Chapter 2.4

“Ok, class is almost over—for homework, do the problems on page 56 and 57, odds only.” Mr. O’Reilly announced after looking at the clock. Students started packing up their belongings as the bell rang right on cue. “And remember there’s a test on this chapter on Friday. See you all tomorrow.”

It was about time. Jonah felt like he was practically living at school, between recent detentions and that after-school library session yesterday. What an annoying waste of time that was. Just one more period to go, and then he was free. He grabbed his stuff and made a beeline for the door as the other students moseyed their way out of the classroom. 

“Jonah!” he heard, stopping him in his tracks. He turned to face his caller who had thwarted his quick escape from third period. Mr. O’Reilly motioned with his hand for Jonah to join him, adding, “Let’s chat for a second.”

Jonah complied begrudgingly and made his way to the teacher’s desk. He stood there with a plain expression as Mr. O’Reilly sat down in his office chair and turned to lean his elbows on the desk. The teacher spoke once everyone had left the room.

“I can’t help but notice you’ve done absolutely nothing in my class. You haven’t handed in any homework and your tests are turned in completely empty. Do you not understand the material, or?”


“Listen,” Mr. O’Reilly continued, as Jonah made no attempt to offer an explanation. “If nothing changes, I’m going to have to fail you. I don’t like doing that, plus you’d just have to see me again next semester. It’s not too late to get a passing grade—”

Annie found herself in earshot of a conversation that she very much wanted to continue listening to. Under better judgement, she would have walked away but she was unable to help herself from eavesdropping. All detective work was done slightly underhandedly, right? She peered closer into the door frame, which apparently was enough for Mr. O’Reilly to notice something out of the corner of his eye.

“Oh, Annie!”

Annie jumped back after being sighted. She felt bad that she was spying but at least her presence there was entirely innocent. She shuffled into the threshold and said abashed, “Sorry, Mr. O’Reilly. I don’t mean to intrude, I just have a question about our quiz before class…”

“Ok, just a second,” he nodded and turned back to Jonah, who had until this moment remained emotionless. But after seeing Annie at the door, Jonah felt his stomach drop and became slightly nauseous. “Jonah, you get the idea. If you need any help…”

“I can help!” Annie shouted loudly from across the room.

Jonah’s stomach sank deeper as he became visibly irritated. He let out a soft and despairing “No…”, closing his eyes as if that would stop the events from unfolding. He was helpless from stopping Annie who, like a wrecking ball, strode over to the desk where he stood. She kept her attention on Mr. O’Reilly as if she knew Jonah was already shooting her a fiery death glare.

“We’re already working on a project together for another class, so I don’t see why we couldn’t go over some math as well.”

“Seriously, who asked you?” Jonah said pointedly. His eyebrows furrowed and his eyes sparked.

She looked at him apologetically, “Well, I—“

“I think it’s a great idea.” Mr. O’Reilly interjected. 

Jonah moaned, dreaming that this was all a sick joke. How does this keep happening to me, he wondered. He waited for someone to jump out and say “Gotcha!” like he was on a reality TV show or something.

“Jonah, you should get to class.” Mr. O’Reilly pointed to the clock. Jonah huffed at him, rolling his eyes considering that it was because of him that Jonah was still there in the first place. He grumbled and shook his head out of annoyance, then brushed past Annie who was standing meekly beside him. Students from the next class were piling in and Jonah groaned some more as he pushed through them to leave the classroom.  

Annie watched as Jonah stormed off. 

“Hey Annie, thanks for the offer.” 

“Yeah, sure.”

Despite what he said, Mr. O’Reilly in fact did not know if this was a great idea or not. He knew Annie was being gracious and would be a great tutor, but he worried about Jonah’s undeniable temper. As far as students go, he thought the two couldn’t be more polar opposites. Maybe that was a good thing, he wasn’t sure. He felt the need to look out for his students, whether that was academically or otherwise. And this scenario gave him a bad feeling in his gut.

“Just be careful around him…,” he warned. “Now what was your question?”

Annie blinked. In all the commotion, she completely forgot she had come with a question about the quiz. “Oh, right.”

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