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Story The Senegal Journey (School Vocab Story Archive)

Storm Guardian

Farfetched Philosopher
A little precursor before I jump in. In my high school, our English teacher assigns vocabulary lists. In order to show our proficiency in those words, we are required to write a story-- whether that'd be a piece of poetry, a bit of fiction, or a recount of our lives. I had an idea starting in late first semester that was to make a several part series for the vocab stories. There'd be no editing, with everything created on a whim. I'd do whatever it takes to integrate the given vocab words into the story-- no matter what I'd have to write.
This story follows a close-knit friend group, comprised of an energetic Redditor/photographer named Jay, a social media addicted millennial called Tom, and a tsundere newspaper writer named Holly.

Storm Guardian

Farfetched Philosopher
Part I: That Situation Where You Can Ask Your Parents for a Thousand Dollars for an Unannounced Trip to Africa

“I want to go visit Africa,” I said one day without any precursor. We were in the teacher’s lounge, hiding away from the oppressive regime that usurped our rights, called school.

“Jay, really?” my friend Tom looked at me with disappointment, “This sudden? It’s the middle of the school year. We’d be missing out on several weeks of school.”

“I personally have no objections to the plan,” my other best friend, Holly, made the surprising statement. She was the scribe of the group and was usually wrapped up in whatever newspaper article she was writing for the school newspaper. I personally thought that she would depreciate my sudden and unexpected interest in skipping school.

Tom obviously felt the same way, and he protested in a scrupulous manner, “It wouldn’t be right to skip out on school for several weeks! We have a group project to worry about! Skipping out would be pernicious to the integrity of the project!”

“I think I can pull a few strings to get us some extra time in our classes,” Holly said, looking up from her computer in the corner. Her brown hair, brown eyes, and carefully applied makeup wouldn’t suggest it, but I knew that Holly was exceptionally deceptive. She’d probably beguile the teachers with a story about a funeral or something and make them rue their situation.

Or perhaps she might label the entire situation as debauchery and send both me and Tom into a spiral of trouble, quelling any thought of a vacation. Neither of us knew Holly particularly well-- she had only been friends with us for a little more than a year-- and we knew that her deceptiveness could backfire on us particularly easy.

“Alright, so that’s all good and done,” I had a loose stack of lined paper in front of me, and I began making a list of all the things that we had finished-- not a list of things that we needed to be done, since I wasn’t the brightest person in the school.

“Ah, Jay, this is all good and well, but where are we going to get the funds to go on this trip?” Holly said, always the one to point out the problem in a plan.

“I think I could get my hands on some money,” Tom said, capitulating to the plan that me and Holly were building. I sighed in relief. Tom’s father was an extremely successful dermatologist that had earned several thousand dollars in a specially made ointment that he made. His mother was a secretary, whose hard work earned her a good amount of money. The thousands of dollars needed for the trip wouldn’t be a dent at all on their budget.

“Woo! It’s settled!” I said, grabbing my phone, “I’m booking the tickets right now!”

“Right now?!” Holly and Tom exclaimed. Perhaps they didn't expect me to suddenly book tickets so soon.


The airport was packed with people, each going towards their own destinations. Duty-free shops lined the airport filled with magazines and colorful accessories. The sparkling clean windows showed the constant moving of airplanes leaving and arriving.

“Jay, stop taking pictures of everything,” Holly said, whacking me on the head with a magazine. I didn’t even notice that I had my photography camera out and taking pictures of everything that I saw.

“But I need it for my photography website!” I protested. I then proceeded to snap a few more pictures of the surrounding people.

“You too, Tom?” Holly looked at Tom in disappointment. He was also snapping pictures, but with his selfie camera, which captured his smooth, slicked back blonde hair and green eyes alongside every shot he took.

“I need this for my Snapchat stories!” Tom said in excitement.

“Have you seriously never been to an airport?” Holly asked, her disappointment rising by the second.

“Not with my friends next to me to experience it!” Tom shouted in excitement, spinning around and snapping a picture with me and Holly in it.

“No. No. I do not consent to this. Don’t you dare post that online.” Holly growled, hiding her face with her newspaper.

