It was a bright sunny afternoon, but I was curled up in bed enjoying a needed rest. English II, a course that thanks to its research paper, had filled me with dread was successfully behind me. And another semester, my first in the honors program, was only a few weeks away. Excited about my new adventure, yet nervous that I might not live up to the mark, my busy mind struggled to relax.

For weeks I had been pondering where this new stage in life would take me. Wondering if my life would be marked with success or marred by failure. Yet what exactly was success?  What was the  invisible mark that would make me a credit to my family? Was success graduating from college and getting a job that brought me riches and fame? Was having lots of money, a big house, or an expensive car all their was to success?

What if my ongoing bought of sickness prevented me from reaching the goal? What if, in spite of long hours of pushing and striving to the point that I had reached beyond my limited supply of health, I fell flat on my face? Was I now a failure even though I had pushed with all of my might?

These questions had been enhanced and pushed to the forefront of my mind by the recent assignments of my English II class where the question of what was success was first implanted by some of the poems that I had to read for class. Tired and uncertain about the future, bits and pieces of the previous semester now tumbled about in my mind trying to find a way to create some sort of meaningful nexus that would hopefully answer the burning question of my heart, how would I know if my life was a success or a failure?

Weary from my mental workout, I was just drifting off to sleep when words began to push their way into my tired mind with such force, such remarkable clarity that I hurried to write them down. It was not the answer to the longings of my heart that I had been looking for. Yet in an instant I knew it was a story that I must tell. For hidden within this rough start was the question that had plagued my heart, and it was now up to my to take up my pen and flesh out the answer.


Her name was Kathy Barns.  Kathy with a “k” sound as in kite and not Cathy with the soft and gentle “c.”  My name is not Cathy with a “c” as in care or charm she would impatiently persist.  “It is Kathy with a “k,” with a harsh angular sound like me.”  For Kathy was not a soft and plump woman with gently flowing eye-pleasing curves.  She was not an ugly woman mind you, but just as plain and straight as a blade of grass.  Her face, while youthful, was tight and drawn giving her the appearance of a half-starved child.  And her abundant hair though always clean and carefully pulled back into a tightly rolled bun always managed to have a few stray wisps that twirled wildly in the wind creating the illusion of a sort of upside down lion’s or horse’s mane that overwhelmed her small head.  She was of average height, barely topping five foot five in her tallest heeled shoes.  And as with everything else in her life she would sigh and say, “Providence has seen fit to place me right in the middle.  Not smart enough to earn scholarships and awards yet not dumb enough to enjoy being shallow.  Not talkative enough to draw a crowd, not mysteriously quiet enough to be thought of as intriguing instead of stuck up or boring.  Not tall enough to be fashionably elegant and not short enough to be called delightfully slight and petite. Never has there been enough of one trait, pleasing, exciting, or mysterious to garnish the interest of boy or man.  God just made me the perfect Miss in-between so that I would never stand out from the crowd.”

(If you are interested in reading more of this story, then check out my book, School Days: A Collection of Poems and Stories Inspired by School, available now on Amazon and Barns and


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