A Kat's (GOD AWFUL!!!) Blessing
A short-haired, and equally short-statured girl tapped the eraser end of her pencil against her desk as she looked at the exam before her. Math was never Kat’s strong suit. Then again, school as a concept wasn’t her strong suit either. When she should’ve been studying she’d slack off. Homework would remain untouched until hours before it was due; completed by either cheating off classmates or praying for a higher being to bestow upon her the answers. The latter approach never seemed to work.
All of this culminated in her current struggle. The final boss of her 11th year of high school, one could say.
I definitely should’ve grinded more, she thought to herself as she tugged on the front of her school uniform to cool off.
One by one her classmates handed in their exams and vacated the school building to begin their summer vacation. With each person leaving their seat she grew anxious. Her peers were going off to experience the freedom of summer as she tried to decipher the secret codes before her. When one would cheer as they ran down the hall in excitement, she’d imagine putting a hex on them for abandoning her.
An hour had passed since the last student left the classroom, leaving her as the sole prisoner to the school. Even her teacher, Mr. Schlesinger, had begun to show agitation. He too was ready for Kat to wrap it up and get out of his hair. Once she turned in her exam, he could quickly grade her exam and begin his long overdue vacation.
Kat winced in pain from the attack on her psyche. You don’t have to glare at me like that! I’m suffering just as much as you are!
She looked up at the old analog clock hanging above the door to the classroom; it was half-past noon. Her pencil hadn’t touched her multiple-choice answer sheet in what she perceived to have been years. Decades, even.
Okay, maybe not decades, she thought. But enough time to drive a weaker person insane!
She couldn’t take it any longer. The tease of summer vacation was too much for her. Kat shot out of her seat, causing it to fall to the floor, clacking against the stained hardwood.
Mr. Schlesinger’s eyes shot up from the noise. For a split second, he thought Kat had finished her exam, only to be disappointed when he saw her clasping her hands together, gripping her pencil as if performing some sort of religious ritual.
“Praying to God won’t help you at this point. You should’ve studied more,” he said as he poured another cup of coffee from his Thermos.
“If I don’t pray to God for answers now we’ll be trapped in here for days! Do you want that?!” Kat barked.
He did not want that and rolled his hand to tell her to carry on with her ritual.
Kat went back to focusing all her spiritual energy into her pencil. Whichever god that’s hearing this prayer, please bestow the answers to the exam in this pencil, so that I may escape to freedom!
She let out a battle cry as she struck her answer sheet with the newly blessed pencil from the gods.
“B! A! A! B! D! A! C! B! AAAAAAND C!”
She had slain the beast.
With a smile on her face, proud of her accomplishment, she looked at Mr. Schlesinger. His face showed absolute disdain like someone had told him he was going to have to come back into work over the summer to give supplementary classes for a stupid girl who hadn’t put in enough effort into her education, and would undoubtedly continue to do the same throughout the summer, wasting both his and her time.
No, that’s exactly what’s going to happen, Kat thought, grabbing her chair and sitting back down at her desk.
She erased her answers and tried again. Striking her answer sheet yet again, she called out her attack. “D!”
Mr. Schlesinger’s glare did not dissipate, so she erased the answer.
“B,” she said, this time with less gusto.
The glare eased some.
Onto the next question. “C—”
This back and forth continued until the answer sheet was filled in.
Quietly getting up from her desk, Kat scooted over to Mr. Schlesinger and handed him the answer sheet. She walked back, grabbed her backpack, and hung it over her shoulders.
“Thank you for all that you’ve done for this past year,” she said in a tone that toed the line between sincere and sarcastic. “I look forward to our time again next year.”
Kat began to head out the door, only to turn around and walk back to the teacher’s desk. She unzipped a small pouch on her backpack, pulled out a candy bar that had softened from the summer heat, and placed it on the edge of the desk. With the offering given, she marched out of the room.
Mr. Schlesinger sighed as he got to grading. He was quick to mark the answer sheet, which was becoming littered with red marks. When he saw what her final grade was going to be, he looked for an excuse to give her a bonus point and pass.
On the bottom left corner of the answer sheet was a little doodle of her swimming at the pool, yelling “IT’S SUMMER!!!”
He scribbled “nice doodle +1,” and wrote down the final grade.
Kat barely passed the exam by one point.
Kat marched down the hallway, each step letting out a squeak that echoed down the empty, locker-lined corridor. A smile rose on her face as her pace picked up. Her boundless energy soon became too much to constrain as she bolted through the school in absolute glee.
