"Falling" Preview (Book #1)

PROLOGUE

Describe a significant event in your life and how it changed you (Minimum: 750 words). Ugh. What kind of scholarship essay prompt is this? It was nice to find some scholarships that juniors could apply to, but I really didn’t want to answer this question. I know there are other scholarships I could apply to.

I put the application form at the bottom of my pile of papers. The due date was months away. I’d rather focus on the ones that were coming up soon. It was a little early for most people to start looking at scholarships for college. But I’m not most people. Well, I am, but I’m not. I wanted to make sure I had the money to go to whatever school I wanted to. Which was any school where I didn’t have to live at home.

The thing about essays for scholarships and stuff, they want you to reflect on what you did, what you’re doing, who you are, that kind of stuff. Reflect, reflect, reflect. What am I? A mirror?

When I look in the mirror I see this warped version of me – the one my parents see and the one that I think I am. My parents see me as a five-year-old looking for trouble and finding it, or it finding me. But I’m sixteen and if I stood in a crowd, no one would notice me. I’m too plain and short to stand out. Actually, I like the fact that in a group of people I can blend in. There are too many other things in my life that would make me stand out and I don’t like to call that kind of attention to myself. My parents hate negative attention too, so anything bad that happens is denied – never existed. That’s about all we agree on. The problem is… some things are too hard to deny and I can’t talk to them or anyone else about it. It’s easier to avoid my parents than to look at them and know we can’t talk about anything.

I don’t even have friends I can talk to. It’s always been hard for me to make friends. When I was younger, we moved around a lot for my dad’s work. My only dream was to have the same friends from junior high to high school – like most kids got. That didn’t happen. Most of the kids at my school grew up together and had a history together. I envied that sometimes. To have friends that knew you, that understood you, that would be there for you – no matter what. Actually, last year, I thought maybe it’d happen. I had some friends, we hung out and did stuff together. When I stopped hanging out with them, they didn’t seem to notice. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe that’s my fault. It’s always my fault.

I stared at the application. It wanted me to list my hobbies. For most people, that isn’t a hard question, but for me it is. It’s not like I’m on a team or anything at school. I’m far too uncoordinated for that, not to mention not athletic at all. I don’t think that studying and doing homework counted as a hobby. I had to list something. The closest thing I had was singing. I loved to sing. Melancholy songs befit me. I could relate to the sad, heartbroken, anguished, the longing. It was very easy for me to put that feeling into my singing for those songs. I could do the happy, cheery songs, they just weren’t my first choice. It was nice to pretend to be that. It allowed me to step outside of myself and be someone else. I ceased to be me and cloaked myself in whatever carefree attitude the lyrics demanded. Acting. It’s a nice escape.

I had a small part in the school play last year. It was fun to pretend to be someone else. I was good at it, at least I thought so. Don’t ask my parents what they thought, they didn’t bother to come to any of the performances. They thought it was a waste of time, like many of the things I did.

Not exactly stuff you’d put into an award winning essay. I’d have to think of something else to write. Not that that’s hard for me to do. I could BS among the best of them, if I wanted to. I’ve done it to get people off my back and to avoid getting into some big thing with my parents.  It was easy, most people don’t look deep enough to know if you are telling the truth. They only hear what they want anyway.

I really hated the part on applications that asked you what you are. It really shouldn’t matter. I didn’t think it should. Who cares what the shade of my skin, or anyone else’s, was? I looked at the options: American Indian, Asian, Black or African-American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and White or Caucasian. Where was American? That’s what I wanted to check. That’s what I am.

When my parents came to the US, they wanted their kids to assimilate to the American culture – I think they never really wanted to have kids because I’m an only child. So, I did. It’s not that I hate my parents’ culture, which I guess, technically is mine too. It’s just I don’t care for it, seems archaic many times. If you’re a free thinker, they say you’re hard-headed or stubborn. If you don’t agree with someone older than you, then you are disrespectful. It doesn’t allow for free thinking and your own ideas. Some of the food is okay. But culture is more than food. Of course, now that I’m completely assimilated, embrace the American culture and am an independent thinker, they don’t seem to like it because I’m considered stubborn, hard-headed and disrespectful. Hypocrites.

