Karina, the Math Wiz: Part Five
Karina arrived in math on Monday, her stomach in knots. She took out a piece of paper and prepared for class, ready to do her best. Mrs. Yimps smiled behind her glasses, her Gelert nose wrinkled. “Good morning, Karina. Nice weekend?” The Mynci nodded.
Just as Karina took her seat, the bell rang. Mrs. Yimps walked to the center of the classroom and smiled. “Good morning. Please take out a piece of paper for notes. I will be handing back your quizzes from Friday. There will be a redo, seeing as a lot of you need it. This Friday, right after school.”
The Gelert walked slowly around the desks, handing back quizzes. Students began banging their heads on their desks in despair, for indeed, many of them needed to redo the quiz. Graphie glanced at her quiz and pounded the air with her first.
“B-!” she screamed. “Oh ya! 80.5% Christine’s gonna put in on the fridge! No redo for me.” She beamed and Mrs. Yimps placed Karina’s quiz on her desk faced down. She took a deep breath and flipped it over.
In big red print at the top was written: D. Karina began scanning through her quiz. 100% on the first five problems, at least. As she flipped through pages, she slapped her forehead, angry for making so many mistakes. On the last page was a note from Mrs. Yimps:
Please meet with me after class... I’d like a word with you and about your participation in the Math-tath-alon. I’m concerned, Karina.
Karina took a deep breath, trying not to cry. She hadn’t expected to do well, but the low grade still to a blow to her self-esteem. “Graphie,” she said quietly. “No Math-tath-alon for me.”
Graphie frowned, but didn’t reply. Karina began taking notes, sloppily, unlike she usually did. Class seemed to, to her and her classmates’ delight, zip right by. Mrs. Yimps smiled at her students. “Please finish the worksheet I am about to hand out, odd problems only,” she explained as she walked around the classroom.
Karina furiously stuffed her homework away. The bell rang and Mrs. Yimps waved goodbye. Once the crowd of students had left, Karina stepped up to her teacher.
“I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry,” she choked, hiding her face behind her history text book. “I can’t believe it. Kick me out of the Math-tath-alon, and fail me, too, please.”
Mrs. Yimps patted her student on the head. “I am not going to fail you,” she said calmly. “I know you can ace this, Karina, and you know it too.” Her voice was stern.
Karina didn’t reply. She just sat, quietly, until the silence was interrupted by the bell. She began to lean towards the door, but Mrs. Yimps grabbed her. “I don’t have a class this period. Now, what don’t you understand. The concepts, the form of the questions...”
“I understand it all,” Karina interrupted softly. “I didn’t study.”
“You didn’t study?” asked Mrs. Yimps, her eyes wide, her tone slightly different. “What do you mean. You, of all people! You always study.”
Karina hung her head. “Kick me out of the Math-tath-alon,” she repeated.
“Karina, don’t give up. Now, I’m assuming you want to redo this?” Mrs. Yimps stared at Karina and tilted her head to the side, the test paper in her paw. She raised her eyebrow as Karina cowered with fear.
“Yes,” she coughed, uncomfortably. She stared out the door into the hall, where a red Usul had stopped to spy on the conversation. Seeing that Karina had noticed her, she quickly continued walking.
Mrs. Yimps waved her paw in front of Karina’s face. “Karina,” she said sternly. “Then I’m afraid you can’t compete in the Math-tath-alon. The redo is at the same time. Shame, really. But if its for the best...”
“What are you trying to teach me by this?” Karina growled, suddenly angry. “That I should study? I know that. I just forgot and slipped up. Sometimes that just happens, you know? Okay, I’ll miss the Math-tath-alon. Big deal. I would have lost anyway.”
“No! Just leave me alone. I’m stressed, okay? I messed up... and I guess I’ll have to pay the price. No second chances, of course, of course.” Her voice was high and was a cross between anger and helplessness, as she tearfully blew her nose.
The Gelert turned away and began to write on a piece of paper. “Here,” she said, thrusting it into Karina’s palm. “Go to class.” Karina walked away angrily, her face puffy. Mrs. Yimps sighed. “Where did I go wrong?”
