by K.A. Franks
Various people's lives interconnect as 3 of them are faced with the possibility of death.
I cried again today. Last month when the results to a few routine exams came back--I cried for the first time in thirty-something odd years. I had scheduled my usual six-month checkup with Dr. Conway for the thirteenth of May. And seeing as though I was never one to fall ill I went in that day expecting nothing, but a routine examination.
“Traci,” Dr. Conway said when he re-entered the examining room. “I have some news.”
“News?” I said shocked that there could be any significant development concerning my unusually good health.
“Yes, Traci news. As you know, today I ordered for you to have some blood work taken.”
“Yes. Is there something wrong doctor?”
“Well Traci, I’m afraid that your test results showed that there are a number of your cells that are multiplying uncontrollably, which are destroying your healthy tissue.”
“I’m not sure I quite understand what you’re getting at doctor.”
“Traci, you have a malignant tumor.”
“A tumor? But how?”
“We’re not sure just yet, but we’re going to…”
“Wait,” I said, interrupting him. “What exactly does ‘malignant’ mean?”
“What does it mean?”
“It means that more than likely the tumor that is invading the tissue around it may spread to other parts of the body.”
“Which would mean?”
“It’s liable to cause death or serious disablement unless effectively treated.”
“So then it’s treatable?”
“Yes, but I’ll need to run some more tests to rule out the different forms.”
“Such as sarcomas, carcinomas, leukemia’s, or lymphomas. So just try and relax until we have a better idea of what exactly we’re dealing with.”
That was four months ago. Today, I received a call notifying me that my cancer had reached the level of stage four. This phone call had informed me that all of the treatments I had undergone, all of the medications had been completely useless.
And now my only other option was to seek out a hospice care program that would focus on my well-being rather than a cure. An option that included home visits by professionals such as nurses who would further provide me with drugs for pain management. My only other option--to die.
I can remember when I had everything: fortune, fame, love. All within just inches of my grasp. God, how I reveled in knowing that my opinion was the deciding factor. At how my face was the only face that mattered, and how my heart was the only heart worth trying for. But that was back when I was known as Traci Carroll--world famous supermodel; those days had all but come and gone. But out of all of the moments in my heyday, most of all I remembered Adam.
As I looked in the large, dark blue footlocker I kept in the bottom of my walk-in closet I picked up an old photograph of a particularly handsome young man who was holding a camera. Adam Reid, a well-liked photographer who had at one point in time been my long-term, live-in boyfriend; my partner. The great love of my life. As I looked at the picture, I could suddenly remember it all as if it were merely yesterday.
“I can’t find my lens for Stella Dallas. Have you seen it?”
Adam had personally named each and every one of his beloved camera’s after specific female characters played by his favorite classic film stars. Because if there was anything that Adam loved more than cameras, it was films and women; and not particularly in that order. Although throughout all of our years together he had always remained faithful, I sometimes had my moments of unfounded insecurity.
“Did you check by the lamp?” I asked him for what I’m sure had to have been the umpteenth time that week.
“I already looked over there,” he had then assured me.
I got up from behind my bathroom mirror, with only half of my hair in rollers and walked towards the lamp.
“Well wouldn't you know it,” I said as I handed him his lens.
“I swear, I just looked over there.”
“Of course you did,” I sighed as I returned to the mirror.
“Is something wrong?”
“Not at all. I just wish you’d be more serious-minded when it comes to…”
“When it comes to what, Trace? Work? Money?”
I paused, trying to think of what I should say next. We had had this conversation so many times, that I had learned not to rush into saying things; unless I was willing to spend another night without him in our large, shared flat.
“No, Adam. I just meant that I wish you’d take more care with where you place your belongings.”
By the time Adam had started shouting, it was obvious that I had still somehow managed to say the wrong thing.
“What do you mean? You don’t think I care about where I put my things? You don’t think I care about my work?”
“No, Adam. That’s not what I said at all.”
“You don’t think I get a little annoyed when I see one of your many articles of clothing draped around my green room?”
“I’m sorry, Adam. I just…”
“You just what, Trace? Think about no one but yourself, lately?”
“You know that’s not true!”
“Do I? I don’t know Trace, it seems to me that ever since you got picked up for that international spread your heads been screwed on a little backwards.”
“You’re just jealous!” I yelled as I rolled the remaining of my hair into curlers.
“Of you, sweetheart? Never!”
