CHAPTER FIVE: University
I sat on the bench, nervously. I clenched my sweaty palms, as if that would release some of the itchy tension in my veins. Rolling my eyes back slightly, I could see the entirety of the room, crowded with students. My fingers smoothed over my report card, though it was pressed to perfection.
Would the advisor say I was finished? Could I graduate this coming May?
If only it was easy for me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that girl with the straight brown hair and black glasses, the one that was at the top of every science class. I had no idea who she was, or what she was doing, but I knew that she was the best at almost everything she did. She loved science, math, and almost any difficult subject.
Probably because things were easy for her.
I smirked. Well, she sure wasn’t paying all her own bills, ordering her own employees, and living life pretty much exactly how she wanted to. Independent, and free as a bird. That was me. Not her. She probably lived in one of those spiffy houses on Cypresswood, maybe that one with the five air conditioners. Yeah, it really was that big. Maybe her dad was an engineer, probably made six figures, easy. Every little tuition bill and science book paid for without a worry.
I was stronger than that. I had my own job, my own place, my own money. Try to beat that, brown-haired girl.
A monotone voice broke into my thoughts. “Ms. Holmes?”
Hurriedly scooping my belongings together, I leapt up, all my trepidation returning in a massive, trembling rush. I followed the advisor to her office.
“Well, well, Ms. Holmes, here we are again.” The advisor’s droning voice, now very familiar to my ears, greeted me. “Doing any better in school?”
“I hope to be, ma’am.” Though I resented her condescending tone fiercely, I knew her statement was well-founded. My junior year had been a disaster—hence the extra year in school. I bit my lip.
“Hm.” The clicking of her keyboard was the only alternative to dead silence for what seemed like minutes.
I cleared my throat. “Ah, what I kind of wanted to do was see if I could graduate? I think I may have the grades and the classes to do that, ah, like in May. You know, the end of the semester. I’m pretty sure I’ve passed all the classes I need to, with fairly high grades. I think. I kinda had to retake some classes…ah, like poor grades that one year. But I’ve done that now.” I held my breath and crossed my fingers under the wooden desk.
“Eh?” The advisor looked at me over her tiny, rectangle glasses. “That’s all ya want?”
“Ah—yeah. Is that possible?”
“From what I can tell. I’ll put in the paperwork today. Anything else?”
For a second, I didn’t speak. Then I found my runaway voice. “Oh! Oh, actually, yes. I mean, no. That’s all. Thank you, ma’am.”
I don’t remember walking out of the office. Or down the sidewalk. To be honest, I’m not even sure how I got home.
All I could think of was that I was graduating. Less than three months. High school, with all its pain, was nearly over.
“What’s this?” I peered into a window, looking at rows of tables covered with medical-looking equipment.
“That’s another lab. Umm…microbiology class, I think?” Kenny craned his neck to read the plaque. “Yeah. Doctor Henderson, Phd. Microbology.”
I ran my hand over the shiny windowpane. “Seriously. I am so proud of you. Full scholarship…pre-med. This is like your dream.” I looked at Kenny.
“Yeah. University of Houston is a pretty good place to get my undergrad.” Kenny flipped through a few random booklets. “With all the dual credit I’ve done, plus the classes I just finished taking at Houston Community College, I probably won’t be here but three years max, though. That’s the plan, anyways.”
I smiled wistfully. “You’re gonna do so well, Kenny.”
He grinned. “Hey, but what about you, Sherlock? Don’t you want to do something other than Walmart? I mean, you have a great job over there, don’t get me wrong. But with the grades you ended up getting your senior year, you could probably get into some kind of a college program.” He looked over at me. “And, you know…since you kinda don’t make a ton, you could probably get financial help with tuition, too.”
I shrugged. “I don’t think about that stuff—you know, college. Like ever. I never have.”
Kenny grabbed my shoulder nearly startling me. “But you should. Look, Allie Holmes, you’re sharp as a tack. Don’t just work at Walmart and waste it! You could be a nurse! Go into medicine…make good money…forget about Tucker Street! Forget Klein High, forget your past—make your own future.” Kenny’s black eyes looked serious.
I drew back. “But, Kenny. I’m just happy to have graduated high school. I mean, I’m the first one I know of on either side of the family to do that. I don’t need to be a nurse, too! I’m…I’m just not sure I could.”
“No, no, no. Don’t talk yourself down. I know you. I believe in you. You can do anything, Allie. Anything. You could be a nurse.” He paused. “Will you at least think about trying?”
“I guess…I guess I’ll think about it.” I turned away, signaling the end of the conversation.
Later, I walked by the nursing school. My steps slowed as I took it in…official-looking scrubs, state of the art equipment, books and papers and…
But I couldn’t. No, I definitely couldn’t. Allie Holmes, the daughter of a gangster and a drug dealer, couldn’t possibly be a nurse.
It was literally impossible.
Days later, I stared out the window at the rain dancing over the worn windowsills. I toyed with my phone.
I had come to a decision. Nursing school was not impossible. Nothing was impossible. I would do it. I had talked myself to the point that I practically had to try.
Determinedly, I typed Kenny a short text. “Decided. I’m going to give nursing a college try. No pun intended.”
Chapter five of Redeemed on Tucker Street, a novel that follows the story of a true to life, yet fictional, abortion vulnerable woman.