The Cabin

It turns out that I stayed at Anne’s cabin a bit longer than I had anticipated. I said I’d be coming back on Sunday, but I only came back today, Monday. It was great but I’m glad to be home. Anne’s family definitely doesn’t function like mine does and after a while, I really need a break.

The camp, situated by a sparkling lake and filled with retro buses and Christmas lights, was a German settlement that was overrun by Canadians. Let’s call it the German Camp. It’s always filled with the sound of country music and fireworks. A safe, woodsy, runaway village that is sure to calm the mind from the city life. That is, if you’re with the right people. Anne and her family are great, but they’re like pizza. You just can’t eat it all the time because you’ll get sick of it. Life with them is never quiet, never calm, always bickering. That’s how they like. For me it’s just stressful.

On the bright side of things, it was lots of fun. We went to the beach and I got a tan. I finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, an absolutely amazing book that I recommend entirely. We watched fireworks on the beach and roasted marshmallows. I also wrote a lot, surprising myself because I’d anticipated not having time to write at all. But Anne is a writer too so we talked about our books and sat in concentrated silence together, working on our novels.

It was fun to finally get out. It’s great to be back. It’s finally June. exactly two months and three days left of summer. I’d better use it wisely.

Flash Fiction: How The Math Exam Should Have Ended

“Grade nines, you may start your exam.” 

My hand shot forward, flipping open the yellow booklet. There were short instructions; show your work, read carefully, use pencil on the bubble sheet, blah, blah, blah. I got this. Then I saw the first question. My face fell and I could feel beads of sweat gathering above brows.

Multiply the what by what? Did we even learn this? My eyes skittered around the gym, looking for others who were as lost as I was, but all I saw were pencils filling in the bubble sheets. I looked back at the paper. Okay, next question.

My eyes bulged. Solve that? Was that thing even considered math? It was just an angry jumble of numbers and letters. I cursed under my breath and continued to flip through the pages, trying to find something I knew how to do. 

20 minutes later I’d finished one question and guessed about five. Should I just guess the whole thing? It’s better than nothing right? But I’m failing! This is not good, not good, not good, not good— Wait a minute. Esther was sitting in front of me, math wiz extraordinaire. She was small too, so I could easily see what she was writing from over her shoulder. A, B, D, D, D, C, A, A, E, B… Okay, multiple choice is over. Now what?

I drummed my fingers impatiently on the desk, looking up at the clock. I was starting to sweat again. Oh god, I was already failing math. If I didn’t get at least a 70 percent I’d fail. AGAIN. No, stop it, I had to try at least. I looked back to my paper, trying to remember something, anything. Any number to the power of zero equals… zero? Shoot, I had no idea. I looked back to Esther, then at the teachers. None of them were giving me weird looks. I took that as a green light and nonchalantly brushed my formula sheet off the edge of the desk. Esther bent down to get it and she was out of my view for just a few seconds. I scanned over the paper, absorbing as much information as I could. Esther handed me my sheet and I muttered a thank you. Any number to the power of zero equals one, I wrote. 

I kept doing this, but Esther was smart. She caught on after the third try and made a point of closing her exam book and covering her bubble sheet before bending to pick up my papers. Then she continued, hunched over, annoyance emanating from her like heat waves.

Plan B. I waited until no teachers were looking and then slipped my iPhone into my calculator case as fast as I could. To someone looking from the front of the gym, it would just look like I was just solving another question.

R U getting NE of this?, I texted Anne, my friend who was sitting a few rows down. I counted a few seconds and then I heard the ring from the back of the gym. 200 heads turned in unison. I cringed. Anne was frozen in her seat.

“Having fun, are you?”

I jumped, hitting the gum covered desk bottom with my knee and sending papers and pencils sliding to the floor. Esther even turned to pick them up again, but when she saw who was behind me she whipped back with a terrified look on her face. She glanced at me before she turned totally though, and I saw a hint of sympathy. My math teacher, Mr. Christie, looked over my shoulder at my phone. He was six foot five, 100 percent muscle, and practically breathing down my neck.

