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High School


The sunrays tickled Janie's eyelids as she began to wake up. She sat up and yawned gracefully, her auburn hair glistening. This is my final final exam! I’m ready! She thought with glee. Chemistry was Janie’s best subject and she wouldn’t miss the final event for the world’s supply of chickpeas. And she intimately loved chickpeas.


Janie did her morning yoga, took a shower in cold water and in forty minutes flat, she was eating her breakfast of vegan french toast. Then, she grabbed her textbook and the keys to her BMW and started off to school.


***


Robert snored.


***


Shayna barely dragged herself to the garage after a breakfast of half liquified banana. She wanted chemistry to rot in eternal perdition right after she tested her new machete on it, and even then, it would only be going through half the pain it inflicted on Shayna. 


Her father had left blueberry pancakes on the dining table for her to eat and feel better about her final. They did not have the intended effect on her, for they simply made her stomach turn and she didn’t want the smell of her favourite meal to be associated with chem. So Shayna skipped the pancakes and just climbed into the family car and waited for her father to drive her to her version of a slow, painful death.


***


Robert snored.


***


Janie sat down at a table in front of the Marie Curie High School mural, a loud spot that wasn’t bothering her because she had Airpods pro with noise cancellation. Her perfectly sleek high ponytail made this known to the world. As she flipped through her chemistry textbook and muched her snack, she landed on a page that almost made her choke on her chia seeds.


It was a picture of two moles inside a graduated cylinder, with the caption, “Two moles per litre.” The photo was so ridiculous, she couldn’t contain her perfect, bubbly laughter.


***


Robert stirred, then flipped over onto his stomach. Within a minute, he was snoring again.


***


“How could you be laughing at a time like this?!” Shayna screeched as she came in, a hungry, stressed mess, “We are in the fight of our lives!”


But her complaints fell on noise cancelled ears and Janie was still giggling away, Airpods plugged in to her head. Shayna grunted in slight frustration and grabbed a pod right out of Janie’s ear. Janie apologized and showed Shayna the two moles that looked more like yams. Shayna also found it quite amusing, and allowed this to calm her frenzied nerves. 


***


Robert was half awake, considering waking up to study. But his tired senior mind was much too relaxed and told his body to keep resting. After all, the chemistry exam wasn’t until Wednesday.


***


Shayna was still smothering gleeful guffas when the 8:30 bell rang, summoning her to her exam preparation class. Where is Robert? she thought to herself, missing the third member of the friend group. Janie was busy trying his cellphone, texting, calling and faxing from the school printer.


“You can’t fax a cellphone,” Shayna informed her friend, who was beginning to grow worried. 


Shayna was not feeling the concern Janie was, for she knew that Robert always managed to scramble in, right on time. The only thing she was worried about was passing the horrible course, looming over her head, gloating the 48 percent that may not let her pass the class. The three hour prep she had coming up was her only hope at getting a 66 percent on the final, which would pull her mark over 50. Shayna envied Janie, with her 3.9 grade point average in every class, and Robert with his barely worked for 80 percent. How anyone could pass chemistry without surrendering an arm and their sanity was beyond her.


***


Janie took her seat next to Shayna in the exam preparation room, flashing the occasional comforting smile to her. It was well known that Janie did not need any extra help with Chemistry, for her marks were already in the top percentile. She was just there for fun, basking in the joy of electrons and Avogadro’s Hypothesis. Also, to support Shayna, her bosom buddy until the end. Still, as soon as the supervisor uttered the words, “Aqueous solution,” Janie was in heaven.


***


The sun warming Robert’s face made him feel as if he was in heaven. His subconscious smiled and he allowed his body to sink into the memory foam mattress.


***


After her preparation, Shayna realized how completely, “unready,” she was. She paced back and forth, up and down, forcefully shoving Binary Acids into her mind through her eyes, as Janie shoved Covalent Bonds into her ears in between mouthfuls of chickpea.


After four minutes and forty two seconds of intense, high end revisions, Shayna broke down.


“How will I ever pass this nonsense test?!” she wailed, “There’s only fifteen minutes until it starts and I don’t know a dilute solution from an enthalpy!”


“Fifteen minutes?!” Janie joined in the panicking, but for different reasons, “Where on earth is Robert?! Oh yes and don’t worry Shayna, you’ll do awesome.”


***


NNNNNRRRRROOOM. AHHH uuuHHHH. SquEAk. 


Robert moaned and rolled over, upset at the rude interruption to his dream where he was wooing the teachers with his grand grades and punctual attendance. 


RRRRrrhhhAAAAh!


Wait a second, Roger knew that sound. There was nothing as utterly noisy as the bellowing of the garbage truck. But the garbage is picked up on Wednesday at approximately 12 PM, and today is Tuesday, so that is not probable. The alarm on my phone would have woken me if it were Wednesday, because I have an exam. Robert looked at his dead phone that was plugged in right next to him. Plugged into a powerbar. Which was plugged into itself. 


