Author Topic: story - F means headgear  (Read 4070 times)

Offline silver-moon-2000

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story - F means headgear
« on: 29. May 2022, 14:12:25 PM »
I am also publishing this story in the German part.

I feel that I owe you an apology. At least I owe an apology to those, who read my remarks on my other story "Broken Arm". There I hinted at this story being a bit "technical" in parts. To those of you who now got their hopes up that this story might contain a lot of deep medical knowledge or extensive descriptions of braces... Sorry, but no. No, it doesn't. Not at all! None of that is going to happen. Just the very opposite!

When I wrote "technical", I meant some boring setting-up and explanations that I feel need to be done. Every story has some parts that are less interesting. And I feel that this story has it's fair share of those less than thrilling moments. That is, what I meant with "technical".
<edit> I've gone over the story and rewritten some of the unnecessarily stupid stuff. There is no need for lots of mathematical formulae in a story like this... So, it's a bit less "technical" now ;-)

Another word of advice: As this story takes place in the US, I am using their system of school-grades, running from A (best) to F (worst).

Yet another word of advice: This story comprises two part. The word "braces" is not even mentioned once in the first part! And even in part 2, no one will actually get braces. All they do is talk!

So please treat this story as a story containing "some" braces-content and not as a braces-story! I just want to warn you that this story may not be to your taste!

As there were concerns that this story violates some to the forum-rules (especially the one about the age of the people involved), I have bumped up Rosalynns age. In that process I had to do some modifications. I have no interest whatsoever in rewriting parts of this story however, so the changes are very rough (on purpose!) So, in this universe, there is now a 3-tier school system, where it is mandatory for every student to go to university

Part 1 - In School

Friday Afternoon

Chapter 01/13

The elbows are propped on the table in front of her, the head is hidden in both hands. Rosalynn's gaze goes straight to the tabletop. Or through it. One really can't tell. Probably she doesn't know herself either at the moment.

"Hey Rosy-shmosy, what's up?" A nudge on the shoulder.

The slumped girl blinks a few times and then lifts her head. "Oh, it's you, Mike, didn't see you ..."

"Well, that's hard to do when you stare holes in the table. What's going on? Head too heavy?" Mike, classmate and buddy stands next to her and repeatedly pokes her shoulder with his gangly index finger. "What's all the gloom about? Messed up?"

Rosa forces herself to form a grin. "Could've gone better, but not 'messed up', no... And yourself?"

"I'm content ... but it's always like that with Orals. Methinks, it's easier than multiple-choice ... I can just ramble on and on ... Hey Rosy, the bus is coming soon, are you coming with us?"

Rosa shakes her head. "My mother will pick me up. Must come any moment now ..."

"Well then ... take care, see you on Monday!" Another prick in the shoulder, Rosa raises her hand as greeting and Mike is gone. It's not difficult for him; after all, his legs are as long as she is tall. Well, that's a bit exaggerated, but Mike is by far the tallest in her age group ...

Slowly her hand sinks again, as if all strength has drained from it. The forced smile fades. It's suddenly so quiet.

Rosa looks around the room astonished: it seems to her that only a few seconds ago there had been two or three dozen of her classmates in this room, who had all been talking with one another. A cacophony of voices and laughter that made it hard to hear one's own thoughts. And now there are just four people left. Herself included ...

She hadn't noticed how little by little the first schoolmates were picked up by their parents and now the rest of them have disappeared to the school bus. Rosa was too deeply in thought. Or maybe the opposite is true, and her head was way too empty? No idea.

If anything was on her mind, it was the exam they had today: the fourth of four parts of the test, which - without exaggerating - was the most important test she had written in the past two or three years. And probably there won't be an exam that is more important for the next one or two years to come.

Well, she didn't exactly "write" the test today, as it was an oral exam, but you get the drift...

No, she didn't "mess up" this exam, that's really not the right word. On the other hand, "could have gone better" doesn't fit either.

"Failed" is a much better term for what had happened. Absolutely, one hundred percent and totally FAILED about an hour ago.

Just: Mike doesn't have to know that. Neither LaToya nor Amy. None of her friends needs to - should - find out. And nobody else either.

"Bye guys, till Monday", there goes the next one. Just two others and herself in the big room.

UPT is the name of the test that she failed today. "University Placement Test". As the name suggests, this is the test that tells, which university one can go to.

No, that's not true; if she had been asked in the UPT what function the UPT has, this answer would have been worth zero points.

Let's do that again: In last grade - the last year of high school - all students have to decide at which university they want to continue their "education". Most of them don't really care and choose the university that is most accessible to them. In most cases this will be a public university with no entry requirements. And so, there are no problems transitioning from high school to university.

However, most Catholic university, as well as a number of private universities, do have minimum requirements that prospective students must meet. In other words: These universities won't take everyone, and one has to prove that they are "good enough".

And the way to prove this "good enough", that is: to show that they meet these requirements and thus may be granted access to a certain university is the UPT. Or more precisely: A good result in the test.

Rosalynn presses her lips together. Her gaze lowers again, glides over the scribbled table surface until her eyes land on the note that lies on the table between her elbows:

At the top left, in block letters, her name: ROSALYNN CARTER. Yes, she bears the same name as one of the former First Ladies; how nice of you to notice ... just too bad that the name did not give her any advantages in the test ...

In the middle of the sheet in big and bold letters: "UPT - Part 4 of 4 - Oral examination": Oral examination as the fourth and final part of the test.

Below is the topic of the exam, the names of the two examiners and at the bottom their signatures. But that is now of no interest, because Rosa's eyes wander to the table in the lower third of the sheet. There the two examiners summarized Rosa's performance based on several criteria. And there, in the last line of that table: "Total score: 45%"

And that ... that's bad. Worse than bad. Piss-poor! And in order to add insult to injury, her grade is written on the top right of the paper: As amply known from those cartoon series', her fate was sealed with a thick red pen: "F"

"F" - "failed"

No, this red-letter grade on the sheet in front of her does not apply to the entire UPT, just to the fourth part. Each of the parts has its own grade. They are added together at the end. And then the grades that one has written during the year also count in somehow. Together, these form an overall score; and only this score is important in the end.

In other words: If the other three exam-parts - that Rosa had written over the last couple of weeks - turn out good enough or if one has worked hard enough over the course of the normal school-year, one not-so-good grade can still more or less be mitigated.

But if one fails as completely as she did earlier ... there's no coming back from it! And that, even when Rosa's grades weren't that bad to begin with! She is not a nerd, but she was in the upper third of her year. Should have been a safe position for getting a good test result.

Especially when considering that in the oral part, the testee has the opportunity to choose which subject they want to be tested in! Of course - like everyone else - Rosa had chosen the subject in which she had felt strongest. In her case, "Geography". That could have become her best grade! But instead ...

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #1 on: 30. May 2022, 18:03:24 PM »
Chapter 02/13

"Rosalynn? What are you still doing here? Shouldn't you have gone home already?"

The girl's head pops up and her eyes widen. She hadn't heard the teacher approach.

In front of her stands the person she wants to see least at the moment. Actually, she doesn't want to see anyone right now, but much less this man: Mr. Klyne, vice principal. Also her geography teacher and thus one of the two teachers who had let her "rattle through" the oral exam an hour ago.

"My ... my mother is picking me up. She ... she's a little late ..." Lynn doesn't want to admit that after the shock of having flunked the exam, she totally forgot to call home. It occurred to her far too late and therefore it will be another few minutes before her mother will be here.

Surprised, Rosa looks around: She is the last one here and - apart from Mr. Klyne - alone in the large room. She hadn't noticed how the last two, two sisters, had finally been picked up by their parents. She hadn't noticed how the two girls had said goodbye to her and were amazed not to receive an answer from Rosa. Much too preoccupied, she instead had stared at the three red lines that make up her grade: "F".

Rosa looks at the clock, startled: Damn it, it's a lot later than she thought ... "Oh ... oh ... do you have to lock the room? Do I have to leave?" She tries to get up and at the same time stuff that paper into her school bag. If possible, without the teacher seeing it.

Which is of course pointless, because it was exactly this man who filled out exactly this form and wrote exactly this grade on it; Rosa can't keep anything secret from him. And yet she doesn't want him to see it again. Nobody should see it.

"Sit down, Rosalynn, you still have plenty of time!" Mr. Klyne doesn't know how to react. He is surprised at how rattled the girl in front of him is. Should he leave her alone? He decides against it, leans against the neighboring table, crosses his arms over his chest and looks at the girl thoughtfully: "How do you feel?"

"Like shit ..." A dry laugh follows when she sees his surprised face. "Did you expect anything else, sir?"

He takes his time with his answer: "I did not expect that you would be in good spirits, no, certainly not. But ... I also did not expect that it would affect you like that ..."

"And ... and why NOT?" Rosa feels a lump in her throat. "I mean ... take a look at that ..." Forgotten is the wish to keep the note a secret; accusingly, she points to the red letter in the upper right corner. "That is ... this is ...", she cannot find the right words.

"Is the grade really that bad for you?" His voice sounds friendly, almost gentle.

Rosa laughs, but it's not a happy laugh: "This is my first 'F' since ... since ever ... I've NEVER been this bad ..." She shakes her head sadly "Damn it!"

"Yes, that is definitely not nice for you," he begins. Lynn can hold back just in time, not to throw a "Fuck you, as**ole!" at him. He has no idea. Absolutely no idea!

"But this one 'F' is definitely not the end of the world," he tries to comfort her.

"Yes, it is!" she starts. "That's ... with that I can ..." she can't go on, the lump in her throat is choking her. She presses her lips together. A single tear forms in the corner of the eye.

A few seconds pass and then she has herself under control again.

"Do you want to explain to me what exactly the problem is?" the teacher asks gently. Rosa shakes her head vehemently.

After a short pause, Mr. Klyne nods and gets up from the table. "You best try not to let it get to you too much ..." Then he walks slowly to the door.

A second goes by, then another. "I ... I wouldn't have cared if I had gotten the 'F' in a normal test ..." she laughs bitterly: "No, of course I WOULD have minded ... but ... do you understand, what I want to say, sir?" Mr. Klyne stops, turns slowly, and then nods.

"But now ... with ... with the 'F', my average dropped too far," sniffs Rosa. Her gaze goes back to the paper in front of her, but she does not see it. A wet haze forms on her eyes. "The 'F' screwed up my average, I won't be able to go to the university I wanted anymore ..."

"So you took the test because you need the result?"

The student nods.

As there are no entry requirements for public universities, in theory only students who want to go to a "non-public" university would have to take this test. And in most other schools this is indeed handled that way.

However, in this high school it is common for ALL last-year students to take the "University Placement Test". Probably so that they - if they do well enough - have the choice and possibility to go to a private university at any time, even if they didn't want to at the time of the test.

Most of the students who - nevertheless - will in fact go to public universities do therefore not really care about the test. It does not matter to them, as the UPT grade will not be included in their end-of-year report. This test is important solely for lifting the access restrictions.

Mike, her buddy, for example, doesn't want to go to a private university and therefore doesn't care at all how he fares in the UPT. He's almost proud on the fact, that he didn't learn for a single hour. But for Rosalynn, the result is important ...

"Still, Rosalynn ..." Mr. Klyne sits back on the table next to her. "I don't know your grades in detail, but you're a good student. You should get over 70% easily, shouldn't you?"

"What use is that to me?" Rosa starts. "Tell me what the hell I should do with 70% ... I can't do fuck-all with that..." She seems surprised, hadn't expected that outbreak herself. "Sorry, sir." she mumbles then.

He deliberately ignores the inappropriate tone of her voice. "Why not?"

Most of the universities that require a successful UPT at all, have their limits set to 70%. In other words: If at the end of the UPT the result will be greater than or equal to 70%, everything is fine: the entry requirement is met, and the student can expect to be admitted to the university of their choice.

Only, in Rosalynn's case, things are a little different: "I want to go to Bedford Uni ..."

Mr. Klyne raises his eyebrows: "Oh!"

She laughs hard: "Yeah, 'oh' fits pretty well ..."

To call Bedford Uni - or 'The Primary University of Bedford County' to use its full name - an elite university would be absolutely and completely exaggerated. Naive even. But the university is good. Good enough to justify raising the bar so as not to be inundated with applications.

"What score do you need for Bedford? I don't know by heart ..."

Rosa sniffs again: "80%"

"And ... if I may ask ... where are you?"

Rosa's eyes cloud again, her limit is almost reached. "Seve ... seventy-eight"

He seems concerned: "Are you sure?"

The girl nods. "Did... did the math ... with the 'F', it's not enough". She points to a crumbled sheet of paper with disjointed scribbled calculations on it. A tear rolls down her cheek.

She rummages in her backpack and pulls out a handkerchief. She doesn't look at him as she wipes the tears from her eyes. "Sorry ... that was stupid ..."

He ignores her emotional outburst. "You really want to go to Bedford University? There are plenty of other good universities around ..."

Rosa shakes her head: "I WANT to go there. ONLY there! If ... if I can't go there ... then ... then I couldn't care less about university at all..."

"There, there, there, Rosalynn," urges the teacher, "that might be a bit harsh, don't you think so?"

The student just shrugs. She has herself under - some - control again. In the meantime, she has turned quite red: To have lost to her emotions in front of the teacher is extremely embarrassing. She is just lucky that none of her classmates noticed this meltdown.

"My ... my grandmother was there when it was still an all-girls university. And my mother was there too ... And what they told me ... it must have been great then. And it still is now ... I WANT to go to Bedford."