1. FAMILY

I spent too much time at home. Once school was over, I’d head directly home and start my homework. I hated being out alone when it was dark. Actually, I just hated being out alone, the dark just compounded my anxiety. Often, I’d get at least two to three hours to myself before my parents would get home. Sometimes, I’d get even more than that because they’d meet up together for golf or dinner or something. Those nights were the best.

Being alone at home was nice. Actually, I didn’t see myself as alone, as long as I had one of my two best friends with me – the television or my music. The noise from my television or MP3 player filled the house and kept me company. The acoustics were better in the family room, so I usually did my homework in there when I was home alone. Once my parents were home, I’d sequester myself in my room to do my homework.

I sat in the middle of the family room and searched through my albums trying to find a song to audition with. Mrs. Marshall, my choir teacher, was holding auditions in two weeks for male and female solos for the upcoming winter concert. I really wanted to get the solo. I had to find a song that would show my vocal range, make me stand out from the others. There were several girls in class that had great voices, some of them had been taking vocal lessons. I never had lessons, I taught myself by just singing along to my favorite songs. I enjoyed choir and wanted to do more.

I hooked up speakers to my MP3 player. I needed to fully hear my voice with the music and ear buds weren’t going to do it. I tried song after song, I must have spent at least two hours trying out songs. I still hadn’t found the right song. I had worked my way through female solo artist songs and was now onto the musicals. I thought I found a song that would work. It showed my range and complimented my voice. I sounded good. Well, I had to admit, better than good. I was happy that I had finally found a song. I just needed to keep practicing over the next two weeks, so I would be at my best for the audition.

I was in the middle of practicing when I heard the garage door open. My mom was home. She walked into the family room, dropped her bag and jacket on the couch. I hope that she would tell me that I did a pretty good job of choosing a song and that you couldn’t really tell I was singing along. I hoped that she noticed that I matched the song well.

“Hello, Elizabeth.” My mom interrupted me in the middle of the song.

My mom would think me rude if I didn’t stop what I was doing and not acknowledge her right away. I stopped singing. “Hi, Mom.”

“What are you doing?” I was surprised that my mom was even interested in what I was doing.

“Practicing. There are auditions in a couple weeks for the solo in the winter concert. And I thought I’d try out.” I didn’t like sharing much with them, unless they asked. When they did, I always braced myself for their reaction.

She shook her head and frowned. “I don’t know why you are bothering to waste your time. You know you won’t get it.” She couldn’t even acknowledge it was brave of me to try out or wish me luck. I was crushed. “You don’t want people laughing at you, do you?”

No, I didn’t. I didn’t think I was bad, let alone bad enough that others would laugh at me… until now. The thought of it hurts, cut to the core of me and my insecurities. I didn’t want to give what my mom said any credence. But she was my mom, what if she was right?

“I was just practicing. You don’t think I sounded… okay? I just wanted to try…” I felt small and like I was shrinking more and more by the second.

“If that’s all you want to do and you have no real intention to singing alone, then why bother and waste everyone’s time?” She seemed annoyed.

“To see if I’m good enough.” I whispered.

“You’re not. Why embarrass yourself and the family?” She said emphatically. She shook her head in disapproval. “And this we wouldn’t be able to shield you from. Everyone would know you made a fool of yourself. Do you want that? Be constantly reminded of your poor choices?”

I hung my head down and stared at my computer. “No.” I choked down my tears. I didn’t want to get chastised about crying over this.

I stopped the song and unplugged my speakers. There was no point in continuing.

“Why can’t you be more like your cousin Leenie? Good. Quiet. Modest. Obeys her parents and doesn’t embarrass the family.” She patted me on the back and headed to her bedroom to change out of her work clothes.