As if his bed was covered with snakes, Robert launched out of it and straight to the floor.


“Heck!” he squeaked, flailing maddly about his room.


Robert rushed to the kitchen, where the microwave taunted him reading 12:17. The next bus came at 12:18, so Robert galloped out to meet it. He was halfway down the street before remembering the school’s strict, “No shirt, no shoes; no service,” policy. 


“Heck!” he squealed, turning back to the house which he had left unlocked.


***


“Heeey peeeps, what up, it’s Robert Pallistone, I probably won’t call you back today cuz, well, I don’t really check my phone. Soo, if you’re not a telemarketer, leave a message at the tone,” then the line beeped in Janie’s ear. 


Both Janie and Shayna were wild with worry, each in their own way and for their own reasons. Janie wasn’t worried about how Shayna would perform in the exam, because she knew that her companion had the test in the bag. But, Robert on the other hand, had a tendency to be late. The test supervisors did not tolerate lateness, for it was unprofessional for a learning environment that was nurturing young men and women to be the leaders of tomorrow. If Robert was over five minutes tardy to the examination, he would automatically receive a plump zero, which would drop his grade immensely. But nevertheless, Janie was not going to allow that to break her concentration, she needed to turn on full zen mode, so her positive aura would cause both her and Shayna to pass the test according to each of their standards.


***


nnnnRRRooM. 


The city bus passed by the stop, not stopping because there was nobody there, The boy who would have been on there was at home, sliding into some proper clothing. Robert knew he was not going to make that bus and the next one came at 12:31, which was not going to do, it being a minute after the Chemistry examination commenced.


Robert’s stomach raged, causing a 8.4 magnitude earthquake within him. With determination, he shoved a poptart down his throat using one hand and grabbed his chem textbook using the other. He flipped through the glossary in ninety seconds flat, recognising every word there. Robert was ready, and he wasn’t going to allow a transportation and oversleeping issue to prevent him from getting the report card he deserved. With only half an ounce of guilt, Robert snatched the all terrain vehicle from his neighbors backyard, the neighbors who were trusting enough to leave the keys in the ignition.


***


“Wogh wah woah wah wah wah,” the examination supervisor said. He had actually said, “One minute until you may open your booklets and begin,” but all Shayna heard was Charlie Brown adult style humming as the rest of her world faded to mush. Her hands were trembling as if she was next to Robert when his stomach growled. Her brow was sweating, joining in the water works that her armpits were performing. Janie’s suggestion of an all natural, vegan antiperspirant was failing just like Shayna was convinced she was going to. From the other side of the room, Janie mouthed, “Two moles per litre!” melting Shayna’s nerves in a pool of giggles.


“Silence!” the supervisor warned sharply. This brought Shayna joy; she was beginning to hear words again.


***


After the supervisor’s sharp rebuke, Janie went back to her silent activities: praying that Robert would make it on time.


***


Robert and his stolen ATV landed hardly after a jump, jostling his poptarts which were only halfway down his esophagus. Every song he had ever heard about racing whirled around Robert’s still half asleep brain as he checked the time on the school’s clock tower which was getting closer by the second. 12:30, it read, summoning Robert to drive faster.


***


“Ladies and gentlemen, you may begin.”


***


After a tense two minutes, Robert slid into the silent room, relief emanating from his chaotic stature. The teacher gave him a stern, “Sit down now,” gaze that sent Robert scrambling to the only empty seat left.


*** 


A few days later, all three of them graduated gaily, with stellar marks in chemistry.


May 08, 2020 19:21

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7 comments

Shiney Sadi
19:47 May 30, 2020

Haha, Robert's great! The way you introduced him with just, "Robert snored." was a brilliant way to say a lot about his character, without actually saying it. And "No shirt, no shoes; no service"? What happened that they had to make that an actual policy XD ?

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Tolu Odel
00:20 May 31, 2020

Thanks! That's just a fancy way of enforcing the dress code at their school...

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Ruth Porritt
01:16 May 20, 2020

Hello Tolu, I enjoyed this story because it was fun to read, and I particularly enjoyed the character of Robert. (He reminded me of Ferris Bueller.) Thanks, and have a great day, Ruth

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Tolu Odel
01:37 May 21, 2020

Hi, I'm really glad you liked it! Have a great day as well! :)

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Kathleen March
22:23 May 13, 2020

Interesting perspective on the prompt. Friends who worry about one another are the best. I like the noises!

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Tolu Odel
00:25 May 14, 2020

I hate feedback... from microphones! Thanks for the comment :)

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Kathleen March
01:06 May 14, 2020

Haha! That feeling was clear. It got to my eardrums, too, in your story.

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