Never Slow Dance with a Zombie - By E. Van Lowe

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie

E. Van Lowe

In memory of Dad, who taught me to love books

Never

Slow Dance with a

Zombie

College Application

cover letter

Cranford College

3501 Trousdale Parkway

Amherst, MA 01002

Dear Sir or Madam:

If you are reading this letter because you are looking for adventurous, plucky young women who have succeeded in life against all odds yet still found the time to win the heart of the handsome, intelligent, yet sensitive football captain while acing all their classes--you can stop reading now. I am not the future college student you are looking for. To begin with, I hate pluck ... or spunk, or drive, or initiative. Or any of those words adults use when they're trying to describe the person they'd most like us to be.

Adults have a pretty poor sense of what it's really like in high school. They have no idea of the pressures we're under. For instance, the female lion has pluck. She gets up early in the morning and stalks across the hot Serengeti to hunt for the entire pride. Then, the moment she kills a wildebeest, or an antelope, or something that took a whole lot of effort, along comes a hyena, or some other natural enemy, and steals it from her--just like that. I realize high school is nothing like the Serengeti, but you'd be surprised how many hyenas there are in high school, just waiting to snatch a young lady's kill. So if you're looking for plucky, I am not the student for you.

However, if you are interested in a future college student with more flaws than a casaba melon, but one who is loyal, resourceful, never gives up, and who can learn from her mistakes, please read the enclosed essay. It tells in gory detail of my junior year in high school. It was a year during which I learned many painful personal lessons, not the least of which is why you should never slow dance with a zombie.

Very truly yours,

Margot Jean Johnson

P.S. Adults don't fare very well in my story. If you are a thin-skinned adult, you should throw this in the trash basket immediately!

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Chapter One

"Do you think I'm a failure?"

"Absolutely," replied Sybil Mulcahy, my best friend in the world since the eighth grade. Or should I say former best friend, considering her response was clearly not what I was looking for.

We were in my bedroom studying. Actually, we were pretending to study. For those of you out of the loop, studying is teen girl code for talking about boys, parents, siblings, fashion, life--anything but school.

Sybil noticed my brow wrinkling and immediately tried buying her response back. "Wait!" she said. "You fooled me. Usually when you ask me a question the answer is yes. Do I look good in capris? Should I wear pink lipstick? Do you think I'm smart? Am I losing weight? Do you think I'm pretty? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. So, you see? You lulled me into a false sense of yesness. I'm taking my answer back. Ask me again?"

"Forget about it, Syb. You answered truthfully." I rested the heel of my bare foot atop my French book lying on the bed. The books were there in case a parent happened to walk in on

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our study session. The current session involved painting our toenails.

"No. No, I didn't. Ignore that silly, ludicrous, and ridiculous answer. Now that I'm hearing correctly, my answer is a definite no, of course not. You are in no way a failure. What would make you say that, anyway?"

She was sitting on the floor, her back against the bed, applying clear polish to her toes. Sybil rarely used color. She didn't like standing out. She didn't even like the idea of her toenails standing out--go figure.

"Remember this?" I waved the dog-eared sheet of loose-leaf paper I'd recently removed from my box of special things. The box was kept under my bed, away from prying eyes. By plying eyes I mean my little creep of a brother, Theo.

"What is it?" Sybil asked without looking up. She continued painting slowly, methodically.

"My high school manifesto," I said as I applied a coat of Firehouse nail polish to my big toe.

I'd written the manifesto the night after middle school graduation. At the time, middle school seemed the low point of my existence. Each day for three long years I attended a school where I was constantly reminded of what a zero I was. I deemed it an experience never to be repeated. Boy, was I ever mistaken. My two years and two

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