Ah, yes. My cousin Kathleen, who was three years older than me and the family called Leenie, doesn’t aspire for much of anything. Her parents picked her school and her major for her. She’s content to live sheltered and under her parents’ thumb. Kathleen was the classic definition of demure. She does what they say and doesn’t rock the boat. Not that I saw myself rocking or shocking anything. It wasn’t like I dressed all in black, had tattoos or piercings all over my body or dyed my hair in florescent colors. I melted into the background, the landscape at school. I did my best not to call unnecessary attention to myself. But, I did aspire to be the best at anything I did and loved. Sometimes, that meant I had to be in the spotlight. No, I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. That’s why I planned to practice. Why didn’t she see that?

I wanted more than my family’s limited view on life. Sometimes, I guess, that got me into trouble. Why did it always come down to ‘embarrassing the family’? I was brought up to respect my elders and that family was the most important thing. How could I do those things and still be myself? Be who I wanted to be? It was like they couldn’t coexist. There was no way they’d support it.

Some things were better left unsaid. Such as, things I wanted. I might not get the solo, but I wanted to try. Trying didn’t hurt anyone, especially my parents. They didn’t have to know about it. They didn’t have to watch or pay anything, so why should they care? I’d just have to practice when I was by myself at home or in the car. That would be the only way to save myself the grief from my parents.

I opened up my math book and stared at my homework assignment. I needed to escape this crushing feeling. Homework was a good distraction, once I got enough traction in my brain to start on it. I turned on the television. I knew that I drifted from my homework, when I found myself focusing more on the television than on the problem I was working on. It was a backup distraction.

My mom came out of her bedroom and headed to the kitchen to start dinner. I worked on my math homework and tried to avoid any unnecessary contact with her. She called me into the kitchen to make the salad and cook rice. I was in the middle of a problem. It was tough. All I wanted to do was continue to work on it, try to solve it. But, I had to stop to help my mom. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help fix dinner, it was that I wanted to finish my math homework, at least that problem first. I got up from the couch where I worked. As quickly as I could, prepared the rice and had it going in the rice cooker. I had to be slower in chopping the vegetables for the salad or I was liable to cut my finger. I never understood why she asked me to cut stuff, she knew I was clumsy and putting a knife in my hands, could easily spell disaster. She always yelled at me to be careful, as if I wasn’t. I’ve had so many near misses, I was due for an accident. It was just a matter of time.

When I finished making the salad, I set the table. I wasn’t really hungry, but I knew I had to set a place for myself. I went back to my homework and that stubborn math problem I couldn’t solve. My dad arrived home just as my mom was finished cooking.

The three of us sat down at the table for dinner. I dished out very small portions of the stir-fry, rice and salad. I still wasn’t very hungry. The dinner conversation revolved around my parents and their day, as usual. I didn’t contribute much except ‘yeah’ and ‘oh’ to the discussion. I pushed my food around my plate to make it look like I ate. They were so absorbed in their stories, they didn’t notice. After an obligatory amount of time sitting there, I excused myself to finish my homework. I took my plate to the trash, scraped off the food and placed it in the sink.

I grabbed my backpack, laptop, books and MP3 player and went to my room to finish my homework. I didn’t want to deal with my mom anymore tonight. I couldn’t take much more from her right now.

Once I got in my room, I turned on my television for background noise. If I played music, I was afraid my mom would come in and scold me again. They knew if the television was on, I was definitely studying. I always thought it was funny that studies stated that television and studying didn’t mix. That students who studied with the television on were not successful in school or couldn’t concentrate. It was the one thing that my parents conceded. I got good grades while I had the television on, so they never bugged me about it. I was thankful for any small victory and concession I could get. So, if I wanted them to leave me alone, the television was definitely on. It was on a lot.

I decided to finish my other homework before going back to my math problem that didn’t want to get solved. I was very frustrated to be stuck on the same problem for so long. It wasn’t right. The upside was that it did distract me from my mom’s views on me trying out. Immersing myself in my school work was a great avoidance technique for me. It was my coping mechanism. It had worked in the past, and continued to do so. So, who was I to mess with what worked?