“Holly,” I chuckled turning to her, “There’s no law that says that people can’t be photographed without their permission in the middle of public, y’know.”

“What?” Holly shouted, moments before I took a picture of her, capturing all the shock and dismay on her face.

Tom guffawed, “Alright, let’s find a seat so that we don’t exhaust ourselves before the actual plane ride.”

As we headed over to one of the vacant seats in the waiting area, I asked, “How did you manage to tell your parents that you needed to go on a trip?”

“My parents didn’t care,” Holly said, shrugging it off, “They just said okay.”

“Convincing my parents to give us money was no problem,” Tom said, chuckling, “But they didn’t like the fact that their golden child was going off on a three-week adventure spree without any sort of school.”

I nodded in understanding. My parents personally didn’t like anything that I did that was outside of sports. They were truly those American parents that believed that the institutions of school were useless and that everyone should be playing sports their entire lives. They even didn’t approve of my hobby of being on reddit.

But of course, when my parents disapproved of everything, I could find ways around their wishes to do what I wanted. So after packing some bags, I sneaked out during the night to meet Holly at Tom’s car, where he drove us to the airport.

As soon as we took a seat, a woman, chattering into her phone, shoved me aside and took my seat forcefully, rending our group in half. In her purse was a chihuahua which growled menacingly at Holly. Unfortunately for the dog, Holly growled back with more rancor to the dog than it could possibly give back.

“Hey, ma’am?” I asked, tapping the woman on the shoulder. I didn’t want to be rude, but she was completely killing the good mood.

She, unfortunately, took no notice of me. Instead, she swatted at me and continued to prate into her phone about how a teller at a bank was so incredibly rude to her by not giving her more money for the trip for free. Her logic, as far as I could see, had zero profundity.

“Just wait,” Holly said, nodding at me.

When the woman finally got off her phone, Holly asked her kindly, “So you’re going to London as well?”

“London?” the woman looked at Holly in shock, “I thought this was to Senegal!”

“No.. that’s in gate 37C,” Holly said, shaking her head slowly, “I think it’s going off in like ten minutes. You’d better get running.”

“What?!” the woman yelled, running out as fast as she could with her dog hanging precariously out of her purse.

“I don’t think there is a gate 37C,” Holly commented as I scooted into the vacated seat.

“It was still a creative and badass act,” I said, patting Holly on the back in approbation.

“That’s what you get for having a best friend who is completely apathetic and hates everyone,” Holly said, burying herself into her newspaper.

Two hours later, when everyone was getting on the plane, I still didn’t see the woman and her dog. But at that point, the woman wasn’t the thing that I was thinking about. I was thinking about what we were going to do: What hotel were we going to stay in, where would we eat, where would we travel, how would we catch up with our schoolwork. But I also wondered what we’d encounter, what new culture we would experience, what new links of friendship we would create.

I suppose the uncertainty is what we get for having a list that only says what we have already done, rather than what we should do. But that uncertainty and the list’s failure would also provide what I knew would be the greatest adventure in our friendship.

Storm Guardian

Farfetched Philosopher
Part II: Being in an Airport Doesn’t Count as Visiting a Country

I wish I could describe what it was like to be on an airplane, just with my friends, where my parents aren't ruining everything(1), and where I could act like myself rather than that posh, dignified persona my parents wanted me to emulate.

But I couldn’t. Why? Because we were drugged. I doubt Spirit Airlines has the legal autonomy to do such a thing, but they did it anyway. When we got our snacks and refreshments(2) and me, Jay, and Holly each ate a bite, the nondescript flight turned dangerous. I felt my muscles weaken. The snacks had enfeebled us. Then my vision went black, and I woke up with Holly beating me with a pillow. She was also shouting my name desperately, “Tom! Tom!”

“Hey! Hey! Stop that!” I was still muddled from sleep, but I raised my arm weakly to block Holly’s attacks, “What are you doing?”

“Sorry, but you weren’t responding,” Holly said, throwing the pillow carelessly into another seat and grabbing her backpack, “We’ve landed. I needed to get a response out of you.”

“Alright then,” I said groggily, looking around the crappy aircraft, “Where’s Jay?”

