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       Slammed, p.26

         Part #1 of Slammed series by Colleen Hoover
 

  And I find myself

  trying hard to defend them."

  -The Avett Brothers, All my mistakes

  Chapter Thirteen

  “Got another one for ya,” Nick says as he takes his seat Monday morning.

  If I have to hear another Chuck Norris joke, I’m literally going to explode. “Not today, my head hurts,” I reply.

  “You know what Chuck Norris does to a headache?”

  “Nick, I’m serious. Shut up!”

  Nick withdraws and turns to the unfortunate student to his right.

  Will’s not here. The class waits a few minutes, not really knowing what to do. Apparently this is uncharacteristic of him.

  Javi stands up and gets his books. “Five minute rule,” he says as he walks out the door. He walks right back in though, followed by Will.

  Will shuts the door behind him and goes to his desk and sets a stack of papers down. He's on edge today, and it's obvious to everyone. He hands the first student of each row a smaller stack of the papers to pass back, including me. I look down at my paper and there are about ten sheets stapled together. I start flipping through them and recognize one page is Eddie's poem about the pink balloon. They must all be poems written by students. I don't recognize any of the others.

  “Some of you in here have performed at the slam this semester. I appreciate it. I know it takes a lot of courage." He holds up his own copy of the collection of poems.

  "These are your poems. Some were written by students in my other classes, some by students in here. I want you to read them. Once you’ve read them, I want you to score them. Write a number between zero and ten, ten being the best. Be honest. If you don't like it, give it a low score. We're trying to find the best and worst. Write the score in the bottom right of each page. Go ahead.” He sits at his desk and watches the class.

  I don't like this assignment. It doesn't seem fair. I'm raising my hand. Why am I raising my hand? He looks at me and nods.

  "What's the point of this assignment?" I ask.

  His eyes slowly make their way around the classroom. "Layken, ask that question again after everyone's finished."

  He's acting strange.

  I start reading the first poem when Will grabs two slips of paper off of his desk and walks past me. I glance back just as he lays a slip on Eddie’s desk. She picks it up and frowns. He walks back to the front, dropping the other slip on my desk. I pick it up and look it over. It's a detention slip.

  I glance back at Eddie and she just shrugs her shoulders. I wad my slip into a ball and throw it across the room to the trashcan by the door. I make it.

  Over the next half hour, students begin to finish their scoring. Will is taking the stacks as they are finished and he's adding up the totals with his calculator. Once the last of the points have been added up, Will writes the totals on a sheet of paper and walks to the front of his desk and sits.

  He holds the paper up in the air and shakes it. "Is everyone ready to hear which poems sucked? Which ones got the most points?" He's smiling as he waits on a response.

  No one says anything. Except Eddie.

  "Some of us who wrote those poems may not want to know how many points we got. I know I don't."

  Will takes a few steps toward Eddie. "If you don't care how many points it’s worth, then why did you write it?"

  Eddie is quiet for a moment as she thinks about Will's question.

  "Aside from wanting to be exempt from your final?" she asks.

  Will nods.

  "I guess because I had something to say."

  Will looks at me. "Layken, ask your question again."

  My question. I try to remember what my question was. Oh yeah, what's his point?

  "What's the point of this assignment?" I ask cautiously.

  Will holds the paper up in front of him that contains the tallied scores, and he rips it right down the middle. He reaches behind him and picks the stack of poems up that everyone scored and he throws them in the trash. He walks to the chalkboard and begins to write something on the board. When he's finished, he steps aside.

  "The points are not the point; the point is poetry." ~Allan Wolf

  The class is quiet as we take in the words sprawled across the board. Will allows a moment of silence before he continues.

  "It shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks about your words. When you’re on that stage-you share a piece of your soul. You can’t assign points to that.”

  The bell rings. On any other day, students would be filing out the door. No one has moved; we're all just staring at the writing on the board.

  "The points are not the point; the point is poetry." ~Allan Wolf

  "Tomorrow, be prepared to learn why it's important for you to write poetry," he says.

  There was a moment, in the midst of all the distraction in my head, when I forgot he was Will. I listened to him like he was my teacher.

  Javi is the first to get up, soon followed by the rest of the students. Will is facing the desk with his back to me when Eddie walks up, detention slip in hand. I had already forgotten he gave us detention. She gives me a wink as she passes me and stops at his desk.

