by Than Pence
Simon falls asleep in class and regrets it for a long time.
|Simon was falling, fast…
He awoke with a pant, moving his chair against the floor with a loud scraping sound. Surprised gasps touched his ears and Jana, behind him, snickered. “You okay, Mr. West?” called the teacher.
It was a moment before Simon realized she was talking to him. “Uh… um, I’m okay, Mr… Miss Garfield.”
Miss Garfield harrumphed and turned back towards the marker board. Jana leaned forward to whisper at Simon. “Dude, you, like, almost jumped out of your desk.”
Simon felt his face heat up and he caught the eye of the sophomore next to him. They shared a smile and Simon put his focus back on Miss Garfield while cocking his head so his voice would carry behind him. “Well, she’s boring, and I didn’t sleep good.”
“Stop playing video games so much.”
“I’ll play ‘em whenever I want, Jan.”
“It’s Jan-a, nerdboy.”
“Whatever.” Simon wasn’t in the mood to exchange quips with her at the moment. He still had to fight the yawns that assaulted him. And he needed to pee. He raised his hand. “Miss Garfield? Can I use the bathroom?”
“In a moment, Mr. West. Ms. Jangway is using the pass at the moment.”
Simon slumped back into his chair and heard something hit the floor beneath him. He looked and saw his yellow highlighter there. It had fallen in his lap while he slept and, when he had moved just one more time, it had become jostled and fell. Simon looked at his crotch, where the highlighter had been, and silently groaned: it had stained his pants.
Ordinarily, if he’d been wearing jeans, it wouldn’t be noticeable, but Simon was wearing khaki pants and the yellow shone as brightly as a beacon. He looked around the classroom, at all the other highlighters in hand that Miss Garfield insisted her students use when marking important notes in the textbook. They were wiggling in their owners hands as if waving at Simon and congratulating him on making it look like he’d wet himself.
Betty Jangway came through the door and gave the pass, a tiger-striped ruler with Garfield printed on it, to the teacher. “Mr. West, you may use the bathroom now.”
Simon felt his face flush red. “Nah, I don’t need to use it anymore.”
“If it was important enough to disrupt my lecture a minute ago, then it still must be. Now go.” She looked angry as she spoke and Simon felt his pulse quicken. He knew that if he got up, the other students would plainly seen the large, yellow stain on his crotch and he’d be the laughing stock of the tenth grade, if not the entire school. Grabbing his text book and holding it in front of his crotch, he got up to retrieve the hall pass.
He passed by Jared Glick, the token class clown, as he did so. Jared was the kind of person who would say anything to get a laugh. As if he was aiming to make Simon’s life worse, he shouted, “Jeez, Simon! What’re you hiding under that book?”
The class whooped in laughter and Simon was happy to imagine that they thought impure of him instead of thinking that he’d wet himself. But Jared grabbed for the book and Simon, flinching, dropped it. He quickly grabbed the pass and darted out the door, worried that someone had seen his stain. He went to the bathroom, into a stall, and sat on the seat. He was mortified.
Simon then became agitated when he realized the seat was a little wet from when some kid had not lifted it to use it. He hit the stall wall with an open fist and a call came from the next seat: “I’m hurrying, I’m hurrying!” Simon sighed and covered his face with one hand while clutching the hall pass with the other.
“It’s the last class of the day,” he whispered to himself.
“I know, pal. I’m not gonna miss the bus. I’m a senior. I have a car.”
“I’m not talking to you!” He grumbled again. I can just wait in here until the bell and… and… But he didn’t know what he was going to do. He still had to ride the bus home, and everyone would see.
He then had an idea.
Simon strode into Miss Garfield’s classroom with confidence. He sat down and Jana leaned forward to ask, “Weren’t you wearing khakis when you left?” He nodded and silently thanked Jacob Wembly, the senior who had traded pants with him in exchange for a copy of Ghetto Thug 3, the very game that had caused Simon to miss out on sleep. He felt it was a decent price to pay, considering the circumstances.
And the jeans were a little big, but Simon could handle it. Just gotta make it until the bell.
It rang and they all stood to head for their buses. Jana followed him like a puppy and sat down next to him on the bus. “So, where’s your pants?”
“Jason Wembly has ‘em.”
Simon nodded. “Long story.”
Jana accepted that with a smile. “Wanna play Ghetto Thug at your house?”
“Sure,” Simon said, knowing it was a one-player game that Jana would simply be watching him play. He then frowned and patted his pockets. Simon punched the seat in front of him, bringing a curious look from its occupant.
“What’s wrong?” Jana asked
“I left my keys in my pants. Mom won’t get home ‘til late.”
“That’s okay. You can come to my house.”
Simon paused before answering, but knew it was for the best. He could handle the rumor that the two were dating. It’s better than letting everyone think I wet myself, at least.
When exited at her house, he tripped on the extra pants fabric underfoot and knocked out a front tooth on the sidewalk. Everyone on the bus whooped and hollered and, until the end of his high school days, he was known as The Gap.
Word Count: 999