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      Sophie Genden

      I felt sick to my stomach the entire time. Scrubbing my skin with the tiny bar of soap, I remember distracting myself with the preparation process. I dressed and stared into the mirror for far too long, my face looked distorted again. Seeing the Brooks sign for the first time out my car window, my family's chatter in the background felt distant. My dad was receiving The Brooksian Award, a truth I continue to dodge. I felt unconnected to this event, unconnected to my own family. My parents are doctors, and my siblings, natural academics. My life has been dedicated to my battle with severe dyslexia, one that has broken my heart continuously. At the time I had just left public school, traumatized by more teachers than students for my academic weaknesses. This was a painful truth my mother had recently unraveled, leading her to leave my latest parent-teacher conference with angry shouts and glossy eyes. I had already made up my mind, Brooks was simply not for people like me.


     Watching my dad win the award, I had never felt so removed from my own blood. For the night I allowed myself to be something I was not; my father's daughter, a product of two doctors and an academic as most would infer. My father received the wave of applause that followed his award. A random lady at my table turned to me and flashed an enthusiastic grin. I don't remember much of her appearance, more so our conversation. “Where do you go to school?” I hated this question. “Windward,” I answered bluntly. “What do you like to do?” She was catching onto the blunt theme. “I like to write, I’m good at it,” I said plainly. “You can write here.” I looked at her confused, almost laughing. “No, I don't know I-” she cut me off before I could ramble. “You can write here. You can write at Brooks. I'm an English teacher…we have a school newspaper…” She continued, telling me more and I played my role all too well, allowing myself to fall in love with something I knew I couldn’t have. We talked for the entirety of the night and I remember wishing we had more time. “You should come to Brooks. You should write at Brooks, Sophie.” I smiled at her, God knows I wish I could. With a mix of sarcasm and sureness I told her “Sure, I'll write at Brooks.” The woman’s name was Ms. Perkins, and she smiled as if she already knew what would happen. “Good.” Our conversation grew to haunt me for weeks, then months, then years. I applied to Brooks three years later. I wanted to write at Brooks.


Sept. 10, 2020, 6:37 PM


Dear Sophie,

We met a few years ago when your dad was back for a reunion and an award of some kind. We were at Brooks together and my parents were his teachers. 

I’ll make my way over to say hi in person, but just wanted to let you know I’m glad you’re here on our campus, despite the circumstances, and I’m happy to be a resource for you if you need anything.

Hope to see you tomorrow!



Ms Perkins

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