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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Brian Sloan on September 1, 2011
"I actually kind of liked this one. I enjoyed it, as I have enjoyed all the others, but I'm actually not feeling too bad about the final product."

Back to School

Stress. That's all I can think. Thank God it's finally over.
The "got to have it" items have been had. The clothes? Bought. The shoes, notebooks, and sparkly pens, all purchased. We're finally ready to go.
She is, of course, wearing clothes she's had for a year. None of the new stuff will be used, and if used at all, it'll be sparsely. We understand that. It's part of the routine.
I watch as my little girl, all smiles and nervousness, prepares to head off to class. She's got all new teachers, and nobody knows how it'll go. She says she hopes math class isn't too hard. I know that no matter what I'll be busy from four until six helping her with the homework, but that's part of the job, right?
We've finished all the last minute shopping, all the last minute preparation. All the summer projects are blissfully completed, edited, and refined. I just want to sleep.
But no, there's no sleep. While she's had a few months off and she'll be complaining about her workload, I've got to go back to work, slaving away for eight hours a day with an hour long commute both ways. There's no rest for the wicked, as I'll indubitably become over these next few days as I'm bound to have made some life-or-death error, forgetting one critical "must have" school supply that I somehow didn't think to buy, and of course she didn't tell me because how could I not have thought of it? It's not like I thought of everything else.
I smile tiredly as she runs off, all full of energy and excitement and fear and wonder at once. The joys and sorrows of youth. How things change as you watch them from another perspective.
After I work my mundane job again for the billionth day and the hundred billionth hour, I come home to pick her up. Of course, the teachers have each given a laundry list of things that might get used once in the class that we somehow didn't think to buy. A binder for each class, with a hundred section divisions. How long will this binder be used? How long before it sits in the corner, untouched? A waste, of course--we have binders from previous years that would do just fine. But no, this needs to be a new binder. It has to be a specific size, and "but that one is ugly I don't want kids to laugh at me." Of course, neither do I, so we purchase the thing. And the next item that we have, but it just isn't good enough. More pencils, more pens. Erasers. I sigh as with each item I know exactly which drawer I'll be storing it in for the next seven years, until I go clean it all out, throwing away the once-useful items that consumerism has forced us to purchase and repurchase and forget. Somewhere in Africa, children are starving. If only we could feed them on erasers.

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