"And the winner of the talent contest is…!"
Friday, February 28, 2014
"Good morning! Good morning! … Huh? Oh! Good afternoon! Good afternoon!" Mr. Baltimore cried out over the intercom as the final class of the day.
"Before the bell, I would just like to remind you that the school's talent show is coming up! Anyone is welcome to join! Come sign up today! Today! Until four P.M. I'll be the auditorium if anyone wants to sig-"
The verbal barrage ended with the bell interrupting the man. The classes erupted in laughter as the students gathered up their books and filed out into the hallway.
"Are you signing up for that?" Olivia said to Kenton as they walked down the hallway.
"Why in the world would I do that?"
"Maybe you could do some makeup. On yourself." Mia said as she approached the two.
"Shut up, Mia." Kenton said.
"You shut up."
"All of you need to shut up." William said as he passed the three.
William held up his hand to wave as he walked to the auditorium.
"Smart people are jerks!"
The three walked past Elias as he left his final period classroom. Hearing Mia, who was all over Elias just a week ago, say that "Smart people are jerks!" somehow struck a chord with him.
He sighed as he opened his locker and started packing up his stuff. This wasn't new.
Even the most casual of observer could see that Mia wanted to be friends with Elias. While the girl was easy to find irritating, she mellowed out before Elias could get used to it. Must've been a phase.
But, hearing her say that smart people like him were "jerks" was too much for the boy. Something had to prove them wrong. Then an idea came to mind. Slamming the locker shut, he turned and walked for the auditorium.
"Get out! Get out!"
"What? I'm just trying to sign up for the talent show! Let me in, hot stuff!"
"You are banned! Get out! Out!"
William shoved the sign-up sheet forward, causing it to careen across the table and slide onto Mr. Baltimore's lap.
"Good morning… I don't get paid enough for this sh- Oh, hi, Elias! Are you here to sign up?"
Elias sheepishly nodded.
"Okay, fill this out."
Elias reached down and filled in some blanks on the sign-up sheet. Mr. Baltimore took the clipboard, looked at it, and then craned his head up from the seat he was in.
"Are you sure about this? This… might not be that entertaining."
Elias smiled and nodded.
"Okay. Okay. You're in. Do me proud. Good morning."
The next morning, Elias walked into the library and walked the aisles looking at the labels on the ends that showed where they stood in the Dewey Decimal System. He stopped at one number and thought for a second. He shook his head and continued.
"What am I doing?" he thought to himself. He thought on impulse when he signed up for this talent show. But, damn it, he needed to prove to everybody that he wasn't a "jerk" and someone who could be likable. But was this the right idea? If not, could this be salvaged?
Then his mind lit up with more ideas. He sped to the stacks and grabbed a couple books before a few rows down to grab a few more.
He sat down on the comfy couches in the reading area and started to look through them. He opened his notebook and started to jot down words as they flowed into his mind.
Monday, March 3, 2014
The talent show was probably the worst hour in the school year. The one and only benefit came from the fact that it effectively ended class an hour early. The entire school filed into the auditorium as the participants got ready backstage.
“This is so dumb.” Mia said as Kenton sat down at an empty seat next to them. “Uh, Kenton, shouldn’t you be with your class?” Olivia asked. To be fair, there was nobody else that Kenton wanted to hang out with. He looked for Elias and could not find him, so he risked getting in trouble to sit with his friends.
"What are we going to be subjected to?" Olivia asked as she rested her chin on her palm.
"If anyone starts singing, I'm outta here."
"You talk big, Mia. You say that every year."
"This time, I'm serious."
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! GOOD MORNING! GOOD MORNING!"
The entire auditorium covered their ears as Mr. Baltimore recoiled from the sound of his voice. After a brief trip to the sound system to adjust the volume, he spoke into the mic once again.
"Sorry about that. Live, everybody! As I was saying, welcome to the annual Middle School Talent Show! We have quite the line-up today! You're going to laugh!"
"You're going to cry!"
"That's a given."
"You're going to think!"
"You're going to LEARN!"
"How about no?"
"Mia, please!" Olivia hissed.
The first act came out. Juggling. How cliché. Backstage, Elias glanced into a mirror and silently practiced his act.
"Thank you so much! So much! Give it up!"
The applause was less-than-deafening.
The next act came out. A sixth grader dressed up like a wizard reciting Shakespeare.
"Are we in hell?" Kenton whispered to Olivia.
"Makes me wonder."
Mia didn't chime in because she was out like a light.
"Thank you, so much! That costume is amazing! I can't even recognize you!"
The applause awakened Mia who promptly rubbed her eyes.
"For our next act, I would like to throw it to the Professor himself! Ha! Elias Connor, ladies and gentlemen!"
Elias walked out onto the stage. Kenton, Olivia, and Mia especially noticed something a little off. The boy that was known for keeping his hair straight and wore polo shirts and khakis had his hear just a bit messy while wearing a lime green T-shirt and cargo jeans.
Elias walked over to the mic and snatched it from Mr. Baltimore's hand. Mr. Baltimore recoiled slightly as the auditorium erupted in laughter. The teacher lowered his head as he walked off stage left, causing the laughter to accelerate.
"Today, I'm going to talk about math."
The laughter stopped.
"Trigonometry, to be exact."
"Oh, no." Kenton said as he placed his face into his palm.
"How many of you know what Trigonometry is?"
To his surprise, three of the kids out there put their hands up. William was one of them.
"Put your hands down. You don't know. Quit trying to compensate."
The laughter restarted as the teachers and the principal looked at one another to see if there was a reason to be concerned with that remark.
"It's the study of triangles. Or as some of you might see it, the study of the thing on the button that you use to steal the vehicles in the video games."
