Hi! I’m Dora Connor. My life is definitely not a fantasy but it’s not a garbage dump either. I’m a 13-year-old girl who has blonde, short hair, sky blue eyes and a slim but strong body. I’m a ‘Tom boy’ and I literally live in black clothes. I love dancing and doing gymnastics. My life long goal is to win the national level medal for both. I love sports equally well. I want to maybe become a dancer or an athlete later in life. I make friends in the snap of a finger and also enemies in equal time. I am also pretty short tempered. I am a bit lazy (very lazy) to do anything other than go to the gym or play basketball. Aren’t people normally lazy to go to the gym or play? Oh well. I live with my mom, Rose Connor and my younger brother, Daniel. My mom has wood brown straight hair, sky blue eyes and is thin but not as strong as me (No boasting intended). My brother is a mini-me but a boy, (but extra annoying). My dad, Albert Connor passed away when I was six years old. I don’t remember him all that well, as I was pretty young so I don’t actually miss him that much. However, I do always wish I had a dad. It would have been fun and would have made our family complete. I live in a small apartment in New York and go to a school called St. Marie’s.
My apartment in the heart of the city. It looks historic from the outside. On the inside, it’s very festive and cheerful. My mom’s room is plain peach colored with a soft mattress on the floor. In a wooden table nearby, there are usually a bunch of daffodils in a prettily decorated vase and a frame with a picture of the three of us. My brother and I share a room. It’s a baby blue color nursery sized room, with a fluffy bed and a wooden wardrobe right beside. Stuck to the wall is a cupboard consisting of all our books and family pictures. I look at them if I ever feel low.
I am a normal teenager with friends in a good school and a single working mom. My mom works in a bakery. It’s an incredibly dazzling place. It has the sunniest colors which make the place look bigger and brighter. Six tables covered with a cream cloth with four chairs on each side of the table are visible. The two sofas in two corners of the room are where my friends and I normally sit. It’s the most famous bakery in the city. On most days, it’s crowded, on holidays it’s exceedingly so. I love going there with my friends after school. The owner, Lisa is an awesome, smart and generous woman. She always welcomes us with a huge smile and hugs. She has a daughter, Audrey, who is one of my best friends. Needless to say, we get food for a much cheaper amount. Audrey, like her mom, is chubby, has the eye color of honey and reddish blonde hair. On the inside, she is kind hearted, loyal but goes green if someone else gets more attention than her. Oh, and she lives in fashion. She always keeps up with the trend and doesn’t have much of an academic knowledge. Ok, back to my mom. She doesn’t get paid much but we have enough to live comfortably. She doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. The closest she has to a sister is Aunt Linda; a green eyed, caramel haired and a thin woman. She is a school friend of mom and they haven’t lost touch. She works as a teacher in our school for the elementary students. Fortunately, Aunt Linda lives only two blocks away so in case of emergency (don’t break glass) she can come here immediately. She has two children too. A daughter and a son. Her daughter is my classmate and my BFF, Sally. She is literally like me in every possible way. She has a pixie cut, brown caramel hair, green eyes and is also as strong as me. She is also a tom boy, loves black and is an awesome dancer and loves playing pranks. Her brother, Sam, who is my bro’s best buddy is a mini version of Sally. If someone sees us together somewhere; they will think the four of us to be siblings (I speak from experience).
I normally wake up at around 6 am, and go for a jog. After which, I get ready and finish breakfast by around 8:30 am. Mom, Daniel and I meet Aunt Linda, Sally and Sam in a sweet shop close to our houses. Mom and Aunt Linda chat for some time while the rest of us drool over the chocolates. Once they finish talking, mom leaves to her bakery while the rest of us walk to school together.
St. Marie’s is a pretty big school, teaching from elementary to high school. Sally and I were, and still are somehow always in the same class. Aunt Linda drops Sam and Daniel while Sally and I go off to class. We are always a little early so we can gossip with the others. We play pranks on teachers often, especially Mrs. Smith, our science teacher, because she has a great sense of humor and most times, she falls for them. She is a great sport. For lunch, we normally have cafeteria food, but on Mondays and Thursdays we don’t, because those days are when we get spinach soup and something that tastes like soot and toothpaste mixed together. (Yuck. Don’t try without adult supervision). Sally, Audrey and I come back home at 2 pm and take tuitions from Aunt Linda or Lisa even though we mostly end up not learning. Then at about 4 pm, Audrey goes back home when Sally and I go to the basketball court and play a few matches with a few more kids who live nearby. We come back home and have supper at our place and before 8 pm they go back home. I usually go to sleep at 9 pm and doze off by 9:30 at the latest. The next day when my alarm rings, I continue the same routine, every single day of my life.
