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All Night Long

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"And if there are six hundred nineteen moles of sodium chloride, then there must be... Three point seven three times ten to the twenty sixth particles of sodium chloride." Veronica mumbled under her breath. She tucked her unruly locks behind her ear as her pencil scratched furiously against the sheet of scrap paper. She fought the urge to just close her eyes and give up. She shook her head as if he action would erase those thoughts from her mind. Those were not the thoughts of a winner. Those were the thoughts of a loser. She would never give up. She has to win this competition or else her chance of going to college would simply bubble away like magnesium when it is placed in hydrochloric acid. She turned back to her stoichiometry packet and bit her lip in concentration.
"Ronnie? Are you still awake?" Veronica's mother shuffled into the room and yawned. Veronica fought the urge to yawn too. She couldn't let her mom see just how tired she was.
"Yeah, I really need to study this. The competition is in three days!" Veronica fretted as she erased an incorrect formula so violently that she tore a hole in her packet.
"Honey, it's two in the morning!" Veronica's mom exclaimed. "You shouldn't be up this late! You're barely functioning now! How are you going to function tomorrow at school?"
Veronica looked over at the clock, surprised. Where had all that time gone? "Mom, I can manage this. I'll sleep in three days when the competition is over."
"Oh, Ronnie." Her mom sighed. "No. You can study as much as you want, but you need your sleep. You should know. Aren't you studying the effects of sleep on the human body for this competition?"
"Ha, ha, and no, I'm studying chemistry right now." Veronica pointed out. She stifled a yawn.
"Sweetheart..." Veronica's mom was at a loss for words. She sighed. "Whatever you want honey. You're a strong, sweet, smart young woman and I am immensely proud of you. And, I know that once you set your mind to something, there is nothing anyone can do or say to hangs your mind."
"Thanks, mom." Veronica smiled. "I love you."
"Love you too, honey. Now try to get some sleep tonight." Veronica's mother smiled. She leaned in and kissed the top of Veronica's head, then shuffled out of Veronica's room. Veronica looked back down at her packet. Her brow furrowed in concentration as she scribbled word after word, number after number, equation after equation as she worked out problems furiously further and further into the night. When she finally finished the stoichiometry packet she lifted her heavy head up and glanced the clock. The fuzzy green digits read four forty seven AM. Veronica's eyes widened in shock. Where had all the time gone? Her alarm was scheduled to go off in fifty eight minutes! Even if she fell asleep instantly she would never get enough sleep to function tomorrow! Veronica stood up, ignoring the creaking in her knees from sitting in her desk chair all night long. She rubbed her sore back, then pulled back her blue covers and crawled into her soft cold bed. Oh, her wonderful bed. She wished she could immerse herself in the plushy comfort of her beautiful blue bed forever. She reached up and twisted the knob of her desktop light, and she was surrounded in complete and utter darkness. She pulled her quilt up around her neck and smiled softly. She closed her weary, stinging eyes and felt the powerful peacefulness of sleep overtake her. The next thing Veronica heard was someone wailing away on an electric guitar. She groaned and swatted at her alarm clock to make it stop. Usually Veronica would have enjoyed a good guitar solo, but she was not really in the mood. She rolled over and closed her eyes for just five more sacred, blissful minutes. It felt like she had only laid down in bed a mere minute ago. When her alarm clock wailed again, she rolled over, and threw off her covers. She shivered from the slight chill in the air, then swung her long legs over the side of the bed. She stood up, stretched, and shuffled over to her closet. She pulled out a sweater and some blue jeans, and slid them on. She opened her sock drawer and pulled out two at socks at random and tugged them over her cold feet. She padded into the kitchen, and grabbed a packet of oatmeal and some milk.
"So, I heard that you were up all night studying." Veronica's sister Ana commented, her mouth full of scrambled eggs.
"Yeah." Veronica yawned. She dumped the oatmeal into the bowl, poured in the milk, and set the bowl in the microwave.
"Veronica, you look exhausted. You need to sleep or else you'll never get a boyfriend." Ana noted.
"Ana, I don't care! For now, my top priority is winning this science competition. Science makes me happy." Veronica yanked open the microwave and pulled out her steaming bowl of oatmeal. She stirred it around with a spoon causing the smoke to puff up and swirl around into the air. Ana took a deep breath, then closed her mouth. All that really mattered was her sister's happiness.
"Why don't we stop at the coffee shop on the way to school. You look like you could use some." Ana grinned at her little sister. Veronica smiled. She didn't regret staying up all night studying. She loved science, and she loved competing. If she won this competition, she could finally have a chance at a scholarship. She could go to college and make a life for herself. She had her mother, who loved her and supported her in whatever she wanted. She had a wonderful sister who would always be there for her. And, she had the wonderful combination of belief, determination, and intelligence that would ultimately drive her to success.

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