Fourth Bell Showdown

December 29, 2009
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“Don’t bother me!” I scream in my mind as I lock eyes with Mrs. Stollberg, the U.S. History teacher. I see her contemplate whether or not to call on me, probably knowing that while she was giving that long lecture of hers, I didn’t appear to be listening. But I was. Sure, my math homework is concealed under these social studies notes from last chapter, but my ears are still open, prepared for this moment so I can outsmart you. My daring stare is a strain on your eyes, so you break it, staring off, pretending to torture others with agony because they have no sheer idea what the answer is, but really, you know you’re going to call on me. Hey, look over there, Leslie’s arm has just shot up like it has been given a nip from an anxious puppy. Now, she’s waving it to get your attention. But, you only have eyes for me.

I wait, placing down my favorite pink and green striped Papermate Expressions pencil that reminds me so much of the sweet scent of watermelon. In an odd habit of mine, I cross my legs, giving one of my boots a tingling shake, without any reason, because I assure you, I’m not nervous. So, this is it, you’ve stolen my attention completely away from that math homework that is due by next bell, which will be late if I don’t hand it in, but… two can play this game. With my eyes, I dare you to call on me, even when Leslie over there is waving her arms for you to call on her, and I don’t seem to be as energized.

I can almost sense everyone’s furious stares burrowing into the back of my head. They wonder how I could have possibly made it into honors. I smile in a smirking way. I ruin their perfect group. I’m the tiny sore spot. After all, I never seem to have the right answers when called upon. I’m not on that straight “A+” student list that is proudly displayed on each of their lockers. I’m their horrifying definition of average.

You oblige by tilting your heart-shaped face at me, with your chin looking thoughtful as you’ve finally found someone you can outsmart and humiliate. Your crinkling smile declares victory as you give your black Ralph Lauren glasses a nudge up your nose. But, I won’t let you win your battle this easily.

“Bella, will you please give me two facts that the Treaty of Paris stated?” You announce in your matter-of-fact manner.

Ah-hah! The happiness gurgles up within me as a light bulb scorches inside my mind. Thank goodness I studied this chapter weeks ago at home. I return a crinkling smile, returning back the declaration of victory. “Two facts were that the British soldiers had to leave the 13 colonies immediately and the Americans were given the right to fish off the coast of Canada,” I can’t help but to say that I replied this in a very smart-alecky way.

Silence fills the room as our class all turns to savor her reaction. So much for labeling me dumb. She steps back as if taken back by my correct answer. She swings her dark brown locks of hair; her blue eyes are wide with disbelief. Clearing her throat, she reluctantly gives me praise. “That was, um, marvelous!” She exclaims with extremely fake enthusiasm.

Making sure she’s looking in the other direction, I roll my eyes as the defining three chimes of the bell ring through the air as everyone leaps up to pack up their stuff to hurry to their next class. I feel as if I’m floating as I glide through the room on happiness. Compliments are being thrown at me from all directions. “Thank you! Thank you!” I think, contemplating whether I should take a bow.

Then, I look down at my desk, my heart dropping. My math homework is only half-finished.

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