The Road Not Taken

May 20, 2010
“Hey, want to come over to my house tonight, Akilah? I’m having a party and everyone is invited. It wouldn’t be any fun if you didn’t show up.” Kahini the mischievous monkey said loudly.
“I don’t know,” replied Akilah thoughtfully, “We have a huge semester final in biology tomorrow, and I really need to study for it.” Akilah was a young owl, but extremely wise for her age. She was intelligent, thoughtful, and loved to read. Most of the other kids at her school considered her a “nerd,” but she didn’t mind, because she knew she was an excellent student. Akilah liked Kahini, and considered her a fairly good friend, but sometimes she just couldn’t stand Kahini’s arrogance and overzealous nature.
“Oh, don’t worry about it! Just take a break once in a while, Akilah,” exclaimed Leya, Akilah’s best friend. Leya was a loyal dog who would always go along with Kahini’s foolish innocence.
“Well, just text me later when you decide,” Kahini spoke again, but this time annoyed. As she finished her sentence, she sauntered out of the classroom with Leya following obediently behind her.
When the bell rang for school to be over, Akilah grabbed her backpack and slowly wandered home, thinking about her plans for that night. She really wanted to go to Kahini’s party, but something in the back of her mind was nagging at her and telling her it wasn’t the right decision. Suddenly she remembered a quote she had heard a few weeks ago: “What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.”
“Fine,” Akilah thought aloud. She reminded herself that the final was worth ten percent of her grade, and if she wanted to succeed on it, she needed to study. Although Akilah knew she would disappoint her friends, she texted them that she would not be attending the party.
Later that evening, Akilah studied the hardest she had ever studied for any test. After about four hours of studying and reviewing, she put her supplies away and prepared herself for the next day with a good night’s sleep.
Akilah woke the next morning feeling relaxed and ready for her biology final. She was confident she was going to do well. Once in her biology class, she peered around the room and saw nothing but sleepy and exhausted faces.
“It must have been some crazy party!” Thought Akilah, pleased with herself. Leya sat at her desk like a zombie, and Kahini was nowhere in sight.
Finally, Mr. Shunkasaurus, Akilah’s crazy, grizzly bear biology teacher, passed out the final. It was one hundred questions of pure difficulty. Well, it was to everyone else. But Akilah knew almost everything! Her pencil collided with the paper with immense adrenaline, and in no time at all she finished the test.
“I hope I did well!” Akilah said nervously as she handed in her test. Soon after, Leya handed in her final, looking even more scared than Akilah. Akilah wondered how Leya had finished so early without studying.
Mr. Shunkasaurus was like lightning when it came to grading papers, and in a few minutes he handed back the finals. When Akilah received her test, her dry mouth almost dropped straight through the floor.
“I got an A+!” Akilah screamed as if she were at a rock concert. After she realized what she had done, Akilah quickly sat down, embarrassed. She turned to Leya and softly asked what her score was.
Looking disappointed and upset, Leya mouthed “twenty-seven percent” then turned away, crying quietly. Akilah felt bad for Leya, but knew that it was the result of her own poor choice.
The excruciating day came to an end, and Akilah followed her regular routine of walking home. It was a little bit chilly, and she noticed that the leaves were starting to turn beautiful shades of orange and yellow. It was Akilah’s most favorite season of the year, one that brought almost everything to a temporary end. Since she was in such a bubbly mood today, Akilah decided to pull out a book and read it on her way home. It was a poetry book, and she flipped to a poem written by Robert Frost. It began, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” Akilah came to a sudden stop. She had another simple decision to make today.
“Should I take the alley shortcut like I do every day, or should I take the long way home?” She always asked herself this.
Akilah glanced at her first option. The long path home was tortuous and difficult, but beautiful with trees and scenery. Then she came across the alleyway shortcut. Some shady-looking kids stood in alley as they smoked nonchalantly. Without thinking, Akilah put her beak back into her book and began fluttering down the longer path. When she was almost home, she had finally reached the last two lines of the poem: …I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
“I knew I was right.” She said quietly to herself. Smiling, she walked through the door of her house and immediately pulled out her test from earlier that day. She couldn’t have been happier as she looked up at the faces of her proud parents.

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