After finishing the worksheet, Erik tucked the pen behind his ear, grabbed his homework assignment and put it in the space under his desk for holding papers, then folded his schedule and placed it in his rear pocket.
He left class, heading downstairs for the office and grew annoyed that the first pass time of the day resulted in a congested hallway. After pushing through some of the other students, Erik sighted his cap bobbing and weaving through the crowd.
“Hey,” Erik yelled, “Hey you, wait!” Rushing to get through, he suddenly received a heavy smack directly to the face with a book, forcing him to spiral back and strike a nearby locker, dazed.
“You better not step on my sneaks again, fool!” a harsh voice yelled. Erik let out a yelp as someone grabbed his collar and pulled him forward, forcing him about face.
Facing a pale student with spiky orange hair who wore a bright orange track jacket and gold chains around his neck, even though he wore a belt about his baggy jeans, they threatened to fall past his hips and to his knees. The student stood with an awkward gait, trying to keep them up for the sake of courtesy.
“I don’t care about your expensive high-tops,” Erik snapped and pushed him back, blowing a disgruntled sigh.
“You wanna rumble, man?” the bully growled, standing ready to fight at the first chance of a hostile reaction.
Erik clenched his hands as he took a hesitant step rearward. “I don’t want to fight you!” he protested. “I have to get to the office!”
“The office is right there, dumb nuts!” the student yelled, his dark gray eyes narrowing. “But you ain’t steppin’ foot there ‘til you get through me!”
“It probably wasn’t even me who stepped on your shoes! It was…” Erik searched through the crowd that gathered, spotting his cap on the thief standing behind a group of girls. He ran for the hat; the potential bully ran after him and the thieving student in Erik’s cap took off.
“Where you think you goin’?” yelled Erik’s aggressor.
“Hey, you!” Erik hollered, “Give me back my hat!” He finally broke through, entering an empty hallway and ran down the corridor, being chased by the other student in the athletic gear.
When he came to the end, wondering if the thief went right or left, Erik’s opponent caught up and grabbed his collar, throwing him forward. Erik yowled when his face struck the door of an open locker.
“You better say you sorry, you dumb ass fool,” the bully snapped, “or you’ll meet my friend Mister Locker again.”
“But I didn’t do it!” Erik yelled and the metal slammed into his face again. “I--!” Erik’s head ravaged in pain as his face continued to be banged into with force. Hearing a pop, Erik cried out when his already crooked nose became disjointed. “My nose!” he wailed and another pop followed as the bully ignored his protests of wrongdoing. “I’m sorry!” Erik screamed, giving in for some show of mercy after the agony became too much.
“That’s better!” The angry student pushed Erik onto the floor and grabbed the end of his shirt, wiping the dirt off his white sneakers.
“Why do you want to wear the only color that’s the best thing to pick up dirt?” Erik groaned, slightly dazed. “Do you have enough sense to have that thought occur to you?”
“Tryin’ to get smart, huh?” Erik’s opponent snapped and kicked him in the side. Erik coughed as he doubled over, moaning. “If you bleed on my kicks,” the bully sneered, “you’re gonna pay with all the shitty junk you own!” He shoved Erik back as he let go of his shirt.
“I don’t own that much, you jerk!” Erik seethed as he stood unsteadily to his feet. “Now it’s my turn to kick you around!”
“Then I’ll just have to beat it out of your scrawny butt, then, huh?”
Anger flaring, Erik clenched his hands, ready to throw a punch, only to pause once he heard heavy steps come down the hall. He turned, spotting Heinrich’s bulky frame approaching them.
“You wouldn’t want to do that, Erik,” Heinrich called. “Calm down.”
Erik grunted when pushed back down to the floor by the student who smugly smirked down at him. Kicking at his side again, Erik yowled and clutched his side as the bully turned to Heinrich, rolling his eyes.
“What grade are you in?” Heinrich demanded as Erik groaned and sat up, seething in pain.
“I’m a junior,” replied the student, unfazed. “What’s it to you?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“What matters is that you’re picking on someone I know and I don’t like it; you busted his nose and I really don’t like it.”
“How does he know me?” Erik thought, stunned.
“What about it?” The bully snapped, crossing his arms.
“Come with me.” Heinrich’s face became unreadable. “You and I have to talk.” Heinrich grabbed him by the waist of his pants that almost fell past his hips and yanked them up, going down the rest of the hall.
The bully protested, only to have the pants hitched up higher, forcing him to yowl in pain. They turned around the corner and Erik got up, wiping the crimson blood from his nose with the back of his hand. He grimaced when he touched his nose, fearful that it would be broken again.
“What a lousy first day,” Erik grumbled to himself. “Luck’s already shot and sinking fast.” He headed to a nearby water fountain and ran the cold water over his nose and hand, washing off the blood. Glancing at the clock above a classroom door, he saw that pass time ran out and ran the rest of the way, making up for lost time.
Approaching the main artery, Erik paused, taking notice on the wall of the signs that directed where the offices were located. He raced for the office door down the hall, only to be stopped by a whistle. Erik froze as his heart beat quickly.
