I felt lethargic as the teacher talked in front of the class about something I couldn’t bring myself to care much about. My eyes were heavy, my mouth dry and my mind sluggish. I made a conscious effort of shaking the sleepiness away, but the combination of the dreary topic and the wonderful, relaxing feeling of actually letting my eyes drape close were too much to resist. I knew that I would regret letting my concentration slip like this – I was already regretting not falling asleep in a decent hour last night, or should I say earlier this morning? – however this moment’s pleasure was worth the detention I was sure to receive if the teacher caught me like this.
Slipping in and out of consciousness, my hand traced a pattern on my open book so that the teacher would think I was awake and paying attention. It wasn’t until I was well on my way into dream land, my hand resting on a diagram about inverse functions, when I felt a weight on my shoulder.
“Ms. Hollander,” the teacher said softly but sternly. “Why are you not working on your assignment?”
My entire body jerked up, and I desperately plastered a look of attentiveness of my face, wishing that my heavy eyes, the dark bags under them and the drool that was touring down my chin would just disappear. Blushing at the teacher’s attention, I surreptitiously wiped the small drip of saliva away with the back of my hand.
“S-sir?” I stuttered, my voice cracking from the lack of use. Actually, this would be the very first time that I spoke for the day. It was an achievement in and of itself. I was a chatterbox, to put things lightly. I would talk to fast and so eagerly that even Superman with his enhanced hearing would find it challenging to comprehend my words.
“The seatwork, Ms. Hollander,” the teacher tapped the long list of numbers on my book, followed by a jumbled numbers and letters and symbols that frankly, did not make one least bit of sense. “Please don’t tell me you haven’t been paying attention.”
“I’ve been paying attention, sir,” I told him honestly. Just not at your lecture, I thought wryly. The idea of sleep was by far a more deserving topic for my attention to be focused on – in my opinion, at least.
I watched as the teacher’s eyes narrowed and his lips thinned into a line. I steeled myself to not balk under his gaze, but instead meet his eyes head on. I wasn’t lying to him, per se… perhaps just misleading him by not telling him the entire truth. But not lying. Definitely not that.
“All right,” he said. “I shouldn’t keep you from your work, then.”
Nodding, one hand reached into my bag for a piece of paper to work on while another reached for my pen, which incidentally was lodged in my hair, holding it up in a makeshift bun. I heard a sigh from somewhere and, perking up at the thought of procrastinating, I searched the room for the person who made the noise. Everyone was bent over their tables, intently working on their assignment. Perhaps I was just imagining it.
I twisted back to face the front and saw the teacher looking at me, and my eyes widened at being caught out in not doing the assigned work. He was glaring at me. The look was so intense that I had to flinch against my will.
“Ms. Hollander, stop being a distraction to others. Work – now,” he intoned.
I didn’t need to be told twice. I uncapped the lid of my pen and began working. I had no idea what to do, but I think I can trudge along. All I was asking for was a passing grade, not high honours. Besides, it wasn’t as if I was planning a career in anything that would require any skills that this subject was teaching. Who needs school anyway?