“Oh-Jillian-I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this,” Jax said frantically. He finished his blueberry scone and used the Starbucks bag to slowly breathe into.
“Calm down. You are not hyperventilating,” Jillian replied, driving with both hands on the wheel. “How scary can substitute teaching be? Just let the students play on their phones all day. If their teacher were there, they’d be doing the same thing. Either way, you’re done by 3:00.”
“I need air!” Jax cried, pulling at his turtleneck sweater, hitting all the buttons in the car to put the windows down. “I need air!”
“You need rent money,” she looked at him, pointedly.
“Fine.” Jax petulantly sat back. “Look what I’ve come to. Who knew fashion would be such a tough field to break into?”
“Everyone. Everyone did,” Jillian replied. “Don’t give me that look. I’m a women’s studies major, which makes my job at T. J. Maxx all the more insufferable. Max aggravation for minimum pay.”
“You did get me this lovely Merino wool sweater for $1.99,” Jax said.
“It's irregular. The left sleeve is four inches shorter than the right.”
“You can’t tell if I push them up. See?” Jax held up his forearms to demonstrate. “And chartreuse is a bold color choice.”
“You look great. And I love you. The students will love you, too” Jillian said, pulling over to let Jax out in front of the administration building. “Break a leg!”
“Jillian,” Jax looked down his nose, over his glasses. “This is middle school. Don’t give anyone ideas.”
“Mister Jax—” called the school’s front office secretary.
“Just Jax! Here I am.” Jax came right up to the desk.
“Well, Mister Jax, your 8th grade homeroom will be boarding the school buses—”
“Are they going home already?”
“No, Mister Jax. You are chaperoning a trip to the Science & Discovery museum.”
“I’m not trained for that.” Jax frowned.
“You aren’t trained to sit on a bus, walk around the foyer of a large building, and then count off thirty kids to make sure you bring them all back?”
“You make it sound so easy. These are 8th graders. They may vape. They may join a gang. They may have an emotional breakdown. I may have an emotional breakdown.”
“My guess is that your students will be bored out of their minds and just play Among Us on their iPhones,” she replied, matter-of-fact. “Here is your roster.”
“All right everyone. We’re just about to disembark—”
“Disem-what?” Snarky Black Eyeliner Girl, who looked far too old for middle school—or high school for that matter—decided to test Jax.
“Oh. You. Are. Precious,” he said. “We’re just about to GET OFF the bus. Just follow the other students into the museum. You will have 90 minutes and then we’ll—”
“Re-embark?” Snarky Black Eyeliner grinned.
“Whatever,” Jax said.
“Your green sweater has weird sleeves,” she noted.
“Chartreuse. It’s chartreuse,” Jax replied, unusually self-conscious.
“Are you Mr. Jax?” asked a security guard.
“I am,” Jax said.
“I think your class is causing a commotion in the Edison wing. You might need to get your students in order.”
“I’m just a sub.”
“Are you responsible for your students?” the guard raised an eyebrow.
“For $89.50, I’m responsible for watching students play on their iPhones. This? Museum-wrangling? I should be getting hazard pay.” Jax stormed off.
Walking quickly to the main exhibition on “The Wonders of Thomas Alva Edison,” Jax wondered who the main culprit was. One-eyebrow Manchild? Overbite Clarinet Girl? Please lord, not Snarky Black Eyeliner—she certainly had a weapon on her.
“What. Seems. To. Be. The. Major. Malfunction,” Jax said, hands on hips. His right sleeve slid down from his elbow, making him look like a Jim Henson muppet.
“Edison is a dick,” Late-bloomer Stickboy reported.
“Of course he was,” Jax agreed. “Everyone knows Edison was a d—ifficult man.”
“Edison pushed an anti-Serbian agenda to steal Tesla's discoveries,” said Self-important Booknerd slowly to Jax, as if he wasn’t going to understand her every word. “Edison wasn’t an inventor. He was just a salesman. The fact that he has an entire wing dedicated to him at this museum smacks of normie-dominated Anglo-Saxonian privilege.”
