Alex

[First Draft]

After mima leaves the room, I go into autopilot. My feet carry me through a mindless routine until I find myself sitting on a bench in the school courtyard waiting for my best friend. When Alex arrives, I can see the concern on her face.

“Hey,” she says as she sits down next to me, “How was the doctor’s visit, yesterday?”

“A disaster.”

Alex sits quietly, waiting for details.

“I don’t really want to talk about it.” I shove newly laid mulch around with my feet. Lincoln High puts a lot of money into the courtyard, maintaining manicured hedges that wind around replicas of Greek statuary. If you ask me, it’s a bit much and looks pretentious.

“Ok,” Alex says, and we sit in silence for a couple minutes, as if she were giving me space to change my mind. When I don’t she quickly moves on to a new topic.

“Hey, I have something for you,” she says, pulling a brochure out of her backpack. “Paris!”

As I take it, I realize it’s for a study abroad program in France.

“We can get all of our French credits in one summer-and shall I repeat-in Paris!” She’s beaming.

My imagination drifts a little, a wispy dance through French cafes and the salons of the Louver, and then my practical brain harshly rejects the idea, “Sorry, I’m sure mom won’t approve.”

“What?! They even have scholarships, Amber. With your grades, you probably won’t even have to pay for it.”

I handed the brochure back to her, “It’s not about the money, Alex. I would miss a lot of jump practice. Mom always says, ‘A jack of all trades, a master of none.’”

“You’re mom is psycho,” Alex says raising one eyebrow.

“I know,” I concede.

“Do you even like horse jumping? I mean really like it.”

“I’m good at it.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

I knew what she was asking. Was it my passion? Horses were my passion. I loved horses, but I couldn’t say the same thing about the training, the competition, the stress. I couldn’t honestly say horse jumping was my passion, but it was my ticket to freedom. So, I recited my mantra: “Of course, I like it. I love horses. I’m a quick learner and a fierce competitor. Each competition I win builds my reputation, and one day I’ll be the instructor, and eventually, I will have a horse farm of my own.”

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