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #2 on: 31. May 2022, 18:53:33 PM »
Chapter 03/13

She looks directly at him for the first time in a long time "Please ... Mr. Klyne ... can't you ... I mean ... can't I maybe ..."

He interrupts her resolutely: "No, Rosalynn, you have to get that out of your head! I know that you don't want to hear it and I know that you don't like it, but unfortunately it is not possible that you repeat the test. You have to understand that!"

He ignores the - admittedly vague - suggestion whether he might not "tweak" her score a bit.

The silence weighs uncomfortably on the girl. Then she nods dejectedly. "I ..." she mumbles, "I was just hoping ..."

She stares in silence for a few seconds, then shakes her head as if she still can't believe what happened. She points accusingly at the piece of paper in front of her.

There's a squeak next to her as the teacher pulls up a chair and sits on it. He no longer looks down on her; one could almost say that they now meet at eye level.

"I hope you can understand that we had no choice but to give you this score ..."

She looks up and into his face. And shakes her head.

"May I?" He sighs and cautiously reaches for the piece of paper in front of Rosa. For the first time in a long time, she sits up in her chair, allowing the teacher to look at the evaluation sheet again.

"What was going on earlier, Rosalynn? We noticed that you were having a hard time, but what happened?"

She shrugs. "I don't know either ... suddenly everything was gone. I didn't know anything anymore ..." She laughs dryly: "Your first question, that totally confused me. I totally misunderstood what you wanted from me... "

Mr. Klyne and his co-examiner were amazed at the answer they got to a simple question. After all, they had chosen a "no-brainer" as an introductory question. They then had to point out to their student that she might want to reconsider her answer.

"And that confused me even more. After all: I know that I know the answer. I was so confused that the answer was wrong that ..." she shrugs again. "And then ... then suddenly everything was gone, and I didn't know anything anymore ..."

The teacher nods thoughtfully. A black-out ... He had already suspected that. Rosalynn is not a stupid student who is overwhelmed by simple questions. Both examiners were surprised that she had completely blanked out during the exam and that she hadn't even uttered a single word to some questions.

"And what do you think we should do now?"

"Please... let me redo the exam, please ... I ... I DO know everything. I know that ..." The facts and data just gush out of Rosalynn, in one sweep she answers several of the questions that before had stumped her.

Mr. Klyne eventually has to raise his hands to stop her talking. "You are absolutely right, everything was correct ..." then he sighs, "That makes it all the more difficult for me, but I CANNOT let you repeat the exam."

Rosa looks at him in dismay; she had hoped, almost expected, that he would relent when he saw that she did know the answers. And if he can't correct her grade, she would be absolutely ready to be asked about another geographical topic. Right now, if it has to be. Or to be examined in a different subject, or to have less preparation time. Or, if necessary, redo the entire UPT ...

If she STILL hadn't known it THEN or had screwed up the exam AGAIN ... well, then ... then it would have to be like this ... If she couldn't answer the questions because she hadn't learned enough, then she would have deserved the grade ... But just because her brain had stopped working ... it's not her fault...

"It's not fair!" she murmurs softly.

"It wouldn't be fair to the other students if we let you repeat the test."

Rosa's head snaps upwards, what did he just say?

He repeats his point again: It just wouldn't be fair to the other students if she were allowed to retake the test. Because then all other students would also have to be given the opportunity to retake the test as well.

"Then just do it ..." starts Rosa, but Mr. Klyne shakes his head before she has finished.

"You surely know that the UPT can only be taken once ... If you could repeat the test until you got the desired result ... how much would the test be worth then?"

"But I don't want to take the test indefinitely, I just want to redo it ONCE!"

"Yes, sure, under very special circumstances a student might be allowed to repeat the exam, BUT:" He raises his arms defensively, "Unfortunately, exam anxiety is not a valid reason. "

A few seconds pass, the only sound being the ticking of the clock.

"Think about it: You were definitely not the only one who stood in front of us teachers with nerves at breaking-point," he begins. "It was really unfortunate that you had such a blackout; but everyone else also struggled with being nervous. We simply CANNOT repeat the test for everyone who did not do as well as they had hoped."

Mr. Klyne leans forward: "If we let YOU repeat the test now, but don't give the others this chance, do you think that would be fair?"

"No ..." Rosa has to admit, "but ... but the others didn't have a black-out!"

"Maybe not," he agrees, "but where should we draw the line? Shall we let you repeat because you were 'completely spaced out'?" Rosa nods slightly, but it is not a demand, but rather a wish, a hope.

"Should we let another student repeat because they were nervous, couldn't answer the first questions and only recovered later?"

Rosa shrugs.

"You surely noticed that Kirsten had quite the cold, didn't you?" Rosa nods. "Should we have let her repeat?"

Rosa looks astonished: She hadn't even thought of that! She had been sorry for Kirsten to have caught the summer flu just when the test was coming up. With a runny nose, headaches and a numb head, Kirsten certainly didn't find it easy to concentrate. Rosa would not have wanted to swap places with her ...

And yet ... and yet she hadn't thought even ONCE that Kirsten should also have the "right" to repeat the test at a time when she was in better shape again ...

For her it had been a case of "bad luck". And, as far as she knows, Kirsten saw it the same way.

But ... on the other hand: Kirsten wants to go to a public university, she doesn't need the test ...

"How long do you think your exam took?" Asks Mr. Klyne suddenly.

She looks at him puzzled: "15 minutes, didn't it?" Stupid question; after all, the oral exam TAKES a quarter of an hour.

He shakes his head and points to the sheet that is still lying on the table in front of her. He points to a comment that she had completely overlooked so far: "Due to the apparent nervousness of Rosalynn Carter, the duration of the exam was extended by 10 minutes."

Rosalynn's eyes open: That's why her torture seemed endless. She didn't imagine that!

"We already showed as much consideration for your situation as we could ... but at some point, we just reached the limit, Rosalynn" the teacher speaks softly but emphatically to her: "We gave you almost twice as much time as the others, but ... it just wasn't enough for another grade. I'm sorry, but there was no other decision we could have reached... "

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #3 on: 01. June 2022, 17:03:30 PM »
Chapter 04/13

The teenager presses her lips together: Just... just don't start bawling in front of the teacher again. "Do ... do you know if Bedford has a ... follow-up-test for people who are just below the 80%?"

One last straw to cling to. A lead-filled straw. She knows that herself.

Because it is crystal clear that there will be NO follow-up test. A university that can afford to raise the average score for admission by 10%; a university that even HAS to raise the bar in order not to be overrun by students ... such a university will surely not hold a follow-up test for people who are stuck just below the magical limit ...

Mr. Klyne doesn't have to tell her that, she knows that well enough. Even then, Rosa hoped that her teacher might know better ... because sometimes even teachers know something ... But his silence says enough.

Her dream has burst.

Admittedly, she hadn't dreamed the dream for too long. Two years ago, she didn't care which university she'd attend. No, that's not correct: she already knew where she wanted to go: where most of her friends go, that's where she wanted to go too.

But then, when she found out that her grandmother had been enrolled in the same university as her mother, interest arose for the first time, perhaps not to go to the nearest university after all.

And after she had talked to the both of them ... the desire to go to Bedford Uni began to take shape. Granted, when her grandmother was there, it was still an all-girls university. And that was a LONG TIME ago. But her grandmother had raved about how nice it was there. Her mother also had a lot of good things to report, which can perhaps be summarized as follows: "You'll be challenged, but also encouraged!"

This principle still seems to apply. The more she read about that university on the internet, the more interesting it got. They offer a lot of interesting courses compared to a public university. Both in the curriculum and optional extra courses. Here she could really "roam free" and learn things that interest her, and not what she has to learn, just because it is on an outdated curriculum.

She had only been working towards that goal for a year. Only a year ago had she got it into her head that she wanted to go to this one special university. Nevertheless: She WANTED to go there, had by now even firmly expected to be accepted there ...

And now that ... Like a branding iron in a cow's hide, this mark has burned itself into her grades. It is no longer enough; her score is too low. Her dream had burst like a soap bubble.

"And ... and where am I going now?"

She runs her hand through her hair and looks at the teacher. For the first time not with a hard smile, but with resignation. All along she had hoped to discuss her situation with the teacher and to be able to somehow save something. But Mr. Klyne had made it clear to her that she may not count on it.

An unpleasant pressure in her stomach. She feels like she is about to get sick. Without it ever really getting to that point.

"But ... that's nothing you have to deal with ... shit!"

A text message: her mother will arrive in five minutes. At least something.

Rosa slowly packs the note into her backpack and gets up. "I ... Mr. Klyne, I wanted ..." A shake of the head: "My goodness, usually I'm not that thick ..." Another sigh. "Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me, sir."

"No problem whatsoever. I was happy to do it." The teacher waves it away and examines his pupil: Yes, she looks composed. Dejected, but composed. Much quieter than at the beginning of the conversation.

He leaves before her. Rosalynn looks around the room again. It's ... strange to be all alone in the room. A few hours ago, several dozen children had been waiting here; were then picked up individually by the teachers in order to answer questions in front of a triumvirate of two.

She entered this room in a good mood and in good spirits. Nervous, but in good spirits, she followed the teacher to the exam room and returned with an empty head and a shattered dream. And now? Now the dream is still in pieces, but at least her head is not as empty as it was at the beginning:

There's no point in pondering any further. What has happened, has happened and she has to accept it that way.

That's easy to say, of course: And of course, it does NOT mean that she can so easily stop brooding and reproaching herself. It also does NOT mean that it will be EASY for her to accept that Bedford Uni will remain a dream.

But she has to accept it. Chasing after a soap-bubble castle built on quicksand makes no sense.

She would love to hide under a stone and stay there forever. But that is of course no solution at all. She laughs dryly: Maybe it is enough to hide under the bed covers for a few hours, to eat buckets of ice cream and to cry her eyes out?

Slowly she sets out for the school entrance. Her mother will soon be waiting at the gate ...

"Tell me, Rosalynn," Mr. Klyne comes back with a thin binder in hand. "How many points did you actually get in the other UPT parts?"

Rosa has no idea why he asked that, but she replies: "91% in the first, then 75% and 83% ... I was actually pretty satisfied ... and now ... well, 45%. Why?"

The teacher nods and seems to be comparing the values with something in his binder. The girl' eyes widen when she notices something: lilac! The folder Mr. Klyne is leafing through is lilac in color. But ... that would mean ...

She knows that official files are always kept in lilac-colored binders. And if he flips through it like that ... then ... She's craning her in the - unsuccessfully - attempt to catch a glimpse.

"I just had a look at your grades ..." The assumption has become a certainty. "Of course I don't know how you calculated your result ... but I can't understand off the top of my head how you got to 78% ..."

"What ... what do you get?" Rosa holds her breath.

May it be? May she hope? Or will Mr. Klyne just say: "I get 71%, so you never stood a chance from the start ..."

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #4 on: 02. June 2022, 16:38:49 PM »
Chapter 05/13

But the teacher doesn't say that. He doesn't give her any other number either. He ponders for a moment and then comes up with an idea: "Tell me, what grade in geography did you use for your calculations?"

Well, as I already hinted at, it is a tad complicated - or maybe we should rather call it "tedious" - to calculate the score, that's relevant for lifting the access restrictions. It starts with the fact that there is not only one UPT score but that the UPT comprises four individual tests; each with it's own grade.

But that's not all. After all, the UPT is only one part of the equation. The grades that the students achieved during the school year, also factor in. What makes it even more complicated is, that some grades will count more towards that final score than others. So some weighting has to be done in the process.

But Rosalynn thinks that the process is actually fair. After all, it SHOULD matter what grades one got during the school year. Because those grades will be on the report; those are the "real" grades. Of course, they should play a role in determining which university is the right one. A SINGLE test at the end of the school year, even if it consists of four parts, can never show a student's performance as well as an entire school year ...

Rosalynn didn't expect an 'A' in the oral exam. But she knew she wouldn't receive a bad grade; she had known the material too well for that. Maybe it would have been an 'A', more likely a 'B' or, in the worst case, a 'C'. At least if she hadn't had a blackout.

After she got the results of the third test, she sat down at home and tried to figure out, what score she could expect in the end. And she had calculated that - with a 'B' in the oral exam - she should get a 83% score. With a 'C' it would have amounted to 82%.

In other words: If she hadn't screwed up the test today, she would have easily overcome the 80% hurdle ... but because of the 'F' she is now stuck at 78%!

She looks astonished at the teacher. Why does he ask about her grade in geography? OK, well, she chose for the oral exam to be examined in 'Geography', that's why. To make it fairer, some grades are weighted a lot higher than others. And - as a matter of fact - the school-year grade in the subject of the oral exam is among the most important grades overall.

That is why her grade in Geography definitely plays a role...

But... no, that still does not answer the question, why Mr. Klyne asked about her Geography-grade. After all, it is obvious, what her grade will be. The school-year has run its course, all the tests have been written. While she doesn't have the report in her hands yet, Rosa knows very well, what grade her report will show.

"'B', why?" She finally replies.

A change goes through the teacher before her. Strange: some of the tension seems to be leaving his body. He smiles at her in a friendly and encouraging way. "Then things have cleared themselves. Now I understand how you get to 78%. Will you do me a favor?"

Actually, Rosa just wants to go home, but she nods: "What?"

"Calculate your UPT score again at home. But this time ... use an 'A' in Geography."

