This idea has been floating around my head for a while and it hasn't gone away. I'm not abandoning my other stories, I've just been busy and haven't been able to plot them out properly. To set this up, Chloe is a junior and Derek is a senior. Thanks for reading :)
So Much More
Williams' dropped the folder filled with our corrected tests on his deck with a thud that resonated through the room-or, at least it seemed to, to me. My heart dropped and I tried to control my suddenly quick breaths. The room quieted as it always does when a difficult-again, difficult in my case-test was corrected and the fate of your average was suddenly so close. I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers as he began distributing, praying to whoever was listening that I didn't fail as miserably as I had the last time. Futile as I subconsciously knew it was, pray I did.
When he finally got to me, he set the test face down on my desk and waited expectantly. Fingers trembling slightly, I flipped it over and… my head hit the desk slowly and solidly. Some people looked back, but I was too upset to be embarrassed. Others-those who did well and yet still always fretted and reminisced over anything minute detail they may have gotten wrong-were single-mindedly focusing on some point off in space, no doubt praying as I had been a few moments earlier. I felt like scoffing at them. I was surrounded by geniuses! They had absolutely no right to worry. If they were me, they'd have probably already reached their breaking point they were so tightly wound and so severely-and unnecessarily-stressed.
Mr. Williams patted me lightly on the back as I brought my head up to look at him.
"Come see me after class," he said, before moving on.
I nodded weakly, my mind already reeling at how I would break the news to Aunt Lauren. It would be easier to hide from my dad, but not from her. Knowing I struggled in math and being the active family member I had, she was the one who arranged my after school sessions with Mr. Williams. She was the one who incessantly asked me how class was going, how I was coming along. And she was the one I had assured that this was the test that would finally serve as the ticket to freedom in my personal purgatory. Stuffing the test in my backpack and pulling out my calculator, I knew I was getting a talking to.
I pressed each number carefully as I calculated my average. 57. Sitting back in my chair, I cursed math and all the otherworldly intellectuals who had invented it to the fiery pits of Hades. I honestly didn't know why I couldn't understand it, why I couldn't grasp what was going on. I studied, I really did. But every time I sat down in front of the book, the numbers stared back at me tauntingly, almost as if they knew I wouldn't understand. It was almost as if there was a thick, cement, Berlin-like wall blocking all the apparent logical concepts and rules from entering my mind.
I thought back to the beginning of the year when I was working my schedule out with the guidance counselor. Using my blonde hair and blue eyes to the best of their abilities, I had begged and wheedled with her until she had finally agreed to let me take twelfth grade English as an elective. It fit in the schedule and I didn't see a problem. If math was purgatory, English was the pearly, white, beckoning gates of Heaven. Deciding to push my luck, I had casually suggested that I not take math and she almost had an aneurism. That, she said, was an impossibility. I sighed, relenting and deciding that I've had to count down the days until next year when math became optional.
Here's what I didn't understand, though. If I knew, knew with every fiber of my being, that I would never in my life use math, why would I take it? It seemed as if all adults either didn't understand or chose to ignore this sound reasoning. The bell rang, startling me out of my thoughts.
As the class shuffled out, most of them animatedly discussing how relieved they were at having passed with such flying colours, I approached Mr. Williams' desk. He smiled sympathetically at me and took a seat on the edge.
"Don't look so hopeless, Chloe. I have a solution."
I looked at him questioningly and doubtfully and he hurried on.
"Obviously, our extra sessions aren't helping. I know you study and do the work, so it's evidently my method you're not getting. I wonder what that says about my teaching," he finished, jokingly.
"It's not you, it's me," I said, desperately wanting to reassure him that it wasn't his fault that I was so inept.
He gasped playfully. "Are you breaking up with me, Chloe?"
His words were like a catalyst; my cheeks immediately flamed up and my eyes dropped to the floor as I mumbled something unintelligible and undoubtedly unintelligent. The thing is, is Mr. Williams is cute. He's fresh out of teacher's college, and although I'm not one to pine or even think of a teacher that way, I wasn't blind.
He laughed heartily at my reaction, and relieved, I looked at him once more.
"As I was saying, my methods obviously aren't working. However, I have a student in twelfth grade that is absolutely brilliant and I think he's just what you need. You're free after school today, right? Because I've asked him to meet you here at final bell."
I wanted to ask him if he intended to insult this mystery students said brilliance by pairing us together, but I kept my mouth shut. I was desperate and at this point, I couldn't say no. Who knew? Maybe he was exactly what I needed.
"Great. Like I said, meet him here after the bell. He'll be providing me with progress reports and I've already lightly discussed your situation. I've already emailed your aunt to inform her of the change of plans. I really think is going to work, Chloe," he said, smiling.
I mustered the best smile I could and walked out of class, hoping that he was right and relieved that I was no longer going to have to break the news to Aunt Lauren, which surely would have been the hardest part.
"How's the script coming along, Chlo?" asked Mila as we walked towards our lockers at the end of the day.
"Pretty good. Nate and I still have a bit of tweaking to do, but it's definitely coming along."
We were doing a mash up of Romeo and Juliet meets dark and supernatural for the school play this year, and while I had reservations about the Romeo and Juliet side of it, the horrific twists Nate and I were adding undeniably compensated.
"I'm so excited!" squealed Amber-and our Juliet-from my other side. Amber loved being in the spotlight. She had been doing plays since elementary school and had gotten the lead three years in a row. She was talented, anyone could see that, but I couldn't see the appeal in acting as she did. I was a behind the scenes kind of girl. I loved working out all the details that made the final production what it was.
As Amber and Mila continued to excitedly talk about the play, I gathered my things and mentally began to prepare myself for an hour alone with my mystery tutor. If I was being honest, I was more than a little nervous about the mystery part. Wondering who it could be, it took me a second to realize Mila waving her hand in front of my face.
"Earth to Chloe," she crooned, "are you coming with us to Franny's?"
How I wish I could go with them and enjoy a rich, creamy chocolate shake, but alas, we don't always get what we want.
"Tutoring," I informed them.
"I thought Williams tutored you on Thursdays," Amber said.
Not wanting to get into it, I simply said, "We're trying something new."
They nodded understandingly and, after saying our goodbyes, I walked towards the math wing, feeling like I was walking to my death.
As I crossed the threshold of the classroom, I stopped dead in my tracks. My stomach dropped and I felt an odd mixture of intimidation and amusement, for there sat Derek Souza, waiting for me with a bored sort of expectancy.