“Okay, class, pop quiz!” Miss Rayley announced, causing a series of groans to come from the class.
The universe officially hates me. I know not what I did, or why I am being punished, but there is no way the greater forces in this world are not against me, I thought melodramatically as I let my head fall against my desk.
As our book were placed under our desks, and the quiz papers passed from person to person down the aisles, I sent a much needed prayer to the big man upstairs. Although Mrs. Rayley was basically family, there was no way she would curve this grade for me.
“This quiz will be over the information that we have learned in the past week, so if you’ve been paying attention, you will have nothing to worry about, She informed, taking a seat at her desk and reading over some papers that were left on the surface yesterday.
I know that I like you, I thought bitterly, but this might just turn my loyalties.
Reading the second question on the quiz was quite disheartening. Aside from being unaware of what the answer could have been, I had no idea what concepts the question was asking about. It might as well have been in another language, at the rate at which this was all going.
I let out a deep breath as I stared down at the death trap in front of me. “'If you’ve been paying attention,' she says. 'Nothing to worry about,' she says.” I mocked in frustration under my breath. If pure disdain and dislike was a crime, I would have been sentenced to life in prison.
“Tessa, please remember that as this is a quiz, there is no talking allowed during the time at which it is taken," Mrs. Rayley commented as she raised an amused brow at me. If I didn't love her so much, I would have taken her comment as patronizing. However, because I knew how she operated, I understood that she was looking out for me more than anything else.
"Of course, Ma'am. I would never break one of your rules," I say with a smile that obviously pained me to make. I was the person responding, and yet even I had to wince at the lack of genuine care I felt for what Mrs. Rayley was saying.
Great, now my sarcasm has a mind of it’s own, I thought in annoyance. I feel abandoned. It has moved on to greater and better things, like sassing teachers who could fail you because they don't like your response.
I am so proud.
At my sub-par response, Mrs. Rayley shook her head with a rueful smile as she leaned back in her chair and continued to read whatever the heck she had been reading previously. "Alrighty then, let's keep it that way for the rest of class."
“Sounds good to me,” I replied dryly, quirking a small crooked smile. That smile remained on my face for mere seconds before it was wiped away by the horrendous atrocity that was going to my quiz grade. Reading the questions on the quiz, I once more was overcome with a type of nihilistic pessimism that was normally quite foreign to me.
Mrs. Rayley set her papers down and looked out towards our class after she had checked the watch on her wrist. “There are two minutes left in the quiz, so please finish up your answers and double check them to be sure you answered correctly."
If I wasn't panicking before, I was freaking out quite a lot at that very moment.
I didn’t study! I’m going to fail! Then I won’t be able to compete at the competition! I need this, I thought worriedly, considering the GPA requirement for the highschool segment of the competition and the lack of good grades that I acquired this year.
No competition. No money. No college. No leaving.
Stuck here. Forever.
It felt as if I was that kid Smalls from the movie Sandlot when Squints told the story of the beast in the tree house.
For-ev-er... For-ev-er... For-ev-er...
“One minute,” Miss Rayley interrupts my thoughts.
I take a deep breath.
Let’s do this.
All right, yea, I totally aced it... Okay not really... Maybe I got a B... Or possible C...
All I know is I didn’t fail...
Miss Rayley handed me my quiz as she walked down the aisle, but not before saying, “Could you please see me after class, Tessa?”
I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion, but nodded my head nonetheless. Although this request was already a negatively boding omen, I attempted to remain positive about my quiz grade.
Maybe she wants to ask about Jordan, I reasoned with myself.
As she finished passing out the quizzes and the bell rang that signaled the end of class, I flipped my quiz paper over, coughing in surprise as a fat "D Minus" stared back at me in ill-willed, foreboded red ink.
I slowly stood up and made my way to Miss Rayley’s desk in the front of the class, hoping to God that maybe there was some mistake, or there was some type of joke that I was about to be included in.
“Uh... You--” I cleared my throat when my voice came out, sounding like a toad drowning in a swamp. “--you wanted to speak with me?” I asked, trying as best I could to seem like a mature adult.
‘Trying’ being the key word there. In reality, I probably looked more scared than the chicken who I doubt actually crossed that freaking road. Yea, I bet it just spread a rumor that it crossed the road so that he wouldn’t seem like what he really was... A chicken...
“Yes,” Miss Rayley replied, giving me a small smile. I knew she was trying to offer some comfort to me as she had to act as a professional teacher and not the mother of my best friend. “I have taken notice of you falling behind in my class. So I did some research and, I hate to say it, Tessa you are falling behind in three of your classes.”
My mouth dropped open as I stared at her disbelievingly.
I am failing in three fudging classes, I thought. I’m doomed! I need to get my GPA up to compete in two months!
“Tessa? Tessa, dear, are you okay?” Miss Rayley asked me, her eyebrows knitted together as worry placed itself on her features. Her deep brown eyes held a motherly warmth within them that offered comfort and calm.
I shook my head and gave her a forced smile. “I’m fine. Sorry, that news just... Took me by surprise. So uh... How much am I actually falling behind?” I asked, letting out a nervous laugh and scratching the back of my neck.
She looked at me sympathetically as she opened a manila folder that had been sitting inconspicuously at the side of her desk. “Tessa, darling, at this rate, if you can’t get your grades back up, you won’t move up from junior year,” she told me.
I felt tears prick the back of my eyes.
Won’t graduate. If I can’t do better, I will be held back. It’s not like I have any friends except Jordan, but still, being held back? That will kick me out if college AND competing for sure.
“So... Uh...” My voice came out, sounding much like that of a croak, “what do I have to do? Is there anything I can do?”
She then smiled at me hopefully. “Yes actually there is. I know that the competition you have coming up has a GPA requirement for high school students that aren't seniors, and I know that you'd hate to miss it. So, I have assigned one of our best students to help you with your grades before the end of two months,” she said, hope strewn across her face.
I smiled at her in thankfulness. Sometimes, this is what I imagined a mom would be like, if mine had still been alive. If Dad hadn't died in a car accident and Mom hadn't gone so soon. Mrs. Rayley and her son were the closest I had to family ever since I was a kid.
Overwhelmed with affection and without warning, I ran around the desk and threw my arms around Mrs. Rayley and hugged her tightly. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!” I exclaimed.
She laughed softly. “Don’t thank me, thank the student who is going to help you,” she said with a smile.
I nodded my head vigorously. “Who?” I asked.
She looked at her watch before glancing at the door. "He should have been here a few minutes ago--"
Just as she spoke, the door was swiftly opened and a black-haired boy stumbled in with a huff. "I'm so sorry I'm late! The last class let out later than it was supposed to and I ran into this one kid in the hallway and--"
He stopped as we made eye contact.
Really? It had to be him, of all people? It couldn't be a stranger that I slowly befriended?
My eyes lifted up as I sent a prayer towards the Big Man upstairs.
Just end me now.
William freaking Thatcher stood at the doorway, his backpack haphazardly hanging on one shoulder as we both stood in stunned silence. He appeared to be speechless, and I was in just the same state. Neither one of us really knew what to say nor did we want to speak.
Never mind, I thought bitterly and halfheartedly, I'll just drop out of high school.