“I told you this was going to be just like the last school,” John said, pacing his dorm room. “I’ve only been here for two weeks, and I already want to go home.” He stubbed his toe on his chair while he was walking by, so he grabbed his foot and sat down at his desk chair, annoyed. “If only I could have gotten here early enough to try out for the soccer team.” He listened for a moment. “Yeah, sure, Mom. Sure I’m not going to be known as the loser kid who cheated, but now I’m just the loser transfer student from Iowa!”
Suddenly his roommate Taylor walked in. John wasn’t sure if he’d heard the last few words of his conversation or not, so he said a few more words and hung up the phone. Taylor just gave him a weird look and sat down at his desk to eat the slice of cold pizza he’d left randomly sitting on his closed laptop.
John’s eyes drifted over to his digital alarm clock. It was 12:59, which meant—which meant he was late! He had already been nearly 15 minutes late to this class—Biology 102—on Wednesday, so he couldn’t be late again! Throwing a book that probably wasn’t even the right one into his bag, he charged out the door, leaving Taylor with the last bit of pizza hanging out of his mouth.
He didn’t want to run to class. It would seem weird to see the 6’3” transfer dude carrying a backpack and sprinting across the grass. Another student, a girl he’d met two days ago in the cafeteria, was walking toward him on the sidewalk.
“Hey, John,” she said.
“Hey Andrea,” he replied, happy she’d remembered him.
“It’s Abby…” she called over his shoulder.
John muttered an apology, kicking himself. “Always the wrong place at the wrong time… wrong name wrong person…”
When he finally made it to class, Professor Bell was already handing out some papers. The class was unusually quiet. This couldn’t be real… When he glanced down at his desk, he came nose to nose with the words “Biology 102—Exam 1.” Under that was the friendly information: “This exam is worth 25% percent of your grade. Good luck.”
In one moment it dawned on him: when he’d been late to this class on Wednesday, he’d missed the test announcement. He’d also failed to check his syllabus. Somewhere in the back of his mind he could remember the professor mentioning that they might have a test this week…
Question number one: “What are the five kingdoms of living creatures?” Uh, animal, not-animal, and still-not-animal? I’m doomed. John was jealous of Taylor and his stupid cold pizza. In fact, he was jealous of anyone who wasn’t sitting here staring at this biology test that might as well be ancient hieroglyphics. He was going to fail, and that’s all there was to it.
He guessed on most of the questions. After class, he tried talking to Professor Bell about it, but Prof. said he’d announced the test multiple times, and he couldn’t let him have a re-test. John walked out the door, dragging his feet. The two freshmen ahead of him were comparing answers and talking about how happy they were they’d studied so much for the test. John reached in his book bag and pulled out the book he’d thrown in there; it was his college orientation book, which was still book-marked in the section about time-management and keeping a calendar of upcoming tests. John planned to burn it later.
A feeling of total dread settled over him. If he failed that test like he thought had happened, there was no way he could get a decent grade in that class. He was going to have to drop out of school, just like last time. Except last time hadn’t been his fault. He hadn’t really cheated; he really had gotten a 100 on that math exam even though everyone else failed. That was why he’d left—he just couldn’t stay in a place where everyone thought he was a cheater and a liar. Wrong place… wrong time, he thought to himself again. That much hadn’t changed.
John was walking around campus to blow off some steam and forget about the test, and he found himself walking by the soccer field. If he’d decided on this college and filled out his paperwork sooner, he could have arrived early enough to go to tryouts. I would be out there right now, he thought to himself.
Deciding to walk down the hill and back to his dorm, he neared the street. One car passed and then another. A girl stood on the other side of the road, talking very loudly, almost yelling into the phone she was clutching in her left hand; she held a few bags in her right hand. He watched her awkwardly, wondering who was making such a pretty girl so angry.
“You don’t understand, do you!?” she was saying. Her bangs swung in her eyes as she began to cross the street. She made it halfway the way across the street before stopping to swing her bangs out of her face and adjust the phone on her ear. “What!?” she demanded in disbelief. To avoid dropping her bags, so took three quick steps forward, putting her in the middle of the lane.
Suddenly, John felt like he couldn’t see straight. In that moment, he could feel his heart beating. His feet seemed stuck to the ground. Time seemed to have stopped. Everything seemed to be in slow motion.
Everything except the pickup truck barreling down the road going 40 miles an hour faster than it should have been.
To be continued...
To be continued...