Final Project~ for MichelleWeasley's Story Contest
This is a story for MichelleWeasley's Contest (obviously) so if you haven't joined up then you should. If you don't know who she is then you should friend her cuz she's awesome! This is supposed to be a serious story but there is a little humour in it so sorry about that. It's not serious like people dying but more like soul searching? Does that make sense? Aw well! Anyway so here it is and I hope you enjoy and again: FRIEND MICHELLEWEASLEY AND JOIN HER ONE-SHOT STORY CONTEST!! Anyway here goes!
The Meaning of Life
I started to panic a bit when Mr. Oaks came through the door grinning evilly. I could feel the blood rush out of my cheeks. A hush settled over the room as we all waited patiently for Mr. Oaks to tell us what project the majority of our grade would count on.
My teacher sat down at the front of the room and laid down his attendance binder. He surveyed the room. When he noticed that Solana and Tristan were missing, he made a note of it in that blue binder of his.
He set his glasses down and looked at each of us before saying, “Alright! Today, as you all better know, is when I tell you what your final project is.” He didn’t seem in a great mood today. Well that’s fantastic. “And just FYI boys and girls, it’s different every year so you can’t go crying to your older brothers or sisters.” He sarcastically pointed out. “I’m talking to you Alex!” Alex raised his hands in an act of defiance. Everyone laughed at him, including Mr. Oaks.
“I’d never dream of it Mr. Oaks,” called Alex. “I still can’t believe that after all this time you still don’t trust me!” Everyone laughed again. “I don’t think I’ll ever trust you!” Mr. Oaks laughed. Then he sobered up a little and continued.
“This year’s assignment is much different from last year’s. As you’re all aware, there are many changes in the world: the Middle East is on the brink of nuclear war, India and China are two great countries rising in power, and you are now competing with them when it comes to education. There’s a lot going on that I never had to worry about as a kid your age. For your final project it seemed right to fit this in somehow.
“So, what the English teachers have decided is to let you write what you think about it all. You have to write a paper on how this affects you as an individual, as a community, as a country and as a future. ‘Cause remember boys and girls, one day you’ll be the one’s taking care of all us oldsters. In this room, there is a doctor, a politician, a scientist, an engineer, a lawyer and so on.” He looked at Alex as he said, “I pray to whatever god out there that you’re not the Prime Minister!” Even during the tension we all laughed. Alex even got up and took a bow. That only made us laugh harder.
Mr. Oaks said, “It’s basically a ‘meaning of life’ thing. What did life mean to you when you were in diapers compared to when you’re here now and all of these things are opened up to you. You’ll need to tell me what kind of world you were brought up with and what that made you think of the world. Anyway, you’d all better get started. You can work on your assignment in partners but if I read the same idea on paper twice, I’ll know you cheated. And if you cheated, you’ll both get zero!”
With that, he went to his desk and started to work on something-or-other. I saw Jeremy beckon to me from across the room for me to join him. I held up a finger at him to tell him to give me a minute. He nodded but smiled. I looked over at Seth who had gotten in an argument with April. I thought it was so cute how couples fought. “Hey lovebirds!” I called. Both of them looked a little pissed off at me for calling them lovebirds but I continued anyway, “I’m gonna work with Jeremy is that alright with you guys?” April and Seth nodded. “Yeah sure go right ahead. Seth and I are gonna work together anyways.” April responded. I smiled, picked up my things and went over to Jeremy’s desk.
“Braydon move over!” I heard Jeremy say as I came over. Braydon sat in the desk next to Jeremy. He just grumbled something incomprehensible and moved to an empty desk next to Jasper. I sat myself down next to Jeremy. He smiled at me.
We both took out pieces of lined paper, pencils and erasers. “So,” Jeremy said “what do you think you’re gonna write about?” I shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably just what I think about it all, I guess.” Jeremy nodded, “I think it should just be like a diary, sort of. You’d know wouldn’t you? Girls write diaries do they?” I laughed and shoved him. He was laughing too.
