He Couldn't Pull Himself Away

February 28, 2008
By Julia Speck, Lake Oswego, OR

He couldn’t pull himself away from the clay in front of him. His eyes seemed to be made out of stone, locked forever in time to the crushed clay bowl. The fist came crashing down onto the clay repeatedly in his head. A tear rolled past his taped glasses and down his rosy cheek. Off in a distant part of his hearing someone jabbered away. He could only hear bits and pieces though. The shock and surprise he had received completely blocked out the world. Not until someone called his name did he return from the safety of his head. Looking around he found the origin of which his name had...originated. But it was only Davy Brown teasing him further.

“Hey look guys! Little Macalaster is crying! Aw guys we mad him cry. Poor baby.” A roar of laughter erupted from the mouthes of Davy’s friends. Another tear rolled down Mac’s face as he turned away from his tormentors.

“Mac? Are you okay? Why are you crying?” said Mrs.Lockner, the art teacher.

“I’m fine,” Mac chocked back.

“Are you sure? What happened to your clay bowl?” He glanced back at Davy and his friends. Davy grinned at him. "Stay quite and you don’t get hurt," seemed to be the encoded message. Decoding it quickly, Mac responded.

“Nothing. I, um, smashed it. I didn’t like it that much.”

“But it was looking really good!” He was about to make up another excuse when the sound of the bell echoed through the halls.

“I gotta go,” he mumbled as he grabbed his backpack. On his way out Davy patted him on his shoulder and flashed him another coded smile. "Good choice little man."

Macalaster jogged into fourth period science just as the bell rang. Briskly, he crossed the room and took his seat. Reaching into his backpack, he took out his science notebook and began taking notes.

“Welcome everyone to science. Quite down now. Please take out your notebooks and begin copying down the board,” Mr. Montgomery said. He waited and when nothing happened he tried again, this time with more force. “People! This is the twenty third week of school! Everyday I give you the same directions! You are Juniors now. It’s time to get serious. Ah! I see someone is paying attention. I suggest you all follow Mr. Green’s example. Good work Green.” Mac looked up surprised. Looking around he saw jealousy on every face. Quickly he looked back down to the shelter of his notebook. Around him people shuffled in their backpacks trying to find their notebooks. Whispers involving Mac and how much of a nerd he was floated around Mac’s ears. Blocking it out he concentrated harder on his work.

“That’s better. Now who can tell me what’s due in three weeks?” Students looked to their friends, confusion in their eyes. A few kids flipped through their agenda trying to find the answers.

“Science fair,” Mac whispered.

“Science fair!” Davy yelled after hearing Mac.

“Good!” said Mr. Montgomery, “The science fair is in three weeks. Remember you need a topic and written plan about your project by Thursday. Any questions?”

“Yea,” said a student, “is this optional?” A few people laughed at the wise crack. Mr. Montgomery smiled.

“No, it’s not optional. I can see that most of you aren’t very excited about this project so let’s make it more exciting. If you don’t do it I’ll give you an F and fail you in this class.” Smiles faded and like magic the bell rang. Mac picked up his books and while grabbing his backpack, Mr. Montgomery approached him.

“Hey Mac. How’s it going?” he asked.

“I’m doing good.”

“Good. So what are you planning to do for the project?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been researching cloning and it sounds really interesting,” Mac said sheepishly.

“Cloning? Really! That’s amazing. I can’t wait to see it,” Mr. Montgomery said. “Well, I don’t want to keep you. Good luck on your project.”

“Thanks,” said Mac as he headed for the door.

A spaceship collection lined his shelves. Einstein made a goofy face on the wall. Mini painted planets made out of Styrofoam orbit his ceiling. Science books as big as stones covered his floor. Two large rats lay sleeping happily in their cages. When he closed his eyes he imagines he’s a famous scientist, conducting ground breaking research. When he listened hard enough he could hear the applause and cheering of his fellow scientists. Not today. Today, when he closed his eyes, only Davy could be seen and only cruel tormenting laughter could be heard. Laughter that destroyed his insides and harassed his shy, soul.

