I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why.
There's a girl calm people don't know about. It's a girl teen standstill. A motionless peace. It doesn't come from anywhere but inside us, and it only lasts for a few years. It's born from being a not woman yet. It's free flowing and invisible. It's the eye of the violent storm you call my teenage daughter. In this place we are undisturbed by all the moronic things you think about us. Our voices like rain falling. We are serene. Smooth. With more perfect hair and skin than you will ever again know. Daughters of Eve.
A broom that was almost never used was leaned up against the wall. He took it and started to sweep. Dust flew up his nose. When he had been sweeping for a while he realised he had no dustpan. He swept the pile of dust under the couch. Better to have a little shit in the corners than a clean hell. He flipped through the pages of a porno, put it back. Wound his scarf around his neck until his head felt like it was about to explode, released it. Got up and took a few steps on the rug. Sank to his knees, prayed to god.
I imagined the lies the valedictorian was telling them right now. About the exciting future that lies ahead. I wish she'd tell them the truth: Half of you have gone as far in life as you're ever going to. Look around. It's all downhill from here. The rest of us will go a bit further, a steady job, a trip to Hawaii, or a move to Phoenix, Arizona, but out of fifteen hundred how many will do anything truly worthwhile, write a play, paint a painting that will hang in a gallery, find a cure for herpes? Two of us, maybe three? And how many will find true love? About the same. And enlightenment? Maybe one. The rest of us will make compromises, find excuses, someone or something to blame, and hold that over our hearts like a pendant on a chain.
Leah looked at her parents, lost in their own fantasies, and decided that the three of them were a pretty pathetic family - but she wasn't sure who was more pathetic: the dateless girl spending the night of the big dance by herself in her bedroom, or the parents who foolishly believed a boy would arrive on their doorstep with flowers, a limo, and a promise to rescue their daughter from her solitude.