I was lying on my stomach in the living room, Xbox controller in hand, when Mom came in through the front door. I didn't turn to look at her, but she stopped in the doorway to stare at me and I could feel her eyes on the back of my head.

"Can I help you with something?" I asked, my tone bordering on bitchy.

"I don't know," Mom said back, just as venomously. "Why don't you tell me how your Common App is coming along?"

"Fine," This was a lie. I hadn't even begun to look for colleges I was interested in and I hadn't bothered to start the Common App because I wasn't sure which schools would accept it. Instead, I'd spent my time since graduation playing and replaying Bioshock until my brain had turned into a pile of mush incapable of forming a coherent written sentence, let alone an entire essay.

When my mom didn't speak, I paused the game and pushed myself into an upright position. She was glowering at me in that scary way parents do, making you simultaneously guilty and afraid. It didn't matter that Mom was wearing her kittens-and-balloons scrubs; she was terrifying when she got angry.

"Fine?" One eyebrow quirked up and her arms crossed over her chest. "What's your essay topic?"

"I haven't gotten to the essay part yet." I wasn't a completely terrible liar, but Mom had an uncanny ability of knowing when I wasn't telling the truth.

"Jules," Her tone changed to 'I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed.' "You should've started this weeks ago. Your gap year's put you behind the other applicants who'll be graduating this year-"

"I don't want to go to college," I blurted, because that was the truth. And then, because I knew Mom wouldn't care about what I wanted, I added, "Yet. I think I need a little more time."

"You're out of time." Mom said. "And you know you can't go straight into the workforce. Your father did and he's regretted it every day since."

Mom only ever mentioned Dad when she needed an example of who I shouldn't become.

She said, "He hates working at CVS."

"And I'd hate being at school." I retorted. "I didn't like high school and I know I wouldn't like college, either."

"What's your plan if you don't go to school?"

Of course. We've had this discussion too many times to count since I mentioned taking a gap year. What was my plan? With Mom, everything always had to be carefully thought out and organized. Couldn't I just take a break? Couldn't I just figure things out as they happened?

"You need a plan." Mom said. "If you're not going to college, you're going to work at CVS like your father for the rest of your life."

"Or Walmart." I snapped. I knew what Mom was trying to do. She wanted me to feel guilty for messing up her original master plan, the one where I'd go to one of the big-name universities like Harvard or Yale, and now for messing up her second one, where I'd go to a lesser-known state school.

"Exactly. Do you want to work at Walmart for the rest of your life?"

"Sure, why not?" I shot back. What was so bad about Walmart? If I went to college for the English degree she wanted me to go for, I'd probably end up there afterwards, anyway. It wasn't as if having a degree guaranteed you a job when you graduated. For me, it would just mean four years of suffering and stress before going on to a lifetime of working at an hourly rate to pay back the loans I had to take for the suffering and stress. Why not skip those four years and the loans? "It'll save us both time and money."

"And you'll become your father," Mom insisted, as if that was a bad thing. "You'll be unhappy and full of regrets!"

"How do you know how I'll be? You can't tell the future!"

"Because I know, Julia! I've seen it with countless kids at my school. I've seen it happen to so, so many kids with less potential than you! I just want what's best for you."

"You want what you think is best for me," I countered. As a school nurse, I didn't doubt she'd seen kids who regretted the decisions they'd made, but I knew myself better than she thought. Well, at least better than she knew me.t

Mom's face was getting red with anger, and I could feel my own face heating up like hers. "You aren't listening to me!" She said, exasperated. "You don't realize that I know what's best because your brain isn't fully developed yet-"

"It's fully developed enough for me to supposedly be able to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life!" I had no clue what I wanted to do, but I sure as hell knew that college wasn't going to help me figure it out.

"That's not what this is about. College isn't only for people who know what they want to do. It's also for the people who want to find what they want to do. That's why you need to listen to me and at least fill out the application. I don't care if you know which schools you'll send it to yet. Just write the damn essay."

I could feel myself deflating, despite the unfairness of everything she was saying. "Fine." Our arguments could last forever; wouldn't it be easier to just write the essay and send it into the schools? I could deal with the future arguments when they happened.

"Fine?" Mom asked.

Doing what Mom wanted was easier. "Fine. I'll do it now."