"But ... but why 'A'? I was sure I would get a 'B', and ..." Her eyes widen as she "understands".

"No, Rosalynn, no!" The teacher shakes his head "I wouldn't do THAT. Certainly not. As much as I would be sorry for you, but manipulating your grades, I would NOT do that!" Then he allows himself to smile: "I COULD NOT do it anyway, even if I WANTED to. The grades have been entered and checked a week ago. The computer wouldn't let me change anything by now ..."

"No, Rosalynn, do the math again at home. You will see that you were right on the brink, between 'A' and 'B'. YOU then apparently continued with 'B'." The girl nods with bated breath.

"But look at your grades in geography over the last year: In the first test you started with a 'C', but in the last tests you consistently wrote 'A's ... You have improved significantly and have contributed well... And because you were on the brink, I decided to give you the better grade ... That's all."

With every sentence her eyes have grown bigger and bigger, are now as big as saucers. Her mouth opens, but no sound escapes. "Why ... why is he telling me that?" Rosa runs her hand nervously through her hair: "He wouldn't be so mean and tell me to recalculate my score it if wouldn't affect the grade, would he? That ... he wouldn't do that, would he?"

"Technically, I am not allowed to show you this ..." he laughs, "actually I am not allowed to tell you ANYTHING ... I shouldn't have told you about the 'A' either ... but take a look here:"

He lays the folder on the table in front of him and covers most of the contents with his hands. Rosa steps up nervously. He left a little space between his hands. It reads - still in handwriting: "UPT - final score:"

Her lips are trembling. Before tears fill her eyes, she can read: "81%"

A text message: Probably her mother telling her that she is waiting at the school gate. But that doesn't matter to Rosalynn at the moment.

She giggles and sobs, she laughs and cries.

From somewhere a handkerchief is pressed into her hand and a distant voice asks: "Are you okay?"

She blinks the tears from her eyes and stares again at the report in front of her. Mr. Klyne pulled his hands away, but the girl doesn't care about the other grades. Her eyes wander around until she reads the magical words again. She has to ... she just HAS TO know if she has read it right after all:

"UPT - final score: 81%"

An ear-to-ear grin; an ecstatic giggle.

"Better now?"

A nod, then a shake of the head, then a mixture of both: "Yes ... no ... but ... yes ..." She beamed at the teacher and giggled again. "Thank you..."

"I didn't do anything. It was YOUR solid performance throughout the school year that 'saved' you. It's unfortunate that because of your blackout you didn't get a higher score, but the 81% should be enough for you." He closes the binder and picks it up again. It's time to leave.

"Don't take the matter too much to heart and rather be glad that it worked out against your expectations!" He claps his hands. "I suggest that you don't keep your mother waiting too long ..."

She nods and walks away with a quick pace. Then she turns around with a red head and comes back: "I'm sorry ... I'm completely blown away ..." Rosa grins awkwardly. "Thanks again. Thanks for everything! And ... please don't blame me for the crying, I'm sometimes a bit emotional..." She laughs. With red eyes, but she laughs.

The ringing of her smartphone saves him an answer: "Honey, I'm waiting at the gate, where are you?"

"I'm coming, mom, I'm flying ..." trills the girl, turns around and runs through the empty schoolhouse with a light step.

Offline Sparky

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #5 on: 02. June 2022, 18:14:12 PM »
Absolutely loving your writing. The complete lack of braces just doesn't matter! I'm hooked...

Offline libtech

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #6 on: 02. June 2022, 21:08:15 PM »
Liking it so far. A little slow but should be a good one.... Hurry lol!!! I want to read more! Lol

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #7 on: 02. June 2022, 21:25:29 PM »
Glad you like it. Hope, it stays that way ;D

A little slow but should be a good one....

It IS a slow one. As I said, even in Part 2 (which starts tomorrow), there won't be any braces. Just talk about them.

Hurry lol!!! I want to read more! Lol

One chapter a day keeps the readers at bay

Well... I do not want to keep you at bay, but the rhyme was to good to ignore.  ;D

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #8 on: 03. June 2022, 16:03:57 PM »
Part 2 - At home

Friday Evening

Chapter 06/13

The journey home is relatively uneventful. Of course, she is pestered by her mother, but she fends off most questions. Rosalynn still can't believe what happened a few minutes ago. The roller coaster of emotions, the ups and downs, hopes and fears and all the crying ... all of this has to be processed before she can answer her mother.

At home she has to hold on to herself not to run straight to her room. Her parents are quickly fobbed off with a cryptic "I absolutely have to check something right now", then the children's room door slams shut.

Rosa doesn't think that her teacher lied to her. He certainly wouldn't do that. He's not that type of guy. Actually, she had always liked him.

Mr. Klyne is still relatively young. At least young for a teacher, since most of them are "old geezers". Maybe because he is so young, he's also more committed. His cynical colleagues would say he is not yet bereft of all his dreams. Maybe that's true. Maybe he's still a little naive and gullible. But that also makes him good-natured, friendly and helpful.

What other teacher would have sat down with her, talked to her, "comforted" her and ultimately helped in this way? Admittedly, he didn't do "a lot": he didn't "tweak" any of her grades. But that wasn't necessary either.

And even if ... even if Rosalynn hadn't reached 80% in the end ... simply by "being there for her", he had helped her in that moment. And for that she is grateful to him. But of course she is ten thousand times more grateful to him for giving her the better grade as her geography teacher.

Without that, she wouldn't be sitting at her desk grinning broadly and going over her calculations again. Instead she would be crying under the bed covers.

She had liked him quite well during the school year; during and after the exam she had hated him profoundly; during their conversation she had found new respect for him and now ... now he's her favorite teacher!

No, she doesn't think he lied to her. What was in the binder he showed her will certainly be true. He will have given her the 'A'. But ... but she still has to see it with her own eyes. She can only believe it then ... she only can find her peace-of-mind when she has done all the calculations herself and when the result will actually be 81% in the end.

At dinner she is finally ready to answer her parents' questions.

"So how did it go?" asks the father.

"Flunked it," grins Rosa and shovels a mountain of lasagna onto her plate. She hasn't eaten since breakfast. She was too nervous while waiting for the exam. After the exam she had absolutely no nerve for it and until recently she had to recheck the results.

But yes: It IS correct, she HAS reached 81%. If she can assume that she will get an 'A' in Geography, then her place at Bedford Uni is safe. And she has absolutely no reason to question Mr. Klyne's promise.

She sat giggling at her desk for minutes as the last calculation was done. Her parents may also have thought: "The girl is going crazy" when a shrill cry of joy penetrated the house.

With the 'A' instead of the 'B' in geography, it is just enough. JUST ENOUGH! Of course, she had to check her entire calculations over and then over again. But the number had not changed: 81%. That was an excessively close shave! She only got to 81%, because it was her Geography-grade. Which is weighted to count a lot. A change in ANY other subject would not have catapulted her over the magic 80% hurdle.

Her father laughs at her joke: it is clear that his daughter did not fail, otherwise she would not be grinning so widly.

"No, it's true!" Rosa nods with her mouth full. "I had a total blackout and couldn't answer ONE single question ..."

The mother looks uncertainly at her daughter. What she says doesn't really fit her mood.

Rosa gets up, rushes back to her room and a short time later shows her parents the evaluation sheet.

The mother lets the fork drop in astonishment: "Oh, honey, I'm so terribly sorry for you ..."

Rosa shakes her head: "Thank you, but that's not necessary ..."

"And what happens now? What are your grades overall?", The father joins in.

"It's just barely enough - by a hair's breadth - for Bedford Uni ..." Rosalynn nods happily. Well, as happy as one can be when they have received the worst grade in their school career, but it's still just enough to go ahead ...

Then she explains in detail what happened today.

After dinner, the adults decapitate a bottle of wine to celebrate the occasion. Rosalynn gets her glass too, but she's hardly able to swallow the quite dry alcohol. So the parents have mercy on her and open a bottle of Asti for the daughter. She is much more taken with the sweeter drink.

It is good that a weekend follows, because the girl definitely had her fill of the sweet sparkling wine. Soon she notices the effects of the alcohol; first she's feeling jolly and then tired.

Finally, it's time to go to bed. Tired - and maybe a little wobbly? - she's dragging her feet to the bathroom and begins to scrub her teeth.

Suddenly she is wide awake, her eyes are wide open and she bites the toothbrush in shock. One could almost think that a spider crawled over her face.

That didn't happen, but that doesn't make it much more pleasant either. Something terrible just occurred to her:

"Shit! ... NO! ... no ... FUCK!"

No, she did not find any errors in her calculation, 81% remain 81%. It is therefore not a fear of the future that makes her stare in the mirror, but the memory of an agreement that she made with her parents a few weeks ago.

Absentmindedly, she finishes brushing her teeth and then slips under the covers. Until she falls asleep, her mind revolves around two things:



"F means headgear!"

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #9 on: 04. June 2022, 18:55:50 PM »
Saturday Morning

Chapter 07/13

Rosa had slept badly.

All night long she tosses and turns, crumples the pillow, turns around, smooths the pillow again, turns back ... She cannot sleep. But slowly she is getting more and more drowsy. And the more tired she gets, the more relaxed she becomes. At some point she finally falls asleep.

Still, it cannot be said that she slept well. There can really only be three reasons for this: the after-effects of alcohol, the messed-up exam or the ominous agreement with her parents.

Well, let's look at the matter: the alcohol has left the system; the exam went badly, but the grade is still enough for her dream university... two out of three causes have vanished into thin air.

As long as she doesn't want to blame the full moon for her bad sleep (and there was NO full moon yesterday), she has to face the truth:

What she had so carelessly agreed to with her parents a few weeks ago is now coming back and biting her nose.

Tired, she shuffles into the kitchen. "Good morning, honey", her mother is sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. "How did you sleep?"

"Miserably", Rosa picks up the ingredients for her muesli rather mechanically. The flakes here, the milk there, the honey over there, the raisins next to it. An apple that still needs to be cut into pieces.

"It's no wonder, as much as you gulped down yesterday."

"Did NOT! It wasn't THAT MUCH. Just about half a bottle!"

"There you go", the mother takes a long sip of coffee. "Considering the fact that you normally don't drink alcohol at all, that was a lot ..."

OK, maybe the alcohol HAD played a role in her bad sleep after all ... Still: Rosa hides the fact that her nocturnal restlessness had at least another cause, and instead prefers to cut the apple in pieces.

She was half afraid that she would be asked about her agreement right at the breakfast table, but that doesn't happen. Fortunately! Rosa doesn't really feel ready to talk to her parents about it yet.

She first has to figure out how to deal with it. Should she just keep silent about the matter for as long as possible in the hope that the agreement will slowly but surely be forgotten? Or should she come up with as many arguments as possible so that she can somehow dissuade the parents from their plans? Or should she wait for her parents to talk to her about it and then pretend that there was never an agreement?

No, at least the last "solution" is not a solution at all, because of course there was this agreement; that is absolutely clear to both sides.

And now I've used the word "agreement" often enough that it starts to get annoying if I don't start explaining what it actually means. Well then:

That one stupid effin 'F'. That not only made her cry in front of her teacher yesterday. Not only did it mean that she nearly missed the entry requirements for her dream university. No, it still has an impact even now:

If Rosa can't prevent it, it will ensure that she will soon have to wear headgear. And that ... that's shitty. Not shitty in the same way as if she couldn't go to Bedford Uni. No, another form of "shitty".

Nevertheless: shit remains shit!

No matter what she does: Whether she is surfing the Internet, playing on her game-console or chatting with LaToya on the phone for hours on end, the nagging uncomfortable feeling always stays in the back of her mind. She doesn't really get the question out of her mind: "Do I really have to wear a bridle?"

By the way: LaToya now also knows that her friend failed the last exam. It's a wonder how much calm a few hours can bring to something. Yesterday afternoon, Rosa was sure she didn't want to tell anyone about it. But then her parents were told about it yesterday evening, today her good friend found out ... The girl is slowly coming to terms with having received this 'F'.

Just like Rosa, LaToya wants to go to a university where she has to prove that she is "good enough". That's why the two of them had studied together over the course of the past few weeks. However, in LaToya's case, 70% is enough, and so she - unlike Rosa - did not have to drive herself crazy.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #10 on: 05. June 2022, 16:58:19 PM »
Saturday Evening

Chapter 08/13

Noon and afternoon go by and then - just like that - it is already evening. And her parents still haven't spoken to her. Maybe they won't? Maybe they wait for their daughter to take the first step?

Rosa had used the time as best she could to come up with arguments that will hopefully lead to her being able to outsmart the bridle. OK, that's a downright lie. Rosa hadn't used the time to do this but played forever on her console. After all, today is the first day in a long time that she no longer has to study. And a new game came out a few weeks ago that she was waiting for and is looking forward to playing.

But to play for hours on end while she is supposed to study for the final exams and then the UPT ... she didn't want to do that herself; not to mention that her parents wouldn't have let it happen. But now nothing stands in the way of gaming fun:

The school year has come to an end and there is no more homework to be done. She still has to attend school for a few more days, but then it's vacation-time. And afterwards: Bedford Uni is calling.

Rosa was so absorbed in the game that she didn't really notice how time went by.

In the evening, after dinner, the parents retreat to the living room, where they make themselves comfortable with some Netflix flick. Rosa goes back to her room, lies on the bed and continues to play on the console. But she can't really concentrate now.