“Oh really? Then why is it that I can’t go anywhere, or say anything to anyone without you knowing about it and throwing a fit like the one your throwing right now?”
“A fit? Me? You’re the one who walks around now acting like you’re so damn untouchable. Ladies and gentlemen,” Adam started, as he grabbed my hairbrush from the counter and began speaking into it. “I present to you miss Traci Carroll - world famous supermodel. Not to mention god‘s subtle gift to all mankind!”!”
“Well maybe I am!” I said as I pulled the covers back on our bed and climbed inside.
“Yeah,” I said placing the blanket right beneath my chin.
Adam walked over to the foot of the bed and pulled the covers up, “Well then, if that were the case you think I’d be able to do this?” He smiled broadly as he began tickling my feet.
“Stop it, Adam. Stop,” I laughed as I pleaded with him.
He laughed slightly as he put the covers back down and climbed onto the bed.
“I’m sorry, Trace,” he said as he kissed my forehead, then hugged me close to him.
Back then, Adam had been the only one to know of my Achilles heel. But now as I sat on my bed, alone, still looking at him in the picture I cried as I realized that he had been it all along.
I’d never planned on becoming a model, it was just something that happened really. From an early age, I had always wanted to become a ballerina; ever since my father had taken me to my first ballet for my fifth birthday. Though it was the last birthday I ever celebrated with my father before he passed, I swore to myself that I’d become a famous ballerina - so that even my father would be able to hear of his daughter’s accomplishments in heaven.
By the time I was seventeen, I had danced on even more stages than Marie Taglioni, herself.
“Traci, darling,” my manager mother, Jacqueline said to me one night after a performance rehearsal. “There’s someone here that I’d like you to meet.”
I had just walked offstage and made my way into the backstage fitting rooms.
“Hello,” I said swiftly to the tall, dark haired man that stood next to mother, as I grabbed a towel and proceeded to wipe beads of sweat from my face.
“Come now, Traci,” my mother said with a feigned tone that was all too familiar to me. “Where are your manners?”
My mother grabbed the towel away from me, before looking back towards the dark haired man, “You’ll have to forgive my daughter here, Desmond. She’s usually much more well-mannered. I don’t know what on earth’s gotten into her this evening.”
“It’s perfectly fine, Jacqueline,” Desmond smiled. “I’m sure Traci here is more than exhausted after such a brilliant performance. As your mother and I watched you perform from the audience, I couldn't help but to remind her of what such an illuminating beauty she’s raised. May I,” Desmond said as he extended his arm towards mine.
I looked in Jacqueline's direction to see whether or not she approved of Desmond's request. After she had flashed me an approving glance, I slowly lifted my hand up and placed it in Desmond's.
"Ah," he sighed. "Espléndido."
To this day I’m not sure whether or not it was Desmond’s charming, crystal blue eyes or his suave Catalan accent that I fell for--the only thing I know is that I fell for him; foolishly and wholeheartedly.
Desmond had proposed marriage to me on more occasions than I could remember, but on one night in particular, the desperation behind his proposition had seemed more relevant than ever.
“Traci,” he said, “if you don’t marry me now, you never will.”
It was the desperation that filled his eyes and overpowered his voice that lead me to finally say, ‘yes.’ Sure I was young and impressionable, but Desmond Santos was a cultured, attractive older man; who by entering my life had furthered my career in more ways than I could ever had imagined. I owed him, didn't I? Besides, he was the catch of a lifetime, wasn't he? When was I ever gonna get a better offer than this?
Change of Heart
It wasn’t long after our engagement that I began to see a change in Desmond, for the worse. He began to drink more than usual, everything we ever said or did always resulted in a fight, and little by little he began to take control of both my modeling career and personal life.
He forbid me from doing any and all photography shoots that included: modeling swimwear, endorsing makeup campaigns, too suggestive fragrance ads. As well as modeling any formal wear, that to him seemed too revealing. By the time my nineteenth birthday rolled around, I was to be married to a man that I could barely stand being around, much less live with.
One night, after a particularly terrible fight with Desmond my mother called me.
“We should have lunch tomorrow afternoon,” she suggested over the phone.
Sure, I naively thought. Anything to keep my distance from my soon-to-be husband. The next day at lunch I’d had to wear a pair of extra large sunglasses in order to cover a fresh new bruise I’d received from Desmond, since my attempt at covering it with makeup hadn’t done the trick. When my mother asked me why I was wearing sunglasses inside, I decided to take them off to show her, her beloved son-in-law’s latest project.
