Mrs. Stella stood in the middle of the room, raising an eyebrow. The whispers stopped. Other students turned their noses away from their friends and focused on the teacher, propping their chin on their arms in interest. Something was off. Mrs. Stella was dressed in a t-shirt and khakis instead of her usual button-down shirt, blazer, and leggings, and there was also a shiny, gold leaf taped to the board.
I stared at my desk. The pain in my head stirred, throbbing, aching.
I raised my hand.
“May I be excused?” I asked.
She scowled. “Do you think you can hold it?”
“I don’t have to pee. I just need to see the nurse…I have a headache.”
She shook her head. “You can go after class. This discussion is going to be very important for your grade…I suggest you stay.”
A D, I thought, my grade was a D.
I sighed, defeated, and slumped in my seat. “Alright.”
She smiled, then returned her attention to the class.
This is so stupid. I scowled, then felt a hot blush rise on my cheeks.
She used my grade against me. But then again, why would I care about this darned lecture.
I thought about sleep; how it would feel to curl up under warm covers and fall into a blissful oblivion. I dozed off, my vision hazing and my eyes slowly begin to fall shut.
Mrs. Stella’s voice rings in my ears. “Easter… Leaf… Partners… Prize…”
“Ellie! Are you even listening?”
My eyelids flutter open. Mrs. Stella is standing in front of my desk, her delicate hands pressed against the front of my desk. “There is a reason why I assign your seat to the front of the classroom.”
“What?” I ask, my back jolting upward.
“This scavenger hunt is going to be very important for your grade and you haven’t heard a word I said.”
“I heard some words.” I retorted.
“Uh… I don’t remember.” The words in my mind were there, blurry, and unrecognizable, just like the right answers whenever I took Mrs. Stella’s grammar quizzes.
Her tone grew louder, “Do you realize how important this is, Miss Burns?”
“It is just a scavenger hunt. How is this important to my grade…and why?”
“Because the whole county is at stake. If you don’t find the leaf, bad things will happen!”
I laughed. “Like what?”
She raised an eyebrow, and the side of her lip curled downward. “Everyone will die. Have you listened to the news?”
I shook my head. “No.”
“Walk with me and I will tell you everything.