It was around nine when I finished all my homework. I got ready for bed and shut off my lights. I set my television to sleep mode, so it would shut off in 45 minutes. I used the background noise of the television to block out the random thoughts that usually kept me up at night. With it on, I could fall asleep. Without it, I stayed up thinking about anything and everything. Actually, the television or my MP3 player worked in helping me fall asleep, but I didn’t want to think about music right now. I fell asleep hearing the news previewing some carnival that was coming to town for a few weeks.

2. NEW PARTNER

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! Everybody up!” Mr. Davis, my physics teacher exclaimed. It was first period and way too early to be this energetic. “We are changing seats. Come on. Everyone up, line up against the walls.” The class groaned and made their way with their backpacks against the walls of the classroom.

Was it time to change seats already? Mr. D had just changed our seats a few weeks ago. This would be my third seat in his class since school started six weeks ago. Wow, it was already mid-October. I just didn’t notice. There was no point to it, really. As long as I got my work done, I was left alone. The calendar only existed as a due date listing for homework.

Great, new seats. For the most part, I hated change. This, of course, meant the changing of lab partners which was sometimes okay and sometimes bad. I really liked science. It made sense to me. I could think my way through it. Some partners I’ve had, on the other hand, not so much. Which idiot will Mr. D pair me up with now? Wait, that was harsh. I didn’t mean that. What I meant was, which non-studying, shouldn’t be taking this class, won’t do their homework and doesn’t care about their grade, underachiever will I get stuck doing all the work with?

Mr. Davis worked his way from the back of the room to the front, letting students know where they should sit. Two-thirds of the class had already found out their new seats and sat down, when I looked around and saw who else was left standing with me. I looked at who was left and thought, maybe this time I won’t have to carry my lab partner. I hated that. If I split the work, like I was supposed to, then I’d get a bad grade on the lab or work. I didn’t want that. So, I tried to help out my partner as much as I could, but eventually, I’d just do it myself. I think, Mr. D had realized that and would finally not pair me up with someone that I could ‘help’. Just because it’s an advanced placement class, doesn’t mean that everyone’s smart. You’d think that, but then you’d be wrong.

Two more pairs sat down in their new seats. Who was left? Amy, who was also in my English class, always got A’s, real nice and kind of quiet. Joey, who played varsity soccer, smart, but really annoying, it was like he didn’t know we weren’t in kindergarten anymore – always wadding up paper and throwing it at me. Agh. Patrick, who played varsity basketball, smart and definitely one of the most popular kids at school – athletics, academics, he was good at everything. Kevin, who always asked those annoying questions in class, like he wasn’t paying attention, like he wasn’t even trying to understand. Lastly, there was Sarah, who didn’t act like she wanted to be taking an AP class, so I didn’t understand why she didn’t switch out.

Mr. D walked along the front row of tables. He paused at one table. “Sarah. Amy.” They moved across the room and sat down. Please, don’t let me get stuck with Joey. Or Kevin for that matter. Agh. He moved to the next table and pointed, “Joey. Kevin.” They deserved each other. Well, no one else deserved to be stuck with them. Mr. D went to the last table in the front row. “Patrick. Last, but not least, Elizabeth. I mean, Liz.”

I kind of liked my new seat. I didn’t mind the front row. Most importantly, there were at least two people between me and Joey. Two guys. I really hoped he wouldn’t try to bug me when there was Kevin and Patrick that would be in the crossfire.

Mr. D stood in front of the class to get everyone’s attention. “Alright, ladies and gentlemen. You know the drill. You each have 30 seconds to share something about yourself to your new partner. Person on the right goes first.”

“Hi. I’m Patrick. Not Pat. I hate it when people call me that, like I’m a piece of butter or something you do to a dog’s head.” He shook his head and rolled his eyes. “I love basketball, playing it, watching it. I have a sister at Stanford and kid brother.” He paused and was looking me weird. “Aren’t you in my AP English and AP Calculus class?”

Mr. D spoke loudly over the class, “Okay, that’s 30 seconds. Left side’s turn!”

