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A day in the Life of a Mind Reader
“Bring! Bring! Bring!” Jessica’s old-fashioned alarm rang. Jessica untangled herself from her sheets, stumbling across the room to turn off the alarm. She wanted more than anything to just crawl back into bed, but she knew she had a chemistry test. Jessica tiredly threw on her favorite pair of jeans and a crimson tank top. She quickly ran a brush through her dark brown hair and pulled it up in a ponytail.
Jessica slunk down the stairs and took her place at the table. Her younger brother, Joshua and older sister, Alexis, were already eating pancakes.
“Good morning honey!” her overly cheerful mother said.
Jessica made eye contact with Alexis and rolled her eyes.
“Josh, who’s Alyssa?” Jessica asked nonchalantly between bites of pancakes.
“Why do ya always have to do that!” Josh shouted, throwing his fork in disbelief. “It’s not fair!”
Alexis and Jessica burst out laughing.
“I wish I could read minds!” Josh whined as he got up to get a new fork.
“Jessica, stop reading your brother’s
mind!” their mother intervened. “And Josh what are you doing thinking about girls? You’re only eleven!”
Breakfast continued in silenceâ€”well almost. Josh’s fork and knife scraped against the plate as he cut his pancakes.
After seeing the time Alexis became frantic, “We’ve gotta go!” she insisted.
“But I’m not done,” Josh moaned.
“You’ve alreadry had six pancakes!” Alexis hissed.
“He just doesn’t want to take his math test,” Jessica said matter-of-factly as she removed the fork from Josh’s hand.
“Come on honey, time to go,” their mother gently pulled Josh out of his chair as she rumpled his sandy brown hair.
“We’re gonna be late,” Alexis grumbled as she started her 1995 Mercury. She looked both ways before backing out of the driveway.
Alexis barely came to a stop outside the middle school. Josh leapt out and would have forgotten his backpack if Jessica had not thrown it out the window as the car took off.
“He wanted to forget it,” Jessica told her sister. Jessica turned around in her seat. She observed Josh looking dejected, but he did shoulder the backpack before hurrying off to class.
Alexis pulled into the ghost town of a high school parking lot. She parked in her spot. The sisters raced towards the school, running across the gigantic campus. Jessica went left of the courtyard; Alexis went right.
Jessica would have given anything to know what time it was right then. It had been 7:58 a.m. when she exited the car. That gave her at least a minute from the time she left the parking lot. All she had left were the stairs. Jessica was about halfway up the stairs when the bell rang loudly. She continued running anyway, hoping Mr. Adams would not see her come in, or at least not mark her tardy.
Cracking the door open slowly so it wouldn’t make a sound, Jessica slipped through the door, shutting it softly behind her. Before she could make it to her seat Mr. Adams rose from his desk and took his place behind the podium. Hoping for the best, Jessica continued to her seat, sitting down quickly. In any other class, the students would be staring at a student that came in late, but not in Mr. Adam’s class.
Mr. Adams was in his late fifties. He had an egg-shaped head, made more obvious by his recedingâ€”if existentâ€”hair line. To make up for his loss of hair, Mr. Adams had a mustache and half a beard. Coupled with his pot belly, Mr. Adams was the kind of teacher students always made fun of.
Jessica stared at Mr. Adams waiting for him to tell the class her punishment. She hoped he would change his mind.
“Nice try Ms. Greene,” Mr. Adams stipulated. He massaged his beard. “Detention. 2:30. We’ll talk then.”
The suspense was definitely affecting the rest of the class, but Jessica already knew what her penalty would beâ€”a 1,000 word paper on the importance of attending class on time.
“Now that everyone is here…” Mr. Adams began. “Let us talk about your author critiques,” Mr. Adams continued, emphasizing the word author. “Can anyone tell me what is wrong with this sentence?” He writes â€˜Austin tells of a simpler time and she uses Eleanor to get this point across having he do many responsibilities.’ in white chalk across the blackboard.
Mr. Adams snapped his head around and scanned the room. “How about you Mr. Wallace?”
Jessica had to put her hand over her mouth so she did not laugh aloud, but a giggle escaped her fingers.
“Ms. Greene you seem to think this funny. Please enlighten the class,” Mr. Adams said.
“I just think the sentence shows a blatant disregard for the English language as well as for Jane Austen. Both the author and the main character’s names are misspelled. Elinor is referred to as “he” and the sentence is an obvious run-on,” Jessica replies, speaking way too fast.
“Very good Ms. Greene. For those of you who actually read the book…” Mr. Adams paused to stare at certain students, including Darren Wallace. “…Austen wrote this story in 1811, thus she lived in a simpler time. Her writing emphasizes the social practices of the time,” Mr. Adams droned on as he handed back the papers, shaking them in the faces of those who scored poorly.
Mr. Adams smacked Jessica’s down on her desk with a thud. Jessica jumped, startled. She saw the 86.9% scrawled in red in the top right corner of her paper. She quickly flipped to the page with the rubric. Of course, she scored 40 out of 40 on conventions, 40 out of 40 on sentence fluency, 40 out of 40 on ideas, and 36 out of 40 on word choice (Mr. Adams did not approve the use of the word superfluous to describe Austen’s writing, nor the word whiner to describe Marianne). However, her organization scored a 30 out of 40 and her voice scored a 40 out of 60. Next to these categories was scrawled “Your organization and voice do not do your ideas justice. Your writing sounds like a textbook.”