Looking around, when Erik found nobody connected to the whistle, he continued on, only to hear it again.
“No running in the halls!” a voice called. Erik slowed his running, but walked briskly. “Do you have a hall pass?”
“Do I have a hall what?” Erik stopped and glanced over his shoulder, spotting an elderly man in a white sport shirt and khakis with a clipboard in hand walking up to him. “I don’t want to be any later for class than what I’m already in!” Erik protested as he turned about face to the hall monitor. “I need to get going!”
“Can’t you hear what I just said?” the monitor grumbled loudly. “I want a hall pass: the yellow paper with your name and destination.” Erik gave the monitor a wary glance then spotted a small beige hearing aid above his right ear.
“This is just great,” Erik grumbled, running his hands through his hair. “Really? Universe, do you have to do this to me?”
“What did you say?” the elderly man snapped as he withdrew a pen from the pocket protector in his shirt.
“I, um, don’t have one,” Erik stammered. “I…”
“I see.” The monitor clicked his pen and quickly scribbled notes in his clipboard. “So, what is your name?” Erik gave his name and the monitor scoffed. “You’re hot? It’s only seventy-five degrees out!” The elderly monitor pointed his pen in Erik’s direction. “What’s your name? Speak up.” Erik yelled his name and the monitor huffed. “Erik Hart, you have three days detention.” He wrote more on his notepad before handing Erik a pink slip.
Erik snatched it away and scanned it, realizing he held a detention notice with his name jotted down on the front. “What did I do wrong?” he spat. “It’s not like I was trying to skip class, Mister! I was trying to get to class!”
“Next time you’ll think before you go lollygagging without a hall pass,” the hall monitor snapped, not hearing his objection. The elderly man walked away, leaving Erik with the offensive colored sheet.
Looking down at the pink slip, Erik read what was written more carefully. To his dismay, he found he had an after school detention tomorrow, the next day and the day after. Erik puffed a disgruntled sigh and crumpled the paper in hand.
“What a bad day already!” he growled, kicking at the floor. Shoving the notice in his pocket, Erik finally approached his intended destination, finding a door with an aged brass nameplate that named the lonely room ‘Box Office’. He knocked on the door, only to hear a sharp buzz.
“Yes?” questioned a hollow voice after a moment’s silence.
Erik gave his name. “I need to pick up my books,” he stated, “and I’m a new student here.”
“They will be in the bin on your right in a moment.” Another buzz followed, accompanied by sudden silence.
Disturbed that no human contact existed there and the clerk never saw anyone’s face, its voice talking at others from seemingly out of sheer space, Erik noted that it seemed to be a lonely existence for the clerk boxed in a small room surrounded by books and files. He chuckled to himself, considering the cynical humor for the placing of the nameplate on the door.
Coming onto the right side of the enclosed office, Erik stood in front of what resembled the outer end of a wood chipper. His books spat out of the small-shafted hood, dropping them into a mid-sized wire mesh bin that rest underneath. He caught a slip of yellow paper tucked inside one of his books and took it out to read. To Erik’s irony, lay a hall pass.
Grabbing his books from the containing bin, Erik pulled out his schedule from his back pocket with his free hand, glancing at his next class for the morning. Finding that it was Geometry, Erik lugged the books that threatened to fall out of his grip up the stairs while constantly checking his schedule to make sure he headed in the right direction.
Scanning the doors and their number plates above them, searching for Room 340, Erik followed the numbers to the end of the hall and walked up another flight of stairs, finally approaching Classroom 340.
Nudging the door open with his foot, he stumbled inside and his books fell from his arms, striking the floor with a loud clatter. A wiry man with thinning dark hair combed over to the right of his balding head turned from the chalkboard that had equations written on it gave him the most icy of glacial glares Erik had ever encountered.
“You’re late,” he spat.
Erik introduced himself nervously, giving a shy wave. “I… ah… well…” He swallowed hard as the teacher’s mean glower burned through him. “With a look like that, you can light paint on fire,” Erik quipped and some of the students laughed.
“Oh, we have a clown, huh?” the teacher snapped then held out a hand. “Mister Hart, where’s your hall pass?”
“Hold on, let me find it.” The thin teacher with the comb-over tucked the piece of chalk behind his ear and folded his scrawny arms across his small chest, growing impatient. “Schedule, detention notice, lint…” Erik murmured under his breath as he searched his pockets. Finding nothing, he crouched down on his haunches, searching his fallen collection of books. After flipping the last hardback, he froze when he remembered taking his books from the bin, but leaving the hall pass behind. Erik put the heel of his hand against his forehead, moaning. “Why is this happening to me?” he griped. “I left it at the office!”
“You idiot!” Hanalei snapped and some students giggled.
Erik’s face burned once he scooped up his books in his arms and shrugged his shoulders awkwardly at the teacher. “Well, you know, I don’t have one at this time…” he said timidly, “but I just had it a little while before; it was in my possession, I honestly swear!”
“Then possess this,” the teacher grumbled and stomped towards his desk. Erik blew a distressed sigh as the teacher picked up a pen and a small piece of paper, scribbling a quick note on the sheet.
