NPCs: All of homeroom
School started only a few weeks ago and this week is about half over. The summer days slipping away to the grey and damp fall. However, today the sun is shining and lending a touch of warmth as it rises. The sky is growing toward being a bright clear blue. But for now you are stuck here in class. Announcements are now over and Dr. Thrush is attempting to get everyone’s attention.
“So we’ve been talking about protagonists so far this week. Because they are the core of your story. They don’t have to be heroes, but those are the easiest to see. The hero needs something to struggle against to make a story, right?” He pauses long enough to get a few head nods. “Right. So…” he scans the room “Vicky, tell us something that heroes struggle against.”
Vicky was obviously not paying attention and jumps a little, “I, uh, I guess a villain?”
“Good Vicky,” Dr. Thrush writes ‘antagonist’ up on the whiteboard and ‘villain’ under that, “a villain is a type of antagonist. Who can give us another thing heroes come into conflict with?” His eyes scan the room, with maybe a glimmer of hope that he won’t have to single someone out.
Madison’s hand shoots up and she squirms a little in her seat. Waiting, somewhat impatiently, to be called upon by Mr. Thrush.
Dr. Thrush smiles slightly, “yes Madison.”
“Mr. Thrush. You can also struggle against yourself. Your beliefs and desires, and how they might conflict with your goals or needs.”
“Right.” Dr. Thrush writes ‘vs Self’ up on the whiteboard. “The other half of the ‘big four’ are struggle against Society and Nature.” He scrawls those as well. “Lets break up into three groups of five and discuss for,” he looks at the clock, “fifteen minutes and then work on your stories.”
Dr. Thrush has clearly had to deal with teenagers for awhile because his method is to quickly assign people to groups. Today you all end up in the same group with Rainbow and Rose.
Madison, as you are moving around to form your groups Rose whispers to you, “Roman’s parents are out this weekend.” Which means there will be a guaranteed party.
Madison flashes a brief sly smile and slows her pace dragging out the walk to the groups table to maximize gossip time. “Awesome. So, which poor, party deprived soul or souls are we going to drag along and show a good time to this weekend I wonder?”
She surveys the group table as she approaches. Gesturing with a slight cock of the head in Vin’s direction. Raising an eyebrow questioningly at Rose. “We’ll figure it out after class. We’ve got some time anyways.”
Madison and Rose walk up to the group table and nearly simultaneously pull out their chairs from the table and take a seat next to each other.
Marisa pretends to rummage through her bag as she watches Madison and Rose approach. She catches the surreptitious nod at Vin and furrows her brow a little. As the two take their seats, she greets them with a “hey,” then sets her bag on the floor and settles in to watch how things unfold.
" Good morning," She beams a smile Marisa’s direction. Eyeing her rummaging, “Do you need a pen Risa? I think we might have one”
In the chair next to Madison, Rose has already opened her bag and is pulling out several jelly pens. Proffering one without looking up, as she continues to fish a spiral notebook out of her bag one-handed.
“Oh hey, thanks Rose. I did need a pen,” says Rainbow as she plops herself into a seat and reaches for the pen that is being proffered.
Rose looks up from her bag. A brief look of exasperation crossing her face before being replaced with a more neutral expression. “Oh, Rainbow. Yeah… sure…feel free.”
Madison scoots her chair closer to the table and places her hands palm down on its top in a businesslike fashion. As Rose opens her spiral notebook, pen poised to take notes. “So, do you want us to do the usual? Rose and I make up some notes in case he makes us do a presentation. While everyone else screws around. Or are we actually going to discuss this like Mr. Thrush wants us to?”
“Um, I’m pretty sure I’ve never ‘screwed around’ while someone else did all the work? But I guess starting off the discussion by being antagonistic is appropriate.” Marisa smiles wryly. “Anyway, I’m interested in talking about conflict versus society. There are so many expectations for how people should act and believe and look that it seems like fertile ground for conflict in real life as much as in literature. Don’t you think?”
