A long, slow drag off her Camel Light, Alissa was trying her hardest not to stress. If I fail, I can take it again, she told herself. She knows she passed the Language Arts and Social Studies portions with flying colors, but the Math and Science portions were freaking her out. She took today off from work to take the G.E.D. Another factor to her stress, but she told herself it will pay off in the long run. If she passes she won't have to worry about taking another day off from work. There were other people waiting outside with anxious faces. Some were pacing, some were sitting on benches with far off looks written all over their faces. And some were like her, smoking one cigarette after another. She hadn't ate anything that day just because of her nerves. Now she felt weak and lightheaded from lack of nutrition and too much nicotine.
Alissa's mind wondered off to the first time she thought about going back to school. Her mom opposed it; told her that her main priority should be her daughter, Kaylin. It was her dad who encouraged her to pursue her dreams. You can do whatever you want as long as you put your mind to it, he had told her. It was her determination and his encouragement that propelled her to register for the G.E.D. She studied and went to the G.E.D. classes. Alissa was excited to finally achieve this goal, but now she waited for the results. She wanted to do better for herself and for her daughter. Waiting tables in an old school fish camp wasn't going to be a long term livelihood. The fish camp was just a means to an end.
They had met through mutual friends. Tim was in a band, which Alissa thought was super hot. Alissa's parents hated him, which made her like him even more since he was forbidden fruit. Tim was a high school drop out. He had been abused by both his parents growing up. He had this Byronic persona going for him. She just wanted to nurture him and comfort him. Just like Lady Anne Isabella thought she could save Lord Byron thus did Alissa thought she could save Tim.
Alissa dropped out of high school her senior year because Tim joined the Navy. She thought she couldn't live without him. They elopped one night, crossing over the next state over for the nuptials. Her parents were furious! How could she ruin her future like this, they had shouted at her. She was the only daughter, her mother had told her, we wanted you to finish college before you got married.
They moved to Orlando where Tim was first stationed. Alissa found it boring when Tim was at boot camp. The first few months, Alissa played the traditional housewife. Keeping their apartment clean and preparing delicious meals on a tight budget. Things were going well until Tim punched Alissa in the face one evening at a cook out with some friends. He apologized profusely. He said he wouldn't have done it if it wasn't the simple fact that she had been a flirt with the other guys at the cook out. At first, Alissa was shocked and terrified of him, but then she started to wonder if she had been flirtatious. They had been drinking, but she was only being friendly and talkative at the cook out. Slowly, but surely he started to tear her down piece by piece. Making sly remarks about her physical features and then her intellect. She became emotionally tired from always having to defend herself from his emotional abuse. Sometimes she thought she would rather him hit her then attack her verbally.
After a year of their marriage, Alissa thought that if she got pregnant it would solve their marital problems. She thought, Tim will definitely approve of my capabilities of raising a child. Each time she got her period, she would cry. It wasn't until eight months later that she got pregnant. Alissa was ecstatic! Tim kept bragging to all his friends about his future son. Alissa would remind him that it might be a girl. He would ignore her. When the baby finally came it was a girl. They named her Kaylin. Alissa felt like this was the best love she had ever experienced! After the nurses and OBGYN left the room, Tim looked down on Alissa and Kaylin. The next baby will be a boy, he told Alissa. At that moment, Alissa knew she was done with Tim.
Alissa and Tim separated when Kaylin was two years old. It was hard, but she knew she had to leave him. The divorce was finalized when Kaylin was three years old. The birth of her daughter made Alissa want more in her life and in her daughter's. She had been working at the fish camp a couple of years, when one day it dawned on her that she could go back to school, get her G.E.D., and then go to college. She hated working in the food service industry. It was soul crushing work. People treated you like you had no feelings or intellect. It was time to take the leap and pursue a better future!
The proctor had come out with the paper results and thumb tacked them to the bulletin board. Everyone rushed towards it, but Alissa held herself back. When she finally saw her results, she did a mental cartwheel. She had scored 175 on both the Language Arts and Social Studies portions. She then scored 165 on the Math and Science portions. It was time to celebrate. She drove to her parents to pick up Kaylin and they both went to the local frozen yogurt place. It was one of the best days of her life.
That had been twenty years ago. Now Kaylin had finished college and was living her own life. Alissa had a Master's degree and worked at a prestigious University library. She apprecited her dad's kind words of encouragement. Without her ambition and perseverance she wouldn't be where she was today.