Out of Time | Teen Ink

Out of Time

December 9, 2019
By Anonymous

It was a cool Sunday night, rain lightly sprinkled down on the short grass. Sally sat silently in her room, at her desk.  Her room was small, yet just the right size. The walls were painted a perfect periwinkle and everything was neatly organized. Her desk was also neat, it was made out of wood and was a very dark shade of brown. Atop it was a cup full of pencils and colorful pens, her laptop, and a binder. There was also a desk light that shone very bright when turned on. Sally reached up to the light and clicked it on. The bright light shined right into her eyes, blinding her. She quickly turned it off, feeling as blind as a bat. She walked over to the light switch by her door and flicked it on. A pale yellow overhead light turned on. It was the perfect light. 

Sally’s room was neatly organized. With her clothes neatly folded and put away, her bed made, and her chinchilla’s cage clean, she seems like someone who would be on top of things. That's when her problem comes as a shock. Sally had a big assignment due. She needs to write a five hundred word essay about a world conflict. It seems like an easy project for her but that's not the problem. As this assignment was assigned a week ago, it is due the next day. And she hasn’t started. Sally always tends to procrastinate until the last minute and is distracted very easily.

 “So..” Sally began to tell herself, “It is currently five o’ clock, if I start this now, then I should be done by ten.” She started planning how she would execute this burdening procedure. She wrote out what requirements she needed to meet and decided she is just going to do what is required, nothing extra. Then it came to coming up with an idea for her conflict. She knew that she needed to do a topic that would keep her concentrated, so it would have to be something she feels strongly about and believes in. She started brainstorming. I know I can always do something about pollution. She thought. But everyone is going to do that, and there's too much information about it. She thought until she felt her brain was going to explode, but still couldn’t come up with anything. Maybe I'll just look it up. She decided. Sally opened up her laptop and turned it on. She could hear the whirring of the fan as it started up. The bright log in screen came up and she quickly typed in her password. When she pulled up the search engine, she typed ‘world conflicts’. Many different things came up but none of them jumped out at her. I wonder if there's any videos explaining some conflicts, she wondered, I know I’ll be able to find something that way. She was thrilled with her idea. She knew that watching a video would be an easier way for her to learn and stay focused.

It was now seven o’ clock at night and Sally was watching a video of a cat playing with a duck. She got distracted. 

“Sally! Dinner’s ready!” Her mom called up the stairs. Sally suddenly realized what time it was and what she had done.

“I’m never going to finish this.” She sighed out loud. 

She walked out of her room and went down the hardwood stairs to see her parents at the dinner table. The room was decorated for halloween. There were pumpkins, skeletons, ghosts, and bats everywhere. Each decoration was placed in a strategic pattern. the whole room was neat and tidy, just as it was in Sally’s room. Organization definitely ran in the family.

Sally walked over to the dining room and sat at the wooden table. Her mom had brought out grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.

“How was school?” Her mom asked.

“Fine.” Sally replied. She knew what question was next. 

“Do you have any homework?” Her mom questioned.

“No.” Sally lied. She didn’t want her parents to get mad that she had a whole essay due the next morning. Her dad sat across the table from her, listening to their conversation. Sally had a feeling her dad knew. He always seems to be able to find things out just by listening. But she knew that he wouldn’t get mad. He always raves about how he graduated high school with bad grades and never did his work. Her mom would always get mad when he talked about it because she thought he would influence her to do the same. Sally’s mother was always a good student. She never got in trouble and always did her work. It’s funny how some things work out. They continued to eat dinner, and her mom didn’t question Sally any further. Instead, they discussed their plans for Halloween. It was always a holiday they all loved.

 As Sally finished her dinner she looked at the time, eight o’ clock. I’m screwed. Sally thought to herself. Realizing she had to get going, she quickly rinsed her dishes and went back to her room before her parents had a chance to ask what she was up to.

 Sally entered her room and shut the door. She sat down at her desk and opened her laptop back up. The screen turned on to the blank document, her essay was eager to be written. 

“I really don’t know what to do,” she said quietly. Overcome with frustration, Sally put her face in her hands. Suddenly, she heard a loud metal crash. The familiar sound made her jump, but she knew what it was. 

