Leo read the words on the door. Guidance Counsellor. He bit his lip and knocked.
“Enter at your own risk.”
Leo poked his head in the door. “Pardon?”
“I’m just kidding. C’mon in,” said Ms. Purcell.
Leo stood just inside the office, drying his palms on his sleeves.
Ms. Purcell smiled. “Take a seat. I don’t bite. Not on the first date, anyway.”
The chair Leo sat in squeaked. He rubbed his palms on his pants, causing him to rock back and forth.
Ms. Purcell flipped through a file. She hummed as she read. She smiled at Leo, leaned on her elbows and rested her head on her hands. Leo saw the nicotine stains on her teeth.
“This is an exciting time, Leo,” said Ms. Purcell.
“Okay,” said Leo.
“I was speaking with your teacher, Mr. Ramjoy. Scrumptious,” she said with a shiver. “He said he wasn’t sure what you wanted to do after graduation.”
“I was, uh, gonna work in my dad’s shop.”
“That’s okay for a few months. The summer, perhaps. But that’s hardly a career path, is it?”
“It’s not so bad, I guess.”
“No. No. No. I took the liberty of going through your transcripts. They’re not elite, to be honest, but they show potential. With a little work you could have a solid ‘B’ average.”
“I don’t really like reading,” said Leo. He stared at the floor as he spoke. He slowly looked up at her expression of horror.
“How can you not like reading? You can’t avoid reading. It’s ubiquitous. If you loved reading you’d know what that means,” said Ms. Purcell. She shrugged her shoulders. “You could try the trades, I guess. But that only perpetrates male stereotypes.”
“Huh? My dad does watch and jewelry repair.”
Ms. Purcell shook her head at Leo. The silence made his palms sweat even more.
“Know what I think? I think you lack personal clarity. Here’s what I want you to do. Tonight I want you to write your obituary. Drop it by my office tomorrow,” said Ms. Purcell.
“Excuse me?” For the first time Leo sat motionless in his chair.
“I want you to write what you hope will be said about your life some day. It’ll help you formulate life goals. Think of it as a life coaching exercise.”
“But I know that I want to do. I wanna work…”
“… in your dad’s shop,” interrupted Ms. Purcell. “I know, but I want you to think big, Leo. Dream big.”
Leo scratched his head. “Why do I have to dream big? Can’t I just, I dunno, dream little?”
“Sure, if you don’t want to change the world,” said Ms. Purcell in a huff.
“I just wanna fix watches. Dad said he’d teach me,” said Leo.
Ms. Purcell folded her arms in disgust. “Then go fix watches. What ever.”
Leo stood up to leave, then stopped. “Ms. Purcell, did you do that obituary thing?”
“Yes I did.”
“I’m just curious. What did you write in yours?”
“I wrote I was a professional dancer.”
“Did you reach your goal?”
“No, Leo. I didn’t.”
“Huh,” said Leo, then left Ms. Purcell’s office.