“Ok, I guess I’m the left side. Umm.. I’m Liz or Elizabeth. I kinda prefer Liz though. I don’t mind watching some sports, like basketball is okay. But I can’t play them. Was never any good at it, always seemed to hurt myself. I like to think that I’m lucky that I’m coordinated enough to get my driver’s license and that’s about it.” I tried to think of something else to say. “Oh, yeah, we do have English and math together too.”

“Okay, ladies and gentlemen!” Again, his even-tempered voice rose over the class. “Now, that you’ve met your new partner, it’s time to see what’s going on in today’s exciting world of physics!” Mr. D was a great teacher, made physics interesting and understandable. I really respected him. But, sometimes he was a dork, maybe that’s how he made the class interesting. That’s why he was a cool teacher, he knew he was acting goofy and was okay with it.

Mr. D talked about the new kinetic and potential energy lab then passed around the handout. There were calculations to work out before we could design our experiment. I started to read and work through the first problem. “So, were you able to do the challenge problem for calc?”

“Huh?” I was surprised that the conversation that started didn’t revolve around the lab we had to do.

“The last problem in last night’s homework that Ms. Adams gave us. Did you get it?” He glanced up at me then continued to work on his calculations.

“Yeah. Took me a while though. It was kinda hard. What about you?”

“It was tough. Took me longer than I thought it would.” He had just finished the first problem he was working on. “You done? What did you get for the first one?” He slid his paper over to me to compare our answers. I moved my paper next to his. We had the same solution. “Cool.”

We each took our papers back and started working on the next problem. Patrick chuckled, “You’re funny.”

“Funny?” Me? I never thought of myself as funny.

“Coordinated enough to drive? Come on. You really can’t be that bad. No one is that bad.”

“No, I am that bad. I run into things all the time. Sometimes I don’t realize I hurt myself until I get some mystery bruise.” I looked at him and realized I was talking to a guy on the basketball team. I shook my head, “You wouldn’t understand.”

He thought about it a second. “Well, actually I do. There are some bruises and scratches that I have no idea how I got. It would suck knowing I got hurt doing everyday stuff and not realize it. Heh. Usually my bruises happen on the court or on the field. Friendly pick-up games aren’t always so friendly.”

I slid my paper back over to him to compare our work. We spent the rest of the period talking about the lab – designing our experiment. We had a few different ideas on a design. In the end, we created one that included ideas from both of us. It was nice to share the work, instead of doing it all myself. I thought we had a good design in place to start from for tomorrow.

“Alright, ladies and gentlemen! There are a few minutes left in class. Some reminders: You need to get your design approved by me before I distribute any materials to build. You should have your designs done and approved by the middle of class tomorrow.” The bell rang, but he continued. “Remember, you need to film your design working to include into your final lab presentation.” One of the things I liked about Mr. D’s labs was that they weren’t all just written, but some, like this one, included a video portion where we could see how everyone’s labs did. “Have a great day, everyone. See you tomorrow.”

Patrick shoved his notebook and calculator into his backpack. “Nice to meet you. See you later.”

“Yeah. You too.” I started putting my stuff away and he headed toward the door. I looked up and nodded at him and then got hit by a wad a paper. Stupid Joey. So annoying. “Won’t you ever grow up?” I glared at Joey.

“What fun would that be?” He smiled. “Sucks. I was hoping that we’d get to be lab partners this time.” I was thankful that that didn’t happen.

“Yeah, well. Sucks to be you then.”

From physics, I had computer science, choir, English, then lunch. Sometimes I ate with some people from English like Amy, or I’d just find a place to sit and get stuff done or people watch. I floated between different groups of people, not really in one specific group. When I sat with others, it wasn’t like I really belonged. I sat there on the fringe, not joining the conversation. I was just there, invisible. Not consequential enough for anyone to acknowledge and invite into the conversation or to shoo me away. Either way no one noticed if I was there or not.

