Monkey Business

Reprinted with permission from the White Plains Elementary School records.

Dear Diary,

It was early afternoon, right before lunch. The sun was high overhead, and there wasn't a single cloud in the vivid blue sky to mar its shining beauty. A gentle breeze rustled through the maple trees, almost as if they were whispering to one another. In an unnaturally yellow container near the small grove of trees, a small, gray squirrel was rummaging through a rotting, stinking, stagnating pile of delicious goodness; he was going to have a feast tonight! All of nature was alive that day, and everyone was reveling in the wonder that is summer.

Almost everyone.

I gazed out the clear glass window by my desk, longing to be outside, out among the trees and the flowers, away from these stupid lessons on American history. Why should I care what some wig-wearing creeps a million years ago did? I sighed, wanting school to be over so badly I could almost taste it.

A strict voice broke my reverie. "Fiona!"

"Hm?" My head snapped back to the front of the room. All the other little brats and teachers' pets in those front desks turned around to look at me. Those sheep people don't really matter, though; it's what Mr. Isaacson thinks that matters. In fifty years, I'm not going to care about what that stupid poohead thinks, what his snooty glasses on the end of his long, crooked nose and his tweed jackets think of me. But right then, what he thought really mattered.

"Spit out your gum!"

So that's what I was tasting.

"Uh, I don't know what you're talking about, Mr. Isaacson. I'm sure you don't mean—"

"Of course I mean you," he snapped. "Now"—he pointed the dry erase marker he had been writing on the board with straight at the trash can—"throw it away."

There was only one hope left. "Right now?"

"Yes, now." I rose and began to walk slowly up the aisle to the front of the classroom. Every eye was on me; I could feel the searing pain of every one of them burning into my skin. "Hurry up, we don't have all day!"

I nodded; quickening my steps, going as fast as I could without running, I walked up to the trash can to spit out my gum, then right back to my seat again. Plunking down into the uncomfortable plastic mold, I let out an involuntary sigh of relief as he began giving his stupid lecture again. Instead of taking notes like I was supposed to, I began to draw random squiggles across a page in my three-ring notebook, ignoring the monotonous, droning sound buzzing in my ears.

For the second time that day, though, my attempts at a reverie were broken. "Psst, Fi," came a whisper from my best friend sitting next to me. I tried to ignore her, putting a wall of thick auburn hair between her and me. The second "Psst" was less easy to ignore, though, for she poked me in the shoulder.

Normally, with any other person, this would not hurt at all. However, Wendy is a completely different matter; she prides herself on keeping her fingernails extra sharp. She says it's because that makes it easier to open food packages, but rumors fly around the playground that she is secretly an assassin. I like the second one better. It sounds so much cooler: a nerdy Asian girl by day, but a secret agent by night, who I can call my best friend!

Anyway, so I was trying very hard not to yell out in pain, but I managed not to somehow. I turned and glared at Wendy, who looked oh-so-sorry, but I could tell from her dancing black eyes that she wasn't. "What?" I hissed, not concealing my annoyance.

"Look what I've got, Fi," she said, a quirky smile on her face. Wendy's fingers moved over to her pencil pouch, made from a patterned cloth with stuffed teddy bears who've got big red bows tied around their necks. (Remember, Fi, nerdy by day, secret agent by night; nerdy by day, secret agent by night…) From the deep recesses of the pouch, out from the normal supplies for a fourth grader, she pulled—

"It's a marker." My scowl deepened. "That's what you poked me for?"

"It's not just any marker; it's a permanent marker!"


"High performance permanent marker." Wendy's tone indicated very clearly that I was supposed to gasp in amazement at this point, but I could not bring myself to do it. She seemed exasperated. "Fi, do you seriously not get it? We talked about it last week." When I still had not given a response, Wendy rolled her eyes at me. "Ugh, really?" She pointed up at Mr. Isaacson, who was drawing an elaborate stick figure drawing of something that looked like a man and a blob that was probably supposed to be a cannon or something, going on all the while about nothing important. "You see that marker he's holding?"

I nodded. "Yeah."

"You know what would be hilarious? Giving him this permanent marker instead of that dry erase!" Wendy and I both stifled a giggle. (We're just weird that way.)

"But how would we give it to him?" I asked, suddenly realizing a flaw in the plan. "He never lets go of that stupid marker!"

A sly grin crossed her face—never a good sign. "Don't worry about that. I've got it all figured out." She poked the fat lump sitting in front of her. "Hey, Albert!"

Albert turned around, pushing his square glasses up the bridge of his nose. "What, Wendy?" he hissed in annoyance. "I'm trying to listen to Mr. Isaacson! He's talking about George Washington."

Raising both hands in a gesture of mock defense, she said, "He-e-y, Albert, don't get mad at me! I only want is the apple in your lunch bag, that's all."

"No! Mommy packed that for me!"

"All right." Wendy shrugged. She began to toss a red apple casually from one hand to the other, watching the lump's reaction with a smile. "For the record, I asked nicely."