Off late mom has been looking a little pale and fragile like she could break any second. I was getting a little worried but eventually convinced myself that it’s nothing big. Yesterday, while having supper, she blacked out. I, getting terrified, immediately called Aunt Linda, the only person I could think of and explained to her what had happened. Since she is extremely close by, she rushed right home with a doctor. The doctor, while examining mom, said, “It looks like she has been having a temperature for a few days,” while putting her on the sofa. I got scared. He spoke to Aunt Linda giving her some instructions and left. Aunt Linda came and told me that mom had to be admitted to the hospital. The doctors need to run a few tests and examine her to understand what was wrong. When I asked her when, she told me tomorrow? Tomorrow?!? I suddenly felt everything around me spinning. In a few moments, I heard mom’s voice and saw her eyes flutter open. “Is this heaven?” she asked, smiling despite being so weak. “No mom, this is New York city”, I heard a voice say. It took me a moment to realize my brother was still around and awake. “Why don’t you go to sleep? Do you want me to tuck you in?” asked Aunt Linda to Daniel. “No, I am seven years old and grown up,” he replied back, yawning and went off to bed.
Aunt Linda took mom to her room and I could hear some talking for a while. I guessed she was trying to convince mom about getting admitted. I started getting drowsy and bid mom and Aunt Linda Good Night and went to sleep. My heart was pumping out of my chest. Eventually I tried convincing myself that I am the older sibling and I needed to be brave. I calmed down more when I realized that the hospital fee could be covered by insurance. Speaking of money, the thought struck me. I have to earn money to take care of the house. Aunt Linda can’t stay around us forever. I was wondering what could be done about it. Well, I was too tired and couldn’t think about it and soon enough, I was dreaming.
Next morning, I woke up thinking about the previous night. I decided to go for a jog to clear my mind. While jogging, I was wondering about ways I could earn. Hadn’t I heard someone say something about a scholarship in school? Yes, yes, I had! I had to work very hard since I was already lagging behind, but I can try. And I might have to stop playing pranks – at least on teachers. Then when thinking about mom, I realized that the bakery was now lacking an employee. I also could take up a part time job in mom’s bakery – if they hire a 13-year old. Everything seemed to be falling in place. I decided to tell Aunt Linda about it.
We all bid mom farewell and gave her a tight squeeze. We also scolded her for getting sick. Mom just replied with a small chuckle. She said, “I’ll be back faster than light,” and left.
During breakfast, I discussed my idea with Aunt Linda. It took some time convincing her – and by some, I mean a lot. I had prepared a mental list of pros and cons while I was jogging. Finally, she said yes. I was literally dancing with joy. So, I told Sally about it while eating a toffee. As a Sally-ish friend would, she insisted on helping me. During school, I started listening in class so hard. My teachers thought it was a prank at first. They kept looking back at me every two minutes to check if I was listening to them or whether I was trying to set up a prank. Then after a few classes, they decided that I was really trying. Then in the bakery, fortunately, they were hiring. So, I started working there. I am working there as a waitress because I couldn’t even boil milk without spilling at least a little – not that I ever tried to boil milk. The only thing I ever tried to make was PBJ and thankfully I could make it. Oh, I’ve also tried to make cornflakes, if that’s even possible. I could eat well but cooking, I am not so sure. The employees were generous enough to provide dinner for my brother and I. I am getting better and better at waitressing and am chatting with my friends in the two-minute breaks Lisa gives me. I was also completing all my homework on time.
After a few weeks or so, which is today for me, I woke up and my alarm showed it to be 12 noon. I couldn’t go to school now! School will be over in a few hours. I thought of my brother and went to check on him. He wasn’t there. I was definitely getting panicky until I saw a note in night stand. It said –
I’m going to school and before you get uneasy, I had cereal for breakfast and Aunt Linda took me to school herself. Why don’t you take a day off from school? You can tell your teachers that you were unwell hence couldn’t attend school. Don’t worry about me. I will be alright. And by the way, Good morning to you.
P.S- I have no idea what I wrote. Aunt Linda dictated it to me and I just noted it down. Okies, Bye!”
I was laughing at the last line and almost had tears at the edge of my eye for the rest of the note. I am already desperately missing mom and her cheerful face. It had been 3 weeks since mom left for the hospital. Though I felt Aunt Linda was a pretty good substitute. We couldn’t visit mom until now. Only Aunt Linda was allowed to see her. She kept updating us and brought back messages mom wanted to let us know. Now the doctors had permitted us to visit mom twice a week and bring her a gift if we wanted to. Thinking of that happy thought I jolted back to reality. Ok, back to my morning. I have to use my phone now to learn to cook, not just see funny cat videos. I had to learn how to cook today. It took me a while to find the bread and the vessels. I started off trying to toast bread. I was a pro. I burned only the first two and didn’t burn the rest. I tried to break eggs and believe it or not, I broke it in a perfect shape after maybe 3 tries only. I heard it takes people days to master that. I started wondering if I had a cooking talent or it was just pure luck. Maybe it was a talent since mom got a job in the best bakery in town. I started off with baking so it could help me in the Bakery. In case you were wondering about the name of the bakery, it’s (I am not joking) ‘Bakery.’ I moved on to the higher level, The Cake. I was thinking of making a sponge cake using a simple recipe mom usually uses on Christmas. I was not scared that it will come out burnt because I was sure it will come out that way. While it was baking, I had my toast with an egg. My cake came out only slightly burnt. Yay! Well, Aunt Linda and her kids are coming over today so all of us had a slightly burnt snack.
