A classroom of students sits at their desks, watching their fellow classmates present their exit projects in their English class. After one group finishes their presentation, the class applauds and the students take their seats. The teacher stands up from her desk to address the class.
Teacher: That was lovely, Brianna and Ava. Are there any volunteers wanting to present their project next?
No one raises their hand, they just look around the room at each other.
In one corner, Milo and Sophie sit next to each other but are not facing nor talking to each other. Sophie has her arms crossed on top of her desk, while Milo doodles in his notebook.
Teacher: Well if no one wants to volunteer; Laurie and Brooke, you’re up.
The two girls get up from their seats. Laurie rolls her eyes as she walks towards the front of the classroom. Sophie watches her and Milo notices.
Milo: *to Sophie* Don’t stare for too long, she’s gonna think you’re jealous of her and Simon getting back together.
Sophie: You know, you’ve been a real jerk these days. How about you don’t talk to me and I don’t talk to you.
Milo: Whatever, Sophie.
Sophie completely turns her body to face Milo; she’s now annoyed and fed up.
Sophie: I don’t remember ever doing anything to make you this mad, mate. The last time I checked, I had nothing to do with the whole fight between you and Simon, so you should just drop whatever is making you so mad at me.
Milo: And I don’t remember ever doing anything to you to make me out to be the bad guy, yet here we are; Milo Kamalani: certified bad guy in friendship!
Sophie: Well, a good friend would talk and understand that things aren’t what they always seem.
Milo: You kissing the boy that literally left you for your best friend makes it loud and clear that you don’t care about how others treat you.
Sophie: Again, how is that your concern?! You weren’t there when it happened, and it’s not like we were anything but friends; so tell me, what is the true reason you’re mad at me?
Milo: I told you a million times; I am sick and tired of you letting people walk all over you! Like you don’t have friends that actually give a fuck about you!
Sophie: If you did, you wouldn’t have ultimately thought that I wanted to kiss Simon in the first place. You would’ve came to me before believing anyone else had to say, especially Laurie.
Milo: Whatever, Sophie; do whatever you want.
Sophie: I just don’t understand you sometimes…
Milo: Yeah, me neither.
Laurie sees the two bickering at the back of the room and ultimately stops during her presentation.
Laurie: Miss! Can you tell those two lovebirds in the back to stop talking over us?
The class giggles and the teacher quiet down the class.
Teacher: Milo, Sophie; can you please stop being disruptive during the presentations.
Milo: *to Laurie* You’re always talking over someone else, so what makes you so special?
Teacher: That’s enough! Laurie and Brooke, thank you for your presentation, but it’s clear that Milo and Sophie are eager to be the next presenters of their project.
The two teen’s eyes widen, they look at each other and back towards the teacher. The teacher folds her arms and looks at the two teens.
Teacher: We don’t have all day, you two. Come up and present.
The two slowly get up from their seats and walk to the front. Mollie watches Milo walk towards the front, as well as the rest of the class. Milo and Sophie turn around to face the class once they get to the front of the classroom.
Milo: *awkwardly* Uhm, hi. I’m Milo Kamalani…
Sophie: Sophie Lee…
Milo: And this is our Teenage Tell-Tale Project.
An awkward silence fills the room for a moment. Milo clears his throat and begins to present his part of the project.
Milo: I lived in the neighborhood all of my life, and even though I am still young, I’ve been to places around that meant a lot to me, and went to new places that meant a lot to Sophie.
Milo looks at Sophie, who then starts to talk.
Sophie: My story is the complete opposite of Milo’s. I’ve lived in the neighborhood just a little over a year now after living in the UK for most of my life. Being half British and half Korean, I never really felt like I belonged in any specific place; I didn’t fully look Korean to other Koreans in Korea, but I also didn’t look fully British to other British people. So to come to America, where everyone looks different and is proud of their culture and heritage, I found myself feeling like I belonged in New York.
Milo’s face softens as Sophie talks.
Sophie: Within the year I was here, I discovered places I never thought I’d find comfort in these days, and I was quite shocked to hear that Milo didn’t know some of the places I picked for our project.
Sophie looks at Milo, smiling. Milo begins to speak.
Milo: One place, in particular, was the park on the other side of the bridge. I live near the water and never really explored the other areas of the neighborhood, but Sophie showed me this park that had a stage in it, and she called it one of her favorite places to go and practice her violin.
Sophie: Coming to America, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue playing my violin because the kids at my old school would tease the other kids who had instruments to carry and band practice. So, someone told me to not be so afraid of the people around me and just do what I like doing. So, I played violin on the stage and a couple of people stopped and stayed to listen; they even clapped for me! I guess visiting the stage again for this project is what made me decide to not listen to other people, and go do what I wanted to do. That’s why I auditioned for Waverly High.
Milo: I really liked her place because I am also a musician, and her for to pick the stage as her comfort spot, I could really relate to it.
Sophie smiles and takes a deep breath in.
Sophie: Milo showed me a place not all people will be able to visit in their spare time, but it was a place that I found to be possibly the best place in the neighborhood because of how personal it was to Milo.
She looks at Milo, hesitant to continue. Milo nods his head. Sophie turns her head forward to proceed with the presentation.
Sophie: Milo’s comfort spot is the treehouse in front of his grandparent’s front yard.
Mollie cocks her eyebrow up, slightly confused.
Sophie: The treehouse is full of music sheets, notebooks, and blankets that cover the ground the floor. While a treehouse is just a treehouse, Milo’s had a backstory to it that gave me a clear understanding of family, and how important it was to remember where you came from.
Milo: The treehouse was built by my grandparents, but it was originally used for my mother, who passed away when she was around my age. My dad wanted my grandparents to keep the treehouse and give it to me when I got older. It was like a little piece of my mom that I could remember her by since I was too young to remember anything about her. So like Sophie, my comfort spot is used to practice my music.
Before Sophie can say anything else, Milo continues to speak.
Milo: This project made me realize that no matter how different people maybe, people can ultimately share so much in common; music especially. Sophie was just a person that lived in other countries for most of her life, and I lived in Brooklyn for most of my life, and we may have other things that we like, we can ultimately connect through our love for music.
Milo looks at Sophie, who decides to finish the project.
Sophie: I’ve learned that no matter how far the people you love maybe, like my family back in the UK and Korea, you can always carry them around with you on your new adventures, in hopes that one day, you get the chance to show them some of your favorite places as well.
Milo: Thank you.
Both Sophie and Milo bow in front of the class, and the class applauds for the two of them. They look at each other and smile.
In the back of the room, Simon watches, not pleased or amused at the presentation.