Poor Albert—actually, why am I calling him "poor Albert" when I don't even like him? The loser sputtered incoherently, not able to form even a single full sentence. "You…my…how…you…can't…I'll tell…you…you—"

Luckily for our ears, nothing more could be said. The school bell rang, announcing that it was time for lunch and recess, cutting Mr. Isaacson off mid-sentence. While he was dismissing the class, Wendy leaned over, whispering, "Okay, go up there, and act like you're giving him this apple." I felt the round, smooth apple make its way into my hand "When he's not paying attention, I'll walk by the desk and replace his old marker with this new one. Okay?"

I nodded.

"Good. Now start walking, so we don't look too suspicious."

After a not-so-gentle prod from my best friend, I began the slow march to the front of the classroom. Most of the other kids had already made their way to the door, eager to be running around outside. But you know what I had to do? I had to force myself to smile at that poohead and say in a meek little voice, "Mr. Isaacson?"

"Yes, Fiona, what is it?" He did not take such care to be nice.

It was so hard to keep that smile on my face, but I managed, extending out my arm that held the apple. "I wanted to say that I'm sorry for earlier, and I thought it'd be nice to give you an apple!"

Putting down his marker at last to take the apple, he looked at it appraisingly. I felt Wendy brush past; she'd done it. Finally, after a good moment of thought, he handed the apple back. "It's too red," he sniffed, picking up his new, surprise marker.

Honestly, I really wanted to laugh right then and there; it was very tempting. But I didn't, because I knew it would be so much cooler to see him humiliate himself in front of the entire class. For his benefit, I shrugged. "Okay, Mr. Isaacson." And I walked, keeping in mind that he was probably still watching me, slowly to the door. Wendy was waiting for me. I tossed the apple to her and said, "Give this back to Albert. I'm sure he'll want it."

Everyone returned to the classroom as a large, chattering mass after lunch. Lunch was okay; recess was awesome! I remember Wendy, me, and some of our other friends from different classes running around on the playground, playing lava tag. It was a lot of fun, horsing around in the hot summer air, the cool breeze whipping through my hair…I seriously want school to be over.

But yeah, anyway, we came back in, still on a sugar high, not dying of boredom any longer. Taking our seats, I only dimly remembered the plan when Wendy grinned at me like a mischievous monkey up to something. Frowning, I folded my arms across my chest. "What's so funny, Wendy?"

"Aren't you excited?"

"Aren't I…oh, yeah." My frown changed quickly to a grin. "Yeah, I can't wait!" For the first time in a while, I was paying attention to Mr. Isaacson at the front of the room.

"All right, children, let's move on to math," he was saying. God, I was bored! I desperately wanted to stare out the window again, but I resisted. I couldn't resist a smirk, though, when I saw him erase away all the dry erase marker writing and remove the cap from Wendy's permanent marker. He began to write some stupid sort of math thing on the board; it was some way to divide with something called a lattice or latter or ladder…some "l" word, anyway. Clearly, he was getting really absorbed by his lesson—so absorbed that when he tried to erase an example of long versus ladder division, he didn't notice that the writing wasn't disappearing. Some brave students snickered.

Why brave? Because Mr. Isaacson noticed immediately, whipping around from the board to face the class, a severe frown pushing downwards forcefully against his jaw. "What is so funny?"

Of course, it was Albert who answered. He pointed at the board. "Your marker's not erasing, sir."

Not even thanking the ugly, fat snitch, he turned back to his precious board. Then, when he spun around to face the class again, his face was a really dark purple color, and it looked like those guys in those movies my parents won't let me watch who get strangled. I think. Still, it was hilarious to watch. The rest of the class obviously agreed with me, since everyone burst into laughter.

But anyway, he spun around to face us, very angry, and yelled at the class, as if all of us had worked together on it to make him look bad. "How dare you? Do you know how much it will cost me to repair that?" Mr. Isaacson sank down against the whiteboard, all the way down to the floor. "I'm ruined."

Most people would feel sorry for the guy after that. But that's what the poohead wants people to feel. You know what we did? Even after that display, the class still laughed at him. It was still funny.

Fiona xoxo

End transcript.

I looked up at my parents after the principal finished my story. We were sitting together in his office; I was sitting in the chair between them, right in front of his desk. "I'm really sorry. Mom, Dad, can you guys forgive me?"

We all sat in silence for a moment, before my principal finally spoke. "Um, that's nice, Fiona, but I you're here because you qualify for the Gifted program here at our school."

My spirits brightened a lot. "Really?"

"Definitely." He tapped the notebook with the ballpoint pen he was holding and gave me a genial smile. I couldn't help smiling back—Mr. Laverock is just nice like that. He's a zillion times better than Mr. Isaacson! He continued to my parents, "Though her behavior in this incident is not entirely, ah, exemplary, if you'll notice, her writing style is quite advanced for a child her age. Giving her a place in our Gifted program will help accelerate her abilities and provide a good, nurturing environment for her talent."

Mom and Dad looked at each other, then back at Mr. Laverock. "She's still going to be punished, isn't she, Mr. Laverock?" asked Dad.

"Of course they wouldn't punish me, Dad" is what I wanted to say, but I didn't. I'm polite that way.

Mr. Laverock smiled. (I like his smile.) "Why, naturally. She has detention all of next week."

Oh, pooh.

A/N: This was written for the Loner Pie Challenge on the Lounge Forum.