First Person ~ Valentina
“Please, please, please! I’ll do anything,” I pleaded, looking from Mom to Mama.
The two of them shared a glance and I sighed, staring at them expectantly.
“Sit down, Vali,” Mama said, motioning towards the chair behind me. I stood there for a second before sitting down on the chair slowly. Mama nodded, turning to Mom, and they began whispering to each other.
Finally, they both turned back to me, and Mom smiled. “Alright, Valentina. We’ll let you go – ”
“Yes!” I screamed excitedly.
Mama gave me a look and I quieted down as she finished the sentence. “We’ll let you go if you pass your finals.”
“…what?” I stared at her, then looked at Mom.
“It’s perfectly reasonable. Get 75% or higher on your finals for this year, and you can go.”
“But – ”
She narrowed her eyes. “Valentina Lilah, after everything that’s happened, we aren’t even sure we should let you go, but we are hoping you’ve matured.”
I blinked, about to say something back to her, but stopped myself. They were going to let me go, but they could change their minds. And I’m sure they would, too.
“Fine,” I said eventually, looking at them.
Mama nodded. “Finals are in three weeks, you have plenty of time to study.”
Sure, I did, but that’s the last thing I wanted to be doing. Looks like that’s what I’m going to end up doing, though. In a month, school will be over, and I won’t have to think about all this stuff anymore. I’ll hopefully be at Crystalline.
“Great, you’re here,” Emily said, closing the door of her brother’s apartment as I walked in. “Aya’s already here,” she continued, “and my brother won’t be back for a few hours.”
“Where is he?” I asked, as she led me to her room.
“At the festival with his friends,” she replied, pausing. “I wanted to go, but studying’s probably more important.”
“Probably?” Amaya piped up, sticking her head out the door. “It is!”
Emily pursed her lips, nodding. “Yeah, for you two.”
Amaya and I shared a glance, wondering what the hell that was supposed to mean, but Aya didn’t say anything about it, so neither did I. We had all decided to go to Emily’s brother’s place to study for finals on our three-day-weekend. It had been Amaya’s idea to meet up, and Emily had said we should all check out her brother’s place anyway, so here we are.
“I know, there isn’t much in my room right now, but my brother’s girlfriend is giving me some of her old stuff to decorate with,” Emily said, sitting down on one of the three stacks of pillows in her room.
“Does she have nice style?” I asked, sitting on the remaining stack of pillows.
Emily nodded. “Yeah. Not exactly my style, but I don’t mind.”
I raised my eyebrow, confused. “Why don’t you get your own stuff?”
She looked down, suddenly become very interested in the nearest group of papers. “Umm… because I… can’t…”
“What do you mean?”
Aya shoved me – almost so hard that I fell off – and gave me a glare.
“What?!” I whisper-yelled at her.
She tilted her head. “Stop bothering her.”
I threw my hands up, utterly confused. “But I didn’t do anything!”
Aya rolled her eyes. “Ok, what subject should we start with?”
Oh, so we’re playing the ignoring game now, are we? Fine. Now I’m going to be wondering what that was all about until one of them tells me, but I guess I can’t think about that since I actually have to study. Ugh. My moms, always trying to get me to care about school. I don’t, but now I have to, in some reverse kind of way.
“Um… taxes?” Emily offered.
“Taxes,” Amaya groaned, flipping through her notebook. “I wish I never had to see this stuff again.”
“Well, you will,” Emi laughed, “at least they’re teaching something useful.”
“I guess,” Aya sighed. “…but can we not do that class first?”
“Sure, but you’re gonna have to,” Emily replied, then looked to me, “What subject do you wanna do?”
I snorted. “None of them.”
Emily sighed, and Aya punched me jokingly, picking up one of her notebooks. “We’re doing this one, okay?”
“Fine,” I replied, leaning back on the pillows until my hair touched the ground. “What is it?”
“History,” Aya replied, and I fell off the pillows sideways, looking up at her.
“Hey, at least this year we’re learning about the last four centuries and not all that really old stuff,” Emily pointed out.
“Four centuries ago is old,” I replied.
She laughed, picking up her own notes. “Yea, but not as old.”
“Alright, I’m sure they’re putting something about 2247 on the test,” Aya said.
“Oh, definitely,” Emi nodded, “but that’s a 23rd century event, we’ve gotta go over the 22nd century first.”
I looked at the two of them. “What happened in 2247?”
“You really don’t pay attention, do you?” Emily asked, smirking.
“Obviously not,” I replied, pausing. “But I need to know now… so what happened?”
“The First Point of No Return,” Amaya answered, without even looking up from her notes.
I sucked my breath in. “…and I’m supposed to know what that is, aren’t I?”
Now she looked up. “Yes. Yes you are.”
This is going to be a long weekend. A very long one.
“Why don’t we put together a list of the most important events in each century?” Emily asked Amaya, getting out a sheet of paper.
“That’s a good idea. Alright, twenty-second century…” she paused for a minute, flipping through a few papers. “In 2173, all countries with nuclear ability agree to not make any more nuclear weapons.”