The parents look up in amazement when the living room door opens and their daughter walks in. "Do you still have some space on the couch for me?" Which is a pretty rhetorical question, because the sofa is huge and consists of three different parts: the father sits in the armchair, the mother lies on the large sofa. And the little sofa is ...

"... reserved for you ..." the mother points to the empty seat.

"What have we done to deserve this honor?" The father is curious; it has become a rare occasion by now that the three of them sit together.

Rosa shrugs her shoulders: "Oh, I don't know either. I didn't feel like being alone ..."

"I can understand that," nods the mother. "Do you want a blanket?"

No, Rosa doesn't need a blanket, it's warm enough and she doesn't feel like "snuggling in" at the moment.

Her parents are watching some historic movie. She has no idea what this is about. No wonder, she missed the first hour or so. But even if she had been there from the beginning, the movie would not have captivated her. Firstly, it's boring as heck, and secondly, her thoughts are already preoccupied by something else.

Rosa waits for a suitable opportunity to bring up the tiresome subject. But none presents itself. Instead, she plays on her smartphone, follows the film for a few minutes, disappears into her room, comes back, watches the movie, plays on the smart phone ...

Finally, when her father gets up and leaves the room, a suitable opportunity seems to have been found. "Mom ..." she asks carefully, quietly and almost uncertainly.

The mother's eyes fix on her "What's up, my darling?"

"I ... can we ... oh, nothing, it's okay ..."

A compassionate smile on the mother's face: "What's wrong? Don't you want to tell me?"

"I ... can we maybe talk about ... our agreement?"

"Oh, THAT'S where you're coming from..." the mother understands and smiles. "Your dad and I thought that after the 'F' you simply needed moral support." She nods: "That's probably true too, but THAT makes so much more sense now ..."

Damn it, her father came back sooner than she thought, with a cold beer in hand. "What's the matter?"

"Our dear daughter wants to talk to us about what should happen in the next few days ... with the reward for the test."

The father nods and sits back in his armchair: "Well, fire away ...", turning to his daughter.

"Uhh ..." Rosa doesn't know how to respond to that.

This is a damn stupid situation she finds herself in. She had imagined it to go quite different. In her mind she was much more confident and had been able to assert herself much better. But now...

The father is sitting in the armchair to her left, the mother is lying on the sofa to her right. And she herself in the middle of it all, sitting on the edge of "her" couch, looking from one parent to the other.

"Uhh ..." she licks her lips nervously ... "I was thinking if we could ... maybe make a deal ..."

"Which would be?"

"Can ... can't we just forget about everything?" Oh, yes ... very subtle and eloquent ... and so convincing ... my ass!

"No." The father shakes his head. His tone is matter-of-factly. Not surprised or in any way angry. Rather almost amused. But also confidant. Very confidant. For him, the question does not arise at all.

"We had already talked it through", adds the mother almost gently. "Don't you remember? It was even YOUR idea ... We had reached an agreement in the end! And YOU agreed ... "

"Yes ... but ... but only because ..."

"Because you didn't think you would fare this badly, did you?" the father finishes the sentence she has begun.

Almost desperate, Rosa nods.

"So now? Should we throw everything overboard just because something didn't turn out the way you thought it would?"

"I didn't even say that we should 'throw everything overboard'" the girl exclaims.

"What then? That sounded quite like it ...", the mothers smiled. "'Can't we just forget everything' definitely sounds like 'throwing everything overboard' to me". She turns to her husband: "Don't you think so too?"

He nods. "What kind of deal did you have in mind, Rosa?"

Damn ... damn, this is all going down the drain. "I ... I don't really know either ..."

For the next few seconds, the television is the only sound until the father turns it off. It is clear that there are more important things at hand than to watch the film. Especially since they can fast-forward and rewind at will anyway.

"Just to be sure: you ARE talking about the reward for the fourth exam ... so the braces ... am I right?"

With a contrite grin on her lips, Rosa nods at her mother's question.

"Well, then I REALLY don't know what you want to talk about, young woman," the father speaks up again. "As your mother said, it was YOUR wish. That YOU want to change something now, that's pretty steep!" His voice however doesn't sound NEARLY as accusatory as the words he uttered. He repeats: "That was YOUR idea"

"Yeah, you're right, it WAS my idea ... no, actually not ..." Rosalynn sighs: "The BRACES were my idea, but ... but not the HEADGEAR ..."

"But headgear is also a type of braces ..."

The girl rolls her eyes "Well ... yes ... but ... can't you understand what I mean?"

"We do, but that doesn't change anything about our agreement: YOU had the idea, WE made you a proposal and YOU accepted the proposal ..." The father lifts his forefinger: "And you can't talk yourself out of it: You knew exactly what was in store for you. Do you want to deny that? "

Rosa shakes her head. "No, I don't want to. I'm not saying anything was unfair or anything, but I ..."

"You just don't want to continue anymore?" The mother pulls back her blanket and sits up.

Rosa nods. Damn it ... this is really all going down the drain now. In the last few minutes, she had thought about a few things that she wanted to say to her parents. And she had also thought of something she wanted to respond with, should her parents made snarky remarks ... but now ... now the parents have the upper-hand.

"You can forget about that, Rosa," replies the father

The mother takes the same line: "We're not going to do it, honey."

"But you don't even know WHAT I want," the girl protests.

"Then tell us", demands the father.

This is exactly where the problem lies: She had already said what she wanted: "Can't we just forget everything?" and her parents didn't jump to it. Yes, they did, but so very different from what Rosa had hoped. Instead of "If you want," she got to hear a simple, but pretty definitive, "No!".

Another attempt: "And ... what if I forego something else instead?"

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #11 on: 06. June 2022, 14:52:04 PM »
Chapter 09/13

It all had started with the mother's suggestion a few weeks before the start of the UPT: "What would you think if the both of us go shopping once the whole thing is done with?"

After all, there is something to celebrate: Not only will Rosalynn - hopefully - have received a good rating in the UPT and can thus attend the university of her choice. No, there's more: The UPT also marks the end of the school year and thus also the end of high school. A few weeks later she will be in university - the "grown-up's school". And that's something worth celebrating, isn't it?

Now Rosa surely does not want to say "no" to a shopping spree. At the same time, however, she had wanted to travel "abroad" for a long time. Torn about what to do for a while, she finally asked her parents if she could exchange the shopping spree for a trip.

It was clear pretty quickly that the parents would reject her desired destination. "Two weeks to Japan" is simply not an option; neither in their schedule nor in the parents' budget. After all, Rosalynn is of course not allowed to travel alone yet. But overall, her legal guardians had shown themselves open to traveling with their offspring.

"What do you think of that?" The father asked a few days later: She could also split it up: Rosa could decide: Either an "epic" shopping spree or a longer trip or a combination of both: She would go on her shopping spree AND her trip, but neither would be as grand as if she only got ONE gift.

Rosa quickly agreed. And from there the idea was born to get a separate gift for each of the four parts of the UPT. The parents agreed. But as children are, they can never get enough.

And so Rosa had negotiated with her parents to convert the four "gifts" into four "rewards": the better she does in the four individual parts of the UPT, the better the reward. The parents had consulted for a while, but then also agreed to it.

But with one caveat: Rosalynn's birthday is coming up soon. If they were to actually go on with the "reward system", it would probably cost a lot of money.

Well ... her parents are lucky in that they - without being rich - don't really have to worry about money too much. Her father has his own company with several employees and her mother works as an optician in her own shop. In other words: They have enough money to be able to pay her daughter the - not exactly cheap - private high school - and to be able to do so with pleasure.

And indeed they also have enough money to buy several presents for their daughter. However: "We're not millionaires ... If you really want four rewards for the test ... then you won't get anything from us for your birthday this year. Okay?"

Rosa hadn't hesitated for a second, but - without thinking twice - had immediately agreed.

And so the "agreement" came about, of which I already wrote earlier: The better Rosalynn scores in the four individual exams of the UPT, the better - or more expensive - the respective gift that she's allowed to choose may be.

However, this does not apply indefinitely: "'Give her an inch and she will take a mile', that is not possible," the parents make clear to her: "You have to think about what you want. And then we will tell you, whether WE think that this is fair and doable, agreed?"

Of course, Rosa agreed. Nevertheless, she had a few problems at the beginning: She had absolutely no idea what a good grade was "worth" to her parents. With a perfect test result, may she expect to be able to choose a shirt and new pants on a shopping trip, or does an 'A' mean a shopping spree until she 'can't carry no more'?

That's why her parents made a few suggestions: "What do you think: What grade will you get in math (the first of the four parts)?"

Oh, hard to say. Math is one of the subjects in which the daughter has a hard time. Definitely dependent on the topic. And it is better not to have too high expectations ... then at least Rosa is not too disappointed if the grade turns out "bad": "Don't know ... probably a 'C'?" Yes, that sounds about right ...

"You wanted a Playstation 5, didn't you?" asks the father.

Rosa eyes widen: That thing has been on the market for a while now and is therefore not as expensive as it was at the beginning, nevertheless: It is still expensive enough: And for a 'C' she would get the PS5?

Not quite: "If you'll bring home a 'B', you will get that thing from us," corrects the father.

"Mean!", Rosa is annoyed in a good way.

The mother laughs: "It's not called 'reward' for nothing: you are SUPPOSED to make a little effort ... "

"It's fine, it's fine," says Rosa, laughing as well. Yes: to trade a PS5 for "a few days of study" sounds quite tempting.

But ... but if a 'B' already gets her a PS5, what if ... what if she wrote an 'A'? OK, that's not very likely, but what if?

With that question in mind, Rosa compiles a list of things she might want to have. At first the list gets longer and longer, before it finally starts to get shorter again: Some things are simply "more important" to her than others:

The furniture in her room is beginning to be a little too "childish" for her taste; but compared to the prospect of having a PS5, it's clear who wins.

The first three categories are quickly populated: a game console, a trip and a shopping spree ...

For a long time, she wasn't sure what she should pick as reward for the fourth test: New furniture after all? Rosa doesn't feel like going to a "really fancy" restaurant as her parents had suggested. What if she merges two categories and turns a shopping trip into a shopping marathon?

In the end, Rosa decides to simply ask for money. Money is always an option and can be used "for everything". Even if she can't think of anything better right now, as long as she saves the money, she can still spend it as soon as she knows what she wants to buy with it.

She had suggested those four categories to her parents, and they agreed.

But the very next day, when she came home from school, she had upset the plan again: Because Amy's braces had been removed. And ... WOW. Her teeth look really nice now, so beautiful and straight.

The fact that her school friend got rid of her braces is Rosa's second encounter with the subject: About... yes, about a year ago - her parents dragged her to an orthodontist after all.

Rosa was amazed to hear his findings. Because they differed significantly from what she had thought of her own teeth: Of course they were not absolutely straight, but also not so crooked that she absolutely had to do something about it.

She wouldn't really have minded getting braces. After all, many classmates have them in their mouths; so it would be nothing unusual to join the group of braces-wearers. At the same time, however, she was also of the opinion that treatment was not absolutely necessary; after all, her teeth weren't that bad.

Dr. Coleman, the orthodontist, had seen it decidedly different: Yes, something should be done about it. The faster the better. He had impressed on the parents that - although it is not yet "high time" - they should not let it slide for another several years. Because that would only complicate later treatment unnecessarily.

So the parents - like many others in the situation - decided to "treat" their child to an orthodontic treatment. So sooner or later she would find herself in the orthodontist's chair.

And after seeing the plaster casts of her teeth, Rosa had to admit that "a little bit crooked" is not entirely true. That it probably was more wishful thinking than anything else. So after a few days she had come to the conclusion that - with those "topsy-turvy" teeth - it might not be a bad idea to wear braces after all.

However, the fact that about a year has passed since then without the treatment having taken another step forward has a very specific cause: Dr. Coleman's treatment plan. Because she doesn't like it. Absolutely not! Not at all!

This plan could be divided into two parts: The first part is the braces.

OK ... we already talked about that: Rosa has no problem with the prospect of wearing braces. She doesn't look forward to her silver smile, but on the other hand she can't imagine having problems with it either.

But unfortunately, that cannot be said of the second part: Dr. Coleman had made it clear that the braces alone would not be enough to correct Rosalynn's misalignments. Unfortunately, this will require a second treatment device.

And more than once the term "headgear" was used in this context.

THAT'S why Rosa still doesn't wear braces. She does want straight teeth by now; but not when she is strapped into a bridle for that! That would be extremely embarrassing! And so she had managed to push the start of the treatment further and further back.

Admittedly: The orthodontist had also suggested a less conspicuous alternative to headgear, but for that there would be a significant surcharge on the "cheap option". Money that apparently didn't seem worthwhile to the parents at the time. Or they hadn't expected their daughter to object to headgear in the first place. Either way: Rosa was never asked whether she would prefer the alternative.

And Rosa had not mentioned much she disliked the prospect of being strapped into a metal bow. In other words, her parents had no way of knowing that their daughter would strongly prefer the alternative. But if she mentions that NOW, after an entire year of silence, she certainly would have to expect her parents becoming "a teeny-tiny bit indignant".

She surely would also have to listen to something like "Your aversion to headgear cannot be THAT great if you kept quiet about it for an ENTIRE year!" And it's hard to argue with that.

By now her parents are slowly getting a little impatient. They agree with the orthodontist that they shouldn't wait much longer. So unless a miracle happens, Rosa will soon find herself in braces and with headgear.

And still she didn't bring herself to talking to her parents. Instead, Rosa had actively avoided the topic. Maybe she would have made some last-minute effort to dissuade her parents even with the risk of irritating them.