“You know what this means, right?”

“I-I fail?” I squeaked.

“Again.” He picked my exam up from the floor. When I looked back he was grinning. It’s like he wanted to see me in summer school. “Come, you don’t just get a free pass when you cheat on an exam anymore. Rules have changed.”

I gathered my things reluctantly. Ugh, my mom was gonna kill me.

Everyone was looking at me, but seeing Mr. Christie glaring back, they turned to their sheets. 

Christie lead us out into the halls. They were dead silent. Everyone was still in the exam and it would be another twenty minutes until anyone was allowed to leave. Christie stopped by a door beside the boys bathroom. I’d seen it before, but never really known where it went. Into another room? If it did then it had to be a closet. Was he going to lock me in a closet for an hour? So unfair. 

To my surprise there were stairs behind the door, leading into the dank, LED lit basement. I took a tentative step down. My gut told me to run for it. It was the last exam after all, and then it was summer. What did I have to lose?

“Hurry up, Epiphany. It’s not that bad.”

I followed him, but only because I decided it would be a good story  to tell later on. Yeah, and then he dragged me into the basement. Like, what even? 

The basement was just like any old basement, musty and ugly. No one had tried to make this place look nice. It was just filled with twisting brass pipes and pressure valves. 

“Come back here.”

I followed obediently, admittedly curious as to what was behind the next door he was unlocking. The room was dark, but he ushered me in. I heard the click of the door closing and the flick of the light switch. I gasped. We were in a dinner hall and all of my teachers were there, holding forks and knives. Large forks and knives. That’s when I decided this wouldn’t make a very good story after all. I kicked Mr. Christie in the stomach and grabbed his keys from the floor, then I opened the door, and shut it behind me.

It was locked, but I could hear banging. What the heck was going on!? This was what they did to cheating students? It’s bad to cheat but not that bad. I ran up the stairs and jostled the handle. Locked. Shoot.

There were like, a million keys on this thing!

Okay Epiphany, calm down. You’ve got nothing to lose. Even if it looks like your teachers are going to eat you alive, at least you have a slim chance of survival.

The door was shaking. My heart pumped, I tried key after key, none of them fitting.

“Hurry up, hurry up!” I muttered. I heard a crack and I turned, they had broken right through  the wood door. It was only a matter of time. I tried another key.

They were out and tripping over themselves to get to me. 

“Shoot, shoot, shoot!” 

Mr. Christie was bounding up the stairs, giant utensils in hand. He reached for me. 

The key fit, I opened the door, and ran like hell, screaming my head off. Then bang, I threw the outside door open, Mr. Christie lost behind me. Sunlight hit my face. I kept running. I was free. It was summer.

 

 

 

AN: Well that escalated quickly. Too quickly? What do you think. I guess I was just so glad that I’m finally done all of my exams and it’s officially summer! By the way, this is absolutely, positively  fiction. Esther is actually one of my best friends and the exam wasn’t that bad. Also, Mr. Christie is at least five inches shorter than me and is super nice. He’d never try to eat me alive 😉 I don’t even have an iPhone. At least it was fun writing this. Have a great summer!

 

 

 

 

You Know You Do This When Summer Comes

Sorry for not writing in a while. It’s been sort of crazy with the final days of school. And now it’s summer. I feel like I should be running a marathon, learning a new language, or writing about my non-existent summer romance. Instead I woke up this morning at 5:45 AM, went back to sleep, got up at 9, and have been fighting the urge to crawl back into bed for the duration  of the morning. Even a few hours later I feel as though there’s some invisible force that’s pushing down on my head. Maybe it’s because I stayed up until midnight finishing an 800 page book? Probably not.

