Jennifer woke up the next morning. She was still lying on the bed when she heard Alex shout, ‘Jenny, come down, it’s getting late.’
She jumped from the bed and made her way to the bathroom, with her eyes half closed and SMACK! She slammed into the door. The bathroom was locked. She cursed, grabbed her secret toothbrush from under the mattress on the bed and started brushing. With a calm peaceful head, she decided how to deal with this whole “Nick Issue” as she had started calling it. Once thing was certain, she would have to contest the elections, there was no way out. She had to prove Nick, Adrian, Jules and Jason wrong.
She made a quick plan. While getting dressed, she took a pen and a pad and wrote down:
Things to do for Elections:
- Find the school counsellor. Talk about your attitude.
- Buy school newspaper and find the Election coordinator.
- Talk to coordinator and sign up as a contestant
She put this list inside her jeans’ pocket and moved downstairs, where Alex was sitting on the dining table with a cereal bowl in front of her, reading the morning newspaper. Jules was applying lipstick looking at a small mirror, and her mom was still in her gown, with a cup of coffee in one hand.
‘Hey there, you slept well?’ Alex asked, smiling as she saw Jennifer coming downstairs. ‘I’ll make you coffee.’
‘Thanks, but I’ll skip, I suppose. I’m not hungry today,’ she said and made her way out of the front door.
She heard Alex packing her stuff and saying, ‘Thanks Mrs. Cruise for letting me stay. I had a really good time.’ She turned on the car and honked, twice.
Alex came out looking hurried, and flushed. ‘What happened?’ Jenny asked. ‘Nothing,’ she replied, and they drove to the school in silence. Finally after they parked at school, Alex said, ‘So girl, I heard you sniffing yesterday night. What’s up?’
‘I have been thinking about it, about what Nick said,’ she said, ignoring the remark.
‘I am going to contest the school elections. And I am going to win,’ she said determined. ‘I’ll talk to the coordinator today. You want to come?’ she asked, stepping out of the car.
‘Na, you go. I have to talk to Mr. Hess about some Trig questions. I’ll see you later,’ she said, and moved away.
Twenty five minutes later, Jennifer was sitting in the counsellor, Mrs. Okra’s office. She had first taken an appointment with the counsellor specifically for the third period, English, so as to avoid talking to Nick. She had purchased the school newspaper as well and had found out, luckily, that Mrs. Okra was also the election coordinator. She could not believe she was doing this. However, she would not back out. The door opened, and Mrs. Okra came inside.
‘Well, well,’ Mrs. Okra said, ‘I was wondering when you’d come in.’ Mrs. Okra was a pretty woman in her late twenties. She had a soft, nasal voice yet, her voice usually had a calming effect on students. It was rumoured at Bowman’s that she wasn’t married but used ‘Mrs’ to keep the students from hitting on her. Presently, she seated herself across the table, in front of Jennifer.
‘Why would that be?’ Jenny asked.
‘You feature in many students’ sessions,’ she said simply. ‘Why are you here?’
‘Well, um, there’s this thing,’ she said hesitatingly.
Mrs. Okra said, ‘There is no need for you to hesitate, love. You can speak out loud. There is no one to listen to you, except me and that’s what I’m here for, so speak up.’
‘Well, I don’t know what to say,’ she finally said. ‘I have a family yet I don’t. My mom kicked out my dad years ago and since then, I hate her. My sister is too ashamed to even admit that we are sisters, because I am not popular, so it’s bad for her image. My best friend’s father is a drunkard and hits her daily and she is totally dependent on me like I am on her. A guy said to me that I need an attitude adjustment, and then challenged me to contest the elections. I have absolutely no family, friends and no social life. I hate myself.’ She sighed. ‘Is it possible to disappear from the world, without anyone noticing?’
‘Oh honey!’ she said worriedly, ‘There is absolutely nothing that should threaten you. So what if your mom doesn’t love you, you love her back. Maybe one day, she’ll realize that she did her greatest mistake is not loving her daughter. So what if your dad didn’t return. Just live with the faith that he always has someone looking over you, someone who will take care of you during the tough times,’ she paused. ‘Your sister is one of the foolish people to believe that her friends would stay with her forever. Yes they may, yet nothing would be able to replace your importance in her life.’
‘You think so?’ she asked quietly.
‘Yes of course. I feel you are an open book. You don’t like to keep your likes and dislikes in private. You’re not one of those who are all sweet and caring in front, and bitching behind people’s backs. And this is a quality that is admired by all, honesty. You are honest with your thoughts and that’s what makes you unique, unlike the rest.’ She spoke, suddenly serious, ‘As for the boy who challenged you, and said you needed an attitude adjustment, just prove him wrong. Like he said, contest. And win. Don’t get intimidated by him. This is just high school. What would you do when you enter the real world? ’
‘I had thought about that,’ she said earnestly, ‘but who would vote for a girl who’s not popular and social, and lacks friends and apparently needs and “attitude adjustment”?’
‘So what, you don’t let that trouble you. Make some,’ she said. ‘Well, I’m afraid time is running out Ms. Cruise. If you need some more sessions, you may take an appointment any time you like. I would be there for you,’ she smiled.
Just as Mrs. Okra started gathering her stuff, the bell rang, Jennifer hurriedly said, ‘Put my name down. On the list, will you?’ and rushed out of the room.