“Oh, Traci what did you do to him? What did you say?” were the first words that spouted from her mouth.
“Me? Nothing,” I managed to finally growl out. “This is it, mother. I’m leaving him today!”
“Now, now Trace. You had to have known Desmond had a bit of a temper before you agreed to marry him. Now just be a good fiancée and do everything he asks of you, until the two of you can work this all out.”
“You mean until he kills me?”
“Traci,” my mother said in a low whisper. “Now you no better than to raise your voice in public, like this,” she said as she feigned a laugh. “Real women know when and how to conduct their personal affairs. They know how to discuss private matters exactly where they belong--in private.”
“Well, mother,” I inadvertently shouted as I stood up, “a real woman would never put up with this. With the cheating and the abuse. Daddy would’ve never laid a hand on you!”
The items on our table rattled as my mother pounded her fist against the table. It was the first time I had ever seen her lose her poise in public.
“Traci,” she said before regaining her composure. “You don’t have the slightest idea of what went on between your father and I. And frankly my dear, you never will. Because I for one, wouldn’t give you so much as the satisfaction to ever try throwing anything in my face whenever you felt the need to. So what I suggest you do dear is go home, dry your eyes, take yourself a nice long bath, and then wait patiently for your fiancée to call.”
Following the argument with my mother, I went home, dried my eyes, and then ran myself a nice warm bath. After spending most of my time in the water contemplating what my next step should be, I slipped out of the tub and wrapped my towel around me. But as I was exiting the bathroom I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. As I looked closer in the mirror, I noticed that I didn’t recognize the sad, swollen eyed face that was looking back at me. This wasn’t me--a sullen faced girl, who had now become the victim of her very own life.
It was then that I made my decision. I removed the diamond engagement ring that Desmond had given me from my right hand and placed it inside of an envelope and put it in my purse. After I had gotten dressed, I packed up everything that I could fit in my suitcases and hauled them out to my car. I went to the bank and emptied all of the contents from my safety deposit box, my checking account, and my savings. Finally, before catching my flight out of New York, I arrived at Desmond’s apartment building.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Carroll, but Mr. Santos just left shortly before you arrived,” the man at the front desk explained.
“Well thank you, George, but his timing couldn't have been better,” I said as I searched through my purse for Desmond’s spare apartment key. “George, you wouldn't by chance have a piece of paper that I could use, would you?”
As I rode the elevator up to Desmond’s floor, I couldn't help but feel a sense of my self-worth being brought back to life, due to what I was about to do. I opened the door and immediately removed the envelope from my purse and placed it on his counter. I grabbed a pen from off of Desmond’s coffee table and began writing on the piece of paper I had gotten from George, downstairs.
After writing Desmond’s name on the envelope I reread the note, before placing it inside of the envelope.
Desmond, it read.
I changed my mind.
I sealed the envelope, before taking one last look at what would've been my soon-to-be future as Mrs. Desmond Santos, before leaving. When I’d made my way back downstairs I handed George, Desmond’s key.
“Here you go, George,” I said as I gave George the key. “I certainly won’t be needing this anymore.”
It’s 10:45 on a Tuesday morning. Today my wife, Jenna and I are scheduled to see her doctor at exactly 1:15, this afternoon. Though the realization of our appointment consumes my thoughts, I am still somehow able to perform in physician mode. This morning I am meeting with a new patient, Lily Howell. Though she was referred to me, through a fellow patient just last week; Lily has already been scheduled for an eleven o‘clock session.
As soon as Lily walks into my office, I immediately recognize her from the monthly interior design publications that my secretary is so fond of reading.
“Good morning, Dr. Reid,” she says when she enters.
“Good morning, Mrs. Howell or would you prefer Lily?”
“Lily’s fine,” she says as she sits down. “You’ll have to excuse me if I seem a little nervous, doctor. It’s just that I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“Of course. So Lily, who exactly were you referred to me by?”
“I was referred to your office by my close friend, Jill Howard.”
“And why exactly are you interested in seeking treatment from a psychiatrist?”
“Well Dr. Reid, usually I’d consider myself a person who finds balancing the things in her life fairly easy. But lately I’ve been feeling as if though I just can’t push myself to make the things in my life balance out anymore.”
