"This is the most ridiculous topic I've ever heard of," Richard heard from his let as he shuffled out the door. Various classmates murmured agreement at the girls retreating back.

Out of all the essays of all his classes, Richard had to agree this would be one of the more challenging. Maybe challenging wasn't the right way to put it. 'Able to get his head around was more like it.

Richard had grown up in a circus as a performer for the first ten years of his life. What did that say about him? Did that count as his environment since he spent the most time there? Or were people a product of their current environments? He sighed, frustrated, and fell into step beside his good friend, Gar.

"This is the most ridiculous topic I've ever heard of," he quoted.

Gar turned. "What is? I bet it's not any more ridiculous that the 'soup surprise' coming out of the cafeteria today." Gar snatched up the topic paper, consequently wrinkling it. "People are a product of their environment… Wow that is a ridiculous topic. What does that even mean?"

"It means that a person ends up the way he or she is because of where, and the way, they grew up" Richard sidestepped a deeply entwined couple. "Which means we're all doomed because we spend too much time with you."


"So what you're saying." Gar paused to swallow "is that Superman is so nice and courteous and brace and stuff because of the way Ma and Pa Kent brought him up?"

"If you have to put it in superhero terms," Richard groaned, "then yes." They had been talking about the same thing for the past ten minutes and he was getting frustrated.

"But what about Green Arrow and Batman! They were millionaires and then their parents both died when they were kids. Why didn't either of them decide to live it up for the rest of their lives?!" Gar waved around wildly with his sandwich. "Or-or Spoiler! Her dad was abusive and a criminal. Or Darth Vader! He was best friends with Obi-wan and he was in love with Padme, so why did he turn out so evil!" Gar was yelling now and attracting some unfortunate attention.

"Hey, whoa. Shut up man. Okay, as far as Batman and Green Arrow … Bruce Wayne ad really good parents – like morally good – and Alfred was there too. So when he was a kid he would always do the right thing. Also when his parents got shot, they had just seen a new Zorro movie so he had it in his head that there should have been a hero to prevent all that. Then there was the revenge factor. So … wanting revenge coupled with strong morality and thinking about masked heroes … I guess that after awhile he just came up with the … Gotham needs a hero.. Batman … thing." Richard cast his eyes around the room feeling slightly let down with his ending.

Gar didn't seem to mind and in fact didn't even seem to be listening, just staring intently at the other end of the room.

"Well … what about Raven?" he asked.

"Who? You mean Black Canary?" Richard was thoughroly confused.

"No. I'm not talking about superheroes anymore. I mean Raven, purple hair, Raven-in-our-grade, Raven Roth!" Richard let his eyes follow Gars and, wonder of all wonders, they fell exactly on Raven Roth. She was always reading, always had a smart comeback and always (by choice) alone. She was also the only girl Gar had had a crush on since elementary school, but she didn't know that.

"Well what about her? Her parents aren't dead I think."

Gar leaned forward, a furious look on his face. "I heard her dad's abusive," he said in a hushed tone. His face turned soft "But she's not like that at all. I mean … maybe when people are being really stupid … but she's really nice. She really helped me out in English last year and when Corey Anders was crying over her boyfriend Raven cheered her up and gave her some very good advice."

" … I thought Corey and Dustin broke up."

"They did. That was the advice. She's totally right man. That guy's a jerk."

Richard nodded his head still looking back at Raven. She turned a page in her book as a banana peel flew over her head.

"Well," started Richard, "I think that it still applies to her."

"But how? If her dad's a-"

"Gar! Geeze, will you let me finish? Diamonds are made by coal being put under enormous pressure for long periods of time right? So what I'm saying is that because her home life really sucks, and because she has every reason to be hateful and mean, and because all these obstacles are being put in her way, she has overcome them and turned into something better that what anyone expected … Essentially if you work out a lot, and put your both through lots of strain you'll get really strong … Like Batman." Richard finished when Gar looked really lost.

"Oh! Okay, okay I get it… that's why you said obstacles … like an obstacle course…"

"Yes Gar. That's exactly it." Richard rolled his eyes.

But the next day when Richard had to start this essay in class he looked two rows to his left and saw Raven, furiously scribbling away. And it was that conversation that gave him inspiration, and it was that conversation that pushed Gar to ask Raven out and it was that conversation that gave them all a happy ending. Although Richard had to admit … getting the girl was a shade (or five) better that acing the test.

Yay! I finished something! Although i hardly think this counts because the entire thing is a short story for english class where we were supposed to discuss 'people are a product of their environments'. I got 100% on this baby so i figured why not post it? I have a habit of writing fanfiction for short story english projects, only they're watered down enough for teachers to understand. The last one i did was in grade nine though, but i got a ridiculously good mark on that one too!

Other stories will be coming soon, i'm almost done 'previouly', # 35 on the 50 word list.