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A Short Story from my English 220 Class

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.

I had no idea what to write about this week, so I decided to post the short story I had to write for my English class. It is a creative writing class, and to be honest, I had a tough time writing this. It was initially a dream I had, so I decided to turn it into a story. I know thats very Stephenie Meyer of me.  Its a short story about a dystopian society somewhere in the not so far future. I know how Suzanne Collins of me. Yeah its pretty dorky and very highschool, so  try to pretend a sophisticated succesful author wrote this I feel like it will be better. Anyway, I’m always looking for feedback, so if you feel like it (or don’t) message me on Instagram. Enjoy!

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American Rivalry Standardized Testing

I dig into my skin with my manicured nails. Im desperately trying to remember the pain I endured during my exam. I can’t remember anything even as blood runs down my arm and stains my cuticles red. My eyes are frozen on a little piece of white fuzz stuck to my obnoxiously blue carpet. I blink, which gives me the key to unlock my fastened gaze. I realize I should probably go to bed now. I won’t sleep, but I should at least try to. I leave my lamp on, and I pull the covers to my nose and watche my ceiling fan blades slice through the air like machetes through flesh. I squeezed my eyes shut and see little blue and white blobs pulsating in the darkness.

I can’t even begin to imagine how Lucy must be feeling right now. At this point in the night, you’re thrashing around on the floor and screaming. Your parents aren’t allowed to comfort you. Though I can’t imagine it being beneficial, it would probably make it worse. There’s something about seeing your parents that makes you melt into a puddle of helplessness. Even at twenty being around my parents make me feel like a child.

I can’t help but feel terrified for her. She’s smaller than me and weaker. I like to think that all older siblings feel a certain amount of protectiveness over their younger siblings, but maybe it’s just me. I don’t think my brother has any protective instinct of my sister or me. He didn’t seem disturbed when I took my exam.

The thoughts force me to get up, so I sit at my vanity and look in the mirror. I try to remember the injuries I received from my test, but there are no scars to remind me of my results. The country would never allow the most powerful and educated people to walk around with deviated septum’s and shattered cheekbones. Thank god for plastic surgery. I graze my fingers over my nose. I still can’t feel anything there. I rub my torso and close my eyes, trying to remember which blow caused my three broken ribs. I stare in the mirror and look at my nightstand drawer. I  turn around and walk towards it to take out my bottle of sleeping pills. I haven’t taken them since high school, but I think I’ll need them.

There’s nothing to do in the morning, so my family and I tiptoe around the house and avoid eye contact with each other, trying not to acknowledge the day. By around noon, I start getting ready. The cocktail reception doesn’t start until four, but I can’t bare laying around feeling sick to my stomach for another second. I take a shower for what feels like ten minuets but when I get out its already one. I shake my hair with a towel and begin blow drying it. I decided I would put it up, so gather the bravery to walk to my mom’s room. I go to her bathroom where she’s doing her makeup in her purple satin robe. Her hair is already done. Is she more anxious than I am? “Mom?” I say. She jumps and turns, holding her eyeshadow brush in one hand and gripping her marble vanity with the other. I guess that answers that question.

“Oh, Quinn. Dont scare me like that.”

“Im sorry. Could you help me with my hair?”

She looked at me and forced a smile. “Of course.”

She got up, and I sat down at the vanity. “Can you do a french twist?” I ask her,

“Sure but your hair looks so pretty blow dried. Why don’t you wear it down?”

I don’t want to tell her the reason I want my hair up is because I don’t want to be anxiously playing with it the entire time so I tell her it’s too casual for a black-tie event.

“Mhmm, that’s true.” She says in her hummingbird voice.

She begins to work intricately with the bobby pins teasing and pulling at my thick wavy hair.

“Your hair gets so light in the summer even lighter than Lucy’s.” I feel awkward after she says that. My hair is pretty dark, but I’m guessing she’s just looking for an excuse to bring up Lucy and the fight. She can’t bury like me.

“Who do you think she’ll fight?”

“Im not sure.”

“How many people in Ohio are applying for college?”

“You’re father told me it was about fifty this year.”

“Thats a lot less than my year.”

“I know.”

I watched my mothers nervous face, and she aged before my eyes.

“How many men?” I finally asked

She breathed abruptly out of her nose. “thirty-five.” She said still fiddling with my hair.

I bit the inside of my cheek. It was easy for women to say that they were just as smart as men because it’s true, but it’s not as easy for women to say they’re just as strong as men because that’s not true. My brother fought a girl and got the highest score in the state. Luckily I was paired with another girl. Even though she was bigger than me and defiantly kicked my ass, I still received an above-average score for my gender, but the luck in this family has to run out at some point.

