The
Underachievers
CHAPTER
15
Blame Braeden
“Hey, you check that attitude mister,” Mom said.
I went into my room and slammed the door. I’m so sick of school and parents! I turned up some heavy metal and grabbed my drum sticks. Hopefully I get to set up my drums in the garage again soon. For now my drum pad will have to do. I started drumming with the music.
After an hour my bedroom door flew open. “Hey frog face, dinner’s ready. Come on, move it,” Liam said.
“I’m coming, jeez.”
Liam started squirting me with a water bottle. As I lunged at him he shut my bedroom door and held it closed from the other side. I pulled as hard as I could. You would think I would have learned Liam’s tricks by now. I tend to forget when I’m angry. So, just as I was pulling my hardest he let go and ran. Leaving me to fall backward and hit my head on a chair. I swear my brother is the biggest butthead ever.
I tried to eat dinner and not make eye contact so I could leave the table as soon as possible. My family kept trying to engage me in conversation and I responded with as few words as possible. Then my Dad asked, “So, Braeden, where did you spend your afternoon since you were not at school?” I choked on a piece of chicken. I tried to ignore Liam’s smirks. I drank some water.
“What do you mean?”
“Your school called,” explained Mom. “She said you were a no show for all your classes after lunch. Where were you?”
“Do we have to talk about this now?” I asked.
“Yes,” said my Dad. “I want to know where you were right now.”
“Where were you, loser?” Asked Liam.
“Liam, stay out of this please,” said Dad.
“I went to get burgers for lunch with some friends.”
“Then what?” Asked Mom.
“I just didn’t feel like going back and there was something I really wanted to do.”
My parents asked me a bunch of questions and I told them everything. I wish I could just do what I want without being interrogated all the time. It is so annoying.
The next morning at school I was called into the principal’s office. Apparently my bonehead friends, after we split up after lunch yesterday, spray painted obscene things on the large rock by the track field. I don’t think Principal Callahan believed that I had nothing to do with the vandalized rock. It was hard to explain that I left school with them, had lunch with them, but then I went somewhere else by myself and did not spray paint anything. I didn’t want to tell her where I went. She wouldn’t care where I went anyway, because there is no excuse for skipping classes. She went on about how disappointed she was in me and that if she found out I had anything to do with the vandalized rock I would be in big trouble. For skipping classes I get to sit in Wednesday after school detention for two hours. Whatever.
At lunch Savannah, Zoey, and Ben came and sat at my table. They didn’t want to just chat either. It was like an intervention! Man they are nosy. I don’t see what the problem was, they’ve been in trouble for similar stuff too. I refused to tell them why I skipped classes so I’m not sure they believed I had nothing to do with the vandalized rock either. I spray paint “School Sucks” across the wall in the entry way one stinking time and now I’m going to be blamed for anything vandalized around here? That is not fair.
After they accepted that I just didn’t want to go to classes or gave up grilling me, they wanted my help talking Principal Callahan into letting us have an art club or show. I told them Callahan wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say right now. I said I would help in other ways if I could. Like if we had to raise some money with fundraisers or something. I’m leaning toward the art show myself. It would be cool to create whatever I wanted and bring it in to show off.
After lunch I saw Tyler. He practically cornered me and asked why I wanted to get myself back in trouble. I told him what I told the others and that I wasn’t planning on skipping classes anymore, so lay off. I guess I should be happy they care, but man, people need to leave me the heck alone.
I was so happy when Wednesday detention was over. Wednesday detentions are much more popular than Saturday detentions. There were at least fifteen kids in detention today. We just had to sit there for two hours and be bored. So dumb.
As we left I saw Mr. Dan. I nodded at him. Then he started talking to me.
“Braeden, I was so sure the Saturday detentions had a positive impact on you and the others. What are you doing getting yourself in trouble again?” Asked Mr. Dan.
“I don’t know. I just had something to do.”
“There was something more important going on downtown than here at school?” Asked Mr. Dan.
“I guess,” I said. “Wait, how do you know I was downtown?”
“I saw you crossing Main Street when I was picking up some work supplies,” he said.
“Oh. Well, maybe you can tell Callahan that. I don’t think she believed I had nothing to do with the vandalized rock.”
“I can mention it,” said Mr. Dan. “You’re a good kid Braeden. No more skipping classes okay?”
“I won’t.”
I walked outside to find Liam waiting for me. I let out a deep breathe. I cannot wait for Friday. Whether it is a surprisingly good day or just a normal Friday at least it begins the weekend.
Thursday after school I rode my skateboard home through the park. I hung out for a while by the lake there. It was nice out. Kind of warm, even. Sometimes I just like to hang there alone and think. Get inspired. I couldn’t wait for tomorrow. What are the chances that something surprising will happen? I could only hope. Yet I was prepared for disappointment. An ordinary, boring Friday was sure to be my tomorrow. I couldn’t stop my imagination from playing out an awesome, more exciting Friday afternoon, though. It is cool to dream about something spectacular happening but reality is most likely going to squash your dreams with its humongous old worn-down soulless boot. Darn reality!
My cell phone started alerting me of texts. Savannah and Tyler were letting me know they talked with Principal Callahan and she is going to seriously think about allowing us have an art show. They felt like she was really going to try to make it happen. That was so cool. Some good news, for a change. Ben started texting, too.