But nobody can know for sure, because now that she saw how wonderful Amy's laugh had become ... well, Rosalynn was jealous.

If it hadn't been for the stupid headgear, the girl now almost "wanted" to get braces to straighten her teeth.

Wait; stop! Stop! There IS "a way out" now! A few days ago, a possibility, not to be condemned to headgear any longer, has presented itself:

The parents were astonished. THAT topic had never even come to mind. They were very surprised when her daughter requested "inconspicuous braces" as a fourth reward.

But well... why not?

Offline libtech

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #12 on: 07. June 2022, 05:44:16 AM »
Absolutely love where this story is heading!!!! Can't wait for more!! Well done

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #13 on: 07. June 2022, 15:58:50 PM »
As there were concerns that this story violates some to the forum-rules (especially the one about the age of the people involved), I have bumped up Rosalynns age. All involved are now of age! In that process I had to do some modifications.

Those changes will have no appreciable impact on the chapters to come, and so I had no interest whatsoever in putting any effort in rewriting this story. So the changes made (especially to the first chapters) are very crude (on purpose!):

In this universe, there is now a 3-tier school system, where it is mandatory for every student to go to university after high-school came to a close. For the same reason, the "normal" braces-age has been raised by several years, so that now only 18 year-olds (or whatever the coming-of-age is where you're from) start to wear braces

Chapter 10/13

"And ... what if I forego something else instead?", Rosa asks again to her mother shaking her head.

"We had already talked about the fact that the gifts are fixed and that you can no longer change them ..."

With little enthusiasm, Rosa feels compelled to nod:

Contrary to expectations, the math test turned out to be laughably easy. Or the few days she had studied maths had worked wonders: Anyway: With big eyes and a big grin, Rosa had noticed the 'A' that had shown itself on her math test.

She was less enthusiastic about the 'C' in English. To be honest, she had expected an 'A' here. Accordingly, she was a bit crestfallen when she saw the round letter instead of the pointed one.

Because behind the English-test "hides" the trip that she negotiated with her parents as a reward. And with a 'C' she must now expect less than with an 'A'.

The trip to Japan had been out of question from the very start, but for an 'A' her parents had suggested a week-long trip to France. Her first time in Europe ... yes, that had sounded very inviting to the girl. With a 'C' she can now forget about Europe. But she would have loved so much to fly to France ...

That's why she asked her parents: "Can't we swap rewards? Or ... even better: Can't we just say: I may freely choose which grade I want to exchange for a certain reward?"

But the parents did not agree: a deal is a deal. And her daughter agreed at the time. So she shouldn't ask for changes afterwards.

And that is exactly what the mother is referring to now. "We had agreed that rewards could not be exchanged. And now you are asking whether you 'may' forego a reward - in order not to get headgear... Do you think that is fair?"

Looking unhappy, Rosa shrugs her shoulders: "I was just hoping that ..." she doesn't finish the sentence when her father shakes his head.

Actually, Rosa doesn't have much to complain about: Yes, OK, the 'C' in English means she can forget about the trip to Europe. A weekend trip to New York - which she would have gotten in exchange for a 'B' - now is also a thing of the past. Would have been nice to be able to combine THAT with a shopping spree. But it just won't work, so she doesn't need to cry about it ... The 'C' hides a trip to Death Valley. Not Rosa's greatest wish, but better than nothing. And - from a geographical view - surely very interesting.

The 'A' in math had not only ensured that the PS5 will arrive in the mail in the next few days; her parents are even willing to buy her an additional tablet. Brilliant!

The 'B' in the third test, in which "general knowledge" was tested in dozens of multiple-choice questions, ensures that the shopping trip will not be "grand". But she should be definitely able to get some new clothes out of it. Not to shabby! Maybe she can even talk her parents into giving her some extra "pocket money"?

In other words, Rosa had gotten a lot more in terms of reward than she had initially imagined. That's why she almost feels guilty about receiving so many presents. Almost!

If it wasn't for the stupid fourth category, Rosa really could have been pleased.

"And ... what if I do without the tablet? You ... you haven't ordered it yet ..."

Her parents shake their heads in unison.

"And ... what ... what if I," Rosa licks her lips. "What if I also pass on the Playstation? What if we send it back?" This suggestion really isn't easy for Rosa, she had really been looking forward to the console.

Her father shakes his head again.

One last attempt, Rosa ignores the increasingly bad chances: "What if I give up everything? When we say that ..."

"No, honey, that's not how it works," her mother interrupts her flow. "I understand more-or-less that you are trying to get the best out of it. I would certainly do that in your place too ... But, honey ... You have to see that we have agreed that we - neither YOU nor WE - are allowed to change something later on ... "

"Yes, I know that ..."


"... I ... oh ... nothing," sighs Rosa. "I just don't want effin' headgear ..."

"Do you really think it is going to be THAT bad?"

Rosa looks at her parents as if she couldn't believe what she had heard: "Mom, it's HEADGEAR..."

"Yes, I know that..."

Rosa rolls her eyes: Of course, her mother knows what headgear is. But she has NO idea how bad that must be.

"As a child I had a device like this myself ... AND I survived it ..."

The daughter stares at her mother with big eyes: "You ... you had headgear?"

The mother nods.

"But ... but why didn't you tell me?"

The mother looks puzzled at her daughter: "Why should I have done that?" Then she sighs: "Oh honey, don't make life so difficult for yourself. Headgear is not something to worry about like you are doing ... "

Rosa shrugs her shoulders. She doesn't want to contradict her mother. However, it is clear that she does not share her opinion.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #14 on: 08. June 2022, 16:34:31 PM »
Chapter 11/13

A few seconds pass, then she sighs, turning to no one in particular: "If I had even remotely suspected that I could flunk the oral exam like that, then ..."

"What then?" the father asks when Rosa is silent.

"... then I would probably have insisted that the worst thing I could get are braces. But WITHOUT headgear!"

The father looks skeptical: "I don't think we would have allowed that, Rosa!"

She looks puzzled at her father, so that he feels compelled to explain:

"Rosa, you still remember what Dr. Coleman explained to us: The braces are not enough on their own, you NEED an additional device ..."

Rosa nods slightly, not at all liking the direction her father is leading her. "And hopefully we can all see that it makes no sense to only do your treatment half-heartedly. You are a sensible girl. You certainly don't want your teeth to be only somewhat straighter later, do you? "

This time it's not a nod, but a shake of the head that follows. "No ... that ... I don't want that either. I WANT straight teeth ..."

"There you go, Rosa," the father nods, relieved that his darling-daughter is not sulking. "You said yourself that you want to go on with your treatment. Just doing half of it is stupid, isn't it?"

The nod is more fainthearted; her father understands why: "Yes, I know, you want straight teeth but without headgear if possible ..."

THIS nod is quite spirited.

"We understand you, really, we do. But YOU must also realize that there simply is no way around it. Dr. Coleman said that you need such a brace. Can't you see that?"

"Yes, I can ..." And then more quiet: "But still: I think it's unfair ..."

"What is unfair?" asks the mother, who nevertheless heard her daughter.

"Oh ... nothing," Rosa backs down.

"No, Rosa, not like that!", The father demands: "If you throw something out like that, then you'll also finish your sentence. Your mother and I don't particularly like being called 'unfair' without knowing exactly why ... "

"I ... I just mean: Everything else has always been positive ..." she shrugs her shoulders: "Every other gift was always only positive ... or, in the worst case, neutral ..."

"For example, the ... the trip: If I had written an 'A', we would have flown to France. I wasn't able to... it's OK, then we'll go to Death Valley instead ... I always wanted to go there ... and if I had written an 'F' ... then we would have stayed at home..."

She picks up speed: "Or with the Playstation: Because I got an 'A', I even get a tablet from you on top. And if I had written an 'F', then I would not have received anything, but would have had my old Playstation to play on... "

"But now ... with the braces... that sucks! Because I wrote an 'F', I won't get any inconspicuous braces, but the normal metal ones." She looks up and quickly adds: "That's okay. I have no problem with that. I would have liked to have inconspicuous braces ... but the normal ones are also OK ..."

She shrugs her shoulders, her gaze runs straight through her parents: "But ... but the headgear ..." she searches for words: "That ... that ... I think it's unfair! That's the only thing that is negative ... "

"You think it's unfair to get headgear?"

Rosa shrugs her shoulders in an eloquent gesture but is otherwise silent.

"Can you explain to me why you think that is unfair?" the mother asks.

"Everything ... everything else was always positive ... or neutral in the worst case: Either I get something from you if I got a good grade; or, in case I should fail, I wouldn't get anything." She licks her lips: "But that ... that is the only thing that is negative. Just because I got an 'F', I now have to wear headgear ... I think THAT is unfair ..."

"So you mean to say that a headgear is 'negative'?" the mother asks.

Rosa doesn't answer, in her opinion the matter is absolutely clear.

A few seconds of silence pass, in which the parents give their daughter time to add something. But that doesn't happen.

"You only forget one thing ..." the father finally replies. "You forget that you need that brace anyway. You were there with us at the consultation when Dr. Coleman explained all that ..."

Another shrug from Rosa. "Well, yes, but..."

"No, Rosa, no buts!", The father shakes his head: "It is exactly the same with the braces as with the other three gifts! Let's look at it in detail:" The father counts the individual arguments on his fingers while his daughter looks on miserable.

She has learned: If her father behaves like this, the cards are stacked against her.

"First: You are absolutely right: the better your score, the more expensive a reward you may choose. Second: You are right again: If you get an 'F', you will get nothing from us for this part of the exam."

"Third: You have just said again yourself that you still want to have your teeth corrected. Fourth: We have just come to the conclusion that it makes no sense to only do half the job. You understood that yourself ... "

"Oh darling, you don't have to make such a long face..." the mother interrupts her husband's counting.

"And that amazes you?" Rosa laughs dryly.

"A little, yes ..." the mother says softly: "I can understand that you are not enthusiastic about the thought of getting headgear ... But, honey ... believe me, this is really not that bad, as you imagine it to be now ... "

Rosa can just in time bring herself not to say: "You have no idea ... you have no idea how terrible such a thing must be ..." But then she just noticed that she would shoot herself in the foot with it: Her mother knows more about it than herself, how such a brace must feel. Her mother is the only one after all, to have first hand experience.

"I do understand that I need this thing ..." complains Rosa "It's just... that it's so damn embarrassing ..."

The mother nods: "That's for sure" Then she laughs: "I can't contradict you there ... But look here, honey: Nobody asks you to wear this thing to university."

Her child shudders at the mere thought of it.

"I can't tell you exactly what Dr. Coleman is going to tell you, of course, but you'll probably only have to wear the brace at home." The mother nods with a smile. "And even if not ... even IF he insisted that you had to wear your headgear all day - which I don't believe by the way - then I would NOT insist on it. For ME it is absolutely enough if you wear it at home ... "

Two feelings fight for supremacy in Rosalynn's chest: The "desperation" that her parents do indeed insist on her having to wear the stupid thing. And the "relief" that her mother has just promised her not to be ALL-TOO strict.

If ... IF she really has to wear the stupid headgear, then ... then hopefully it won't be as bad as she imagined. "And if mom really wore a brace like this before ... then she can probably relate to me all the better ..." thought Rosa. "And doesn't get mad if I have a bad day... At least that's something ..."

Of course, it would still be better if she wouldn't get the stupid thing at all ...

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #15 on: 09. June 2022, 17:09:17 PM »
Chapter 12/13

"Let me finish my thought," the father asks. "When you start your treatment, you will get braces ... so far so good. You remember: Dr. Coleman had shown us different types of braces that you could choose between." Rosa nods.

In fact, the orthodontist had presented several treatment devices. He had said from the start that he was only mentioning Invisalign for the sake of completeness, because those would absolutely be not enough to correct Rosalynns misalignment. She needed braces - the permanent glued-on kind - no-ifs-and-buts. But even then, there were several different systems that differed in their "conspicuousness" but also in price. But unfortunately, the two values run in opposite directions: the cheaper, the more noticeable.

At the upper end of the spectrum would be lingual braces that can't be seen "from the outside", but which are forbiddingly expensive. Then there would be inconspicuous braces with brackets made of ceramic or plastic. Then self-ligating braces. They are already made of metal, but smaller than the conventional braces and therefore a little less visible. And then, at the bottom end, the "normal" metal braces.

But unfortunately, that would not be enough; the misalignments are too severe. As uncomfortable as this is going to be for his future patient, she definitely needs another treatment device, Dr. Coleman made quite clear.

"Again, Dr. Coleman gave us two alternatives, didn't he?" One possibility is much less common in the US than in Europe, after all this treatment device was invented in Germany ... A device with the name of "SUS" would be able to move the teeth appropriately so that the relation of the jaws to each other would improve.

Comment: I don't know if a SUS is really capable of doing this. Creative freedom!

In short: with the SUS device in combination with braces, her misalignment could be corrected. And because it is IN the mouth, while still not being completely invisible, it would have had much less of an "impact" than the other alternative - the tried and tested headgear. Unfortunately, the trouble with the SUS is that it is much more complex to manufacture and install. Facebows and neckpads are a-dime-a-dozen, but the SUS has to be individually manufactured by a dental laboratory. And that doesn't come cheap ...

"We were ready to pay you the inconspicuous braces and this 'alternative' thing if you get a good grade ...", continues the father, "exactly as you wanted it. Just as we were ready to give you an 'expensive' reward for the other three exams."