  “Mr. Cooper?” She’s being respectful, but dramatically so. “It is my understanding that detention proceeds commencement of the final class period at approximately three-thirty. It is my desire, as I’m sure it is Layken’s desire as well, to be punctual, so that we may serve our fairly deserved sentences with due diligence. Would you be so kind as to share with us the location in which this sentence shall be carried out?”

  Will never looks at her as he walks toward the door. “Here. Just you two. Three-thirty.”

  And he’s gone. Just like that.

  Eddie bursts out laughing. “What did you do to him?”

  I stand up and walk to the door with her. “Oh it wasn’t just me, Eddie. It was both of us.”

  She spins around wide eyed. “Oh my god, he knows I know? What's he going to say about it?”

  I shrug my shoulders. “I guess we’ll find out at three-thirty.”

  ***

  “Detention? Duckie gave you detention?” Gavin laughs.

  “Man, he really needs to get laid,” Nick says.

  Nick’s comment causes Eddie to laugh and spew milk out of her mouth. I shoot her a cease and desist look.

  “I can’t believe he gave you detention," Gavin says. "But you aren’t positive that’s what it’s for, right? For skipping? I mean, he already mentioned that at the slam last week and he didn’t seem too mad.”

  I know what the detention is for. I’m pretty sure I know, anyway. He wants to make sure he can trust Eddie. I'm not positive, though, so I lie.

  “He said it’s for not turning in the assignment we were supposed to do the day we skipped.”

  Gavin turns to Eddie. “But you did that one, I remember.”

  Eddie looks at me as she replies to Gavin. “I guess I lost it,” she shrugs.

  ***

  Eddie and I meet outside the door to Will's classroom at approximately three-thirty.

  "You know, the more I think about it, this really sucks," Eddie says. "Why couldn't he just call me or something if he wanted to talk about what I know? I had plans today."

  "Maybe we won't have to stay long," I say.

  "I hate detention. It's boring. I'd rather lay in Will's floor with you than sit in detention," she says.

  "Maybe we can try and make it fun," I say.

  She turns to open the door but hesitates, then spins around and faces me. "You know, you're right. Let's make it fun. I'm pretty sure detention is an hour long. Do you realize how many Chuck Norris puns we can make in a whole hour?"

  I smile at her. "Not as many as Chuck Norris could."

  She opens the door to detention.

  "Afternoon, Mr. Cooper," Eddie says as she flurries inside.

  "Take a seat," he says as he wipes the point of poetry off the board.

  "Mr. Cooper, did you know that seats actually stand up
when Chuck Norris walks into a room?" she says.

  I laugh as I follow Eddie to our seats. Rather than taking the two front seats, she keeps walking until she's in the very back of the room where she scoots two desks together. We sit as far from the teacher as possible.

  Will doesn't laugh. He doesn't even smile. He sits in his seat and glares at us while we giggle; like high school girls.

  "Listen," he says as he stands back up and walks toward us. He leans against the window and folds his arms across his chest. He stares at the floor like he's trying to think of a delicate way to broach the subject.

  "Eddie, I need to know where your head's at. I know you were at my house. I know you know Layken spent the night. I know she told you about our date. I just need to know what you plan to do about it; if you plan to do anything about it."

  "Will, I already told you," I say. "She's not saying anything. There's nothing to say."

  He doesn't look at me. He continues to look at Eddie, waiting for her response. I guess mine wasn't good enough.

  I don't know if it's nerves or the fact that I've had the strangest last three days of my life, but I start laughing. Eddie shoots me a questioning glance, but she can't hold it in. She starts laughing, too.

  Will throws his hands up in the air, exasperated. "What? What the hell is so funny?" he says. He's getting agitated.

  "Nothing," I say. "It's just weird. You gave us detention, Will." I inhale as I try to control my laughter. "Couldn't you just like, come over tonight or something? Talk to us about it then? Why'd you give us detention?"

  He waits until our laughter subsides before he continues. "This is the first chance I’ve had to talk to either of you. I didn't sleep all night. I wasn't sure if I even had a job to come back to today." He looks at Eddie. "If anything gets out, if anyone finds out that a student slept in my bed with me, I'd get fired. I'd get kicked out of college."

 
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