“For instance, my oldest son, Jack--who is twenty-four now, left home right before his nineteenth birthday. He didn’t even show up to walk across the stage for his high school graduation ceremony.”
“Do you have any idea of what could have suddenly brought this behavior about?”
Lily nodded, “He was angry with me.”
“Well, he’d recently found out something that I had been keeping secret from him, my husband, Kurt, and my two other younger children, Lindsay and Michael.”
“He found out that he wasn’t my first-born.”
“And how exactly did Jack find this out?”
“He’d overheard me and his grandmother arguing about it. You see when I was a teenager, I wasn’t exactly the daughter that parents dream about having. I was young, angry, and rebellious. And back then I did just about anything I could think of to go against my parents. When I got pregnant at nineteen, it seemed like it was just another reason to be angry at them.”
“Why do you think you were so angry with your parents?”
“Well when I was fifteen, my mother took me and my brother, David and left my father. So I guess I’d always been angry with them for splitting the four of us up.”
“Did your mother ever sit you and your brother down and explain to you why she’d left your father?”
“You know, she didn’t. And I guess that was another reason that always bugged me about the whole thing. But I think it had something to do with the fact that my dad was always too busy to bother, you know?” Lily said as she raised her head up to avoid crying.
“Kleenex?” I suggested, handing her a fresh box of tissues.
“Thank you,” she said as she grabbed a few sheets to wipe her face with. “It was like he never had enough time in the day to focus on his work. It consumed his entire life and so he would never dare waste any of that precious time he did have, spending it with us. So I think one day, my mom just got sick of waiting for him to come around, and she just left.”
“So how did the rest of your family take it?”
“Well I haven’t been in contact with my father since my mom left him and me and my brother, David haven‘t spoken in years, so I really wouldn’t know, but…”
“I actually meant the secret.”
“Oh, well Lindsay and Michael, being Jack’s younger siblings took it pretty hard, of course. But I don’t think anyone took Jack’s leaving, nearly as hard as my husband, Kurt did.”
“So you told them about having had a previous child?”
“Oh, that? No, they still don’t know.”
“Should they? I mean to me, it seems it would only complicate things further. When Jack left he told me he promised he’d keep my secret, but that he just couldn’t do it without leaving. So he left.”
“And how exactly did you explain his leaving to the rest of your family?”
“Teenage angst. What else? I mean, he was heading off to college soon anyway. Though I do sometimes feel that my husband, Kurt, may have had his doubts about the whole thing.”
“I’m sure, he did.”
“In my experience, a parent usually knows their child’s personality. And once said child, begins acting out of what’s considered to be his or her usual norm, the parent usually catches on. Did Jack ever act out before?”
“Did he ever display any signs of teenage angst, before this?”
“Not that I can remember.”
“Then why then, when he was well on his way to approaching his twenties would he begin to exhibit signs of teenage angst that had never before been exemplified?”
“So what,” Lily said as she leaned forward on the couch. “You’re saying I’m a bad mom?”
“No, Lily. I’m not saying that. Do you think you’re a bad mother?”
“Well I didn't until just now. I mean, I know I’m no mother of the year, but geeze…I do the best I can, you know? The best I know how to. My mom never sat me down and taught me how to be a mother. Being a mother, isn't something they just teach you while you’re in school!”
I nodded my head occasionally as Lily continued, “Well, Lily if you’d like I could give you a few names and suggestions of places to go that could help teach you better ways to go about becoming a better parent. But only if that’s something that you would be interested in exploring.”
“But of course, no one can push you into making this decision, Lily. It has to be something that you want, something that you decide on your own.”
“I’ll think about it,” she said, just before our session was up. “And I’ll get back to you.”
“Alright, then,” I said as I looked at the time on my watch. “Well shall we say until next time, then?”
“Until next time, Dr. Reid,” Lily waved as she left.
My first session with design mogul, Lily Howell had proven to be far beyond normal, but then again I thought to myself while driving from the office to meet Jenna at the clinic, what patient’s session had ever been?
“Jason,” Jenna said when I walked into the clinic. “I was beginning to wonder whether you were going to make it or not.”
I laughed as I took a seat in the waiting room besides her, “Oh? Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
Though as I took a quick glance around the waiting room and noticed a young coughing toddler, whose mother kept yelling for him to sit down and cover his mouth I wondered if Jenna had unknowingly chosen to sit in the sick patients waiting room by mistake.
