Have you pulled any great pranks?
|Prompt: Have you pulled any great pranks?
No One Cheats in Mrs. Whitley’s Class
Fifth grade. So long ago, all the memories are gone, save one.
I’m not sure this qualifies as a prank, except that it ‘fooled the establishment’ and would have ‘cost me dearly’ had it failed.
Mrs. Whitley, with snow-white hair, a pudgy figure, and a face twisted into a perpetual scowl, was the curse that dominated my fifth-grade year. She was convinced that every fifth grader was a little demon intent on mocking her and undermining her authority. To Mrs. Whitley, authority was everything. She was a piece of work, and in the matter of ‘little demons’ she was right.
This day was to end with a test. I don’t remember the subject, content, or even what tests were like in fifth grade so long ago. At the appointed time, after we all had spent the day worrying about the test, she handed out the test sheets, while railing about cheaters, and assuring us no one, absolutely no one, could elude her intense scrutiny.
In those days at that place, student desks were permanently arranged in long rows, front to back, with each desk having an ink well in the upper right corner, a pencil groove across the top, and a shelf underneath. The frames were scrolled ironwork with screws firmly fixing the desk to the floor. The front of each desk was a back panel and hinged seat for the next desk in front. My desk was the front desk in the center row, hard up against the teacher’s desk — no one in front of me, nowhere to hide.
Mrs. Whitley handed the test sheets to the students at the front of each row. We dutifully took one and passed the rest to the student behind us.
“Clear your desks!” she barked, taking up her position of vigil in the aisle beside me — so close her left hand almost touched my desk and I could smell her particular blend of sweat, body odor, and cheap perfume.
This was my moment of decision. I cleared my desk … except for my notebook which lay open in front of me and just inches from her left hand. For the next twenty minutes, feeling like twenty hours, I quietly copied the answers to the test questions from my notebook to the test sheet, while she hovered over me, her hawk-like gaze scouring the classroom for cheaters.
“Time’s up!” she bellowed.
Students passed their test sheets to the front of the room. I handed her the stack from my row, my notebook still laying open on my desk.
The next day she chastised everyone for their poor performance on the test, applauded the three (me plus two) who had a perfect score, and reminded us once again that “No one cheats in Mrs. Whitley’s class.”
Word Count: 470