A Day in the Life

by Sam Stearns, age 12
A Day in the Life Sam is a writer living in Brooklyn. He likes playing basketball, writing science fiction, and playing clarinet for his middle school wind ensemble.

“Scritch… Scratch… Scribble… The sound of graphite scraping across a sheet of plain paper filled my head. I zeroed in on the story I was writing, for that was all that was important. Ms. Carter’s lecture of something or other slithered in one ear and out the other.”

        

Chapter One

Scritch… Scratch… Scribble… The sound of graphite scraping across a sheet of plain paper filled my head. I zeroed in on the story I was writing, for that was all that was important. Ms. Carter’s lecture of something or other slithered in one ear and out the other. I crouched down over the paper, letting my writing spill out over the page…

“Chase!”

The voice pierced through my wall of words, and I jerked my head up. The entire class was staring in my direction, and Ms. Carter was looking at me expectantly. I shuffled my work so that my math notebook covered the sheet of paper with the short story.

“Um… what was the question again?” I asked nervously.

“Weren’t you listening?” piped up Jake.

Ms. Carter shot him a reprimanding look but turned back to face me. “Fifty-seven divided by three. We were working on Katherine’s problem, remember?”

“It’s Kate!” shouted Kate, defensively.

Shooting Kate a sympathetic look, Ms. Carter said, “Okay, sorry. Chase, we were working on Kath — err, Kate’s problem — ”

“Nineteen,” I blurted.

“Huh?” Ms Carter asked. A genuine look of surprise fell upon her face — she didn’t think I could do it. I could tell. A couple other kids, too, stared at me in shock.

“The answer. Uh — fifty-seven divided by three. It’s nineteen.”

A wide grin slowly settled on Ms. Carter’s face. “Yes, that is correct. Now, who can tell me where nineteen fits into… ”

Her words morphed into senseless babble, and I became enveloped in my story again. Thankfully, Ms. Carter ignored me for the long rest of the period, and I had jotted down ten pages of my messy handwriting by the time the bell rang.

Our bell was the old-fashioned ring, and by seventh grade, it had become a primal instinct to jump up as soon as you heard it. That’s exactly what happened, and the second the sound fell upon our ears, the class jumped up and ran out the room. But since I was a neat freak, I took five minutes to get ready because I had to put my writing in the folder, put the folder in my bag, and swing the bag over my shoulder.

I was just walking out when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

Ms. Carter said, “I’m going to let you doodle in class, just… try to pay attention, okay?” I nodded and continued my jog to the door.

Once outside, I had to run down two floors and turn a couple corners to get to ELA and was late once again. The door was open; the class was already inside. I sighed. The teacher, Mr. Williams, handed me a small slip of paper as I walked in. As soon as I had settled down in my usual seat, I briefly glanced at it at it. In a bold print it read:

It Is Your Duty To Be On Time! This Is A Warning — Next Time You Will Get Detention!

This was a new system Mr. Williams had put into play. I vaguely remembered him going over it last class. I sighed again and stuffed the slip deep in my bag where it would never be seen again.

“Who can tell me what a noun is?” I looked up to see Mr. Williams pretending to look around the room but actually looking directly at me.

I bit my lip to keep from retorting. Everyone knew what a noun was! We had covered it in fourth grade! He must be doing this to make me look like an idiot. Well, I would prove him wrong. My anger seemed to drown out the rest of the world as I answered.

“A per — ” I started, but Jake, sitting right across from me, interrupted saying, “A person, place, or thing, Mr. Williams.”

Confused, I looked at Jake, then back to Mr. Williams. “I asked Jake,” he explained, seeming annoyed. Jake smirked at me and then went back to explaining what a noun was. I gritted my teeth and reached in my bag for the writing folder, pulled my current story out, and started writing. I wasn’t that far into the story when someone spoke. “So… what did you get as your answer?”

I whipped my head around to find Emma, a classmate, staring at me expectantly. Her smooth, lush brown hair was swept over her shoulder, and her a picture is worth 100 words shirt blew in the gentle breeze that came from Mr. Williams huge, black fan that he kept in the corner.

“Umm… it’s… er… ” I trailed off, not knowing what to say.

Emma bit her lip. “Your answer. For, you know, the question… ?”

I breathed slowly. “I dunno,” I started. “What… what did you get?”

Emma narrowed her eyes and swept her hair back over her shoulder. “C’mon, Chase. Didn’t you hear him? He said list five examples of a noun. What are your five examples?”