“You’re such a baby Macalaster!” Opening his eyes Mac saw Davy in his room “High school is no place for a baby like you!” As Davy spoke, more people appeared in Mac’s room. All saying the same things: Loser, geek, nerd. They started getting closer to him. Davy raised his hand and made a fist. In slow motion Mac could see the powerful arm coming towards his jaw. He closed his eyes waiting for the punch. Any moment now he thought to himself. When nothing happened he opened his eyes. Davy and everyone else was gone. He looked around confused and found himself on the floor. Just a dream he thought. A nock on the door made him jump. His mom came in with all his laundry.

“Mac? What are you doing on the floor? It’s 6:00! Have you even started your homework?” Mac rubbed his eyes and picked himself up from the floor. He stretched, resulting in three loud cracking sounds in his spine.

“Six? Really? Oh, sorry Mom I must have fallen asleep.” His mom sighed.

“Well, hurry up and get started. Dinner is in an hour”

“Yea okay mom. Thanks.” He gave her a smile and waited till she left before he went over to his laptop. Before he started his homework he checked his blog, as usual. He had one new message from someone he didn’t recognize. He clicked it anyway.
“This is a virtual wishing well. Scroll down in the next one minute or you’ll die in a car accident,” he read out loud. He sighed. Not another one. He was about to exit out but his curiosity got the better of him so he scrolled. As he scrolled he past silly sentences: “Keep scrolling you’re almost there” or “just a little bit longer!” After about two minutes of scrolling he finally got to the bottom. “Congratulations you made it! Now make a wish in the next five minutes and it’ll come true! But be careful what you wish for!” Mac sat there for a second thinking. It only took him a second to think of a wish. He cleared his throat and spoke.

“I wish I had all the materials and knowledge to clone something!” Nothing. Disappointed, he got his backpack and began his homework.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! SLAM! Mac hit his spaceship alarm clock as he rolled out of bed. He stretched and the usual three loud cracks from his back greeted him. Stumbling around the room, he tried to find his glasses. Tripping and falling his way to his desk, he finally found them. Putting them on he discovered something very weird on his desk. A microscope, cloning books, beakers of weird green goo, and a brand new white lab coat filled his desk. Next to it all lay a note that read: “Wish incorporated thanks you for your wish. Shipping and handling fees are $3.50. Please pay soon. Thanks.”

Mac’s eyes grew wide with astonishment. Excitedly he opened the cloning book and began to read. He read for what seemed like hours but when he looked up, no time had passed. Excited he began the process of cloning. When he got to the step where he decided what to clone he had to stop and think. His first thought was of his rats but Davy’s smile shoved its way rudely into his head. In that moment he devised a brilliant plan. Taking a piece of his own hair, he continued.

It watched him as he got ready for school. Its eyes and head moved back and fourth like a cat watching a butterfly. “I’m going to school and you’re going to stay,” Mac said as he grabbed his backpack. It nodded at him and watched him leave.

“I’d like to move all my electives to white day, and all my core classes to blue day. It would make my stay at Wally High School more...enjoyable...” Mac said to the counselor.

“Are you sure Mac? It’s not recommended,” said the counselor

“I’m fully aware but I really think this would be best for me.”

“I understand. Is there anything else you need?”

“Yes, in fact,” Mac said, “would it be possible to remove me from my classes with Davy Brown?

“Is there a problem?” the counselor inquired with concern.

“Oh no! It’s just that...”

“You don’t have to explain.” The counselor clicked a few times on her mouse and typed a few words on her keyboard. “It says you have three classes with Mr. Brown. Ceramics, science, and P.E. To be fair I can only remove him from one of your classes.

“Science. Can you remove him from my science class.”

The counselor smiled. “Of course Mac.”

