The Window

There are few worse things than starting a Monday morning by sitting through math class, except maybe spending Monday morning sitting through math in a stifling hot classroom.


By the time James made it to his first period class, Algebra, he was already sweating heavily. Embarrassed, James glanced around the classroom, to his relief he saw that nearly all his classmates were also covered in sweat. Ms. Phillips, the Algebra teacher, had opened the windows wide in hopes of cooling down the room, but without cross ventilation the windows did very little.


It was only the first week of May, but sometime over the weekend, the first official heat wave of the season has settled in. None of the weather forecasters had been able to predict when the suffocating heat would lift, and there was talk of closing the schools. Unfortunately that idea had been quickly squashed. Understandable, but frustrating for those who had to report to the ancient high school that lacked a single air conditioner on it’s premise.


Settling into his seat in the back row of the classroom, James hoped that Ms. Phillips, and the rest of his teachers would take it easy on the students because of the heat. He didn’t have much faith in that happening, it was only a few weeks before final exams, but he could hope.


Once the class was settled, Ms. Phillips launched into her prepared lecture without any consideration to the heat. James attempted to listen to the lecture, but after several minutes he realized that the heat was making him feel too groggy and stupid and that he had not retained a single idea. Sleep was threatening to overtake him but James fought against the urge. Algebra was his very worst class this semester thanks to Ms. Phillips dictator like teaching style. From the first week of school, Ms. Phillips had had it in for James though, James did not do much to dissuade Ms. Phillips dislike for him. Nearly every week he was in trouble for one thing or another. Still, with summer vacation so close by, James was trying hard to finish out the class without any more problems.


Sleep was still threatening to shut James’ eyes, so her averted his attention away from the dull lecture and began looking around the classroom at his classmates who seemed to be having just as much trouble concentrating at James was. The handful of students who were paying attention to Ms. Phillips were using their notebooks as fans to keep cool. The colorful array of notebook covers attracted James’ attention for a minute especially after his eyes fell on Laura, whom he had harbored a secret crush on since the first day of class. The color of the notebook she was fanning herself with was the exact color of her eyes and James could not help but feel amazed by the coincidence.


Distracted, James completely forgot his promise to stay out of trouble in class. When a huge yawn of boredom and sleepiness overtook him, he yawned widely instead of stifling it to avoid attention.


“James, since you seem to need to wake up, why don’t you come up to the board and solve this equation,” Ms. Phillips called out, pointing at the equation from the homework that she had drawn up on the blackboard.


Panicked, James shuffled through his notebook as though he was looking for the answer to the problem, though, he knew it wasn’t there. He has not done his math homework over the weekend.


“We’re waiting!” Ms. Phillips called out after James wasted a few more minutes.

Everyone in the class is staring at James, including, to James’ horror, Laura. They are all waiting for James to make his way up to the front of the classroom and embarrass himself by admitting that he had no idea how to solve for X. Very slowly James stood up, aware that every one’s eyes were directed on him. He stood, frozen in place unwilling to walk forward towards the board. He could not bare the thought of embarrassing himself in front of Laura, struggling to muddle his way through the equation. Laura, no doubt, went for smart guys. Blindly struggling through a math equation would only serve to dismiss any possibility of Laura ever liking him.

Tick, tick, tick, James could hear the clock ticking the seconds away.  Heat from the sun burned the back of his next, drawing his attention to the world outside. Feeling every one’s eyes boring down on him, James had to make a quick decision. Would he subject himself to humiliation to Ms. Phillip’s satisfaction? No, he wouldn’t. Instead of walking to the blackboard, where he was expected to go, James turned his back on the class. Calmly he made the three steps to the open windows and without a word, slipped out the window to the parking lot.