As always, this is a rough draft. I have to find some text from a book. Well, you’ll understand.
A Bit More Cream, Ma’am?
My months following the seemingly disastrous first date – or as some love to say, my ‘last date, ever’ – things progress about as well as making snow angels in Texas. The League’s increase in airstrikes and frontal assaults eventually bolster due to Mrs. Fidel’s encouragement. Unlike Ms. Robin-Fern, Mrs. Castro is not interested in turning a blind eye, she commits to her self-appointed role of child torture extraordinaire; apparently teaching isn’t as fulfilling as one would expect. If Ms. Robin-Fern happens to catch me in the act, Mrs. Castro’s the one who orchestrates ‘the act’.
Noah, after casting aside all sorts of subtlety, is making it his mission in life to do anything and everything possible to trip me when I walk by, say that I’m actually pretty cool then take it back (“April Fools!”) or send his rottweiler, Justine, on me. With the fifth graders and eventually, my fellow fourth graders swelling the ranks of the League sponsored by our benevolent teacher, I decide to call in my favor.
Sitting at the corner of my class’s table – a few seats separate me from even my former friends: Arturo, Devon, etc. – I observe everyone. Not just my classmates, but those in the other classes; Mr. Reading’s, Miss Byrd’s, and others. I think about the guys I’d like to call friends from my year in Mrs. Walker’s class when inspiration hits me. I slowly chew on my rib sandwich, mulling the plan over and over as my peers start to run outside to enjoy various activities on this awesome spring day.
“Alex, let’s walk,” I address a friend as his class lines up to run outside.
“But, the swings!” I shake my head, unaware of my boss-like behavior as Alex gives in.
We walk outside, making sure that we are not able to be overheard.
“You know my teacher,” it’s not a question, Alex answers me regardless.
“She’s mean, how do you deal with her?”
“That is what I hope to answer with your help,” he stops and stares at me.
“W-what?? I don’t…but she’s…” I stop him, giving him a stern look I’ve been practicing.
“I just need you to distract her.”
“Run. You know how she gets when people run down the hall, grab Felipe – well, maybe someone more able – and run down the hall,” he looks at me suspiciously.
“And what’re you gonna do?”
“Something. You don’t want to know, less to testify.1”
“A few minutes after we’re all back in class. Let’s amscray before anyone sees us together,” I walk towards the b-ball courts where my elder classmates congregate.
“Ew, go away spaz!” One of them spots me and shouts this immediately.
Feeling full of myself, I decide to show them two of my fingers; the longest on both hands. Naturally, two of them approach me, quickly, with faces ranging between anger and shock. Sophie, watching this, decides this is the time to practice her free throws. I watch Noah and his attack dog, staring them down as they tower over me, snarling in my face, I half expect Justine to froth at the mouth. My heart is racing as the two blurt random obscenities I’m positive even Castro wouldn’t approve of, all while shoving and daring me to flick them off again.
“Fine, as you wish,” I oblige, waving my left ‘bird’ in front of Justine, distracting the two of them long enough for my right fist to connect cleanly with Noah’s left cheek. As he stumbles, I swing my left fist into Justine’s stomach. I walk as quickly as I could towards Sophie, leaving the two temporarily stunned, and I give her a stern look, before hearing my opponents run behind me. Turning around and waiting for their retaliation, I stand there staring at them again, this causes them to hesitate and look around the area.
“You are so dead,” Noah says.
“I’m shaking in mah boots,” I act this sarcasm out, our eyes lock with each other and something in Noah’s gaze falters.
I study this but Noah walks away, massaging his cheek, Justine following closely behind him. Jessica and Sophie stand under the hoops, stunned, during Noah’s defeated march. Not expecting this myself, I fight the urge to faint at my brush with Death.
“What the hell just happened?” Jessica asks and runs away from me, Sophie reluctantly follows.
I walk close enough to whisper seven words to her: “I need you to distract the class.” She looks at me and I nod, walking away from the scene.
“Okay, whose turn is it to start reading today?” Mrs. Castro looks around her desk-table.
She gives me a nasty look as I approach my new spot, by her side, and she turns around to inspect a board behind her.
“Oh, Nancy, you start,” she reads the board, there under the title of the book, Bridge to Terebethia, Nancy’s name in the first slot.
[Text] I pretend to follow the reading, keeping my face in the book, listening intently for my cue. Time progresses and Nancy finishes a few paragraphs uneventfully. Now it’s Arturo’s turn, his reading style is much slower which does not help my anxiety. Mrs. Castro slurps her coffee, following along each slow, dragging syllable while my eyes bounce from page-to-clock-to-page every few seconds.
Did he wuss out? I think slightly out loud.
“What was that?” My jiggly deskmate asks.
“Nothing, I was sounding out a word to myself,” I reply quickly.
She watches me as I bury my nose into the fascinating book. My ears prick up, waiting for any hint of disruption.
What the hell man?! She’ll finish her coffee soon!
I can’t push this bitch out of her seat!
Suddenly, a gentle THUD reaches my ears. The THUD repeats in a quick metronomical fashion. Arturo stops reading, Mrs. Castro’s nostrils flair, I turn around not to her, but to to Sophie; staring at her intensely. I can see the battle being waged inside her. Mrs. Castro struggles to climb out of her pitiful chair and wobbles around the computer tables, towards the door reaching the hallway.
“Hey!” She bellows and Sophie’s makes her decision.
“Keep reading Arturo,” he obeys and the rest of the class continues to follow along.
I rush around my table-desk, grab a bottle of Elmer’s finest and squeeze a bit of that beautiful creamy substance into Mrs. Castro’s giant mug. I then grab a spoon and stir as noiselessly as possible – then return everything and sit down.
Mrs. Castro waddles back into the room and crushes her chair again (it yells to be put out of its misery) and I watch her from my book as she examines the room. She shakes her mug slowly to stir it and then sips it slowly. I bury my face further into my book, struggling not to laugh.
After a minute, I dare myself to scan the room and I find myself locking eyes with Sophie. Her wide white eyes – contrasting her dark complexion – is forever logged into my memory as I’m sure my giant shit-eating grin haunts her to this day.
1Thank you mom’s obsession with court shows.