A Not So Go-Getter, Honorable Mention Youth Division

By Jenica Rosenau

The “Happy Birthday” song is always such an awkward thing – especially for a reclusive introvert. Julia always resented her birthday, no matter how exciting her parents tried to make it. Year after year, she would sleep in, pretend to be sick, or hope her family forgot.

“Wake up, sleepy head,” Julia’s mother called from the kitchen. “I made you a special birthday breakfast!” 

“Coming!” Julia lazily rolled out of bed and slipped on some sweatpants and a hoodie. She looked at the top of her dark brown  dresser and sighed. Another note, just like every year. 

Happy 13th birthday, honey! I hope you feel better about this year than the last. Love, Mom.

Julia clumsily tripped her way down the stairs, cursing under her breath. The smell of pancakes filled the bright, lively kitchen. She could never resist her mother’s homemade breakfasts. Especially a birthday breakfast. 

As she entered the kitchen, she heard her dad shush everybody.

“Surprise!” her family shouted as loud as they could. As she gazed the room, she was saddened to see a person missing – her grandmother. This would be the second year she was without her beloved grandma. No matter how hard Julia tried to fight it, a low sigh escaped from her mouth. 

“Honey, I know you asked for a small party this year, but your family and friends have been missing you. You’ve been cooped up in your room for so long; I just wanted to give you a normal birthday.”

“It’s great, mom,” Julia lied. “I just wish you hadn’t gone through all this trouble  for me. I don’t deserve it.”

Julia’s Aunt Bethany grabbed her hand.

“Sweetie, you deserve the entire world. Don’t feel bad; it was really no trouble at all to get here. Besides, we love you very much.”

A lump formed in Julia’s throat. 

The party went on as usual. Her aunts, uncles, and cousins greeted her and wished her a happy birthday; she opened presents and ate cake; and her friends showed up one by one, presents in hand.

By the end of the day, all Julia wanted to do was sleep. Thanks to her mother, though, Megan and Claudia (her two best friends) were going to spend the night. 

Great, Julia thought, no more alone time for me.

Megan was the most extroverted person Julia had ever met. Any chance she could get, she would be the center of attention. Megan’s boyfriend, Jack, was just about the worst person ever, in Julia’s opinion. For some reason, though, Megan loved him.

Claudia, on the other hand, was the sweetest most loyal person to Julia. Although she was great at getting guys, Claudia still cared a great deal for Julia. She knew how lonely Julia was, so one day, she decided to step in and help.

“Okay, so you know Dallon Waterson, right?” Claudia asked Julia one day after school.

“Of course I know him. I’ve had the biggest crush on him since second grade, when I moved here to Idaho,” Julia replied, practically blushing.

“Megan and I are going to be your wingmen, alright?”

“What do you mean by that?” Julia asked.

“We’re going to help you become his girlfriend,” she replied.

“You’re insane! He would never go for a total loser like me. All the hot, popular girls flirt with him all the time. How would I stand out from the crowd of hotties?” 

Just then, Megan approached, hopped off of her bike, and started toward them, Jack close behind.

“Hey guys, what’s up?” Megan joined. 

“I’m telling her the plan about Dallon. Help her see that it’s not totally crazy,`” said Claudia.

“Julia, you need to relax a little. I used to be like you until Claudia helped me out! I know the idea of a boyfriend is a little scary right now, but believe me, it’s so rewarding when they buy you things,” Megan grinned.

“Hey, is that why you started dating me in the first place? So I would buy you nice things?” Jack asked angrily.

“Of course not. Come on, take a joke!” Megan went on.

“Are you guys going to finish telling me your plan, or am I going to be alone forever?” Questioned Julia.

“Right, sorry. If you want to start dating Dallon, you’re gonna need to be more confident. As I always say, ‘confidence is the key to success,’” Megan quipped.

“I have never once heard you say that,” Claudia chimed in. Julia agreed.

“Let me finish. As I was saying, Dallon is a class clown. He needs a girl that can joke with him. To stand out, you need a plan,” finished Megan.

