Don’t Be Afraid to Ask This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

August 3, 2011
By
I could tell from the quivering chapstick-strewn lips I had gone too far. My ability to tell people what I really think, my sarcastic attitude and what I think is witty charm has gotten me into trouble before, but this was different. Suddenly I found myself wishing I could snatch those tainted words and stuff them back in my mouth no matter how bad they taste. Unfortunately, the damage had been done, and I was left with nothing to say but, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Her reaction – or lack thereof – to my apology deemed it ineffective. My last option was to hold her. The tears I felt through my shirt burned like acid, but seemed incomparable to the scars I had left with my words. So there we stood, both crying. From what seemed a mile away, someone whispered, “I’m sorry. I love you.”

* * *

“Wow,” I said, looking wildly at my exhaustive amount of homework after only four classes. It was only a few weeks after school had started, and reality had just set in. Homework was starting to pile up, teachers were getting impatient with late assignments and all I could think about were my girlfriend, food and sleep – none of which I was getting enough of. Plus, some of my classes were so unbelievably dull I would often find my mind wandering. My only refuge were the few teachers who kept me interested. The others were just a bunch of …

“Mr. Walters, are you following?”

I just about leaped from my chair. I smirked and said, “I’ve already finished the article … ma’am.”

“Then perhaps you would like to summarize it for the rest of the class?” she retorted.

Great, I thought. “I would love to,” I said putting on my most innocent smile. “I just need to know where the class left off.”

“Well, since you are too good for our speed of reading, why don’t you start where we were – the beginning.” Point, set, match. A call rang out from the gods. Whew, saved by the bell. I must be the luckiest person on the face of the …

“Mr. Walters, we’ll be expecting your report tomorrow.”

“Fantastic,” I mumbled on my way out.

Finally, physics. Physics was always a relief because it was last and we always got to play with awesome gadgets. And I sat by my girlfriend. This, however, was no play-day. The words on the board sent chills down our backs, shakes to our hands and stress to our temples. “Test Today,” the board announced, laughing at our lack of preparation. We nervously awaited the torture. The teacher passed out the test and said, “Good luck.”

Luck? I thought. I need a miracle, a revelation, some kind of supernatural help. Prayer seemed like a logical solution, but when I opened my eyes, I found myself anywhere but heaven. Some complained, others whined, some collapsed and some did what I think is utterly wrong. They approached the teacher looking for answers. Not answers to their questions, but to the questions on the test. It’s logical: the teacher made the test, therefore he has the answers. If he planned on telling the class the answers, however, he wouldn’t be giving a test. Under normal circumstances, I would speak out, but this time was different. She, the girl of my dreams, had joined their ranks. I could only bite my lip, take the test and keep my mouth shut – for the time being.

When the physics test was behind me, and homework done, it was a time of great rejoicing. I picked up my girlfriend and we went to the movies. Everything was going great; she smelled incredible, like a garden of thousands of flowers right after it rains, the movie had been funny and sad. It was a huge mistake to bring up the test, but I did.

“So, how do you think you did on the test?” I asked nonchalantly.

“Really well,” she answered excitedly. She was slipping into my trap.

“So, do you think you really earned that grade?” She gave no response, just a perplexed look. “Because,” I continued, “last time I checked, we are tested on our own knowledge, and not our ability to tap our teacher’s.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she said, starting to realize where I was going.

“Well, I think trying to get a teacher to give you the answers is wrong. Possibly even cheating.”

“Cheating!” The sparkle in her eye was replaced by fire. “Are you calling me a cheater?”

Her words ripped through my ears like razor blades, and I knew it was time to stop. Being the insensitive male I am, however, I proceeded. “You said it, not me.” There was at first astonishment, then anger and finally, tears, complete with quivering lip.

The ride home was quiet. I reached for her hand a few times, only to catch the cold metal of the parking brake. Those minutes dragged on longer than my classes earlier that day; it was almost a relief when I pulled into her driveway. I followed her to her door, and with her eyes still wet from tears, she said, “I don’t want to talk about this right now. We’ll work it out later. Right now I’m angry and tired, and I want to go to bed.” I walked back to my car, cursing myself. I guess to keep an opinion bottled up is not a good thing, but to share it and hurt someone’s feelings is worse. That’s a test question I’m not quite sure about. Hey, maybe I should ask the teacher.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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