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The Powers That Be


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Explanation: My school's newspaper is accepting short stories. I decided to write one. I finished it in around an hour. I'm submitting it anonymously. Go ahead. Laugh. I don't particularly care. I know what's going to happen once it's printed. I'll be laughed at. It's not exactly their fault that they're all too stupid to understand anything other than "hack, slash, kill, blow up" stories. Only a select few will understand this. A few of them work on the paper. There's actually a slim chance that this might be printed.




Here I am, driving down this lonely stretch of highway. I'm dead tired. I've been driving nonstop for the past two days. I look at the dash of my car. The speedometer's needle is quivering between sixty and sixty-five. I'm running on fumes, my car is dangerously hot, and I'm down to my last twenty bucks. I can't stop now. I'm less than a hundred miles from my destination.


That’s when the slip of paper captures my attention. Her. I can barely drive through the blur of my tears. I have to pull off the road. I turn my car off and wait for the feeling to pass. The only way to make it pass is to relive the events from the beginning.


“Look! The mailman is here!” I yell into the other room to my parents. I hope it’s my college acceptance letter. I have a small stack of acceptance letters, but none are from that one perfect school. I race out of the house before my parents can reply. I yank open the mailbox and pull out a thick stack of letters. Right there on top: the letter I’m waiting for!


Something’s wrong. The envelope isn’t as thick as my other acceptance letters. I don’t care, it’s here! I rip the letter open right there next to the street and pull out the slip of paper that was inside. I unfold the paper and begin reading. “Dear Sir, We regret to inform you, but…”


I stop reading and walk away, leaving the letter and envelope in a crumpled ball behind me. I walk through our door and throw the stack of letters onto the counter. My parents saw me coming and knew I needed some time to myself.


Later on, after I cool off, I hear my mom crying. I leave my room and see her holding a crumpled envelope. “Come on, Mom, it’s just one college. I’ll just go to my second choice.”


She turns at the sound of my voice, clearly startled. “It’s not about college. You need to read this for yourself.” She hands me the plain white, crumpled envelope she was holding. Neatly typed in the upper left corner, “The Draft Board.”


The next day is a blur of activity. I drain my bank account, fill my car with gas, and pack it full of as many of my possessions as I can. I plan to take off for the border that afternoon. First, there is something I have to take care of.


I pull into the driveway. The lights are on in the house and all of the vehicles are there. That’s a good sign. I get out of my car and try to knock on the door. It opens before I get to it. There she is, as beautiful as ever. She can tell something’s wrong. I know the questions that she wants to ask, so I answer some of them. “I’m fine, but I have to go somewhere for a while. I don’t know if I will be able to come back.”


I can tell that she’s about to cry. “Why do you have to leave? Why can’t you stay here?


I show her the letter. I see her eyes widen. This time, she does start to cry. “You can’t go! What if something happens to you?”


I had already thought ahead, so I had an answer for her. “I’m not going over there. I’m going north. To Canada. I’ll call you once I get there. I’m already packed. I came to say goodbye. I’ll miss you.” I get into my car and back out of her driveway, aware that she is still watching me. I want to stay and comfort her, but I know that if I do I will never gain the strength to leave. After I turn my car around, I am determined to keep from looking back. I’m afraid of what I may do. Finally, the pressure is too great. I have to turn, to see for one last time. She is almost out of sight, but I can see her standing there, watching. I turn and keep driving. I…


The bleating of a horn and the angry shouts of a trucker yank me from my reverie. I glance around, disoriented, then I remember where I am. I start my car and continue on my journey, wondering if I will reach that fabled telephone at the


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