They both stood before me that day, wide eyed with wonder. They had worn their Sunday best and polished their shoes. Their curly blonde hair was carefully cultivated into ringlets. Their faces were scrubbed clean and hinted at the freshness of their young age. They were alike in every single way.
But it was up to me to decide which one would go on and become great and which one would stay behind. I usually loved this part of the job, because there was always something. Some secret that would bubble up, making the decision effortless.
But not this time.
I flipped through the stack of papers one more time. I sighed. Out of all my years, these two were the only ones that came through so evenly matched. And they were both spades above the poor boy who was chosen last week.
They stayed still. They had impeccable posture. Each of their eyes held a slight twinkle. I sighed again. Even their names were similar: Rebecca McCauley and Rachel McGiven.
Still the decision rested squarely on my shoulders.
I cleared my throat. They both looked up at me, in the exact same instant. One had the slightest smile on her lips. “Rebecca,” I started.
The smile vanished. There was a hint of anger in those eyes. Good, good. Now I had something to work with. “Rebecca, you will be staying behind. Please go and see Mrs. Deamus in the office.”
She nodded once and left the room, her feet dragging slightly over the tiled floor.
I turned to the little girl who had shown me she was ready for the fight ahead. “Rachel, you are going on. Tell me, what subject area would you like to learn more about?”
“Genetics.” She replied without hesitation.
I smiled, knowing I had chosen well.