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Grade
7

As studying for 2 hours in my house didn’t work , I decided to go out. I could hear the hard ground crunching underneath my feet as I walked to the field, the ice cold wind blowing in my face. When I got to the field, Dan was already sitting on the top right corner of the bleachers with his ELA binder, studying. I climbed up the bleachers, and he couldn’t help but look up at who it was. I sat next to him.

“Why are you here?” I said. He glimpsed up at me with a questioned look on his face.

“Same reasons as you,” he answered.

“To get relief from your dyslexic mind?”

“No, to study, Garret.”

We sat quietly for a while. One of the field lights went out. After some time he asked, “Are you nervous about the test?”

“Nooo…” I answered sarcastically.

“Oh come on, I can’t ask a question? I’m nervous too.”

“Stop lying. You’ll do great.”

“I might, but I don’t know how to write a poem. You know how I suck at writing.”

“Dude, if anyone should worry it should be me. I can’t write and I got a career on the line here.”

He laughed, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. But let’s get to studying. I’m cold.”  

 

The football field was my place. It was where I could think. I did all my work there. But since my English test was coming up in 5 days, I’ve been there everyday. To study. Ever since 9th grade started, my mean English teacher, Mrs. Horren, hasn’t helped at all with my dyslexia. None of my teachers have! Well, for the exception of Mr. Spero. I know that since I was in highscool I shouldn’t get much help, but if you had dyslexia wouldn’t you be angry if you couldn’t put together letters in your book?

 ♔

I came into school on that Thursday with a bad hair day and messed up mood. Nothing learned, ready-to-fail English day. I really wanted to study that 5 page packet but since it was really cold outside for the first time in October, I didn’t go to the field. Therefore I couln’t study. I tried to make something of the scattered up words on the paper but my mind just didn’t help. I stayed up til 2 and finally, exhausted, hit the sack with nothing done.

I walked into class and obviously, Mrs. Horren pasted that smile on her face. She probably knew that I couldn’t study. She was probably already imagining that delightful moment tomorrow when she handed me my paper with a big, fat F.

The bell rang, and we took our seats. Mrs. Horren didn’t start handing out the papers but I was already worried. If I didn’t get about a 76, I would done. My football career would be over. No more New Orleans Saints.
When Mrs. Horren came to my desk, she sneered. I was 100 percent sure she hated me!

When I flipped my page over, I looked at the letters in random places, my mind was set on guessing. But I remembered my mom’s voice, “Just relax.”

And so I relaxed and the words slowly started popping into place. And then I thought that I was not totally screwed. I might actually pull this off. But the second I thought that, the words started disappearing and I couldn’t think straight.

There was definitely nothing worse than having dyslexia. I just breathed through my nose and waited for the world to swallow me. And as I did that the words appeared again. But this time I didn’t get my hopes up. I just started to write. I looked up at the clock. 1 hour to go. Perfect. Just enough time.

 

The next day I walked into school more or less proud of myself. I toughed it out and completed the test. With 20 minutes left! Dan and I were able to go to the field to do homework. Dan just didn’t have dyslexia. He just went cause he’s my friend.

We met last year. He came to our class and was always lonely. I didn’t have many friends myself so at lunch, one day, we sat together and talked. And from that day we became pals.

I walked into class and Mrs. Horren didn’t have that nasty sneer on her face. I might have not failed! I thought.

But I remembered not to get my hopes high. Sometimes that teacher just got off on the wrong foot. Or banged her head on the ceiling. Or both.

We took our seats and Mrs. Horren handed back the papers. She walked over to my desk, her heels clicking loudly on the floor. She stopped at my desk and slowly handed me my paper. I lifted the corner of the page. My hopes jumped up the Empire State and tumbled down. How am I supposed to get on the football team with a 73!

When Mrs. Horren was done handing out the papers, she went back to the front of the class and started talking. But I couldn't hear her. I just sat and at and stared down my paper with an evil look. When her babbling session was done and everyone started getting up, that was my cue to drag myself out of English. Some kids coming from science, had pale faces and others looked calm. The kids who can barely put on a show and get a D looked scared but the Prefect’s looked at ease, some even with a tinge of happy. This put me a little on edge of what’s in science.

I could see everyone’s day went from great to bad. Or worse. But for me I unlocked a whole new level. Hell. For the rest of science I couldn’t hear anything.  I just sat with my mouth open and pondered the words rolling out of Mrs. Reale’s mouth, “Your End of the Unit Benchmark Assessment is 50% of your grade this quarter.”

 

I walked out of school… walked isn’t really the correct word. Stormed is more like it. I stormed out the doors. As I was stomping down the steps, Dan ran up to me and said, “So what’d ya get on the test?” For a second I thought of saying some snarky remark. Why does Dan have such a happy mood? He knew I felt terrible because of my grade so couldn’t he give me some sympathy? But I thought otherwise. N need to start a fight and make Dan mad.

I mumbled, “73.”

“You did better than me!” exclaimed Dan, his eyes sparkling with excitement.

I was pretty sure he was just trying to cheer me up but I believed him. It did lift my spirits and if I needed anything then, it was motivation to go on through the day. He knew how much this meant to me. I silently thanked him.

 

When I got home, I could smell the sweet aroma of lasagna cooking in the kitchen. My mom surely knew how to make me forget my crisis. I roamed into the kitchen to take in the delicious smell of tomato sauce mixed with cheese and noodles. But once the timer dinged, I was brought back to the real world. The real world where I couldn’t possibly be the star QB of the New Orleans Saints.

