June 26, 2008
By Allyson Fitzgerald, Toronto, ZZ

`“Oh, you’re here again, Lina?” Adam Frade said, looking down at the senior with her head rested on a stack of textbooks. Like she usually was, she sat at her desk in Frade’s classroom, fifteen minutes before the bell. “You don’t have to come in early every morning.” He smiled “Not that I mind, of course.”
Lina gave a small, sleepy smile, and buried her head into her arms. She smiled widely into the darkness, her nose pressing on her math textbook. Quickly composing herself, she raised her head only slightly, enough to get a hazy look at her math teacher’s back as he put his briefcase down on his desk and opened it up, pulling out something and turning it over in his hands. Lina figured it was Mr. Frade’s BlackBerry, which he checked every morning before class.
“Do you need help with anything on the ISU, Lina?” he asked, putting his BlackBerry into his pocket and turning around to face her. It was Friday, and he was wearing his usually Friday outfit–a windbreaker, blue jeans and a green golf shirt. He wore a different coloured golf shirt and jean every causal Friday, a far cry from his collar shirt, dress pants and coat he wore the other four days of the week.
More awake that she had been all morning, Lina lifted her head off her books and sat up straight in her chair. “I think I’ve got the idea,” she said as she opened up her textbook and pulled out a piece of paper she’d left between the pages, the grade 12 Geometry course ISU, “but there’s some terminology I don’t understand.”
“Okay,” said Mr. Frade, tossing his windbreaker on his chair and taking a seat in the desk in front of Lina’s. “I can I have a look?”
Lina handed him her copy of the ISU “I circled all the things I don’t understand in red.” She studied him as she watched him read over notes. She figured he must shave with an electric razor, because he always had the perfect amount of subtle of his face. He kept good care of his hair, always having it trimmed every four weeks, and kept his sideburns in perfect shape. He had dark brown hair, almost matching Lina’s chestnut brown shade, and green eyes. He had soft, pink skin and lips, and perfectly proportioned nose and ears.
“Okay, I see. Alright, right here --” He pointed to a circle section of the ISU Lina had written all over, and was about to tell Lina whatever he had figured out when the PA system in the room had beeped.
“Mr. Frade, will you please contact the office, Mr. Frade”
“One minute, Lina” He got up from the desk and walked over to the PA system. He picked up on the phone on the wall and held it to his ear. Lina looked down at her ISU, at her circled questions.
The afternoon before, she and her friend Idella were studying in the library when Lina caught Idella scribbling all over Lina’s copy of the ISU.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
Idella raised an eyebrow, “I’m circling some thing on here I don’t get.”
“But that’s mine, your copy’s right here,” Lina said, pulling out the second Geometry ISU from under Idella’s accounting textbook.
Idella gasped; “Oh! I’m sorry Lina. Here, let’s just trade and I’ll go ask Frade myself --”
“No, no, no,” Lina said quickly, “I’ll just go ask Mr. Frade for a new copy tomorrow.” She quickly stuffed her ISU into her textbook, “and I’ll try to get your questions answered too.”
Idella looked away, “You know, you don’t have to go to his class every morning...”
Lina was affronted, “I’m not. I’ll just ask him in class.” Then she picked up her books and left, leaving her friend sitting at the table, not intent to keep true to what she had told her friend.
Lina did not need any help on her ISU, her math grade already being very good, but she knew it was a great opportunity to have some one-on-one time with Mr. Frade, even if she had to dumb herself down a little bit. She desperately wanted him to be focused on her, to look her right in the eye when he spoke to her, and to have a few moments when they were sitting close together, with no other class mate or peers yelling, shouting whining, complaining, or trying to get Mr. Frade’s attention anywhere but on Lina.
Mr. Frade hung up the phone and turned to Lina, “Lina, I have to go to the office, but I’ll answer your question during class, alright?”
“Okay, sir,” Lina said, trying to hide her disappointment. He turned around and her eyes followed him as he briskly walked out of the classroom.
Lina waited until she could no longer hear the sound of his sneakers taping against the floor, and she carelessly stuffed her ISU back into her textbook and dropped the textbook into the basket on the back on her chair, and then she buried her head back in her arms and closed her eyes. She knew that with such a full class of math students, Lina knew that whenever Mr. Frade got the chance to answer her fake questions, it would be a rushed, brief answer, because of all the other girls and boys who were eager to have Mr. Frade answer their own questions. Although Lina knew that Mr. Frade thought she was a good student, she wanted much more attention from him. He was all she thought about, all she wanted to talk about, his class was the only class she looked forward to and in class it was hard for her to take her eyes off of him. The only reason she tried so hard in his class was because she wanted to impress him, and she only came to class early every morning to be around him, and to chat with him. Last year she had asked him to sign her yearbook, and she still smiled whenever she looked at his message.
“Hey, is Frade-O here?” She heard a voice say. She quickly raised her head up from her desk and looked around to find the voice that had called her name. Though a bit disoriented, she spotted her friend, leaning against the doorway, wearing her gym clothes, with her backpack over one shoulder and holding her running shoes. With her free hand, she signalled Lina to come over to where she was standing.
“Hey, Idella,” said Lina. She paused, looking at the pink and black running shoes in her friend’s hand, and said, “I’m sorry about yesterday.”
“No, it’s okay.” Idella said, “I figured I should come this morning too, you know, to get my questions answered.”
“What’s with the shoes?” Lina asked.
“Volleyball practice,” answer Idella, “Where’s Frade?”
“Mr. Frade bailed. He had to go to the office, or something,” Lina said causally.
“You know, I just walked by the office and I didn’t see him. Maybe he had to go to his car,” Idella said
“Whatever. I don’t care,” said Lina looking past her friend into the hallway, “I don’t see the point of leaving ‘cause class is going to start in like, six minutes anyway.”
“Yeah, and Frade is really strict about attendance. I had him last semester for religion and he shut the door on me! What an a**.”
Lina couldn’t help but feel the urge to defend him, “Weren’t you like, sixteen minutes late?”
“Whatever!” laughed Idella, “That was the past. He’s nice, anyway. I mean, he lets you come in every morning. Wouldn’t he get in trouble for spending too much time with a student?”
“No.” Said Lina quickly, to change the subject, she bragged, “You know, I have perfect attendance.”
“That’s ‘cause you’re a nerd, Lina. I’m always late for class. I still have to go put on my uniform and get my books. What time is it?”
Lina looked at her watch, which she had set to match the school’s time, “8:27.”
“Alright, I better go. But I’ll walk slowly,” she grinned, turning and taking and very exaggerated slow step, lifting her knee up to her chest and bringing down her leg slowly, lightly taping the floor with her black ballet flat, “I like being fashionably late. See you in a few minutes, Lina. Then we’ll have some fun with Frade.”
Lina couldn’t help but grin – but not at her friend, of course.

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