Paramount
Author: Sega Parks

Chapter 17
It's A Wonderful Life

   Ever since Andy was born, his parents always wanted him to be the best at everything. When he was three years old, his father was already enrolling him in the Indiana Youth Soccer League team. When he was five, his mother signed him up for piano and flute lessons, wanting to make sure that she had a little child prodigy in the house. When he was eight years old, he had already won the second grade science fair, making him the top of his class. By the time he was eleven years old, he had already obtained fifteen awards and trophies from playing soccer. He kept all of his awards in the glass display case in his room.
 Every kid he had known thought he was perfect due to his talent in soccer, playing the piano, and being a science whiz. But it was hard work for Andy. When he was three years old, he had to be trained day and night in order to be in tiptop shape for soccer. It did come with benefits, however. Now a days, he was able to be strong and impress the girls out on the soccer field. He was practically the best on all of his soccer teams. If he didn't show up for a game, the team would be toast. He didn't understand why his parents didn't make Ariel or Rebecca do all the things Andy did. It was as if they were always focusing on him rather than Ariel and Rebecca. Even his eldest sisters spoiled him.
    But sitting in Algebra class didn't make him feel spoiled, special, or even a child prodigy at all. Math was his worst enemy. Hearing his Algebra teacher, Ms. Rosenthal, an obviously unmarried woman with stringy, gray hair, pale skin, horn-rimmed glasses, and an extremely long neck drawl on and on about the first semester was really getting to him. Not even the fact that he was sitting next to Palma Voorhees, the hot girl from The Netherlands who Maris had adopted as a new bff, could cheer him up. He put his head down on the desk, trying to tune out Ms. Rosenthal's drawls.
  "Young man." Rosenthal said semi-sternly. "Please put your head up. It's rude to sleep while someone's talking."
"I wasn't sleeping." said Andy. "I was just resting my head."
"Be that as it may," Rosenthal went on, "you can't even appear to be sleeping. Now put your head up."
A few students in his class laughed.
  He leaned in towards Palma. "Alright, you get behind and I'll push."
Palma laughed. "She's not that bad."
"Are you kidding me?" asked Andy. "She's a monster."
"She's just stern." assured Palma. "Besides, I kind of like her."
"Well, it's only the first day with her." said Andy. "I guess I can give her a try."
"That's the spirit," she said, filing her poppy-pink colored fingernails with her blue nail filer.
Andy didn't know that much about her except that she was a soccer player just like him and that she enjoyed swimming. But he knew her long enough to catch on that she always gave people the benefit of the doubt. She certainly always gave Maris the benefit of the doubt even when Maris did something extreme such as writing nasty comments in the girls' honesty boxes on Facebook or doing something to piss Holly off.
He loved Maris too death, but like the rest, he was ready to throw her off of a high platform.
Rosenthal handed Andy four copies of a paper with math problems on it. He took one and handed the rest to the student behind him. Looking at the problems, he couldn't believe his eyes. They were all variables and no numbers. Adding numbers was one thing, but adding letters was hell. Then to make matters worse, you had to add, subtract, and then divide.
  Despite Rosenthal's class being colorful and vibrant (with its purple wall paint, multicolored carpet, and pictures of former students that dated all the way back to the mid-nineties on the huge bulletin board that was hammered on the wall behind her desk), Andy was still bored.
 "Is everything alright, Andy?" Rosenthal asked concernedly.
"Yeah, I'm fine." he lied. "Just tired."
"Well, next time don't stay up all night texting your buddies." she said, chuckling at her own "joke".
"This is gonna be a long semester." he sighed to Palma, who was now wrapped up in her new iPhone that Maris was so "kind" enough to buy her. Andy knew that Maris was only into helping the foreign girl because she thought  it would improve her chances in to getting into Notre Dame.

  Andy and Palma met up with Lucas and Maris near the three water fountains after class.
"Math was a drag." complained Andy. "That woman gave us a five paged packet to do for homework. And I'm supposed to be the smart Jew, here."
"Too bad your teacher wasn't hot like my Algebra teacher Ms. Smith." Lucas said sympathetically.
"I wish I was you." Andy said. "My teacher wouldn't even let me fall asleep in her class. Do you have any idea how hard it is to go through the trials and tribulations of sitting in that class?"
"I can help you." offered Maris, tying her hair into a side ponytail. "I get A's in everything like math, science, English, history, art, and any other course you could think of."
"Thanks a lot, Mare." he said, and meant it.

"No problem!" she said cheerily. "I'll help you on your homework this afternoon if you can come over."

"Yeah, okay, but I have soccer practice from three-thirty to five forty-five. So maybe I can come around 6:00?"

"Sounds like a date." Maris said, flashing him a bright smile.

 Andy knew that working with Maris would get him a passing grade. She had a way of making learning fun. He tried asking Holly for help on his homework the grade before, but she always yelled at him whenever he got an answer wrong. He never went to his parents for help because their way of teaching was always going the long and difficult way. Especially his father. He would spend an hour explaining how to do a simple two minute problem. Andy never had the time for that.  So he would always rely on his friends to help him.

"Well, I guess I'll see you later." Andy said, dismissing himself from the group.

"Where are you going?" asked Palma.

"To homeroom." he said. "Like you, Mare, Lucas, and everyone else in this building."

"Who do you have?" asked Lucas. "Cause I have Decker."

"I have Sells." answered Andy. "I heard Decker was supposed to be cool though. Carter told me he's just as cool as our eigth grade science teacher."

He remembered last year when his science teacher, Mr. Quinn, would bring in his pet iguana, Iggy, every Friday to class and would allow the students to play with it.  There were times when he would take the class to field trips such as the power plant, science museum, and the Electric Company where everyone would be wowed at all the amazing things he would show them. Andy had a close bond with Quinn and even had his phone number saved into his phone. He had promised him that he would call him every once in a while. So far he hasn't.

"Yeah, me too." Maris said, waving at Gigi and Melissa who were in a deep discussion with Jen over by the staircases. "I have him for third period history."

"I love you, Marebear." Andy said, high-fiving her. "So do I."

"Awesome!" she cheered, hugging him once more, this time prolonging it.

"Bye, Andy." she said, letting go of him.

"See you next period." he said, and then adding, "I'll text you in class."

He took out his iPhone, put the earphones into his ears, and started blaring Wu-Tang Clan's "Can It All Be So Simple" through it.

One of the good things about Paramount was that if you texted during class, it was very unlikely to get caught by the teacher if you were able to conceal the cell phone properly. That was something he had learned on the first day of school.

"Come here, Palma." he said, wrapping his arms around Palma's neck. "I'll walk you to class."

"Alright." she said happily.

Lucas winked at Andy as the two walked away.

 

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