Even so, I think all of our summers start off like this, sleeping for a week and then finally pulling our act together. I know that this is for the new year, but I have some summer resolutions. Well, not really resolutions. I feel like resolutions are things you want to fix. But the kind of things I’m talking about are challenges. Yeah, summer challenges. Everyone has them. You know the ones, where you lie in bed and imagine coming back to school or work, everyone aghast at how different you are. Like you learnt to break dance or you finished your first novel and everyone says “Wow, look at her. She really has it together”. 

Even though these never seem to come true, there’s never anything wrong with being optimistic. So here are the top ten things I want to accomplish this summer:

  1. Write 100 pages in my novel.
  2. Be able to play a song on guitar.
  3. Draw everyday.
  4. Walk everyday (I found out that my joints are not meant for jogging).
  5. Eat healthier.
  6. Learn more French.
  7. Watch ten amazing movies.
  8. Read all of the books I’ve put on hold; The Time Traveler’s Wife, Slum Dog Millionaire, Mockingjay, and The Mark of Athena.
  9. Blog like a maniac.
  10. And try something I was scared to do.

It doesn’t matter if I don’t accomplish all of these (although for some of them they aren’t that unrealistic), but at least my goals will keep me busy. What about you? What are you doing this summer? Do you have ‘Summer Challenges’ like I do or do you already have it all planned out? Are you going on a cruise in the Bahamas or are you going to the lake every week? Or maybe you’re like me, hoping adventures will come your way, but in the mean time relaxing. Whatever it is that you’re doing, I hope you have a great summer.

Baseball and Friends

Today was supposed to be senior skip day, the day where all the seniors pack up their things and head to the beach. I don’t know what the big deal is over it, but some schools in the city have made severe punishments to keep kids from participating in it. My school took a different approach. They called off the afternoon and made a baseball game between the teachers and the seniors.

My friends and I, Anne, Jacinda, Esther, Jericho, and a few others who came and went, sat in the rickety old bleachers and cheered. Jacinda, Anne and I are the sort of people who cheer for everything and everyone, singing to the songs and fist pumping. Esther is the one who says, “Who are these people? Do you know these people? I don’t know these people,” and shakes her head. She’s tiny and bony, less than half my weight, and walks with dancers poise, like she may take flight at any moment. Anne is loud and the most immature fifteen year old I have ever met. She had a baby face and it’s often red from laughter as she tries to make Esther punch herself (stop punching yourself, why are you punching yourself?). Jacinda is a year older than us, but she’s from the Philippines where kids go to school a year after Canadians. She’s sweet and she loves books and movies. She’s also one of those girls who isn’t afraid to talk to people or be close to them. She screams for absolutely no reason much of the time, which generates many perplexed glances toward our general area. Jericho is smart, very smart. He’s also shy. But he’s very nice.

I spent the baseball game with them. Before the game Jacinda drove us back in her mom’s van because she has a learners permit. It was strange. I’ve never been in a car with a driver who’s younger than 30. In a year I’ll be doing the exact same thing. 

There was a hot dog eating contest between two homeroom teachers because they were tied for points. It was a bit sickening to watch, seeing as I’ve been vegetarian my whole life, but there were sardines on one of them so I wanted to see the reaction of the person who had to eat it. The crowd was so big that I could only see one person stuffing their face, but I’m sure it would have been priceless.

The game ended half an hour before the end of the school day. Jacinda left and Anne, Jericho, Esther and I made our separate ways home. Anne lives five minutes away in the condos parallel to the school, Esther goes to a bus stop outside of an old folks home, and Jeri bikes. I have to walk to my sisters middle school and take the bus with her from there, then it’s a twenty minute ride from the suburbs to downtown and a ten minute walk home. 

We live in an okay area, not too bad, but not too good. There are people who walk around in high end, fashionable clothing, and there are those few who look dirty and walk funny. But my neighborhood is green, that’s what I like about it. And the smell of old trees, moist soil, and gardens in a windy city like mine is always sweet. The bleeding hearts are blooming and the perennials are emerging. The trees arc over the street and leaves splay over parked cars. It’s starting to feel like summer.