Jessica felt numb. She had always been a good writer. Her former teachers had always praised her intellectual writing, but this was high school. Jessica now regretted her decision to take an “easy” class rather than challenge herself in honors. After a few seconds, Jessica exited her own world and began listening to those around her. Everyone was complaining about his or her scores.
“Dude I scored a 26%!” Darren Wallace shouted to his friend across the room.
“Man, I told ya. Ya shoulda read the book!” Jeremy Roberts shouted back.
“Hey I read the book and I only scored a 62%!” Jake Hastings screeched to no one in particular.
Jessica looked around and soon found she had the highest score in the class. The only score even close to hers was Alyson Jacobs’ 79%.
“Class! Class!” Mr. Adams shouted in an attempt to quiet the uproar, but his voice was drowned out by the bell.
Jessica shouldered her backpack and followed the cascading wave of students through the door.
The rest of the morning went by with few hitches. By lunch, Jessica thought her bad day was over until she heard footsteps approach her table. “Well I’ll show her. I’ll just trip and spill my tray on her head,” whoever it was thought. Jessica looked around trying to figure out who was about to get food dumped on his or her head. She heard a clunk and found herself covered in spaghetti.
Jessica’s mouth hung open in shock as she whirled around, flinging her chair across the room. The entire cafeteria was silent, all heads turned to her. Sprawled on the floor was a blond girl, her hair in pigtails. Her dress was rumpled; her ankle appeared to be twisted. Her fall was an obvious result of her high heels, but Jessica knew better. The girl on the floor moaned as Jessica stood over her, dripping spaghetti.
Danny Johnson, the quarterback of the football team and his buddy Darren Wallace lifted the girl off the floor. Danny grabbed her arms and Darren grabbed her legs. “Owww!” the girl shouted, grimacing. The two boys managed to get her upright, but she could not stand on her right leg.
Jessica came face to face with her worst enemy, Alyson Jacobs. “I’m sa-sa-sorry,” Alyson sputtered. Everyone was waiting for Jessica to say sorry, but instead she turned and ran through the cafeteria doors towards the girls’ locker room, tears streaming down her face.
“Hey Jess! Wait up!” someone shouted after her, but she kept running.
The locker room was empty. She angrily twisted the combination on her lock, but she could not get it to open.
Crash! The locker room door hit the wall when flung open with a ton of force. Through her tears, Jessica saw a girl with long brown hair much like her own. It was her sister.
“Hey, I’m sorry” Alexis said, panting as she threw down two backpacks.
“She did it on purpose!” Jessica replied angrily.
“What’s your combo, I’ll get your clothes out while you shower,” Alexis offered.
“12-32-17” Jessica mumbled.
Once Jessica had rinsed the spaghetti from her body, she met her sister at her locker.
“So why did she do it?” Alexis asked as Jessica dressed.
“I got a higher grade on the English paper than she did, plus she’s always hated me,” Jessica responded.
“That’s no reason to spill food on someone! And to make it look like an accident…” Alexis’ anger rose.
“These clothes look terrible!” Jessica said as she looked in the tiny bathroom mirror.
Bring! The bell rang loudly. Jessica threw her spaghetti-stained clothes in her locker and slammed it shut, determined to not be late to another class.
“I’m sorry,” Alexis reiterated as she hugged her sister before parting ways.
Jessica made it to Spanish just in time. The entire class was staring at her with confused expressions.
“What happened to you?” her friend Joy whispered.
“Alyson Jacobs,” Jessica replied through gritted teeth.
“Pop quiz!” SeÃ±ora Rivera announced, “Take out a sheet of paper.”
Jessica removed a sheet of lined paper from her binder and took out a pencil. She did not think the day could get any worse now.
“Number 1, conjugate conocer in the imperfect.”
Jessica wrote down the answers to the questions and thought she was doing very well.
“Jessica,” SeÃ±ora Rivera said, bending down to get a closer look at Jessica’s paper. “How are you already on number seven?”
“Oh no! I must have been reading her mind!” Jessica thought. Trying to seem calm, she replied, “Isn’t everyone on that number?”
“I’m afraid not, please come with me,” SeÃ±ora Rivera said as she lead Jessica into the hallway.
“Jessica, what’s going on?” SeÃ±ora Rivera wonders. “You’re not the kind of girl to cheat.”
“I’m sorry, I’m having a ba-ba-bad day,” Jessica sputters. She bit her lip, trying to hold back the tears. “I sa-sa-swear I would never cheat,” Jessica says, looking at her toes.
“Then how did you know the answers to five through seven before I even asked the questions?” SeÃ±ora Rivera says, doubtful.
Jessica’s green eyes once again spurted tears. “It’s complicated,” she mumbled.
Bronx, New York
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This article has 3 comments.
I also enjoyed some subtle touches like Mr. Adams' compensating for hair loss by growing it everywhere else...funny!
The details about how her paper was graded were interesting to me. Very different from when I was in high school!
I'm intrigued to see where the story goes from here. The cliffhanger at the end leaves me wanting more!
One thing that caught my eye was that there was a sentence where the meaning was significantly changed due to a missing comma. The characters and situations are so interesting, I wouldn't want to misunderstand anything just because of a little thing like that!
Great job...can't wait to see how Jessica gets out of this jam!