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Thursday and the Overachiever: A short story featuring two novels, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
It was a dark and stormy night in Swindon. Thursday Next, LiteraTec hero, was at her childhood home visiting her parents, aunt, and uncle for the weekend. After dinner with her family and her husband, Landen, Thursday went up to her old room to watch some television. When “Jane Eyre”, the 1996 movie, came on the television, Thursday was instantly transported through her thoughts to all that had happened the last year. Her thoughts made her wonder if the Prose Portal was still in tact in the garage. Tiptoeing out of her room and down the stairs with not as much as the slightest of noise, Thursday found her feet planted at the door of the garage. She opened the door and turned on the light. The Prose Portal with its strange familiarity was sitting still in the middle of the room. Thursday, excited to see the machine again, ran over to see what book was being used. The novel seemed very peculiar to Thursday, as she looked at it with puzzling eyes.
“Why would Uncle Mycroft want to go into the book?” said Thursday aloud.
“Because I found this book interesting, and I really wanted to explore each of these kids’ lives firsthand,” replied Mycroft suddenly.
“Uncle Mycroft,” said Thursday, “what is this book about anyway?”
“Well,” Mycroft answered, “it is about some teenage kids in a top public high school who deal with issues pertaining to school, their own lives, and colleges. It also gives information on stress, testing, and admission processes.”
“Sounds exciting,” said Thursday sarcastically.
“You will never know unless you read it. Your mother will kill me for this by letting you use it again, but jump in the Prose Portal, Thursday. I want you to see how the book is inspirational as well as interesting. Go on.”
“Ok, Uncle Mycroft.”
As Uncle Mycroft set up the machine, Thursday was getting ready for her departure.
“Ready to go into Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, Thursday?”
“Yep,” she replied unenthusiastically.
“Alright, one, two, three.”
Slowly, the machine started whirring and shaking until it developed a spinning vortex of different colors, and eventually scenes of the novel. Thursday jumped in, not knowing what to expect.
When Thursday got into the novel, she was thrown onto a field of grass, which seemed surrounded by people. She figured that this was a park. While she stood there, she heard loud bickering coming from a short distance. Curious, she silently inched closer and closer to the noises until she could make out the words. Thursday noticed it was two girls fighting. One girl was stunningly pretty, while the other was not as pretty, but equally loud.
“Maybe you should show up to practice on time, captain,” said the pretty girl bitterly.
“Well it doesn’t matter because I’ll catch up to you anyway,” the other girl countered.
“Excuse me,” interjected Thursday, “where am I?”
Both girls looked very puzzled.
“What the hell, no one is supposed to be talking except for us in the next few pages. This never happened before,” replied a confused Julie.
“I’m sorry, my name is Thursday Next, and I have come from the outside world from this machine called the Prose Portal that my uncle invented. Could I talk with one of you just to get the understanding of what happens in the book? My uncle wanted me to do this.”
“I do not believe this. Is this some kind of test colleges send you to see how you react to extremely strange and new situations?” Julie asked inquisitively.
“No , although that would be quite an interesting technique for colleges to use. I am telling the truth. Here is proof.”
Thursday took out her LiteraTec badge from her shirt pocket and showed both of the girls. She also showed them her pin that she got from participating in the Crimean War.
“What is the Crimean War?” said the pretty girl, whose real name was CJ.
“Exactly my point. Both of you have no idea what it is. It is the war fought in my world, outside this non-fiction book.”
“She looks pretty legitimate,” said Julie quietly to C.J.
“I guess so,” said CJ, “you can talk to her, not me.”
“Besides, if she did ever try to kidnap me, I could just run away from her, and she would never catch me,” whispered Julie.
“True,” said C.J.
“Alright,” said Julie, “I will speak with you under two conditions. One, you cannot alter the course of anything happening in this book. And two, this conversation can be no longer than twenty minutes; I have two more miles to run, and a lot of homework from AP classes.”
“Thank you,” Thursday said.
Julie grabbed her water bottle and sat by a nearby bench. She gestured for Thursday to come over. Thursday, surprised at this agreement and gesture, hurried over and sat down.
“So, Thursday, if that is your real name, what is it that you want to ask me?”
“I mostly have questions about you and the book. What is your life like?”
“Well, that’s a general question to ask, but it is very hectic. I am the captain on the cross country team, I take many AP’s, or Advanced Placement classes, and I am planning on getting into Stanford University. People think of me as the superstar, but really I don’t even know who I am.”
Surprised by what she just said, Julie murmured, “I cannot believe I just opened up to a complete stranger.”
“That does seem like a busy life. Do you have a boyfriend?” Thursday replied.
“Well, that is sort of a personal question to ask.”
“Do you really have anything to lose?” asked Thursday.
“You’re right. Well, no, I do not have a boyfriend. However, there is this one guy, Derek.”
“Hmm…Derek, what is he like?”
“Well, he is the smartest kid I know, he’s cute, and he is pretty funny. He does not like me though; he likes C.J, the girl I was fighting with over there.”
Thursday looked over to see C.J. listening in on their conversation. Startled, C.J. continued her cross country warm-up.
“I see,” said Thursday.
“Derek will never like me,” said Julie sadly.
“You cannot just focus on one boy for your whole life. Believe me, I know. For a long time, I was depressed because my boyfriend who I loved very much did something terribly wrong to my brother. By waiting for him, I let some of the priorities in my life slip. You need to set your priorities straight. You will find a guy who likes Julie for Julie. Hang in there.”
“That’s so nice of you to say. Thank you. That really helps. By the way, what happened to your boyfriend?”
“Actually, that is a funny story. He is my husband now,” Thursday said sheepishly.
“What?” Julie exclaimed.
“After we forgave each other for one another’s faults, we got back together. However, it took a long time for us to get there. I even had to stop my husband’s wedding to get him back.”
“Wait, he was going to marry another woman?” asked Julie.
“Yes, but I stopped him using some characters from another novel. I am sure you have read the classic Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte?”
“Of course, we had to do a paper on it for AP Literature.”
“The solicitor, Mr. Briggs, helped me stop my husband, Landen’s wedding. When Landen realized I still loved him, we reunited instantly.”
“That is so romantic, but very hard to believe,” said Julie.
“I know, but it’s true. Anyways, what better way to destroy a wedding than with a classic novel?”
Julie laughed. “I’m sorry, Thursday, but I have to go now. My cross country team must be wondering where I am. Do you have any last minute questions for me?”
“No, only a favor to ask of you. Please believe in yourself. Confidence gets you a long way in life.”
“Will do. Thanks for your advice. It was nice changing up the story line a little bit.”
“No problem. Bye, Julie!”
With her last word, Julie sprinted off into the distance. Satisfied with her excursion, Thursday was ready to leave the novel. Just as Thursday and her uncle planned, the vortex appeared in front of her half an hour from when she arrived in the book.
“Goodbye, literary world,” Thursday said.
Thursday jumped into the vortex and two seconds later landed in her Uncle Mycroft’s studio.
“Welcome back, Thursday,” Uncle Mycroft said, “did you like the book?”
“It was an experience I will never forget. That one girl Julie inspired me to embrace what life has to offer and to not hold back. She reminded me to always believe in yourself, and you can get anywhere you want to in life.”
“I am glad the book had such a big effect on you.”
“Thanks, Uncle Mycroft, without you, my life would not be as nearly as exciting.”
“Just remember, Thursday, I am always here when you need me.”
“I will never forget that, Uncle Mycroft.”