[This guest post is from Michele Ames, a member of the RocNaNo Facebook group who hasn’t signed up as an author here on the blog. I’m posting it here anyway. 😉 ]
Sharona stared out the window. The teacher droned on. Something about Uganda. Main export: coffee. Currency: Ugandan shilling. Population: who cares?
To her left a fat red-haired boy was tapping the eraser end of his pencil in counterpoint to the clock’s ticking. Tick…tap…tick…tap…tick…tap…
The cute boy who sat behind her – the one with the wavy brown hair and bright blue eyes – was snoring softly creating an underlying bass.
“And the two main languages of Uganda?” The teacher’s monotone raising only slightly to indicate that he was actually asking a question. “Anyone?” Hearing no response he continued “English and Swahili.”
Outside the window Sharona watched a squirrel climb a tree. “Lucky squirrel,” she thought. The sun was shining brilliantly. The school lawn was lush and green, and by the rustling of the tree’s leaves she could tell there was a slight breeze. Inside the school the windows wouldn’t even open – in spite of the lack of air conditioning. A rivulet of sweat ran down between her shoulder blades. Lucky squirrel, for sure.
“Over 36 million people live in Uganda…”
She picked up her pen and drew flower petals around the holes in her notebook paper. Then she added stems and leaves.
“Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962…”
Sharona glanced at Katie in the next row and a few seats forward. She was intensely writing something on a slip of paper. She carefully folded that slip into the smallest little cube of paper Sharona may have ever seen. Sharona watched as Katie waited for the teacher to turn toward the board and then snatched her hand across the row depositing the note on Rachel’s desk.
Katie and Rachel were cheerleaders. On game days they wore their flouncy little skirts and bare midriffs to every class. Lacy ankle socks inside their matching tennis shoes. Hair piled up in a ridiculously large bow on the top of their heads – like matching fountains spewing unrealistic curls.
Cute boy must have caught himself as his head slid toward the desk in deep sleep. He practically jumped up and yelled “yes, sir!” as he wiped the drool from his chin. OK – maybe he wasn’t always cute.
“Mr. Foster, did you have something to add?” the teacher raised an eyebrow in cute boy’s direction.
“Um, no, sorry…” cute boy muttered and sat down again.
Sharona smiled to herself, stifling a giggle. Sad that this was the most excitement to be had in history class today.
“Tobacco is also a large export for Uganda.” The teacher picked up where he had left off.
Sharona turned her attention back to the window. Except for a few fluffy clouds, the sky was a bright blue. Oh to be outside right now.
Tommy, a boy Sharona had known since she was little, squirmed a few seats ahead. His feet starting to scrape back and forth on the floor.
Sharona picked up her pen again and began to make random triangles over the notebook paper. Inside each triangle she made different designs…swirls, stars, squiggles… She carefully colored around them, creating patterns and doodles like it was her job.
“Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world…”
“Right about now,” Sharona thought to herself, “I would trade places with anyone in Uganda to get out of this class.” She continued drawing.
Rachel raised her hand. “Mr. Smith, can I go to the bathroom?”
Mr. Smith never stopped talking while pulling the bathroom pass from his desk and handing it to her.
Rachel exchanged a knowing look with Katie as she skipped out of the classroom, the little wadded up note in her hand, ankle socks flouncing, curls bouncing, and midriff showing.
Sharona remembered that there was to be a pep rally at the end of the day. The cheerleaders would perform whatever dance they had been learning, shaking their pom poms, and showing off their spankies as they cartwheeled and flipped across the gym floor. The football players would parade out of the locker room in their jerseys inciting the crowd to cheer. There was a home game tonight.
But Sharona didn’t care about any of that.
Sharona glanced at the clock again. Four more minutes about Uganda. She could make it through that.
She watched the clock. Two minutes.
Now the sounds in the room were less rhythmic. Papers shuffling. Books closing. Students leaning forward in their desks…poised for the last minute.
The passing bell rang. Sharona watched as 23 students burst forth from the classroom bottlenecking at the door. It was like watching toothpaste burst out of the tube if you stepped on it.
There was a steady stream of students all making their way to the gym for the pep rally. Sharona looked around to see if there were any teachers monitoring this area of the hall. Seeing none, she ducked out of the nearest door and into the great outdoors.
Now, where was that squirrel?
[Michelle is a writer, designer, mother, friend.]
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