The library was empty as Andrianne came and sit on the corner chair. She had no reason for picking the place, just that she like the way the sun hits the panel glass window and the light that plays in front of her. She sat her books down and began to unfold the list Mr. Smith gave her earlier that week.
A smile formed on her face. Most of the books that were on the list of required reading for that year she had read before. “Ms. Perry?” A familiar voice said. Andrianne quickly stood up and face the male teacher in front of her. Her head bowed slightly down as a sign of respect. “You don’t have to stand up, dear.” He said as he took a seat near her.
“Sorry, sir. I didn’t realize you were here.” Andrianne said shyly. Mr. Smith just lets out a laugh. Andrianne looked up at him questioningly.
“It’s alright, Andrianne. You didn’t do anything wrong to be sorry about. Though it’s a little weird to see a student in a library at this time of the day.” Mr. Smith said smiling at the young girl. “And the list are just suggested reading for summer. Not that you must read all of it. And usually, students who enter the grade in the middle of the semester usually never ask for the summer extra credit list. You are the first I think.” He said.
“I need to do a lot of catching up to do sir.” Andrianne said, her voice humble and shy.
“Andrianne, if it’s too much, you really don’t need to read all of the books you know, just pick one or two will do.” Mr. Smith said.
“I have read all these, sir, just to refresh my mind of the plots and characterization for the report.” Andrianne explained.
“You like to read, Andrianne?” The teacher asked as he leaned back into the armchair. Andrianne just nodded in reply. “If I ask you now, can you tell me about a character you that you like the most from any of the book you have read, what will it be?”
“Does it have to be one in the list?” Andrianne asked before answering the question.
“No. Any book in the world.” The teacher said.
Andrianne thought for a while and smiled at the teacher. “My favorite book is Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux. I like Christine Daae and Erik the Phantom better than the others. To answer your question, I’ll pick Christine to be my favorite character.” Andrianne said carefully.
“Why Christine Daae? Her beauty of her gifts?” The teacher said excitedly. He was in awe that this little girl had read a book beyond her age.
“No. Not her looks. Christine was raised by her father until he died, then she grew up in an environment of hard work and most of the things she learnt were self –thought and with little coaching. Christine never once hated herself for being an orphan or blamed anyone for her bad luck. Instead, she was glad to have her life. She was a very strong-willed and her beauty comes from her heart rather than just her physical beauty. She saw the phantom as a human being rather than a monster that everyone thinks he is. She sees things beyond the surface.” Andrianne said. The fire of passion burns in her eyes as she spoke of the character as if she was living in the book.
“Interesting.” Mr. Smith smiled at his youngest student. “Maybe you could write up an essay about Phantom of the Opera and you can forget about the reading list.” He suggested.
“But Phantom of the Opera is not on the reading list.” Andrianne said puzzled.
“It’s not on the sixth-grade ones. Student’s here don’t read Phantom of the Opera until the tenth grade or ninth grade accelerated reader program.” The teacher said. Andrianne blushed a little. “What other classics that you have read?” The teacher asked.
“I’m trying to get Jane Eyre but I couldn’t find it anywhere in the library.” Andrianne replied. “But I have read The Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.” She smiled.
“I have never had a student as well read as you are. Maybe, we can talk to the Principal about your English placement class. My class would just bore you.” Mr. Smith said a little concerned about her.
“Your class is fine sir. I just read a lot that’s all.” Andrianne said quickly.
“Don’t be silly. With your level of English, you should be in the honors class.” Mr. Smith said. “I’ll talk to Principal Messner.” He said as he stood up. Andrianne rose as well. “Andrianne, if you are interested, maybe you can join the reader’s circle on Wednesday after school until around five. I have a few kids who come together and talk about the book that they are reading. I’m sure you will be an interesting addition. But this group mostly read young adult fictions and fantasy fictions.”
“Sure.” Andrianne’s face instantly lit up in excitement. “What are most of them reading now?” She asked.
“Harry Potter.” Mr. Smith said before he bid goodbye to Andrianne and the bell rang. Andrianne rushed to the library checkout counter and took two of the book in the reading list with her.
