Cracking the Curse This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
     The sequel to “Life in the Day of a Cursed Freshman” published in the October issue of Teen Ink.



It all started on my first day of high school. I was determined to be a cool, confident freshman. Falling over in my desk, sliding down a set of stairs, getting unbelievably lost and being 15 minutes late for class made this image difficult to pull off. I did it, but then, I possess more coolness and confidence than the average teen. I am still convinced that no normal teenager could go through what I did that day unless they were cursed.

Skip to the night before my first day as a sophomore. I was dreading morning. Not because I didn’t have a fabulous outfit or because I hadn’t been soaking up sun all summer to get a great tan, and definitely not because I didn’t think I was cool and confident enough to handle sophomore year. No, I was dreading my first day of school because I was cursed.

If you are not an avid fairy-tale fan, you may not know that there is only one way to break a curse. The answer lies in many stories - from “Sleeping Beauty” to “Snow White.” If you want to break a curse, you have to get kissed. The kiss can’t be just any old smooch, though. It has to be a true love’s kiss. In most cases, the ideal love is Prince Charming. In my esteemed opinion, it’s more important that your kisser be charming with prince potential than actually wear a crown. Besides, this is America, the melting pot, or salad bowl, of the world. We’ve probably all got blue blood, even if it is diluted.

The task before me was to find a potential prince who was charming and willing to bestow upon my ruby red lips true love’s kiss. The true love thing might sound difficult, but I wasn’t worried. I figured if Belle could fall in love with the Beast, I should have no trouble truly loving one of the guys, only some of whom are beastly.

Of course, my time frame was going to make things more difficult. Belle spent months with the Beast. I only had a day to find a potential prince, fall in love (preferably at first sight) and convince him to rescue me with a kiss. (All guys love a damsel in distress, don’t they?) The task might seem daunting, but hey, I am cool, confident and capable.

So the next morning I gave my little brother a kiss good-bye, got in the chariot (Dad’s Suburban, but close enough) and was whisked away to the magical land of algebra, chemistry tests and potential princes.

As the chariot left me standing at the gates, I felt a rush of excitement. I, an anonymous sophomore, was going to break the most terrible curse a high-school student has ever endured. This will be a moment of triumph for all student-kind, I thought, walking toward the entrance. Breaking my curse would go down in high-school history. More likely, it would end up recorded in the PDA file, and I might get detention, but still I ... Ouch! A bulldozer cleverly disguised as a student plowed into me.

“Hey!” I yelled after him; I was no meek eighth grader to be pushed around by gorgeous seniors. Gorgeous or not, he was about a fraction of an inch away from being turned into a Beast!

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you,” he apologized (his apology saved him from a wand-waving Enchantress, I’m sure) and walked back over to me.

“Are you alright?” he asked. I forgive you, now kiss me, my prince! The words were on the tip of my tongue, but they just wouldn’t come out.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied, mentally kicking myself.

“Okay, then, see ya.” My prince walked away and I was left, unkissed and cursed. What had happened to my cool, confident capability? Refusing to believe I may have chickened out (cool + confident + capable C wimp), I decided it just wasn’t meant to be.

I managed to reach my locker without further run-ins with seniors, gorgeous or otherwise. When I tried to open it, of course it wouldn’t! I kicked it, cursed it, slapped it, but to no avail. I entered my code five more times, then leaned against it and closed my eyes in gut-wrenching despair. Suddenly, a warm voice pulled me from my agony.

“Do you need some help?’ the voice asked. I slowly opened my eyes. Standing in front of me was what I knew had to be a mirage. He was male perfection and he was offering to help me!

“You have no idea,” I gushed, slightly breathless, but not fainting. (Cool and confident damsels do not faint, regardless of how distressed they may be.)

“Can’t get your locker open?” he asked, his perception amazing me.

“N-n-no,” I managed to get out. Apparently perfect men can cause side effects like heart palpitations and stuttering.

“What’s your combination?” he asked. I told him (thankfully, without too much of a stutter) and he, my knight in Abercrombie, managed to open the obstinate compartment on the first try.

“You’re magic,” I told him in awe. Sir Potential Prince laughed ... and left. I didn’t even have a chance to reward him with a kiss because by the time I grabbed my chemistry book he was gone. Clearly, he wasn’t the one. Your true love is supposed to stick around, isn’t he?

I made my way to chemistry and upon arriving, had but a scant second to notice the multitude of potential princes before Mrs. Wright led us into the world of the periodic table (no relation to the Round Table, unfortunately). I suppose I could have scouted out more while she was talking, but she is Mrs. Wright. When she talks, you listen - at least if you’re smart. And I am very smart, in addition to being cool and confident, of course.

After chemistry came Athletic Fitness. I got a little confused about where that was. (Okay, I went through the whole school twice, but I did eventually get to the gym.) There were lots of potential princes in that class. Unfortunately, they seemed more interested in Coach K’s class description than in kissing cursed damsels.

My luck didn’t improve much in choir, since there wasn’t a male in sight, much less a potential prince. On the bright side, next hour was English. I was sure I could find my true love there. Plus, unlike the Beast, these potential princes would be able to read!

Although they could read, I still had no luck, despite the fact that one princely candidate picked up my book after I accidentally dropped it on his foot. The bell rang and we were immediately assigned seats - me to the back corner, surrounded by competitive damsels, and Mr. Chivalrous to the other side of the room.

Now, don’t read this the wrong way, but after English, I started to get a little worried. Even cool, confident and capable DIDs (Damsels In Distress) can only take so much opposition. The final bell would toll in three short hours and I was still a cursed maiden, with no rescuer in sight! My future was looking grim, and I don’t mean Grimm (as in fairy-tale happy endings).

Fifth hour came. I had to find my prince! At that very moment, I was staring at the back of his noble neck. Now all I had to do was get him to turn around and kiss me. I was trying to come up with the perfect way to achieve this. Perhaps a note: Meet me somewhere, sometime before the end of seventh hour to declare your love - no that wasn’t it. A witty request: Kiss me. I’m cursed. Nope, not with my tendency to stutter. Maybe I could just hold my hand, palm down, up to his lips, and hope he knew that timeless “kiss on the hand’”gesture. Sweet, but not likely.

I was intensely formulating my plan, albeit unsuccessfully, when a friend nudged me. Unfortunately, he got a little overenthusiastic and I ended up flying out of my desk onto the floor. To make this harrowing experience ten times worse, I was wearing a skirt, a very short one. Understandably, this incident distracted me from my true purpose.

Only when the last bell struck 2:15 did I realize that I had failed to be rid of the curse! This became even more obvious as I reviewed the events of the day: fell, couldn’t get my locker open, got lost, dropped my English book, got knocked out of my chair, didn’t find my true love. With a heavy heart and an aching behind, I realized I had failed on two counts. Not only was I bound to remain cursed (possibly until graduation - from college) but there was also no way I could be the coolest, most confident girl in tenth grade.

Fortunately I was wrong about that last statement. Thanks to great friends, my spirits were quickly boosted and I restored my reputation as, if not the coolest, most confident girl in my class, certainly one of the top five, maybe even top three on a good day.

***

Epilogue - Two Years After the Curse

To bring the reader up-to-date and reassure everyone that this story does indeed have a happy ending, I survived my first day of eleventh grade without any embarrassing incidents. This may be because I received a kiss from a guy, who, if not my true love, is certainly princely enough for my cool and confident self. Or it might be because I was never really cursed to begin with. I’ll leave it up to you, the cool and confident reader, to decide.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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