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  • Leaning with my back against a white, concrete wall, I survey the shuffling bodies moving too fast to be moving so slowly. They’re excited but not to be in school. I can’t blame them. I’m not so far removed to forget what middle school was like: a hormone threaded sack beaded with self-image issues tied loosely together by the coarse, unforgivable twine of school zoning regulations and truancy laws.

    “Good morning, Ms. Earwood!”

    “Good morning!” I yell, with a huge smile plastered on my face, to nobody in particular.

    Who the hell said that? It was definitely a student—probably male. I quickly scan the faces. No one I immediately recognize, or, at least, no one I can name off the top of my head. Ah, well. Off to a good start this morning. Oh, look! I bounce off the wall, careful not to spill my coffee.

    “NATE!”

    He knows exactly what I’m about to ask him. It’s written all over his face. He hasn't done his film critique. As he saunters towards me, he studies the floor like the dull, off-white tiles were the most interesting thing he’s seen since the novel I had to pry out of his hands yesterday in third period. Wait, did I actually stop a student from reading? Jesus.

    “I’m looking forward to reading your film critique today!”

    His reddening face, complemented by the blue rubber bands around his braces, twists into a reluctant grin which almost evokes a sensation undoubtedly akin to pity. I take a sip of coffee as I prepare for what I’m convinced is about to be a heart wrenching saga of such epic proportions that our protagonist is inevitably rendered incapable of completing said assignment.

    Laughing, he wipes his mouth on his shoulder, “I didn't do it.” Each word wrapped in a toothy, metal smile.

    “Dude, what? You told me you’d do it yesterday in your study period. What happened?”

    At this point, I quickly realize I’m that teacher. I didn't want to hear an excuse, yet here I am demanding one. Is it too late to back track? The red of his face deepens. Is he even breathing?

    “Uh…” contorting his face, he attempts to construct a feasible argument, “I just didn't feel like it.”

    Okay, can’t argue with that.

    “You do realize that quarter three ends next week, and you’ve taken two zeroes on two major assignments, don’t you?”

    Wow, I’m really getting the hang of this interrogation thing. Someone should probably stop me because I’m evidently incapable of restraining myself, and this kid is clearly about to pass out due to lack of oxygen.

    “Yessssssssssssssssssss,” he draws out, annoyed.

    This isn't the first time he’s heard this speech. He leans his head back, resting on the heavy, wooden door, until I hear the crack of unintentional contact.

    “Dude, seriously? You hated that movie. You could write everything you told me yesterday and probably get an A. Your critique can be hate fueled, and, in fact, a lot of good writing comes from a place of distaste.”

    “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

    “For real! I have faith in your abilities!”

    What the hell am I even saying? I seriously doubt he gives one iota of a shit about what I’m blabbering on about. I don’t want to write a film critique on Fahrenheit 451, and I absolutely wouldn’t have written one in eighth grade.

    Pushing off from the door he murmurs, “We’ll see.”

    It’s been a week. I have yet to see a single shred of his film critique. Point taken, Nate. Point taken.
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