Inevitable Detour

By: S.R. Grey

I stare at the computer screen. It’s my last exam of spring semester, and there are only five questions left on the Strategic Management final before me.

My eyes are glued to words, forming a single question. I know the answer. Yes, I do. But then my vision blurs, and I think, ugh, whose idea was it for me to major in business?

Not mine.

The cursor on the screen blinks over answer choice B. Like I said, I know the correct answer, and it sure as hell isn’t B.

What to do…what to do…

With a sly grin, I choose B and hit next.

I am feeling particularly defiant today. My parents left me a voice mail this morning, telling me in no uncertain terms that any thoughts of heading up to New York City this summer with my best friend and roommate, Haven Shaw, are best put to rest. So much for thinking it’d be fun to hang out in the Big Apple with Haven while she worked on finding an agent, making acting contacts, and generally just doing whatever it is a person needs to do when preparing to land a part in a play someday.

And not just any play.

“Broadway, here I come,” Haven said the other day when we were discussing her big-city dreams.

She’s a bit theatrical, but that’s to be expected. She’s a theater major, after all. Her goal is to eventually make it as an actress on the Great White Way.

Conversely, my dreams are much smaller. My primary longing lately is for something—anything—to happen in my mundane life. I thought New York would be a promising start. Guess not. Thanks to my parents and their aversion to anything fun for Essa, there will be no excitement in my life this summer. Nope. Just like the two previous summers, I’ll be lulling away the time here at Oakwood College. Excitement for me will consist of chilling in the coffee shop on the edge of the tiny Pennsylvania town my small college is located in. My after-class afternoons will include exciting activities like staring out at cows and farmland, sipping on a mocha, and wishing and hoping for something more.

And that’s just not right.

I’m a damn straight-A student, for God’s sake. I don’t need to spend the summer at Oakwood, taking stupid summer classes. Unfortunately, my parents don’t care about my wants and needs. They believe their only child should apply herself year-round. Forget that I’m already a model daughter.

Well, more or less. But that’s neither here nor there.

Bottom line is that my parents will not, as they put it in their terse message, have me “veering off course.”

Oh, really? So they think…

My defiance hits full throttle, and I purposely choose the wrong answers for the next four questions.

I hit submit and think, take that, Mr. and Mrs. Brant.

Despite my actions, I’ll still receive a solid A for the class. My GPA will not suffer in the slightest. Still, it feels kind of good to be bad.

That’s sad, Essa, that choosing a few wrong answers on a final is the best defiant act you can come up with.

Sighing, I click a button to indicate I am finished with the exam. I then grab my purse from the back of the chair and head for the door. “You’re pathetic,” I mumble to myself as I step out into a warm, stuffy hallway that smells of varnish and books.

I kind of like the smell as it wraps around me. It’s the smell of students seeking knowledge; it’s the smell of youth. Despite all my protestations to the contrary, I do like college. I would just prefer to be studying something of my own choosing.

I stand and ponder. Not only does the smell of school envelope me, but the heat of the day does as well. The second-floor hall I’m lingering in is about ten degrees warmer than the classroom was. Dropping my purse to the floor, I shrug out of my olive-green mock-army jacket. I’m down to two layered tanks, blue over white, but I am still roasting.

“Blech,” I pant, fanning myself as I bend down to pick up my purse. The button on my pants threatens to pop, and I let out a curse. I really should have worn a pair of nice, loose shorts instead of squeezing my ass into overly stylish skinny jeans this morning.

Maybe if the jeans were a little looser, I’d be more comfy.

I do a funny little dance in the thankfully empty area outside the classroom. Sadly, the jeans don’t feel a single inch looser. Damn designers. Don’t they realize we’re not all model-perfect? When I exhale, the button squeezes once again at my middle, and I remind myself that I need to lay off the sweets.