“What kind of plan?” Wondered Julia.

“A plan to come out on top. A plan to get you a man,” Megan chuckled and grabbed ahold of Jack’s hand. Without another word, the couple left. Claudia decided it was time for her to go home, too. 

After saying her goodbyes to Claudia, Julia walked back to her house from the middle school and greeted her parents and sister, Sylvia, in the dining room. Her parents were both sipping from blue coffee mugs, and chatting about something. 

“Welcome home! How was school?” Her loving mother asked.

“It was alright. I have some homework to do so I’ll be in my room.”

“Okay, sweetie. We’ll call you down when dinner’s ready,” her father said.

As Julia ran up the stairs, she began thinking about Dallon. She thought about how nice it would be to be one of the popular girls. To be somebody Dallon was actually interested in. 

Finally, Julia made it down the hall and to her bedroom. She managed to open her overflowing dresser drawers and look at her clothes.

Maybe this is why I’m single, she thought.

The only clothes she owned were hoodies, sweats, and baggy t-shirts. She continued contemplating how she could change in order to get a boyfriend as she laid down on her pretty, pink bed. Pink was Julia’s least favorite color, but she didn’t want to complain, because her parents got it for her for Christmas three months ago. 

At that moment, Claudia called. 

“Hello?” Julia said after picking up her cellphone.

“Hey, Julia, it’s me. I just wanted to tell you that Megan and I figured out a way for you to get Dallon’s attention,” Claudia exclaimed.

“Well, how?”

“We can’t tell you now. Megan is over here at my house, and I need you to come over right now. Oh, and bring a bag of your clothes and some makeup,” said Claudia, excitedly.

Without another question, Julia sprang up out of bed and gathered her things for Claudia’s house. Clothes, makeup, and even a curling iron for her hair. 

Then, she made her way downstairs and kissed her family goodbye in a rush. It was pouring rain outside, so she also grabbed her sister’s giant umbrella.

It was a sloppy mess outside. Winter had just ended, so the snow was now slush and rain.

Even so, Julia sprinted down the road and to her best friend’s house.

Once she got there, she quickly knocked on the door twice.

“Who is it?” Claudia called from somewhere inside.

“It’s me, Julia.”

“Okay, come on in. The door’s open,” shouted Claudia.

Julia opened the butter-yellow front door and looked for her friends. Of course, they were in Claudia’s beautiful bedroom. She nodded hello and sat on Claudia’s queen sized bed. Megan was getting her hair curled by Claudia on the floor.

“So, Julia. I’m just finishing up on Megan’s hair, but when I’m done, we’re going to take a look at what we’re working with,” Claudia beamed.

“What do you mean by that? Do you mean me or my clothes?” Asked Julia. The only response she got was a giggle from Megan, who’s hair looked amazing at the moment. Julia was always jealous of Megan. No matter what, Megan looked perfect. Even in the morning – when Megan just woke up – her hair looked fantastic.

Claudia finished Megan’s hair and they both got up and sat on either side of Julia on the bed. 

“Okay, let us look in the bag,” Claudia said, as if she were a detective working on a case. Julia handed them the bag, and they looked through it, almost disgusted. Megan pulled out an old, brown sweater.

“When did you get this, the great depression?” Megan could barely touch it without gagging.

“Hey, my mom gave that to me as a gift! It’s not that bad, is it?” Julia mused.

“Yes, it is,” Claudia and Megan said in unison.

They continued to rummage through the bag with confused looks on their faces. As Megan dumped out the rest of the clothes from the bag, Claudia got up and went to her huge closet. She pulled out a fancy sweater and a pair of skinny jeans. She threw them at Julia.

“Here, try these on. I want to see how you would look with nice clothes on,” Claudia stated.

“Rude!” Julia accused.

She walked over to the bathroom and started changing into the nice outfit. She didn’t want to, but she loved it. The way the skinny jeans perfectly fit around her legs; the way the sweater wasn’t baggy and brown. She adored it.

