Chapter 8 of Uncharted Stars! Last week’s was long, this week’s is a bit short.
Student after student piled into the Math room just in time for class, before the bell rang. I’d come to class early, but I always came early because I didn’t have friends to hang out with in the cafeteria or the hallways anyway.
Will, however, has been affected with the earlybird habit of mine. Not only did he insist on making sure I had people that HE knew he could trust around me in the hallways, to prevent the possibility of another attack, he’d also began to come around with me during classes to keep an eye on me. I think I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t like this attention, didn’t want it; but Will wouldn’t hear of it. I had to stay safe, according to him at least.To be honest I doubt the prospects of the attack being repeated, now that it was rather well know that Will’s Wolves were on my side.
Mr Smith walked into the room last. Boy, I hated that guy. HE was paper-thin and old; his head had about five strands of white hair growing out; he wore clothing that seemed like what a newly divorced grandfather would wear on his first date. He walked into the room slowly and menacingly; his eyes were always flickering from one student to the next, ready to catch the slightest supposed insurrection from the students, ready to punish for the slightest crime.
This was not a teacher I liked. NOT at all.
The room grew hused when Mr Smith walked in, and he slowly made his way form the door to the whiteboard. A projector screen was covering the whiteboard, so he swiftly pulled it up and under it, the whiteboard had only one word written in bright red.
That was all it said.
And that was all it needed to say to provoke a horrified reaction. Although there was utter silence for about ten seconds, as the savage knowledge that a trigonometry test was coming up sank into the struck minds of the students in the room, followed by horrified cries and shouts. “No, Mr Smith” some people shouted. Mr Smith smiled- it reminded me of a sinister sort of smile that antagonists would have in cartoons- and raised a hand to quieten the class.
“As you know, we have already spent three weeks covering trigonometry, both reviewing stuff you learned last year and adding in new knoweldge. It’s about time we had a test. The test will be in-” he took a moment to glance at the calendar stuck on the wall- “three days.”
“WHAT?” The class cried out, almost in unison.
“Three days.” Mr Smith repeated, seemingly satisfied that his students were so tormented, as if he’d planned and desired this sort of reaction. Old teachers are a strange breed. Perhaps his hobby is to cause students mathematical pain. I think he enjoys it.
And perhaps he does. He didn’t allow any more time for gasps and complaints. Instead, he turned to the whiteboard, rubbed out the word ‘test‘ and immediately began to scribble incomprehensible mathematical murals with great vigor. In his handwriting, which is more similar to Arabic than English, he wrote all the major topics that we would need to know in order to pass the test.
“Will you provide us with a review sheet?” someone called out abruptly.
Mr Smith paused. “Raise your hand before you speak. And no, I will not be giving out a review sheet. Everything you need will be in the notes that you have taken throughout my classes.” Well, not really. Not a single person I knew actually bothered taking notes down in Mr Smith’s class (the only noes I had seen were notes that were passed among friends about gossip topics). Now the folly of not taking notes was having its repercussions.
“Alright.” Mr Smith called out as he sat at his computer to check his email. (Wow, that ancient man actually knew what email is).
“I’m going to give you two periods to use for reviewing. You may mess around or study- it’s all your choice. It’s your grade anyway, not mine. There are review exercises at the back of your textbook that you can use. Good luck. Have fun.”
“Fun, my ass.” Will muttered in what he thought was a quiet voice but was actually pretty audible. “I don’t recall having fun in Math class in all the years I’ve been living.”
“Neither do I.” I said. “I completely suck at this trigonometry crap though. I need help.”
Will smiled. “I sure look like the person to ask.”
“Well, I don’t want to ask Mr Smith either. He keeps insisting on having us ask questions, but he gets annoyed when we ask.”
“Typical Math teacher attitude.”
Will’d said that a little too loudly in a room that didn’t have a lot of background noise. Mr Smith immediately turned around in his chair and glared at both of us, his eyeballs seeming like they want to jump out of his eye sockets.
“What did you just say, Will?”
Will was caught by surprise. “N…nothing, Mr Smith.” I was almost surprised to see Will sputter. He was always so confident. I guess no one stood up to the ancient Mr Smith and his century old eyeballs.
