The Perfect Score and The Play

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***

Cato

"Pathetic," Mr. Abernathy says as he places a graded test on a student's desk. "Dreadful," he places another test on another student's desk. "Good job, Odair." He hands Finnick his test, making the boy smile. "See me after class," he says as he passes me. I get a confused feeling and begin to wonder.

Why would I have to see him after class? I ask myself. Why would he not let me see my paper? Then it dawns on me. I made my first F. My eyes widen at that thought. No. This can't be, I've never made a bad grade in my life. Why now? Why? Why am I the only one that has to see him after class? I feel myself gripping the wooden surface of the desk. Why does it feel like I just put my hand in gum? I make a disgusted face and get up and walk out the door, without thinking that I may get in trouble.

"Mr. Hadley," Ms. Trinket says as I walk down the hallway. "What a pleasant surprise to see you out in the hall!" She exclaims quietly as I try to walk around her. "Where are you heading?"

"To the bathroom," I say. "I can do that, right?"

"Only if you have a hall pass," her eyes widen. "Otherwise, you can't go to the restroom."

I shake my head. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." I say.

"Darling, they probably didn't have hall passes at your old school, but they do here." She flashes me a smile.

"Ms. Trinket, please let me past and I'll have a hall pass next time." I try to reason with her.

"Okay, Dear." She says. "Just this one time, but after this, I'm letting no more slip."

"Thank you." I say as I slide past her.

When I get to the bathroom, I wash my hands and dry them. See me after class. I hear Mr. Abernathy's voice in my head. I start wondering why he wants to see me after class again.

***

"Nice of you to joy me, Mr. Hadley." Mr. Abernathy says. "Do you know why you're here?"

I sit in the chair in front of him and shake my head. "No, Sir."

"Well," he takes a swig of whatever liquid he has in the bottle in his hands. "You're here because I expected less from you." He says, showing me my test paper with a big A+ written on it. "You did good, Kid, real good." I take the paper in my hands, staring at it. "You have a gift."

"Can we not tell anyone about this?" I ask him, making him narrow his eyes at me.

"Why? You too much of a wimp to show your true colors?" He says.

"It's not that," I say.

"What is it, then?" He takes another swig. "Tell me, Chicken." He starts making chicken noises.

I slightly shake my head. "Don't do that," I say and he continues. "Stop." I say. "Stop it. Stop doing that."

"Bock, bock." He continues.

"Dear God . . . stop!" I shout uncontrollably.

He smirks. "Bit on the feisty side, I see." He sits back in his chair and takes another swig. "You see, Kid, you gotta be yourself, even though it might make you feel uncomfortable at times."

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