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Personal Narrative Essay: Spring Break

Spring Break rolled around, same as always. My so-called friends ran off to get drunk or high or whatever it was they did down in Florida. I, like a sane person, went home and studied because I wanted an actual job instead of slinging fries for the rest of my life and getting a beer gut. Or I tried to study. You don’t skip three grades, get a 2400 on your SAT, and get into Princeton at sixteen if you’re stupid.

But sitting in my old bedroom on the twin bed I’d finally outgrown, listening to the TV downstairs blare out some brainless television screamfest, and watching my thesis spectacularly fail at writing itself into the blank Word doc, I felt dumb. My parents had been supportive. They were always supportive. “We have a little genius on our hands. ” “Going to school early can only help. ” “Take that semester off in Europe. ” “I’ll get one of those ‘Princeton Mom’tshirts! ” They tried, they tried so hard, but I couldn’t look them in the eye after day three back home.

I couldn’t sit at that table with its checkered June-Cleaver tablecloth and play Waltonsstyle, happy home over God-bless-America steak and potatoes when I got a B minus on an assignment. In physics. I didn’t get B minuses. Idiots who skated through a community college and finagled their way out of living in a cardboard box got B minuses. I started eating my meals in my room once the TV shut off at night on day three. Mom stopped knocking on the door and calling “Eddie? ” by day five. I developed a hatred for that little blinking cursor on an all-white background, marked page 1, by day six.

Nothing was working and it was day seven. So, I did what any intelligent adult panicking under an impossible deadline would do. I tried to cheat. Oh, nothing so plebeian as to hire a ghostwriter. My writing style was distinctive and besides I would have to check work I hadn’t done. No, I went straight for the deep web. Former child genius, remember? Once I got bored of unscrambling the blocked channels at twelve–my parents were not creative with their passwords and good god did porn look painful–I took to the “inter-webs,” a skill I cultivated over the years alongside the mandatory loss of my gag reflex.

Sadly, it wasn’t for poor starving chemistry interns desperate to let their theories be heard by any means necessary I went searching for that faithful night as my parents amused themselves by pseudo-ironically joining in the chants of “Jerry! Jerry! ” I was looking for a witch. Or one of those mad scientists who had obviously gone one too many rounds with funding forms; I wasn’t picky. Witches, I had been promised by a mostly drunk sorority pledge who made sparks fly out of her fingertips when she hiccuped and who threw up all over my Chuck Taylors, could do things.

They were apparently loaded up with the whole signs-and-wonders package without having to sit through a sermon. Bend reality a little for the low price of, if you went to one of the intermediaries for a classic immortal one who had probably been the Oracle of Delphi once upon a time, your firstborn or something. Let me tell you, I would have sold my soul for that doctorate or just not another B minus. A kid I couldn’t have one way or the other was small potatoes. The mad scientists were trickier. They had agendas instead of something simple like a taste for eating babies.

They also had a knack for blowing themselves up accidentally. And other people, less accidentally. Look, I’m not a good person, I’ll admit, but… killing people who didn’t leave their dirty dishes in the common room (Becky) didn’t sit right with me. Except maybe murderers or something, but that didn’t mean I was the one who should help kill them. I’m going to go full Mary Shelley here and not tell you how to find super-villains on the deep web. Let’s just say I got there and we can calm the NSA agents down before they get started. The first few options were meh.

Witches promising curses on Nestle CEOs for a few thousand bucks. Word-salad ravings about the government breeding a slave race right under our noses. The word “sheeple” every few posts. Newbies. Weirdos. Useless. Then I saw it. It was quiet, a little nervous, and bearing the greatest affront to mankind, two exclamation points at the end of a sentence instead of one or three. It was her. Every chemistry hopeful on the East Coast has heard of her: Alchemist. Breezes in, solves problems, and steals chemicals while everyone’s raving over her work.