Andrianne took her usual seat at the front corner of the class as she prepared herself for the math class. Ms. Bennington came in with her usual delighted mood. “Homework please.” She said as she came in the class. She quickly skimmed the class as she took the homework paper from the student’s tables. “Good. Today, we’re going to have a pop quiz.”
The class groaned in unison. Ms. Bennington let out a laugh. Andrianne giggled at the reaction of the class. “It’s going to be a toughie today. I have three sets. Easy, intermediate and hard. Your marks will be according to the level of hardness and how well you do the question. Each set has 15 different questions, so you cannot copy your friends.” She said as she laid the papers on her table. One by one the class went and takes the paper. The easy and intermediate stacks were disappearing fast. Andrianne stood up and looked at the questions before she takes one of them.
“Andy, let’s take the hard ones. The question can’t be that tough.” Riley said smiling at Andrianne. Andrianne nodded.
“Well, well, Mr. Ritter and Ms. Perry. Are you sure?” Ms. Bennington smiled as the only two students of her who took her challenge for the hard question pop quiz. “Go ahead.” She smiled at them.
Andrianne sat down and do the questions quickly. It was not that hard, nothing that she has not seen before, just that it was a little tricky. A few students sighed and groaned while doing. Riley and Andrianne smiled at each other.
“Okay, whoever is done can hand up and get ready for your next class.” Ms. Bennington said after around 25 minutes later. Andrianne once again went through the arithmetic in her head and when she was satisfied, she handed the papers in. So did Riley.
“Andrianne, wait up.” Riley called as she stepped out of the classroom.
“It’s Andy.” Andrianne said as she stopped and waited for the older boy to catch up with her. Riley just smiled.
“Sounds like a boy. Andrianne sounds better.” Riley said as they walked together to Andrianne’s locker. “What class do you have after this?” He asked.
“Mr. Smith’s English two.” Andrianne said as she unfolds her timetable. “I still can’t remember my class schedules.” She said with a nervous laugh.
“Oh, Mr. Smith said you might be joining us for the reader’s circle on Wednesday. I’m the only sixth grader though. Most of them are Upper Classmen. I’m the only one; well if you’re joining we’re the only Lower Classmen there.” Riley said.
“Really? How come?” Andrianne asked. She opened her locker and traded her math books for her English books.
“I don’t know. But James said you’re awfully advance in terms of reading.” Riley added.
“Are you guys close?” Andrianne asked suddenly.
“He’s my foster father, yeah, we’re kind of close.” Riley said casually. “Why?”
“You talk to him, just wondering is all. And you talk about him like you know him well. I mean most students would call their teachers by the surname.” Andrianne replied.
The young boy just shrugged his shoulders. “Oh. So Andrianne, what do you plan to read before going to the circle?” Riley asked curiously.
“What are you reading?” Andrianne asked him back. Riley just shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not sure yet. Mr. Smith said many were reading Harry Potter. I was thinking of Jane Eyre. I don’t know.” Andrianne said.
“I’m still reading Harry Potter, it’s so thick, I’m not sure if I can finish half of it this week.” Riley said with an embarrassed tone.
“Harry Potter it is then.” Andrianne smiled. “My class is here.” She said stopping in front of a classroom. Riley just nods and smiled at her before going his own way. Mr. Smith caught the look on his son’s face and smiled at him as Riley blushed.
Whispers and looks were thrown at Andrianne’s direction. Andrianne just took a seat at an empty chair near the teacher’s table. She was puzzled by the looks and sneering she got from the student in the class. Andrianne really had no idea what she had done or say to hurt or harm anyone.
“Alright, class. Settle down. As you know we have a new addition to our class, she had been introduced in our last class. Today we are going to resume our class as usual. Before the last class, I had given you and assignment to read the poem by Robert Frost called Road Not Taken right?” Mr. Smith said as the class commenced. “Who would like to read the poem?” He asked.
The class fell silent. Pin drop silent. Not even the sound of a breath. Mr. Smith smiled as he shook his head. “Have any of you even read it?” He asked again. A mixed murmured answers of ‘yeses’ and ‘nos’ were heard but nothing clear enough to point to anyone.
“Why don’t we let the new girl read it?” A blonde girl who sat three seats away from Andrianne suggested.