“That’s a lie, young man. Didn’t you just say something about math teacher attitude?” His voice grew louder and nastier. “What’s wrong with my attitude, may I ask?”
“N…nothing. I was just…”
“You and pete were just talking and making crap up about me behind my back, weren’t you.” I really hate how he stresses certain words. I thought I could see him smiling, an evident pleasure and seeing terrified students. “For lying and for insulting me, you and Pete will leave my classroom now and stand in front of the room until this period is over. Goodbye.” He didn’t even bother making sure his orders were carried out properly and he just went back to answering his emails. Will and I walked out as the rest watched in pity.
“Idiot.” Will muttered when the door was closely shut. “There’s something I find weird about schools sometimes. We pay good money to come here, to have these teachers, but they get to punish people who pay them. That sure makes a lot of sense.”
“Not so loud.” I mumbled. “His hearing is good.”
“Damn his hearing.” Will sighed. “I guess I’ll wing this trig test. Not like I care much about it.”
“Well, I’m not gonna wing it. I do care about my grades. Sort of.”
Will just looked at me blankly.
“What a good student you are.” he said. “Do you realize how lucky you are?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re a good student, you’re good looking, you’re now SC President, and you’re in love with a good girl.” Will said, sighing. “I wish I was perfect like that.”
“I’m not in love.” I shot back. “And besides, you’re pretty damn perfect already.”
“Oh, really? What do I have?”
“Friends. A gang. A band. Popularity. Talent.”
Will gave a weak smile. “That’s not called perfection.”
I’d have replied, but suddenly the door opened. An ugly face, an old one, suddenly poked out.
“Stand quietly.” the voice said firmly. “No talking.”
* * * * *
I spent that afternoon and the next day reviewing like crazy about trigonometric ratios and finding unknown angles, although my brain seemed to have a very high math absorbance resistance level. At the same time, I wondered about what Will’d said. I did truly feel that he had everything he wanted; okay, maybe he didn’t have the grades, but still. I made a mental note to ask him the next day.
I also got an email from Jinny. It said simply:
Trigonometry review session, afternoon tomorrow. Lots of people. Coming?
I replied back, without hesitation:
* * * * *
When I walked into the library, I found it o be packed wit hat least fifteen people from my class alone. Someone had made an A3 sized poster that said “THE TRIGONOMETRY DEATH ZONE” with a triangle shaped skull and angles marked in all corners.
Jinny was sitting near the edge of the table, so I went to take the seat at the edge. Will was also sitting near her, with about three or four of his friends. Seems like he does care about his Math grade.
But the person doing most of the talking wasn’t Will. It was Jason.
Jason’s in Student Council. He’s notoriously self-confident with an ego the size of Mount Everest, and though he’s pretty talented I’m still not sure if his abilities were matching the size of his ego. He was popular, though by no means as popular as Will, and his gang had much less of an identity, but his dashing looks wins him the hearts of girls all over the school, despite his big mouth.
When I sat down, Jason glanced up at me. His expression was very distasteful for a moment, but he quickly covered it up and his good-looks-I-want-you-girl returned and he resumed lecturing something about triangles.
He was genuinely smart, Jason. (I do suspect he thinks he’s smarter than he actually is though). Jason taught people and really helped them review, though he left most of the group apart and mostly only helped the people he considered ‘MY FRIENDS’. Despite the occasional subtle insult, such as “YOU MORON”, people liked his teaching it seems.
More and more people began to come to the table to take a seat and listen to the droning voice talking all about trigonometry, but no one really said anything. In the end, I started to wonder why I was here at all. I wasn’t among Jason’s friends. It’s not helping me. In the end, Jinny said: “This is useless. I’m out.”
“I’m going too. I think this isn’t helping.” I said.
Jinny sighed. “I’m crap at Math though. I’ll die.”
“Well, half the class is going to die. Mr Smith’s teaching skills is seriously substandard.”
“Wait, what day is this?”
“Oh crap, Pete. Oh crap.”
“We’re supposed to get the Sports Day plan in by Friday.”