“All true,” Jax nodded. “So what is your concern?”
“We’re big mad at Edison. He’s a dank memer,” said GameBoy Beanie.
“I’m not even sure what that means,” Jax admitted.
“Look, Mr. Jax,” Blackfish tee shirt buttonholed him so close that her “Sour Patch Kids”-breath threatened to give him diabetes. “Edison murdered animals just to prove his direct current was superior to Tesla’s alternating current. Which it wasn’t.”
“Okay. I understand you are very angry over two 19th-century scientists,” Jax said, his flock of thirty congregating closely around him. A cloying cloud of Axe body spray momentarily nauseated him.
“We want justice. Justice for Tesla,” boldly declared Blackfish tee shirt.
“So, my roster of 8th graders. Are we going to fight the power? Because alternating current already won.”
The group went uncharacteristically quiet.
“Tesla deserves better,” said Snarky Black Eyeliner, quietly.
“Tesla inspired the invention of the radio, radar, and x-rays,” added Self-important Booknerd, reading right off her phone. “And hydroelectric plants, cryogenic engineering . . . I could go on.”
“Edison is a simp!” added GameBoy Beanie, helpfully.
“All right, young people. I completely understand your concern,” Jax said, shepherding his Dr. Seuss-creatures out of the main walkway. “We have about seventeen minutes to make our point before we have to re-embark on the bus. Let’s huddle over here right by the poster of Edison—maybe NOT scrawl profanity in a speech bubble . . .”
“Edison can suck my—”
“Let’s just not,” Jax said. “Look, if you want to be effective at protesting, there are some basic rules. Let’s SIT for our sit in.” Jax pantomimed sitting down. Oddly, thirty 8th graders followed his lead.
“What now, Mr. Jax?” asked Overbite Clarinet Girl.
Jax looked around at too many eyes wanting further instruction. He smiled, brain scrambling for a plan to keep his wards happy in the puberty forest.
“Now? Now we sing. Ready?” Jax stood. “Repeat after me. Do you hear the people sing?”
“Do you hear the people sing!” screeched thirty chaotic voices.
“Singing the song of angry men? It is the music of the people who will not be slaves again!”
Young adult voices echoed down the corridors as Jax encouraged their passion.
“When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!”
"Well, how'd it go? Jillian asked, picking Jax up from the administration building at 3:01 p.m.
“Fantastic,” Jax said, smiling ear to ear. “We bashed straight white males and sang show tunes.”
“Sounds like every Friday night,” Jillian remarked. “Minus the mojitos.”
“Oh. No. I need all the mojitos. Minus the lime juice, sugar, mint and soda water.”
“That’s just rum, Jax. You just want a bottle of rum?”
“So no more substituting for Jax?”
“No, Jillian. No more substituting,” Jax sighed. “I’m a permanent sub, covering for a teacher out on maternity leave for the rest of the school year.”
“That’ll pay the bills. So what are you teaching, Jax?”
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I had a huge smile on my face during the entirety of your story. Wonderful and humorous idea; love the Jax (and Jillian) chronicles, they're so funny!
Yay — mission accomplished 🤪
VAYD. NEW STORY.
VAYD. WHERE U AT. There are actually three (3) Jax stories . . . 4th on its way :)
HE MADE NEW STORY
I'll check it out :)
THAT'S WHAT I WAS SAYING IF IT WASN'T CLEAR XDXD
Oh my gosh, this was soooo hilarious!! The whole idea is wonderfully ludricous to begin with, and the overdrawn characters (and their 'names'!) create a simply amazing story! Have to say - the last line was definitely the best:)
Thanks, Grace! I just finished the 4th Jax and Jillian story. Fun to write these two. Welcome to Reedsy! Yay
Thank you so much!!
