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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Family · #2256495
The prompt asks us to write a scene relating to the education in our characters' world.
Marley breathed a sigh of relief when she heard Mr. Garb say they would not be working with partners for today’s math assignment. Her brain got all jumbled when her partners asked questions; although alone, she could easily figure out any of the problems. But Mr. Garb always talked about the importance of working cooperatively; much of the time they either worked in pairs or in groups of three. Part of their grade depended on their contribution to the conversation, not whether you were right or wrong, but whether you focused on the task and tried to help with the solution. So as much as she felt the heat in her cheeks as she tripped over her words, Marley added to the discussion. Grades mattered.

For as often as Jim called her stupid, fat and lazy - especially after a few drinks - Marley started to believe what he said was true. Grades were her only evidence to the contrary. As much as her mind often froze in group settings, she aced Mr. Garb’s tests, and for that matter, most of her other assessments in all of her classes. And that’s why, as difficult as it was for her to make friends, she liked going to school. Her teachers encouraged her. They knew nothing of what went on at home. Marley knew she could not tell them either. But at least she could be safe at school.

Her mom and her real dad used to encourage her too. Back in elementary school, thanks to them, Marley believed she could do or be anything. But when her parents divorced, right after fourth grade, Mom moved them from Calverton, Virginia to Danbury, Connecticut, from the woods to the city. From a small town to a big one. That summer she married Jim. There was a lot Marley could not understand about the change, but the biggest were why her mom didn’t stick up for herself or her kids and why her dad never visited. None were questions she felt comfortable asking. Not yet, anyway.

Now, in the silence of her room at home with her mom and step-dad out, she breezed through her homework. Marley wished she could show this confidence in the classroom. Oftentimes Mr. Garb paired her with a struggling student, like Ashley or Jonas. Clearly in this level one pre-algebra class, some students belonged and some did not. Marley knew Ashley’s parents overrode her teacher’s recommendation from last year. Considering what kids Ashley might end up with in the level two class, Marley kind of understood. But then a part of her also thought Ashley’s parents believed their child could never be less than stellar. And yet, when they worked together, Marley figured Ashley questioned Marley’s placement in the class as well since she rarely came up with the right solutions and only spoke when Mr. Garb approached their desks. But Marley thought it also might be the reason Ashley considered her stuck-up. Mr. Garb announced the top scorers after each test. If Marley knew all the answers, then why wasn’t she sharing any of them with Ashley? Why did she barely make eye contact? Actually, Marley was afraid Ashley or any of her classmates might learn the truth.

538 words
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