A hobby, skill, or just a friend. Every teenager needs something to hold on to. Things can get lonely when you’ve got no routine. While kids her age were busy doing things they shouldn’t be and falling off the rails, she was different. Some would say it was the way she was raised. No boys and a 6 o’clock curfew can do wonders in keeping a 15 year old girl on the right track. What her parents did not count on, however was that this could also do
wonders blunders to her social life.
Lena was a bit of a loner, and it was not by choice. She didn’t know what it felt like to party. So that didn’t leave many things in common between her, and her classmates. She sat and watched them as they drooled and frolicked over each other. Sometimes with longing eyes and sometimes thankful that she wasn’t another cliche.
While she wasn’t your every day girl, her school was as cliche as it could get. I think all high schools are a bit of a cliche. Not being accepted by your peers is one thing. But being overlooked by her teachers because she didn’t stand out much was crushing. Especially for someone as ambitious as her. Right from spelling bees to relays. She always participated in everything. And she wasn’t bad. She was just average. Aren’t we all?
This particular morning, she had her nerves pulled on a little bit too hard.
Kate was the most popular girl in school. I say this before I say what she did so you have some context. When Mr.Stilinski announced the writing contest he managed to capture everybody’s attention. Especially when he said that the winner was going to take home a free family trip to Paris. It was the Everyday Hero Challenge. The students had to choose an everyday hero and write an essay.
Again, Kate being the most popular girl in school caught whiff of Lena’s interest in the contest. As Lena was lost in thought, Kate slammed her bag on her desk.
“What do you think you’re doing? You’re not actually thinking of signing up are you? I’m the one who’s going to be winning anyway! So I just hope you don’t waste your time and feel bad”, Kate said.
Lena just looked at her with a tired expression, silently thanking her parents for making sure she didn’t end up THAT damaged.
Tony came around asking why exactly Kate was so confident. “Why? They just announced it. You can’t have something already? A pretty face can’t get you everything”, he smirked.
Lena was too busy swooning now that she couldn’t care less about any contest. Tony knew his way around the girls, with his perfectly gelled hair and his smouldering smile. You’d not think a 15 year old could be that attractive.
“Um, did you forget that my dad was in the army? And he has MET the President himself?”, Kate quipped proudly.
Ah. Yes. That. Lena forgot about Kate’s perfect family and all the things they came with. Yet another thing she had to lose simply because she wasn’t born with it. Life was not fair, and she had grown to accept that. She went home that day, all the way thinking of her hero. One of the things she loved doing, when she was by herself (which was very often) was writing. She decided to enter even if it meant losing to Kate.
Should she write about her Dad? He was a self-made man. He came up without an education, and an unforgiving wife who made more money than he did. When the whole world said no, he kept going. All for his little girl. But everybody’s hero is their dad. And quite frankly he knows how much she loves him. Who else could it be? Her mother wasn’t all that bad either. Even if she couldn’t hold a candle to what her father was, she was a strong female role model who has been very successsful in life. Or, should she write about her grandmother? 67 and still the head of the house hold. That’s pretty darn impressive.
Night fell, and she still hadn’t settled on a hero. And with the night came the darkness. It did strange things to her. She realised how truly alone she was when it got too quiet outside. She thought of all the time she spent without opening her mouth. Having no one to talk to. Counting seconds, writing for the day to end. It’s not that she was lame, they just didn’t care. She never played their games so they never paid a second look her way. Was she so out of place that she didn’t even have a hero of her own? As a tear drop slipped out of her eye, and she scolded herself for being weak, she was viciously attacked by furry paws.
“Bee! Stop that!!! You’re getting drool all over me”, She squealed as her dog trampled her. He was her most favourite thing in the world. As she held him close, not feeling so lonely anymore, it hit her. She kissed him on his nose and started to type.
The next day, the teacher came to collect their entries. As Lena handed over hers smiling her face off, Kate wasn’t very pleased.
“I see you’re set out to get your heart broken. Again. It’s sad.”, Kate said.
All the kids submitted their entries, hoping theirs was somehow better than the others’.
The teacher was very pleased with an entry he received that day. Before he sent the essay’s off to the judges, he said he’d like to read his favourite pick for the class. As everyone presumptuously geared up to listen to Kate’s work, the teacher read out loud,
“My Everyday Hero by Lena .H”
She stared in disbelief as the teacher went on to read what was the sweetest thing anyone had heard. Lena didn’t need to win. This was everything. This was the best day of her life. Part of her was nervous the whole class got to see how emotional she really was, but as she watched everyone’s expression, she realised that they loved it. Even Kate teared up.
When the teacher was done, Tony came over to her hurriedly.
“Your dog sounds cute! Do you want to maybe.. I don’t know, set up a playdate?”, he said excitedly.
“WHAT? A play-date?”
“Yeah I mean for your dog and mine?”
“Ohh for our dogs. Yeah.. that would be cool”, Lena said trying so hard not to blush. This was indeed the best day ever.