Haha, I laughed out loud at the end. This was a great story and had quite humorous lines, such as: "He smiled, brain scrambling for a plan to keep his wards happy in the puberty forest." Very good job! Also, I'd love it if you could check out my recent story and leave feedback! :) - Z
Hi Deidra I think this is you at your absolute best. This is why I read every story you write. I’m wondering if Jax has an English cousin who might make an appearance in one of my stories soon . . .
Phil, are you asking to write with me or to marry me? Either way, you know the answer is yes.
😊 where do I sign?
This strikes home SO HARD. I’m currently a teaching intern in a middle school choir. This is strikingly accurate. I cracked up so many times, especially at anything Gameboy Beanie said. And the sour patch breath—can confirm our 8th grade girls eat sour patch for breakfast sometimes. I always find humor really hard to pull off, so this is all the more impressive, and it encapsulates the adult-in-a-middle-school setting so well. My only suggestion is to include a kid with Takis fingers 😂
How could I forget the Takis-fingers... Thanks for teaching. We are doing God’s work...maybe...not really
We’re doing something lol!
Haha, I can see you love Jax! ;) But, anyways, I think that this was your best Jax series yet! Laughed out loud on a lot of these parts! Favorite line: “How scary can substitute teaching be? Just let the students play on their phones all day. If their teacher were there, they’d be doing the same thing..." (omg, seriously, I LAUGHED! Haha, playing on their phones) Great work Deidra! Work your way up to 50! :)
Jax and I are going to be hanging out for awhile . . . Thanks for all the support :)
Haha, I'll look forward to reading it! :) Of course, Deidra! You're a great writer.
I'm a goofball. :)
Well, some goofballs can be one of the BEST writers. :)
Yesss, I'm smiling so hard right now :) My favorite joke-> “This is middle school. Don’t give anyone ideas.” And all the nicknames! A perfect prompt to bring back Jax(and Jillian). Hope this isn't the last of them :D
You really nailed what middle schoolers are like, and I loved how the characters are only known by their individual quirks. Fabulous job with the prompt!
Thanks Ash — middle schoolers are definitely Dr. Seuss characters 🤪
I liked this one a lot more than the last one. Won't attempt to explain why (useless when it comes to humor) but here were a couple of jokes that really worked for me: 'Don't give anyone ideas' 'Shart-what' A lot of the kids reminded me of my little cousins. *eye roll*
Humor is tricky. I went less screwball comedy as this time Jax cannot avoid adulting—hard to be a total smart ass when you’re in charge. Middle school is rich fodder for an existential crisis with equal parts theater of the absurd.
This one is pretty hilarious. Reminds me of my cousin too.
Middle school. Only for the strong :)
It really is.
I think Jax makes a pretty good substitute, even with the awkward shart-what! The scene in the Edison wing was my favorite, what with Late-Bloomer Stickboy, GameBoy Beanie, Blackfish T-Shirt, Snarky Black Eyeliner, and the others. (How did you even come up with these nicknames?) The "profanity on the poster thing" cracked me up so much, too. And the ending was perfect, given the whole singing thing.
I think Jax should be the posterchild for all substitute teachers. As for the nicknames, I've been to a few middle schools. These are the usual suspects :)
Ah, okay. Your teacher perspective has taught me a lot of things!
Jax is so much fun to read. I love how light-hearted and funny this story is! Super enjoyable. Thanks for giving us this!
There are a total of 4 Jax stories....we all need to get a little Jax-ed 😎 He’s my fav so far. Thanks for the ❤️
This was super funny! Loved every word of it. I wish it was longer, though, so we would get to know the actual names of the little 8th graders. We wrote a story this week, abt grief and old museums and things, we'd love a read. If a busy as eff English teacher can find the time...
Jax is my hero <3 Kudos to the kids for siding with Tesla. I will die on the Tesla hill of that argument.
Well, there are two other Jax stories preceding this one, if you are a superfan. I, frankly, am half in love with the man. Many more adventures with Jax & Jillian in my skull.
I've been super entertained by the other Jax stories - it would be great to see more of the J2 team.
J & J are back next week for sure. I'm riding this train for awhile :)