The road to adulthood was a long and perilous journey. Any mature person would tell you that. They'd seen it all before, and they had emerged victorious. Of course, not all people were able to travel that path.
Anya Haroldsman was one of those people. She was of normal height, with hair the color of burnt caramel. If you looked closely, her eyes had flecks of violet amidst the chocolate background. Her skin was tan, and she had a petite face. Completely average for a sixteen-year-old sophomore in high school. And that's all she was. Average.
Although her school, West High, produced some of the most hard-working adults in the next generation, it was still a public school. Anya was accepted because her house was literally a three-minute walk from the building. It was a wonderful school, the main building having a curve and covered in glass. The campus was clean, palm trees were dotted around the courtyard, the bathrooms—of all things—were nice, and the teachers were superb. The students, however, let this all get to their heads.
Anya knew this from experience. So as she walked to the school gates, she tried to tune out the jeers of her classmates.
"There goes that plain girl."
"She'll never get a boyfriend with that face."
"She never does anything!"
"Always has her head in the clouds. What a weirdo."
"Did you hear that she got a C- on Mrs. Chapman's algebra quiz yesterday?"
"Gosh, I'd die before my grades stooped to that level!"
"The only thing high and mighty about her is her name."
"Honestly, it's a wonder she hasn't dropped out yet."
Anya had heard it all before. These vain, high-end students of West High School tormented and bullied her because she didn't try. What was the point anyway? Get your grades up only to be declined by your top pick for college. Make friends only to be betrayed. Work hard and reap nothing. That was the way the world was. Her classmates could sneer all they want, but Anya Haroldsman saw no point in trying if the journey turned out to be fruitless. In the end, reality always had its way.
As always, she went through her classes in a daze. Never paying attention, never doing anything. She stared at the quadratics review sheet in front of her, not knowing what to do and not caring at all. She sighed, leaning back in her chair.
"Ms. Haroldsman, may I see you for a second?"
Anya got out of her chair, not pushing it back as she trudged over to Mrs. Chapman's desk. The old woman had a kind face and an encouraging smile. Perhaps the best teacher in her department, she was always looking out for her students. One of which just happened to be Anya.
"Anya," Mrs. Chapman said gently. "I understand that everyone here bullies you. But that doesn't mean you don't have to try."
"People bully me because I don't try," Anya said flatly. "And it's not like I care either way. It's not affecting my mental health if that's what you're worried about."
"It's not that." Mrs. Chapman shook her head. "The average here is an A- but in most schools, the average is a C. Your grades are perfectly normal. But that's just the thing. They're average. There's nothing special about them."
"And? It's not like I'm looking to get into college or anything."
"Anya. You can't get anywhere if you don't try. You have hidden potential."
"That's what everyone says." Anya scowled.
"Potential that could be tapped into if only you'd try," Mrs. Chapman reprimanded. "Nothing is certain, Anya. We don't know what the future holds. That's why we want you to learn as much as possible, so when you do face uncertainty you have the knowledge to get through any ordeal. The more you know the better of a future you can secure for yourself. As long as you pull yourself together and face challenges head-on, you can do anything. And it doesn't hurt to be prepared. School is designed to give you the tools to do just that."
"I'll keep that in mind, Mrs. Chapman," Anya sighed.
…Have the knowledge to get through any ordeal, huh, Anya mused to herself. What an interesting thought.
"Your chapter five unit test is coming up tomorrow," Mrs. Chapman said twenty minutes later. "Make sure you study." The teacher's eyes lingered on a certain brunette as her students shuffled out of the classroom. The teacher sighed and took out a wipe to clean her glasses.