“He was so excited that he just left,” Holly said, gathering her luggage from the overhead compartment, “I couldn’t stop him.”
“Wait. What happened?” I asked, sitting up on the decently comfortable plane seat, “I remember eating peanut M&Ms, then…”

“We were drugged,” Holly said, staring into my eyes. There wasn’t a trace of a joke in her eyes. She fished through her pocket and conjured a half-opened package of M&Ms, “The flight attendants dispose of the drugged snacks after everyone is asleep, but I managed to hide them into my pockets. All I need is for you to set up the lawsuit. Your parents have money, right?”

“I mean, yes, but…” I said hesitantly. I already stole a couple thousand dollars from them for this trip(3)… and I didn’t want to have to steal more for a lawsuit. I finally relented, “Sure. When we get back.”

“Alright, cool,” Holly said, grabbing my bags as well, which made her seem like a gigantic tank of luggage, “Come on, sleepyhead, let’s go.”

I got to my feet, feeling kinda shaky and with a pounding headache from the drugs. I wobbled down the plane aisle until I got out of the execrable aircraft and into the fresh(er) air of the airport terminal.

But once I was out, I had a feeling of hope. We were here. Finally! Then I realized that we had zero plans on what we were going to do. Oh well.
“Ow,” Holly said, as she put down my bags and shook her shoulders out, “How much have you packed?”

“You didn’t have to carry my bags,” I said, rubbing my eyes. I hoped she didn’t notice that I didn’t actually answer the question (my entire wardrobe).
“That’s not the right response,” Holly said with a rare smile. Thank goodness for Holly. She usually seemed so mean, uncaring, and apathetic, but when she was willing to help a half-drugged friend, her compassionate nature was tacit.

“Well, thank you,” I said, grabbing my bags and slinging my backpack over my shoulders. Yeah, it felt like carrying a gallon of bricks. I smiled at Holly, “Really, I mean it.”

“Why did you have to go about saying it like that?” Holly asked, turning away and crossing her arms, “I’m not doing it because we’re friends or anything like that.”

“Yeah, definitely not,” I grinned. What a liar. I turned around and around, unable to find Jay, “Where did Jay go?”

“Oh. Him. He’s over there,” Holly turned around and pointed at a window. Jay was standing there, athletically built, dark latino skin. Of course, he had his professional photography camera out snapping pictures out the large wall-glass.

As I walked over to him (Holly didn’t follow me, she was captivated by a really cute dog), I heard Jay singing as he took pictures.

“At the airport terminal, the planes are landing,” Jay sung(4), “SHWZSHWZSHWZSHWZSHWZSHWZSHWZHSWSHZSWSHSSHWZSHWZSHWSZ

“What the heck was that?” I asked as I stood next to Jay.

“Nothing. Oh. There’s wifi here for your Snapchat streaks,” Jay said quickly before snapping a picture of me. I better not appear in the yearbook.
“Oh, right, I almost forgot about that,” I said. Stupid cellphone addiction. It took less than five minutes for me to send all the streaks to my friends. But it was definitely more than 2 minutes. I suppose that was the downside to being an extrovert-- I had a lot of friends.

But then I received a reply from one of my friends-- I forgot her name since I have so many friends-- and she said, “Wait, you’re in Paris? So that’s why you’ve been absent.”

“Paris?” I asked, mystified. That’s when I noticed that the people at the airport didn’t have dark skin as I thought. Everyone was white-- Caucasian. Airports were so similar, I didn’t even notice that we weren’t at Senegal.

“Yeah, we’re at Paris,” Jay said, putting down his camera, “We leave for Senegal in four hours.”

“Aww, I thought we were already there,” I said, with just a bit of despondency. I didn’t know if I could go through another round of being drugged on Spirit Airlines.

“Hey, we could go get something to eat,” Jay said with a smile, “And you could fix your hair.”

“My hair?” I asked, reaching up to feel it. I couldn’t let it be ruined, even by an airplane flight. It was my pride and honor, and I always spent two hours before school styling it with the best hair gel(5).