When my mom finished my hair, it was about two-thirty. I went to my room and did my makeup, and then I pulled out my gown. It was a royal blue gown with a chiffon skirt and a rhinestone belt. I slipped it on. It fit beautifully, but I still hated wearing it. It seems so barbaric to Dress up for something like this. The event is exclusive to close family and friends of the fighter. My dad yelled from the living room at three-forty for everyone to get in the car. I rushed out the door and sat next to Tyler in the third row our parents were in the second row. The driver backed out of our driveway, and I looked at my childhood home longingly.

Tyler looked completely unfazed for the entire evening of greetings. The exam is located at a small sporting arena outside of Cincinnati, but the reception is traditionally held at a nice hotel in the city. After we had greeted our friends with fake smiles and clammy hands, we were all called into the ballroom for dinner. Our family sat at the front table, and I looked at Tyler as he stumbled into the chair beside me.

“Are you drunk?” I asked quietly so my parents wouldn’t hear.

“Why do you care?”

I didn’t say anything after that. I guess I didn’t care. If I was allowed to drink Id probably be pissed at this point. After everyone took their seats, the representative of the ARST walked on the stage. He was a fat pompous man with a greying mustache and an arrogance that came with his bone structure. The ensemble of clapping was cat scratches on my skin.

“Friends and family welcome to Lucy Price’s American Rivalry Standardized Test. I know how important of a night this is for all of you. Lucy’s family must be very proud. After all, only thirteen percent of the United States population decides to apply for college. As you all know, the ARST was established due to the rapid population growth in the United States. Four-hundred and thirteen years ago, an exam testing physical strength was created to diminish the number of young adults applying for college. Not only are college acceptances determined by academic achievement and intelligence but by brawn also. This solution has decreased the number of college applicants significantly. Lucy’s high school grades and her test results from her ARST’s and her standardized tests will determine which colleges she can attend.”

The speech felt very phlegmatic. I wasn’t listening at this point. Everyone was impatiently waiting for him to announce who Lucy would be fighting. Although sickening, it was interesting to attend one of these events. I had no cousins or relatives close to my age, so this is the first ARST reception I had been to. It’s different on the other side. You stay in a hotel for the 24 hours prior to the exam. Its almost unbearable being in a hotel room all by yourself just thinking about the pain you’re about to go through. The training makes it seem less intimidating, but the second you leave your parents that night all hell breaks loose. You can barely stand the anxiety you won’t eat, you won’t sleep, and you’ll be screaming and crying all night.

When the representative announced that Lucy would be fighting one-hundred and sixty-pound boy, I felt like screaming crying.

My mom’s face grew whiter and whiter the entire ride to the arena. It was seven-thirty, and the event started at eight. I felt like throwing up after I saw my dad crying. Even though this was the worst possible outcome, I just kept telling myself that she will get through this. Even though she’ll be in a lot of pain for a while, the college will pay for her facial reconstruction and shell forget about it just like I did. It’s barbaric, yes, but no one has ever died, and that’s what I continued to tell myself.

Families receive box seating, so they don’t have to see the horrifying details of the blows that their child receives. The room was lethal with air conditioning that only made me sweat more. I sat at the seat on the edge of the balcony and looked at the projection of my sister and then the opponent. Louis Campbell: a high school football player, average GPA, and truthfully a nice looking kid. It was hard to hate just some average teenager, but I did. I hated him. I felt like an alien sitting beside my family at this moment, but I still looked at my brother looking for something comforting in his face, but all I saw was a drunken gaze.

The lights went out, and my mother gasped. I began to breathe very rapidly, and my heart was drumming in my ears. An announcer said a few things, but I couldn’t pay attention. And then a woman walked out into the arena and sang the national anthem. It was all happening so fast, and then suddenly a dark-haired boy was walking into the arena and then my frail little sister who was shaking so violently she didn’t even look real. Tears streamed down my face. All I wanted to do was save her. I wanted to rip through the crowd and carry her away from where she would be safe from this horrible world forever. She was too young and too innocent. She doesn’t deserve this. For what? An education? A career?

As soon as the monotone voice said, “You have fifteen minutes. You may begin” My little sister clawed at her collarbone and died before the boy could even lay a hand on her.

The testing organization paid for the funeral, but that’s all. The injustice is just as invasive as the soil my sister was buried in. My mother wept and howled like rolling waves hitting a rocky shore. My father tried to hold her steady, but her unbearable weight brought him down with her, and he soon began to sob. I looked up at my brother’s face but saw only darkness. He was doing nothing. He had done absolutely nothing. I screamed out for any source of human decency. A tear, a blink, a muscle movement. Anything, but he just stood there looking through his sunglasses as if they could deafen all the screaming.

After the burial my family started the agonizing drive home. When we got home, I went to my room and laid on the floor. I knew I’d have to go back to school soon, but I never wanted to leave again. College was like poison now. Someone had turned my water into bleach. I hated school I hated everything that had to do with this revolting test. Tyler eventually came into my room and sat on the floor. I was truthfully surprised

“If she died during the fight, maybe something would have changed.”

“Nothing will change,” I said

“It will change.” He said