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Imperfect is good enough for me
You look down at the letter, then back to the envelope. That is your name, isn't? Vivian Damasco? This could not be right.
This is your acceptance letter into Bronx Science and your high as heaven SHSAT's score. But why does it feel more like a rejection? Shouldn't this be your acceptance letter into Stuyvesant, not Bronx? You shake your head and walk down the hall. Jordan and Munpriya are hugging each other happily. Daisy is in tears. So is Billie.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. You should be shoving it in Sean's face right about now, who looks absolutely f***ing elated with joy. How could an idiot like him get into a school for you?
Sean walks towards you, his arrogant smirk fading and a shy smile taking its place. “Remember how I said if I got into Stuy...I'd ask the girl I liked out?”
You nod. “You asked her?” Your frown deepens. Your ribcage is shaking as your heart quakes with...jealousy? Wait, the H*LL does this have to do with your heart?
“No. But I'm going to right now,” he says as his smile grows, and he looks at you knowingly.
You feel defeated. “Okay. Good luck with that.”
“You wanna go out with me, Viv?”
Every fiber is telling you to say yes...but something is making you want to say no.
You look at him, and the longer you look, the smaller his smile. “Viv?”
“I can't.” You really can't. “I...can't.” Sean looks adorable confused, and it's making your heart ache.
“Wait...you don't like me?”
D*mmit. “I don't like you...I lo--...I can't do inter-school dating.”
“What are you talking about? You're choosing not to go to Stuyvesant? Your parents really were serious about reform school? Viv, I—Viv!”
You're already running. The school day was over anyway. Tears stream over your face, threatening for rivers to become seas.
You're running...you're running...and suddenly you find yourself at home, crying again. But not for Sean anymore. Now because of your parents.
“What happened to Stuyvesant, Vivian? And the competition? The scholarship? HARVARD? What happened to the straight A's and the 100's? Now you're just some Bronx Science idiot? Some lowlife who's really only the second best?”
“I can try for it next year...”
“But if you weren't good enough for it this year, who says you will be next year? You won't be anyway. You were supposed to be perfection. But this is failure. And that is unacceptable.”
Your father watches as your mother yells on and on, and the tears just keep coming with her insults, and it comes to the point where you just curl into a hot mess until she sends to your room, all old school-like. You run and you run up the stairs, and the seas become planets of water as you slam the door shut and sink against it, wallowing in self pity til the morrow.
* * * * * * * * *
You're walking down the hall and into the dean's office. Technically, you hadn't actually cut—really, it was only homeroom. But of course, you're going to be yelled the s*** out of. And bawl, for the umpteenth time that day, because really, you've already outnumbered yesterday's count.
You knock on the door. It swings open to reveal a face that is either going to be dark and scary or warm and comforting.
Dean Armstrong really just looks confused.
“Sit down,” he says. You sit and look around the room. It's literally the size of your closet. Then again, your closet is pretty huge. It was never your fault that your parents are rich and that most others' are not. But the world seems to see it that way every time you walk in. Even Dean Armstrong seems dismayed at the leather jacket and designer boots.
“So, what did I do?” you ask nervously. D*mn he was intimidating. You'd never really looked at him before, but he had a kind of James Bond scariness and attraction. He could probably scare--or seduce if it came to it--kids out of any bad behavior.
Unfortunately, you were probably scaring yourself more than he was scaring you.
“Apparently, you cut the last five minutes of homeroom. It's not something we deem as punishable, but, and I quote, could potentially lead to serious ditching. Your homeroom teacher said that, by the way.”
Why was Mr. Jenkins such an a** to you?
“Well, I don't know anything about him being an a**...” You said that out loud. Real smooth. “But I can tell you that he doesn't have a great one.”
You both smile, and recall the time Jenkins' pants split in the middle of an assembly.
“In any case, I still have to, and am curious enough to ask you why you ran out of school. Really, there were only five minutes left.”
The words are out of your mouth before you realize what you're doing. “I was taught to be the definition of perfection. Never let anyone see you sweat, much less cry. My parents had my life planned out for me, and I failed them. I couldn't get into f***ing Stuyvesant. So now, I've rejected the boy I love, failed my parents, and embarrassed myself in front of the entire school, him, my parents, and you. So you tell me if that is punishable or comprises of a future criminal. Nope. I'm just an idiot.”
Unbelievably, you're not crying. Your hand comes up to wipe away a tear that isn't there. Why? It could be in the way that the dean's looking at you with understanding.
“My parents were like that too,” he said quietly. “I did everything they wanted me to do. I went to a prestigious high school, Harvard, got a degree in law and everything. They never wanted to see me become a teacher, then move up the ranks. But I did it. And it was worth it.” He looks you dead in the eye and you look right back, dying to know the end of this moral. “You do what you want to do with your life. You go to the school you want, date the people you want to, and work the way you want to. Otherwise, you'll be miserable for the rest of your life, and I think you've done that the way I did for the first twenty years of my life. You've lived thirteen. Take those seven for yourself that your parents were going to take from you.”
He stands up. “That is all personal. The dean didn't say that to you, but I did. So don't let your parents murder me for that. As dean, I am saying never cut again as I let you off with a warning. You are dismissed, Vivian Damasco.”
“Nice formalities. Learn those from the parents?”
“Yep, being dean keeps me in practice.”
You stand up to hug him before you leave. As you exit, the bell for homeroom rings. You nearly run for room three-eighteen. As you arrive, Sean is packing his things as he readies to exit. You pull him by the collar of the classroom. “We need to talk,” you say. He silences you.
“Bad news. My parents won't let me go to Stuy. So I'm going to Bayside High.”
You smile broadly. “I didn't make it into Stuyvesant.” His eyebrows crinkle in surprise. “I made it into Bronx, though. And you know what? Bayside too.”
You wrap your arms around his neck, a smile gracing your face. A real smile too—not plastic-parentally. “Wouldn't your parents kill you for that? They already did, didn't they?”
“And you brought me back,” you kiss him until the bell rings, and now both of you are late for homeroom. You wink at him before leaving him breathless.
You walk into homeroom, your presence mustering a stir of whispers as you sit down. You sigh happily, thinking of how cliched all this was and how it so belonged in a novel or a short story or something.
You decide that you don't care and that your happy ending is this, right here. Your parents may badger you, you may not get into an Ivy League college, and bad things could happen at Bayside. But who gives one d*mn about being perfect? Especially when it's the bumps in the road who make you so imperfect.
Imperfectly perfect. That's good enough for you.
Just you wait Vivian, til you get a load of me.