The Summer of Reality

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This story was part of the collection of writing samples I submitted for the Creative Writing Scholarship contest at Arkansas Tech University in Spring 1999. I placed 4th, so I was pretty excited about that. The scholarship paid for my books for my first year in college. 

The Summer of Reality, 1999

The last day that I was ever fifteen, I went to the mall with my Mom, my aunt Carrie, and my best friend Melanie.

Earlier that morning, I mailed a letter that could change my whole life if the receiver decided to at least humor me. During the previous school year, I had developed a crush on a new boy named Mike. He was everything  I wanted and so wrong for me. He seemed like the perfect guy, except for the fact that he was nervous and tongue-tied around me, which did not help in our getting to know each other.

The mall seemed better than usual, or maybe it was just my birthday money burning a hole in my pocket.

“So what are you planning to do this summer?” Melanie asked me to take my mind off of the slow restaurant workers. “You never did tell me where you’re going for vacation.”

“We’re not sure yet, but I think we’re going to Alabama, Mississippi, and possibly Florida,” I told her, wishing that our conversation could switch to serious matters such as the letter to Mike.

“Maybe you’ll get to see the ocean,” she said. She smiled. “Or maybe you could even see a lighthouse. Then it would all be worth it.” She knew my fascination with lighthouses and old ships, among other things.

I decided it was up to me to change the subject. “Do you think Mike will answer my letter? Tell me the truth, do you think he’ll even read it?” I asked desperately.

She hesitated, but then answered. “Honestly, Pearl, I think he’ll read it, but he would never in a million years answer it. He’s got this chip on his shoulder put there by the morons he hangs out with, you know that as well as I do,” she said sympathetically. “You deserve better.”

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