Written by Theertha and Sally, Teen Volunteers
Halifax Public Libraries' Teen Blog is written by and for teens. Discover more posts here.
Morgan let out a sigh as she heard the arrangements of the groups for an upcoming project. She was stuck with Oliver, the resident jock, and Evak, the new kid. Her eyes met with one of her friends, Juliette, who just so happened to be paired with two of their other friends, much to Morgan’s dismay. The rest of history class went by slowly, and she spent the majority of the time twirling her pencil in between her fingers—century-old events weren’t really her cup of tea.
* * *
Evak entered history class to see that the desks had been moved in order for the groups to be able to sit together. They were given some time to work on the project, which didn’t seem to excite either Morgan or Oliver. The three of them sat in a silence plagued with unfamiliarity. Evak was particularly on edge, he was new to the school and even to the country, but he ignored his nervousness and started the conversation.
“Ms. Chifton only gave us a small amount of class time, so we should meet up to work on it,” he told his group members, testing the uncomfortable waters.
“I guess,” Morgan replied as she stared down at her freshly manicured nails. Oliver was more focused on his phone than the situation at hand. Evak wasn’t sure what to do, he was used to working individually or with other people who were very invested in the work, being a leader didn’t come naturally to him, but he took a stab at it anyway. After some more stilted conversation, they eventually decided to meet up at the Library that Thursday.
* * *
Oliver got out of his car, phone in hand, and let his eyes trail up to the Library in front of him, he hadn’t been there since childhood. His mom’s voice had been ringing in his ears the whole drive there, “Oh, I’m so glad you're working harder in school,” he knew she meant well but the words still tore at him. She consistently complained about his work ethic no matter how hard he tried.
Oliver’s eyes drifted throughout the large room until he found Evak reading at a table in the corner, he made his way over to him and sat down in the chair across from him. Evak placed a bookmark in his novel and looked up to greet him, which Oliver returned with a quick nod.
“I’m not sure, but it’s barely 5:00 pm anyway,” Evak replied. Oliver decided to pull out his computer and history notebook, along with a pencil. He decided earlier that day to try and make an effort this time. Maybe it was his mom’s ramblings or his own worries, he wasn’t sure, but he suddenly wanted to actually try with the project.
* * *
Morgan took a deep breath, her eyes directed at her phone screen. She was checking her appearance, her makeup looked good but her eyes were still bloodshot. She made a failed attempt at waving her hand in front of her face and rubbing her eyes again as if that would remove the remnants of tears. Morgan reached over to grab her backpack and took yet another breath before she exited the taxi.
Evak and Oliver were sitting together at a table so she went to join them, “Hey, sorry I’m a bit late.” She didn’t really care that she was late but she thought the statement would distract them from her appearance. Evak smiled at her slightly as she sat down next to Oliver, who surprisingly actually had a notebook open.
“Alright, so I’ll share the slideshow with you guys, I chose a theme this morning but you can change it if you want,” Evak told them as he opened his laptop. Morgan got out her tablet that came with a keyboard, and a pang of jealousy hit her. Everyone else seemed to have fancy computers while she used a device that had been her older sister's over three years ago. They worked with little words being exchanged, mostly "yes, no, or okay." The project was to make a video but they decided to make a slideshow first to use as a base for their voice-over. They managed to get a few slides done before Morgan’s phone began vibrating in her pocket. Her heart began to race slightly and she felt Oliver’s eyes on her, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah...I just need to answer this,” she said as she gestured to the device in her hand. Morgan made her way over to a bookshelf as she brought the phone to her ear.
“P- please come….home…” her mother’s strangled voice said over the line, a mumble of syllables rather than real words. Morgan took a breath before saying, “Okay Mom…” No one would believe that she was the daughter in the situation. Morgan spent a moment leaning against the shelf before making her way over to the table.
“I have to go guys, we can finish this another time.”
“Already? It’s barely 6:30 pm,” Evak said.
“Yeah...I have something to deal with,” she said quietly as she pushed her chair in.
“Okay, when should we meet next?” Evak asked before she could make her exit.
