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Escaping into Daydreams
She giggled, her vision becoming a blur of bright orange and crimson as she twirled round and round in circles. Finally, she stopped and collapsed on the lush, grassy lawn beneath her, sending up a flurry of crisp leaves. Fall had finally swept itself into every aspect of her life, turning the trees brighter, the air cooler, and the mood warmer.
“Come on, Irene. You’ll be late to school if you don’t hurry up, ” yelled out her dad, his voice monotonous and tired. “You’re already a junior, and yet you still act like this every time fall comes around.”
“Aw, come on! It’s the best season of the year, let me live a little,” replied Irene as she stood up and brushed off a handful of gold and orange leaves clinging to her skirt.
“Yeah, yeah, just hurry up and get in the car. Any longer and you’ll be late for school.” Irene sighed, and trudged towards the car, her thoughts a million miles away from school and homework.
Rarely was there ever a chance for Irene to escape the monotonous way of life she experienced. Wake up, go to school, return home, and then hours upon hours of working, stressing, and pretending. Day after day, week after week, nothing changed, and nothing was going to change. It didn’t matter if she was an all A student, or played two sports, or attended three clubs and two extracurriculars. Even though her parents expected a lot out of her, Irene expected even more. Simply being the best student she could be wasn’t enough, and no matter how much she worked there would always be another goal two feet in front of her waiting to be attained.
This is how it had always been, and eventually, Irene figured out how to cope with it. While the rest of the students were frantically scribbling down notes and listening to the teacher lecture, Irene was busy escaping from the classroom and drifting off into fantastical lands. Eventually, her teachers stopped caring when they realized she performed just as well as the other students.
A brisk 10 minutes of silence later, Irene was dropped off at Sproutfield High School. Immediately she was greeted by another girl sporting large glasses that threatened to take over her entire forehead.
“Good morning!” called out the girl.
“Oh hey, Alina,” mumbled Irene as she tried to stifle a yawn.
“What’s with your attitude? Brighten up, it’s finally your favorite season!” replied Alina cheerfully as the two girls headed towards their first class.
“I know, I know. I just can’t concentrate on anything, especially because none of the teachers at this school know how to teach properly.”
“Hey, the teachers here are perfectly fine! They’re caring and nice and-”
“And don’t know how to structure an interesting lesson, ” interrupted Irene. “Sure, they’re nice and care about the students. So what? I can never focus in class!”
“Well, that sounds like a you problem. I love them and think they are fantastic. Everyone else thinks so too, you’re the one who needs to try harder!” exclaimed Alina, her cheeks exaggeratingly red and puffed up as if she was pouting. Immediately after her expression changed back to normal, and Alina smiled at Irene.
“Just kidding, I’m not mad at you! Just enjoy the season while it lasts. Well anyways, gotta go. See you third period.” she shouted out while heading up the stairs. Irene rolled her eyes, chuckled, and then sighed again, this time because class was about to start.
“And the cycle starts over once again,” whispered Irene, thinking out loud as she entered the classroom.
The day stumbled on, each class dragging on longer than the last. Finally, classes were over and Irene dashed to the pickup line, bouncing up and down in anticipation while waiting for her dad. A few minutes trickled by and then she was sitting in the car on her way home.
“How was school today?” asked Irene’s dad, his eyes shifting between the road and Irene.
“It was fine, nothing out of the ordinary,” replied Irene. She had one earbud in and was gazing absentmindedly at the hues of orange and red darting past her as the car sped forward. Her dad glanced back at Irene again, expecting her to say more, but Irene kept looking out the window, completely uninterested. She had this conversation with her dad every day he drove her home from school, and Irene quickly grew tired of it. It was obvious her dad didn’t actually care and only spoke to Irene as a polite gesture; she felt as if every adult in the real world had lost their sense of fun and had become robots with a nothing in mind but work.
The instant the car entered the garage Irene sprinted into the house and threw down her schoolbag. After a quick greeting with her mom, she slipped into a warm hoodie and ran outside again. A cool fall breeze rustled the leaves as Irene briskly headed towards the trail near her house. She was ecstatic to finally be able to escape her normal life and enter the woods the trail lead into. Upon entering the thick forest, Irene swerved off the gravel path and started walking towards a clump of bushes. Unbeknownst to all but herself, the clump of bushes hid a small clearing within the forest. This clearing was her home away from home, a place only Irene knew and cared about.
As soon as she entered the clearing her troubles melted away. This spot was where she could be anything she wanted to be. Often times Irene would daydream about being a warrior in far off magical lands, saving people and killing beasts. Other times she would just relax, her mind drifting lazily from one topic to the next. But eventually, it had to end. Irene would have to return to being the normal smart and stressed girl she was meant to be, which greatly disappointed her. As she left the clearing, her mind returned to the homework she was meant to do that night. However, Irene knew that no matter how hard life became, she had one small glimmer of hope to look forward to every day.