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Authors: LaurenVDW

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BOOK: The Perfection Paradox
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Matt lingered
in the school hallway for several seconds, pretending once again to
check his phone with fake captivation. As the bell rung and Kennedy
rushed past him to class Matt suddenly realized he didn’t even know
what he had first period.

He pulled the
crumpled schedule from his pocket and realized the class he’d
signed up for last year, Advanced Calculus, wasn’t included in any
of the boxes. He started to panic. That class was essential if he
was going to get into the college he wanted. He rubbed his neck
uneasily, rubbing the sweat from his palms anxiously on his jeans.
He dashed frantically to the secretary’s office, praying it wasn’t
too late to change the error in his timetable.

After a
distressing five-minute wait outside the office, Ms. Henderson
invited Matt in, nodding for him to take a seat in one of the
plastic chairs in front of her desk. He sat down, leaning forward
eagerly, his schedule crinkled in his clammy hand.


How can I
help you Mr…” Ms. Henderson asked, looking up as the end of the
sentence approached.


Matt. Matt
Brown” he answered quickly. “I’ve been put in the wrong class. I’m
supposed to be in Advanced Calculus but it’s not on my schedule.
It’s
highly
important I take that class” Matt blathered, enunciating the
word ‘highly’ and saying it extra slowly so Ms. Henderson could
comprehend the severity of the situation.

She responded
by typing away on her computer for several seconds before shaking
her head regretfully.


I’m sorry Mr
Brown, but unfortunately the Advanced Calculus class is completely
full.”

Matt gawped
at her, “I
need
this class Ms. Henderson. Not taking it just isn’t an
option.”

Ms. Henderson
shrugged indifferently “You will have to make do with your assigned
schedule or switch to one of the available options.” She pulled a
sheet from a pile of papers on the right side of her desk, handing
it over to him without taking her eyes off the screen.

Matt searched
the list for a worthy substitute for the Advanced Calculus he had
so been looking forward to. Art. Creative Writing. Literature. He
looked back at his schedule and sighed. He’d just have to make the
best of it.

Matt thanked
Ms. Henderson for her time and headed to his first class,
attempting not to hyperventilate at the prospect of applying to
colleges without Advanced Calculus. His competitors would have that
class and more to boast.

Matt’s day
showed no signs of improving as he finally managed to get his
locker open during the mid-morning break. Of course Hunter’s new
locker just happened to be a mere half a dozen or so lockers down
from his own, and as soon as Matt had pulled open the metal door
Hunter and Taylor appeared behind him and made a deliberate
spectacle out of seeing how much of Matt they could fit inside his
surprisingly spacious locker.

The day
continued with what felt like a grey cloud following Matt around,
showering him with misfortunes and inconveniences. During the
struggle between Hunter and himself, Matt seemed to have lost his
lunch money, leaving him picking at his friends leftovers at
lunch.

Then, he had
to sit through a double period of Geography without the prescribed
textbook that everyone else had bought because everyone else
had
known
they
were taking the class except for Matt.

If there was
anything more uncomfortable to Matt than being manhandled into a
locker it was sitting in a class he didn’t understand, with no
tools to change this. Yet here he was, attempting to peer
surreptitiously over his neighbours shoulder, trying to decipher a
connection between the teacher’s question and the two pages of
seemingly unrelated writing.

The last bell
had rung, and just when Matt thought his day couldn’t get any
worse, Jerry, Miles and Roger joined him. They were chattering
excitedly on their walk towards him, most unusual for
them.


Guess
what
!” Jerry whispered under his breath.
He sounded happy, almost…
excited
… On the first day back at
school? With Hunter a mere ten feet away? What was going
on?


What?” Matt
asked warily, looking from Jerry to Roger, who was trying and
failing to hide a wide grin from his face.


We just had
Advanced Calculus…” Jerry began…


No way… I’m
so annoyed I’m not in that class!” Matt complained, turning back to
his locker, assuming this was the big news.


Wait until
you hear this!” Jerry continued, his eyes wide with
anticipation.


We just had
Advanced Calculus in the same class as Kennedy Blakewood.
Kennedy Blakewood
!” He
exclaimed, lowering his voice suddenly when he realized he was
yelling rather loudly.

Matt’s heart
filled with the boiling black liquid that was absolute
jealousy.


You’re
kidding…” he barely managed to reply, his voice sounded distant and
hollow as he struggled to mask his frustration.

Not being
able to tell colleges he was taking Advanced Calculus was one
thing, but missing out on a class with Kennedy Blakewood,
his
soul mate
,
well that was just a twist of fate too cruel to handle.

Maybe that
explained why the class was full, Kennedy Blakewood’s class
schedule had a way of getting around school, and the classes she
was in always seemed to fill up a lot faster than most others. This
was some feat considering her chosen classes were acknowledged
school-wide to be amongst the most challenging Rosewell had to
offer.

A fellow
scientist who had graduated last year and was now helping out the
school science department had told Matt that he’d checked out a lot
of student files during his lunch breaks. Kennedy took AP physics,
AP Latin and AP advanced statistics last year, to name but a few of
her classes.  Curiously Matt had signed up to take advanced
statistics last year, but much like calculus this year, it was
completely full.
The Kennedy
effect
.

 
He
snapped back to reality, where Jerry and Roger were still
salivating over Kennedy. “She knew the answer to every question
Matt, literally every question. She’s so cool.”


