Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1559362-Cracked-Clay
by Xavier
Rated: E · Short Story · Educational · #1559362
A short story of the American educational condition and a boy struggling to his purpose.
After sitting down, everyone told him that his speech was wonderful. One by one they dropped a small evaluation on his desk all repeating the same "nice job" or "your amazing". Jack collected his sheets and pushed them neatly stacked to the far corner of his desk so that he could make room for his mathematics textbook and calculator. He punched the keys and tabulated the numbers while the next speaker began to fumble with his notecards and rolling his ankle behind the protection of the podium.

The bell rang just as the speaker rattled off a shaky " Thank you" and Jack packed up his belongings and squirmed through the crowd of bodies pushing and seething against one another always looking down as was his routine. He cracked open his shiny red metal half-locker and returned his binder and notecards. Exiting back into the rush hour traffic, he wriggled back towards the trailers that housed his classes while the school was being renovated. The school would look glorious from the outside, which sat just on the main highway connecting Gild County, but the heavy construction only cluttered the already packed school and the workers would constantly set up ladders blocking the hallways to force students to find unique ways around so not to be late to their classes.

He made his pilgrimage through the gym and up the weathered wooden handicap ramp that led toward the first set of portables. He hated opening those doors; they always jammed on the first try, and he had to set his books down on the railing so he could use two hands and muster enough force to unstick the heavy metal door. He especially hated passing the threshold of his math class because his teacher Mr. Hearton, an oversized disgruntled old man who breathed heavy and never wore a tie, always kept the temperature ten degrees below that which Mother Nature intended the day to be even in the winter months. The light in the trailer felt cool too. He couldn't sit for more than twenty minutes under those harsh blue florescent lights without developing a terrible headache or coming to believe that everyone had always been that shade of robin's egg blue.

Mr. Hearton never actually taught his class. He would ramble on to himself in his deep throaty voice and when they could either see past his excess lipids or understand him, they usually found simple elementary mistakes in his calculations which we would despairingly redress and complain that it was their mistake for not "catching" his "issued" mistake before. He would fail his test, but Jack knew that should he be bide his time inside that cool room and under those blue florescent lights, he would pass because of his exceptional work, although his participation lacked fundamentally as a student.

Another bell sent Jack to another class inside the building. The only thing worse than entering the outside trailers was resuming his place inside the crammed hallways that always packed us in because of couples pairing off to kiss and press their bodies together. Others would yell to another friend across the length of the hall to pass gossip, while retrieving their snuff cans from their pockets to freshen their stock pile of tobacco ruminating underneath their lips. Still More would stand outside their classrooms to gaze at the mass ameba of people like old men do at the gas station or down on the corner of the courthouse. Jack, always looking down, bore no witness to them. He detoured from the crowd into the bathroom, sucking down one last breath of stale-but clean- air before picking up his pace to the stinking urinal and relieving himself but he could not hold his breath for another moment and settled for inhaling the cigarette smoke that seeped out of the stalls. Grabbing some towels to flush the toilet ( it was rumored that some of the upperclassman wet on the handles) he flushed. He washed his hands and splashed his face and looked himself in the mirror; another long day.

Jack made his way towards his next class, head always down, and took notes of the powerpoint, but hoped the teacher had not left out any information for he couldn't hear over the undertone of weekend plans and hearty chuckles. As expected, the principal rang out over the intercom-system announcing that Tobacco user anonymous would meet after school at four o'clock and to wish the football team good luck on their away game.The principal said in closing, although muffled out from the scuffle of chairs and laughter, "Thanks for making it a great day."
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