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Creative Writing for
Creative Writing Competition:
Valediction: To the students of Wyke.
I sat on the grass in front of the three, threatening buildings that stared down at me like
judgemental prison wardens. I didn't know what time it was, but I could tell it was late. The sky
had turned a pale blue and the wind was biting through my jacket. Everyone else seemed to have gone,
and I wondered exactly how many hours I had wasted. I hadn't originally had the intention of staying
there so long, but the longer I waited the more imposing and terrifying the brown envelope became,
until I felt that I could not touch it and if I dared turn my eyes away it would take its
opportunity to attack, as though it were a dangerous animal. `Flaws will show,' I thought.
Although it's rare they're printed out in plain black and white. I wasn't sure why I hadn't opened
my exam results yet. I thought it must be fear of doing badly but even the thought of doing well
seemed daunting. I couldn't stand the idea of ripping them open in anticipation, seeing I'd done
brilliantly and still thinking, “Well, what now?” My sigh turned into a shiver and I
realised that it was time to go home. I carefully slid the envelope between my books and
automatically felt better knowing that it didn't have to be dealt with today. As I walked down the
path the familiar feeling of uneasiness washed over me. I'd deal with it tomorrow.
“So, what do you want to do in the future?” The career officer asked me as he tapped his
pencil on the end of the desk in a hypnotic way. I focussed my eyes on it as I thought about how
ridiculous it was to ask a teenager such a broad question. `I want,' I thought, `to be everything.'
“I don't know,” I answered. It was a week since exam results day, and I still hadn't
gathered the guts to open the envelope.
“Right, well do you want to go to university?” Did I? It seemed inevitable that I would
but I'd never really given it thought before. I suppose it would offer a few more years to be
indecisive but the thought of not knowing what to do at 21 seemed even more horrifying than it did
“I don't know,” I answered.
“Would you know what you'd want to study if you did?” I shook my head, sheepishly. He
raised his eyebrows as though he was mildly irritated and placed the pencil down flat on the table.
He leaned forward in a way that suggested he was attempting to be encouraging and attentive. I'm
sure he couldn't have cared less. “Look, maybe it would help if I knew more about you. How
well did you do in your exams?”
“I…” There was a pause that seemed to last a century. I gulped back the worries
that were developing into a lump in my throat. “I don't know.” He sighed and I felt the
burn of humiliation rise up into my cheeks. I had begun to notice that if you didn't tell people
your grades, people would just assume the worst. I'd had a full week of sympathetic smiles as people
refused to believe that I was honestly just ignorant, but I didn't really mind. He spoke for a
while, but it turned to white noise. I kept constant eye-contact and nodded when I assumed it was
appropriate but his words were hitting me like light rain, the kind that you're always oblivious to
while secretly its soaking you the bone. The occasional word would drift into my earshot,
“future,” “aspirations,” “thinking big,” but as the clock on
the wall ticked loudly I became consciously aware of every second I was wasting still not knowing
what I wanted to be. It became louder and louder until it took effort not to cover my ears and crawl
up on the floor and soon I realised that the career advisor's lips were no longer moving. I was
nodding along to silence.
“Well thank you for your time.” I answered, “This has been…
enlightening.” He didn't flinch at my sarcasm. Why would he? He'd done nothing wrong. I stood
up to walk out.
“Wait,” he said. I turned around apathetically. “People pass off their hopes as
pipe dreams and impossibilities because it seems unlikely. You let people see your confidence, see
your capabilities and you will be capable of doing anything you like. How you tell yourself is all.
It's everything, don't underestimate that. You laugh at yourself for thinking big, but aiming for
what you want is what people do, what everyone does. You're not hopeless. You're not indecisive. You
know what you want to be, I know you do, everyone does. It's just fear that's stopping you from
striving for it.” The words didn't seem to end in the silence. They rang through my head like
church bells and I felt my chest tighten, as if breathing would be an insult to the moment. He shook
his head. “Maybe I'm reading too much into things, I don't know.” It took a while for
the sentence to work its way out of my mouth but as soon as it did I knew it was true
“I want to write.” I said. He smiled in a way that wasn't mocking and yet also wasn't
sickly, artificial encouragement. I waited for him to speak, but he didn't. I left the room.
The envelope was made of paper; I was used to it feeling like lead. `Just letters,' I said but they
no longer mattered. The feeling of hopelessness had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt awake, as
though my eyes were no longer half closed but wide open. It felt strange to be so free. I was
nervous but that, I was certain, was a good thing. I opened the envelope…
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The preceeding was a work of fiction. Any statements regarding any person, place, or other entity (real or imaginary) is the sole responibility of the author of this work of fiction. Fan Works Inc. takes no responsibility for the content of user submitted stories. All stories based on real people are works of fiction and do not necessarily reflect on the nature of the individuals featured. All stories based on other copyrighted works are written with authors knowing that these works violate copyright laws.
Please see the Terms of Service for more information.