My friends came over today evening. Sally tells me that her mum a.k.a Aunt Linda lets her stay for a sleepover if I was ok with it. Duh, Of course I was. She is always there for me when I need moral support so that’s another reason, she was my best friend ever. Dan and Sam went over to Aunt Linda’s house to have their own sleepover. Sally and I were watching movie after movie with some burnt cake. After about three movies, we had to go for dinner. That was the time to catch up on everything going on with our lives. We had dinner and off we went again to complete our fourth film. We stayed up not taking our eyes off the screen until way past bedtime. We were trying to keep our eyes open but failed. Getting extremely sleepy, pushed our heads to our pillows.
The next day we were getting our test papers. I was confident enough with myself. I noted down the answers rapidly. After the papers were collected, I was wondering how surprised the teachers and mom will be when they see my scores. When the papers were being distributed, I was horrified to see I had only gotten 40%. Before I used to not even prepare for my tests yet, I had gotten more than what I had gotten now. I was wondering aloud to Sally about my marks. She told me to notice myself and correct myself if I was doing something wrong. I decided to take her advice because there was not much I could do.
After a few days I was getting exhausted and overslept because of working too much. That resulted in going to school late. Then my pillow turned from cotton into a wooden table. I was getting a good and close look in all the walls of the room labelled ‘Detention.’ I was called to the principal’s office once. I walked there, my legs shaking (because of the fear or lack of sleep, I wasn’t sure) and held up the courage to knock on the door. There he was, one big, scary Principal. I went in and took a seat. I was surprised to find that he was kinder than I had imagined. Much kinder. He gave me an hour-long speech and I was bored out of my mind. I was clever and secretive enough to steal my phone in there and recorded what he said so I could hear it when I was in the right mind (or if I couldn’t sleep at night). Kidding, I heard his speech top to bottom (and recorded it). I told Sally everything and she told me what every friend tells one another – ‘I’m here for you.’ but I know she meant it. I went home and Aunt Linda was there.
I told her all about what I did the full day because I usually tell mom but now I couldn’t so I told Aunt Linda instead. She advised me to change my routine and complete my homework in my school breaks before chatting with friends, and told me that she will tell Sally to help me. She also told me to tell my teachers about mom and ask them if they could give me some advice. I was adamant to follow it. As usual, I won the battle and Aunt Linda gave up on lecturing me. I lay awake throughout the night thinking about what she said and decided to try it out. There was not much to lose anymore was there?
Next day at school, when I told Mrs. Smith, she was kind and understanding enough to give me extra classes on weekends. I made up my mind to stop (reduce) pranking her. I was catching up on school work and I completed my homework on breaks and sure enough went back to school on time, and I wasn’t lagging behind anymore. I was getting used to the new routine. Sally and Audrey were helping me with my homework and also were completing theirs’ along with me. I don’t know what I could do without them.
After a few weeks or so, the scholarship exam took place. I was getting all sweaty sitting in the exam hall. It was the size of a football stadium. My heart was telling the mantra ‘I would fail’ over and over again. On the other hand (or in this case brain) my brain was chanting ‘You can do it’. When we got the paper, I was shaking. I couldn’t concentrate but I think I had studied pretty well. My brain won this round. Not only did I pass, but I also got a scholarship of $ 25,000. I had enough to buy a mansion. But I was happy and comfortable with where I was living so I decided to start saving up. I almost forgot about my dance and gymnastics competitions. I had some time left so I used it all up for practicing. I won 3rd place in gymnastics and 1st place in dance. That was probably the happiest day of my life. After days of waiting, mom was finally back from the hospital.
I continued my same routine and started concentrating more in class (and played some pranks). No one could wipe the smile off my glowing face. I honestly don’t remember being this happy in ages. I will never forget all I learnt during this time. I really need to do something to repay all the people who helped me. Any ideas? Thank you for pushing me to do hard work. And do you know the quote ‘There is no thing as failure, only learning experiences.’
Megna Ramesh is an 11 year old, born and brought up in Chennai. She studies in Maharishi Vidya Mandir School. She loves art and lives inside the world of books. Her multifaceted personality has been shown in various occasions like awards in National Level art competition, English in Spell Bee, Math in mastermind exams etc. She has also been learning Bharatanatyam for about five years! She loves holidays because then is when she travels around the world with her family. This was her first story inspired from the power of hard work and positivity.