“There once was a shark named Ralph. He ate four tuna and seven bluegill for lunch. The end,” Mr. Remora said, chomping on his sixth banana that morning as he stared out at his class, expecting applause for his masterpiece.
The class blinked at him for a moment, then the sound of scribbling pencils started up. Duncan just stared at the man, amused at what the Board of Education had become. How was this man even a teacher? He might as well run for president while he’s at it. He sat back in his seat and looked at the ceiling, his look of boredom worsening.
“There once was a dump truck named Dusty. He carried gray and brown rocks to a construction site across town. The end,” Mr. Remora droned on, picking at his fingernail.
My God, what did I do in a past life to deserve this? Duncan thought grumpily. He looked over at the only thing that kept him from committing suicide, aside from his sister. To his left, resting her head on her hand, looking quite the opposite, was Violet Baudelaire. Ahh, the name itself gave him butterflies. As a faint red blush crept into his cheeks, he frowned at her, wondering how she could possibly be enjoying this. But when he realized her soft, dark brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail by her trademark black satin ribbon, he grinned shyly. He knew what that meant. The only way she could be this happy in Mr. Remora’s class was because she wasn’t in his class. She was lost in her own world, dreaming up inventions that could put Thomas Edison to shame. And he loved it.
He stared at her, completely consumed by her beauty. Oh how he wanted to run his fingers through her hair and stare into her eyes…those beckoning brown eyes staring back into his…wait, what? Duncan came back to reality to find that Violet was looking right at him, confused by the grin on his face. His grin quickly went south and the blush on his face became more noticeable. Aww, dammit. She caught me, he thought. At a loss for some kind of excuse, he waved sheepishly at her. To his relief, she smiled happily and waved back.
“There once was a turkey named Tom. Tom had brown and black feathers and loved eating corn. The end,” Mr. Remora said, really scraping the bottom of the barrel now.
Duncan glanced nervously at Violet, then jotted down something on a blank page of his dark green notebook. He tore it out quietly, folded it, and when Mr. Remora looked the other way, passed it to her with a trembling hand.
Violet looked at him, and when she noticed the note, glanced at Mr. Remora and took it.
Violet smiled at him, then reciprocated his reply and passed it back to him.
Oh my God she said ‘Hey’! Duncan thought excitedly, his heart thumping madly in his chest. God, Duncan, get ahold of yourself! All she said is ‘hey’. He tapped his fingers together, pondering what to write next.
“There once was a donkey named Ed. He ran six miles to the grocery store. The end,” Mr. Remora said, beginning to peel his seventh banana.
A light bulb went off in Duncan’s head. He scribbled down something longer this time and passed it to her.
I thought the donkey’s name would be Remora rather than Ed.
Violet giggled quietly, and Duncan couldn’t help but grin. He made her laugh. Oh yeah! Who was the man now? The partying continued in his head until it was shushed by Violet’s suspenseful scribbling a moment later.
Duncan looked at her and they shared another giggle.
“There once was a sea lion named Dave. Dave swam two miles, ate lots of penguins, and came back home. The end.”
Duncan bit his lip. Should he really ask her that? He’d only met her just weeks ago. He didn’t want to destroy what they’d already built. …Oh, what the heck, why not? Never hurts to ask.
Violet took the note and unfolded it, Duncan’s palms becoming very sweaty. Hey uh, did you wanna go for a walk with me after school?
“There once was a baby named Felix. Felix’s favorite toy was–––Mr. Quagmire!” Mr. Remora began, then suddenly honed in on Duncan, who was reaching across the aisle to take back the note.
Violet and Duncan froze as the class turned to look at them. “His favorite toy was me?” Duncan asked with a surprised grin. “Why, I’m flattered.”
“Is that a note?” Mr. Remora started to make his way toward them.
“No it’s paper,” Duncan said, holding it up. “Doesn’t look like a note to me. Notes are black dots with lines goin’ through ’em. This’s just paper.”
“You think this’s funny, Mr. Quagmire?” Mr. Remora snarled, storming down his row. Violet fought not to laugh. His sense of humor knew no bounds.
“What were you and Miss Baudelaire writing about?” Mr. Remora snapped his head in Violet’s direction. Instantly, her face fell. He’d caught her, too.
“N-nothing,” Duncan stammered, trying to sound calm and collected as his English teacher snatched the note out of his hand. “We were just writin’ about how your storytelling puts Shakespeare to shame.”
Mr. Remora opened the note and read it, much to his horror. After a moment, he narrowed his beady brown eyes at him and growled, “Detention, Mr. Quagmire.”
Duncan flushed a bright red and lowered his head, not daring to look at his crush across the aisle, who he could feel was staring at him.
“Nerd!” a boy behind Duncan yelled, then threw a textbook at the back of his head. Duncan lurched forward from the impact and the class broke out in laughter.
Thinking hard, Violet glanced at Duncan, who looked ready to crawl under his desk and hide the rest of the hour. “Well, it’s true,” she said after the laughter died down.
Mr. Remora whirled around. “Excuse me, Miss Baudelaire?”
“It’s true,” Violet said simply.
Mr. Remora’s face contorted into the most frightening she’d ever seen it. “Detention, Miss Baudelaire!” he spat horribly.
Violet smiled at Duncan, who finally got the courage to look at her again. He smiled back at her, fully aware of her plan. Even though he didn’t know if she was on for the walk or not, one thing was for certain: he absolutely looked forward to detention.