I responded while fingering the corner of the catalog.
“I’ve thought about North Kansas Private University since it’s close to home, and if I do well on the SATs, I can try for a full ride scholarship.”
”North Kansas Private University? It is a good school, but isn’t it a waste given your GPA? Looking at your transcript, your teachers are generally very positive about your schooling. If you just took more AP classes and extracurriculars, you could aim for universities in the east, too.”
She put my transcript on the table. It seems that she wanted to hear that I’m taking classes that give credit toward college admission.
“Taking a look, you’ve kept an A in American History, English Literature, Journalism, and Languages. Your Geography marks are good, too. With these kinds of grades, you should have no trouble in AP classes.”
“I only do well because I take regular classes. I don’t know if I’d get the same grades in those.”
“They do have additional benefits. Even if you find taking multiple AP classes at once overwhelming, if you get some advice from seniors who’ve taken them, you’ll come to realize it isn’t that difficult. If you’d like, I can recommend some for you.”
Ms. Sandria put forth some more documents and added: “Of course, the AP class guide will be helpful to you, as well.”
“But taking AP classes now will incur additional expenses…”
“There are a wealth of grants available to high school students, but not many take advantage of them,” she spoke as if she were the voice from a government aid commercial. “You would have to take them later at a cost, but grants could at least partially pay for them. And if they’re not available here, you can always find them online.”
I couldn’t argue anything, she definitely made sure she was ready for any excuse I had. She looked at me with eyes that said: “You can do anything you set your mind to,” while I looked at her with eyes that said: “If people can achieve anything, why’re they stuck in mediocrity?”
Seeing that I had no response forthcoming, she tapped the edge of the table and looked straight at me.
“So, expenses are your biggest issue, yes?”
“Didn’t you say that your father was a professor at Glenfield University?”
Ms. Sandria gave me the same look everyone else does, the kind that says you must’ve had a top notch education and upbringing because at least one of your parents is a university professor. As annoying as it was, I let it go with an awkward smile.
I knew she just wanted to help me as much as she could by getting to know me better. I really can’t get mad at her for that. I’ve always had a soft side for good-willed people.
When I didn’t answer, she asked again.
“Have you talked with your parents about college?”
She organized everything and stuck it in an envelope.
“Alright. I’m giving you some homework, then. Give them this packet and have that talk. Even if you haven’t picked a school, it’s best to take all the classes you can while grants are available.”
She further added:
“Being up front with you, it’d be best if you took some and applied to a better school. If going to school out of state’s an option, anyway.”
“Thank you,” I said with a nod.
“Okay, you can go.”
She was right. If I wanted to go to a better school, I’d need the credits. And to choose which classes to take, I was going to have to decide on a major. Defeated, I left with a heavy sigh.
A girl named Jasmine Lee and her friend were waiting for their turn and glanced at me when I came out. Her friend went in after I was out of the way.
We weren’t close enough to say hello every time, but it’d be weird to pass by without saying anything, so I offered a greeting. Jasmine, blinking at me with pale eyes, responded with a thin voice that sounded like it was drawn with a fine pencil.
I didn’t know when I was in the car, but a soft floral scent emanated from her. It seems she knew what kind of scent suited her. I motioned toward the counselor’s office and asked:
“You also here for counselling?”
“No, I just came along with Kinzie…”
Kinzie must be the one who just went in. I had nothing particular to say, and was about to say goodbye, but suddenly remembered the present Jasmine left with me the day prior.
“Ah, the paper bag you left me yesterday.”
Jasmine looked at me.
“I delivered it to Luke right away.”
Jasmine brushed her hair behind her ear in thought, then almost whispered to me:
“Did he… say anything?”
“Nothing in particular. He said it must be a handkerchief and went to his room.”
She looked as innocent as fresh white paint, but when I saw her look so disappointed after I answered without so much as a thought, I couldn’t help but feel I messed up. Perhaps she liked him? Oh geez, I didn’t wanna hurt their chances!
“He’s busy with test and competition prep,” I quickly added on. “He doesn’t talk with me much these days, either.”
It wasn’t wrong. Jasmine managed to reply weakly.
I parted with Jasmine, then immediately texted Luke.[Me: Hey…] [Me: Luke!] [Me: Did you check what Jasmine gave you yesterday?]
A reply from Luke came right away.[Luke: ?] [Luke: No.] [Luke: Why?]
I was about to tell him to text me when he did, until a loud siren blared through the building so loud it stopped me. Everyone around looked up and started murmuring to themselves. It came through everyone’s phones, including mine, so I quickly checked the notification.[Emergency Alert]
According to the CDT, 02:00 in the afternoon, tornado alert. Evacuate to an emergency center and check local news stations for the latest updates. – National Weather Service
I looked out the window and saw this morning’s sunny skies had given way to heavy rainfall. Tornado alerts weren’t always accurate, but this one was looking like the real deal.
While the alarm blared, Ms. Sandria came out and yelled at me:
“Juliet! Can you help evacuate the freshmen?”
We have at least three evacuation drills a semester that use the siren, so you’ve practiced enough by your junior year to get to the shelter in the dark. The freshman who’d only been in school a couple of weeks wouldn’t fare so well, as evidenced by their uneasiness. Ms. Sandria and I got them to the shelter while the siren blared so loud it could bust our eardrums. Couldn’t people know an alarm was sounding without it needing to be so loud?
I saw Romeo a ways off at the counselor’s office with a confused look about him. It would seem this is his first time experiencing a tornado evacuation, too. I quickly made eye contact with him, and motioned for him to come toward me. He still looked confused as to what I said, but walked over nonetheless. He tried to tell me something, but the siren was too loud.
“I can’t hear you!” I yelled as I motioned toward the speakers on the ceiling.
I also motioned for him to go down the stairs, but he instead helped evacuate the students. As if to make a liar out of me by calling him confused, he was calm and composed now.
In spite of things, I couldn’t help but laugh at seeing a transfer student be one to guide freshmen. But given his tall figure and how he gave off the feel of a student president, the wide-eyed freshman willingly followed his instruction.
“Thank you, Juliet!” Ms. Sandria said, slapping my back, when all the students were neatly organized.
“And you, a pretty face I haven’t seen before! You two also start heading down!”
The siren wouldn’t let up. It was so loud that without yelling, conversation was impossible.
“This siren’s really something!” I yelled as I moved closer to Romeo.
He responded by coming close to me and yelling, “Indeed! It feels like a disaster movie!”
“If that’s the case, then at least one, if not both of us have to die!” I yelled back, to which he laughed.
“Why would we both have to die?”
“The ones that die first in those disaster movies are those who take action!”
“Why? We could be the protagonists!”
Gotta say, his calm and elegant English pronunciation really didn’t fit the disaster movie genre. The actors always yelled with a western accent, as if every disaster happened in big cities like LA or San Fran.
“If I was the director though, I wouldn’t name the lead characters something as tragic as Romeo and Juliet!” I said to try and lighten the situation… And thankfully, he laughed.
You’re reading Chapter 9 on engnovels.net. Wish you happy reading! Follow more great stories at action novel.