Dean heard the click and hum of their home computer booting up.
“Dean! Come on! Let’s get started on this,” his mother called.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of you right now,” she said as he walked into their home office. “I have everything ready to go. Sit here.”
Dean sat in the folding chair that his mother had placed next to hers. They faced the computer together, where the Harvard University application took up the full screen.
“Harvard University. I never dreamed I would have a son applying to Harvard University,” his mother said. She turned to him with a grin. “Aren’t you excited?”
“Of course, just applying doesn’t mean you’ll get in,” his mother said, turning back and scrolling through the application. “But look – you have everything they are looking for. High grades. Volunteer work. Teacher references. This is such a great opportunity for you.”
“I know,” Dean said. “You said that before.”
He asked, “Why didn’t you and Dad ever go to college?”
“Oh, heavens, neither of our families could afford college. That’s why Dad and I started your college fund as soon as you were born. We don’t want you trapped here in Edenvale like we were.”
Dean watched her type in his name, address and high school on the form.
“Did you want to do this yourself?” she asked after a moment.
“No, that’s okay. You go ahead,” he said.
“Favorite high school subjects?”
“Math and science.”
“Grade point average?” his mom asked. “Never mind, I know that one, smarty pants. It’s three point nine. Hobbies?”
“Um, soccer. Reading. Video games.”
“I don’t think we should put video games as your hobby.”
“Remember when I played Destiny Forward for 12 hours straight?”
She smiled without looking away from the screen.
“Yes, I remember. I think you slept with that game controller for weeks,” she said. “Next question: What will your college major be?”
“Sleeping in and skipping class?”
“Dean! Come on, we’ve been waiting for weeks for the chance to get this application done.”
Dean picked up a pen and began doodling on a nearby message pad.
“Okay, okay. Probably biology.”
“B-i-o-l-o-g-y,” his mother said as she typed. “Excellent choice.”
“Did you know that Mark Schiller decided not to go away to college?”
“Really? I thought he was going to study music. He’s so good on the trumpet.”
“I know,” Dean said, shading in parts of the sketch he was drawing. “He said he’s going to stay home and work at Walmart for awhile. What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing except that you can hardly get a job these days without a college degree . I hope his parents know what they’re doing. There! We’re done,” she said, lifting her fingers from the keyboard with a flourish. “All you have to do is write your essay.”
She looked at the message pad.
“What did you draw there? Is that you and me and Dad?”
Dean looked down at the sketch of himself and his parents together in their front yard. He hadn’t drawn them all together since he was in grade school.