by Jane Liu, 16, USA
The September drama prompt was “education.”
Stereotypical office. Old awards and photographs line the walls. PRINCIPAL sits behind a large wooden desk. WOMAN and ALEX sit in front of desk. Both are on their phones.
PRINCIPAL: I’m sorry that it came to this. Ma’am, if I may have your attention?
WOMAN: What did Alex do this time? I’m a very busy woman, you know.
ALEX: Mother–Principal Shawn here–he would have understood if you really couldn’t make it. It’s not a big deal.
PRINCIPAL: I beg to differ. This is a very serious matter and will definitely impact your career options and college path later on, Alex, and your teachers say you are refusing to work with them, which I do find surprising, considering your proficiency with computers and all those other newfangled gadgets–
WOMAN’s phone rings in her hands. She picks up.
WOMAN: Hello?–Oh, it’s you. No, this is not an inconvenient time. Have you found anything? The old woman’s sentimental, so the most valuable piece should be in the pink hatbox. No? Nothing? Then why are you calling?
ALEX: (to PRINCIPAL as WOMAN mouths more words into the phone) My grandmother passed recently, and there’s something with the inheritance, and my mother and stepfather aren’t on the best of terms right now.
PRINCIPAL: My condolences. However, I have some connections with people whose life work you may find interesting, but they will not consider an individual who considers effort at this prestigious private high school unnecessary and superfluous. That kind of mentality is dangerous.
WOMAN: Now you tell me? (covers the phone with one jewelled hand) Alex, Principal Shawn, wonderful talk. I have a lot to take under consideration now that the air has been cleared, but I really must depart now. (exits)
PRINCIPAL: Is your mother aware that my last name is actually “Simons,” Alex?
ALEX: It appears not. (a beat) I don’t mind if you go back to your own work. I’ve got my phone, so it’s all good.
PRINCIPAL: We can still have this conversation without your guardian. Tell me, Alex, why aren’t you putting in your best effort into your work here at my institution?
ALEX: I’d rather not say. Is that all?
PRINCIPAL: Now, if it was just a recent development, and considering the events you have just brought to my attention, your teachers would have let a few things go. However, during the six months you have spent here, I’ve received constant reports of reckless behaviour, lack of focus, and introversion. You don’t associate with your classmates, choosing instead to go on twiddling with code and stuff out of science fiction. Would you like to talk about this?
ALEX: No, not really. In case it slipped your mind, this was a required meeting. This isn’t really my idea of a fun afternoon.
PRINCIPAL: Oh, I really am trying to understand your point of view. And it seems to me that you’re an extremely intelligent young adult, a high school student with immense intellectual resources.
ALEX: Who also happens to be graduating in a few months. It’s none of your concern. Although, I do appreciate it.
PRINCIPAL: Perhaps I would take that more seriously, if you weren’t tapping away on that phone. Are you listening to me? Alex, this is no laughing matter, and I demand that you pay me the proper respect.
ALEX: It’s really important.
PRINCIPAL: I’ve no doubt of that. Hand it over, if you will.
ALEX: Jasper Shawn.
PRINCIPAL: Excuse me?
ALEX: (slides the phone into pocket) Jasper Shawn, aged 52. Youngest of four: the eldest a Marine, and the two others are decorated officers. Low-level recruiter for the Pentagon. Your alias, however, is Joshua Simons, aged 46, only child, Principal of the Aryes Institute of Technology. I’m not interested in the ‘career opportunity’ with your colleagues, but I must commend you for keeping your cool at my mother’s slip. Tell me, how long has the Pentagon been searching for my grandmother’s things?
Jane says, “Though I enjoy writing humorous short stories and poems, I’m currently working on a YA novel with darker themes.”