She continued posing for herself in the mirror when Megan walked in.

“Oh, my gosh! You look stunning. How do you feel about it?” 

“I love it! It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever had on,” Julia burst.

“Claudia, you have to come in here and see this!” Megan called.

Claudia walked in and her jaw practically dropped to the floor.

“Julia, you look…” Claudia was at a loss for words. “…more beautiful than ever.”

They did this for hours. First, they would pick out an amazingly beautiful outfit. Then, they would make Julia try it on. And finally, they would freak out in surprise because of how great she looked. 

When they were all done, Julia decided she needed to go home and start her homework.

“How about tomorrow after school, because it’ll be a weekend, we go to the store and buy you a new wardrobe?” Claudia asked.

“Sounds good. See you guys tomorrow.” Julia waved goodbye and started down the road once again.

When she got home, it was around six o’clock PM. 

“Hey, honey. Did you have fun at Claudia’s house?” Asked Julia’s dad. 

“Yeah, we had a great time. Is it okay if I go to the store with them and pick out some clothes?” Julia asked as she made her way to the stairs to go to her room. 

“Sure, why not?” Her mom replied.

The next morning, Julia woke up and got ready for the last day of the school week. She couldn’t wait until fourth period, because that’s the class she had with Dallon. She searched through her closet for a nice outfit, but gave up when she couldn’t find one. Instead, she put on a hoodie and some loose-fitting jeans. She then grabbed her backpack and headed out the door. 

The walk to her school was always cold, but it was better than driving with her seventeen year old sister. 

The school day seemed to drag on for eternity. In fourth period, Julia got paired up with Dallon for a project, but he barely talked to her. She couldn’t wait for the day to end, so she could go shopping with her friends. 

“Hey, guys! You ready to go?” Asked Claudia as she approached Megan and Julia after school.

“Yeah, I can’t wait!” Julia replied.

And so, the girls took the city bus to a clothing store, and they got to work on Julia. By the end of the shopping trip, they were exhausted and ready to go to Megan’s house for a sleepover. During the sleepover Julia picked out her outfit for Monday. None of them got any sleep, because they were so excited for Julia to try out her new outfits at school. Throughout the weekend, all they did was Julia’s hair and makeup, just to get her ready to see Dallon in fourth period. 

After a long, exciting weekend, Monday finally arrived. Julia practically jumped out of bed. She woke up an hour earlier than usual to do her hair and makeup. She could barely recognize herself in the mirror. 

First period went by in a breeze, but as fourth period got closer and closer, the day seemed to get longer and longer. As third period went by, Julia’s stomach twisted into a knot. Maybe she wasn’t cut out for a boyfriend. 

Just then, the bell rang, and she had to finish her English project with Dallon. 

As she walked in the doorway, she looked at Dallon, who was staring back at her. 

“Alright, everybody, get back with your partners and finish your projects. Remember, they’re due tomorrow,” said Julia’s English teacher.

This was the big moment. Dallon stood up and started walking toward her desk. She smiled at him and he, surprisingly, smiled back.

“Hey, uh, you look great,” Dallon commented.

“You really think so?” Julia asked, blushing.

“Yeah, what made you want to change your style?”

“Oh, well um, I did it because I sort of wanted you to like me,” Julia trailed off.

“You’re being for real, right? You did this for me?” He asked in surprise.

“Yeah, I’ve kind of liked you since I moved here. How do you feel about that?” She asked, still red in the cheeks.

“I feel like you shouldn’t have done that. You didn’t need to change yourself to get my attention. I’ve liked you for a really long time, I just didn’t know if you liked me back,” Dallon started blushing, too. “Do you want to go to a movie with me sometime?” 

“Yeah that sounds great!” Julia replied.

“Cool! Now let’s get going on our project. I don’t want a bad grade,” Dallon grinned. 

Julia had never been so happy in a very long time. She was surprised to know that he liked her, even when she didn’t wear fancy clothes. Looks like she didn’t need to change herself at all, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.