Today, I found a spot to sit near a tree in the quad. I took out my notebook to see what I had for homework, even though I hadn’t had math or history class yet. I had a lot of work to do, but I didn’t mind. I liked to think, everything was like a puzzle to me. I liked solving puzzles. My latest puzzle that I kept thinking about was that physics design. I jotted down some other possible ideas, back-up plans if our design didn’t work out as we hoped. I needed a break.

I looked up from my notebook and glanced around the quad. I wondered what was wrong with me. I mean, I looked around at my classmates and they all seemed to be having fun, it was lunch-time. What the heck was wrong me? How come I wasn’t having fun? Why couldn’t I laugh like that? So carefree. Isn’t that what a teenager’s about? Having fun? Sometimes I think that I forgot how to have fun. Then I think I never really had good carefree fun. Then I start to think that I think too much. Yeah, I’m good at that, thinking. I guess I can’t shut it off, even when I want to and I should.

The bell rang. Just like that, lunch was over and students scattered in different directions to their next class. I headed to Ms. Adams’s class for math. Math class is definitely not the time to shut off the brain.

I entered the classroom and headed to my seat. Patrick saw me walk in and got up from his seat. “Hey, Liz.”

“Hey.”

“Are you busy after school? I wanted to run our design by Mr. D and see if he’d approve it today. I’d like to get started on it tomorrow and I don’t know if he has all the stuff we need. If he doesn’t, then I could get it tonight after practice.”

“No, I got time today. I was kinda thinking the same thing.” I was surprised we had the same idea. Wow.

“Okay, cool. I’ll meet you at Mr. D’s then after school.”

“Sure.” I put my bag down on my desk and sat down. He nodded and walked back to his seat.

After history, I headed over to Mr. D’s room and Patrick was already there. They were talking about something, but it wasn’t our lab. “You know, if you really want to make yourself competitive at those schools, you need to attend a program this summer. That shows that you want to excel and would be an excellent addition to their school.” Mr. D was telling Patrick. “And you can get scholarships, internships and network with university professors.”

“Really?! That’s so cool.” Patrick seemed pretty excited about the idea. It sounded interesting and if it meant not being stuck in the house all summer, it was cool.

“I think it would be a great opportunity for you. There’s one that I was involved with this past summer at UCSD called COSMOS.” Mr. D noticed I had walked in. “Hi, Liz.”

“Hey, Liz.” Patrick turned to look at me then back to Mr. D.

Mr. D continued, “Anyway, it was a four week residential program for the students. They got to study specific strands that they were interested in with university faculty. I wish they had this program when I was in high school. I really think you should apply. You too, Liz. You have a knack for science and math.”

“Four weeks away from home over the summer and doing science. Sounds good to me.” I really liked the idea of the program and being out of the house for any period of time. My parents were pretty strict, but if it was an academic program, help me get into college and get scholarships, they’d probably let me go. Besides, UCSD – the University of California, San Diego – was local. It was 30 to 40 minutes away from home, depending on traffic. So, it was close, but not too close, for a summer program at least.

“So, Mr. D, we wanted to show you our design and see if you approve.” Patrick took out his copy of the design and handed it to Mr. D. “Liz had this really cool idea to reduce friction here.” He pointed to my creative contribution.

“Do you think it would work?” I wanted to know if it was impossible to even try.

“Yes, I think it might. It’s definitely worth trying. I’ve never had one of my students try something like that.” Mr. D seemed really impressed. “Let me see if I have the parts.” He got up and went to his back room which he used to store lab supplies.

“See, I told you it was a good idea!” Patrick was excited.

“Yeah, I know. Thanks.” I really wasn’t used to getting compliments. “What if he doesn’t have all the stuff?” I tried to change the subject off myself.

“I told you. I’d pick up the parts after practice.” He looked up at the clock. “Good. I still have time before practice. So, have you ever gone to any basketball games?”

“Yeah, a couple.” I had seen some NBA games in the past.

“What did ya think?”

“Huh?” I was confused until I realized he meant the school’s team. “Oh, no. I haven’t gone to any games here.”

“I thought you said…” Now Patrick was confused.

