The History of Hard Work

a short, ironic story written by Caitlin F. Grade 8


The second hand on the clock above Casey’s cluttered desk was moving so slowly that it appeared to have moved back a few seconds rather than forwards. Casey lay in her bed, sprawled out over the disheveled surface, and sighed a long, heavy sigh. Outside her window, she could hear the steady fall of the rain slapping against the sidewalk and sloshing into the murky puddles. She could just decipher the faint sounds of her mom washing dishes and blaring her favorite 80s music through their ancient CD player downstairs. As she wallowed in her own puddle of misery, her tired eyes glanced around her tiny room. All but one pair of her shoes resided in their appointed place in the organizer on the back of her door, and some of her dresser drawers were thrown open with the occasional article of unfolded clothing protruding from them. Finally, she caught sight of her downtrodden reflection in her mirror on the back of her closet door. Her hair looked like a rat’s nest, and she had not bothered to change out of her unappealing but comfortable pajamas; however, the saddest sight to see was the look of unhappiness and boredom that consumed her sullen face.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and Casey was miserable.  It’s not that she chose to seclude herself from any human contact whatsoever or was sick and incapable of leaving the house. No, she was grounded, and because she was grounded, nothing mattered to her. She couldn’t care less about what was happening beyond the confines of her bedroom, or as she would have called it at that moment, her prison cell. She honestly found anything that did not brighten her mood and relieve some of her misery irrelevant and stupid, especially her history project.

What is the point of researching the history of libraries anyway? It’s such a stupid topic to research. And you know what? Mrs. McQuillin gave us the assignment. All of her projects and ideas are stupid. Seriously, who really wants to know who came up with the idea for a building full of books that anyone can borrow for free? I mean, what was the thought process behind that concept? Did they really think that kids 300 years in the future would actually read books? Well, weren’t they wrong.

Casey lazily flipped herself over onto her stomach and peered out her foggy window.  She wiped some of the condensation away with the sleeve of her shirt, and through the torrents of rain, she could see the blurred silhouettes of cars speeding down the street, creating large sprays of water that stained the pristine sidewalks as they sped by. The stop light in the distance rotated through its choice collection of colors, delaying the rush of traffic for a moment and then allowing it to continue.

“Knock, knock,” Casey’s mom chirped in a sing-songy voice. “May I come in?”

“Sure,” Casey replied, her voice lifeless. She hadn’t even heard the music go off or her mom clomp rapidly up the stairs.

“Since you’re just moping around up here, it would be a great idea to get a head start on your history report,” her mom suggested. “Mrs. McQuillin just sent me an email informing me that if you don’t do well on this assignment, you’ll fail her class for this trimester.”

“Why should she care if I flunk her class?” Casey retorted. “She probably just sent you that email so that you could make my life miserable, too.”

“Listen, young lady. I’m tired of the attitude! You will start your history report, or your grounding will be extended to a full month. Do you understand!” her mother seethed, her face turning a pale shade of red and her eyes glaring angrily down at Casey’s bedraggled figure.

“Alright, fine. I’ll start the stupid project for stupid Mrs. McQuillin’s stupid class, and if you  guys are such good buddies now, teaming up to make my life more miserable, then by all means, reply to her email and tell her I said that!” Casey spat sarcastically.

“Don’t make me wash that mouth out with soap, young lady! Now, I will be downstairs if you need any help. Please come down to ask for help, not yell down the stairs to grab my attention,” her mother concluded as calmly as she possibly could. Then, she left the room.

Casey slammed the door closed behind her mother, snatched her computer off her desk, and flopped back down onto her bed to begin her project. Why can’t my mom just stay out of my business, she wondered. I’ll start my homework when I want to start it, not when she tells me to. Besides, this project will take no time at all. How difficult could it be to find a couple of facts and turn them into a three page paper?

The computer had lit up, indicating that it was on and ready to go. Casey clicked on the Internet Explorer thumbnail at the bottom of the screen and waited impatiently for the page to load. Gosh, this thing is so slow. Hurry up already, you stupid computer! A moment later, as if it had heard her, her pre-set home page finished loading.

One key at a time, Casey proceeded to type “The history of libraries” into the Google search box.

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