I decided I’d better try to pass this dumb science benchmark. For 2 hours I sat and looked at my study guide. I didn’t get much done. The words slowly appeared like a cat , walking up to you for that little bit of tuna but a car runs by and the cat jumps back into the bushes. At 7:00 my mom seemed about done with watching me suffer. She ripped the study guide out of my hands and brought me my lasagna. She sat beside me on the couch and clicked on the TV. We sat silently and watched the ending 4th quarter of the Saints and Giants game. I analyzed Drew Brees’ footwork as he struggled out of a lineman's grasp. He turned to his left and threw one down the field to Colston. Colston reached out and snatched that one handed TD. 31-24. My mom turned to me and smiled. She saw that young game changer in me. And I would do all I could to be one.

 

 

The next day I strided into school with a new energy. It was like a glowing halo around me. Everyone stared at me. They were used to see the glum Garrett. Now a new Garrett Magni Jr. has sprouted. One with hope to fulfill his dream. I walked into science with that amazing feeling… and my mood took a waterfall. I could see on my desk a 5 page packet. Front and back. With 1 hour.When I walked closer to my desk, I groaned. There were even written response answers! I kept standing and staring at the test for what seemed like 5 minutes until I felt the whole classes eyes burning into me. Mrs. Reale calmly said, “Garrett, sit down”.

I did what she said but still with my eyes glued to the paper. Mrs. Reale rambled on but I couldn’t hear her. I tried to figure out what I was seeing.  The words of blurry mess.

“And…  start,” was all I heard Mrs.Reale said as I frantically grabbed my pencil and began to write. Mrs. Reale obviously saw me struggling and took me out of the class. There she said, “Garret, you gotta calm down. Breathe in and out and count to 10.”

When I walked in the class, I felt better. I sat down, but now my absence of knowledge didn’t stare at me. I could see the words clearly. But now I only have 40 minutes instead of the original hour. For 5 pages. I decided not to look at the clock and work.

 

“45 questions on the test. 45! And I skipped like half of them!” I exclaimed to Dan as we walked out the school doors.

He answered with a flat, “I know, but with test that big, you get less points for skipping them.”

I didn’t understand what he was saying. All I knew I failed. “So you wanna go to the field tonight? I have no homework.”

He gave it some thought before saying, “Sure.”

“Ok, see you then,” I answered as I turned left and headed home.

 

At the field, Dan wanted to do some plays. Him and me dragged the big, cushion defenders from behind the bleachers and played. The clouds were covering the sun and the chilly wind blew against my short hair. Dan was the running back for the Green Field Vikings. His grade was great and he’s on the team. But for me, the science test would decide my fate. I pretty much  knew I failed so I tried to put my mind to something other than my ruined career. I threw some passes to Dan while he juked the big, foam sacks. Later, it got colder so we decided to head home. I skipped dinner and decided to get that rest I really needed.

 

I woke up on that Friday morning to snow falling outside my window. My lawn was covered in a huge thin layer of soft, cushiony cotton. With the sun shining and reflecting of the white sheet, I had to shield my eyes. I I love the snow, but it wasn’t gonna be good for Dan and the Vikings. They had practice today. And the snow couldn’t possibly help. Coach Adams needed to decide the starters and with the snow they couldn’t really play.

I walked to school with the crunch of snow beneath my feet.  As I was nearing the school I heard someone yell, “Garrett!”

I turned around just as the white, icy snowball hit my face. “Hey, what was that for!” I shouted back.  

As I was wiping the cold mixture off my face, Dan was running to me. “Sorry, dude. Just meant to get your attention,” he said.

“Man,” I replied, taking the rest of the snow off. “Come on.”

“I’m sorry but I love this snow!” he said picking up more off the ground. “It’s hard and great for making snowballs.”

I looked at him questionably. “Do you like winter? Cause, you know, it just gets cold and colder as the football season settles in,” I claimed.

“Yeah, I do like winter and making snowballs. But I wish I could have your accuracy. That would make me the ultimate sniper,” he replied. He took the snowball in his hands threw it at a tree missing by 2 feet. I quietly snickered. I walked into school and noticed the wall peeling with the old posters from 10, 20, 30 years ago. This school was built in 1934. My dad went here and was taught by my gym teacher when he was just 22 years old!

I suddenly remembered about my test and trudged toward science. As I walked into class, I saw the paper’s are already on the desk. I slowly lifted the top right corner of the page and saw numbers. I could make out a 0 and an 9. Oh great, I got a 9 I wondered. But as I looked closer I saw the numbers switch and they were a 9 and 0. 90! I passed and got on the football team! I could barely sit through the rest of science and school. When the bell rang, I ran out the door and sprinted to the field. I heard Dan yell after me, “Dude! Wait up!”

But I couldn’t stop. I kept running to the field. The wind whipped past my ears as I accelerated faster and faster. The trees were going by in a blur. When I came to the crosswalks, I almost got run over by 4 cars. I was so happy I forgot to look both ways. When I got to the field, I saw Coach smiling. He came up to me and said, “Great to have you back for another year.” He shook my hand and I jogged up to my teammates.

I barely even noticed the snow was gone. The ground was still a little wet and in some patches of the field you could see little puddles. The sky was covered in clouds, but right at that moment the nice, warm sun shone down on my face giving me a feel of new energy. Michael and Everett are already in their uniform. I eyed Michael and gave him a nod. He knew what I was about to do. I grabbed a football and chucked it down the field to Michael. Perfect spiral. Perfect catch. When Dan came running in all exhausted, I exclaimed “Come one dude, your the running back for god’s sake!”

He answered with, “When someone has adrenaline like you, they can run a marathon and not feel a thing.”

I laughed. A good laugh. One I haven’t laughed in while.

 

State
MA