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I don’t have any. At least, according to society, I don’t think I do.
When I walk my eighth-grader-nonchalant walk through the halls at our middle school, I overhear the high-pitched squeals of girls chatting about how so-and-so smiled at them, or how they didn’t. How that one guy didn’t offer her a pencil because he “lost all of them.” How she cried herself to sleep because of that.
Then, in class, I see the boy who refuses to do any work—he will sit and listen somberly to his headphones, even though the rap is at top volume. He will keep a straight face. And I remember that he is the boy whose parents got fired from their job a week ago. “Hard times,” the teacher said to me. “You ought to be in his group project.” So I nod. She continues to tell me that I am responsible—I will make him work, she says. But when I sit and ask him where his work paper went, he says he slammed it into the teacher’s purse when she wasn’t looking, and then held up her credit card. A ‘fair trade,’ he calls it. I’m not sure what to do.
“School is going by so fast,” I say to my friend, as we sit on the blacktop during lunch. She tilts her head to the side.
“Sixth grade, I was so happy, like I was so carefree. It was awesome,” she says.
“But in seventh grade, I didn’t really hang out with anyone. I guess.” She sighs.
I let her talk, saying “Yeah,” every now and then, doing my best to understand.
“Same thing this year. I don’t really have friends,” she whispers. I furrow my eyebrows, thinking back to the numbers of friends she had—she still has. She saw them just a few minutes ago. They were having fun.
I turn to her. “I’m your friend.”
She smiles, and laughs silently. But her eyes have no light.
I sit at my desk and try to finish my endless pile of homework. I dread the part with the summary—the summary of the book. That book wasn’t complicated enough, the plot too painless, so cliché. I would only be able to write a paragraph at most—why does it have to be so simple? I can’t write simple summaries. I demand more of myself, expect no less than better than my best. I’m not a slacker. I’m not a fake. I work hard.
Violin lessons on Tuesday—flute on Wednesday. Thursday? Father’s house. I have to do my homework—same as Friday. Project due on Monday, but horseback riding before that; Sunday. Maybe tennis on Saturday. But what about seeing... Screw it. Too busy. I don’t have time for friends. Not now.
I push myself too hard. I write five pages when others write one, and receive the same spitting 100 mark. Such a shame, really.
I love my language class. Learning languages to me is like unlocking a new pathway to seeing more of life—of course. Spanish at school is great and all, but since a month ago, I’ve been tutoring myself in Japanese. I think about finding time to squeeze in some tutoring with a real teacher, but... school comes first. Besides, I’ll be teaching myself French during the summer. I’ll have more than enough time—
—including my algebra. I’m tutoring myself with algebra over the summer, too.
And then there’s tennis tryouts for high school... How I suck at the sport, but—
—there’s always those after-school clubs! Wait...
What about violin? What about homework? And What about
this illusion of angst I’m creating for myself.
Horrible, horrible teenager angst.
But this type... Does it count?