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The College Fair
The sun peeks over the rugged mountains while young children dream pleasant dreams. Their parents sound asleep, yet pressing thoughts ardently attempt the sound attention they so desperately desire.
Little girls creep to their mother and father’s bedside after a midnight’s dream, or after the thunder escapes the frozen sky and into their warm, peaceful slumber.
Young boys softly climb down a flight of stairs to reveal their incomprehensible hunger to their guardians, while teeming amidst the reflective glow of the fire and absorbing the resounding pitter patter of rain against the window pane.
And while darkness turns to dawn, and dawn turns to morning, and the guiltless children boast and bribe among the ice-clad streets of the town, the darkness of reality settled on one particular household.
I lay awake in bed, pondering the events that were to come of the day. The frightening world presented before my very eyes, I shuttered irrepressibly and slid deeper into the cushion of my bed. Never would I imagine such deep regret in life. For today, I must visit the college fair.
The true and harsh world was my inevitable fate, I had decided a week ago. For the next seven days I had sulked and cried knowing that I would soon leave my father.
The bustling, questioning, â€˜your world awaits you’ jargon. The frivolous text painted across the banners of each station. These tales related by my older sister were enough to keep me grounded.
Daddy gently knocked upon the door in an effort to appease my reluctance, but his efforts proved futile. I sought shelter by simply sinking deeper into the unfailing warmth and security of my quilt.
Laughingly, he spouted the words I was dreading with an undeniable passion: “Wake up, Margaret! Your college fair is today!”
I shuddered at the thought of a few short months from now, the time when I must give up my familiar shelter, knowledgeable surroundings, and my childhood.
The languor of my delayed reaction to his comments was enough to make my father tug at my sheets and sit me upon his lap. Tears filled my eyes, for I remember the indolent Sunday mornings of reading the newspaper and talking of my restricted world by the fire. Suddenly, a realization flashed before my eyes that this was the end of lap sitting and newspaper reading. Now I must be the conductor of the unwanted affairs of the real world.
I donned my best pair of jeans with a sour countenance and brushed my disheveled hair into a bun. I abrasively consumed my breakfast; it tasted of tears and regret.
Out the door we flew, as though we were two birds migrating for the winter. But I knew better. As we boarded the train, Daddy asked, “Why are you so regretful? College is so exciting, and to think of how many new friends you will meet!”
This was true; however, I replied with a solemn sigh and stared out the window of our fast-moving train. The children of the city constructed their adolescent affairs nonchalantly; they climbed the tall monkey bars in a fearful manner, secretly hoping to not slip and tumble down in ruin.
As we reached our destination, my father and I walked to the hall where the fair was being held. I felt as though I was reaching the portal of womanhood, or was it hell? A distorted view of the world around me overcame my mind.
Entering the cold, brick building, college recruiters immediately consumed us.
The first representative, a harsh, tall woman, asked me of what I hoped to study in college.
“I-I don’t know,” I answered hesitantly.
“Our college offers a number of majors, from Mathematics to English,” rattled the woman in monotone.
As my father took an interest in the Creative Writing program, I scanned the unforgiving crowd, in search of nothing in particular. However, for a reason unknown to me at the time, I was propelled to a light away from the tables and booths. As my gaze settled upon the oddity, I approached it only to discover that it was a door to the outside.
I hunched over to enter, and found a dilapidated alley and a homeless man seated near the door, as though waiting for my approach. He shivered as he wrapped a ragged blanket around his frail body. Realizing what I had entered, I quickly turned around to leave, but some unknown force stopped me.
I stopped, a cold sweat consuming my every muscle. I peered at the old man, but I could only see myself in his glazed look. The pain and sorrow exerted from his shriveled build, and I felt a connection to his melancholy expression. His reluctance but inevitable encounter to the tribulations of the world evoked a foreign pain inside of me. I too, was a scared, frail inkling in a world where nothing meant what it seemed. I stood, alone with my thoughts, but more importantly, my future.
“Thank you,” I whispered to the poor man who painfully glared my way. I turned around and left a world to which I hoped to never possess.
As I reentered the hall, I stood, poised, assured, and confident. I greeted every vendor with a smile and grateful handshake, taking down information concerning his college.
My father eyed my progress in a surprised manner, and I greeted him happily.
“Margaret, you seem so happy. Just an hour ago, you looked as though you might be living with me for good,” my father said.
“Oh Daddy, you don’t know how wonderful it feels to have the world at your feet. Every bit of life seemed so intangible before, but I can see my future in a different light now.”
My father tearfully hugged me, and I didn’t let go.
That spring, as the dew showered the grass in a hopeful manner, and the children grew older and wiser, pondering the unsolvable questions forgotten by adults of a mature demeanor, I embraced my father for the last time, and this time, I let go.