“Jenna, honey? Are you sure we’re in the right waiting room section?”
Jenna nodded and proceeded to usher the sick boy towards her, by offering him a kind smile.
She reached into her purse and pulled out an orange-flavored safety sucker, “Excuse me, ma’am but would it be alright if I gave him this sucker?”
The young boy’s mother looked at Jenna, then back at her son and nodded in agreement.
Suddenly my wife‘s inner nurse‘s voice kicked in, “He’s not allergic to candy, food coloring, or oranges is he?” she asked the boy’s mother, before handing the young boy the lollipop.
“No,” the boy’s mother laughed as she assured her. “It’s fine.”
“Alright then, just checking. These days, you can never be too careful. Here you go, sweetie,” Jenna said as the feverish child looked up at her in amazement, after she‘d handed him the sucker.
As I looked on at my wife’s interaction with the sick young toddler, I was reminded of one of the many reasons I had married her. And also the reason we had come to the clinic in the first place.
“Jenna Reid,” a nurse finally called out. “The doctor will see you now.”
“So,” I’d said that same night, “earlier today, at the clinic. You know, about what your doctor said. How’d you feel about that?”
I’d tried hinting at the subject earlier, but Jenna’s tact at avoiding the conversation had proven to be far more willful than my subtle attempts.
“Honey,” she called out from the bathroom in our bedroom, “do you think we could talk about maybe getting the tile in the bathroom redone? Because I think it’s beginning to come up around where the tub is, more and more everyday.”
“Jenna, honey did you hear what I said?”
Suddenly I could hear water being ran from inside the bathroom.
“I’m sorry, babe, but I can’t hear anything over this water.”
“Jenna,” I said as I walked into the bathroom and turned off the water. “I want to talk about what happened today at the clinic. We need to talk about it.”
“What’s there to talk about?” Jenna asked as she looked up at me puzzlingly, still kneeling in the floor while her arms rested over the tub.
“What’s there to talk about? Jen, are you kidding me?”
“Not really,” she shrugged. “The doctor said what she had to say, we asked questions. What else is there to it?”
“A lot! There’s a lot more to it. For one, how did you feel about what the doctor had to say?”
“Oh, Jason,” Jenna said as she lowered head. “Don’t do that with me. Not today.”
“Do what?” I asked as I moved from the side of the tub, down to the floor to sit besides her.
“You know, that thing. That thing you do with your voice.”
I laughed for a moment, “What thing?”
“I don’t know, Jason it’s like you just tune into therapist mode, all of a sudden. And you start to analyze everything and everyone. Oh,” she said as she lowered her voice, “and how do you feel about that?”
I looked at my wife in utter disbelief, “Well Jenna, if I’ve made you feel that way then I apologize.”
“You see, Jason,” Jenna sighed. “It’s like I’m talking to a brick wall or something. It’s not ‘if’ you’ve made me feel that way, you have. You’re doing it right now. A simple ‘I’m sorry,’ would’ve been fine. But no, instead I get some sort of forced, half-heartedly bland apology from the robotic, Dr. Reid.”
“Now, Jen that’s not fair.”
“You’re right, Jason it isn’t. Not to me or to you…”
As I stood up to leave the bathroom, a sudden sense of frustration provoked me, “Well what exactly do you want me to do then, Jen? Huh,” I asked loudly. “What do you need me to do?”
“I need for you to be my husband, Jason,” she said as she stood at the bathroom door. “Not my psychiatrist.”
For a while, I sat on the edge of our bed - just thinking; until finally I grabbed a pillow from behind me and headed towards the closet for a blanket. When I’d finally gotten hold of a particularly comfortable looking blanket, a small object unexpectedly fell from underneath it. I reached down to pick it up and saw that it was a photo of me and Jenna at our high school’s winter formal.
In the picture, Jenna stood besides me in a red and white polka dotted dress, with her sandy blonde hair tied back in a pony tail, while her smiling, bright red lips matched the shade of the fabric on her dress. I’d remembered that night specifically, because the theme of the dance had been: Candy land, and also because that night had been the first time I had ever kissed Jenna.
Looking at the picture, it suddenly occurred to me that Jenna had been right all along. All at once, I was reminded of how for the past few months the decision surrounding our attempts at expanding our family had somehow formed a progressive strain within our marriage. A strain that had been completely unaware to me, but all too devastatingly noticeable to my wife.