“Where you been?” asked Em, thwacking Karina in the stomach with her wing. She had just wobbled into the history classroom, her legs shaky, and handed Mr. Gwindle the pass. He had given her a packet of information and told her to ask a friend what to do.
“Nowhere,” she said, though by the tone of her voice, it was obvious it was obviously a lie. She took out a pencil and wrote her name on the history packet. “What’s the assignment?”
The Eyrie didn’t reply. “What is it, Karina?” Em nudged again. Karina avoided her gaze.
“I got a D,” Karina sputtered, much more calmly than she had expected. “And I’m missing the Math-tath-alon.” She gulped, avoiding Em’s gaze.
“What? You can’t get a D,” she howled, so loudly that Mr. Gwindle glared. “I mean,” she continued in a whisper. “You’ve got to do the Math-tath-alon... I need you to help me.”
The Mynci looked up and stared blankly. “What?”
“Oh, never mind,” Em said abruptly, shaking her head. “Read the passage and answer the questions in essay form.”
And for the rest of history, Em didn’t say a word.
Karina sat a table at lunch, her binder by her side. She usually wouldn’t bring her binder to lunch, but she had to catch up on history work. She still was a little confused by Em’s actions, and she hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to her in gym. She looked through the cafeteria, trying to find her friend, but with no luck.
Sadly, she began to eat lunch alone. “Yum,” she muttered sarcastically, chewing her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The Mynci stared at the ground, trying to keep tears from gathering in her eyes.
“Karina,” Snow Angel said, sitting down beside her. “Mind if I sit with you?” By the look in her eye, it was clear that Snow Angel knew something was wrong. She innocently emptied her lunch bag and spread out her sandwich, a drink, and three giant chocolate chip cookies. She passed one to Karina. “How was your day?”
“You can drop the act, sis,” muttered Karina under her breath. “I failed the math class... like you don’t know that already. I bet you and Graphie and Cutie have all been laughing at me, haven’t you? And now even Em is disappointed in me. She doesn’t want to be friends with an idiot like me, I guess.”
Her sister shook her head. “Em doesn’t want to be friends with someone who can’t help her cheat her way to a victory in the Math-tath-alon,” Snow Angel said in a hushed tone. “I heard her talking to Missy – you know, that show-off Uni – before lunch. She’s planning on pestering you, making you feel guilty, bribing you... doing whatever it takes so you’ll give her answers.” Karina looked like Snow Angel had slapped her.
“But she’s my friend!” Karina cried, but she seemed to understand. “That’s why Em had been so upset in history, and when I gave her my essay in history... that’s exactly what she had wanted,” she thought aloud. The Mynci rested her head on the cold table.
“Karina...” Snow Angel said gently, patting her sister on the back.
Karina shook her head. “I’ve been such a jerk.”
“Well... we can’t deny that,” said a voice. Graphie had just appeared behind them, Cutie at her side. “But we forgive you. We knew Em must’ve hypnotized you, or else you’d never ever ditch us. Right?” Graphie winked. Karina couldn’t help laughing.
Cutie took the empty seat next to her. “Say yes, and we’ll forgive you,” she giggled. Karina nodded. “So, what’s for lunch?” Cutie continued, patting her stomach.
“Wait...” Karina said, her smile gone. “I still have to miss the Math-tath-alon. I have to redo that assignment, I can’t imagine... a D in my progress report, I’m sure that brought my grade down. I’ll be studying all week if I want to even pass.” Again, her siblings just laughed.
“This is Karina we’re talking about, remember. She made a little mistake, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a math wiz anymore,” Snow Angel said, squeezing Karina’s paw.
“It takes more than one little mess up to ruin your nerd reputation, sorry,” Graphie teased. “Anyway... we’ve been at lunch for fifteen minutes already, and I haven’t eaten anything. What is wrong with me today?”
They all laughed, and the conversation was dropped as lunch went on and they ate and laughed happily. So happily, that they didn’t notice a green Eyrie who had been at the table just behind them, listening the entire time.
To be continued...