A/N: There’s nothing wrong with working hard. But there is most definitely such a thing as working to hard!
“Andy, come down, it’s your grandfather’s birthday and you’re missing it.”
It was her mother’s voice, soft and relaxed, and Andrea sighed in annoyance. She knew it was her grandfather’s birthday and of course she wanted to celebrate with him, but last Wednesday had been her older brother’s birthday, and the Sunday before that had been mother’s day. Then there had been her parent’s anniversary, her grandmother’s get-together and the barbecue her father always made such a big deal. It seemed like her parents just didn’t understand she didn’t have time for such frivolous activities.
“Coming,” she yelled back; knowing fully well that her voice wasn’t as relaxed as her mother’s had been. Now or ever.
On the way she pulled on her biggest sweater despite the warm weather. It was the only piece of clothes she had with a big enough pocket to hide her advanced calculus book in, and she really couldn’t miss another day of studying if she wanted to stay ahead.
Downstairs the atmosphere was cheerful, and Andrea forced herself to take a deep breath. She had to keep her patience. Hopefully she could go back into her room in a couple of hours. She still hadn’t done that report for advanced literary analysis.
“There she is!” yelled her grandfather, and Andrea tried not feeling guilty when she saw the pleasure in his face. She told herself than unlike her he’d been born into a world of possibilities. He hadn’t ever needed to ace every test ever giving in order to go where he wanted to go in life. If he knew how hard she worked, he’d understand. At least that was what she told herself.
“Hey, pops,” she said, giving him a kiss on his cheek. Thankfully they were a big family and it wasn’t hard for her to blend into the background. During dinner no one even saw her fish out her calculus book and place it on her thighs. She still hadn’t a complete enough understanding of the bifurcation theory, and it really was more important than her grandfather’s stories back when he fought during the war, or her brother’s little anecdotes about his travels around the globe.
She was pretty sure she heard something about some winnings in Las Vegas and a Hawaiian girl he’d fallen in love with. Then suddenly everyone around her exclaimed in surprise and for the first time since sitting down for dinner Andrea looked up for longer than a couple of seconds.
“You’re married!” her mother yelled, and her brother nodded with a broad grin stretching across his face.
“Her name is Tara and she’s wonderful. She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, and you should have seen how she just threw herself in the water, not a care for the sharks there! I can’t wait for you guys to meet her!”
So her brother had gotten married on Hawaii. It really shouldn’t come as a shock and Andrea turned her focus back on the book. She was pretty sure she understood everything there was to understand about local bifurcations and so she moved on to global bifurcations. She couldn’t let Rajit beat her in another test. How could she be able to bring herself to apply for Harvard as the second-best in class? It would be mortifying.
“Darling, you’ve hardly eaten anything,” her mother complained softly as she took away her plate.
“Sorry, mum.” Andrea forced herself to smile. “Guess I wasn’t really that hungry.”
Not to mention the fact that all the pictures in the Harvard brochure was good-looking to say the least. She couldn’t afford to get fat.
Her mum send her a slightly concerned look. ”If you say so, honey.”
”You know,” Andrea added. ”I actually don‘t really feel that well. Do you think granddad will mind if I just go up to my room to rest?”
“Of course not, honey. Please feel better.”
“Thanks mum,” she said, before quickly making her way to her room. Pretending she was ill had bought her at least two more hours to study in. She could finish an essay in that time.”
Back up in her room, she put her earphones on in order to drown out the distracting laughter coming from downstairs. Instead she found two hours of uninterrupted Bach, pretending she wouldn’t prefer some brainless pop.
She’d gotten the rough draft of her literary analysis done, when she was interrupted. Again. This time it was her brother.
“Hi.” Hopefully he would leave soon.
“I thought you were up here resting.”
“Yeah, you know I felt a bit better, so I figured I’d just get some homework done.”
Her brother frowned and sat down on her bed.
“I worry about you, Andy.”
“You’re always working. I haven’t seen you enjoy life since you were eleven and I took you to the zoo.”
“Oh, relax, Zack. It’s just a bit of homework. I just need to work hard to get in Harvard. I can enjoy life afterwards.”
“Really? So you won’t then work hard in order to get good grades? And then a good job? A promotion? Work is important, Andy, but you’re missing life.” He looked at her with a more serious expression than she’d ever seen on her older brother. “Don’t.”
With these words he left, and Andrea tried to focus back on her essay. He was wrong of course. She was just working hard to get into Harvard. And yeah, when she got there she wanted to get good grades, and later a good job. A career. She wanted to be successful. But it wasn’t like she was enjoying life. Bach was playing in her ears. God, it was boring. She turned it off.
She looked at the closed door. Without the music she could hear the laughter again. She wondered what they were talking about. They were always having so much fun. She tried to remember the last time she’d had fun. She couldn’t.
With a deep breath, she turned back towards the computer; imagining the future her brother had painted for her. Was that really hers?
The mouse was hovering over play, but she couldn’t bring herself to listen to anymore of Bach. Instead she clicked on the search box, and a few seconds later she found herself listening to Britney Spears. Letting her eyes drift shut, she allowed herself to relax for the first time since middle school as she listened to pointless lyrics. Afterwards she’d go downstairs. Surely her grades could survive a single night of her spending time with her family. Or two. Now that she thought about it there was a party Saturday, she hadn’t planned on going to.
Maybe she would.
A few words of Zack had painted too clear a picture of her future.
And she hadn’t liked what she saw one bit.