"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Michael stood paralyzed by his own fear of falling. Nervously, he gazed across the emptiness that lay ahead. Taking in one deep breath of crisp air, he closed his eyes, leaned forward, and jumped into the darkness, giving into the force that pressed against his back. Luckily, Michael landed with a bruise to his arm and a smile on his face. "Dude! That was the coolest jump Iíve ever seen," called one voice from the crowd.
Michael looked at the group of people. They were all watching him, focusing on him. "Ah, it was nothing. Just a lilí something I picked up. You know how it is" Careful not to make himself look bad, he skied graciously past the crowd and into the lodge. While taking off his ski boots, a frail woman approached him.
"Michael, are you ready to go now?" This woman carried a bouncy attitude, yet when Michael looked into her eyes, he realized they were eyes of great sorrow.
He answered quickly, "Yeah, Iíll be ready in about five minutes. Hey, Mom?" "Yes?"
"Do you think we could grab some hot chocolate on the way home?"
"Sure. Brandon was also saying how he would want ‑‑"
"Without Brandon," Michael cut in, "like we used toÖwhenÖ"
"Weíll see." His mother tried to smile, but Michael saw right through her. "Just get dressed, okay?" With that said, the woman walked away, leaving her bouncy attitude behind.
Michael pulled his ski‑gear together and got into the car with his mother and Brandon, her new boyfriend. Ever since his mother began dating, Michael was feeling that his relationship with her has been diminishing. They were now at a point where the two barely spoke. Now with Brandon in the picture, the situation was becoming worse. Michael hated Brandon but he would never tell anybody why.
In a lousy attempt to befriend Michael, Brandon asked "So did you have fun today?"
"It could have been better," beginning to mutter under his breath, "if you werenít here."
"Whatís that you say? I didnít quite hear you."
This made Michael laugh. He couldnít understand why Brandon hadnít given up by now. ĎI will never like him. Why does he keep trying? He is nothing compared to me.í Silence filled the car for the remainder of the ride home.
When the broken family arrived at home, Michael went straight to his room. He looked into the mirror and didnít recognize the reflection. ĎWho is this? It canít be me because I donít cry. I donít care what my mom does.í Just when he almost had himself convinced, there was a knock on his door.
"Mikey, are you alright?" It was his mom.
In no mood to talk, Michael impatiently replied, "Yeah, Mom. Iím fine."
"I think we need to talk about a few things." Silence. "I have been noticing a few changes in your attitude."
"Like what?" Michael was intrigued with his motherís concerns about him. Recently he had felt as if he has been put on the shelf, out of her way. He wasnít sure if he should give his mother a chance to speak. She hurt him a lot when she decided to start dating Brandon without talking to him about it first. Michael wasnít sure if he was even ready to trust her again.
"I love you, and you know that."
Michael didnít know what to do. ĎIf she wants to talk, then maybe she wants everything to go back to the way they used to be. Just me and mom, the way it is meant to be.í He hadnít actually spoken to his mother in about 3 months, so no was his chance. He would be able to reestablish the feelings they had lost. Michaelís thoughts were swirling in his head as he became absorbed in the confusion. He had so much to say but no idea where to start. His mom could tell by the look on his face that she had to say something to make it all better but, like her son, she did not know where to begin. They stood eye‑to‑eye, nose‑to‑nose, lip‑to‑lip, embracing each otherí s gaze when Michael broke the
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