Short Story Sunday 203: Goals

Short Story: "Goals" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing |

            “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

Emma suppressed a groan. She looked all around the auditorium as though she was trying to find a way out, even though she was stuck there for the next hour. What made it even worse was that she was right in the middle. She had too many in front of her, behind her, and on both sides. If she had to go the bathroom, she would have to hold it. There was no way she was getting out of this one.

The silence echoed throughout the room. Mr. Coughlin scanned the entire senior class as though he was waiting for an answer. Emma doubted that anyone was ever paying attention to him. He probably knew that though. Emma was sure he had done so many speeches like this in the past 20 years—or however long he had been teaching—that he probably knew the students didn’t really care.

They had to apply to colleges during their junior year of high school. It was a requirement for each student to apply to at least three colleges even if they didn’t know what they wanted to major in.

Now that they were seniors, college was closer and closer. Some people had already been accepted to a college or two, some have not and were still applying. Still, because they would all be out in the “real world” in a few months, they had to listen to the “Rest of Your Life” assembly speech like all the other senior classes had to listen to before them.

Of course, Emma had no idea how she was supposed to know what she was supposed to do with the rest of her life when she was focused on passing her Geometry final. She didn’t know what she wanted to do for a career, but she knew it wasn’t going to have anything to do with Geometry. She also knew that she wasn’t going to do anything with Earth Science, either.

“In a few months, you’ll all be adults.” Mr. Coughlin announced.

Emma had already turned 18. According to society, she was already an adult. Yet, she was still stuck in this building for seven hours a day having to raise her hand to ask for permission to go to the bathroom.

Graduation day wasn’t going to be anything exciting. It was going to be her teachers throwing her to the wolves with a salute and a “good luck!”

“Now is the prime time to start thinking about what kind of difference you want to make on this world. What mark do you want to leave behind when you go?”

That piqued Emma’s attention. Was he referring to them all inevitably dying?

“Teaching is a great legacy to leave behind.” He continued.

Emma rolled her eyes. Why would she want to teach children to learn things they were never going to use in their lifetime? She didn’t know what she would use geometry for other than being an architect. And she knew that she wasn’t going to be doing that for a living.

“Or you could build homes for people,”

Emma blinked. Was he reading her thoughts?

“A doctor, dentistry, the possibilities are endless! Before everyone leaves here today, I want you all to come up with three career ideas for yourselves. Think about what you like, what you enjoy doing. Think about your talents, what you think you’d excel at.” Mr. Coughlin declared as a few teachers handed out pieces of paper to all the students in the rows.

Emma sighed. This was going to take a while. She was just going to do whatever everyone else was going to do: pick three random careers and write it down just to please the teachers.

That was something she was good at: pretending to care.

Words: 641

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25 thoughts on “Short Story Sunday 203: Goals

  1. This brought back some memories ! We took some test when I was a sophomore that was supposed to predict what we would do as an adult. I came out as a gas station attendant. Go figure. Scarred me for life! 😉 Who the heck knows what they will become when they are in high school? I advise college students and most of them don’t know… Good job!

    • Lol, that’s kind of funny! But hey, gas station attendants are needed too. 😉
      I never had to take a test like that though I’m honestly curious about what it would say about me. But it’s true, no one can know what they want to be until they’ve experienced a few things. People change their minds. I knew what I wanted to do, got a degree, and now I’m not even using it. I mean, I kind of am because I still babysit and I teach Sunday school at my church, but those things aren’t required to have a degree and I’m not teaching preschool curriculum anymore. I’m writing, which is completely different.

    • I think everyone has at one point. We all have many interests and talents that it’s hard to pinpoint one to do for the rest of our lives.
      Good for her for wanting to go into electrical engineering. I hope it goes well if that’s what she decides!

  2. This sounds like a chapter in a novel. I think you grasped the feeling of uncertainty and being a teenager really well here. It made me want to know more about Emma and what her family and home life is like, and if other students or even her friends (does she have friends) in the room felt that way too.

    Great job so far! Do you give yourself a set amount of time to work on a piece like this?

    • Thanks, that’s great to hear. Maybe I’ll expand more on Emma’s story, but maybe not. I didn’t have any plans to.
      I just gave myself the prompt “goals” and that’s what came into my head as I started writing.
      I think I wrote this during Camp NaNoWriMo last year so my only goal was to write a bunch of flash fictions to reach 50,000 words. The last line in this one seemed like a nice place to stop and you can imagine what happens next.
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. 🙂

      • Oh, nice! That’s so interesting because the more you write, the more new ideas you get. Other times you may build out older ideas but in the meantime, I’m glad you’re just writing what you want! I feel like as writers it’s so easy to get lost in trying to please others. Write on, my dear!

        • Thank you. 🙂 You write to entertain and inspire, but you have to do it for yourself and because it’s fun and you love it. Otherwise that lack of compassion for the words comes out on the page. 🙂

  3. I remember the times applying for college. I remember going to the collegiate fair in the mall and having to type entrance essays. I remember not having any idea what I wanted for a career.

    This story brings back memories of an uncertain time. Thanks for sharing.

    • It’s so hard. Of course, I knew what I wanted to do when I made it to college. But then I changed my mind down the road and then things became difficult because I had already had a degree in what I originally wanted. It’s such a confusing time and even now I struggle with what part of “writing” I want to do.

Let me know your thoughts!

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