"And just like the other three exams, we had agreed that we wouldn't pay you anything if you get an 'F'. That was our deal, remember? "

Rosa nods, her lips pressed together. She believes to understand where her father is leading her. And she has the inkling that she won't like it there.

"Well ...", the father lifts his index finger: "You will get your treatment, that is out of the question. After all, you should have straight teeth. That is just as important to us as it is to you! We want you to be happy too ... "

"The only question that still arises is: what type of braces will you get? And, Rosa ... you were willing to use that as your stake for your reward. The better the grade, the more inconspicuous - and more expensive."

Rosa nods almost pitifully. She knows all that, her father needn't have reminded her ... she just hoped that maybe she could change something ...

"Now you got an 'F' because of your blackout. That didn't work out too well, I'll admit that. YOU didn't expect that and neither did WE ... But after what you told us yesterday, you managed to come to terms with it... "

Rosa doesn't nod. She doesn't want to admit in front of her parents that she - at least to some degree - has to agree with Mr. Klyne by now. As stupid as that is, as much as she would have liked to have had a better grade: There is nothing more to do about the 'F' ... As much as she wanted to repeat the test, it will just not happen.

But if she admitted that, it would reduce her chances of somehow getting out of this tricky situation. However, her father seems to correctly interpret his daughter's apathy:

"You getting an 'F' means that we are not spending any money. We wouldn't go on holiday; you wouldn't get your game console... "

"We will pay for your treatment, that is out of question. But in this case, the 'F' means, that we will not be spending any ADDITIONAL money. You will have to make do with what is the cheapest option for Dr. Coleman. And that is not the inconspicuous braces with plastic brackets. And that is not a bespoke device, but the headgear."

But her father is not finished yet: "I want to come back to what you said earlier: If you had known that you might fail, you would have wanted to set the reward so that you wouldn't get headgear.... I think you can see now why we would not have allowed that:"

"You need such a 'special' brace - and because of that you shall get it. Not wearing this brace would after all mean only doing half the job. And you don't want that yourself! That's why we wouldn't have let you forego it. Not because we want to annoy you, but because you need this brace..."

"Besides ..." The father allows himself to grin: "May I remind you of what you said when we suggested those options to you?"

Rosalynn presses her lips together. She remembers. OH YES, she remembers well: She had laughed! She had sneered and laughed and had already been looking forward to these inconspicuous braces.

It was clear to her that at worst she would get a 'C'. And that only if she had been particularly dense that day. She always expected a 'B' or maybe even better in the oral exam. She was interested in geography enough that she didn't have to worry about "failing".

So she had been expecting plastic braces. It didn't even have to be the lingual stuff; the brackets made of plastic would have been "plenty good enough" for her. Well ... actually the inconspicuous plastic brackets weren't even her main concern:

Rather, she had arranged with her parents that they would pay for the inconspicuous alternative to headgear as long as Rosa didn't bring home an 'F'. In other words: Even with a 'D', if she would only get the "normal" metal braces, the parents would still have paid the surcharge for the SUS.

And because she had firmly expected that even in the worst case scenario, she would still get a 'C', she had hardly thought about what could happen to her with an 'F'. Why should she? So she was completely sure to be rid of the stupid headgear. With this certainty in mind, she had said lightly:

"Headgear? You can forget about that. Won't happen. Never ever ever! I won't get an 'F' ..." Then she laughed: "But if I really should be that stupid and bring home an 'F' ... well, that would serve me right ... " She smiles a very wide smile: "'F means headgear?' OK, I'm down for it!"

Those were her words that she now remembers with horror. "I see you still remember," smiles the father.

"But ... but what if I CANNOT get used to the headgear?"

"Let's not speak of the devil ..." demands the father.

The mother is of the same opinion: "We cannot assess NOW how you will fare with your headgear later if you do not have to wear it yet ... We'll have to wait until you actually have got braces. THEN the rest follows, OK? "

Rosa nods silently.

"Oh honey, we're not doing this to punish you ...", the mother reaches out to her daughter and gently touches her knee. "It's not like we're DEMANDING that you wear extra severe braces because you didn't do well in the test ... Do you really think so?"

Rosa hastily shakes her head. "No ... no, I don't think so. Absolutely not ..." She really hadn't meant to imply that her parents wanted to punish her for her failure. Because she knows herself that this is not true. Her parents have no clue, what terrible things they demand of her daughter, but no... they don't want to punisher her!

"If it really doesn't work out ... if you really can't get used to your headgear ... then that's another matter. Then ... well, then we would have to find a way around it. But ..." the mother sounds resolute: "To say after ONE week: 'I can't', that doesn't work! You have to give it a fighting chance!"

"And if I ... if I clear out my piggy bank and ... and pay the surcharge for the ... the alternative myself?"

The parents shake their heads. "A deal is a deal". Not to mention the fact that all three know that Rosa's current cash-stash is not even remotely worth mentioning.

"And ... and if ... if I ...", one last attempt, one last defiant struggle.

The father gives her time to find an answer. A few seconds pass in which the girl fiddles with her cell phone and fails to look at her parents.

"If you ... what?"

A long sigh: "I don't know either ..."

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #16 on: 10. June 2022, 16:27:59 PM »
Chapter 13/13

"Look here, honey", the mother moves a little closer to her daughter: "Don't you think that it would be unfair if you threw everything overboard again just because you don't like the result?"

Rosa shrugs her shoulders. She can see some of the arguments: If they had agreed on something, then they should stick to it, and so on. And if they have agreed not to exchange rewards ... then oh well ... then she has to stick to it ...

But, on the other hand: She herself would be willing to forego some of her gifts if this could fix the "headgear issue". Or ... to put it another way: Her parents have just stated that she wouldn't get the less conspicuous braces because of the money involved.

Fine, she understands that: They had agreed that with an 'F' there was no money for inconspicuous braces to be had. OK, if her parents insist on that, it's fair ... not nice, but fair!

BUT: Why can't she just "convert" one of the gifts? Why can't they just say: "We won't go shopping, but we pay the extra charge for the SUS instead"? Why don't her parents want to agree?

In fact, she had suggested giving up ALL gifts. That would save her parents a LOT of money. The SUS can't be THAT expensive ...

Or ... she was even willing to pay for part of the treatment out of her own pocket ...

Just to say: "A deal is a deal", that's not fair!

"I think that's unfair towards us if you argue like that"

The girl looks up in surprise: "Why?" She would even save her parents money and yet that is supposed to be unfair?

"I understand that you would like to change something now...", the mother begins. "But after the other three tests ... why didn't you have the same thoughts? You wanted to swap rewards, but you never thought of giving up your Playstation for us to fly to France instead for example. Why not?"

She doesn't wait for the daughter's answer, which might never have come, but continues: "Because you liked the result. The grade was good - or at least good enough - and you were happy about the gift you'll receive ... "

"But have you ever thought about what that means for US? Don't hold it against me, but I don't think that you have spend too much thought on how expensive your wishes could be."

"The Playstation, the shopping spree, the trip to Death Valley ... each of those will cost us a few hundred dollars! The trip to France would have been much more expensive! But your dad and I were ready to pay for your vacation. And for the Playstation. And for the shopping spree. And for the inconspicuous braces."

Rosa's mouth opens to reply, but nothing comes out. When she closes her mouth again, she feels a lump in her throat.

The mother laughs slightly: "You don't have to be afraid that you would have thrown us into ruin. We have enough money for it. Otherwise we wouldn't have been able to pay your university..."

"And we're happy to give you those things too. We're happy with you that you can go to Bedford. Besides ... part of it is your birthday present ... Anyway: That still is a lot of money that we can't just pay from petty-cash ... We're not THAT rich!"

"And yet we were happy to do it. Without complaining and without wanting to change anything, because it might be too expensive for us. Be honest with yourself: What would you have said if you had proudly come home with an 'A' in your pocket and then we would have told you: 'No, we won't do it after all, you won't get your Playstation. It is too expensive for us after all'. How would you have reacted?"

The lump in her throat is getting bigger, Rosa presses her lips together. She really wants to cover her ears too by now.

"You know, darling, if WE keep OUR part: If we are ready to take such a lot of money into our hands for you, don't you also think, that we in return have the right to expect YOU to do YOUR part?"

"Yes, it would be cheaper for us if you would suddenly forgo your presents. But that's beside the point, honey! Do you feel that you are really being treated unfairly when we ask you to stick to the rules that we ALL agreed on? That you honor the agreement the same way we do?"

Rosa blinks quickly. No, she doesn't want to start crying again now. She drives the rising wetness out of her eyes.

That ... that was mean. Her mother really hit her right on the head with the big moral club. Couldn't she have phrased it differently? Less accusatory?

But ... that wouldn't have changed the statement itself: Rosalynn had accepted the gifts really quickly. Of course, she had thanked her parents for that. And she was genuinely happy about it.

But ... she hadn't thought about it much either. Why should she? They had agreed: the parents were willing to pay for the presents. Why should she still think about it a lot after that?

Admittedly, it is actually not the children's duty to agonize over such things. After all, it is the parents' "job" to look after their children. Worrying about financial matters beyond their own pocket money shouldn't be something that the children should be burdened with.

At least, as long as the children don't "demand" four expensive presents!

But the girl hadn't thought at all about what she is asking of her parents when she had imagined what she could wish for: She had instead discussed with her parents which tablet she's allowed to choose in addition to her Playstation. After all, Rosa had her eye on a quite expensive iPad. And she had already planned the route through the city center that she wanted to take for the shopping spree.

All of this without thinking about how much it costs exactly or how long her parents would have to work for it.

Mind you: her mother started it all by inviting her to go shopping. So it's not like Rosa had to wrangle everything out of her parents' pockets. But she had "diligently" tried to argue why it would be nice to have a separate reward for each of the four exams.

"I see you understand what I mean," the mother says. She's not angry, grumpy or disappointed. Instead, friendly, loving and compassionate. But also adamant.

A hard laugh from Rosa's throat: "You know, mom, Mr. Klyne also said that the very same thing yesterday: He mustn't give me a better grade because that wouldn't be fair to the others ... And now you come up with that too ..." A long sigh.

Her elbows on her knees and her head hidden in her hands. She was sitting in a similar pose just yesterday at noon. The only difference is that NOW things are not that bad for her. NOW it's not her entire "school career" that's at risk, but it is "only" a question of whether she's able to put up with a stupid headgear.

Not that she really has any choice left.

There it is again, that strange gut-feeling: that strange pressure in the stomach area; as if she was about to get sick without it ever really getting that far.

The same feeling she had yesterday when she talked to Mr. Klyne: When Rosa understood, she wasn't going to get a second chance; that she is not allowed to repeat the test.

This is exactly how she feels again now: the feeling of having understood that the chance to turn things around has passed. That there NEVER was a chance to turn things around, to begin with. That the only way out is to accept, what's waiting for you.

And worst of all: The feeling of having understood that her own arguments are not worth much and that the others are right.

But she still has ONE last "hope": Even if she was not allowed to repeat the UPT, she still met the entry requirements for the university of her choice. So in the end it wasn't as bad as initially feared.

Maybe - hopefully - that also holds true to her braces situation? Maybe she doesn't have to wear headgear that long? Maybe her mother is right and headgear isn't THAT bad as she imagines it to be right now?

Rosa's head rises, a resigned smile on her face: "I won't get out of headgear anymore, will I?"

She doesn't have to wait for her parents to shake their heads to know the answer. Rosa sighs:

"F means headgear!"


This is the original ending. Some time later I got carried away to write a 3-chapter sequel. Since I don't particularly like the sequel however, for me personally the story ends right here.

I will publish the sequel regardless; but I would be very interested in your opinion, whether the sequel was worth posting

Offline Blockbraced

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #17 on: 11. June 2022, 16:06:22 PM »
Thanks for sharing the story! It was really well written, and well worth the read.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #18 on: 11. June 2022, 19:23:39 PM »
Part 3 - A look into the future

Chapter 14/16

On Monday afternoon, Rosa gets her report card at school. Mr. Klyne had promised her, but seeing it in black and white on her report card is another matter: the 'A' in history brings a broad - and extremely relieved - grin to her face. Even though there was no doubt about it, now it's official: she has passed the entrance requirements.

At the same time, she also receives the UPT grade summary and, to her astonishment, an already filled out application form, which she needs to be accepted at Bedford. With the 81% she has achieved, this "application" is only a formality; nevertheless, the documents must be sent off without much delay.

A few days later, the hoped-for reply from Bedford arrives. Rosa had almost driven herself crazy in her worry that she might not be accepted after all, despite having overcome the hurdle. Maybe Bedford doesn't accept students who failed a part of the UPT after all? Or so many people applied this year that the cut-off had been raised to 85%? Or maybe... But her worries were unfounded: Her application was accepted, she was enrolled at the university for the coming school year.

Her timetable for the coming semester and a list of "voluntary" additional courses that she can take are also included. She is however asked to make a decision as soon as possible, because some courses are very popular.

Some of them sound very interesting, and she is particularly taken with a course on American history. She can only hope that it will not be fully booked before her documents arrive back at Bedford.

A few days later, she gets the answer she had hoped for: she can take "American History" and almost all the other she had registered for. Only one art course was already fully booked... but that's OK.

Only she can't really be happy about it on that day. There is something that puts a damper on her joy: Unfortunately, the documents from Bedford arrive on the same day that she has an appointment with Dr. Coleman. Her parents had acted quickly and made an appointment with the orthodontist before their daughter could possibly change her mind and withdraw her consent.

