The Price of Good Grades - Part Two
I turned around and looked into the eyes of a curious yellow
Gelert. I sighed. Just great. Curious Martin was dangerous. He was about to leaf
through my papers when I put my paw on the pile protectively.
"It's a practical joke," I said in the spur of
the moment. I continued to work on my lie, giving him a wide grin now and then.
He bought it, like the rest of the class.
The teacher came and collected my homework. I
breathed a sigh of relief. That was a close one.
Suddenly I remembered that I had not made Edwin
promise me that he wouldn't tell. But one look at my best friend told me that
Ed wouldn't reveal the deal. Now, I just had to make sure that no one would
The rest of the day went well, since they thought
I was in a mood for jokes. There was only one problem. Martin was beginning
to get way too curious for his own good.
When I handed in the homework in the last period,
I noticed that he was watching me intently. I sighed, feeling quite nervous
and hoping that the teacher wouldn't exclaim something like, "Oh, look! Joel
did his homework today!"
Even though only Martin noticed that something
was not normal, the rest of my friends seemed content and pleased like usual.
I didn't feel too guilty about lying. People lie at work, right?
Finally the long and tedious day was over. I
walked home together with Edwin. Silence hung in the air until my best friend
"Umm... I can help you with your homework if
you want," he offered shyly. If there wasn't 10k at stake, I would've just scoffed
and laughed and then he would've laughed with me. But now it was different.
"Sure," I graciously accepted the generous offer.
I was aware of the fact that I was a pretty hopeless case and very bad at learning
Then we walked to his Neohome. Silence was present
again, but this time it was a different silence. I felt somewhat cheerful. Even
though Edwin had been looking a little bit disdainful, he had been my friend.
He hadn't told on me.
As we entered Edwin's Neohome, I had a feeling
that someone was following us. Ed told me that he felt that we were being spied
After a minute of quiet discussion, we decided
to let the matter drop and just go on like usual. Ilsa greeted us warmly and
started to prepare some snacks for us.
Edwin practically dragged me to his room. He
was delighted, doing homework with me for the first time. I noticed that excited
gleam that he always seemed to have when it was about schoolwork. I could feel
the happiness radiating from me, as I noticed a fleeting shadow outside the
window. Maybe it was just my imagination.
Doing homework with Edwin was so much easier.
He would help me with the questions that I didn't understand, and those complex
math equations weren't so hard. To my horror, I found that I actually began
to like doing homework like this.
Ilsa brought the snacks just when we were about
to work on the Language Arts assignment. It was a well-deserved break. Edwin
initiated a conversation.
"Well, how much do you get?" he asked as he took
an apple from the plate. I immediately knew that he was referring to the deal.
"10k for every A," I admitted.
"Really?" His eyes grew huge as he muttered.
"Only major tests and report cards, though."
I studied the window as we were talking. There was that shadow again. Was it
really my imagination?
"Still... I wish I could get paid for good grades."
Ed sighed wistfully as he looked at the window. "What are you..." he broke off
in mid-sentence as we both noticed a patch of yellow fur move out of our sight.
It took a second for me to realize that someone
had been eavesdropping on us.
"I bet it's Martin," I growled angrily.
"He's trouble. And you're in trouble." Edwin
stated the fact calmly as he pointed to the homework. "Shall we continue?"
"What? But.... but I..." I protested.
"Well, you'll get paid," he pointed to the pile
of paper. "He might've found it out, but you won't get paid if you don't do
the work. At this stage, it doesn't matter if he knows or not."
"He knows!" I whined as I got started on my assignment.
For the short story, I decided to write about a pet that was too curious for
his own good and finally got killed by Jhudora.
"Cruel," Ed muttered when I let him proofread
the story. "You're actually pretty good, but I think you need to work on the
"Well, he deserves it," I mumbled, glad that
I had finally finished all this vile homework.
"Funny that the main character just happens to
be a yellow Gelert named Marti N., eh?" my best friend commented as he let me
read his story.
Doing homework with Ed was quite a pleasure.
Edwin was really great. He would help me when I didn't understand and explain
things. I decided that I would ask him every day if we could do the homework
together after school.
I walked home, satisfied with my effort but worried
about the eavesdropper. Mari was very happy that I had already finished all
my homework, and cooked my favorite food as a treat.
I couldn't bring myself to eat a lot, even though
the food was delicious. My stomach was still wobbly and worried about if that
yellow patch of fur was Martin, and that if it was him, would he tell on me?
He would, I thought grimly. Martin would sell
anyone for a moment of fame. I shuddered. I went to bed early, hoping that sleep
would help. It didn't. Instead, I dreamt at least three different nightmares.
I got up very early the next day, still quite
worried about the incident that had happened. But I was also worrying about
the midterm test in math that we would have today. If I got an A, I'd be getting
I grinned at myself in the mirror, trying to
calm down my awful stomach. Then I went off to brush my teeth and wash my face.
At breakfast, my owner reminded me of the test.
After another lecture, Mari walked away and returned with a big bag of NP. Good
thing that she had not forgotten about our deal.
I walked to school with my best friend. Edwin
was unusually talkative, and went through the whole math course on the way to
Neoschool. I knew that Ed was amazing, but again I was amazed at his abilities
and willingness to learn.
"It doesn't matter anymore," he told me as we
walked down the hallway. "But right now it seems all right..."
"So far so good," I muttered pessimistically
but reassured myself by flashing extra wide grins.
When we sat down for math class, I thought my
stomach would break. I was so worried about so many things. A part of me regretted
that I had thought this up. If I hadn't agreed to this stupid deal, I would
be happily sitting here and daydreaming. But another part protested.
10k was 10k, after all.
This had to be what all those clever pets felt
when they were going to do tests and such. A little bit of me thought of how
wondrous it was to experience this feeling, but all those other parts disagreed
and I froze for a second when I saw Martin's smug face expression.
"Please clear your desks," the math teacher said.
He proceeded to hand out paper and pencils.
I cleared my throat, gulped twice and made some
clicking noises. Finally I dared to look at the paper. I picked up my pencil
as I threw another look at the yellow Gelert. Then I looked at the first question.
Instantly it clicked in my mind. I remembered
how Ed had patiently explained how to solve just this kind of equation. Quickly
I went through the steps in my mind, and started to write. It wasn't painfully
hard like it had been a week ago, but fairly okay. I struggled with the next
two questions, but remembered Edwin's course walk-through.
I was compelled to continue, and the usual boredom
that seemed to appear whenever tests were going on disappeared. Each problem
was different, and I could feel the gears in my mind turning as I tried and
struggled to find the answer to all of them.
"Pencils down!" I heard the teacher say. I made
a final scribble, and put my pencil down. The teacher came around and collected
all the tests.
Then it was time for recess. Some of the worry
had disappeared from my poor stomach, but there was that bad feeling about Martin.
Just when I was thinking and wishing my hardest that he wouldn't tell, a hand
tapped on my shoulder.
I spun around and looked into Martin's eyes.
They seemed curious, but a flame of evil flared up deep inside as he opened
his mouth. Out came a few words.
"I... know... the... deal..." he croaked.
"Joel?!" Edwin came running to me, probably as
soon as he had noticed the Gelert.
"I... know..." Martin repeated. "Deal...."
I stood there, frozen in horror and wondering
what he would do next.
To be continued...