A teen sees his dreams slipping away.
| It was a little before seven and he had already been up for two hours. Jake trudged down to the end of the lane to wait for the bus. Parents of the other farm kids got a lean-to they could sit in to get out of the weather. Not Jake’s parents. He faced the wind whipped rain to keep his backpack a little dryer. The only good thing about this rain was that it washed the cow smell out of the clothes. He would rather deal with that wet moldy clothes smell that would set in as his clothes dried out.
In his backpack, he carried the foundation for his dreams. These grades would be his only ticket into college. Any shot to get away from here, he would work for it. He really did think that the kids at a college would be different from the cliques that ran his town.
Jake was moving as soon as he heard the bus approach, to get on as soon as the driver cranked the door open. He was one of the first ones on. Standard ops, mumble a greeting to the bus driver, find a vacant seat, kick back and watch the rusted barb wire fences drift by somewhat obscured by the sheets of rain. Fifteen fences, then the town kids, then the school. Jake wondered how the bus driver stayed sane in this same dull routine.
All the sacrifices he was making would all be worth it when he won the scholarship. Yet disturbing dreams filled his nights for the past months. A vision where he was in a car speeding down a highway in a night that never ended. Then just before he got to where he was going, a crack streaked across the windshield, ending with him smoking a cigarette and cradling a long cool one. It didn’t make sense, but he knew that it meant that this dream he was working so hard and long for was not attainable. The fear set in and made him work harder and stay at it longer. The nightmare that haunted his nights now invaded and trailed his day thoughts like a ravenous wolf.
Jake came out of his suffocating reverie when the bus slammed to a halt at the drop off lane. He joined the other lethargic shufflers making their way into the school. Soon the lethargy would be replaced with noise and energy from the student body. And Jake would be the sole exception, the one who would find a secluded spot in the library and cram his brain full of as much useless information as he could, trying to cover anything that could possibly be on college entrance exams. He had to keep pushing. He had to be the best to get that free ride.
He never did make it to the library. He was meeting frequently with Mr. Bingham, the school counselor, to stay on track. Lately, Mr. Bingham had been pushing him to join the cross country team and to write letters to elected officials. Jake could not understand that, but did as he was told. Just by the way Mr. Bingham sat down, sighed, tapped the desk with his pencil, Jake knew the news would not be good. Looking at the preliminary numbers, Jake saw that he was not even close to getting a scholarship to a decent college. Through the rushing in his ears, he heard Mr. Bingham blabbering about ROTC and other military prep programs. Jake did not care.
The day his nightmare manifested is the day Jake quit trying. Sitting there, he let the dream form again. However, this time when the crack screeched across his windshield, he let the car drift into the lane of the oncoming headlights.
Jake startled. He stared at Mr. Bingham’s hand. He had slammed it on the desk so hard his flesh was still shivering and turned pink on the underside edge. Even though his family would be shamed, Jake cried. He had to mourn the death of his dreams. Mr. Bingham sat back with a heavy sigh and waited. Jake would hear the Plan B in due time. For now, he just needed to feel.
entry for the no dialogue contest.