Of course, this does not mean that Rosa is now already sporting braces and headgear. It doesn't happen THAT quickly. This was just an appointment to make some preparations and discuss final things. In other words: Rosa still has a reprieve, but she can't really be happy about it.

Because this reprieve will only last three weeks. Dr Coleman thought it advisable to start the treatment as soon as possible. The fact that it happened so quickly had also surprised the parents. But why not? After all, their daughter herself had given consent to start treatment.

To make it quite clear: Rosa has absolutely no problem getting braces. Why should she? Almost everyone in her class has - or had (in Amy's case) - braces. There is nothing special about THAT!

Sadly, however, Dr. Coleman had again emphatically confirmed that she absolutely needed headgear. Unless she opted for its more expensive alternative. And the parents had made it clear once again that they would stick to the agreement they had made and would therefore NOT pay the extra costs of the SUS.

Rosa had felt like making an agreement with the orthodontist behind her parents' backs that she would pay for the extra costs of the SUS herself. But a look in her piggy bank had put an end to that very quickly. Apart from cobwebs, there wasn't much in it. And Dr. Coleman certainly would not agree to 5-dollars-per-month installments.

A week later, mother and daughter go shopping together in the city centre. The father had asked to be allowed to stay at home. He would have loved to take his daughter to the nearest hardware store.... but he wouldn't be able to stand having to traipse through clothing shops for hours on end. Laughing, his two ladies left on their own. And returned after an astonishingly short time:

In a small shop, Rosa stumbled across a "collection" that she absolutely adored. As soon as she saw those clothes, she was blown away and knew what she wanted to have. These clothes also appealed to her mother.

The only trouble is that this collection is more expensive than a simple shirt from H&M. Not forbiddingly expensive, but nevertheless expensive enough that the mother has to issue a "warning": she would love to fulfil her daughter's wish, but Rosa has to understand that this would deplete the budget much faster. That was fine with the teenager. As long as she could get what she fell in love with in the changing room, she couldn't care less if her shopping trip begins and ends in that very shop.

And so the two ladies return back home sooner than expected. "But you know, mum, I'm glad that I really had planned the shopping trip weeks ago. Otherwise I don't think we would have ever gone there."

The mother nods. She had been surprised to be led by her daughter to this small - quite out of the way - shop. But it had been worth it and that is the main thing.

Two weeks later, the reprieve is finally over and Rosa is getting braces: Braces and headgear in one fell swoop. Normally, he wouldn't start her with headgear at the same appointment as the braces, Dr. Coleman explains. But because Rosalynn started her treatment relatively late anyway, and the start of treatment had been delayed for a year on top of that, he decided to go ahead with it this time.

And now Rosa is sitting in the living room with her parents, looking dejected and having to try to get used to her new "accessories". Not only does it feel like the sharp-edged brackets are cutting her lips into shreds. The annoying metal bow she can see out of the corner of her eye also seems to want to rip out her molars with every little movement of her head. And on top of that she believes to get a headache from the pressure on her neck.

And Dr. Coleman had indicated that the pain and so on would get worse in the first few days, before everything would take a turn for the better.

Her parents have a lot of sympathy for their offspring, but make it clear once again that Rosa has to give the whole thing a "fighting chance" before she is allowed to talk about how much she hates her new braces.

Over this, a week passes by.

Rosa is really relieved about how "forgiving" her mother is. Among other things, Dr. Coleman had indicated that it would be important for Rosa to get used to sleeping with the headgear as soon as possible. That would be really important in order to be able to keep to the wearing schedule.

In the first night Rosa sighs: "Let's see how the night will be with this thing...", then she turns out the light. At least the holidays have started. It's not like she would have to get up refreshed tomorrow morning to be able to endure a long exhausting day at school.

And yet Rosa had trouble sleeping. Even more problems than she herself had feared. The metal bow was somehow always in the way. No matter how she had scrunched up her pillows, the inner bow had always pulled painfully at her teeth or the outer bow pressed itself uncomfortably into her cheek. In the middle of the night, desperate - and close to tears - she had finally taken off her headgear.

The next morning, she had lamented to her mother. She had half expected her parents to side with the orthodontist. But instead her mother had said: "I would have been very surprised if it had worked right away. I remember: It wasn't easy for me back then either! It took me a few days to get used to the bow, too."

"I can certainly understand why Dr. Coleman wants you to sleep with the brace. But I also think he's making it a bit very easy for himself when he says so succinctly that you should get used to it 'as soon as possible'."

She takes her dejected - and overtired - daughter in her arms, "Don't take it to heart. Just try again tonight. And if it doesn't work, just take the brace out again. There's absolutely no point in driving yourself crazy! You'll only make life more difficult for yourself. OK?"

Rosa nods gratefully and relieved. She hates this strangely bent piece of metal wire. And if her parents insist that she should wear it, it is good to know that she can at least count on sympathy and consideration. That she will not be urged on, but allowed to get used to the annoying treatment device at her own pace.

So a second week passes.

She meets regularly with LaToya and Amy. And Mike, too. In a few weeks they will go their separate ways after all. Rosalynn, LaToya, Amy, Mike: four friends, four different paths. And the four of them don't hold much hope. Even though they had done quite a lot together in high school, it is clear that their friendship is not so deep that it could survive a permanent separation. The four of them might see each other a few more times and then go their separate ways. It's a pity... but that is the way of life.

Maybe that's where it comes from: Maybe it's some kind of bizarre farewell present... or maybe she wants one last encouragement from the people she calls her friends. Who knows! In any case, Rosa "confesses" one day, while strolling through the city centre with LaToya and Amy and eating an ice cream, that she has been among the bridle-wearers for a few days now.

The only trouble is that her friends don't understand what Rosa is trying to tell them and instead think that she has started horseback-riding. And so they are surprised that the girl next to them starts laughing hysterically. Only after she had calmed down again - and the ice cream cone had been eaten - does Rosa clear up the misunderstanding: With her head beet-red, she pulls the flat bag out of her backpack and shows her friends the headgear.

But as much as LaToya and Amy tease and encourage their friend, Rosa absolutely cannot be persuaded to put on her headgear. Not even for a brief moment. "Are you crazy? We're in the middle of the city centre here! Thousands of people around us! I'd die!"

This is surely an exaggeration, but the two girls certainly understand why their friend does not want to walk through the crowd with a glinting silver metal bow.

A few days later, however, they should get a "chance" to poke good-natured fun at their friend. For Rosa has invited the two of them - and Mike - to her home. The holidays will soon be over and this might be the last time they see each other in the next few years...

And yet the three waiting outside the door are surprised when Rosa opens the door. She looks the same as always - almost, at least. Only the metal bow in front of her mouth ruins this impression. Mike in particular, who knew nothing about the headgear until now, is wide-eyed. "But I'm only doing it because it's YOU. Don't think I would have left my room with that thing if someone else had been at the door!"

There are three major topics of conversation between the friends that day:

First, the past three years, how they had met at the beginning of High School and what they had experienced during that time.

Secondly, what the following years might bring: what their hopes and their plans are. LaToya wants to study and become a barrister. Mike wants to join his father's business as soon as possible. Amy wants to take some "time out" first and do "something social" during that time. And then maybe starting writing? And Rosa has no idea what she wants to do yet. Apart from going to Bedford that is.

And of course - how could it be otherwise - thirdly: Rosa's headgear. She has to tell how she got it, how long she has had to wear it, how she has gotten used to it in the meantime and lots of other things. And she also has to come to terms with repeatedly becoming the target of good-natured ridicule from her friends.

In the end, she wears the metal bow for just under two hours, until her father calls out that the barbecue is ready. After dinner, she waves it off: "I don't feel like putting it back in now. It's enough if I wear the stupid thing again tonight!"

She also learns that LaToya almost had to wear an "extraoral brace" of some sort as well. But that her orthodontist had then chosen a way around it. "Bah, I'm so jealous," is Rosa's response.

Saying goodbye on this day is not easy for all four of them.

Some more weeks pass.

To say that it has become "natural and a matter of course" over the weeks is a far exaggeration, but Rosa now wears her headgear in the evenings without grumbling. And she has also learned to sleep with it.

A few days ago, her mother had started to very gently admonish her daughter not to wait to put on her headgear until after dinner. Now that she has been wearing her braces for a few weeks, she is - at least according to her mother - ready to be gently reminded of that.

To be perfectly fair, Rosa does not need frequent reminders to do so. Rather, she usually puts the headgear on voluntarily. And often not just in the evening. Instead, she wears it on and off throughout the day. In other words, she already cooperates quite well.

And yet the girl also has to admit that she actually wears the metal bow less consistently during the day than in the evenings and at night. If she could bring herself to wear the headgear as regularly during the day as in the evening, then everything would be hunky-dory; then there would be absolutely nothing to complain about.

But to do justice to the mother too: she is not pushy or admonishing in her reminders, instead she remains kind and loving. She understands that it still costs her daughter a lot of effort to wear the brace.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #19 on: 12. June 2022, 18:14:06 PM »
Chapter 15/16

Rosa has no idea why she has been asked by her parents to sit down with them in the living room tonight. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the holidays are rapidly coming to a close and the "serious side of life" will soon begin again? Do the parents want to ask her to be on her best behaviour at the new university?

The girl shortly after realizes this to be a mistake, because the parents make her a proposal instead: they had discussed it with each other and would like to suggest something to their daughter:

A few weeks ago, when she got her braces, Rosa had behaved in an exemplary manner. It was clearly visible that she was not very fond of her braces in the first few days - Rosa sticks her tongue out at her parents - and yet she wore her headgear without complaining. And that hasn't changed in the last few weeks.

That deserves respect, her mother explains: "You're doing much better than I secretly feared. I confess, you are doing even better than I had hoped. I'm a little proud of you!"

Rosalynn can't stop the corners of her mouth from twisting into a flattered grin and her cheeks from turning red. "You know, mom, the worst part was when I had to put the headgear on for the first time at home. When I had to realise that it wasn't a bad dream but that Dr. Coleman really gave me this metal bow to wear. That I really do have to wear such a stupid device now and that it's going to stay like that for a few months now..."

That metal bow around her face and the cushion at the back of her head were indeed incredibly annoying for the first few days. The pull on her molars; the constant feeling of something between her lips; the pressure on the back of her neck and the glint in the corners of her eyes: All this had felt absolutely awful and unfamiliar.

Then Rosa laughs; her hands play with the fringes of a sofa cushion. "But the first night with it was a thousand times worse. Oh man, did I HATE that!" She almost spits out that word as she is reminded of said night.

Her parents nod and her father replies almost gently, "And yet you continued to wear the brace without us having to admonish you much and you put it back in the second night too!"

Rosa blushes as she admits, "But only for one reason: I only continued because mom had worn one as a child. And she promised me that it wouldn't be as bad as I imagined..." Again she laughs, a hard laugh, "And for the first few days, everything REALLY sucked. I was REALLY hoping mom was right."

Then she shrugs and turns directly to her mother, "And I was ready - like REALLY ready - to throw the whole thing in your face if it had NOT gotten better after a few days..."

"I was lucky then," smiles the mother. And the father adds, "Since you didn't throw a tantrum, I think we can assume that it has actually gotten better by now, can't we?"

"A tiny bit". Then she smiles and flicks her index finger against the silver metal bow that spans around her face at that moment. "Do I wear this thing now or not?"

The first hours and days were really bad. And yet at the same time somehow less bad than she had feared. And there are two reasons for that: Her mother and her friends. Because both had declared in their respective ways that it would be annoying during the first few days, that she could however get used to the braces in the end. And these assurances - from two different and independent sides - had helped her keep her nerve.

A look back: She got her braces only a few hours ago. She sits at her - new - game console and tries to concentrate on the game. But she finds it difficult, because the pressure on her molars is unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

But not really bad yet. And the braces are just starting to make the rest of her teeth sensitive. The orthodontist had warned that it would get worse over the next few hours and days before it gets better, but - at least for now - it is still bearable!

Seeing the reflections of the metal bow from the corners of her eyes; the feeling of constantly having something between her lips and the pressure of the neck pad on her neck; all of that is - at least for now - much more annoying to the girl than the onset of toothache. But even that she can ignore more or less as long as her mind is occupied by the game she's playing.

Another thing is far worse than all of the previous things put together:

According to the way her lips and cheeks feel, they must have been torn apart and cut to shreds by the sharp-edged brackets by now. This is far worse than she had imagined, despite all the wax she applied to the brackets.

Asked how it felt to get braces, her friends at school had warned her about exactly that. At the same time, however, they promised her that she would quickly get used to the pricking. In a few days it would be much better and in a few weeks at the latest she would have forgotten that she was wearing braces at all. For the girl, this still sounds like a fairy tale, but Rosa wants to believe her friends. After all, they have had braces for a longer time than herself and know what they are talking about.

The only trouble is that her friends can't help her with the "bridle issue". Firstly, because she hadn't told her friends yet that she had to wear such a thing and secondly, because none of them - as far as she knows - had to wear headgear.

But there is someone who has fist-hand experience with that: Her MOTHER had to endure such a treatment device as a child! And hadn't her mother promised her several times that it wouldn't be so bad? And she must know! Of course - can't be more obvious - the mother doesn't want to drive her daughter crazy and therefore won't tell her "everything", but.... but Rosa wants to believe her mother nonetheless.

If her friends promised that she would get used to her braces quickly and without any problems, and if her mother promised that she could also get used to the headgear....

