“Seriously, Rory,” Cameron said. “What the hell? You’re editor-in-chief of the school paper, president of, like, three clubs, and you’re on student council. Plus, you get to date Caleb Johnson, and you’re going to Yale next year. She does nothing, and she’ll probably just follow Mike to Kansas State to watch him play football there too. You’ve got everything going for you, and she’s got nothing but her homecoming crown. Why do you hate her so much?”
“What do you mean you’re quitting the paper?” Rory said.
Holly stood outside The Budget’s classroom, shifted back and forth from foot to foot in her black Uggs and her Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, and avoided looking directly at Rory. Discomfort crowded her pretty, blonde expression.
“Look, I just can’t do it anymore, okay?” Holly said.
“No!” Rory retorted. “It’s not okay. You’re one of the best reporters we have. Next year, when we’re seniors, you could be an editor. You’re smart, Holly. You’ve got a lot to offer. Why would you quit on us?”
Holly didn’t say anything at first. She continued to refuse to look at her.
“I’m getting popular,” she muttered.
“I’m getting popular,” she said much louder. She finally looked at Rory. “I’ve got a lot of parties to go to and events to plan, and I have to spend a lot of my time hanging out with the other popular people. Plus, I have to attend all Mike’s football events. If I spend the time doing all that, I could be the most popular girl in the senior class next year. I could be homecoming queen.
“And all this stuff takes a lot of time. I just don’t have any extra for the paper now.”
Rory felt her mouth fall open. She hated standing there slack-jawed like some sort of gaping idiot, but she just couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Let me get this straight,” she said. “You’re quitting The Budget because it takes too much time to be popular?”
“Well, yeah,” Holly said, dropping her eyes to the floor once more, so that Rory was staring directly at the white bow on the top of her head.
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Rory said. “Holly, this is your future you’re talking about. You have to build your résumé in high school, so you can go to a good school to get a good job. You can’t just hang out and expect to get what you want out of life.”
“Nobody cares what you did in high school, Rory,” Holly said. “They tell us we all have to work so hard to get ahead, but it’s not true. C-students get into college all the time, and they get jobs afterwards. All this ‘work-hard-so-you-can-get-into-a-good-school’ crap is a big, fat lie. High school’s not about getting ready for real life. It’s about having fun. And it doesn’t last. We only get one senior year. I’m making sure mine is going to be something I want to remember.”
As stunned as she was to hear Holly say she was too busy being popular to be on the paper, Rory was even more flabbergasted to hear her say high school activities didn’t matter. It was like she was talking to her mother.
“Look, you want to get into Harvard,” Holly said.
“Yale,” Rory corrected.
“Whatever,” Holly said. “Anyway, I get it. You have to do more to make that happen. It’s cool. But I’m not going to Yale. I could never get in there, and I wouldn’t want to even if I could. I just want to enjoy my life. And it’s really awesome being popular.”
“Being popular isn’t everything, Holly.”
“You’re only saying that because you’re not,” Holly said. She looked Rory straight in the eyes. “You could be, you know. You’re really pretty. Much prettier than me. You’ve got incredible cheekbones and amazing eyes. I’d kill to have lips as plump as yours. Mine are so thin. And you dress well, even though you don’t have a lot of money. If you wore a little more makeup and took some more time with your hair, you could be stunning.
“I bet if you hung out with me and the popular girls you could be one of the coolest people in school. You’re already smart and nice. Maybe if you dated one of the football players.”
“I’m not gonna date someone just to be better liked!” Rory protested.
“Whatever,” Holly said. “It doesn’t have to be a football player. I’m just saying you could be popular if you tried. Like really popular.”
Rory had no idea how to react. Holly had complimented her and insulted her at the same time. She couldn’t put a coherent response together.
“Anyway, I’m sorry, Rory,” Holly continued. “I don’t have time for The Budget anymore. Let me know if you want to hang out.”
She turned to walk away. Rory took a step forward.
“Holly, wait!” she said. Holly turned back. “You know, if you stayed on the paper, you could show people it’s possible to be involved in non-sports activities and still be cool. You could make a real difference for other people.”
“I’m sorry, Rory,” she said, looking a little sad. “I don’t think that’s possible.”
She walked away. Rory watched her go. She wanted to scream.
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Genre - Fairy Tales, Contemproary Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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