Matt had made his decision. He couldn’t believe he was actually going. He felt sick at the thought of his parents’ reaction but he wouldn’t have to see their disappointment and he would return next year or maybe the year after and finish his studies. He’d have to work a bit first so he could afford it but it was his choice, nobody else’s.
“Matt” he heard as he filled in time waiting for his flight to open. “Where are you off to?” It was Melanie, one of his tutors who had become a good friend.
“California,” said Matt.
“California?” said Melanie. “How long are you going for? What about your course? You’ve got research labs next week and you can’t miss those.”
“I’ve chucked it in,” said Matt feeling horribly embarrassed. “I’ve had enough.”
“Why on earth would you do that. Are you mad?”
“I’ve got no life. My mates are all flatting and earning money and having fun and I feel as if I do nothing but study. It’s not worth it.”
Melanie’s eyes blazed. “Of course it is! Do you think we haven’t all thought that at some stage? Do you think you’re the only one who’s got fed up with study? Why on earth would you risk everything you’ve achieved? What about the Matheson prize? You’ve got a great chance of getting that this year and look what that would do for your career.”
“I know. I know,” said Matt. “I was really keen on winning the Matheson prize but my parents have been really getting to me. They still treat me like a kid and I know I can never be as good as my perfect sister no matter how well I do. My mates are going to the US to go surfing and they’ve got a house on the beach. it’s too good an opportunity to miss.”
Melanie stood right in front of him, her hands on her hips. She reminded him of all the help she had given him at the beginning of his course. She counted off on her fingers the branches of Science his degree would give him access to.
“Do you want to be seen as a serious scientist or someone who gives up when the going gets tough?” she said. “Think about it Matt. Use your considerable brain and think about what you are doing. I really rated you. I thought you had a bit more backbone. And you’ve decided to throw it all in and go surfing with your no-hoper mates? What an absolute waste!” With that, she turned and stormed off without even saying goodbye.
Matt was stunned. He really liked Melanie and she had gone out of her way to encourage him. Slowly, he shook his head. Then he picked up his bag and walked towards the exit. She was right. He would be an idiot to give up now and, if he stuck it out, especially if he got that Matheson prize, he would have plenty of opportunities to travel in the years to come. He only had to last another six months after all.