An Excerpt from The Fifth Floor
The Fifth Floor An Excerpt from Chapter Eleven
Studying for midterms is more difficult than before. I sit at my desk night after night reading my textbooks, except I don’t turn the pages. I stare at the same page reading the same paragraph again and again, each time shaking my head, trying to clear unrelated thoughts before starting over. I lean back in my chair and stare at the calendar above my desk.
“Five. I have to get through only five exams this week,” I say aloud.
The calendar blends together with the wall behind it. An image of a swing set flashes on it. My head twitches and my eyes flutter, bringing the calendar back into clear view. I close my geometry textbook and head to bed.
I make it through geometry and English exams on Tuesday and health and social studies exams on Wednesday. Thursday I make my way to evolution class, ready to be done. I walk in with other students and make my way to my seat. There are two very long science counters, each separating two rows of nine desks. My desk is just to the right of Mr. Loften’s desk which sits on an elevated platform, giving him a slightly higher view of the classroom. We settle in as Mr. Loften takes attendance. He discusses time, bathroom procedures, talking, and other rules and regulations I have heard too many times this week. As soon as the test packets are handed to each student, silence fills the room. The typical multiple-choice questions, fill in the blank, and true or false fills the seven page packet.
I look at the clock when I turn to the final page of questions. Fifteen minutes remain before the bell will ring.
I look at question sixty-one, “_____ developed the theory of evolution.” Charles Darwin. Sixty-two. The words blur, like they have several times already. My thoughts sidetrack and instead of refocusing on my final, I look to my right. Most everyone is hurried, trying to finish. A few are leaning back in their chairs with their eyes closed, waiting for the bell to ring. Others are calmly reviewing their answers. From the corner of my eye, I notice Mike and Jenny secretly sharing answers. I smile.
To my left, I focus on Mr. Loften’s crisscrossed legs under his desk. He’s a nice guy, I figure. He gave me a B in biology my freshman year when I probably earned a C. Unlike fat Mrs. Myerson or Mr. Surrick whose raging hormones drive him to notice only pretty girls, I think Mr. Loften would recognize me outside his classroom.
He’s unaware of my stare and of my thoughts. Stupid...this test...this class. Who in hell cares if I evolved from a single-celled organism or from Adam and Eve?
I look back to the clock, a few minutes left. The bell rings and everyone makes their way to Mr. Loften’s desk, leaving him with a pile of tests. I remain seated. I smile at the obvious differences in my classmates. Those needing everything to be perfect view their test while walking to Mr. Loften’s desk. “Thank you,” they say, placing their packet neatly in the pile.
Those who care more about what their peers think plop their test on the pile without looking, chatting as they leave the classroom. And those who likely circled C for every multiple-choice answer toss their test on Mr. Loften’s desk, disregarding the already formed pile. I fit nowhere.
“Time is up,” Mr. Loften says, looking over at me. I ponder his choice of words. They mean nothing more than hand the test in, I suppose, but I think about it differently. What if time is up?
“Hand it in, Anna,” Mr. Loften says. “If you don’t know the answers by now, you won’t in the next thirty seconds.”
I do know the answers, most of them, but I don’t care if Mr. Loften knows it or not. I get up from my seat. I walk the three steps to his desk. I look to Mr. Loften and then to my test. I rip it in two, toss it into the garbage can, and walk out the door.
“Anna,” Mr. Loften calls after me.
I keep on walking. My time is up.
The Fifth Floor March 1st Release