Status: Active, updates may be very slow though, but bare with me

Shoulder to Shoulder


After the high of her birthday had worn off, Elena was back in at the deep end with regards to her work at university. The due date for her dissertation was drawing nearer and nearer, and despite the countless hours that she dedicated to it, Elena didn’t feel like it was good enough, she didn’t feel it was adequate to gain her a first class honours degree. The stress and anxiety balled up inside her, it was becoming too much.

If anyone asked how she was doing, or how her work was going, she’d give him or her same nonchalant answer of everything was going well, that she couldn’t complain. It was getting harder and harder to keep up the façade. Elena was tightly wound and she felt so fragile that at any point she could unravel. To disappear into thin air, never to be seen again.

Her housemates were worried about her, any time Rachel or Millie would ask if she wanted to hang out or go to the cinema, Elena would blindly shoot them down, saying she had too much work to do.

How do they have time to have fun? Elena would question herself when they complained that she needed to have a break, that it would do her good. They had their own dissertations to write, why weren’t they freaking out too?

Lila didn’t know what to do; she hated seeing her friend like this. It had taken a little less than a month, but Elena and become a shadow of her former bubbly self. It had even got to the point where she wouldn’t reply to Susie in Spanish anymore, Elena couldn’t even bring herself to join in the banter with her friends. No matter how hard she tried, nothing would help Elena. The only thing she could think to do was text Juan. She didn’t want to get her parents involved because they would get unnecessarily worried about her. Lila knew that Elena would be fine; she just needed a little push.

Alone in her room, Elena read over the final draft of her dissertation. It was the fourth time that day that she’d been through it. The fifteenth time that week. And it was only Tuesday.

Next to her, Elena felt her phone buzzing. She was so engrossed in proof-reading her work that she didn’t even bother to look at the caller ID, she just pressed ‘answer’.

“Hello?” she mumbled absently into the phone.

“Mi amor?” Juan’s voice didn’t even waver her concentration on her work.

“Hey Juan, how are you?” she asked, but not really listening to the answer he gave, she’d vaguely picked out the words ‘won’ and ‘scored’ but that was about it.

“Elena, are you listening to me?” His voice was a little sterner this time.

She hummed into the phone, signalling the affirmative although both knew it wasn’t true.

“Elena listen to me, please!” he pleaded, Lila had sounded so worried on the phone, he’d never heard Elena be so…disconnected before. “I’m really worried about you, please talk to me.”

A beat passed with no word from either. “Please.” Juan tried once more, his voice neither angry, nor demanding, but…it was sad. Elena had never heard him like that before.

“Juan, I’m scared.” She began, and as she started talking, the words were all but falling out of her mouth. “What if this isn’t good enough? What if I don’t pass? I’ve put three years of my life into this, and it mostly hangs on this one piece of work. It might not be good enough and I’ll have nothing to show for my time here. I will have failed at university. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle that.” The last sentence came out no louder than a whisper. It was her biggest fear, a fear that she’d never told anyone, not even Lila.

“You know I believe in you, Elena. I think you’ll pass easily, but you know what? Even if crazily, you didn’t pass, I would still love you. Your parents would still love you. Lila would still love you. Your brother would still love you. Your worth to us doesn’t depend on whether you have a degree.” He stopped momentarily hoping his words would be enough. Juan knew Elena was strong enough to handle this, but simultaneously, he wanted to be there with her, cheering her through the last bit of her university course.

Elena waited, looking at the words on her laptop screen. “Thank you.”

“De nada mi amor. I wish I was there to give you a hug, but I’m sure Lila will do that for me. When you come home next week, and as soon as I see you, you’ll get a hug from me, because I’m proud of you.”

“You’re the best, did you know that?” she chuckled into the phone, his words settling in slowly.

“I think together, we’re the best.” He replied, correcting her.

A grin spread across her face. “Yeah, I think we are too.”

Talking with Juan helped a lot, the next day, after a lot of fretting, she submitted her essay - the last piece of work she’d do towards her degree.

I did it. Elena texted Juan the second the ‘Your work has been successfully submitted’ message appeared on her screen.

His reply sped back seconds later. Well done, te quiero.
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So...Elena had a little freak out about submitting her final dissertation. What did you all think?