Madison shrugs her shoulders at Marisa’s implication of an antagonistic start and goes on the defensive. “Woah Risa. I didn’t mean anything by it. It’s just what usually happens in class. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you’d take it that way. Though, Rose and I are more than happy to help out and take notes. “
Vin finally drops into a chair beside Marisa, having pried herself away from the many-faceted wonders of the small section of field and fence outside the window. “I like man versus nature,” she says, smirking a little before she looks back toward the outdoors. “Or man versus other people’s assumptions. Which I guess is conflict versus society.” She shrugs and starts digging in her backpack for something.
“Totally. I mean there’s no ‘one true way’ to do things right? There’s more conventional ways for people to do things but, that doesn’t necessarily make them the best or only way. Everyone has their own views and opinions. And we really shouldn’t rush to judge them just because they’re different or, because they choose to conform. But so many people do. It’s kinda sad really. ”
Rose breaks away from her notebook page which she’s already half filled with mind map bubbles of Man vs. Society and Man vs. Nature. “But, people would be a lot happier if we could just agree on one standard and all follow that. It would be a removal of a source of conflict for everyone and one less thing to worry about. Though, it does make for interesting stories I guess.”
“But then we’d all be the same. And I’m not sure that would actually make anyone happier. Even if it did, would it be better to remove all sources of conflict? Do we get rid of nature? Of people who disagree with us? And how would we eliminate conflict within ourselves? I mean, I think almost everyone would do that if they could…”
“Oh I don’t know about that. Isn’t conflict within yourself the way you grow. Well isn’t all conflict that way?” Rainbow adds while doodling in her notebook. “Well maybe not violent conflict. That gets you dead.”
Rose gives that ‘really?’ look, “Yes Rainbow, yes. Violent conflict does tend to make one ‘get dead’.”
Madison lightly bumps her leg against Rose’s under the table and gives her the your being judgey again look. “She does have a point conflict does cause growth. But, we’ll never really be without some form of conflict right? I mean, there’s always gonna be Nature. if you could get rid of one why wouldn’t you?”
“And besides, you can grow and change without conflict. If you are self aware enough and secure enough to honestly take stock of your weaknesses. Well, you can make a change through like, positive thinking and faith and stuff. "
“Huh.” Marisa thinks about that for a moment. “But it’s not always about growing, I don’t think. Sometimes it’s just about trying to figure out the right thing to do. And… I don’t know, do faith and positive thinking help with that? And what if you don’t have faith. When your head and your heart can’t agree on what to do and you don’t have faith to tell you what to do… what then?”
“If your head and your heart aren’t in agreement you’re just going to make yourself miserable.” Rainbow says absently.
Marisa stares at Rainbow for a moment. “Er, yes? I mean… that’s what it makes it a conflict? But just recognizing that it makes you miserable doesn’t, I don’t know, magic the problem away.”
“But, deciding on what you think is the best course of action and following through with it does. At least it does most of the time.” Madison pulls her purse up into her lap. Looking down and fiddling with it while half paying attention to people as she continues to talk.“Even if things don’t turn out super cool. It’s still usually better than doing nothing and just being miserable.”
Having found what she was looking for in her purse. She looks up, returning her attention to the group holding out a pack of gum.“Anyone want some?”
Vin wrinkles her nose at the strong scent of the gum. “I don’t think every conflict is about growth. And even if they are, I know every conflict isn’t necessary growth. Sometimes people are just shit and you have to deal with it the best possible way, and that’s conflict without growth.” She half-shrugs and looks out the window. “Doesn’t matter what your head or your heart says if someone attacks you, really.”
Rainbow blinks and actually looks up at Vin. “Have you… has anyone actually attacked you, Vin? That must be so scary.”
“Uh… yeah. Didn’t realize it was that unusual.” Vin shrugs and scoots away from the group a bit, slumping.
“Uhh no. That’s like, totally out of the ordinary. I’m so sorry Vin.” She turns scoldingly to Rainbow,“She probably doesn’t want to talk about it. Do you?” Madison looks to Vin half for confirmation of her statement, half expectantly to hear Vin’s story.
Rainbow just goes back to her doodling.
“Alright, that’s fifteen,” Dr. Thrush’s voice carries over the conversations of the class. “Back to your seats and work on your stories.”
The rest of class progresses as usual until you are released for a few minutes into the halls.
Does anyone want to do anything before lunchtime?