"Breathe it in with every stroke. Take it nice and slow, no rush. " came the low, mesmerizing voice on the cassette, giving instructions. The sound of a slow, even paced breath escaped the lips of the young man sitting at an old fashioned writing desk. He was hunched over the little desk, with his brown, wavy locks dangling and almost touching the surface while he focused his concentration on the paper illuminated by the light of a small desk lamp.
After a few minutes, he leaned back in his chair and decided to take a small break to stretch his legs in the darkened room. The stars outside were barely visible through the frosty patches on the window pane. After a few minutes of stretching, Mr. John Earnshaw turned back to the little writing desk and revisited the letter he had written with a fresh pair of eyes, scanning over the page and looking at every detail.
The silence in his room was broken by the sound of his cell phone alerting him to a a text from his study group from high school. John glanced at it with a mix of both appreciation and mild annoyance. He appreciated the friendships that had developed so far, but he didn't like interruptions in his letter writing process.
They were good friends, to be sure but they did not quite "get" John per se. He was so different from everyone else and certainly didn't fit in with any of the known clubs and cliques. Always the odd one out, but he was a quick study on most subjects and many of the teachers admired his diligence, which is how he got into a study group to begin with.
"John," one of his teachers had said to him. "You are one of our most gifted students and you are doing so well here, but we need you to share your abilities with others. Other students do have the capacity to learn and grow, they just need to believe that they can. We need your help with this."
So John joined a study group for the subject of APUSH( Advanced Placement US History) at the insistence of his teachers and counselors who felt that he should at least try to be social. John admitted to himself that he does spend a great deal of time alone in his own shell so he did join this group willingly.
He met his APUSH study group of 5 people(including himself) at a coffee shop near the campus to discuss the assignments. Lisa Bernard was the first to arrive and sit down at the familiar lounge chairs that encircled a single wooden table. She was the de facto leader of the study group by virtue of the fact that no one else seemed to want the position. She was soon followed by Carl and Nancy Anderson who were siblings whose family had been in the town for generations and finally Desmond Bergren the international student from Sweden.
All of them were high achieving students, like John and they were all concerned about understanding the meaning behind the Declaration of Independence and they had all written notes in their books about each section. Some of their books had been littered with sticky notes.
"Hey, guys, okay..." Lisa began. "I know that we're all concerned about this and I know that we all want to get the top grade in the class and we have a lot of competition in APUSH.”
"Not just that," interjected Nancy. "The quiz bowl is about a month away and we have to be prepped for that as well and a good portion of it is our understanding of what led to the creation of this document".
"Exactly, Nancy. That's why I thought we could do a live presentation. It would certainly help you prep for that portion of Quiz Bowl"
"Other groups are doing that as well, " Carl said. "Ours is going to have to splash! We got to have something that will wow them!"
"Right, " Lisa said, turning her blonde head "That's where we need your help, John."
"My help?" he replied, eyebrows raised. Of course, he had an inkling of an idea of what she had planned. Lisa was a good leader for the team because she was a good communicator. In this case, it didn;t take much imagination to figure out what she had in mind..
"Yes, we need a poster of the declaration but we don't need a 'copy' because anyone can do that. We need something that is clearly handwritten, fresh and ..." as she trailed off looking for the write phrase.
"Obviously not done on a computer, tablet or phone", completed Desmond.
"So you want the entire declaration done on a poster board, in handwritten calligraphy?"
"You are well suited for it, John" Nancy offered “And you can bet that no one else is going to do this’
"Actually, he can't do it all by himself" Lisa countered. "This has to be a team effort and we have to have it done by Friday. Here's the idea. We each take a portion of the Declaration and and write that portion on the poster.”
“Well wait” Desmond said “We can’t write the way he can. Everyone knows his handwriting it the absolute best in the whole school”
“Yeah, and they stopped teaching cursive several years ago.”
“Guys, “ Lisa said again. “John can help us with this. Are we experts at penmanship, no. but we can take a cue from him and he can coach us in writing this document together.”
John considered this leaned back. "It will take time to make that work. You have to treat every letter stroke as if it were something that you would write to royalty."
"Which is what they did back then"
"John, can you help us? We can all meet at my place and we can work on this together. I'm sure we can do it with your help!"
A slow smile came to his lips. John realized that he had found something in this group after all and any annoyance he had previously vanished as he basked in the thrill of this new challenge. "Of course. I look forward to it".