“In two weeks time there would be an excursion for eight grade students. The fee is five dollars as it is a two day’s excursion. The first day would be a visit to the museum then you’ll lodge in a hotel. The next day is a visit to the zoo.
“The money for your feeding and lodging would come from the five dollars,” Mr Richmond announced.
We eight graders waited for him to finish the announcement then someone let out a whoop of delight and everyone joined in.
“Quiet,” Mr Richmond thundered and everywhere became quiet. “Like I said, the excursion is in two week’s time and it would take place on Friday and Saturday. All fees must’ve been paid on or before Wednesday. Is that clear?”
“Yes!” we chorused.
“You can go.”
We walked out of the auditorium.
Wow an excursion. That’s wonderful. I just can’t wait for it, I thought with a wide smile as I headed out of the auditorium.
Then my smile disappeared as I remembered that I don’t have money to pay for the excursion.
Arrrgh this is so bad. I felt so sad but I comforted myself with the thought that my not going won’t harm me; after all it wasn’t an excursion to heaven.
Duh like that’s even possible.
Then I remembered that the scholarship covered every school expenses including excursions and outings.
Yes! I thought in excitement. Thank you scholarship, thank you very much.
I walked on in excitement and went to prepare for the first class which is Literature-in-English.
“This excursion is gonna be a bang,” Amy said excitedly.
We were on our way to class from the auditorium. Though no one mentioned it, I was sure that incident was still lingering on their minds.
“Yeah. The best part would be our stay in the hotel,” Nicola put in.
“I just hope they have a large swimming pool where I can swim. I can’t wait to show everyone at the hotel my swimming skills. You guys sure would be amazed,” Michelle boasted.
“Your skills can’t beat mine,” Veronica challenged.
“We’ll see about that,” Michelle replied.
We got to our lockers, grabbed our literature textbook and went for class.
We had English Language for second period and I headed there with the hope that the teacher won’t be there yet, and I’ll be able to have time to tell Nora about the sleepover as I haven’t had time to talk to her because she was very busy with her cousins.
I entered the class and fortunately, the teacher wasn’t there yet. Thankfully, Nora was there pressing her phone. She looked up as I approached.
“Hey Nicola or Nicole,” she greeted. I laughed softly
“It’s Nicola, dummy,” I said playfully.
Nora frowned and I was sure she was about to complain her signature complaint about not knowing who’s who.
“Don’t you dare,” I said with a smile. Nora chuckled.
“Alright. Enough of the greetings. Tell me everything. Don’t omit any details.”
“OK ma’am,” I said with a mock salute which made us burst into laughter.
“That was so unfair,” Nora shouted when I got to the part about what Michelle did to the SG and how she’d insulted her parents. “Like duh, out of the ten beds couldn’t Michelle just give her one to sleep in? Alright, that one aside, how could she insult her parents? She should’ve just thrown all the insults at the SG, she didn’t have to involve her parents,” Nora said, shaking her head. “And you were there yet you couldn’t stop her” she accused
I looked at her in awe. “Me? Stop her? You’ve gotta be kidding me. And why should I do that? So you’re saying that while we wealthy people are sleeping on the bed, that piece of trash would join us? And for your info, I don’t give a damn about the SG’s parents after all they are all poverty-stricken church rats.”
Hearing those words from Nicola’s mouth surprised me. I looked at her as if she just sprouted another head. Knowing the kind of person Nicola was, I realized that arguing with her would do me no good.
“Alright Nicola, you guys did bad to her and as every problem has a solution, why don’t you guys consider apologizi—”
Nicola held up her hand with her palm facing me to demonstrate that I should stop talking. “Don’t even try saying that. You mean me, a whole me, should apologize to that rag? Over my dead—”
She was cut short by the entrance of the English Language teacher. Nicola shot me a look saying “this conversation isn’t over yet.”
Everyone scurried to their seats and we greeted the teacher. Then everywhere fell silent.
Mr. Aaron Gabriel was a no-nonsense man who hated noisemaking and poor grades. I glanced at his hands and I could see that he was holding our test scripts. The very sight made me fidgety. I could see that the other students had seen it and and I could see anxiety in their faces.
After about half an hour of teaching, Mr. Aaron shared the scripts.
“If you score below 20 out of 30, move to my left without been told. Is that clear?”
“Yes sir,” we said in unison.
“Who is Natalie Roland? ” Mr. Aaron asked.
That very question brought a huge smile to my lips.
Oh yes, the SG is in great trouble.
I turned around and looked at Michelle and I could see that she was also smiling. I just couldn’t wait to see the SG’s face when Mr. Aaron is scolding her.
The SG stood up tentatively and said, “I’m Natalie sir.”
“The new girl right?”
