My mind is completely elsewhere as I stare out the window to a pleasant scene of the playground. My teacher, Mr. Swanson, is lecturing on and on about our science assignments for the day. He picks up a dark, royal purple Expo marker and writes the word photosynthesis on the sparkling clean white board.
"Okay, class. Now that we've reviewed yesterday's homework, can someone please remind everybody what photosynthesis is?" Mr. Swanson points to the board and then glances at the class. I was still dazed and bemused when I realized that he, in particular, was eyeing me carefully and perhaps with sinister intentions brewing. I make an attempt at not meeting his eyes directly (first trick I've learned when a teacher is about to wind you up in trouble).
Unfortunately, my idea with eye contact didn't work. When no one raised their hand to help define the word written on the board (well, Madeleine did, but she was completely an exception since she's Teacher's Pet, Miss Know-It-All, and the most popular girl in the whole of fourth grade), Mr. Swanson turns back to glaring at me with a stern expression. He is acting weird; perhaps a bit smug.
My teacher's tall shadow approaches my desk and I feel my fingertips trembling, as if there was a teensy little demon inside me, crawling all over my hands. Mr. Swanson stops abruptly at my desk and I stare at the beautiful, natural patterns of wood on my desk like a blank robot. I can practically say that his light and silent footsteps were extremely audible; I'm 100% sure I can hear his gigantic stomps echoing closer and closer to the front of my desk. I whimper as his shadow consumes mine and he stares down at me, even more furious and suspicious than before.
This is so humiliating, I groan to myself. I bet the whole class is staring at me with wonder of what will happen right now. Finally, I gather up the courage to look up and I crane my neck to look (directly) at my six-foot-seven teacher, staring down at me hungrily, as if he wanted to devour the depths of my wounded soul.
Or maybe he's just hungry- it's still four hours until lunch time.
"Audrey, why don't you stand up and go tell your fellow classmates the meaning of photosynthesis? What does that big word mean?" he inquires innocently, almost like the voice you have when you coo to babies or puppies. I shudder at the thought, and my mind is panicking like an overexcited hurricane.
As I saunter towards the white board, I look ever so confident and "nah, it's nothing"-like. However, inside, I am struggling to sort things out and what to do when I have to write the meaning of photosynthesis. Pretending to faint would be way too dramatic, and the staff and nurses from the front office would soon figure out that you were faking it the whole way- that is not going to be good news! Oh, what do I do, what do I do?!
My heart is hammering in my chest as I carelessly flip off the cap of the green Expo marker I picked out. Then, with still trembling fingers, I stab the Expo marker onto the board, creating a dark green dot. A huge one, to be specific. And one that has the stinky odor of fresh paint- kind of like the time I painted Hellooo on the light maroon-gray wall of my living room.
My parents were not exactly happy.
I leave the Expo marker on the spot of the enormous green circle until my muscles in the upper portion of my arm ache. My eyes are desperately locked on that one mysterious dot I had created. "Audrey? Are you alright? Are you having hallucinations?" Hallucinations? No! No way! I'm alright. But my pale pink lips become paler and I don't say a word. I must be as white as a sheet- embarrassing enough for that.
And it isn't helping that a few of my classmates are snickering; including Madeleine. Especially Madeleine.
I wind up having to do classwork during my recess time, and another thick pile of classwork, notebooks, and lined papers during lunch time.
Are a few (three, to be exact) excruciating paper cuts and extra classwork, notebooks, and lined paperwork considered a small price to pay for not paying attention in class?
That's a question I'll definitely have to ponder about.
Okay, please just ignore that question, because things have changed.
No, it is not a small price, I have decided.
I was fighting my way through the crowded hallways of the Sylvester Nelson Elementary School when the zipper on my rainbow tie-dye backpack somehow broke, and my homework went flying.
Some of the papers landed on the tips of the lockers of the seventh graders, which meant I was receiving more extra classwork from Mr. Swanson tomorrow because I hadn't finished my homework. Oh, that's wonderful, just great.
I desperately collected the papers I could find and raced towards the gate before it closed. I needed to catch the bus to my area.
I was waiting in line with a dozen other students from third to fifth grade when the golden yellow bus finally zoomed by. The others piled up into the bus and started chattering away. I stomped up the bus with my heavy backpack and slumped into the seat feeling really cruddy.
Then, as if all that was not enough, I slipped on my stupid shoelace as I was exiting the bus. I grabbed it and sloppily tangled them together. I had never been so happy to be home, sweet home.
I stepped up the cement steps leading to the porch of my pretty little house and unlocked the door.
I sensed the fragrance of home and smiled. Perhaps this wasn't such a disastrous day after all. "I'm home, Mom!" I exclaimed, and then whispered, "What a day." I heard my mother's footsteps approaching the door. "What a day."