Mirror: Creative Writing Student Highlight

Leanna Yevak headshot Leanna Yevak,  
3 weeks ago

"There was a melancholic war in my heart between my desperation for something greater and my lust for stability." - Anderson Recker

Anderson Recker headshot

A writing sample from Inspire Summer 2024 Creative Writing.

Author: Anderson Recker

Grade: 10th

High School: Bullis School

Favorite Genre: 19th Century Russian Realism

Favorite Authors: Nikolai Gogol and Fyodor Dostoevsky

The weathered pages of my book crinkled as I closed its leathery cover. The desk that sat in front of me was originally a soft beige, but years of spilling tar-stained ashtrays had deepened it to a murky brown. Its shade of brown did not matter, however, as I shut my novel; nor as I rested it on my desk; the dim sparks from my lit cigarette were not enough to illuminate anything other than the book’s ink, boldly carrying its statement through the yellowing pages. I liked to think my habit of smoking was only to get through all of Sir Walter Scott’s great historical novels after working until dusk, but I knew the ashtray would be overloaded with used cigarettes even if every book I owned was lost to time; it was the only effective way I found to distract myself from my own thoughts.

The preceding week was filled with endless hours spent working. A good banker was expected to show no emotion; to be sociable; to greet his clients with care and hospitality; to dress well; to remain completely unbiased; to hide from his clients all of the imperfections that made him human and exchange them for an empty smile. By typical standards, banking is far from a “dead-end job,” but I wouldn’t dare to take the management positions at my level of seniority and experience. I did not want to progress even further into the field for which I was indifferent. Nor did I want to risk quitting a job with such stability, even if to follow my true passions, since finance was the only industry I know how to navigate. My years of experience lead me to a consistent workflow even as my internal demeanor worsened. If skill were the only factor, I could remain in my current job until my heart stopped beating. But there was a melancholic war in my heart between my desperation for something greater and my lust for stability. The profession had me trapped.

It is difficult to remember the last time I truly cared about my work, but one incident came to mind. A man stumbled into his appointment, with graying hair and stress beyond anything I had ever seen before.

“Please, I need your assistance. Anything just to get me off the ground. Do what you need.”

As a banker, I was used to dealing with suited men and ritualistic formalities. Never before had someone rushed to me in a similar manner before, with this sort of panic. “Sir, if you can please take a seat and explain your situation, maybe we can get you what you need.”

The man sat down, trembling as he met my gaze. “It’s been about five years now that I’ve been in serious debt. My wife and I recently had a son… we thought our problems would subside. I was on track to pay it all! But then I got laid off…”

He described the rest of his situation to me, yet as I gave him advice, I felt something different brewing inside of me. An eagerness to help this man, and to do my job to the best of my ability. My regular clients never wanted a person to help them, but rather an advisor. He listened to me intently as I described every solution I could think of, asked about my personal beliefs on each solution and its effectiveness rather than just taking my word at face value. It was the first time I truly felt I was helping someone. That meeting was three years ago, and I have not seen the man since he wandered out of my office.

I pulled myself up from my chair, and stumbled towards my bathroom. While brushing my teeth, I looked at myself in the cloudy, silvery mirror that sat in front of me. I never forgot the hazel eyes from the man who bursted into my office three years ago. I remember their panic, this look of desperation, of helplessness. I never thought I would ever reach such a low, but just a few years later and I saw his eyes in my own reflection.