Alternate History Lesson
by Kevin Koch
edited by Heather Gancarz
History class was boring. Such a simple, short phrase couldn’t even capture it. It was so boring it turned his brain to jelly. Honestly, it felt like his nose should be leaking molten grey matter after five minutes. Considering the period was halfway through, he congratulated himself on being able to focus enough to remember what they were talking about.
The American Revolution. Who even wanted to learn about what people had been doing hundreds of years ago? What effect did that have on his life now? How would he use that pointless knowledge when he finally got out of school? The one saving grace of history class was that he didn’t have to read any poetry, or worse yet, plays. Give him some problem to figure out, something straightforward, and he’d do alright. He didn’t like double meanings and vague interpretations.
Glancing out of the corner of his eye, a couple rows over he saw Julia. She had long brown hair running down her back in a braid and glasses that slightly magnified her freckles. He didn’t know how or when it’d happened, but sometime during this school year he’d come to the realization that Julia was the cutest girl he’d ever seen. He’d come close to talking to her on several occasions, but each time he’d been forced to abort for one reason or another. She always had her head in a book, something he couldn’t really relate to. And besides that, she was the governor’s daughter.
You wouldn’t really know it by looking at her, but the whole school had been gossiping about the limousine that’d arrived to drop her off one morning in the middle of last year. Eventually everyone had gotten desensitized to the fancy car and Julia’s fifteen minutes of fame were over. It was hard to get excited about someone who was almost famous when you saw them every day, hard for everyone except him anyway. Julia was the one bright spot of history class.
His first clue that something was wrong was when she turned to look at him. He immediately looked away, his face turning red. His embarrassment only grew when he saw the teacher, Mr. Martin, was eyeballing at him. Mr. Martin was ancient and thin as a rail. He might even remember the American Revolution. He had obviously spent years perfecting his death stare, and he was using it to good effect right now. As the glare continued, one of his eyebrows arched up ever so slowly. It seemed to be the only thing in the room that was moving.
“I take it you weren’t listening Mr. Cornell? Maybe you’d like to explain to the class why staring at Ms. Estelle was so much more interesting than my question?”
As several members of the class started to snicker quietly at his expense, he did his best to slouch down into oblivion. Try as he might, he was too tall to get his head down to the back of his chair. He knew his face was completely red at this point. He couldn’t bring himself to see if Julia was looking at him. His tortured mind imagined her as one of the laughing students.
“Maybe someone else can help poor Leo here. Who can tell me why the American Revolution failed? Anyone?”