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Am I too Realistic for you?
"Alice, I'd like to speak with you after class. For the rest of you, have a great long weekend, and don't forget about our vocabulary test on Monday. Study hard; dismissed."
While the rest of the class headed away, rushing towards the hallways, I had to walk in the other direction, to speak with the reason they ran so fast out the door. Why did Mrs. Smith want to talk to me? I was a good student and was rarely in trouble, so I have to admit, I panicked. Anticipation washed through me, in the form of sweat on my forehead. When I reached her desk, I stood there patiently, waiting for Mrs. Smith to look up. But she didn't. She knew I was there, but she kept her head down, leaving me waiting, proving the point that she was in control. Not that I was arguing that point, she was just like that.
Her pen stopped writing, and she raised her head. "Ah, Ms. Wilde." as though she hadn't seen me. "Last night, I began to mark your short story assignment." Okay, what about it? I was actually proud of that story, but the tone in her voice implied there was an issue. "It was well-written, as usual, but the plot was just not school appropriate." What? I guess she noticed my confused look because she sighed deeply, and tucked her short hair behind her ears: a sign she was about to give a lecture.
"The topics in your story are just not taboo." Not what? "I don't understand Mrs. Smith." I said, finally making my first comment in the entire conversation. "The things your character does to herself are just disturbed."
"But you said the goal was to make our stories relatable." Hypocrite.
"Yes, and most students managed to do that by writing about summer love and friendships, not frightening... well, not..." At a loss of words? Pff, that's a first.
I let her pause and lose the look of control on her face before I began. "You can say the words. Self-harm. Bulimia. They are perfectly relatable topics! Yes, my story is quite frightening, but so are the lives of many teenagers."
"I won't have it in my class!" her voice was raising. "You are going to have to write a new short story, with an appropriate, more realistic story by tomorrow, or I'm afraid you will recieve a zero on the assignment". Oh, hell no.
I couldn't believe it. I knew I was a talented writer, often praised by teachers, but as soon as I write a realistic story about touchy subjects, it's innapropriate? What I found innapropriate was the fact that my english teacher had such a small mind, she refused to accept that teenagers, let alone humans of every age, are harming themsleves.
My story was a true story, about a girl I knew, Stacy. Stacy had depression, but was not diagnosed until after years of self-harm. She coped by cutting her wrists with blades from scissors. When she finally started to take medication, the sudden change in her body confused her hormones and she gained weight. Stacy was teased about her chubby belly one day and was hurt. Eventually, she began to throw up the little amount of food she would eat.
While my story was not graphic, it did display her emotions well and was hard to handle by some people. Mrs. Smith being one of them. But in no way, was it innapropriate for school. After this incident, I was left wondering "can people relate to realistic?"
The love stories other students wrote, certainley were not realistic. What teenager goes on summer vacation to France and falls in love with a sailor, who decides to move to America, when she leaves to go back home, because he misses her so much?
If I had conformed to Mrs. Smith's demands, I would be going against what I felt was right, so I took the zero she gave my story. But everytime I sit down to write, I can't shake the small thought out of the back of my mind: Am I too realistic for you?