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A Lesson in Character Building

I woke up in a cold sweat. Again. My psychiatrist told my parents this should stop soon, but I knew she’d just been telling them what they wanted to hear so she’d get paid more. Too bad she doesn’t know that they don’t even listen- she could get by with a lot less work, and I could stop telling lies. They started sending me to her a few months ago because I let my grade in civics drop to an A-. I guess they didn’t have the time to ask me about it, otherwise I could have told them that I had the highest grade in the class.

It didn’t used to matter. My sessions with Dr. Vaughn got me out of piano lessons. It gave me time to think, which just a few weeks ago I could never get enough of. But right around that time, my friends started going out to parties. I’d known them my whole life, so I knew that most people’s parents at my school let their kids drink. In fact, most people’s parents supplied the drinks. Classy drinks, of course (only the best for “their little achievers”). I’d never known though, that they could drink so much at one time.
I’d be invited to the parties, and I’d go to them; I had a social life to maintain. It came to be that that was all that really mattered at Wesleyan-the social life. On the surface, we were the future leaders of America, but on the weekends we’d be out until four a.m. The cops never came. They knew who we were, and they knew that any one of our parents could have them fired for even thinking of bringing us in. I use the terms “we” and “us” loosely here- I never drank. But I was there, and I wasn’t a nark, and that was what mattered.
So one night, or morning I guess, I was with my friend Daphne. She was completely trashed, so I took her upstairs to the bedroom to let her sleep it off. She couldn’t drive home in her state, and I didn’t know how to get to her house. Her friend, Chase, walked in behind us. He seemed really concerned, at least until I asked why his eyes were so red. Then Chase locked the door.
Everyone knew what would happen next. Everyone except me, that was. On Monday, Chase told everyone that I was a sl**, and life went on.

***
“Sydney’s room has been a mess lately. Do you think we should do something?” Mrs. Porter asked her husband.
“Have Paula clean it up. I hardly see a problem dear. Sydney’s a teenager, that’s what they do.”
“I’ll do that, but that’s just not like her to leave laundry everywhere. I wonder what’s up with her,” Mrs. Porter paused thoughtfully for a moment, and then said, “I’ll ask Dr. Vaughn about it next time I see her.”
“Good, the way I see it, we pay that woman too much. Anyone can sit around listening to other people’s problems. Just the other day, Sydney told me she didn’t want to go to school. I told her the same thing my father told me: ‘everyone has to do things they don’t like at some point, it builds character’, and I haven’t heard her complain since,” Mr. Porter said, proudly.
“She has seemed really focused on her studies lately. And she’s finally getting an A in civics. It’ll be nice for her to go to our Christmas party this weekend, as a reward. I’m so glad you suggested we make it a family party this year. Sydney will have more fun. Andrew and Phillis from next door will be here with Daphne. Oh, and my boss, Chase Wellington, plans on bringing his son, too. I met Chase Jr. once. He’s such a good kid, and Mr. Wellington tells me he’s been accepted at Harvard. Just like Sydney! I do hope they hit it off.”
Mr. Porter grunted in approval and went back to the paper. Mrs. Porter filled herself with pleasure at the idea of her daughter at Harvard and began to clean the house in preparation for the maid’s arrival.

***

Now I have too much time with my thoughts. Every second I’m not doing school work, or lacrosse, or mock trial, I relive that night. And it sucks, and I’m guilty and scared. I hope you can come to respect my decision in time.










Still yours,


Sydney Porter





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PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm
Great story i really liked this keep it up  could you please check out adn comment on my story Manso's Shame  i would really appreciate the feedback
 
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