“That’s nice. Natalie here is the only one who got an A+ in the test. Give her a round of applause.”
We clapped halfheartedly.
“I said a round of applause,” Mr Aaron thundered.
That voice alone can raise the dead. We clapped so loudly to the extent that I was sure we would be heard throughout the whole school.
Alright, I’m exaggerating, but the clap sure was loud.
My hands were hurting and when I looked at them, they were already red.
“Better. Now who’s this naughty girl called Amy Percy?”
Amy stood up gingerly. I could see fear in her eyes.
“So you’re the naughty girl that said the passive of ‘The doctors are operating on the patient’ is ‘The doctors have operated on the patient‘?” “Were you told to write the past tense? I’m ashamed of you. I don’t think you’re supposed to be in the eight grade. You should be in third grade as even a fourth grader would have been able to answer it. ”
I looked at Amy and I could see tears cascading down her cheeks.
Did I mention that Mr Aaron’s scolding is worst than being beaten? If I didn’t, then now you’ve known.
“Who can tell me the passive of the sentence?”
There was a great silence and it seemed like the engines in everyone’s head were on standby. After about a minute of silence, the SG raised her hand.
“The passive of the sentence is: ‘The patient is being operated on by the doctors‘.”
“Correct. Clap for her.”
It seemed like Mr Aaron’s voice set our engines back in motion as we clapped loudly. This time, we didn’t have to be told to clap loudly.
“Show-off,” I whispered.
“So none of you could answer this simple question? Natalie here wasn’t even in this school yet when I taught you this topic. Yet she was able to answer while you were all looking at me like a dummy. Hmm, what a shame,” Mr Aaron concluded, shaking his head in pity.
“Two days detention for you Amy.”
Amy groaned but was quieted by Mr Aaron’s stare.
“And as a punishment for allowing someone who wasn’t here during the class to answer the question, you all except Natalie would write an essay on the topic: ‘Should abortion be legalised?‘ And it’s to be not less than 400 words, and to be submitted before tomorrow’s assembly. Is that clear?”
Everyone frowned and exchanged glances. I could see some people glaring at the SG in hatred. If looks could kill, she would’ve died nineteen times.
Why the heck did she answer it? She should’ve just kept mute and we wouldn’t have to write an essay. Everyone knows that nobody likes essays. Imagine using all your energy to write a 400 word essay only to see a C- or a D (10/30) all because of irrelevant things like your punctuation.
Alright they aren’t irrelevant, but it’s just unfair.
Mr. Aaron shared the scripts and about ten people including Amy and Nora who scored less than twenty, were given an argumentative essay on the motion ‘Should America be made an Islamic State?”
They all groaned and started murmuring but we were silenced by Mr. Aaron’s signature stare. Amy looked like someone who’d just seen a ghost as that made it two essays to be submitted in less than twenty-four hours.
Thankfully, I scored 21. Lucky me. I was just a hair’s breath from twenty.
The bell rang and Aaron packed his books and left the class. The whole class erupted in angry voices talking about how unfair Mr. Aaron’s punishment was.
Looking at the class schedule, I could see that we had free period.
Free period! The period for the SG to embarrass herself have finally come. I looked back at Michelle and she winked at me.
She then stood, went to the front of the class, cleared her throat and said, “Hello.” No one seemed to hear her as their voices drowned hers.
She then grabbed the wooden ruler used by our mathematics teacher and hit it on a desk.
The noise was deafening and it made everyone calm down and look in her direction.
“Fellow classmates I know we are all angry about the essay which someone made Mr. Aaron give us,” she started as she looked at the SG when she said the ‘someone’. Others shot her deadly glares.
“Well I know something that can make us feel better. Natasha here has something to tell us,” she finished with a fake smile in the SG’s direction.
Free period. Finally the moment I’ve been waiting for has come. You might think I’m crazy or something about anticipating something like this but…
When Michelle said ‘someone’, they all shot deadly glares at me. Like I care. Duh, it wasn’t my fault that I happened to know the answer to the question.
Then Michelle announced that I had something to say. She said this with a smile that even the blind would know is fake.
I stood up, and walked to the front of the class. “Thanks Michael,” I said with a reciprocal fake smile on my face. I heard someone chuckle from the back because of the name I called Michael. Michelle glared hatefully at me, then she walked back to her seat.
I stood in front of the class and looked at each student one after the other. I then cleared my throat and said,
“Hi everyone. As you all know, my name is Natalie Roland and I’m here to tell you guys something.”
Everybody’s attention was on me and I’m sure they were hanging onto my every word.
“I’m here to tell you guys something…”
- Etoniru Favour is a Nigerian and a student of the prestigious University of Benin. She's a talented writer.