“What are you doing Buster?” She asked, looking over at her pet chinchilla. His cage was very tall and made all out of a dark metal. There were three stories in the cage and one had a metal pan. Buster had jumped down onto the pan, which was why it made such a loud sound. Sally walked over to the towering cage and looked in. There Buster was, tearing up a fleece blanket like a paper shredder. “Buster!” Sally exclaimed, “Knock that off!” She opened up the cage and pulled the blanket away from him. Buster then sat and stared at her. He was a dark gray color and had a very bushy tail, almost like a squirrel. Sally closed the cage and checked under it to see what treats she had for him. She pulled out a round container and took off the lid. Inside, it was full of oats. They were pale and dusty. There's no way they would taste good but her chinchilla loved them. She took out an oat and held it up to Buster. He quickly snatched it from her and ate it so fast, you would’ve thought he was being starved. Of course he wasn’t being starved. You could tell by how overweight he looked. Sally then took out an applewood stick for Buster to chew on, and that was taken as quick as a flash. “Ok Buster, you gotta stay quiet so I can type this essay, otherwise I'll never get it done,” Sally explained to him, knowing he has no idea what shes saying. She then walked back over to her desk and sat down. 

Sally’s laptop screen had gone black and would not turn back on. “Of course,” she groaned. Her laptop had died because she forgot to plug the charger in. Sally leaned over and looked under her desk. She could see her charger against the wall. It seemed to be miles away. She reached down, grabbed the stubborn charger, and plugged it into her laptop. 

Waiting for the laptop to turn on felt like an eternity. Finally, the screen flashed on and the logo appeared. When she logged back in, the blank document popped back up. Sally stared at it hoping that somehow the words would type themselves. She looked at the time, nine o’ clock. How did time go by so fast? She thought. She looked around her room, hoping something would give her an idea, She was growing desperate. Maybe I should ask my mom. She thought to herself. She decided against it. She didn’t want to seem like a burden, especially when her mom had to work in the morning. Sally didn’t know what to do. Maybe I should just go to bed and come up with an excuse tomorrow. She wondered. She remembered her strict teacher, repeating how the paper was due Monday with no exceptions. Nope can’t do that. She realized. 

Suddenly Sally heard footsteps coming closer to her door, and then a soft knock. “Come in,” Sally said, shutting her laptop. The door opened slowly and her mom walked in. She looked around the room.

“What are you up to?” Her mom asked.

“Nothing, I was just playing with Buster,” Sally said, in a way she wasn’t lying. 

“I am heading to bed soon, do you need anything?” Her mom inquired.

“No, I am fine,” Sally replied, smiling so her mom wouldn’t question her further. She knew her dad had shared that he thinks Sally had homework with her mom.

“Well goodnight.” Her mom sighed. She started to walk out of the room until Sally stopped her. 

“Wait mom,” Sally started, “can you actually help me with something?” She finally asked.

“Of course! What is it?” Her mom said happily. She knew she had won. Sally began to explain what her problem was hoping her mom would have some thoughts. “I can definitely help you with this.” Her mom continued. “I used to do these all the time when I was in school.”

“Are you sure you want to? I can have dad help me instead,” Sally insisted. 

“Trust me, you do not want your father to help you with this one,” her mom said

 jokingly. “Plus, it’s always okay to ask for help when you need it, your father and I are always here for that.” Her mom then grabbed a piece of paper and started gracefully writing down her ideas. They were everything Sally would’ve expected. Animal cruelty, animal testing, animal rights… She had almost forgotten that her mom had a raging love for animals. Sally now knew this would be easy to do now that she had help.

Sally looked at the clock, it was now ten thirty and she had three hundred words typed out, her mom had been helping her and her dad had brought up snacks. 

“Thank you for your help.” Sally said gratefully. “I’ll make sure to start doing my work on time from now on.”

“It’s okay, I used to do it all the time, but look, I survived,” her dad said proudly as her mom rolled her eyes and laughed.

“It’s ok to get behind sometimes but it is always a good thing to stay on top of things,” her mom said, “If you ever need help keeping track of things and getting things done, just talk to us or a teacher and we will help you, it's what we're here for.” Sally smiled and continued to type, finally the blank document was getting the words it was yearning for. Ideas raced through her mind and it was like she never had a problem finding them before.

Sally looked at the clock, eleven o’ clock. In front of her sat a fully typed, printed five hundred and one word essay. I can’t believe I finished this at a decent time. Sally thought to herself. I’m glad I finally asked my mom, but hopefully I will stay on track next time I have a project. She thought to herself as she put her essay into her binder and put it away into her backpack. Relieved, she said goodnight to Buster, turned off the lights and crawled into bed, falling into a once forbidden slumber.


The author's comments:

This short story is about a teen girl facing a real life struggle many face today.

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