“Summer!” she shouted, darting past the classrooms with nobody other than the odd faculty member who had yet to leave. “Summer!”
Her shoulder rammed the exit door like a quarterback, flinging it open with a loud THUNK.
Kat flung her backpack and leaped into the air. As she did, she removed her school uniform, revealing a tank top and athletic shorts. She had jumped in the air as a student but landed as a free woman.
“It’s summer vacation!” she yelled at the top of her lungs, her voice bouncing off the brick of the school building and echoing across the nearby cornfield.
“Yes, yes. It’s summer. I’m sure everyone in town has heard you by now.”
A tall figure clad in a black gothic lolita outfit stood above Kat. Her long black hair waved with the summer breeze as she protected her dark, tanned skin with an equally flamboyant black parasol. Her demeanor was calm and carrying, like that of a gentle mother. Despite her expression and height, which broke past 6ft with her platform boots, she was sitting at the desk next to Kat just hours earlier.
“I’m stunned by the combination of you removing your clothes out in public in such a fashion, and doing so within one second it took between you jumping off the stairs and hitting the ground.”
“It’s not like I was stripping to my underwear. Besides! Look at you, Maria! You’re already changed out of your uniform too!”
“But I finished my exam hours ago,” Maria commented.
Kat let out a small “Urk.”
“On top of that,” Maria continued, “I got changed in the bathroom as to have some decency.”
Kat threw her arms in the air. “Whatever! It’s summer now, so it’s fine!”
“It sure is.”
“You said that already.”
Maria bonked Kat in the head with her parasol. “You can stop now.”
Kat and Maria walked on the dirt and gravel road, with Kat kicking the rocks into the air as she swung her backpack back and forth. The road sat between farmland on one side and trees and thick brush on the other. Large, puffy, cotton white clouds floated gently across the sky, bringing a small reprieve from the summer sun whenever one would blot it out.
“What do you got going for summer this year?” Kat asked, chewing on a piece of grass.
“Oh, same as every year,” Maria responded. “Help with the farm. Watch my siblings. The usual.”
Kat let out a long sigh. “But that’s the same every year,” she complained. “Don’t you want to go out and do something new? Something wild and exciting?”
“I’m content with it. They’re things that need to get done, after all. And I enjoy it.”
“But that’s so dull and boring!”
Maria smiled. “What can I say? I’m a dull and boring girl.”
“Says the farm girl wearing a fancy dress in the middle of farm fields.”
“Guess that makes me a very dull and boring girl who happens to wear gothic lolita in the middle of farm fields.”
“We’re seventeen! This is our last summer as high school students! Next summer we’ll be officially adults according to the government! Life only goes downhill from there! We’re at the peak of our lives right now!”
“If high school is the peak then life is surely depressing,” said Maria.
Kat ran out in front of Maria and turned to her. “This summer, I’m going to go all out!”
Kat nodded. “First thing I’m gonna do is get a job!”
Maria twirled her parasol. “Nothing quite screams the joys of youth like working a job.”
“That’s not the ‘joys of youth’ bit. It’s what comes after saving up from the job! For the first half of the summer, I’m going to work my butt off. But in the second half, I’m going to travel!”
“That sounds fun,” said Maria. “I wish I could travel. So, where do you plan on going to? Out to the coast and see the ocean? Or maybe up to the mountains? I’m sure it must be extremely nice this time of year.”
“Heh heh heh,” Kat verbally chuckled. “It’s a secret.”
Maria continued walking past Kat. “You’ve got no idea, huh?”
Kat frowned and puffed out her cheeks. “I totally know!”
“D’ya wanna know?”
“I’m fine, thanks,” Maria answered without stopping.
Falling to the ground, Kat clasped onto Maria’s ankle with her arms. “You have to say that you want to know!”
“Because I can’t continue the bit otherwise!”
“Okay then,” Maria said. She clasped her hands together. “Please, Kat! You must tell me! I’m just dying to know!”
Kat jumped to her feet and dusted the front of herself off. She then looked up towards the clouds. Her eyes seemingly look past them, as if staring off into infinity. She was a woman dissatisfied with her life. It had been too routine for far too long. Tired are the sights of the farms, the wildflowers, the endless skies over the seemingly flat landscape. There was more to life, and she wanted to experience it.
“Wherever fate takes me.”
Maria bonked her on the head with her parasol again.
“Hey! That was a cool one-liner I just said!” Kat argued.
