The Internet Bad Boy

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Chapter 3

MY NEXT CLASS IS Creative Writing. The higher-ups automatically put it on my schedule when I got my schedule last summer. When I asked why the administrators said Creative Writing is a required class at Piotr and my old high school didn’t offer it so I couldn’t just skip it.

Despite my mom signing me up for two APs this year, this is the class I am most nervous about. I’ve written essays and book reports in the past sure - but despite all the tales I’ve spun online, no one has actually critique my writing.

What if I suck?

Wouldn’t it suck even more if I put thousands of hours into writing, and it turns out I’m no better than some kid who just hammered something out between rounds of Dragon Age?

Nothing good can come of this. I wish I could take another class, any other class.

At first glance, our teacher seems harmless enough. Mr. Kleeman has a head of grayish-white hair, but everything about his body movement suggests a young, energetic soul. Also, he is wearing a fedora. That’s how I know deep inside; he thinks he’s forever eighteen.

“Write a story about Transformation,” he writes on the blackboard after hushing down the class. “500 words min.”

There is a cacophony of groans around the classroom. Everyone is complaining there is no way on earth they can get down 500 words during the span of our 40 minute period.

“15 minutes,” Mr. Kleeman says and taps his watch. “Now, you have 14 minutes.”

I look down at the blank loose-leaf paper and put my pen down. I’m not used to writing my stories on paper, but I get the hang of it quickly.

Transformation - Ava hated calling it that. It was more like shedding her human skin and baring her glorious forest soul to the night sky.

I continue writing until the page is full. I didn’t need to count the words. I knew that it should be at least 500 words. A chapter on Wattpad is supposed to be around 1,500 words. There is at least half that many on the page before me.

Oh, shoot. I look up at the clock mounted on the wall behind Mr. Kleeman’s head. He is busy reading a book. We started at 9:00; it’s only 9:06 now. What am I supposed to do for the next ten minutes?

It’s probably a curse of someone who has written religiously every night for the last two years, sneaking in chapters between dinner and bedtime. When I start writing, I write fast, and I write relentlessly. I don’t know how to slow down. It’s all muscle memory at this point.

I don’t know what to do with myself now. I couldn’t keep writing. I’ll look like a nerd if I present Mr. Kleeman with a mini-novella at the end of fifteen minutes. I put my hands under my butt and sit on them.

The rest of the class is still haphazardly scribbling. I hear Natalie sigh deeply as she takes out her white-out to remove a line on her page. She looks like she’s only about two lines in. I don’t want Mr. Kleeman to think my wandering eyes are an attempt to copy my classmates.

Not knowing what else to do, I take out my cell phone and start to check my notifications on it. I do it for the next ten minutes until the time is called.

“Okay, pens down! Including you, Michael!” Mr. Kleeman yells at a kid in the back of the class to stop writing. Mr. Kleeman comes and stands in front of me. For a second, I am terrified that he wants to read my story out to the class. Instead, he points at the boy sitting behind me. “Switch stories. You two get to edit each others’ work.”

Before I can react to that command, an arm with a barely-concealed tribal tattoo on the bicep snatches my loose-leaf page out of my binder. A crumpled paper with many ink smudges all over it is thrown over my shoulder. I reluctantly look down at the mess of scrawls that has appeared on my desk.

Blue ink.

I hate blue ink!

If that isn’t bad enough, the entire page is filled with big, sharp, angry handwriting. The letters are so huge it’s as though they are manspreading between the margins. Yet, as I start to read, the handwriting is surprisingly legible. Thank goodness for small favors. At least I can get this over with quickly.

The android sits before me with the world’s most pitifully vacant smile. Her skin is smooth, plump, and supple like a fresh summer’s peach. Many a man might have pressed his lips between her thighs, expecting to taste the sweetness of a nimble young sprite. Many a fool’s lips have been met only with the taste of unyielding metal. They say the secret to her soul is a hidden keyhole. With my metal key in hand, I searched her body for that entrance. Her right nipple yields to my key, but she does not react to my transgression. I slid the cold metal into her right ear and heard the softest of all clicks. Her legs begin to move, her knees part, and her head turns. In her transformation - she invites me in.

I roll my eyes so hard they practically fall out of my head. Okay, so we’re writing porn in English class now? I circle the part about the hole between her legs and write, “women don’t taste like peaches. Have you ever been with anything other than a blow-up doll?”

“Give the stories back and discuss them,” Mr. Kleeman directed like a maestro. He banged his knuckles on my desk and pointed at me. “Share one criticism and one thing you liked about the work.”

I sigh and turn around. The author of this marvelous piece of robot porn throws my work back at me. My story about my werewolf is crumpled now, just like his work. And worse yet, the paper feels a little damp. I didn’t need to touch him to know that he has big sweaty hands.

I hold the paper with the tips of my fingers and glance at his comments. I see several excessively large tiger-shrimp shaped commas scrawled in. Yes, the missing commas. I know I have that problem in my writing, but my readers don’t care about that. The worse the grammar, the more readers you get. Maybe, it’s a secret language among the denizens of the internet where we’ve collectively decided to eliminate commas.

“One flaw - it was cliched and boring,” the jerk tells me. “One nice thing - at least it’s better than that crap on Wattpad.”

“What?” I ask, swallowing hard. “What did you say?”

“Do you read on it, or do you write on it too?” The boy with the tribal tattoo asks with a smirk. He folds his arms over his chest. I notice that his biceps are practically threatening to pop out of those strained sleeves. Those pecs would be something, if only they weren’t attached to a boy who is the human equivalent of an unflushed turd in the Penn Station bathroom.

“Your story is insulting to women,” I say and ignore his question about whether I wrote online. “An android can’t consent, so this entire thing could only have been thought up by a gross psychotic mind.” I throw his essay at his desk with such force that it knocks all the contents of his table to the ground. With a huff, I turn around. I hear the sound of the paper and his pen hitting the ground. I don’t even offer to pick it up for him.

“You were supposed to say one nice thing,” the jerk says after he gets on his hands and knees and collects his stuff from the floor. He is standing next to me now and dusting his pants off. I wish he would just go back to his seat and leave me alone. Instead, he bends over and raises his thick eyebrows at me. “One nice thing.”

“Your handwriting was easy to read. That’s all.”

He laughs and goes back to his seat. He leans into my ear and whispers to me - “I saw you browsing the site on your phone. Look me up; I’m on it too.”

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