Pure super-villain wrapped up in a tiny, cute and evil package. Case in point, she had a YouTube channel. Adults don’t lower their intellect to teenagers and young adults for wholesome reasons. She was a giggly legend who outthought people three times her age and took selfies in front of the charred remains of VennTech buildings. She had a doctorate at 18. Oh yes was I taking any job she had to offer. I’d never clicked something open that fast in my life and, like I said, I unblocked porn channels when I was twelve. **

She was oddly enthusiastic in her messages, something like “Oh, geez, this is just great! I can’t wait to meet you, my first minion!! Maybe, since you do chemistry stuff too (I looked ya up. Great qualifications, btw) we could be, like, chemistry buddies and you could help me with my experiments? “, and she wanted to meet up in a local IHOP. Diabolical, if I do say so myself. I mean, IHOP. The dishwater blonde hostess, I guess, lead me to a booth, popping gum the whole time. A menu smacked the table with a sticky thwack before I could stop sliding over the synthetic navy seat covered in crumbs.

She called me “darlin’ and rattled off whatever artery-clogging special they were shoving at the American public before taking my order for coffee and blessedly leaving me alone. In absence of anything else to do, I shoved at the menu with a napkin, not wanting to touch it without gloves and possibly bleach. “Hi-hi! ” a voice chirped. She was there, sitting opposite me. I hadn’t heard a sound and, yeah, I was a little in awe. This was one of the greatest minds of my generation driven as mad as a scientist could go before me, wearing a wide-brimmed, daisy-yellow sunhat and matching dress.

She really was tiny, her feet not even close to touching mine underneath the table, looking slight like a good wind could snap her in half. Her smile was, well not infectious that sounds gross and cliche, but you know: out there, burning. Her smile was white as bleached bone and burning. A huge woven-straw bag was sat next to her, one of her small hands holding the handles in a death grip. “Hey,” I croaked. What can I say, I’m a smooth guy. She giggled, not the signature, wild-eyed kind of laugh l’d seen when I binge-watched her YouTube greatest hits, but happy like l’d charmed her.

So, Edgar Diaz, did ya bring your resume? ” Did you know your blood can actually feel like it ran cold because, uh, mine did. “N-no, you didn’t, I mean, I didn’t think–” She laughed again, throwing her head back and showing off her red hair/brown skin contrast. “Dude, I’m kidding. Sorry if I really scared you, but it seemed funny at the time? ” She shrugged and made a face that was likely meant to be apologetic. “Whadda want for lunch? ” I blinked. “I’m sorry? ” “What for, my dude? ” She stopped, her eyes wider than before. “Oh my gosh, you are a dude, right?

I didn’t, like, call you the wrong thing, did I? Like, Gravitas, you know Gravitas yeah? She, uh, doesn’t like being called dude, so, like, I don’t call her that, it’s not rocket science and I know ’cause I’ve done rocket science, but anyway do you want me to call you something else? ” What even was this woman? I wondered. “No? I like ‘dude? Dude is great. ” Making an exaggerated gesture of wiping invisible sweat off of her forehead, she sighed and smiled. “Some people think it’s a little, dunno, performative or something, but, like, I don’t wanna make anybody uncomfortable, ya know? | did not. ” totally understand. ” She nodded solemnly before cracking another smile. “Lunch? ” “Um, Ms. Alchemist? ” “Call me Ann, Ed, everybody I know and like does. ” “Okay, Ms. Ann, do I have the job? ” Her head tilted to the side and she narrowed her eyes.

The blood-going-cold-thing was happening again and I kind of wanted to grab anything, even that menu to put something inbetween me and her stare. After forever and two minutes, she nodded, poking her lower lip out. “Yeah, you got the job, Ed. You start in, like, an hour. I laughed, finally letting that weird knot that had built up in my chest dissolve. Other students were fighting over the scraps of internships in Greenland and Nebraska while I was going to be serving the master. They were settling for the Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi’s of the world and I, I was under the tutelage of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino. “S not a joke, my guy,” she said casually, as if she wasn’t talking about breaking the law as she opened up her own equally sticky menu. “We leave in an hour, so you’d better order up. “

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