And so
pretty” Roger contributed “I forgot how pretty she was over summer
until I saw her today. She’s even prettier up close if you can
imagine that. I was sat one row in front of her, one seat to the
right, so I had a perfect view. She smiled at Zachary Sykes; he
looked like he was about to experience cardiac arrest. He just
stared at the blackboard with his mouth hanging open for the rest
of the lesson.”


I’d love to
make fun of him, but I’d probably react the same way. I can’t
believe we’re going to be in the same class as her for a
whole
year
” Jerry stated, smiling dreamily
at the thought.

Matt turned
to Miles, waiting for his input, “she did look very beautiful…” he
admitted, “even I noticed…”

Miles was
probably the most conventionally attractive out of the four
friends, not that this was a particular feat given their total lack
of personal hygiene and love for clothes that were either far too
large or far too small for their frames.

Not an Adonis
by any means, not even close, but his face still was virtually
unchanged from how he’d looked as an eight year old. His freckly
complexion, mushroom haircut and goofy but somehow cute ears had
earned him more attention from girls than all three of the other
boys had earned together.

Not that it
was girls’ attention that Miles was interested in. Unfortunately
the god Miles’s family preached to meant that for the time being,
Miles ‘liked’ girls. Matt knew it had been difficult for him. While
all the others had declared themselves, were exploring who they
were, Miles was trying more and more desperately to hide himself
from his parents. With each year that passed it grew more difficult
to disguise and Miles grew unhappier. It would be college soon
though, that’s what they all kept telling him, and he would be free
to live his own life.


If Miles
says it you know it’s true” Roger guffawed loudly.

He was the
tallest of the four friends, standing nearly a full head above the
other boys. He wore the same trousers he’d worn as a high school
freshman, though they now skimmed his skinny pasty
ankles.

Ever since
they’d known him, Roger had had trouble expressing himself. His
social intelligence had resulted in several uncomfortable
situations for the four friends. Roger didn’t understand sarcasm.
He didn’t understand being mocked, and those that mocked him didn’t
understand his responses to their taunting. He approached
everything logically, often
too
logically.

His
relationship with his father had been strained by Roger’s
awkwardness and unique sense of humour.

Roger’s
father was very different to his son. He enjoyed American football,
beer, barbecues and witty banter. Roger had never said it, but he
knew his father was ashamed of him. As he’d grown up his parents
had started attending neighbourhood dinner parties without him,
insisting he would be bored.

This was part
of the reason Matt, Jerry and Miles had been unable to refuse his
friendship. He had nothing else, no security, no safe place, and no
family that valued him. Even Matt had to admit his situation wasn’t
as unfortunate as Roger’s. His home was his sanctuary, and for
Roger, home was as much of a hell as high school was.

Matt was
still feeling downcast, irritated that Rosewell High School’s
secretary had managed to get between him and the colleges he
wanted, as well as the girl he wanted, in a single day. He packed
up his schoolbag and slammed his locker shut, bidding farewell to
his friends, who were still high on the visual drug that Kennedy
Blakewood produced.

As he
navigated his way through the corridors teeming with students
gathering up their belongings and catching up with friends, he felt
a sudden push from behind and tumbled to the ground, smashing his
glasses as they fell off his oily nose.

He looked up
from where he was lying on the floor to see Hunter high-five
Taylor, sneering down at him vindictively.


The dork
broke his glasses!” Hunter yelled animatedly at his friends, who
laughed, shaking their heads in twisted amusement.

Matt started
to get up as the crowds around him went back to what they were
doing, but Hunter pushed him back down aggressively. He started to
turn to head back to his locker, before swerving back and spitting
a glob of saliva in Matt’s face. He grunted to himself triumphantly
and then wandered back to join Ryan and Taylor at his
locker.

As Matt
washed the spittle from his face he desperately hoped the rest of
the school year wouldn’t be like his first day back.

 

9.

Hannah ran
her fingers through her hair as she checked her appearance in the
small hand mirror her mother had nailed to the bathroom wall above
the sink. She was wearing her newest second-hand top, purple with
lacy straps, and her favourite (and only) pair of jeans. She
pinched her cheeks, trying to bring some colour to her face, when a
car horn honked from outside.

She felt
nervous all of a sudden. She hurried out of the bathroom and
grabbed her too-big denim jacket and bound out the door, not
bothering to tell her parents she was leaving.

It was a warm
September evening; Jessica was sitting behind the wheel of a Mini
Cooper, beaming at Hannah as she leapt down the steps from the
front door.


You look
great!” Marie exclaimed warmly from the passenger seat. Hannah
pulled open the back door and got in, gently pushing aside the old
newspapers and crooked sunglasses that littered the
seats.


Are you sure
we should be doing this?” Marie asked under her breath, her brow
furrowing anxiously.


We were
invited, relax!” Jessica replied, nonchalantly shaking off Marie’s
concerns. “Who invited us?” Marie asked suspiciously, her eyes
narrowing,


A friend of
a friend okay? We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine!” Jessica retorted,
fiddling with the radio until loud music drowned out the
opportunity for any more questions.

Jessica was
an artist, like Hannah’s parents. However, unlike Hannah’s parents,
she was
actually
talented. She was going to study art at college next year she
had explained to Hannah as she showed her numerous sketches from
her art portfolio.

Jessica’s
parents had told her from a young age she could be whatever she
wanted to be. Hannah had envied her as she admired the
thought-provoking sketches of naked women, beautiful flowers and a
city skyline.

Jessica’s
parents had managed to be free and spontaneous without damaging
their daughter’s confidence or future, she even called them by
their first names.

BOOK: The Perfection Paradox
12.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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