“Jenna,” I whispered from the other side of the bathroom door. “I know that we’ve been going through a lot lately, what with you and your new job and me with my clients. And I also know that you having to deal with me being so uptight lately hasn’t been any help, either. But I want you to know that whenever you’re ready to talk, I’m here. And not as a therapist or a psychiatrist, but as me - your husband, Jason.”
I slid the photograph underneath the bathroom door and continued, “I love you, Jenna Reid. I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you sitting in the front row of Mr. Dwyer’s ninth grade English class. And I know that lately I haven’t said it nearly as much as I should, but there it is. Plain and simple. No second-guessing or psychoanalysis needed.”
As I sat in the floor, steadily resting my head on the bathroom door. I began to remember the first time I had encountered Jenna. I had been fourteen years old, and had newly moved back to New York to live with my dad. My mom and dad had divorced when I was younger and my mother had re-married a man who was in the military. He was a nice enough guy, but due to his constant deployments we were constantly relocating. Which with my luck, usually resulted in us moving just as I had finally gotten acquainted with a place.
When it was time for me to start high school I had decided that my high school experience would not be one that I’d look back on in fragments. So my parents and I had come to an agreement - I would move in with my dad so that I could carry out high school, consistently. I had already gone through two whole classes as the new kid, and had wanted nothing more than to retreat in the very back of the room of my third period English class. The thing is, I just hadn't been counting on it being Mr. Dwyer‘s classroom.
“You there,” Mr. Dwyer called out in his sharp Bostonian accent.
“No. The kid right behind you, who just so happens to have the exact same face. Yeah, you. You’re Jason Reid, are you not?”
“Yeah. I mean, yes, I am.”
“Well, Mr. Reid, it says here that you’re new to our great state of New York. So what say you give the class a small introduction?”
I slid out from under my desk and slowly made my way to the front of the classroom. I looked up at Mr. Dwyer as he sat, barely leaning on the front of his desk.
“What exactly do you want to know?”
“You tell us, Reid. What brought you to New York this year?”
“Well my step-dad is in the military and so we usually move around a lot. And I just thought that I wanted to stay in one place for once. You know, just starting high school and all. So I moved here to live with my dad.”
“And how has your day been so far?”
“It’s been alright, I guess.”
“Well it least it had been, before I made you come up here, right? Well Reid, you can take your seat now. And I must say that I appreciate your candor and I also thank you for allowing me to pick on you a little. However, don‘t take it personally though, I do it with love. Right, Miss Green?”
Jenna Green, as she had been known as then, had been seated directly two seats in front of me. She looked up at Mr. Dwyer, startlingly.
“Miss Green, did you by chance, happen to hear a word that Jason said?”
“Of course, Mr. Dwyer.”
“Well then, in that case would you mind refreshing my memory as to where Mr. Reid said he came from before he washed up on our lovely New York shores?”
I felt sorry for her as I watched as she attempted racking her brain to remember where I had been from before I moved here. A thing that I hadn’t even thought to mention in my introduction, due to my being so nervous.
“Well, Miss Green?”
“California,” I suddenly called out.
“Thank you, Mr. Reid. But I believe my question was directed at Miss Green, here.”
“Yeah, I know that but I’m pretty sure that I forgot to mention that while I was up there introducing myself.”
“Well, Miss Green. It looks like you’ve just caught yourself a lucky break. Now what exactly is it that you were working on that made you so uninterested in getting to know our new student?”
Jenna held up her piece of paper to Mr. Dwyer, “It’s not that I wasn’t interested, Mr. Dwyer. It’s just that I was trying to finish working on the bell work you assigned on the board.”
“Oh,” Mr. Dwyer said surprisingly, as he turned to face the chalk board. “I’d nearly forgotten. Well, in that case, you’ll have to excuse me. I have somewhat of a low tolerance for people whom I assume are being disrespectful to others.”
Now, I'm not sure if it was the thought of getting one up on Mr. Dwyer or the fact that I had indirectly come to the attention of such an attractive girl, but something in me just snapped.
“Well, Mr. Dwyer,” I began, “I guess you should be more careful regarding your assumptions.”
Before I could realize what I had just said, the entire class had burst out in spurts of laughter. Just as I regained a pang of conscience, Mr. Dwyer turned to me and smiled broadly, “Touché, Mr. Reid. Touché.”