It was a sunny autumn morning in September. I lay sprawled across the grass in front of my house, reading a mystery novel. Except for the occasional roar of a car or bike passing by, all was quiet. Suddenly a voice rang out, shattering the silence.
“Ana! Don’t you have a test tomorrow? Drop the book and go study, right away!”
I closed my book, slowly sat up and sighed. Didn’t mom understand how important it was for me to find out whether Detective Banks found the secret tunnel or not? I stood up and yelled back, feeling frustrated.
“C’mon, mom! It’s just another test. And today’s such a beautiful day! I don’t want to waste it by studying. It’s alright if I get low marks just this once.”
Okay. That was possibly the worst answer I could have given. I winced as her tall figure appeared on our doorstep.
“I see. After so many days, you have finally, finally succeeded in sinking so low! How can you take your tests so casually? Just as I think something’s finally gotten into that head of yours, you come and tell me that it’s fine if you receive low marks! Well, let me tell you…”
I barely heard the rest of it as I was already imagining scenarios in my head where I was receiving the Nobel Prize and my parents were applauding for me, realizing that I had been right all along and that I was a brilliant child with many talents. My pleasant thoughts were interrupted by my little brother who, upon hearing me receive scoldings, had rushed outside to mock me. I immediately turned on him and started shouting. Hearing all the commotion my father came outside.
“How many times do I have to tell you to keep your voices low? I am trying to work inside. Why aren’t you studying or doing your chores? Such a wonderful morning and you decide to ruin it with your antics. Now let me tell you just exactly what I think…”
Great. Someone else’s lecture, to pretend to listen. Didn’t anybody understand that Detective Banks was on the verge of making a very important discovery?
“Okay dad,” I said. “We’re sorry. Mom, I’m going to study for the test now. Krish, don’t dare to disturb me.”
I ran upstairs to my room, opened the window to let the cool air in and locked the door. I quickly scanned the chapters and tossed my textbook into my bag. Now there was finally peace and quiet for me to read my novel. I spent the rest of the day inside my room, crying over the death of Detective Bank’s best friend and whooping with joy at his success in catching the criminal. When night came, I fell asleep dreaming about clever criminals and even cleverer secret agents.
The next morning I woke up to the irritating noise of my alarm and slowly got up to get ready for school. I gobbled up some cereal, yelled at my brother who was messing up my carefully combed hair, and ran the few meters to the bus stop. The bus screeched to a halt just as I reached and I hopped on. As I walked forward, looking for a seat, I heard people worriedly calling out to me.
“How do nutrients enter the blood from the small intestine?”
“Do you remember all the differences between acids and alkalis?”
“Remember to look back and whisper the answers to me, okay?”
“What are the applications of spherical lenses?”
I looked up and spotted my best friend, Ginny waving at me. I grinned and plopped down beside her. But before I could greet her, wrinkles appeared on her forehead and she pulled out her science textbook and handed it to me.
“Quiz me. I’m really nervous,” she said.
What was up? Why was everybody so tense and worried? I asked Ginny and she turned to stare at me.
“Are you out of your mind?! We have a test today! Probably one of the most important tests of the entire year!”
I slapped my forehead. The test! How could I have forgotten? I started scolding myself for being so careless. But wait, I wasn’t careless. I had studied the day before. Yes, it was only for a few minutes, but nobody could deny the fact that I had read the chapter. I tried answering the questions that my classmates had asked me just a few minutes back. Oh no…I couldn’t answer a single one! That was it. The end of my school life. I was going to flunk the most important exam of the school year and there was nothing anybody could do about it. I yanked Ginny’s book open and started going through the pages like a madman.
“Ana,” I could hear Ginny saying.
“Mmm,” I replied.
“Be quiet, I’m trying to concentrate,” I snapped.
“Ana! Ana! ANA!!”
“Huh?” I said with a start.
I brushed some grass off my shoulder and yawned. Wait a second. What was grass doing inside the bus? I looked around. I was still lying in front of my house with my novel on my stomach. I heard someone calling my name again.
“Yes?” I answered.
“What were you doing?” my mom’s sharp voice rang through the silence. “I’ve been calling your name for the last five minutes! Anyway, don’t you have a test tomorrow? Drop the book and go study, right away!”
I smiled with relief and hurried into my room. And this time, the only book that I read was my science textbook.