Julia Millon


The vacation was meant to be a distraction for Jess, but it hadn’t worked. All she thought about was the letter she was supposed to receive while she was away. Day in and day out, it was the only thing on her mind.

The second Jess stepped in the door, she bolted for the mail. She dug through the huge pile, desperately looking for the letter. Finally, she found it. The weight of the letter and the feeling of it in her hands made her shake. Just holding the letter made all her doubts come rushing back to her. Friends, family, school, sports, everything. She knew she could handle Italy and the language; she wasn’t worried about that. But the whole leaving her family and friends for a year thing was really starting to scare her.

She went over to the kitchen table where her parents were standing to open the letter. She opened it carefully and slowly, dumped the contents out of the envelope and started searching for the letter of importance.

As soon as she found it, she opened it and read it. “Dear Jessica Douglass…” it started off. She continued reading down the page to the important sentence. “We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to the School Year Abroad Program, Italy ’07 - ’08.” Tears started forming in her eyes, and when she told her parents, she saw a fleeting moment of sadness pass over their faces.

Jess still didn’t know if she could go through with it. Her thoughts kept on going back to her family and friends. Who would wake her up when she slept late? Who would help her with her Italian and history and math homework? Who would be her annoying, but loveable pain in the butt brother? What about her friends? She didn’t know if she could start all over with her friends. Zandy was her best friend, as well as Alex. What if they didn’t come to visit her? She would miss Alex’s crazy sense of humor and his ability to listen to everything and anything she said. She would definitely miss Zandy, because who else would she talk to about guys? And her other friends, Kyle, Mike, Nicky, Greg, Selene, Amanda, what would happen when she came back? Would she still be friends with them? She hoped that she would, because her friends helped her survive her insane school.

She knew that she didn’t have to decide whether she wanted to go or not until the deadline, which unfortunately was this Friday. She decided to “sleep on it” until the deadline, although she didn’t do much sleeping at all. She didn’t focus in school, because all she thought about was “I might not be with these people next year.” Some people, she didn’t mind thinking that about, but others, she didn’t even want to try to comprehend that she wouldn’t see them for a year.

During lunch on Friday, she decided to tell her friends about her news. She didn’t know exactly how to put it or how her friends, especially Zandy, were going to react.
“Hey guys. Remember that program I applied to? Yeah, well I got in,” Jess said quietly.

“So does that mean you won’t be here for the whole year? Sick!” Alex said as Jess shot him a nasty look. “Jess, I was kidding. Congrats on getting in. That’s a great opportunity.” Jess looked over at Zandy who was just silently looking back at her.

“Well you’re not actually going to go are you?” Zandy asked.

“What are you, crazy? Jess has wanted this for so long! You really think she’s going to not go?” Alex retorted.

“Alex, shut up. Jess, you’re not going to go, right? I mean come on, missing out on junior year? Prom? Your 17th birthday? Christmas? New Year’s? You wouldn’t want to spend that away from your family, would you?” Zandy rambled.

“She wouldn’t be missing them; she just wouldn’t be here with us. She’d be making new friends over there, and we would obviously go visit her so I don’t see what the big deal is…”

“Hey Alex, can I answer the question?” Jess interrupted Alex’s speech. “Zandy, I want to go. I’ve thought of all the people and events I’d miss and, yeah, it’s definitely something I’m taking into consideration. But, think about it, Zandy. What’s the better experience? Staying here, or going to live in Italy and learn a foreign language and study what I want to study?”

“You can learn Italian here! You already take the class for crying out loud. And we have electives, Jess. Not all classes are set in stone,” Zandy said with a tear rolling down her cheek. “You know what? Fine. Go to Italy. Just don’t expect me to be visiting you.” And with that, she got up from the table and stormed out of the cafeteria. Jess put her head and her hands and sighed deeply.

“Don’t worry about her. She’s not thinking straight,” Alex said comfortingly.

“Yeah, I guess. I’m going to go after her and talk to her though, ok? But I’ll talk to you later,” Jess said to Alex as she grabbed her bag and headed out of the cafeteria. Jess found Zandy sitting in the stairwell just outside of the cafeteria with her head in her hands.

“Hey there Zandy,” Jess said quietly to her friend. Zandy looked up, rolled her eyes and looked away. “Listen, I know you’re upset. But you have to see this in my point of view as well. I’m going to miss you like crazy. I don’t know what I’m going to do with out you. But you have to realize that I’ve wanted this for a really long time and this is like my dream. And you know that I want you to come visit me over winter break. But are you really that upset with me for doing this?”

“No, I guess not. But I’m just going to miss you and I don’t want you to forget about me. And plus you don’t even know if you’re going yet, do you?”

“Zandy, of course I’m not going to forget you. I mean, come on, obviously I would never forget my best friend. And to be honest, I hadn’t made my decision a couple of minutes ago, but thinking about it, I think I have made my decision,” Jess said confidently. “Zandy, I’m going to go to Italy next year. And that’s final.”

As Jess spoke, a wave of relief washed over her. She had made her decision. She was going to Italy. She was leaving her friends, family, and school behind. And as Jess hugged Zandy, she realized that she was okay with her decision.


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.