Teri walked quietly to her desk, dodging a minefield of books, bags, and feet stuck out into the aisle. Emily was sitting right in her path, her blue eyes amused under her perfect blonde bangs. As Teri passed her, the popular girl snickered.
Somehow Emily filled her quiet whisper with a heaping pile of scorn. Dr. Fiedler coughed and turned to Teri. Emily was completely focused on her test, scribbling away. Teri had no choice but to sit down and start working.
She felt like a wilted flower as her spine bent and shoulders drooped. The test was a solid wall of ink. Question after question filled each page, crammed with symbols and five and six syllable words. All the other chemistry teachers made tests with practice questions from the end of the year state exam, but not Dr. Fiedler. That would be too easy. He wrote all his own test questions. Those unfortunate students who lost the draw and got stuck in Fiedler’s class resigned themselves to a year of bad grades.
The doctor had only started teaching here last year, but his reputation had become legend after his first unit test. Teri had talked to two guidance counselors about switching, but she’d been shut down each time. She slogged through the first page of the test, guessing on at least half the questions. Glancing at the clock, she saw the minute hand was racing around toward the end of the period. The seven minutes she’d lost coming in late had multiplied. Her eyes flicked over to her classmates’ papers and most were on page four.
With only fifteen minutes left, Teri started to panic. She crawled through the second page and dragged herself onto the third. She was answering the second question on the fourth page when the bell rang. The rest of the class filed out, putting their papers on the teacher’s desk. As the last student left and the door closed behind him, Teri could hear Dr. Fiedler tapping away with his pencil. Giving up completely, she just guessed for the last four questions and then threw the test at the doctor on her way out the door, unable to look him in the eye.
“You look like crap.”
Morgan was waiting outside the classroom, despite the rapidly approaching bell. She slipped an arm around Teri and started pulling her toward the stairwell.
“Scratch that, now you look like a lost puppy.”
Teri tried to smooth out her expression. She wasn’t looking for sympathy, and she didn’t want to show weakness in the hall. Emily and company were like a school of piranhas.
“I’m fine, well other than that test I just bombed.”
“I think I might’ve mixed up ions and isotopes,” Morgan said. “Which ones gain and lose electrons?”
“Those are ions.”
“Darn. He needs to actually teach instead of lecturing all class.”
“I’m going to have to listen to my parents lecture once five week grades come in.”
“My mom went to parent teacher conferences and met Fiedler, so she doesn’t give me grief about my chem grade.”
“Guess he’s that bad with everyone,” Teri said.
“I heard even Principal Andrews is scared of him.”