This is for the Creative Catalog Writing Challenge (CCWC) hosted by Kitrina & Samantha @ Dolls N’ All.
I panted breathlessly as I hurried down the hall, my eyes flashing. Jonathan Snyder had made me late again. He’d done it three times already: “accidentally” emptying my backpack on the ground. Scattered papers take long to retrieve. The bell was ringing. I thought of Jonathan, now sliding into his chair and smirking, and was blinded with rage.
Papers slid from underneath my arms, floating to the hallway floor. The second bell rang. I gathered as much as I could and began to run.
The classroom door was closed. My hands were full, so I knocked with my foot. My best friend, Emily, got up and opened it with a friendly smile.
Miss Goldstein, our science teacher, was not as pleased. “Grace Kendall?” She looked up from the whiteboard.
I didn’t reply. I shuffled to my desk and was taking out my book when she repeated: “Grace Kendall!”
I jumped. “Yes?”
“Why are you late again?”
That blow was direct. I opened my mouth, but clamped it shut again. I didn’t know why I never told on Jonathan…I had three chances, but never the nerve. “I was…delayed.”
I shot a glance at Jonathan, and his satisfied expression was too much. I crumpled paper between furious fingers and would have lobbed it in his direction had Emily not stayed my arm.
“Please understand, Grace, that we do not allow paper-throwing in this school.” Miss Goldstein stared at me long and hard before returning to writing “Planets” in large blue letters on the whiteboard.
Fifth-grade science is not challenging. When Miss Goldstein expressly targeted me with difficult questions, I answered them all proficiently. But that didn’t ease my mortification. I still couldn’t forget the stares of my classmates. I hated being embarrassed, and above all, I hated disappointing people. But could I help it?
At the end of class, my ears pricked up.
“I know y’all are used to doing science projects at the end of the year, but this time it’s different.” Miss Goldstein smiled. “You’re going to pair up with a partner, and both of you will work together to write a report on anything astronomy! You’ll turn them in next week. And here’s the exciting part: I’m going to pick the most well-written, and that pair gets to read their report in front of the entire school!”
Excitement filled the room, and I was overjoyed. Here was my chance at being the star of the school. Emily and I stared at each other with a brimming hope, and I raised my hand, bouncing up and down.
“Can we pick our partner?”
“Actually, no. Here is a bowl containing all the names of the students on my left. The students on my right will close their eyes and choose their partner’s name out of the bowl.”
Emily was downcast, but I still hoped. Maybe I would have the luck to be paired up with a friend…I eagerly stood. “May I pick first?”
I ran to the front of the classroom and closed my eyes. This would determine everything. I felt the piercing eyes of all my classmates, who were holding their breath. My fingers clasped a slip, and I dearly hoped “Emily” was written upon it. Retrieving my hand, I was almost afraid to look, but Miss Goldstein urged me to.
The minute I saw the name, my heart sank.
“Jonathan Snyder,” I choked. I stumbled to my desk, tears threatening to well up in my starry blue eyes. My hopes were dashed.
I had set my thoughts straight. I was going to make the best of the situation. Right after class, I had marched up to Jonathan. “Meet me at the library at 7pm to work on our thing,” I had told him between gritted teeth.
At the library, we just sat there for a moment glaring at each other. Surprisingly, he was the first to drop his gaze. “Hi Grace,” he greeted in an unusually friendly tone.
“Hi,” I returned. “What do you want to do the report on?”
He didn’t respond for a moment, and I tapped my foot impatiently. “I asked you.”
He poked the table nervously and looked up. “Look, Grace, I’m really sorry about everything…”
It was like I had been zapped with a stun gun.
“Honestly, it wasn’t my fault. Billy bribed me,” he said quickly. “He said he’d give me a week’s worth of McDonald’s if I successfully made you late three days. I shouldn’t have listened, I know. He’s a total rip-off, and I told him that. He ran off like a scared rabbit.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or scream, but I felt somewhat relieved. I’d always known Jonathan wasn’t as bad as he seemed.
“Do you still hate me?”
That was a strange question. “Yes,” I nodded emphatically.
“And why is that? I just told you it wasn’t my fault.”
I huffed. “You don’t pay attention during class, you prank my favorite teacher, you’re rowdy, your breath smells like onions…”
“I have major ADHD,” began Jonathan, “I only do that because she insulted my dad once, I try not to be but it’s my personality, and my mom says eating onions is good for me. All in that order.”
I stared cluelessly, and he smiled sadly.
“See?” he asked. “People hate me for those reasons. But if only they could look beyond and find out the reasons behind the reasons – if you know what I mean – I’d be their friend. It’s all about judging from the inside to the outside.”
I shook my head slowly. That was too much to take in.
“And now, for the report.” Jonathan grinned. “This should be easy. So I had an idea…”
Two weeks later, I was standing on the stage of the school auditorium, amidst blinding lights and deafening applause. But more sweet to me than all that was the bright smile of my newfound friend Jonathan and his cheeky remark.
“I told you!”
Hmmm….I can’t decide if I like that story.
But all my contest entries turn out to be extremely random and pieced together, so like, haha. Anyways, thanks so much to K&S for hosting this! It was a lot of fun writing, even though I procrastinated doing it a TON. 😉
are you going to enter ccwc? and, just for fun, do you like green, red, orange, or yellow bell peppers better? random, I know. 😉