Mac’s clone continued to follow him with his cat like ways as Mac paced the room.

“Okay, so here’s the deal. You are going to go school on white days, when I have electives and I’m going to school on blue days.”

“Why?” the clone asked.

“Because that’s when I have core classes. So are we clear?”

“Oui monsieur.”

“You speak French?” Mac asked, completely surprised.

“Well, you speak French so it only makes sense that I do. Am I not allowed to?”

“No, it’s fine. I’m just surprised.” The clone nodded in understanding.

“I’m white and you’re blue. Got it.” Mac smiled. This is going to work he thought.

For weeks Mac’s plan worked. He no longer had to see Davy. His clone took care of that. In fact his clone started making Mac popular. People he had never talked to started saying hello to him in the hall and sitting next to him during lunch. At home the clone taught him how to dance and talk to girls. In return Mac taught the clone how to do trigonometry. The clone never told him that he already knew how to do it but he liked Mac’s lessons and enthusiasm. Everything was going great until science fair day.

Mac got to the gym early to set up his cloning materials. His backboard displayed pictures of him working in his egg shell colored lab coat, information about cloning, and his notes on his cloning experience. Next to his display was a mini television that played a video of him cloning his rat, sunshine.

One by one people showed up and wandered around the various displays. The science fair judges were among them. When they got to Mac’s booth they inspected it skeptically. The head judge spoke first.

“Mr. Green, have you really cloned your pet rat? I find that hard to believe. This must be a sham.” Mac smiled.

“I thought I might get that response and that’s why I brought my other rat, Lilly. Would you like to see me clone her?” The head judged looked at him still skeptical.

“In fact I would.” he said evenly as he crossed his arms.

Using the same process he had used with Sunshine, Mac began cloning Lilly. But Lilly didn’t clone. Four miles away, in Mac’s room lay a note unread. It read: “This equipment can only clone two things. If shipping and handling payments aren’t paid before the third cloning, both clones will disappear and any memory of them existing will be erased. Happy cloning!” Mac stared, stunned at his single rat. The head judge shook his head, made a few notes on his clipboard, and moved to the next display. The other judges followed each one shaking his head in disappointment as they passed Mac. Mac watched in sadness as the last judge passed him. In his head he went over his procedure. I did everything right! It should’ve worked! Why didn’t it work? He was thinking of possible reasons when Davy Brown came around the corner and headed towards Mac.

“Hey loser! How did your project demo go? My volcano really seemed to impress the judges.” Mac was so engaged in his thoughts, that he didn’t here him. “I’m talking to you!” Mac looked up. “That’s better. Now I asked, how was your demo? Did you crash and burn? I bet you did because all you are is a nerd who can never get anything right!” Tears began to fill Mac’s eyes. He was about to turn away but he didn’t. He faced Davy and looked him in square in the eye.

“Listen Davy. I’ve had it with you and your attitude towards me. You’re just a jerk that needs to get a life. Do you think I really care about what you think? In one year I’m going to be out of here and in college and where are you going to be? Working at a McDonald’s with no future because you were too busy making fun of people to listen during class. So what are you going to do now? Destroy my project because you can? Go ahead. It doesn’t change the fact that you are a bully.” Davy stared at Mac for a long time. Mac’s words were like fire, melting away Davy’s pride and confidence like wax. The strong smile that he had worn for so many years faded. His heart began to beat harder than it ever had. Sweat formed on his brow and he quickly wiped it away. Aware that people were watching, he turned and retreated to his booth. Mac grinned wider than ever in his life.

After the science fair Davy didn’t bother Mac anymore. Mac had to return to his elective classes but he didn’t mind. It was as if someone had put a spell over him. He no longer had to take shelter in his books or look over his shoulder to see if a big jock was about to pull a prank on him. Finally, Mac could just be himself and enjoy life. He no longer read messages from strangers, though. He had no need. That is...until he got his first crush.

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