“During the weekend?” Oliver suggested.
“The Library is closed then,” Morgan commented, letting herself relax slightly before she had to leave.
“Okay, we can’t go to my place, there are some renovations going on...Morgan?”
“No!” She exclaimed, she definitely hadn't wanted that. The boys in front of her looked taken aback so she amended her statement, “It wouldn’t work this weekend.”
“I guess we can do my place,” Oliver said but he didn’t seem too pleased about it, Morgan said goodbye and walked back to her car. Truthfully, the last thing she wanted to do was go home but she swallowed the pill of apprehension and did it anyway, it was for her Mom, she reminded herself.
* * *
“Ms.Chifton, can we get an extension? Or can I at least work individually? My mark cannot go down.”
“Evak, your mark is fabulous! 99%, it really is the best in the class. Best in six years, actually. I assure you, it will not go down because the project is worth a teensy amount compared to the unit test. And I specifically told everyone to work in the groups I assigned. That's a learning outcome too, you know.”
“But In Sri Lanka—”
“Evak, this isn’t Sri Lanka. You have to play by my rules. Look, there’s Oliver, one of your group members. Why don’t you work out something, you have potential, you know. Okay, sweetie?”
Trying to control his anger, he put on a smile for Oliver and walked over to their table.
“Why didn’t you respond to my texts?! I even called you! How am I supposed to come over and work on our history project that is worth 10% of our total grade?!”
Oliver’s miraculously dull face lit up. “Promise you won’t tell anyone, I know you’re cool.”
“Tell me what?”
“Morgan and I! We kissed! She started to cry after though, and wouldn’t tell me why. And that's why I couldn’t respond to your texts. So sorry dude.”
Shocked, Evak doesn’t know what to say or how to react. “Um, okay. But when are we going to finish this project though?”
“Oh yeah, the project. One quick question, what are we supposed to be doing for that?”
Evak stormed away.
Evak, being the closest thing to a leader, took control. “So, Ms. Chifton let us use her classroom for the next two days so we can finish our project. Why don’t we finish it today and let's walk away, pretending we don’t know each other and this whole thing was a fabulously terrible dream, okay?”
“Uh yeah, sure whatever you say,” Morgan duly replied.
“Ditto what Morgan said.”
“Okay. Good. We are making progress. Oliver, you work on the interesting facts about Greek civilization, Morgan, you work on the drawings and putting all the information together on the slides, and I will do the rest. Deal?”
Morgan quietly nodded and got to work. She was distracted, and constantly checking her phone. Oliver, on the other hand, was actually writing something down.
Morgan’s phone vibrated on the table. Her hands shook as she picked it up.
Oliver questioned her, “Again?”
“Morgan, what’s going on?”
“Evak, it's fine. I’ll be back in three minutes, tops. One of my friends is here to say hi.”
Oliver, not taking in much of the situation, replied back, “Okay, Morgan.”
“Morgan, if it's a friend, why do you look so scared and hesitant to pick up your phone?”
“Evak, it's none of your business.”
“Yeah, Evak. Just a friend. Stop being a helicopter. Morgan, just go.”
“You will come back, right?”
“Yes, Evak! Stop making this a big deal. My friend is around the hall, I’ll go meet her and come back.”
“Why can’t your friend just come over here?”
Morgan replied back, with a tear sliding down her pink cheek, “Evak, stop it. Just work on the project.”
“Fine. Whatever you say. Come back though, the project is important.”
Morgan mumbled back at him, “Not as important as…”
Catching this, Evak grabbed her arm. “Not as important as what? You can tell me. What’s wrong?”
“Evak, let go!”
“Okay! Go meet your friend.”
Wiping her tears, Morgan slowly made her way down the hall. She started to tear up again, wishing Evak had strangled her a bit more and kept her in the classroom. She rolled up her sleeve to see the mark appearing from where Evak’s hand had been. She smiled at it, sadly. Morgan wished her life was as perfect as Evak’s — she would gladly exchange her life for anyone at school. But, of course, she was blessed with a life that seemed like a constant roller coaster.
