“All right class, before we begin, I want you to pass your assignments.” Ms. Marquez, the English teacher said.
Some students, like Carla, already had their paper in front of them and were passing them to the person in front of them. The rest of the students were browsing through their bags in panic, praying to whatever higher power above that they did brought their homework.
Faith was optimistic. She always prepare her things the night before and she was confident that she had the sheet of paper containing her essay inserted somewhere. Not until she zipped open the last pocket and leafed through her books and notebooks did she sweat heavily in fear.
And then she remembered. Her essay was on her study table. She never got to place it inside her bag because she thought she could revise it earlier before going to school. But her alarm never rang.
“All essays here? Remember what I told you yesterday, since we were not able to finish our discussion, your homework will consist of half your recitation grade for today and our daily ten point quiz.”
Faith, who never got anything less than a passing grade, nearly banged her head on her desk in frustration.
“Today is the deadline for your investigatory project plan. No project plan, no approval of science experiment. Ergo, no science experiment, no grade. Now go to your partners and finalize everything before consulting with me.” Mr. Robles instructed the class.
“Hey Faith, do you mind if I still add some things to our proposal?” Sheila, Faith’s partner and resident overachiever, said as she went over.
“Sure. Let me just get it.” Faith rummaged through her bag, looking for their project plan. When she finished searching through every space inside her bag without finding it, she felt the blood drain from her body.
“Faith? The project plan?” Shiela had a huge frown on her face, tapping her ballpen impatiently on Faith’s desk.
“Ah…” Faith took a deep breath, frantically searching for the right words to explain the situation delicately and carefully. “Uhm, you see…”
“Wow, this is a first. You usually have your packed lunch.” Iris commented as Faith waited in line with her. “I never see you lining up with the rest of us here.”
“I overslept and forgot to bring my lunchbox. I’m sure my mother’s mad right now.” Faith replied sheepishly.
“There’s a first time for everybody. But honestly, you have a horrendous unlucky streak today. A tardy slip, forgotten homework, getting yelled at by Sheila…well, Sheila yells at everybody anyway.” Iris paid for her lunch. “Oh, Jamie found us seats. I’ll go ahead.”
“Sure.” Faith reached inside her skirt pocket for her wallet. To her disbelief and dismay, she could only feel her handkerchief. She nervously looked behind her, and saw a long line of students waiting; most of them had irritated looks on their faces. She gulped at the thought of causing a scene, and was starting to stammer out an apology to the annoyed cashier, when someone placed some money in front of her.
“Here, I’ll pay for her.” Mike smiled at both the cashier and Faith. The cashier just nodded as he accepted the payment and waved them away.
“Mike. Yes. Thanks. I’ll pay you tomorrow.”
Mike laughed and shook his head. “You don’t owe me anything. See you around.” She watched as he walked away, hands inside his pants pockets and whistling out of tune.
“Excuse me!” A girl bumped into her. “Sorry!”
Faith, startled, nearly dropped her lunch tray.
“Good afternoon! Pop quiz, you guys.” Mr. Macasaet, their Social Studies teacher, said as he entered the classroom. The students (except for the teachers’ pets and the overachievers) groaned in unison.
Their teacher ignored them. “Take out a ½ sheet of paper, lengthwise and number it one to 10. Then at the back part, write ‘Essay’ and ‘10 points’.”
Marco raised his hand, and stood up when Mr. Macasaet acknowledged him. “Sir, what’s the quiz all about?”
“Prehistory and pre-colonial history, Marco. Now, everyone ready?”
Faith paled. Of course, she had forgotten that the first rule Mr. Macasaet established during the first day of class was to always prepare for a surprise quiz. And she made the mistake of being confident when their teacher didn’t give them anything for the last two weeks.
“Question number one: Who established the Sultanate of Maguindanao?”
The least thing Faith could do was to frantically think of a name that sounded like a Muslim one. She remembered one from somewhere, and wrote it down. She tried to remember all the random facts she knew and hoped that it would be enough to get her through the quiz. Which it did, and she managed to answer all the questions.
She never expected to get a high score, but she never thought that she would get a zero.
And the knockout punch? When Mr. Macasaet announced that he had to leave their class immediately as he had an important conference to attend, he left them to read the chapters about the early Spanish expeditions, and told them that their quiz scores would reflect their recitation grade for that day.
Faith wondered if the worst was over.
“Sorry, I don’t have a spare.” Iris whispered. “Ask Carla. She always has extras.”
Faith knew that, but she didn’t want to. Carla was one of her classmates who always get in her nerves. And to owe the girl something, even as small as borrowing a pen, was unpleasant for her. But she didn’t have a choice
“Carla.” She called softly. When the girl didn’t answer, she bit her lip, annoyed, and called her again. “Carla.” But there was still no reply. She took a deep breath and tapped the shoulder of the girl seated in front of her. “Carla!”
“What?” Carla turned, frowning.
“May I borrow your pen?”
“You’re not welcome. Now stop disturbing me.”
She swore never to ask anything of that person again. Never ever again.
Like any normal high school student, Faith dreaded Mathematics. Not because the subject was hard (well, yes it is, for normal students), but she feared the person teaching the subject the most. She was known as “Mrs. Cruz”, and even the teacher’s pets and the overachievers tremble in their seats as soon as she enters the classroom. (The other students were frantically praying to every deity to save their lives.) Mrs. Cruz spared no mercy for anyone. And she was very, very good at remembering faces and names, especially if someone broke a rule or got a failing grade in her quiz.
“Good afternoon. Take out your notebooks and textbooks, and we’ll begin today’s lesson after I go around.”
Everyone scrambled for their things with some noise, and suddenly became quiet as Mrs. Cruz calmly slammed her things down on the table. (Despite the classroom being warm, most of the students were shivering.)
Faith wanted to cry as she came up empty. She had only brought her notebook, and her textbook was missing. (She later found it under her bed.) After passing by her desk, Mrs. Cruz looked at her and nodded. She announced in her usual chilly voice that she was giving a surprise test, 20 points, all problem solving questions, and no points for the solutions.
Faith prayed for an asteroid to hit Earth so her classmates would stop looking at her as if they would drop nuclear missiles on her head.