Finals, studying, cramming.

My hand scratches more and more notes into the tiny margins of the page.

The clock turns to 1 AM, but I'm not done. I have to pass. I have to stay awake-

The alarm blares out 6:30.

Shower, get dressed, make myself somewhat presentable.

All in machine-like precision.

Period 2, my sweaty palms are wiped against my skirt, my leg shakes beneath the table.

Textbook passages flit across my mind as I stare at the first question.

And then it happens. I know the answer to the first problem. And to the second. And to the third.

I smile. It is the last day before a much-needed summer break.

Sign yearbook, pose for picture, repeat.

Life is good.

One day into break my mom comes past my room while on the phone. "We'll see you in a week. Yeah, the girls really excited too."

Confusion, then annoyance, then anger.

She forgot to tell me we're going to see my grandparents. Again.

I later try to explain that we're already seeing them for two weeks in August. Why go now?

She felt pressured, coerced, intimidated by my grandparents.

Don't give in to peer pressure, Mother.

Summer continues.

Cousins, aunts, and uncles to see.

No time for friends or social interaction other than small talk and forced smiles.

I complain.

My sister calls me pathetic, mean, and selfish for wanting any time to myself.

I walk away.

Later, I turn to my mom. "Please can be go home?"

"Don't be rude, sweetheart.

"Besides, we've got places to go and people to see."

I really wanted to take some summer classes, get ahead in my education.

To my family, the concept is unknown, foreign, and queer.

It's better I sit and not talk.

One week later, I beg my mom to take us home.

"Honey, they're your family. You should be closer to them.

"Besides, we've got places to go and people to see."

The summer continues much the same way.

I smile, I laugh, I nod at all the right times.

But inside I am miserable. I would much rather be at home reading by the creek.

And now that I am home I must bid you adieu,

For I have places to go and people to see.

Based on my own experiences and imaginings.