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Ava feels trapped at school in her classroom during reading time

The quiet classroom was like a prison. The lights were dim, and a broken bulb flickered softly above me. I had never liked the dullness of this room, nor did I like the quietness of reading time. I sat in my assigned seat and flipped through a book about spaceships. The cover was slightly dented, and some of the pages were half torn. I managed to make out only the picture of the Apollo lunar module. I closed the book and placed it on my desk. I leaned back in my seat and let my head dangle off the tip of the blue plastic. I stretched, making all my muscles bunch up, then relax again. I let out a satisfied sigh and sat up, looking around the room. Everyone was still reading besides my teacher, who was swiping furiously at his phone. I shifted into a more comfortable position and began trying to count the leaves of a tree out the window. It was not too far away, but I could only make out the size and shape of it. It looked like a green cloud with two ears on top.

I rocked impatiently in my chair, waiting for the teacher to signal that class had ended. I looked up at the clock and then leaned back in surprise. It was only 2:06! I slumped deeper into my chair at the fact that I had to wait fifty-four more minutes until the bell would grant my wishes. So I observed the white clock with its red arm ticking to the rhythm of my feet tapping, the long black arm inching forward slowly and the small black arm that was barely moving. I wondered if it was broken and if I should ask the teacher to fix it. Silently, I scolded the small black arm and turned my attention to my teacher.

Out of the Window

He had sleek gray hair that lay respectfully on his head. He had a mustache that curved upwards as if he were always smiling. I observed that he wore a navy-blue tie today, the same dark blue that matched his striped shirt. He wore long, dark pants that seemed three inches too short, revealing his long blue socks. I imagined him picking flowers on a grassy clearing that stretched far off into the horizon. He wasn’t the type of person who was going to sit on a grassy clearing to pick flowers, but I like to imagine people doing silly things. It always helps me pass the time.

I shook my head, covering up my giggles. Finally, I couldn’t resist standing any longer. I jumped up, attracting eyes from all over the room. I flattened my skirt and flicked my hair, a nervous tick I use to cover up my embarrassment. After all, being the center of attention is a very unpleasant feeling. It was like having a crowd point their fingers at me. I felt my feet leading me to the doorway, with all eyes still on me. I walked faster and reached my hand out to the doorknob.

“Ava? Where are you going?” I heard a deep voice call out from behind me. It was my teacher.

I froze, not knowing if getting fresh air was a good reason to go outside. “Bathroom,” I blurted, not realizing it until it escaped my mouth. I felt awkward saying it because I usually don’t sneak off to the bathroom not to use the bathroom.

My teacher let out a deep grunt, which I figured meant that I was excused. I opened the door, and immediately the wind rushed toward me and slapped my face in an unmannerly way. I swatted my hair away from me and started walking toward the bathroom for no apparent reason. As I was walking, I couldn’t help grinning. Stepping out of the classroom felt as if I had won a lottery of one bajillion dollars!

I hopped and skipped and smiled my huge billboard smile. My friends call me the “ten-minute person.” It means that I can never sit still in my chair for more than ten minutes. My brother can sit for hours and hours doing homework, and I admire that. I have to jump out of my chair every ten minutes to go to the kitchen to see what’s cooking. And I’m always in a gloomy mood at night because I have to go to sleep.

As I was walking, I couldn’t help grinning. Stepping out of the classroom felt as if I had won a lottery of one bajillion dollars!

Before I knew it, I was standing at the door of the bathroom, smelling the stench of honey dipped in celery sticks. That’s how I always describe the smell of our school bathroom to my friends. To me, it also means “bad-smelling.” Every one of my friends knows that celery sticks and honey are the stuff of my nightmares. (I despise the taste of celery sticks, and bees make my teeth chatter.)

I stood there for a few seconds to waste time, and then I thought I might as well go in because it was better than being trapped in the classroom. I played around with the water and squirted oily soap onto my hands and made bubbles with it. When I was satisfied with the bubbles, I turned back around to head back. I reminded myself that I was outside for fresh air.

Moments later, I stepped into the classroom, and it was surprisingly bright and noisy. I supposed that the teacher had announced something fascinating because the room was full of laughter and chatter. I looked around, expecting my friend Prisha to wave me over and feed me in on the news. But in her seat was a tall girl wearing black earrings and a baggy white T-shirt that read “Miller Band.”

I paused and looked around the room with wide eyes. I did not see my classmates. In their places were tall people who towered over me, although they were sitting. They were chattering and laughing as if I never existed. I turned toward the teacher’s desk, and I saw a man with bushy black hair wearing a white T-shirt. He looked at me with expectant eyes as if I were a messenger from another class. I was happy for a second because I was not the center of attention. But it all faded away as the teacher cleared his throat, and the chattering stopped. Every single pupil stared at me, just the way my classmates had earlier. Instead of small, bright eyes, they were huge dull ones, glowering down at me. I wanted to scream to my feet to run out, but being the center of attention made my brain stop working. My feet stayed rooted to the ground as if someone had superglued them to the shiny white floor.

“Well?” the teacher said in a very sharp tone.

“I—sorry. Bye.” I barely finished my sentence, if I could call it a sentence, as I whipped around and dashed outside again. I closed the door behind me and ran to my real classroom. I checked all around the door, making sure it read “Room 45” before I opened it. I wanted to return unnoticed, but the whining of the door gave me away. For a second, I was the center of attention once more, but I quickly walked toward my desk where Prisha sat. I observed that she wasn’t a girl with black earrings and a baggy shirt that read “Miller Band.” I sat down and sighed. For once, I liked the dim lights and the silence of the room.

Ava Cai
Ava Cai, 12
San Jose, CA

Ohad Harosh
Ohad Harosh, 8
New York, NY