant though. My status as one of Lambertville High’s top students is hard to overlook in a school where the state-wide testing scores are lower than many thought to be humanly possible. Over the years, I’ve fashioned my words into a weapon, slicing through ignorant statements and cutting down egomaniacs while only getting the occasional detention here or there. I realized years ago that avoiding physical violence is integral to survival here and I’ve kept good on that… until today.
“Miss Beckers, you may now come in.” I look up to see Principal Murphy standing in the doorway, his imposing height belittled by the fact that he’s wearing a toupee and suspenders.
As I take my regular seat in one of the worn leather chairs, he shuts the door behind me and ascends to his throne. This isn’t my first rodeo and I know better than to talk before he has his dramatic entrance. He spends a few seconds studying me while I sit up in my chair in attempts to make my mere 5’1” stature seem taller and more formidable. I fluff up my bun of dark red hair for added height as I take in the familiar posters and achievements on the wood-paneled walls. I imagine it must be suffocating for The Murph to stare at these walls all day and then find the same dull color in my eyes.
He straightens up and I mirror him, the show’s about to begin. “Charlotte. Is verbally bullying students no longer enough?”
“I’ve never ‘verbally bullied’ anyone, sir. I view it more as educating the masses.”
“Regardless, now you’ve combined verbal bullying with physical bullying. Why’d you kick Garrett Williams in the groin, Charlotte?” He lets out an exacerbated sigh.
“He saw me educating some jock and told me that it ‘took some balls’ to confront that guy.”
“And that phrase is entirely sexist! To imply that having a penis and scrotum somehow gives you mythical strength or bravery is just absurd. I mean, women give birth, Murph! They literally—“
“How many times have I told you to call me Principal Murphy?” He asks rhetorically. “Get to your point in the next five seconds.”
“Sorry, so I was educating him and when I told him that he’s suffering from Freudian thinking, I punctuated my argument with a, uh, display of what actually takes balls.”
“I’ll cut to the chase, Charlotte. You’ll report to detention every morning for the next week. In addition to that, I expect you to apologize to Garrett.”
“If you fail to do either of these things, you’ll be pulled from the prestigious Leaders of the Eastern Academic Division Program.”
Just as I’m about to ask if that means that I’m in the LEAD program, I simultaneously hear a knock on the door and the squeak of hinges. I turn around in my chair to see who had the gall to barge in but my eyes get distracted by the impressive peaks and valleys that is Garrett Williams’ body.
The Murph ushers him in to the remaining chair on my left. I watch as he folds his 6’0” body into the seat, and for the first time I notice the gleam of glee in our dear principal’s eyes.
They’re both waiting on me.
I take a deep breath. “Look, I’m sorry for kicking you in the sack. I let my anger get away from me and I’m sorry it caused you pain. I was out of line and you didn’t deserve it.” I look for approval but instead I find more instruction. “Oh, and I’m sorry for what I said as well. That phrase pi- upsets me and my knee-jerk reaction is to respond passionately. I know you didn’t mean to set me off.”
The Murph seems happy enough but when I turn back towards Garrett, apathetic blue eyes greet me. He turns towards Principal Murphy with an eyebrow quirked, seeming to ask permission to leave.
“Thank you, Charlotte. Our baseball captain here is such a good sport. Not that we didn’t know that already.” He beams down at Garrett, staring down at the pride and joy of our school. “Now that I have you both here, I want to congratulate you on being selected for The Leaders of the Eastern Academic Division Program.”
I sputter out a breath. Two students, one female and one male, are chosen every year to attend the prestigious program that is notorious for opening up doors to colleges all over the world. I know tons of students who have been battling for one of the two spots and somehow Garrett Williams beat them all out? Schools are already knocking down his door, what could he possibly benefit from this program?
The Murph immediately launches into reading the program packet. I zone out because I’ve already read it so many times it’s practically committed to memory. I sneak a glance at Garrett, trying to view him not as a douchebag but as a serious student who cares about his future. His eyes are focused on our droning principal and they seem alive with interest. He’s wearing a maroon Henley with dark wash pants as opposed to his usual baseball shirts and athletic shorts, giving off the impression that he dressed to impress. Maybe my biases tainted my view of him. Maybe he’s more than his jock complex. Maybe.
We discuss the program for another ten minutes. I learn that our smelly gym teacher will drive us the twelve hours to Providence but I can’t make myself care about the sure-to-be-awkward car ride. The final destination will be worth it. One whole month of pure collegiate bliss. The more we talk about it, the more excited I get. It’s real. It’s happening. I made it.
Before we leave, The Murph passes out papers to give to our parents. In one week, all seven of us (our parents, The Murph, and us) will meet to go over logistics and to sign forms. It’s sure to be a delightful meeting.
Garrett’s dismissed before I even realize what’s happening but I’m not so lucky.
“Charlotte, this is an honor. Don’t mess it up. No trouble, understood?”
He motions for me to leave and I race out of his office is search for a head of short brown hair. I zero in on my target and tug on his Henley when I get there.
He stares blandly at me.
“Uh, I didn’t know that you were interested in the program. It doesn’t involve baseballs or hot girls throwing themselves at you.” I laugh.
He remains silent.
“I want to start with a clean slate, is—“
“Listen, we don’t have to be friends. You don’t like me and I don’t like you. This program doesn’t change anything.” He punctuates his statement by walking away.
I’m speechless. I’m the one who ends the conversation and walks away.
I stand there like a goober until someone hits me from behind. I whirl around, ready to strike, when I see a familiar mop of messy brown hair and my best friend’s goofy smile.
“Hunter, you’re such a weirdo.”
“And you aren’t?”
“It’s pointless to try and deny it. I know you. And I know you just came out of The Murph’s office. Char… are the rumors true?”