Elias let a smile out of his mouth as the laughter continued.
"How many people can tell me what a right angle is?"
A few more hands went up into the air. This time, William could only glare with his arms crossed.
"That's encouraging. If you thought that it was the opposite of 'the wrong angle', please put your hands down, we won't laugh."
Elias's heart dropped a little when a couple hands did indeed go down on that note.
"Right. So, you have the left and right line, and you have the top and bottom line."
He then pulled out a plastic triangle and pointed to the slanted part.
"Who can name this? You know what? Don't even put your hands up. You're lying."
Over the next ten minutes, Elias managed to keep them laughing as he explained the concept of sine, cosine, and tangent while constantly insulting both the audience and the teachers.
"You've been great! Keep on sinning! I mean sining! Peace!"
There was a final round of laughter as Elias tossed the mic to Mr. Baltimore and the thunderous applause began as the speakers picked the sound of the top of it hitting him in the mouth.
As Mr. Baltimore gave the closing speech, Elias walked into the hallway and to his locker. He looked at the little mirror attached as he took a comb and tried to do something with his hair. Being a jerk might be a trait of the smart, but there was no rule that said that he didn't have to be funny about it. Maybe this was the "break" that he needed.
He turned around to see Mia running towards him.
"That was awesome!"
"That was hilarious! I can't believe you got away with some of those jokes!" Kenton said as him and Olivia met up with him.
William, in a huff, unlocked the front door of his house and slammed it behind him. He wanted to be the one who made people laugh. He wanted to be the one who people applauded. Not Elias.
He sat down on the couch and stared at the power-less television. The insults and laughter echoed through his head and wouldn't shut up for a brief second. The voices wouldn't pipe down.
With a growl, he shook his head and started pounding on his temples with his fists. When that didn't help, he stomped off to his room. He sat down on his bed and took a couple deep breaths. That didn't do a damn thing to stop his anguish. With a scream, he leaped up and slammed his fist into the wall. The cheap plaster crumbled down around the freshly placed hole.
In his messed-up eyes, there was no coming back from what happened at the Talent Show. Elias HAD to pay.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Everything felt a little more positive for Elias. People who would normally never give him the time of day were at least giving him a greeting. He entered the building and headed for his locker. To no surprise, Kenton, Mia, and Olivia were standing around Kenton's locker talking. As he took off his jacket and placed it in the locker, he heard the conversation among the three.
"Come on, Mia."
"I… I dunno…"
"You know the deal, Mia. If you do it, we'll go along with it. And we'll be right here as you do it."
"Geez, you're making it sound like I'm executing a hit on someone."
"Depending on who you ask…"
"Kenton, that's not helping."
Mia took a deep breath and walked over to Elias's locker. She patted on the shoulder and said "Hey."
Elias poked his head up awkwardly. Old habits appear to die hard.
"You were awesome yesterday."
Mia looked up at Kenton and Olivia who were encouragingly staring at her. There was a smirk on Kenton's face that pretty much said "Payback."
"Mia, are you okay?" Elias said as he looked into her eyes for the first time.
"She's going to pass out." Kenton whispered to Olivia. Olivia, knowing Mia well enough to know that this situation wasn't quite off the table, could only remain silent.
Mia took a deep breath. "Have you heard about that new indoor waterpark that just opened on the outskirts of town?"
"Yeah, I have. I honestly cannot understand the appeal of it. Something about going swimming in the winter just does not sound… right."
Mia, a little taken back by what Elias said, darted her eyes around nervously as she continued.
"Well, they're having a special where it's cheaper if you bring in groups of at least four. These two have each other. How about you come along with me this weekend?" Mia said, casually thumbing behind her. Kenton and Olivia quickly diverted their respective attentions away to shoo away any suspicions.
Elias stood there, dumbfounded. "Uh, yeah, I'll be glad to go."
"So, it's a date, then?"
Absolute silence was all that could come out of Kenton, Olivia, and Mia's mouths.
"Uh… wh- what do you mean?"
Elias started laughing. At the same time, his heart was racing. Normally, he was quite an introvert, but this talent show gave him a shot of confidence.
"Mia. You're not a subtle girl. I know that you've been all over me. You pretty much admitted it yourself."
"If you rented that movie, then you know that I didn't have it. Why else would you have been following me?"
"Wow." Kenton said and Olivia nodded, knowing very well that Mia was in checkmate. Mia, flustered, turned beet red as she found herself looking all around.
"Am I wrong?"
Mia looked over at the door. The same door that Kenton dashed out on. Kenton was now blocking that door and shaking his head. The look they exchanged was enough for her to convey "I understand now. I'm sorry."
She took a deep breath and looked Elias in the eyes.
"So, it's a date?"
"Yeah. It's a date."
Elias smiled at her and returned the pat on the shoulder.
"I have to go. But here…"
Elias reached up and scrawled down something on a piece of paper before handing it to her.
"Here's my number."
Elias quickly made his way down the hall and to his first class of the day.
"I think Mia's brain just crashed." Olivia said as she waved a hand in front of her face.
"It's so adorable, little Mia's got a boyfriend."
At this, Mia snapped back to reality. She grabbed Kenton and slammed him again the lockers.
"Elias is no more of a boyfriend to me than you are to Olivia. This is just one date."
She let him go and Kenton stepped back with (fake) wide eyes before walking off down the hallway.
"After all of that, you're not wanting a boyfriend?"
"I want a boyfriend. I want Elias as a boyfriend. However, I don't want to be known as the one who will take everyone as a boyfriend. I don't want to seem too eager."
Mia pulled out her cell phone and wasted no time putting in his number before sending him a few quick texts.