As Leigh sat in her writing class, all she could think about was how amazing last night was- and maybe how (or if) she could ever repeat it. The teacher was droning on about some old, dead writer who was (probably) from some other country. In her fog, he sounded a little bit like the teacher from Charlie Brown. This made Leigh laugh out loud- way louder than she would have wanted to if it had been on purpose.
Upon hearing her laughter, which seemed to him to be happening for no reason, he stops his lecture on a dime and calls her out. “Leigh,” “Y-Y-Yes” she stammered. “What's so funny?” “Nothing, Mr.— Mr.” She knew she should be able to remember his name. But the harder she tried, the harder it was to remember. “Oh, so you just liked the lecture, then?” he asked. “Um, uh, I guess so.” By now, she could hear as the other kid's laughter grew louder and louder. All she could do was bury her head in her arms on the desk.
Meanwhile, Emma was about to say something that she might one day regret. Not that this was anything particularly new. She was sitting with the career counselor listening to some (more) potential careers. “Literary Agent, Realtor, Guidance Counselor–” Emma interrupts the counselor with (yet another) exaggerated eye roll. “I'm only sixteen; why do I have to think about careers.” “Well, for starters, the time when you have to work might come sooner than you think” “What do you mean?” “Do you want to go to college?” “I don't know.” “If you decide you don't want to, you’ll enter the workforce.” Emma's face starts to contort as she ponders this conversation; “ok, maybe looking at careers isn't so bad;” she mumbles in the general direction of the counselor.
As Emma sat and stared at a sheet of paper titled “Interesting Industries” she racked her teenage brain- which had never thought about anything that carried so much weight- for some industry that might be an interesting one to work in; all she could think about was the next time she would see Leigh. The counselor came back to the table, took a deep breath, and sighed as she pulled out the chair across the table from Emma. “It's okay if you don't know what you want to do right now.” “You are only sixteen. The idea of this exercise is to get you to start thinking about it.” “Is it okay?” “This isn't the first time that someone has told me to start thinking about it.”
“Emma, do you feel pressured?” “Yeah. There's a lot of pressure. What if there is more than one thing that I want to do or what if my skills lead me into a field that isn't even on this list?” “You're right; that could happen.” “What if I don't know. Why isn't that okay?” “How many other kids know what they want?” “Most of them are just like you, Emma, there are very few people in the world who know what they want for their whole life at sixteen.”
“I just sent you an email with some more exercises in it. Take a break and then set aside some time to do one or two of them before you come back tomorrow.” “Okay, I'll try.” Once she is out of the counselor's office, Emma opens her email; she scans through the exercises and then opens a blank email and types: Leigh, where are you? When can you meet up? – E
Leigh, who has now been reprimanded by the teacher once class was over and before he also praised her for her work; tried not to cry, although, she could feel her face getting hot and tears welling up in her eyes. Suddenly, when she thought that it couldn't be any worse, she feels her back pocket vibrate. She wants to reach for it to see who is sending her a message, but she knows better than to do that now.
Once she is on her way to the library, she takes her phone out of her back pocket and (while almost walking into three people and falling down a small set of steps) checks to see that message was an email (she would have to mention this to Emma later) from Emma. She reads it about five times before she thinks of a response. She has decided, to focus on walking to the library. “Whoever thought this multi-tasking thing was a good idea hadn't met me” she always thought when she tried to do it.
Emma, who is growing impatient waiting for Leigh to answer is waiting in line (“Line. Since when is there a line.” she thought) at the vending machines. She is hoping to get a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and some soda. “Meal of champions,” Emma assured herself- half-jokingly. At least she could still make herself smile.
She sees a group of friends meeting up with a guy, who looked like he was significantly older than sixteen. This prompted her to make a mental note to get two Peanut Butter Cups and sodas. She felt a push from behind. Actually, it was more like a slam; but who was counting. She must have zoned out looking at the guy and his friends- mostly just the guy though. The line had moved, and she hadn't even realized it. She stepped forward quickly- not too quickly though; so as not to let the girl who had slammed into her fall. It was her turn now, and she did her business as fast she as she could, knowing that the line behind her had gotten longer in the time that she was on it.
Thinking a few steps ahead (which is an unusual thing for her) Emma makes her way to the library. Figuring that is where Leigh would be. As she felt her phone go off and she hastily threw the sodas and candy into her bag and taking out her phone excitedly. She scowls a little upon seeing that the first couple of messages weren't from Leigh. “Finally,” she thought “one from Leigh!” It read: Sorry it took so long, have lots to tell you, am in the library, when are you coming? – Leigh
With lightning quickness, Emma responds: Am on my way, same here, am bearing snacks. -E She hurries now, knowing that Leigh is
As she does, a bunch of paper spills out; including the “Interesting Industries” one. Leigh takes a sidelong glance at it, and it's counterparts and then back at Emma. Knowing she won't get any work done, she picks up her things and the snacks (drinks included) that Emma had brought. As the two of them leave the library to head back to their dorm, they each keep a running tally of all of the people they can tease ( you know along with all of the essential things they have to tell each other) upon entry.
But, as they would both find out, the first thing that happened upon entry was Leigh sitting down, opening her notebook, and (in record speed, at least to Emma) finishing the assignment that she had been unable to start hours earlier. “Wow!” Emma exclaimed. “That was quick!.” “Sure was. Must have been the Peanut Butter Cup and the soda!” She replied with a wink and smile in Emma's direction. “I mean, I knew they had magic powers, but, not like that.” “See that, you learn something new everyday!” Leigh said as they burst into laughter. Once the laughter subsided, Leigh asked “How'd you know that I liked Peanut Butter Cups anyway?” “I didn't really, I was getting one for myself and I thought I would get one for you too.” Emma decided to leave out what actually happened. “Well, you are awfully lucky!”