She peered around the corner, looking for her "friend". A tall man, heavily tattooed, and probably in his late 20s, sat cross-legged on one of the wooden benches. He stared down at the floor, and Morgan was unable to see his face.
“Hello? Do you have it?”
He grunted back at her. “Yo.”
“Can we do this quickly? I have to get back.”
“That wasn’t part of the agreement,” A smug smile appeared on his face.
Morgan rolled her eyes, “Just give it to me, please.”
“I finished the facts! I feel accomplished!”
Surprised that Oliver did actual work, Evak fist-bumped him. “You rock, I’ll give you some more stuff to do in a minute. Why don’t you take a break, for a couple of minutes?”
“Okay, I wanna watch a bit of the playoff.”
“Yes, sure. I’m going to head over to the washroom.”
Evak ran a couple of fingers through his hair and took a deep breath. He turned right, though the washroom was on the left. He scanned the area for Morgan and peeked into neighbouring classrooms for her. Most classrooms were empty, or teachers were chatting away while they had their lunches. For once in his life, he actually cared more about something other than grades and academia.
“Morgan, where are you?”
“Morgan, this isn’t funny! Can you come back now?”
He walked even farther down the hall. What could possibly be so important to her?
As he made his way down the dark hall, he heard whispering. He speed-walked towards the noise, in hopes that it could possibly be Morgan. As he made his way closer to the source of the whispers, he heard a guy and Morgan. Not wanting to barge in and pull Morgan out, he slowly walked back to the room. He was just about to turn around when he heard Morgan yelling at the man. Carefully, and quietly opening the door, he saw that the guy was definitely not in high school.
“Morgan! What is going on? Who’s that?”
Through tears, Morgan managed to say something back. “Evak, it's not what you think it is —”
“Evak, my Mom needs help. It's alright.”
The tall guy handed her a small bag, and Morgan exchanged a hundred-dollar bill for it. He chuckled. “That's it? Just a hundred?”
Morgan sighed, “What else do you want? My scrunchie? My mascara? What?”
“Morgan, can you please explain what is going on?”
“Evak, hold on.”
She handed him a bottle of gently used mascara and her scrunchie. He grunted and made his way out the window. She walked over to him and placed her head on his shoulder for a brief moment. She started to cry into Evak’s shoulder and the two of them eventually made their way back to the classroom.
Oliver was busy commenting on the playoffs and hadn't noticed Evak or Morgan enter the classroom. He finally looked up at them and was taken back by the sad looks on their faces.
“Why is Morgan crying?”
“It’s hard to explain. There was a scary guy who gave Morgan something, and she was balling her eyes out when I found her.”
Oliver perked up and made eye contact with her. “Morgan, is this true?”
She silently nodded back.
Evak handed her some water, and she could finally say something. “It’s my Mom.”
“The scary guy is your mom?”
“Haha, no. My mom is going through a lot, and she wants me to get her stuff from shady guys. I really hate doing it, but it’s her lifeline. That's why I had to leave so early when we were in the Library”
“Can’t your dad send your mom to rehab?”
“Evak, my dad is dead. I know you are new and probably didn’t know. I miss him though.”
Evak sat in silence. Shocked, and unfamiliar with this environment, he ran a hand through his hair again. Unsure what to say, he blurts out, “The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows.”
Morgan and Oliver looked at him like he is crazy.
Morgan laughed at him, “What?”
Puzzled, Oliver questioned Evak. “Who is the Mona Lisa?”
“Anyway, so now both of you know. I’m not as perfect as everyone thinks.”
Oliver was shocked that she said this. He replied back, “No one is perfect. Everyone is a literal mess—a scribble.”
Inspired by Theertha and Sally's story, and want to write your own short stories? See Sally's blog post, opens a new window for tips on where to start.
About the writers
My name is Sally. I am 17 years old and in grade 11. My hobbies include reading, playing violin, and of course, writing stories. It has become one of my favourite hobbies over the past year.
Theertha Madhi is a high school student with future goals of becoming a paediatrician. She enjoys spending her time with family and friends and has been playing piano for more than 8 years.