“Good one,” Emily grinned, writing it down. “But didn’t it get violated or something?”
Amaya shrugged. “I don’t remember, maybe…?”
They went through dates for a little while, and I just kinda sat there, looking around. I didn’t have anything to add, and I felt pretty dumb. Sure, school doesn’t matter to me much, they both know that, and I don’t think either of them cared much that I couldn’t contribute, the two of them could do it on their own… but I cared, no matter how much I wish I didn’t. I wanted to have something to add. Which is stupid, I know. It’s my own fault I don’t know any of this, after all. I don’t even like this stuff or care about dates – in this way… I most certainly like dating – but I felt like I didn’t belong there. Which, again, is stupid. They’re my friends and have been since forever. I don’t (usually) feel out of place with them at all. But we weren’t joking around or playing games right now, they were studying, and taking it seriously. After they finished getting the major events of the 22nd century down, they gave me the list to look at and started on the 23rd century. I legit feel stupid, like I always do when it comes to school. I went down the list, sighing. How was I supposed to remember all of this? How was anyone? 2172 – War between Turkey and the Greek States.
2173 – Agreement between the Nuclear Powers to stop making more nukes.
I flipped the sheet over, but it was blank. At least it all fits on one side… but I’m sure you’re meant to know more than a sentence about these events. As if reading my thoughts, Aya threw a book to me titled: The 2100s explained in 20 chapters, Second Edition.
Great. And that’s just the 22nd century.
“Finals are always so hard,” Amaya sighed.
“Not like they’ll matter much to me,” Emi remarked quietly, flipping through another thoroughly highlighted paper.
“What do you mean?” Aya asked.
“What?” Emily looked up from the paper, staring at Amaya. “Just that… if my parents can’t get things settled quickly – which it seems would be a long shot – then I won’t have to worry about college, no matter how much I’d like to.”
“What are you saying?” I asked, dropping the book I was attempting to read straight on the ground with a quiet thump.
Emily looked at the two of us, putting the paper down on top of the stack next to her, slowly. “My family doesn’t have a lot of money. It was hard enough for them to get my brother off to college, even with the few scholarships he’d managed to earn. Now, with the… the divorce… they’ve got lawyers and all to deal with, I presume, and that shit’s expensive. College just probably isn’t in my near future.”
We sat there for a few moments silently, not entirely sure what to say.
“Well, Aya started, breaking the silence, “are you sure that colleges won’t accept you?”
Emily sighed. “I’m sure some would, but we don’t have the money to pay for it! I’m decent at school, but not good enough to get a full scholarship, so unless the for some reason the Soviets or someone accept me at one of their colleges, I won’t be going for a few years, at least.”
Aya blinked, raising her eyebrow. “…the Soviets?”
“Well, yeah,” Emi shrugged, “they offer free tertiary education.”
“But… how do they do it?”
“How would I know? All I know is that’s how it works there. There’s actually many countries that do it, but most are only for their citizens.” Emily sighed.
“Would you go?” Aya asked her.
“Where?” Emily looked up. “The Soviet Union?”
“Yeah, would you go?”
She blinked. “I – I don’t know. There’s also some places in North Africa, I think… but if I went somewhere, I’d go to the USSR, it’s closer – I don’t have to cross the Mediterranean.”
“So… you would, then?” I asked.
“I guess so. It’s not going to happen, though. They only accept a thousand people a year from out of country to go, and I’m sure they get millions of people who want to. They do a random draw, so it’s extremely unlikely.”
I stared at her. “You’ve looked all this up?”
“Yes, Vali, I have. Not everyone has their life given to them on a damn silver platter, you know. I needed to find out if there was a chance for me to go to college at a normal time.”
I blinked, then quietly nodded. I forget that not everyone has a life like I do. “Why don’t you ask my moms,” I finally asked her, “I’m sure they’d happily pay for your college stuff.”
A small smile appeared on Emi’s face, but she shook her head. “My parents wouldn’t accept it. They tell us to work for what we get… but they’re ruining all we have…”
“I’m sorry, Emi,” I whispered. “You deserve to go to college much more than I do.”
“Well, life isn’t fair,” she replied softly, pausing, and then adding, quieter than before… “Everyone deserves the chance to make their dreams real.”
A/N: So, the Soviet Union’s existence in their time is canon now, I guess. It was already said to have came back in the timeline in the 2200’s, but I didn’t get past that, so it wasn’t confirmed that it still existed until now. I realize that it’s a kinda controversial thing, and I understand that, but I believe they started out trying to do good things, it just didn’t happen for them, and I want to give them a second chance, since they will probably never really get one.
I hope you all can understand that and don’t hate me for it, I’d be glad to talk more about it if anyone’s ever interested, I really like learning about Soviet history.
Also, if anyone was wondering, when Emily talked about ‘not having to cross the Mediterranean’, that’s because they live in a country around current-day Greece, called the Byzantine Republic.
And finally, (I know, I’m sorry, so many notes this time) I’ll get pictures in soon enough, I’ve just been busy. 🙂