“Girls may write diaries but I don’t! I think they’re pointless!” We discussed more about what we should write about and eventually the final bell rang. “I’ll see you on Monday, Cori?” Jeremy asked. “Of course, see you Jeremy!” I called back to him and then started walking home.
~the day of the final English assignment presentations~
My heart was pounding in my throat at about 100 miles per hour. I was so scared that Mr. Oaks would call my name first and make me present. I knew I’d make a fool of myself. If only I could watch someone else present first then I would feel much better. Seth was squeezing my hand so tightly it was turning purple. Jeremy and I had made eye contact and he gave a reassuring wink.
Mr. Oaks stepped up to the front of the room and with him he brought a hat. He literally would pick our names out of a hat! Mr. Oaks just said a simple, “Don’t mess up. Okay, let’s get this over with!” And let me tell you those words were very reassuring.
For a little while Mr. Oaks killed us all and moved his hand inside the hat without picking any name for dramatic effect. I had a sudden déjà-vu of the Hunger Games and had to stifle a laugh. Seth raised an eyebrow at me so I mouthed “And may the odds be ever in your favour”. He had to stuff his fist in his mouth to keep from bursting out laughing too.
Mr. Oaks finally pulled out a name and read it aloud, “Cori Jackson.”
Every eye in the room landed on me, and I wanted to shrink into my seat; I wanted to tuck myself inside a shell like a turtle to escape the torture I was going to have to endure.
I took a deep breath and grabbed my paper. Making my way to the front of the room, I couldn’t hear any noise at all. Even the wind was being silent. Well, here goes nothing I thought. “You can start whenever you’re ready, Cori.” Mr. Oaks said.
“I was brought up into a Christian family, and was taught as such. I prayed before I went to bed, I gave thanks before every meal and I went to church every Sunday. Even so, I never really thought about the bigger picture when I was little. Everything seemed to be about toys and friends and games and food and having fun. I was in my own little bubble; everything in my life was about me. Life for me was a breeze, and I simply figured out that every other human being in the world had the exact same opportunities, money, food, family and all-around lifestyle as me. If you’d told me when I was five that there were starving kids in Africa who’ve never even slept in a bed, I would’ve told you that you were wrong and that you were crazy. I never imagined that not everyone was like me because that’s all my life was about. As I got older and went to school, I realized that I was wrong. Naturally, I felt a little guilty but my school participated in organizations like World Vision so I figured that I was doing my share. As it turned out, even things like that were about me. My old teacher used to say “Every box you fill you will get a candy”. Even when it came to World Vision my life was about me. Now that I’m old enough to be responsible for myself- and coming into high school surely helped this- it dawned on me that my life wasn’t really about me. At least, it wasn’t about me as an individual. My life was about my community, and my country, and my world. I realized that there was a lot more things important in life then toys and games. I learned so much more of what’s going on outside my own personal bubble. It gave me a new perspective on life, and when I think about China, India and the Middle East, I notice myself thinking about what I can do. I know that these problems will be our generation’s to face. Suddenly, my life isn’t about what TV show is on next Saturday, but about how my country as a whole will contribute to the situation. I don’t even know if I know exactly what my life means at the moment. All I know for sure is that it has drastically changed since I was a little girl. I find myself rethinking my priorities often. It’s ironic because on the radio the DJ actually asked if our meaning of life changed from when we were little. I didn’t call in, but I did have to go back and remember what it was like to not know anything about, well, anything. As the generation of the 21st century, we are taught to know all about the starving kids in Africa, and the growing powers in China and India. My little brother’s 8 years old. I asked him what he knew of the world, and he said that I needed to be quiet because he couldn’t hear his movie. I guess when we’re all younger we don’t know what’s going on. Maybe it’s time to change and leave it all behind. Maybe it’s time for our generation to take the initiative. Maybe it’s time to take a stand. Thank you.”
I was answered with a roar of applause. Mr. Oaks quieted everyone down and pointed at me, “/Maybe/ we’ve found our politician.” He gestured to the rest of the class, “That is not only A+ work, but it’s the correct concept and spot-on exactly what I wanted to hear.”
I’d never planned on being a motivational speaker, but I must’ve been pretty good because after that day our class got more involved in things then ever before…