Right then, Mr. Williams walked by our table. I quickly copied everyone else at the table and flipped open my ELA notebook. He leaned over, eying everybody’s work, and whether he noticed that the writing on the open page was from last month or not, he said nothing. Relief clouded my thoughts.

Suddenly, Mr. Williams turned back, his red beard and hair seeming especially menacing. He spoke in a disappointed tone. “Chase… I strongly advise you to see me after school for extra help.” He then continued his slow walk by the tables.

Next to me, Emma’s eyes widened. “Damn. What d’you think you did?”

I shrugged. “I dunno.”

Ant that wasn’t a lie. I was actually doing decently in his class, with a 90 average — which was more than I could say about my other subjects. Maybe, he had seen my work, or lack thereof. Or he just disliked me.

For the rest of the period, I just sat still and tried to listen to what Mr. Williams was saying. But it was hard — I just wanted to write, to zoom out from the rest of the world, and to focus on the worlds that I created.

That was all I wanted to do.

This time, I was prepared for the bell. The boy on my other side, John, had so much work sprawled out on the table that I put my own supplies away early and acted like John’s work was actually mine. Then when the bell did rang, I was ready and leaped out of my seat and bolted out of the room, ahead of everybody else.

Our homeroom was another three floors up, so I didn’t take my time. Once I was about halfway there, another kid, Mason, caught up with me and elbowed me in the ribs gently. “Yo, what’s up? What was that about?”

“What do ya mean? From the warning slip Williams handed me, or Jake the Jerk, or the extra help that I was ‘encouraged to go to?’” I asked sarcastically.

Mason choked on air. “Dude — an after-school extra help? Damn. Are you failing or somethin’?”

“Nope. I’m cruisin’ with, like, a ninety average. He just hates me,” I said, sighing.

There was a creak as Mason pushed open one of the large double doors that separated the stairwell from the hall.

“So… what’s up with your crush?” Mason asked excitedly.

“Not again, Mason.”

“No — Emma is legit your crush! You can’t hide it!”

“No. I refuse to admit something that’s not true!”

“Seriously, Chase; don’t try to hide it. I bet — I bet she knows it!”

I sighed and gave in. “Don’t you dare tell her.”

“Whatever. I swear, though, the second you let me, it’ll be in the newspaper.”

“Oh, sure — your private newspaper.”

Our conversation was brought to a halt when we reached our homeroom. Our science teacher, Mr. Lee, was standing outside the door to our class, talking to one of his students. Mason and I were first to line up behind Mr. Lee, but the 28 other members of our class soon walked up behind us.

Mr. Lee motioned for us to walk in without a glance. We did so. Then it occured to me to ask Mason for the extra help. He was an honors kid and probably knew what to do.

“Hey — about that detention… ?”

Mason, currently in the middle of throwing some books into his locker, looked at me. “Skip it.”

This caught me off guard. “Wait — skip it?”

“Dude, yeah. He was probably, like, joking or something,” Mason replied.

I slowly shook my head. “No… I don’t think so. I think he meant it… ”

Mason shrugged. “Whatever. I’ll go bash some stormtroopers on my own then.”

“Face it, dude — we both know you can’t even survive that game on your own.”

“I’ll try,” Mason insisted, shoving some books into his old Flash backpack. “And if I succeed, then I have the bragging rights.”

I thought for a moment, then said, “Nah. I’ll skip it. You’re probably right anyway, he just despises me.”

He was probably right. My best guess was that Mr Williams would just going to lecture me about being responsible and doing my work — and boy, had I heard that lecture too many times.

The bell rang again, bringing me back to my senses. I swung my backpack over my shoulder and followed the rest of the class out of the classroom, down three floors, and to the entrance of the school.

As I was being pushed out by the rush of students struggling to get out the main door, I saw Mr. Williams walking and caught his eye for a split second. He gave me a disappointed look. I turned away, but a feeling that seemed like guilt seemed to weigh me down.

“So, explain to me again — how do you become a hero in Battlefront?” Mason asked, coming up next to me.

I rolled my eyes and said, “Do you seriously still not know? Even, like, my sister knows!”

It went on like this until Mason and I had arrived at my house, when we waved, vowed revenge in Battlefront, and I spent a while fidgeting with my keys and unlocking the door. Once I succeeded, I walked inside slowly.

“Chase? You there?” a voice — my mom — called.

I kicked off my shoes and threw my backpack on the floor.

“Yeah, I’m home.”

 

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