The combination of the soft warm rays streaming in through the light peach linen curtains and the sweet aroma of Mum’s special lemon-coconut muffins wafting into my room, had me almost convinced this was the perfect start to an even brighter day.
A half hour later, polishing off the last of my muffin, I was on my way out the door and off to school.
1st and 2nd period went by and then the 3rd period came and all it took was Ms. Rio walking in. All of a sudden, my heart raced a mile a minute and I felt light headed. Her walking into class was my cue that my day of reckoning was finally here.
I could feel my thighs cling to the chair like my fingers do with cold ice cubes straight from the fridge. Just imagining the pain of trying to peel my plastered thighs apart had me wincing.
Today, we receive our report cards which count for about 80% of our total grade. This portion if my grade would determine my fate not only in terms of my overall performance for the year but of even greater concern is if I would live to see another day or be skinned alive by Tobeh and Case.
I don’t know how I am going to face those two fifteen year olds if it turns out I did not get good grades ….Just thinking about what they would do is making me sick to my stomach.
At the beginning of the school year, my parents had promised our “gang” a three week stay at their timeshare in the beachfront town bordering the Timini river if we all made As and no more than one B. Our “gang” is made up of Tobeh my older brother, Case and Ailsa 13 his sister both cousins on my mother’s side of the family and on my father’s side of the family, second cousins to be precise Manda, 11 and Binyeh, 12. Their father is my dad’s nephew, his older brother’s first child. Binyeh was 3 months older than me.
The agreement was that if anyone of us earned more than one B, the trip was off. In the beginning, we were relatively confident that we would not disappoint. But something happened along the way.
Things were going well up until two weeks ago, when we or more like, I received an ultimatum. Ms. Rio told my project group, that all 5 students would have our grades knocked down to Cs and maybe Fs if we continued to dedicate our in-class time to in her words “to making noise”. That was all I needed to hear. A C grade was as good as an F. Either one would cost us the trip.
“Sino! Sino! is that you? I spoke with Ms. Rio earlier today and in your package she mentioned including information on your class field trip to Oats and Goats Farm. Drop the envelope on my night stand and I will get back to her once I have a few moments to myself to look it over. She needs a response by Monday next week.” my mother instructed as I hung my coat in the coat close in the foyer.
Oh my my!!!, this is really my day of reckoning. The ride home today from Ivory Academy was the longest and most painful 40 minutes of my life. The whole time on the bus my thoughts, circled around like a plane looking for clear ground to land.
I tried to figure out how to stretch out the moment when it would be clear to all the impact of my poor performance which is completely erased any chance of our gang making the trip. Skinned alive or completely disappear from the face of the earth? I cannot even say for sure if either choice is better than the other.
Today is Thursday, so for the next 3 days, I am certain I will be tensed up with fear, wondering how much closer I am to the end. I have even considered the possibility of pleading on behalf of the rest of our gang that they not pay for poor grades since they had held up their own end of the bargain. However, as selfless as that may sound, that would have to wait because right now I am not sure that will even fly with my parents. Moreover, I have only enough space to think for and of one, me.
Following dinner that Sunday evening, while helping Ailsa and Edara clear the dishes to be washed and put away by Case and Manda, it happened. My parents summoned me to their large master bedroom with an ensuite living room. Earlier on in the day, I had rehearsed my spiel. Armed with my mental laundry list of excuses for my poor performance, I mustered what little courage I had and made my way down the hallway. Everything appeared larger than life even the flat of my foot slapping against the hardwood floors sounded louder than normal. For a quick moment, or so it seemed, my heart palpitations were popping out of my chest.
“Focus! focus! focus!” I kept telling myself “Deep breath in through nose, release through mouth. Deep breath in and out. One more time.”
“Sino we have gone over your report and Ms. Rio seems to think you have a lot of potential but before we go over her remarks in detail, your dad and I would like to hear from you what and how you can do differently in the new school year”
Like a white face mime, her lips were clearly moving but nothing was registering with me.
Turning to face me directly, my father says “..Sino, your mother just asked you a question and we would like to hear what you have to say”.
My worst fears have been confirmed but more scary is what has happened to my well-rehearsed speech.
I hear my father loud and clear. With the words clearly formed in my mind, yet for some weird reason, nothing seems to be coming out my mouth.
Oh no! I seem to have drawn a blank!
(to be continued).