“Mrs Jeffries,” said Jonathan, putting up his hand, when the class had finally quietened. Gloria had sat down with her head in her hands. Ashamed. The girl next to her moved along so she wasn’t squashed up next to Gloria.
But Gloria wasn’t the only one who looked miserable. Tansey looked anxiously at Jonathan. What was he going to say to the teacher…in front of the whole class? What was he thinking – about Gloria – and about herself?
Tansey wanted to run out of the room right now. Perhaps she could make an excuse and ask to go to the toilet. She should use some tactics learned from Gloria!
Mrs Jeffries’ pleasant voice interrupted her thoughts. She really liked Jonathan: she was leaning forward and smiling as she asked him: “Yes Jonathan. Do you want to read your story too?”
“Aah, come on Jonathan,” Washela piped up. “We’d love to hear your story.”
Mrs Jeffries gave her a stern look. “Quiet please, Washela,” she commanded. Zahra, who was sitting next to her, gave her a bump, as if to say, ‘Wouldn’t we all like to hear that hunk’s story?’ Mrs Jeffries concentrated her attention on Jonathan again:
“No, it’s not that.”
“What then – you want to comment on Gloria’s story?”
Some of the girls giggled. Zahra said under her breath: “Wouldn’t he like to do that!”
“No, it’s not that either,” said Jonathan, looking straight at their teacher and trying not to get distracted by all the giggles around him.
“Jonathan! You are being very mysterious. Out with it then. Tell me what’s on your mind.”
“Mam, I also lost my homework!”
The class exploded. There was so much loud laughing that Mrs Jeffries felt the need to stand up and walk around her desk to the front, where she stood formidably.
The change in Mrs Jeffries face was quite comical. One minute, she was smiling and cooing over Jonathan; the next minute she looked like a very dark thunder cloud.
“What’s going on?!” she shouted, banging her fist on her desk. “My two best students ‘lose’ their homework! Detention Jonathan.” Her hand came down on the table again. “No argument. Now get out your novels, the rest of you. You will read in silence. I don’t want to hear any more about ‘lost’ essays today.”
Tansey stared at her book, a small smile playing on her lips. She and Jonathan would be alone together in detention. This was working out rather well. It looked as if Gloria had done her a favour after all! And without realising it, Mrs Jeffries herself had done her a favour. If she had probed any more, she would have discovered that there were a lot of other culprits without homework in the class. Chief of these culprits were the usual lazy ones: Moses and Benny for a start, and of course, Gloria herself.
Tansey was surprised that Mrs Jeffries had listened to ‘Gloria’s’ story without realising it wasn’t hers. Perhaps it was such a relief to her that Gloria had finally handed in a story. Maybe she was congratulating herself for her good teaching, and all the encouragement she had poured into Gloria’s ears in the hope that she would eventually start working. Did the teacher think she was finally having her moment of glory as well? Well, she was going to get a rude shock. She would wait in vain for Gloria’s next good story!
At the end of the day, the classroom emptied rapidly. Except of course for Jonathan and Tansey. Mrs Jeffries glared at them as she left, shaking her head and muttering.
Gloria was the last to get to the door. She did turn around, then, and gave Tansey a spiteful stare.
You made your bed. Now you must lie in it! Tansey thought. So she gave her ex-friend a beautiful smile. Gloria was so furious that she slammed the door when she exited. Another thing that couldn’t have realised was good for Tansey –a moment alone behind a closed door with Jonathan! Things were getting better by the minute.
But just then the prefect on detention duty entered. He waited until Mrs Jeffries was out of earshot, then he complained, “What’s up with that woman?”
“She’s had a really bad day,” Tansey giggled.
“You could say!” agreed Jonathan.
“Look you two. I couldn’t care how you spend your detention, as long as you get to the back of the class and leave me alone. I have a lot of work to do.”
Jonathan came straight over to Tansey and sat down. “That was a brilliant story you wrote,” he said softly. “How did Gloria get her hands on it?”
“Everyone knew. Gloria can’t write like that. And she would never have read it aloud if she had known what it was about. She’s really getting what she deserves now. She’s at the mercy of the whole class.”
“I feel just a little sorry for her, actually.”
“Even though she stole your homework! What a friend. I would recognise your style any day. Moment of Glory is some cool story. I wish I could craft a story like you. Mine has so many flaws. You can read it if you like. Maybe you can fix it.” He slid his exercise book across the desk top.
“You didn’t lose…”
“That ‘lost’ story in my creative writing book was for you. And… so is this one.” He slid his rough workbook across the desk top.
Her eyes filled with tears as she read the title of the story: Brains before beauty: Tansey, my girl. His arm encircled her waist as he leant forward to kiss her. But just before their lips touched, he whispered, “Whose moment of glory now?”
Tell us what you think: What advice would you give Gloria and Tansey?