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TOE Short Story :: One Year


by Diego Serrano


Marco may have been seen as a seventeen-year-old boy who was charmed. At that age he already had his high school diploma, a good salary at his filing job with an insurance law firm on the rise, and slightly above average SAT scores that could get him into a decent school. I guess people forget how he got there. The beautifully paved road in front was nothing like the icy, jagged mountain path that lay behind him.

As a Junior, Marco started to feel his first two years of high school catching up to him. He spent these years not doing homework, skipping class to smoke pot with friends, challenging the authority figures, and just barely getting by because of his high test scores.

Two grading periods into Junior year, the habits had not changed. Accumulating a total of 154 hours of missed class in just 85 days of school was quite the bad-boy accomplishment, but it didn’t look good on a college application.

Home was not much better to him. He couldn’t remember his parents together, they divorced when he was just two years old. He only saw his father a month or two a year for most of his life. Mother, a saint in his eyes, had been struggling in her real estate career. Father, who Marco had warned for years to quit smoking, died of lung cancer in January that year. He hated his life and wanted to get as far away from it as fast as possible.

In early March, he formally withdrew from his high school and took a delivery job that had him working thirteen hours a day. After a month of slaving at Munchy’s Pizza, his car’s transmission blew. Jobless and moneyless, he would spend days at a time in his room. The residence had taken on penitentiary style properties. A feeling of despair pervaded every part of the home, which sometimes made him physically sick. The only break he had from this depression was to take the GED:  his last hope at a high school diploma.

In August, after four solid months of sulking and brooding, he got a text message. “Be showered, shaved, and smartly dressed by 8:30 Monday morning”. The message was from his sister, an attorney who recently passed the bar and worked in a law firm in Miami. A page had been turned in his life, and he knew better than to waste the opportunity.

At first, there was a common feeling among the other employees that he would be lazy and cause problems. No such worries were confirmed. The only issue was his flirtatious attitude with a particular female employee who was just a couple years older than himself. He was moved upstairs and away from her as punishment. Aside from that detail, however, life was good. The GED test he had taken earlier that year had yielded the high school diploma that he so desperately needed to get into college. He was being paid substantially well for his age, about triple what he earned at Munchy’s. His good fortune continued in October when he took his first SAT, scoring a 1290. December brought him a pretty red Mercedes-Benz.

He rang in the new year on top of a mountain that nobody remembers him climbing. At the peak he can see taller and more dangerous mountains. Marco does not fear the mountains. Instead, he starts with his best foot forward and never looks back.

January 18, 2009 10:41 am

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