Morning sun streamed through the light lavender curtains flooding the Smith’s dining room and kitchen with a light purple hue. Jackie sat at the dining room’s long marble table sipping on a cup of lemon tea with honey. She listened to the quiet hum of the kitchen’s dishwasher and the chirping birds perching precariously in the trees. It was fairly warm Sunday morning and Spring was finally here. The backyard seemed to be thriving. Trees and flowers were in full bloom and the grass seemed so green it glowed a healthy vivid color. The sky was bright with fluffy white clouds floating around, a slight breeze helping to guide the them to their next destination.
“Good morning Jackie,” bellowed her father as he walked into the room a large cup of coffee sitting in his hand.
“Morning dad.” Jackie chirped, her eyes straining to watch the goldfinches as they buzzed through the air.
“It’s a really beautiful day today.” her father said, taking a sip of coffee and sitting down into the cushiony dining room chair. Jackie nodded a little, too busy staring out the window to say much else. “You know, if you’d like we could go and visit the school today.” Jackie said nothing, only taking a long sip on her morning tea squinting her eyes to see the bluejays hiding behind the dogwood trees. “I mean I don’t need to register or anything, in fact I could just call them up right now and arrange a little appointment.” He said clearing his throat and raising his voice a little, trying his hardest to secure his daughter’s attention. “It’s a great school. Prestiges, scholarly, great professors, great students.” Jackie nodded, she knew all that. She’s known since she was little. When Jackie was still just a child her father always told her she had a bright future at one of the best schools in the country. All she needed to do was follow in his footsteps and for most of her life, she did. Jackie followed her father’s careful step by step plan. Great grades, sport clubs, student senate, volunteer work, advanced classes, and national scholastic competitions. Year after year she followed his plans. But now, after eighteen years of following in his footsteps, missing out on slumber parties for studying and downtime for clubs, Jackie couldn’t care less about his plans or his college. “It’ll be difficult, sure, but college isn’t meant to be easy. And you’ll flourish, I know it.” He said, his brow furrowing as he leaned forward to his daughter. Jackie watched the birds as they flew in the sky. Enviously watching their freedom as they jumped from tree to tree and perch to perch, freer than air.
“Dad.” Jackie sighed, “I want to travel.” Her father knew this, he’d known this for a while. But still, he refused to accept that she didn’t want to go to college.
“You can’t just throw away your talents.” He said, his voice stern and cold. “You and I have worked far too hard to allow you to just walk out on everything we’ve accomplished.”
“But I want to see the world. I’ve lived here all my life living by your careful plans and strict ideals. I want to meet new people, and enjoy a life built up on more than just what you want for me. I’ve never even been outside the country.” Jackie said. Her father’s face dropped, a shadow of grim disappointed clouded his face.
“I won’t allow it.” He said, grabbing his cup of coffee and storming into the kitchen. Jackie felt a pang of guilt hit her heart as she looked up to see her father leave. His face was grey, worn with wrinkles and marks of aging. He constantly gets migraines and can’t get through a day without coffee. He’d been having back problems recently too. A strain on his body from the constant hard work at the college with little to no rest and he was barley even fifty years old. Slowly, her guilt began to morph into pity. Jackie had happily followed his plans and lessons, listened to his ideology and chased the dreamy future since she was a child. But finally, slowly, she began to realize what kind of future he was promising her, and it wasn’t a future she wanted.