“Close the door, Jenna” said Mrs. Grinstead. She sat behind a massive dark wooden desk. There were piles of papers and folders on the left side and on the right was her telephone. The file that sat in front of me had to be about me. I closed the door and looked for a place to sit. There were two chairs positioned in front of the desk and I moved carefully to one of them. Moving on crutches wasn’t the fastest.
“How are you feeling Jenna?”
“From all the reports, you and your friends were very lucky.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
There was a pause. I had been looking at the floor during the conversation. When she didn’t say anymore, I looked up. Just as I thought, she was looking at me, waiting. I got nervous and blurted out, “Well, go ahead and tell me how stupid I was. And what was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking, Ok? I just did it. Just get it over with and kick me out.”
My principal sat back in her chair studying me.
“Jenna, I believe with all my heart that my job as principal is so much more than making sure everyone graduates from here. You were on that track until a couple of months ago. That’s why I wanted to visit with you.”
I was getting really edgy. If she wasn’t going to kick me out of high school, then what?
Mrs. Grinstead got up from the desk and went to her printer. She pulled out a piece of clean paper from the tray. Then she walked over to me, stopped and held the paper with both hands in front of my face.
“I want you to do think about something for me. By tomorrow morning, figure out a response to this: how life and this white piece of paper are alike.”
Figure out an answer to that stupid comparison? Piece of cake, I thought.
“Jenna, I know you are a very bright, eighteen year old, so you will understand why I won’t accept a flippant answer. Dig deep or you’re looking at week of in-school suspension, no make up work. Any questions? No? You may go.”
All night I searched for the right answer so I wouldn’t spend the end of my senior year serving in-school suspension. How IS my life like that white paper? Every time I tried to concentrate, my mind would jump back in time to the accident. I couldn’t stop the rush of details and reliving the crash: the sounds, the screams and breaking glass. It was horrible. I broke out in a cold sweat.
Why did I ride with those girls? I don’t even like them.
“Jenna,” I scolded myself out loud. “Think, think. Paper. Life. A sheet of clean, white paper.” Still my mind wanted to switched back to the accident.
”Boy, if I could do it all over again…” I realized that I wanted to break out of the “good girl” format I had been in all my life. I felt this push to do just the opposite of my upbringing. Why? When did all this start? Me, Jenna, the sensible girl. Why WAS I hanging out with these girls? I searched my mind trying to discover when I began feeling the need to be a “bad girl”. Nothing stood out, and then, it hit me. Erik.
My boyfriend for most of my senior year dropped me for Samantha. Erik said he got tired of waiting.
Tears welled up in my eyes. It still hurts. Hurts really bad. Erik said he respected my decisions. Was that all a lie? Did he say all those nice, wonderful things so he could score?
I sighed. Back to Mrs. Grinstead’s assignment. I needed to focus on it, not on the past. Maybe if I write down some ideas….
I stopped myself. Slowly I smiled. I had the answer for Mrs. Grinstead.
Facing Mrs. Grindsted the next morning, I began, “Each day I start out with a clean, white sheet of paper, in my book, creating my story. Lately, I have been filling it with stuff that hasn’t been very smart. The accident is one story filling those pages. Erik is another, or rather my reaction to Erik. It’s a part of me, but doesn’t have to be me. It’s about writing my life story, each day, one page at a time. Right, Mrs. Grinstead?”
Her smile said it all.
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