“I’ve been to some Celtics games. I’ve liked the team since I was a kid. I guess I never thought about going to the games here.” I admitted.

“The Celtics? Cool.” He smiled. “You should come and watch. We have a home game tomorrow. We’re pretty good this year. I think we’ll make it into the playoffs.”

“That’s cool. I’ll try to come by.” I didn’t want to commit to anything.

“Try?! Come on! Why not?”

“Well,” I desperately was thinking of an excuse, “What if our design doesn’t work out so great? If it doesn’t, then I’d like to get it figured out before the next class, so we don’t waste a bunch of time. I don’t mind spending extra time improving a working system, but I get frustrated when the original plan doesn’t work.”

Patrick looked at me, it was like he knew I was making up an excuse, then he smiled. “Yeah, I get that. I’m like that too. But I think you forgot who your lab partner is. You don’t have to troubleshoot by yourself this time. I can help.” His smile reached his eyes.

“Yeah, I guess I don’t. What a concept. Wait. I don’t mean…” I realized that I might have sounded like I didn’t think he would help. “I didn’t think that you wouldn’t help. It’s just…”

“You’re used to having to do it all yourself or all hard stuff yourself?” His face was empathetic and friendly with his brows raised.

“Yeah.” I sighed.

“Yeah, I know what you mean. Me, too. It’s not fair when that happens. That’s what I told Mr. D. I don’t mind helping others, but it really sucks when I end up doing all the work. So, how about this? What if…” He thought for a second, “If we get the part that we build tomorrow working and have no major problems, then will you go to the game?”

“Sure. If there are no major problems.” I didn’t think that would happen. A lab rarely went smoothly. How could I lose on this?

“Cool. I know there won’t be.” He was confident, but not cocky. He seemed to really believe it.

Mr. D came back with a box of supplies. “I think I have everything here.” He handed us the box. “Double check if that’s everything.”

We looked through the contents of the box and compared it to our parts list. It seemed like everything was there. I was glad that Patrick wouldn’t have to go and shop for parts after practice. “Yeah, it’s all here.” Patrick confirmed.

“So, does this mean you approve our design?” I wanted actual confirmation that it was approved.

“Yes, Liz, it’s a good idea. I’ll be interested to see how well it turns out. If you want, you can leave the materials here.” Mr. D pointed to where we could leave the box of supplies in the classroom.

Patrick put the box where Mr. D said to and picked up his backpack. “I need to get to practice. Thanks, Mr. D! Bye, Liz.” He headed out the door.

“See you tomorrow.” Mr. D called out after him. “So, Liz, are things working out okay, so far, with Patrick?”

“Yeah.” I didn’t quite understand what he was getting at.

“It was brought to my attention that it wasn’t fair for the stronger students to work with ones who struggled. I noticed that you did a lot of the work with your other partners. Don’t think teachers don’t notice those things, we do. At least, I do and I grade accordingly. This time, I tried to pair people closer to ability level. I think, it will take the pressure off you guys and let you learn at the rate you’d like to. Which, you guys have already proven by your design.”

“Thanks. I do like working with someone who knows, well… isn’t stupid.” I didn’t want to say it, because it sounded mean, but I couldn’t help it. I could tell Mr. D understood because he chuckled. “Well, stupid isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean. It’s nice not having to explain everything in detail and do all the work.” I was relieved to actually have a chance to work with someone on a project – it did make it less stressful.

“Let me know if you guys have any trouble. I think there’s a lot of potential there.” Mr. D smiled. “If it works out, then I won’t change the seating chart for a while.” He was definitely one of my favorite teachers here at school, even just after a month and a half in his class.

“I guess we’ll find out tomorrow if stuff doesn’t work.” I picked up my backpack. “I should get going.”

“Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow. Have a good night.”

“You too, Mr. D. Thanks for understanding.” I cracked a small smile.

“Anytime.” He seemed to mean it. He had no reason to not to. I nodded and headed home.

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1 Response to "Falling" Preview (Book #1)

  1. Denise says:

    I’m a sucker for YA – thanks for sharing this preview!

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