“Ms. Henry. How nice of you to offer yourself.” Mr. Smith smirked. “Go on Justine. It’s just a poem, it would not kill you.” He said as he waited for the girl to rise from her seat and read. Justine tossed her hair, irritated by Mr. Smith’s request.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” Justine started. One line by one line she read. Waiting for the teacher to stop her. Until she reached the end of the poem, she sighed and put down her book.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” Mr Smith said. “Now who would like to talk about the poem?” he asked. Again no one responded. But this time the class was filled with whispers and talking. Andrianne raised her hand slowly. “Just speak up, Andrianne. No one raises their hands to answer in this class.” Mr Smith smiled.
“Sorry.” Andrianne smiled. “It’s about life’s choice. One of the usual sort and one is the less chosen. The poet chose the path that many would not as a challenge to himself so that one day he could tell the world about this adventure. Even though both choices are equally risky and equally easy to make, he takes the one that other might not. Just to experiment with it. And it makes all the difference in his life.” Andrianne said explaining the poem.
“Have you read this one before?” Mr Smith asked. Andrianne shook her head.
“That was the first time I heard this poem.” Andrianne answered.
An observant one, he thought to himself. “Okay. Exactly. It’s about choices. Some would say life choices some would say about anything else.” Mr. Smith flashed a smile at Andrianne. As he kept talking and elaborating about the poem, Andrianne took note. She is beginning to like this class. The material are simple enough, but interesting to her.
The final bell rang for the week, telling the student that the weekend has arrived. Giddily everyone snaps their books shut and ran for the door. “Andrianne, wait.” Mr Smith called before she reached the door.
“Yes, sir?” Andrianne said as she faced the older teacher.
“I have talked to Principal Messner, and he said he is willing to let you into the seventh grade honors Literature class. The poem just now, are you sure you have never read it before?” Mr Smith said as he gathered his things.
“No, sir. I just got all my required text today sir.” Andrianne replied as she walked alongside the teacher. Mr. Smith just nodded. “Is that all sir?” She asked.
“Yes. And I think it’s a good idea for you to trade your book for the seventh grade required reading.” Mr Smith said with a smile. Andrianne smiled back as she walked towards the bus stop, where Piper always picked her up.
“Hey, Andrianne.” Julia, Justine’s twin sister approached Andrianne. Julia is the nicer one compared to her twin sister. “Heard that you were invited to the reader’s circle.” She said, eager to know more. Andrianne just nodded. “How cool. Mr. Smith and his son are the conductors of the group and the people invited are mostly the coolest people in school, you know.” She said excitedly. Justine who was listening sneered. “Ignore my sister. She’s just jealous. We’ve been trying to get into the circle for years.” Julia said.
“I thought the reader’s circle are a group of people who likes to read and just talk about the book they are reading. At least that was what Mr. Smith told me.” Andrianne said, her tone expressed her cluelessness of the school and the world evolving around the school.
“It is sort of a book club. But by invitation only. Mr. Smith reserve places only for the school best and school jocks so that they don’t fall behind on their reading. And both his sons are in the book club. And it’s very rare for them to extend the invitations to girls. Especially Lower Classmen.” Julia explained.
“Oh, no. Mr. Smith were the one who asked if I wanted to join. I don’t know his sons.” Andrianne replied. “I mean I only know Riley Ritter from my math class who is also in many of my other classes and Nadim Sultan. And a few from my English class.”
“Riley is his son.” Julia said. As if the conversation with Riley earlier did not happen, Andrianne only remembered then that he had mentioned that Mr. Smith is his foster father. “Riley have an elder brother, Ryder. Who is an Upper Class junior and a quarterback, and not to mention his perfect four-point-oh grade point average. No one in this school has ever beaten him in any subjects.”
Andrianne just giggled at the enthusiasm Julia have when she was talking about Ryder. “He’s just a boy, Julia. Maybe I can ask him if I can bring my friends along with me for the circle. We’re reading Harry Potter.”
“Cool, I am too.” Julia said excitedly. “But which one?” She asked. Andrianne shrugged her shoulders. “Never mind I have read all of them to date.” Julia said.
“Nerds.” Justine snickered at them. Julia rolled her eyes. “Come on Jules, mom’s here.” She said pulling her sister away from Andrianne as a white Mercedes pulled up in front of them. Julia waved goodbye at Andrianne and she did the same.