Chapter no 31

The Teacher


I HAVE a math midterm today and I am so screwed.

I don’t understand any of the material. Under the best of circumstances, I usually struggle. When he was still speaking to me, before I made him cover up my father’s (accidental) murder, Hudson used to sit with me and patiently explain the material to me. And then later on, Mr. Tuttle did the same. However, it seems like I have systematically isolated everyone who used to offer me free help.

I should ask my mom for a tutor. Mrs. Bennett is not going to slow down her pace for me. But I’ve been hesitant to ask for a tutor, because money has been tight. Mom has been picking up extra shifts at the hospital, and I overheard her having a scary conversation with the bank about our mortgage payments. So the last thing I want to do is ask her to blow more money on me because I’m too stupid to understand trigonometry.

And even if I get a tutor, that’s not going to help me right now, as Mrs. Bennett is passing back copies of the midterm exam. Nothing can help me now.

I check out the first question, hoping that the test is miraculously much easier than expected. Maybe I’m more prepared than I think. Hey, crazier things have happened.

A swimmer has to retrieve an object 15 feet away from the wall of the swimming pool. If the angle of depression of the object from the pool platform is 30°, find the vertical distance they have to swim in order to retrieve the object.

This isn’t hard. I can do this.

Focus, Addie!

As I’m staring down at the test paper in front of me, I can’t help but notice that I have a perfect view of Kyle Lewis’s test paper. He’s sitting just in front of me and to my left, but because he is left-handed, I’ve got a great view of his paper. And Kyle always gets straight A’s in math.

Of course, that would be cheating. There’s no two ways about it— looking at the test paper of another student would be seriously wrong, and

while I have done a lot of bad things in my life, I always thought of myself as the sort of person who would never do that.

Except if I don’t, I am definitely going to fail this midterm. Damn it.

Okay, what if I just look at the answer for a few of the questions? I don’t need to copy all of them, just enough to get a passing grade. I mean, it’s not like trigonometry is something that will be useful to me in the future. It’s not like I’m missing out on some extremely important life skill. Poetry is probably more useful than trigonometry, and that’s saying a lot.

Before I can stop myself, I find myself copying down Kyle’s answers. Thankfully, they are multiple choice questions, and showing work is not required, although I try to scrawl down a few things because I don’t want it to look like… Well, I don’t want it to look like I copied the answers off the guy sitting in front of me.

After Mrs. Bennett calls time, I pass my paper up to the front with the rest of the class. Even though most of my answers are correct for a change, I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I cheated. I’ve never done anything like that before. Maybe deep down, I’m just as bad as my father.

But I need to look on the bright side. I was looking at a failing grade on that exam, and while I didn’t copy all Kyle’s answers, because that would’ve been super suspicious, I’m pretty sure I got enough right to score a B.

As I pack up my belongings, a shadow falls over me. I raise my head, and Kenzie is looking down on me. She sits two seats behind me on the left, and I’d managed to nearly forget she was there, except for the fact that she always manages to kick my backpack when she walks by me. But now she isn’t walking by me. She is standing directly over me.

“So, Addie,” she says, “did you get a good look at Kyle’s paper?” All the blood drains out of my face. “What?”

“Dude, you were so obvious.” She rolls her eyes. “I’m sure even Mrs.

Bennett saw you staring at his paper. But in case she didn’t…”

I realize what she is getting at. Kenzie saw me looking at Kyle’s test paper, and she’s going to tell on me. If I did something like that to her, I would be tormented for it. But Kenzie can get away with anything.

“Please don’t do this.” I hate to beg her, but I can’t have another scandal at the school. I can’t. “I wasn’t… I mean, maybe just one or two answers,

that’s it.”

She shrugs. “I know what I saw, Addie.”

Kenzie strides out of the classroom, going much faster than me with her long, slender legs. She really is just physically so obnoxiously perfect. I can’t even blame Hudson for liking her. Even though I hate her.

“Kenzie…” I am huffing and puffing to keep up with her as she walks down the hall, in the opposite direction of my next class. I’m probably going to end up being late, but I need to prioritize. “Please don’t talk to Mrs. Bennett. Please. I’ll do anything you want.”

Kenzie comes to an abrupt halt. She turns to look at me, her blue eyes flashing. “Anything?”

“Yes! Anything.”

“Fine.” She taps a finger against her teeth. Her nails are painted ice blue. “When we get to English class today, I want you to get down on your hands and knees and lick the floor.”

My mouth falls open. “Lick the floor?” She nods. “For sixty seconds.”

I don’t even know what to say. If it were some other class… Well, I’m not sure I would do it, because, like, gross. But I definitely am not going to lick the floor in front of Mr. Bennett. God, what would he think of me?

“I’m not doing that,” I say.

“In that case…” Her eyes twinkle. “I guess Mrs. Bennett and I are going to have a little talk.”

“Please, Kenzie,” I whimper. “I made a terrible mistake. I’ve never done anything like that before. I’m not a bad person.”

“That,” Kenzie says, “is debatable.”

With those words, she turns away from me, practically smacking me in the face with her long blond hair. Why does Kenzie hate me so much? I never did anything to her. And it doesn’t seem like she would do this because of Mr. Tuttle. It must have something to do with Hudson.

Is it possible Hudson told her our secret?

If that’s true, I have even worse problems than Mrs. Bennett finding out that I cheated on the trigonometry midterm.

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