“Ya huh,” Maria answered sarcastically, opening her parasol.
Kat picked up her backpack and the two resumed walking. “What I’m getting at is I want to live to the fullest this summer!”
“I’m sure you certainly will.”
Kat placed her arm around Maria’s shoulder. “We certainly will.”
“When I’m not busy with chores and babysitting, I will gladly live my life to the fullest with you,” Maria smiled.Kat pointed down the road at nobody. “Just you watch! This is gonna be the summer of Kat and Maria!”
“Whaaaaat?!” Kat cried out.
Kat’s thirty-five-year-old mom, Elli, finished stuffing the back of her small electric car with enough dress fabric to outfit an army. If an army wanted to go into battle wearing cute dresses, that is.
“I just need you to watch the store until this evening,” her mom says, grabbing a hair tie from her jeans pocket and tying up her long brunette hair into a bun. “I’ve gotta go a town over to help Luanne with designing the dresses for her bridesmaids. Knowing her, it’s gonna take hours before she settles on something.”
“But it’s the first day of summer vacation!” Kat argued. “This is supposed to be the time for kids like me to go wild and have fun from sunrise to sunset!”
“You’re seventeen, Kat,” her mom argued. “You’re almost an adult.”
“I know! That’s why time is of the essence! I’ve got so much goofing off to get done!”
“It’s only the first day of vacation. You’ll still have the rest of summer to goof off.”
“She’s right, you know,” Maria said, browsing the various gowns and clothing that Kat’s mom has made inside the shop. She always loved seeing the new outfits Kat’s mom would make, hoping to one day match her sewing skills. “What I would give to work here all day instead of having to work in the fields and watch my siblings.”
Kat let out a pout. “That’s just because you aren’t the one who has to do it. You know how boring it is to sit here and do nothing all day?”
“Versus getting up at four in the morning to take care of the cattle?” Maria countered.
“She’s got ya beat,” Kat’s mom. “You’re lucky all you have to do is watch the front of the shop! Even Ludwig could do it!”
Ludwig, an overweight calico cat, twitched its ears when it heard its name called. But when he realized nobody was specifically talking to him, resumed his midday nap atop the front counter in the store.
Kat may not be the brightest person in the world, but she knew when she was beaten. She also understood how hard her mom worked as the only tailor for miles, acting as the defacto woman to go to if you needed anything mended, or wanted a custom outfit made. Over half the county’s clothes had probably been touched up or outright made by Kat’s mom.
Sitting in an air-conditioned store and handling customers coming to pick up their mended clothing was the least she could do.
Kat let out a sigh and then smiled. “Okay, mom. But just this once!” she joked.
Kat’s mom patted the top of Kat’s head. “Y’know, Luanne is also doing cake tasting for her wedding cake this afternoon as well. I’ll try to snag you a piece.”
“Awesome!” Kat cheered.
Kat’s mom got into her car and drove off, remembering to wave goodbye as she did. Kat and Maria waved goodbye to her.
“You’re lucky to have as cool a mom like her,” Maria said.
“Yeah. I am,” Kat said, putting her hands to her hips in a proud fashion as if she had worked hard to be placed in such a favorable situation.
“Makes me wish I had her for a mom.”
Kat let out a small laugh. “You could, but you’d have to marry me,” she joked.
With a swift motion, Maria grabbed Kat in her arms and twirled her around like a casanova. Maria tilted Kat back and leaned her head in as if ready to kiss her. “Maybe I’ll just have to do that.”
Kat’s face turned beet red.
Maria lifted the tiny Kat by her armpits like a child and stood her back up. “I was merely kidding,” she assured her.
“D-don’t joke like that!” Kat fumbled, still embarrassed by Maria’s seductive moves.
“I was only following your lead,” she smiled. Maria then produced a pocket watch from a hidden pocket inside her dress. “I need to head home to watch my siblings. You free tomorrow afternoon?”
Kat gave a thumbs up. “I’m free every afternoon!” she gloated.
Maria let out a small “hmph,” tilted her head and made her way down the road to return home.
Plopping down onto the cushioned seat behind the register, Kat pulled out a remote and turned on the small 20” TV that sat in the corner of the ceiling, flipping channels until she found some anime, and turned the volume up.
“Looks like it’s up to us to hold down the fort, Ludwig,” she said, scratching the top of the lazy cat’s head.
Ludwig let out a small purr, then went back to snoozing.
“Lazy cat,” smiled Kat.