“It’s just a bit ruffled,” Jay snapped a picture of me and showed me with the back of my hair ruffled up from being in the airplane. I hurriedly fixed it, since I felt like it was my obligation to look good no matter where I was. After I lowered my arms, Jay asked, “Where should we eat? The udon shop? McDonalds?”

“How should I know?” I asked. I didn’t even know we’d be in France today.

- - - - - - - - - -

We tried several different shops, but something always ruined everything.

With the udon shop, the mean-looking lady running it had no forbearance in terms of insulting us at every moment because of the fact that we’re squirrely teenagers, and in the end, me and Jay had to drag Holly away before the lady’s rude behavior caused Holly to sock her in the face.

McDonald’s was closed, and the three of us all wondered if that even was possible. Wasn’t McDonald’s a 24/7 restaurant?

The sandwich shop was open, but the old men that ran it didn’t understand anything we said, and likewise, we didn’t know what they were saying. We couldn’t read the menu either, it was all in French. Then we couldn’t understand the people yelling at us from the back of the line, and they couldn’t understand us when we were trying to figure out what they were saying. Case in point: Our presence caused anarchy, and in the end, a security guard had to come to tell us to leave (we couldn’t understand her either).

I realized now that we should’ve done our best to inure ourselves to the lack of reliable communication with others.

We then wandered around the overly clean airport, probably ruining all the hard work that the janitor had put into the floor. It seemed all the rooms were duty-free shops and restrooms. In my mind, I wondered if we were going to get any food before our flight. Did our flight even have dinner, or did it Jay book a flight after dinner time just because it was cheaper? This was why I should never let Jay plan anything. He’s bound to screw it up.

“Oh, hey, there’s a Starbucks open,” Holly said, pointing to the bright green coffee shop. Her face was lit with relief. It would have to do.

But woe is us, as soon as we walked towards the shop, a darkly clothed figure exploded out of the shop door, carrying what looked like a stuffed trash bag over their shoulders. A Starbucks employee wearing a black apron shattered through the window a moment later, scattering glass everywhere with a piercing crash. In his hands was a sawed-off shotgun as he chased after the dark-clothed figure.

I still went inside though, even though both Jay and Holly had an expression on their face that said that there was probably no point in going inside. Not to my surprise, the place was completely despoiled by the thief. The only thing left was three cake pops, which I immediately bought. The atmosphere was almost funereal, as nobody said anything, they just simply grieved for the loss of the Starbucks. Several coffee-addicted, fully-grown men were simply sobbing as they faced the destroyed coffee machines. I started getting uncomfortable, so I awkwardly left the store.
“Nothing?” Jay asked when I walked out of the ruined store. His face showed no surprise.

“Nothing,” I confirmed, tossing a chocolate cake pop to each of my friends. They each caught it and looked at it as if it were some sort of alien species.

Suddenly, the whirling of an alarm caused the three of us to jump, and a red light began to flash. I could only guess that the alarm was for the Starbucks robber.

“Let’s get away from this area,” Holly suggested, looking towards the bright red lights. Me and Jay readily agreed and so we continued our search for food. Then, finally, we saw it.

KFC. The lights inside were on inside, and the place was abuzz with activity. I was so excited to eat that I almost ran into the glass door. The menu was readable, thank goodness for that. Fried chicken buckets, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, congee, Cajun Boxmaster, Colonel’s chicken, youtiao fried dough sticks, jollof rice, ensaymada… doubledown dogs6? Alright, I don’t think I can read the menu.

“What the hell is coleslaw?” Jay asked, confused, “Did someone named Cole kill something?”

“You don’t know what coleslaw is?” Holly exclaimed, astonished, “How did you get past the probability unit in math?”

“I didn’t,” Jay replied, “I failed the unit test.”

“Anyhow, what should we order?” I asked.

“How about three buckets of chicken and three bowls of congee?” Holly suggested.

“What’s congee?” I asked, just as confused as Jay.

“You guys disappoint me,” Holly said, and with no explanation, started to give the order to the cashier.

“I disappoint myself sometimes,” I replied with a chuckle(7).

Finally, when the food arrived, we all had something in our stomachs other than the poisoned peanut M&Ms from the airplane. My parents usually never allowed me to eat KFC, but oh boy, the chicken tastes better than any silly posh food that rich people could get. The congee turned out to be rice porridge with meat and vegetables.