Ben~ What has 12 thumbs and an upcoming art show? We do!! I’m that sure it’s gonna happen.
I couldn’t help laughing. That Ben is such a crack up. In a nerdy way.
Well, if tomorrow is boring and ordinary, I can plan what I will present at our future art show. I hopped on my skateboard and headed home. I swear I saw one of our middle school teachers, Mrs. Dunley walking toward the lake. Weird. Then I ran into my buddies Nate, Joey, and Gabe. The first thing they wanted to know is if I ratted them out to Callahan. I told them, no way. She already knew it was them before she called me in. I can’t believe they thought that! I’m no nark. I told them she thinks I was in on it. They thought I should have been. I wasn’t about to tell them where I went though. They would really think I was lame.
“Braeden! Get up! You’re going to be late for school!” My Mom yelled. I yawned and looked at the clock. The music was blaring and my Mom was trying to turn it off. “How can you sleep through this noise?”
“I don’t know.”
“Hurry up and dress. Breakfast is on the table, I’ll drop you off today,” said Mom.
“Thanks Mom.”
My eggs and toast were cold by the time I got down stairs. I ate most of it anyway. When I got to school it looked like it was going to be an ordinary day. I got to my first class just in time. My teacher started the class by telling me to take off my hat. What is the big deal about wearing a hat in class? I don’t get it.
After second period we had a spirit assembly. Our baseball team was playing our rival tonight. I’m not too into assemblies, but it’s better than class. Nate and Joey tried to get me to go off school grounds with them, but I said I wanted to stay. They thought I was crazy, but I’m not skipping anymore. Besides, I still had a tiny spec of hope that something cool would happen today.
I sat with some other friends and saw Savannah a couple rows in front of me. She waved and I waved back. The cheerleaders performed and got everyone all riled up. The principal was talking for a bit and then a teacher ran over to whisper something to her. Callahan stopped talking and looked toward the gym doors as she talked with the teacher. She seemed confused. Students started whispering. Then a couple adults with balloons came through the doors followed by a camera man and a couple other guys. The guy holding balloons said something to our principal and she handed him her microphone. Students were chatting loudly wondering what was going on.
“Helloooooo Mountain View Middle School! We are Blaze and Geordie from KPOW – 103.5 FM your favorite local radio station!”
The students went crazy cheering. I couldn’t breathe. Was this real? There was no way.
“Maybe some of you have heard that we have been accepting nominations for our Get Arts Back in Our School contest. The grand prize is $10, 000 awarded to the school that most deserves help getting the arts back in their school.” Said Blaze.
Geordie took the microphone from him. She is prettier than I imagined. “I have a letter here from a student here at your school. Should I read it?”
The students cheered.
“Okay then. It sounds like you want me to read it.” Geordie said. “Dear Blaze and Geordie, I am a student from Mountain View Middle School. I would like to nominate my school for the Get Arts Back in Our School contest. I am not the best student, admittedly. I often get bored and have lost my way academically. In fact, I spent last month spending my Saturdays in detention. As terrible as that was, I got to paint a mural with five others. All six of us have been called underachievers. We all have a love for art, too. Painting this mural not only made our school more colorful and inviting, but it inspired six slackers to want to do better. Every student deserves something to look forward to at school. I think my school would really benefit from having art classes offered. I know six underachievers whose grades would improve and I’m sure there are many others like us here. Thank you for considering my school.” Geordie held up the 8 by 10 photo of our school mural. Students cheered again.
Blaze took the microphone. “The student who wrote this letter dropped it off personally to our producer at the radio station this past Monday in the very last minutes we were accepting nominations. Talk about cutting it close! Can we have Braeden Coleman come down and join us?”
My friends started patting me on the back, people were cheering, and I was completely in a daze. Was I losing consciousness? I had tunnel vision. I made it down the bleachers to the gym floor. Finally I was standing right between Blaze and Geordie.
“I think you should all give this young man a round of applause,” said Geordie. “Because of Braeden here, Mountain View Middle school is the grand winner of the arts back in school contest!”
There was cheering, stomping, and clapping. It was an overall deafening noise. Geordie actually hugged me and Blaze shook my hand. I think he said, “Congratulations!” Principal Callahan was suddenly next to me holding up a big check for $10, 000 dollars. Then Blaze was asking Principal Callahan if she was surprised. She said she couldn’t have been more surprised since she had no clue anyone had nominated our school. Embarrassingly enough, he asked what she thought about me. I had a fleeting fear that she would say she didn’t think too much about me. I think she may have said she was proud of me. Everything was such a blur. The DJ’s and camera people left us and our surprised principal had to bring us back to our spirit assembly and wish our team well. When she dismissed everyone to go back to class, she turned to me.
“So, you were at a radio station Monday instead of in class,” said principal Callahan.
“Yes,” I admitted.
“Well, you know that is not a reason to skip classes; however, this was a very, very nice thing you did for our school. You should be very proud of yourself, Braeden. I’ve seen some positive changes in you and I hope you keep up the good work. Now get to class, young man,” Principal Callahan said in a serious and teasing way.
When I entered my next class I got a standing ovation. It was kind of cool and quite embarrassing at the same time. It is not something I am used to at all. I sat in my seat at the back of the classroom and took off my hat. The teacher started class but I was still in some sort of weird daze, wondering if that really just happened. Reality didn’t stomp out my dream. What kind of crazy alternate world did I wake up in this morning?
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