"And to think, today started out so ordinary." I thought to myself as I thought back on today's events. It was the first day of my senior year of high school, and I would never have thought it would be any different then any other day of school. It certainly started out like it normally did: A blaring alarm clock, a shower that was cold for the first five minutes, comb my hair, brush my teeth, get dressed, grab my stuff and get out the door before my father woke up.
The school day started out like the other first days of school I had, for the most part. I met my best friends, Joey and Jamie, in the hallway. We bulled around, chatted for a bit about random things. The upcoming football season, various things that happened over the summer break. And, of course, about Quinn. The three of us shared a lot, but what we all shared in common was the desire for that one special girl. Quinn Morgandorffer, the most beautiful woman on the face of the planet. I couldn't count the number of times we had come to blows over her. I'd knocked out, and been knocked out, several times just to be the guy who would carry her books, or get that miniskirt she wanted from Cashman's, or whatever her little heart might desire at the time. And indeed, when the three of us saw Quinn in the hallway this morning, we argued over the privilege of carrying Quinn's backpack to her desk. Joey managed to win today, with a damn cheap shot to my ribs.
When classes started, there was no reason to think anything else would be any different. The teachers went through the same old speeches that they had been giving since I came into high school. They handed out the books we would need, gave us the syllabuses, nothing seemed out of the ordinary with them. Things only started getting weird when I noticed how Quinn was acting during class. Our first shared class was 2nd period history class with Mr. DiMartino.
"Now, class." He had posed. "Which of you can pull your heads out from under the rock you've been living under, and explain to me what the Monroe Doctrine was? How about you, Miss Griffin?" He turned to Sandi Griffin, one of Quinn's friend.
"Why should I care about what some dead people say?" She responded. Mr. DiMartino started talking about something, but I couldn't make out the details. During his little rant, I saw Quinn raise her hand.
"Yes, Miss Morgandorffer?" The teacher asked.
"The Monroe Doctrine was a policy that stated that any attempt to colonize Latin America by a European nation would be considered an act of aggression by the United States." Quinn answered.
"Why, Quinn, that's actually quite impressive." Mr. DiMartino praised. My eyes went wide. Quinn was actually answering questions correctly in class, and volunteering herself to answer them, to boot.
"Wow, Quinn, you're so smart!" I praised quickly. Quinn brushed my compliment off without a word, but I was still spellbound. When she first came here in freshman year, she wouldn't have been caught dead answering questions correctly for the teacher. She would have fumbled it, in that cute way she always tried to stall for answering something, until the teacher just picked someone else. And she never would have volunteered to answer. In our junior year, she had changed that a little bit. She had gotten a tutor over the summer because she wanted to increase her PSTAT's, and she started answering questions correctly when teachers called on her, doing her homework on time, and getting good grades on essays and tests. And now she was continuing on this trend, becoming more outspoken.
She did it again in 3rd period English class with Mr. O'Neill, when she mentioned Emily Bronte was the author of Wuthering Heights, which was apparently the book we'd be reading in the first trimester. I was in awe of how much she knew, but I was a little confused as to how why she was doing it. I tried to talk to her about it, but my 4th period was in the art room, and hers was gym class, so we were going in opposite directions. I saw her again in 6th period: Biology with Ms. Barch. I asked her to be my lab partner, but Quinn picked Stacy instead, so I was stuck with Jamie, but at least we could take the table right behind her.
"We're going to start with ecology." Ms. Barch started. "Does anyone here know what an ecosystem is?" She posed. I ignored her, and concentrated on Quinn. She had placed her hand to her mouth and bent her neck, trying to think.
"Jeffy, perhaps you'd care to enlighten us." Ms. Barch glared at me, noticing that I wasn't paying attention. I stuttered, and then shook my head.
"What a surprise." Ms. Barch noted. "The big man can't even answer a simple question about life. All you men know is how to ruin one after 20 years of that servitude they call love." She ranted for a while.
"Miss Morgandorffer." She turned to Quinn. "Perhaps you can show the males here how a question can be answered correctly?" Ms. Barch tone changed from her snark cynicism to one of a genuine question. Quinn tilted her head and appeared to be trying to think.
"Umm...I don't know." Quinn answered. Ms. Barch offered no cynical commentary to Quinn, and turned to another student.
Quinn and I had different classes for 7th period, but we were headed in the same direction
"Hey, Quinn, you were really smart in Mr. DiMartino's class. Can you help me with history?" I posed. Even if it was tutoring, alone time with Quinn was alone time with Quinn.
"Ummm...thanks, Jeffy, but I'm not really good enough for that. I mean, I couldn't even answer a simple biology question."
"You're really smart, Quinn." I praised. "You just, uhh..." I just started talking without thinking, and now I didn't know what else to say.
"I always have trouble with biology!" Quinn was actually upset now. "That stuff is so disgusting and it's really really hard. That one's going to give me trouble all year, I just know it. Oh, if only biology was more then just those really ugly animals." Quinn darted off down the hallway.