“So did you plan anything for this trip?” I asked Jay once we were half past our giant buckets of chicken.

“Oh, planning,” Jay’s lips curled into a mischievous grin, and he covered it with a hand a bit too late, “So did you know that Senegal doesn’t have a minimum drinking age?”

“Oh god, please don’t tell me this is going where I think it’s going,” Holly said, covering her face. I wanted to tell her that she probably smeared chicken grease all over her face, but I had a feeling that telling her that would just get me kicked.

“I was thinking we could hit it up with some booze sometime in our trip,” Jay said. He raised his hand in a ‘rock’ symbol, then wiggled his fingers around.

“Jay, Senegal is a Muslim country,” Holly said, exasperated as she moved her hands away from her face. Yep. Covered with chicken grease. She continued, leaning over the table to look at Jay closely, “You know we’ll get excommunicated for drinking, right?”

“Ehhhh,” Jay said, “It’s only gonna be a week.”

Holly blinked, then said, “Alright then. If you are going to drink, I’m going to drink too.”

I turned to Holly with a look of shock on my face. But on Holly’s face was simply a bright little smile. Was Ms. Good-At-School really going to go drink alcohol.

“I mean, if it isn’t cheap liquor, I’ll have some too,” I sighed, giving in.

“Aw, great, bad decisions!” Jay said happily.

I was just happy that Jay had somewhat of a plan of what we were going to do for the next week, even if it was nursing hangovers.
The rest of the meal was quiet, and afterwards, we had to run back to the airport terminal to catch our flight. It was a miracle none of us threw up the bucketload (literally) of chicken.

And of course, it was Spirit Airlines again. They offered us peanut M&Ms again, but this time, I refused both. I didn’t want to feel sedate, I wanted to enjoy every minute with my friends.

But then halfway through the flight, a baby started crying. And because babies cry in chains, five minutes later there were literally ten babies crying. I wanted to go ask for a soda simply so that I could get some sleep. But of course, since everyone was already drugged and asleep, there was no reason for the flight attendants to not take a nap themselves.

Have I said that I really hate airplanes?

1: Want an example? One time, me and my parents were on a trip to Hawaii. The entire time, my little sister was beating me with a pillow. And my parents didn’t care about it. I repeat: MY PARENTS DIDN’T CARE THAT I WAS BEING BEATEN WITH A PILLOW. IS THAT GOOD PARENTING?!
2: Peanut M&Ms and more soda than you could list off with Wikipedia. How do poor people manage to eat these things? They’re disgusting. And the M&M mascot is freaking terrifying.
3: Yeah, I know, I said to Jay and Holly that I just simply asked my parents for money. But my parents want me to “spend responsibly” so they didn’t give me the money. So I did what I had to do: I stole it. Yeah, they’re probably angry. But I’ll face the repercussions when I get home.
4: “at the airport terminal” by bill wurtz. I only figured this one out when we got home and I cyberbullied Jay into giving me the song name. Apparently, he found it on Reddit. Go figure.
5: Axe Hair Gel. Yes, I’m that type of person. Though annoyingly, the Axe hair gel really does attract the ladies. I get asked out nonstop. But I don’t want to go out with any of them. Can’t we just stick to being friends? It’s so much better than lovers, which I really don’t understand the concept of. Maybe if I get rid of the Axe hair gel and the Rolex watches and the expensive clothing I’ll look less attractive. But then… what will I be? Like it or not, I suppose hair gel and indulgent spending of money is my identity.
6: Alright, so on the airplane to Senegal, I was really bored, so I searched this up on Google. Supposedly, it's is a hotdog stuffed with cheese, slaughtered with more cheese on top, and then put into a bun that is made out of fried chicken. And supposedly there have been accusations to KFC about this being a crime against humanity. I agree with them. KFC, you’re dead to me.
7: For example, one time I sent my English teacher dank memes instead of my actual assignment. And oh boy, those memes were definitely too dank for school. Needless to say, I later had a conversation with my parents about what I was looking at on the internet.

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