The World’s a Stage for the Student

 Dramatis Personae: It is said, education is the most powerful weapon. A student, let’s call her Maria. Imagine it if you will, envision the future full of possibilities. You can take on the role of others too. The kid who just graduated, green and reeks of teen spirit. The artist, who has no direction, only desires just to create. Decisions, decisions, well today you’re a Hispanic woman, age thirty to forty, given a second chance, you take this opportunity, you’d be a fool to deny it.

Stage Direction: You enter from the right, putting your best foot forward. Awkwardly you walk center stage, right to the middle of campus. You stand with your shoulders back, take it in. You didn’t even know it but you’ve been waiting for this moment. Excitement bubbles in your stomach or is that hunger? You were in a rush that morning, got to get there early; parking is a nightmare and if you are late it might all be taken away from you, this is your chance. Looking around you are feeling exposed, yet slightly prepared, you are wearing a backpack, so that’s got to count for something. There is a fountain that flows with water that sparkles and glistens with white, dreamlike bubbles, just the sound of it starts to wash away some of the first day jitters. You step forward and walk under the giant evergreens. Smelling the crispness that only nature can provide, they offer a sense of security, stand tall, like them. You have a goal; you can do it! Proceed forward. Posters to the left and right of you, all shouting out the same word, Bachelors.

Synopsis: The scenes will be broken into Fall and Spring; no summers or suicide will ensue. Four falls and four springs, better yet traditional titles: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior, Senior. A little late, at thirty-seven, Maria is hopeful, what could go wrong, she is trying to better herself. No one will do it for you; you must take the initiative, sign up. All they ask is that you pay, an arm maybe a leg, oh not for your classes silly, the books. Don’t forget the scantron’s too, there is always the one who forgets. There will be action, there will be sadness, and a villain, every story needs a villain. Fret not, our heroin will rise, hopefully, and only after torment ensues and burns her to her core. Maybe a bird at the curtain call.

Set: A spotlight is cast directly over her; she is sitting at her kitchen table. Her laptop propped up on a stack of old books and a box that held chocolates. When you look closely her eyes are red, it's close to midnight, a due date looms at the stroke of twelve. She is forlorn, Exhaustion, presses in from the left whispering “Is it really worth it?” Pressure, presses in on the right shouting “Hurry up!Stress, combs its fingers through her lovely hair. Leaving streaks of shining silver to remind her, he has been here with her tonight. “Is it supposed to be this hard,” she whispers, “Am I doing this right?” she questions.

Prologue: Trying to break the typical stereotype of a dumb Mexican, who’s not good for nothing, but working in the fields. Oh wait, you are female remember, back to the kitchen barefoot for you. Cooking and cleaning are what you do while being pregnant. Remember, it is a privilege you are even alive. Females, what are they good for? Such a disappointment, the family name died when you were born. A knife lays to the side, blood drips off it, harrowing red, glistening, catching the light. It was just pulled out of my heart.

Act One: Visualize: You are a confident woman, a natural leader, enter the room like you own it. Take the open seat close to the edge, but not upfront (don’t worry there are no assigned seats). This class is what they call an “accelerated learning course.” Don’t know what that is? No worries, you’ll learn. This isn’t what you wanted to sign up for? Well, too late you’re here, and nothing else is available, you’re a freshman and you need the credits. In the class, the instructor smiles nicely, but the material is lightning speed. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to tutoring. The tutor is a lovely-looking girl, who looks down on you and sighs every five minutes as you struggle. It is a complete joy to see her every day as she makes you feel stupid (enter sarcasm here). Fret not, you are the star at this study table. She has to help you, even if she rolls her eyes at your questions, besides no one else hardly ever comes, enjoy her full condescending attention. Time passes so quickly; it is December and Christmas never brought more peace. A break well earned, you made it past your first semester, well done! All A’s? How did that happen?

Act Two: Spring, enters a new character, authoritative, and demands you call him Doctor; after all, he’s earned it and has tenure year. You are nothing compared to his supreme intelligence. He cares not for your voice, but wants to hear his own voice, in your paper, that you should write, using his words. Red lines and comments that make no sense are scribbled all over your 4th, or is it the 5th draft he demands you turn in. The stairs look so inviting, if only one would just accidentally fall. Hmm, not a realistic option, too dark. Let’s try an oldie but a goodie, tutoring! This time she is quaint and wears a Dodger cap all the time. With a mute auburn ponytail sticking out the back of her cap and freckles splashed across her nose, she always has a smile. She is delightful and is always so helpful, is this even possible? Who knew this type of tutor even existed? His highness, correction, Dr. So and So loves the written word, especially when you echo his voice. He thinks it’s just so grand! Write, and write, like you are running out of time, day and night, night and day. Time again moves forward and summer looms around the corner with its sunglasses on. You did it, thank the heavens! Again, you walk away carrying all A’s. How are you doing this?

Act Three: You blink, and another semester has passed. There is a new dictator who thinks the world revolves around his class, and nothing else matters. It’s okay, suck it up, you’re so close to the end of this semester. It’s March two thousand and twenty, this year has been so great, so far. Nothing can hold you back now, you’re finally going to make it out of the City and into the State, transfer never sounded so good. Whispers of a virus, a virus from overseas, the word pandemic floats around. Suddenly one day, a Friday, it is announced, stay home. It's ok, things were challenging before, but this will be easy now, everything will be online. Snickering can be heard in the background; it’s the future, if you only knew why he is laughing.

Act Four: No one is laughing, and everyone wants it to end. Somehow you are still here, sitting in front of your laptop, wait, you are actually in bed, face down, camera off. Scratch that, your Professors don’t want to teach. Almost everything is a new word, A-syn-chro? Oh never mind, it just means no class, and tests each week. Read the chapter, take a test, learn yourself, got that? I guess so, what choice do I have?

Epilogue: Maria lies in the center, burning from the inside out. The embers of despair start in her heart and work their way out, growing and burning hotter and hotter. It scorches her heavy chest, with the superiority of those who look down on her, it burns her tired arms from having to carry those lazy children in the group projects, it sears at her legs as she trudges through these ridiculous tests. You know in the real world, they want you to look up things and make sure you know what you are doing, guessing is a bad habit. Lastly, the fire overtakes her mind, she questions,

“What have I done to myself?”

“Why did I think this was a good idea to ensue such agony?”

The fires burn white-hot, she cannot stand it anymore, she burns to ash.

The curtains slowly start to draw, the lights fade ever so softly to black.

There is a flicker of red in the ash.

Then a spark of yellow strikes upward.

Orange swirls up, the red and yellow all intertwine, spinning up and out of the ashes

She rises, a Phoenix.

She is not done yet. She will soar and set the sky aflame.

Her name will sparkle in the stars, as she crosses that stage and accepts her degree.

Applause ensues, who doesn’t love an underdog, a Bulldog.

End scene, draw curtain.

--  Rebekah M., Adult