The braces are far more inconspicuous than the headgear, but no less uncomfortable at the moment! Right now, everything in her mouth feels pointy and sharp, everything is new and uncomfortable. The "dull" pressure on her neck is even better to bear than the pricking of the wires of her braces. At the moment everything is just awful! It's nearly impossible to tell where the braces end and the headgear begins... Everything kind of "blends" together to a "mouthful of braces".

But if she can get used to ONE part - and Rosa has no doubt that she WILL get used to the braces - then why not the OTHER? Maybe - hopefully - the nagging sensation of feeling the metal bow between her lips will be as normal to her in a few weeks as the braces will be by then?

Back in the here and now: Rosa absentmindedly runs a hand through her hair. She had decided a few weeks ago to let her hair grow out so that she could hide at least part of the headgear underneath.

When she had got her braces, it wasn't long enough to hide the blue neck pad. Even now it is not quite long enough, but she is well on her way. In a few weeks it will finally have grown long enough for that!

Not that this will be of much use, Rosa after all has absolutely no desire to wear her headgear "outside". Her mother had said that it was enough if she wore the brace at home and Rosa intends to stick to that. Apart from her parents - and her three friends from High School - no one will ever see her wearing it.

So she didn't really need to let her hair grow. And yet it is somehow "reassuring" to know that - when push comes to shove - in a few weeks no one will be able to notice that she has to wear headgear. At least from behind. Unfortunately, that doesn't help against glances from the side or the front. The neck pad can be hidden, but the silver bow cannot.

But as said, she doesn't plan on wearing the headgear where she could run into "strangers" anyway. So everything is more or less cool!

As the mother continues, she interrupts her daughter's train of thought: "We would like to suggest something to you: You have worked so hard in the last few weeks; you have tried so earnestly to get used to your braces.... We think that this is not something we could have expected and that it deserves a reward. What do you think?"

The corners of Rosa's mouth point upwards. She is immensely pleased. Less about the implied reward and more about the praise her parents had offered. She had been REALLY serious about coming to terms with her bridle. That is something she never expected herself. That this is recognised and rewarded by her parents means a lot to her. At the same time, of course, she is curious to know what her parents think of as a fitting "reward".

"You know, Rosa," the mother begins, "we had noticed that you were disappointed when you didn't get the right grade in the UPT for the holiday in France. That's why you asked us to exchange rewards. We refused at the time, as I'm sure you remember."

Rosa rolled her eyes: Of course she remembers. Because if her parents had allowed her to freely choose the rewards for her grades, she would most certainly NOT be sitting in the living room now with a headgear around her head.

The father puts in, "We still think that was fair back then: we agreed on something - you and us - and we both had to stick to it - you and us." He smiles slightly, "Yes, I admit that for you it had the 'stupid' consequence of not getting inconspicuous braces - but Rosa - you admitted yourself that you've gotten used to it by now..."

The girl shakes her head, "Not at all. I have definitely NOT gotten used to the stupid headgear!" Then she waves it off, a narrow grin on her face, "But.... But on the other hand, it didn't turn out QUITE as bad as I feared..."

"Same difference," the father smiles. "What I meant to say was: you got your Playstation; you went shopping and you want to wear the new dress on the first day of university. And you don't need to - as you have just admitted - cry your eyes out over your braces. In other words, on three of the four rewards, you have no cause for complaint..."

"Nor with the fourth," Rosa quickly interjects. "Death Valley may not be France, but it's certainly worth the trip!"

She certainly doesn't want to appear ungrateful. The "telling off" her parents had given her a few weeks ago had served its purpose: In the meantime, she had slowly but surely realised the costs she had caused her parents. And that she had perhaps gone too far with her wishes. Her parents nod, visibly pleased that their daughter was sensible enough to realise this.

"That's true, Death Valley is impressive and definitely worth a trip," agrees the father. "That's why we originally suggested it to you."

"But you know, honey," his wife picks up the thread, "let me tell you something: Do you know why we suggested to fly to France in return for an 'A'?"

Rosa shakes her head. She hadn't asked herself that question before. But now she listens all the more curiously. Her parents look at each other and for a moment their features melt; they hold hands and grin at each other like teenagers head over heels in love. Rosa gets wide-eyed: she doesn't know her parents like that.

"We spent our honeymoon in France." the father explains, "And we wouldn't mind going there again." And his wife adds with a smile, "I have to admit, we were - just like you - a little disappointed when your grade wasn't good enough for France..."

"Are you serious?" Rosa stares from her father to her mother and back. And when they both nod, she throws her head back, "My goodness. This is really stupid! If you yourself wanted to go to France the whole time, why didn't you throw these stupid rules overboard? It would have been easier for all of us." She reaches for the metal bow, "And I wouldn't have had to put up with THAT now..."

"You know, Rosa," the father begins, but his daughter interrupts him, "Yes, yes, I know: 'rules are rules'!" Then she sighs. "But now let me tell YOU something: sometimes, rules are just stupid!"

Another sigh, long and lingering. "But it's too late now anyway. Now I have my headgear and now I'll wear it as best I can! Anything else doesn't make sense anymore! I understand that much"

A second passes, then another. Then she grins broadly: "But do I understand you correctly? You really want to say that... that we are going to France?"

"There's no point NOW, the holidays are almost over," the father calms his daughter down. "But next summer holidays? Does that sound viable?"

The grin on Rosa's face is only slightly narrower than the metal bow she is wearing. She claps her hands enthusiastically.

"Provided," her mother interjects, "that you continue to wear your headgear in an exemplary manner. After all, it's supposed to be a reward for your efforts. It would be stupid if you slacked off now..."

Now the broad grin collapses a little. She looks uncertainly at her mother: "What am I supposed to think of as 'exemplary'?" What would her parents ask of her? How exhausting would it be to please her parents?

Does this "exemplary" perhaps even include that the parents expect her to wear the headgear to university? If so, France would remain a dream.

"There's no question about that," her mother shakes her head. "I promised you that I would NEVER ask you to wear the brace to school. No, it's actually quite simple: just keep wearing the bow the way you've been wearing it for the past few weeks and you'll be well on your way."

Then she cocks her head, "And if you could try a little harder to wear the bow in the afternoons too, when you get back from Uni, then I won't have any more complaints. Do you think you can do that?"

As a reply, the broad grin returns to her daughter's face. "So I'll get to see France after all!"

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #20 on: 13. June 2022, 16:57:51 PM »
Chapter 16/16

A few final details may be revealed:

Maybe it has to do with the fact that she has only heard positive things from her grandmother and mother and therefore her view of the new university is not objective, but she likes it there. Right from the start she feels at home at Bedford and it is much more fun than high school - also thanks to the interesting extra courses.

She loses track of most of her schoolmates pretty quickly. As feared, contact with Mike, LaToya and Amy also decreases significantly. They still meet a few times, but as each of them makes new friends, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time to meet. And - as unfortunate as it is - it becomes less and less important for all four of them to meet up with their "old friends" as time goes on. Everyone lives their own life now.

The father suggested, not to wait an entire year until the next summer holidays to fly to France, but to move it forward to the Christmas holidays and celebrate New Year in Europe. That sounds so interesting that indeed the bags are packed right after the Christmas days.

And because this is a time when everything quiets down anyway and even the parent's businesses take a step back, the parents have decided that instead of one week, they could stay in France for ten days. This way, the employees get to enjoy a few extra days of paid holiday. And it also gives the parents time to show their daughter the places where they had spent their honeymoon.

When it's time to pack her bags, Rosa is not at all annoyed when her mother reminds her to take the headgear with her. "Yes, mom, don't worry, I won't forget that thing."

Yes, she still has to wear her headgear; the treatment device has not yet done its job. In the meantime, however, Rosalynn has worn the brace long enough to be able to say with confidence, "As long as I don't have to go to Uni with it, I can live with the bridle. It's not that bad! As long as I don't have to walk through crowds with it, I'll be fine."

So there would have been no need for her mother's "admonition". If she had been told however at the beginning of her treatment that she would voluntarily and willingly take her headgear with her to France, Rosa would have laughed out loud.

And yet... She is not looking forward to wearing the headgear during her holidays, of course. She can imagine nicer things. For example, holidays WITHOUT headgear. On the other hand, that thing doesn't bother her enough anymore, to even think about starting a quarrel over it.

The fact surely also plays a role, that she's aware that the reason they're going on holiday to Europe together is precisely because it's a reward for wearing her braces in such an "exemplary" way. And so she should be on her best behaviour - especially now, shouldn't she?

Not to mention that she doesn't have to wear the metal bow "round the clock" anyway. She'll wear it in the hotel room, but she definitely won't strap it on when she's strolling through Paris with her parents. And then it's tolerable!

At least that's how she had imagined it. But on the third day of her holiday, it had suddenly started to snow.

Really large, soft, white flakes slowly descend from the sky to the ground in swarms. The parents can just about get their daughter to put on her winter jacket, then she had already run out of the room. Now she stands in the courtyard of the hotel, staring wide-eyed at the sky.

Rosa knew - being from the southern part of the USA - that her "snow experience" was limited, but the amount of white frozen water crystals she sees in France amazes her. For people from Canada or Alaska, that would be laughable, but for the girl from the southern states, the three inches of snow are a small sensation.

And THIS kind of snowfall, she had never seen something like that before. She giggles as a large snowflake lands on her cheek like a white fluffy butterfly. And she is a little bit disappointed when the "butterfly" then promptly melts.

When another "butterfly" settles on her nose, she reaches for it in delight. And then pauses, wide-eyed, as her hand catches on something. She had left the hotel room in such a hurry that she had completely forgotten that she was still wearing her headgear.

Suddenly nervous, Rosa looks around: By now she is no longer alone in the courtyard. A few other children and even a few adults have joined her and want to experience the snowfall directly. Apparently, she is not the only one who is strangely fascinated by the flurry.

No one sees how Rosa's cheeks become even redder than they already are due to the cold. Should she take out her headgear? No, she decides against it: firstly, no one seems to take any notice of her anyway; everyone's attention is focused on the flakes coming from above. And if she were to take out her headgear and someone were to watch her.... THAT would be even more embarrassing....

And yet she is glad when after a few minutes her parents join her and bring along a scarf for her. Firstly, slowly but surely it's getting cold and secondly, she can hide her metal bow in it. She doesn't have to worry about the neck pad, as her hair has grown long enough by now to reliably hide the blue cushion. But now, even the silver bow is hidden out of sight.

The snow fascinates the girl, but she is much less taken with the accompanying cold. And yet two days later she builds the first snowman of her life.

Rosa is fascinated and frightened at the same time by the fireworks on New Year's Eve. To be precise, not by the fireworks themselves, but by the fact that apparently everyone in Europe is allowed to shoot off rockets themselves. Her parents feel the same way: "It's a miracle that they don't blow each other up," her father agrees. They therefore decide against strolling through the streets of Paris during the fireworks. It seems too risky for them.

The hotel where they are staying - a first-class hotel, by the way - seems to be well aware of the fact. Guests therefore have the opportunity to purchase a limited assortment of fireworks from the hotel and shoot them off on a hotel-owned square. Under the watchful eye of staff members who take care that safety is maintained.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" the parents ask in amazement as they leave their hotel room. "We won't be alone down there, you know!"

"It's all right," Rosa nods, her head red. "But just for today. To celebrate or something. Don't expect me to do this all the time from now on..."

And so Rosa also gets to set off a few rockets herself while watching the spectacle above the rooftops of Paris from a safe distance. The explosions of the fireworks are reflected by the silver bow around her face. She is well aware that some curious eyes do linger on her, but today.... today she doesn't care.

Rosa decides she wants to learn French next school year. Hopefully a course will be offered. And she definitely wants to return to France someday!

Dr. Coleman is also pleased with his patient. She'd cooperate well enough, he praises her. Even if she misses the wearing schedule from time to time - and Rosa is honest enough not to cheat - she cooperates consistently enough that he has already been able to reduce the prognosis of how long she will have to live with headgear.

Stupidly, though, she still has a few months ahead of herself. "If I need headgear for about a year, my teeth must have been a darn lot more crooked than I thought..."

But fortunately, the rest of the time will pass much more "problem-free" than Rosa had imagined in her nightmares. She will not wear it to Uni, but little by little several of her new friends will find out about it.

END - No sequel

I would like to ask you again to tell me, what you thought of that sequel. Worthwile or could/should the next story do without?

Offline giacc

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #21 on: 13. June 2022, 18:47:51 PM »
Nice story! Elegant, I loved the slow way Ros found it wasn't a drama to wear headgear!

Offline Sparky

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #22 on: 13. June 2022, 23:32:57 PM »
>> I would like to ask you again to tell me, what you thought of that sequel. Worthwhile or could/should the next story do without?

Its odd, but I think the story works well both WITH the sequel, and WITHOUT it....

And it's a question I sometimes face when I'm writing: do I just leave things as-is (and then sometimes I get further inspiration to actively continue the story), or do I "finish things off". With my "Dark Fairy" story, it was left open, and "Elida" became it's follow-on. But with "Elida", I did add in a couple of extra bits, to finish things off... I'm thinking that part of the fairy storyline is now done.

I did like your description of Rosa's interaction with the snow in France: being in the south of England, where we get 'proper snow' once every 5 or 10 years,  I can quite understand the reaction of someone who has never seen snow before. More importantly, the whole story was both full of emotion as well as some lovely storytelling! I'm looking forward to your next story!