“...And this class’s very own Valedictorian is none other than Wesley Brown!” A thunderous round of applause from the admittedly over-enthusiastic audience comprised of parents, staff, and college scholarship Scouters filled the exceptionally large auditorium at Iverson Private School for the Gifted. The unimaginably polite but elderly principal whose true age has yet to be discovered, Mrs. Withers, proudly slides the high school diploma into Wesley’s right hand while shaking hands with his left to create the classic graduation pose for the photos.
After the momentary pause with Mrs. Withers on the high auditorium stage, Wesley continues faking his best smile as he heads back down to his designated seat where his forced expression quickly fades from his face. There is still an unfortunate truth that he has yet to inform his parents of regarding his career intentions post-graduation that will for sure lead to...a less than desirable conversation.
“What do you mean you’re declining all of the full-scholarship offers!?” Wesley’s dad exclaims while slamming the palm of his large lightly-scarred hand down on the large oak kitchen table on the stack of several opened envelopes from various prestigious colleges. “Darius honey, you have to calm down and hear him out” Darius quickly turns his body with a baffled expression as if his wife had just asked him to kick a random puppy he saw on the street. “Veronica, do you not realize how much of a slap in the face it is after how hard we fought to get him enrolled in that expensive private school?!” Veronica grabs his arm then proceeds to hold it for a brief moment which seems to have been some sort of signal that means that his temper is getting too hot in a given situation. Darius takes a deep breath then slowly retreats into another room while muttering to himself as Veronica gently pulls out the oak chair closest to Wesley then sits her small frame onto it.
Wesley continues to avoid eye contact as he continues to stare towards the large flower vase in the middle of the table as he begins to speak his mind to his much more compassionate mother. “Mom, I seriously do not want to go to college right now...why is it that dad can never put his insecurities beside himself?”
Veronica puts both of her hands on the table then takes a deep breath. “Wesley my son, you’ve heard me defend your father’s attitude hundreds of times now while you’ve grown up in this house. You do understand how much he’s sacrificed to give you the life you’ve had right? Here, in the suburbs, you’ve never once had to worry about getting hurt on the way to school or wonder if you’re going to eat that day. Trust me, where your father and I grew up, those were daily questions we had to cope with at your age-” Wesley nonchalantly interjects his mother while shifting to a more upright position on his chair. “Look mom I’m trying my best to understand, I get that it was tough for you guys growing up and you both had your struggles but that honestly isn’t my problem-” Almost as if Wesley had called down the wrath of God itself, his father Darius comes storming in after clearly eavesdropping on the entire conversation from the other room.
With aggressive arm motions and an accusatory tone of voice, Darius begins to share his displeasure with Wesley’s ‘selfish’ behavior. “Damnit Wesley, see this is your problem, you always distance yourself from every situation that you feel you’re above! You think you’re better than anyone else just because you’re able to make decent grades and run some fast laps around a track!? You-” Veronica snaps her head at Darius from her seat and shouts “Darius, that’s enough!” Darius violently shakes his head and retorts, ”Enough!? No, I’ve had it with Welsey’s care-free attitude, he needs to learn what it means to sacrifice and give just an ounce of care for other people!”
Wesley springs up from his chair and slams both of his hands onto the kitchen table surface then uncharacteristically shouts at his parents for the first time which slightly takes them both aback. “I’m sick of this! I’m so sick and tired of the two of you pushing your old ass problems onto me! You want me to make something of myself and give back to my community? People I don’t even know or care about? Hell no! I’m done with all this, I’ll make something of myself about literally anything else rather than whatever the hell you want from me!”
That night, Wesley packed his room into a few duffel bags and was out the door the next morning.
“Damn...I guess I’ll need to find a job now...I wonder if the food joint a few blocks from here is still hiring...”
- Wesley Brown