Ostrich Girl

Picture of ballroom

Picture of ballroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Still the wallflower, Jenny sinks into the corner of the banquet hall, grateful to be assigned the table she was. Twenty years later these people still frighten her. Never the pretty one, never the clever one, never the quick, funny or trendy one, she always melted into the background. It was safer there. She did not fit in with the jocks, the drama geeks or nerds, she was just Jenny and nobody bothered with her. Standing out meant risk and she saw what could happen if you could take risks. Risks were, well, risky.

In two decades that has not changed. She still avoids standing out. She does her job faithfully and quietly. Her bosses always appreciate her, but Jenny avoids accolades. She does just well enough to get her cost of living raise and maybe a little more, but not well enough to get promotions too quick, or be praised as employee of the month. Those mean attention, and attention is bad.

She married her first love, because it was safer. He is quiet, like her, and they live their safe, unremarkable lives in their tiny house, with their three children. They have talked about homeschooling, but that means losing a job, that means risk, and they hate risk. Their two eldest children are like them: sweet, polite, and unassuming. They all like to play it safe.

All but the youngest. Bethany likes to explore. She likes to meet people and it frightens Jenny so much. Bethany says hi to strangers in the stores. She likes going places that scare her older siblings. She breaks the rules, she takes the stage, she volunteers, and she stands out. Jenny does not know what to do with her.

She looks out over the banquet hall and sees Taylor Matthieson, the valedictorian who later made a name for herself risking her scholarship to protest university policies. She talks a little with Chuck, who spent years on the wrong track and while he regrets the pain he caused also relishes the adventures he had. Then she remembers Zachary Pryor, and how his sense of fun ended in twisted metal and eating through tubes and she wishes Bethany were more like her and her father. She sinks further into the corner, where it is safe.

 

 

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