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Chapter 8 - Bryan's Burden


Mrs. Rickert, my English teacher, stepped beside me. “Could I see you in the hallway, Mr. Taylor?”

Uh-oh! Calling me Mr. Taylor was not a sign of good things to come. Until we stepped into the hall, I hadn’t seen Mrs. Rickert’s face. Once she turned around I was shocked at how red it was and how dark her eyes could look. Wow! I’d never seen her so angry, at least, not at me.

“Would you like to explain yourself?”

Could I answer, ‘No, I wouldn’t like to. Thanks, anyway,’ and get away with it? I doubted it.

“I was goofing around,” I said. My voice sounded a little squeaky, which was embarrassing. “We were all done with the project.”

Mrs. Rickert crossed her arms over her chest. “And what will your grandparents say when I tell them how you chose to use your group’s time?”

I gulped. “You’re calling my grandparents?”

“Yes, it’s my policy when I give a detention.”

My heart sank. Just last night I had convinced Grandma and Grandpa that I was old enough for a cell phone. My grades were good and I was doing all of my chores without being asked. They said they would discuss it and give it serious consideration. I thought I’d presented a good case, but if Mrs. Rickert called home that cell phone idea was history.

“I’m sorry,” I managed to croak.

“I’m sure you are, Mr. Taylor. Your detention slip will be in the office at the end of the day.”

Mrs. Rickert pivoted and opened the door, holding it for me so I could go in first. Of course all eyes were on me when we came back in. I crossed the room and returned to my group. Tim, Ella and Nikki had already rearranged all the shapes into appropriate nouns. All we had to do was attach them to the poster, but I didn’t care. At this point, getting an “F” on the project wouldn’t have been any worse.

After school my best friend, Seth, already had a seat on the bus when I flung my backpack under the seat and plopped down on the vinyl next to him.

He punched me in the shoulder. “Dude, I heard what happened with Rickert fifth period. Detention, huh?”

“Yeah. I’m dead.” I slid down and mashed my knees against the back of the seat in front of us. “So much for the cell phone.”

“Aw, sorry, man.” He pushed himself into the corner by the window.  Seth slid down next to me. “Whatcha gonna do?”

“What do you mean what am I going to do? I’ll probably be grounded for a month and who knows when I’ll get that cell phone. Probably never!” Suddenly I realized my hands hurt because my knuckles were clenched so tight in my lap.

“That’s not what I mean.” Seth glanced at the people around us then lowered his voice. “You’ve gotta get back at her, man. You can’t let her get away with this.”

“Huh? Who?” I wondered if I looked as confused as I felt.

“Rickert,” Seth clarified.

“What am I supposed to do?”

He glanced around then leaned in a little closer. “Scare her.”


I went to my school’s website and clicked on Mrs. Rickert’s school e-mail.



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