In exactly 5 hours, Edith Jane Clayton, or Edy as she liked to be called, would turn seventeen years old, and in her previous 16 years of life, she had never done anything remarkable. Her parents, not wealthy, but not poor either, had done their best in trying to raise their daughter to become a respectable and successful woman, but they had failed in the worst possible way. You see, Edy was not born with talent.
Unlike her peers, absolutely nothing came natural to Edy. Her grades were average, no matter how hard she worked and studied, she never received top marks. Her appearance wasn’t exactly hideous, but she wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous either, like the other girls attending school with her. She was absolutely miserable at sports despite her parents meddling for years about how she should play volleyball or softball or soccer. Edy Jane Clayton is what you would call mediocre: just an all around average human being.
Edy also had a slight issue: she couldn’t seem to make or keep friends. Having lived in the same place her entire life, one might think she would at least have a couple friends from grade school, but no dice. No matter how hard she tried to seem outgoing and friendly, her attempts would often go unnoticed. Of course, Edy had acquaintances: kids at school who asked for the homework answers every day or the select few girls who took pity upon Edy and would occasionally invite her to a party, although Edy would always decline. At the end of the day, Edy would remain relatively alone.
Every day went on the same. Edy would wake up at 6:30 and unhappily snooze the alarm and sleep for another 15 minutes until her mother came in her room and yelled to wake up. She would reluctantly trudge down the stairs and grab a bowl of whatever cereal her mother had decided to buy at the grocery store that week. She would gulp down a glass of juice and pack a small lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, yogurt, and a cookie. Afterwards, Edy would pad back up the stairs and go into the bathroom and get ready for the impending doom of school. Once she looked decent enough, Edy would get in her clunker of a car and drive to her own personal hell: Governor’s Grove High School.
School went by slowly for Edy. Every class would drag by until it came to the last hour of day, which happened to be her favorite class: creative writing. This was the only class where Edy excelled and truly felt at home in the cold, desolate brick building. After her fifty minutes of bliss flew by, Edy finally went home.
She would come from school at 3:15, and immediately run upstairs to her oasis: her bedroom. Shelves upon shelves of books filled her room, and she felt peaceful. Until about 5:30, in which both her parents would arrive home, Edy spent her time devouring words. Her favorite books were always fantasy novels, where everything and anything could happen. Word by word, Edy would feel herself morphing into the person she wanted to be. She would remain happily stuck in her favorite worlds until she heard the garage door mumble open, and quick as a flash of lightning, Edy was back to her average life.
Every week, Edy looked forward to Wednesdays. For the past year and a half, she had volunteered at a local daycare center. Although it started out as a way to look good on a college application, Edy found herself adoring the children. In a sort of sad way, the children at the center were her closest friends. She often found herself surrounded by a crowd of six to eight year olds who all looked up to her. She would read a plethora of books to them, using silly voices to differentiate characters, and they would always giggle. They would often ask Edy to write her own stories; they were tired of the boring classics the daycare had on the rotting shelf stuck in the corner. When Edy was there, none of the kids played on their electronic devices. Even the most tech-savvy kids would take off their headphones and listen to her. According to the staff there, no one else could do that with the children. It was in these moments that Edy felt truly unique and special.
However, those three hours would go by, all the mommies and daddies had come to pick up their crazy children, and Edy would find herself alone once more. From there, the drive back home would make Edy feel the loneliest. Upon her arrival back home, Edy would be greeted by her mother frantically finishing dinner and her father on his laptop, still working.
“How was school today?” her mother would ask, not particularly interested in the answer.
To which Edy would respond, “Alright, I guess.” It was the same conversation, day after day. Each day more average than the last.
However, today was different. It was Edy’s seventeenth birthday, and it just so happened to be a Wednesday. The school day went by as normal; no one stopping to wish her a happy birthday or even noticing that Edy took the time to curl her unusually thick hair, something that made her wake up an extra hour and a half earlier. However, Edy continued upon her day, acting as though nothing was different, which to her, it wasn’t.
Things got a lot brighter for Edy for when she opened the door to the daycare after school, she received a shock.
“Surprise! Happy Birthday!” both the kids and the workers yelled. Hanging on the wall was a banner full of crayon drawings of stick figures and letters traced in glitter glue. Edy immediately smiled; her heart feeling full.
She stammered, thinking of how to truly capture how much the surprise meant to her. “Thank you so much. I don’t know what to say.”
The kids ran and hugged her. “Come on! Tell us another story!” One girl grabbed Edy’s hand and led her to the reading carpet by the shelf in the corner.
After a sleepless night beforehand, Edy came up with the perfect story to tell the kids. It was a tale of an outgoing bold prince trying to win the heart of a awkwardly, quiet and shy maiden who sold flowers in the market. Edy did her best to create the scene, laying out extra details for the children when they asked questions.
Midway through the story, one the daycare workers tapped Edy on the shoulder. “We have a cake for you,” she said, eagerly. Of course, Edy didn’t mind that she couldn’t finish her story. Despite her best interests, she never could think of a perfect ending for her story.
Almost too quickly, Edy’s time at the daycare went by. As each child left, they gave Edy an extra hug. She just couldn’t seem to stop smiling. Before she left, Edy made sure to grab the banner and carefully fold it into her book bag; she wanted something to remember this day.
Upon entering her home, her mother gave her a large hug. “Happy Birthday, sweetie,” she smiled.
Edy smiled back. It was rare to see her mother actually slow down and acknowledge her. Even her father got up, hugging her, before heading back to his work. Edy took a seat as her mother handed out their meals, waffles for dinner: her favorite. The rest of the dinner was spent mainly in silence; her mother on her iPad, and her father still working away on his laptop, just like any other day. Edy didn’t mind, however. She was still reliving her time at the daycare.
“So Mom,” Edy started. “I think I want to go into education after I graduate. My guidance counselor says I need to start looking at colleges.”
Without even looking up, her mother said “Okay, whatever you want.” And that was the end of that conversation.
Once Edy helped clean the dishes, she went upstairs to finish her homework. When digging through her backpack, she found a rather large package waiting inside for her, wrapped up and tied with a bow.
“What the-?” she asked herself. With a light hand, she began to unwrap it. She glanced upon a leather bound journal. Opening it up, Edy began to tear up. Each page was filled with drawings the kids at the daycare had made, detailing and illustrating the stories she had told them week after week. The very last page was a thank you note written from all the staff.
You see, the thing about mediocrity is that if we all were amazing at everything we did, we wouldn’t be amazing at all. Although she was not great at school or sports, Edy felt like she had begun to change those kids lives, and her life had changed. And with that thought, Edith Jane Clayton went to bed, not feeling mediocre or average at all.