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Meandering thoughts of a Bay Area college student… be prepared for some bipolar vocabulary

America awaits. Chapter 2

Wings fluttered and leaves fell as the birds slowly disappeared before winter began. The sky was a cloudy grey and the trees slowly grew brown and bare. Soon, the snow would fall. Andrea’s favorite season was winter. Her mother always made the most buttery croissants. Her father would start a fire in the fireplace as all of her creations will gather close, anxious for the warmth that their thin bodies can’t hold. The birds tied newspaper strips to their wings and flew through the fire, and small flames and sparks trailed as they flew in circles, diving and looping, drawing dazzling patterns of falling smoke and sparks in the air–


“Andrea! Faites attention!” scolded the teacher, her voice as sharp and stinging as the sound the ruler she held emmited on her desk. The entire class stared at her.

“Je suis désolée madame!” stuttered Andrea. A quick apology and a reddening face was all she could manage as her mind quickly switched gears to english. But the class was no longer focusing on pronounciation. Every single pair of eyes were still focused on her.

“As I was saying earlier,” continued Lady Penelope, still frowning, “you’ve been one of the few handpicked by myself and the other english teachers to study abroad in the United States in a week.”

She blushed again. “But madame! I do not want to go to America.” How horrible! Why in the world would she want to go to the United States? It was nothing more than a nation with a failing economy, rude people, and bad schools.

“You have no choice. You are the best this class has to offer. You must go,” replied Lady Penelope. “Why should you not want to go? Do you know how many of your fellow classmates would want to be in your place right now?”

It didn’t look that way. She knew most of the class and all of them would rather stay in civilization than go to the land of the obnoxious. A final argument presented itself to her.

“My parents can’t afford the trip. Mon père is a pilot for the French Navy and my mother runs a bakery. We have nowhere near enough euros. And,” she added, another argument coming to her, “it’s too short of a notice! Only a week to prepare?”

“Madamemoiselle, what do you mean it’s too short a notice? Didn’t you notify your parents when I informed the class on the first day of school? And this trip is sponsored by a third party organization for outstanding students. It shall be of no charge to you. All that’s required are clothes, a suitcase, and your English. AND,” said Lady Penelope with an awful finality, “I’ve already contacted your parents the night before and they wholeheartedly agree with my recommendation. Come see me after class so I can talk to you about your housing arrangements.”

Andrea dragged her feet on her way home from school. How could this happen to her? If there’s another person who wanted her place, why not just give it to them? Lousy California. Why, it didn’t even snow there. Here en France, it was beautiful, especially Christmas. Much more romantic. Her family would take a long drive to Paris and she’d see her cousins again. Her sister flew home from New York. There was midnight mass, the feasts, the shoes stuffed with all sorts of goodies. And the parisian snow was simply gorgeous.

Andrea reached her doorway and entered her house, fuming and longing for nothing more than a nice argument with her parents. But no. Her father was still in the Indian Ocean flying F3 Rafale M’s on the Charles de Gaulle. It was the annual “Varuna” where the French flew exercises with the Indian navy. Her mother was still selling the last of her French pastries and butter to the families coming home from work.


“Absolutely no,” said her mother in a firm tone, her voice crackling over the phone. “You’ll have many valuable experiences in America.”

“The American education system is so far behind our’s! How do you expect me to pass le bac next year?” Le bac is a final exam that Europeans take to determine their careers.

“Mais, Andrea, I know you can do it. You’re a very smart girl. Now, listen. I’m making your favorite bouillabaisse broth. We can have it with bread after you change out of those jeans into something more comfortable. And you must begin packing today. You won’t have class tomorrow because you have to attend an orientation in Paris tomorrow. Non! Not another word comes out of your mouth.”

She was going to America. Whether she wanted to or not.

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2 Responses

  1. Bao Pham says:

    It was posted a looong time ago. If you just want to see it quickly, check the “Life Increases Tab.”

    0___o No other comments about America’s “flaws?” I’m surprised of you Martin!

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