“Really?” he groaned when the teacher beckoned to him.
“Today, Mister Hart,” the teacher snapped.
Erik winced and approached the side of his desk, wilting under the teacher’s irate stare. Handed the yellow slip of paper, Erik puffed a hard sigh as he shifted his books in his arms. “Not again,” he grumbled in dejection, taking the paper.
“Oh, quite the troublemaker already, eh?”
Erik shook his head vehemently. “Oh no,” he protested. “I’m no troublemaker! I’m a good guy, really!”
“Alright, Mister Good Guy, go down to the downstairs office and give them this. You will receive your pink slip there.” Erik heard someone snicker and the thin man whirled around, glaring at everyone. “Work out this equation and shut it!” he snapped.
Slipping the sheet in his pocket, Erik walked with heavy steps, exiting the various halls and stairs, before finally approaching the door. He rapped on it with the back of his hand.
“Yes?” replied the faceless, nameless clerk after the buzz.
“I have a message from…” Erik pulled out the sheet and glanced at the back of the hall pass, reading the teacher’s name inscribed. “Mister Denali wants a pink slip for Erik Hart.”
“It’s in the bin on your right.”
Stepping up to the bin, another pink slip fell out after the buzz. Erik snatched it up before it fluttered away and read that the date stated three days after he served his first three days. Crumpling the sheet and stuffing it into his pocket, Erik hurried back upstairs to make up for lost time.
Forcing himself to slow down before his feet left the ground; Erik shouldered in the door of the classroom and entered, taking an empty seat in front of Hanalei. Dropping his books on his desk with a bang, Erik slumped in his seat as Denali droned on about the current lesson.
Hanalei tapped Erik on the shoulder and he leaned back as she leaned forward. “Turn your book to page one-hundred eighteen,” she whispered in his ear.
Erik nodded and pulled out his ratty Geometry book, flipping the worn pages to the destination. Reading over the instructions in the book to make sure he would do them correctly, Erik assessed what he needed and put the rest of his books under the desk before scanning the lesson one last time.
“Hana, do you have some extra paper?” he asked as he pulled out his pen from behind his ear. She flicked him upside his head and handed him a pencil and several sheets of paper from her binder.
“Math is always done in pencil, you idiot!” she whispered sharply. Erik sighed and rubbed his sore ear before tucking the pen back there.
Doing the lesson on the Polygonal Theory took Erik only several minutes and he went ahead, doing the next section as the teacher Denali continued on in monotone about the Theory. After completion, Erik decided not to wait and continued other assignments included in the remaining chapter.
After checking his work three times to make sure the equations were correct, Erik realized that, while overlooking the many math problems, he had finished two chapters of Geometry before the teacher stated the time to go. Hopeful that Denali would give him some slack as he confidently turned in his work, Denali paused to examine them.
“Wait,” snapped the instructor and Erik cringed as he neared his desk to collect his books. “Stay after class… I want to give this a more critical eye.” Erik hoisted his books in his arms and waited near the door after the other students left. When new ones came through, the teacher set his jaw as his face turned bright pink.
This can’t be good, standing out like that…
“What is it, Mister Denali?” Erik asked faintly. “Please don’t give me a verbal kick in the head,” he prayed silently. “Your attitude is bad enough!”
“Do you think this is funny, Mister Hart?” Denali snapped, shaking the fistful of papers at Erik.
“No, but I did complete them,” Erik protested. “Check them yourself!”
“I just did,” Denali growled. “No one can do two chapters of Geometry in thirty minutes, even with me talking! That alone cannot be done in ten minutes!”
“Maybe I’m pretty decent in math,” Erik spat, “have you ever thought about that?”
“Don’t talk back to me,” Denali snarled.
“Mister Denali,” Erik objected. “I can tell you what I read.”
“Tell me.” Denali glanced at his watch. “You have five minutes.”
Erik told him what he knew of the Polygonal Theory, including the entire chapter sections he had done by name and section and what contained in each section as well as the chapter reviews that covered the section.
Denali suddenly smirked as he set Erik’s papers aside. “What’s an angle?” he asked.
“When two rays have a common endpoint,” Erik replied without hesitation, “or vertex.”
“What is greater than zero degrees but less than ninety degrees?”
“That’s an acute angle.”
“What is an obtuse angle?”
“It’s greater than ninety degrees, less than one-hundred and eighty.” Denali crossed his arms across his thin chest, giving Erik a superior stare as he glowered down at him in disdain.
“You have lines AB and RS. The two lines intersect at point P. Angles one, two, three and four are formed. You now have lines A, B, C and D. What is perpendicular since they’ve all formed right angles?” Denali gave a slight smile. “You have thirty seconds.”
“Line AB is perpendicular to line CD,” Erik answered. “Am I correct?”
Denali grunted. “Alright, smart ass,” he grumbled, “I’ll grade your papers, but stay with the flow of the class next time, please? Now,” Denali’s hardened expression returned on his face, “go to class!”
“Fine by me,” Erik said as he readjusted his books in his arms and quickly left for his next class.