My next period was a study hall. Joey and Jamie had the same study hall, and we'd normally just play cards or something. But now, I started to think for a moment about Quinn. It didn't matter to me that Quinn wanted to answer questions and do better at school. That was fine with me. But this was odd. Quinn had confessed that she wanted to do better in biology. She knew it was going to give her trouble. So, how could I help her?
"She's gotten tutors before, I don't see why she couldn't now. But then that guy would be spending all his time with Quinn. Alone, in her room. Face to face, sitting on the same chair. Showing her whatever it was biology was." My fists clenched. They'd get a happy Quinn all to themselves, and then she'd have less free time for everything else, including me.
And that's when I had my brilliant idea. I'd just learn biology myself. I had time before football started. If I could show Quinn I knew biology, I could offer to tutor her. And Quinn would be so grateful there's no possible way she wouldn't date me.
"Yes!" I shouted, jumping from my seat and raising my fist in the air. The other students stared at me, and I realized that I forgot I was in study hall. But I didn't care. Neither Joey, Jamie, or anyone else in this school would have thought of this idea.
After school ended, I headed straight home. Normally, I would have left my books in my locker, where they would have sat for a couple weeks, but now I lugged them all home. I had hoped to get home before my father did, so I could get to my room without being accosted. But, to my bad luck, I saw his car in the driveway.
"Maybe he'll be passed out." I thought hopefully as I opened the door. But, unfortunately, I saw him in the living room lying on the couch, beer in his hand, watching ESPN.
"Jeffy." He gestured to me drunkenly. "Come on and watch this with me." His words were slurred, and I could see the beer cans around the couch that weren't there when I left this morning. Sloshed, like he was every night. Usually, I was lucky enough to get back home when he hadn't arrived yet, or when he was home, he was either passed out or so far gone, he wouldn't acknowledge me.
"Can't." I told him. "I'm studying." Normally, I wouldn't admit that I was studying to anyone, but my father would forget everything I told him by the time his hangover wore off tomorrow. I've gotten away with calling him all sorts of horrific things.
"Studyin'? You on probation or something?" He cocked his eyebrow.
"So what's the damn point. You're never going to be good in school. Just focus on that damn football scholarship, that's all you're good for." He slurred. He told me this at least once a week for about six years now. I was used to it by now.
I was in no mood for his bull, I went upstairs without another word.
I quickly went to my room, flipped on the desk lamp, and placed my biology book and my course syllabus on the desk.
"Okay, so we're starting with ecology." I said to myself as I read the syllabus. "Good. Now, what's ecology." I started to look at the book, and the words started to swirl together. None of these words made sense whatsoever. I briefly started to think that maybe I had gotten in over my head, and I'd be better suited to just getting Quinn a good gift from Cashman's instead.
"No!" I thought to myself. "This was the best idea you've had all year. No pain, no gain, now get off your ass and start reading!" I had to push myself to look back at the book again, but I focused on the letters, and started to read.
"Ecology is the study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interactions with the environment." I said it out loud to myself. I didn't get it, it still didn't make any sense to me, but at least I could read it and, I think, pronounce all the words correctly. So I read the passage again, and made a little more sense. So ecology was how animals interacted with the environment, why some animals were in some areas and not others, and why there was more of one animal then another.
"Okay. Now read the next sentence." My brain urged me.
I sat there, at my desk, for hours. The syllabus claimed that we would be studying ecology for several weeks. But I was making it my job to know it by the end of the week. I kept my eyes in the book, even using my computer to look up difficult words, the first time I had ever used my computer for something school-related that wasn't typing a report. The words within the book were hard to look at for such a long period, and many of the times when I read the passages, they made absolutely no sense to me. What did it matter whether or not it rained more in the summer or the winter? What did it matter what kind of leaves were on the trees? And what the hell was a littoral zone? But these were questions that Quinn would ask. These were the things Quinn wanted to know. And I was going to be the guy to show it to her. Me, Jeffrey Mercer, was going to be Quinn's tutor. And I could imagine her smile when she saw that I knew the answers she wanted to learn. I could hear her thanking voice when I offered to help her with her biology homework. I could imagine her eager acceptance to take her on a date when the tutoring went well. And when we were dating each other, and all the other guys saw me with Quinn, they'd know that I was the one who finally won her heart. All by myself.
Those thoughts kept the words from blurring together. They kept me in my chair. I never in a million years thought this would be the way I'd spend a rather pleasant summer evening. Normally I'd be going to some sort of party, or maybe Joey and Jamie would call and we'd go go-karting, or something like that. Hell, even if I was by myself, there was other things I'd rather be doing. Watching the game, playing video games, going to the shooting range, anything could have been better then studying. But Quinn was worth doing this for.
"And to think, today started out so ordinary."