Cheater

I don’t know much about anatomy. I took a class on it my junior year of high school, but it was painfully boring and I only passed the tests because my teacher didn’t pay attention and we students devised a clever system of cheating. One person would steal the test and do the best he could on it the night before we all had to take it, then pass out tiny sheets of paper with the answers on them the next day.

So we would get these tiny sheets of paper with all of the answers and we knew that we couldn’t copy them exactly, we would all have to change a few of them, and we did. Mrs. Sims knew what was going on, I know she did, but she never said anything to us about it. That’s probably because she was lazy. If she was going to get really mad at us for cheating, she would then have had to prevent us from doing so, and that might have involved some actual teaching on her part.

I don’t know what she did all the time that made her so keen to avoid teaching us anything. Facebook hadn’t even been invented yet.

My friend Lane refused to cheat. I was pulling a steady C in the class–I couldn’t do too well or it’d look suspicious–and so was she. Except that I had a C in spite of spending exactly no time looking at my textbook, and she had a C in spite of studying a few hours a week. You can understand why we had different attitudes toward our matching grades.

She was annoyed at me, too, for cheating and doing as well as she did. She never said anything, but the annoyance was visible. Lane was a good person, even when it was hard to be one. I was a good person, too, most of the time, but I could turn it off when it was necessary.

On the last day of class, after everyone had taken the final (same routine as always–I mean, really, couldn’t Mrs. Sims have tried to hide it?), Lane stood up. She walked over to Mrs. Sims and asked her if she could talk to her outside. Mrs. Sims stood up and followed her out the door.

The rest of us, well, you can imagine how panicked we were. We buzzed quietly, everyone saying the same thing. Surely she wouldn’t. Dear God my parents are going to kill me. You don’t think she’s telling, do you? And all sorts of stuff like that. We were pretty fucking terrified.

Lane kept her out there for nearly fifteen minutes. The classroom was in a frenzy by the time we heard the doorknob turn, but we immediately fell silent when they walked back in the room. Lane walked back to her desk beside me and sat down without making eye contact. Mrs. Sims walked to her computer and sat down. I imagined she was changing all of our final grades.

We remained silent until the bell rang, dismissing us for the day. Mrs. Sims absentmindedly waved when we all stood up and walked out of the room, but she didn’t seem to notice that we were lacking the excitement that usually accompanies that last day of school.

When Lane and I got outside, I hissed at her, “What did you say to her? Did you tell her?”

Lane looked at me, smug and straightforward. “Tell her what?”

“You know what!”

“Oh, that all of you have been cheating all year on your tests while I struggled through and actually learned something?”

“Well, yeah. That.”

Lane was ahead of me then, walking faster than me. She turned around so that I could hear her.

“Of course not,” she said. “I would never.”

“Then what did you say?”

“I was asking her about the nursing program at Central U,” she said, and then she turned back around and walked a corner.

I stood there looking at my shoes. Lane was right–she would never have told. She just didn’t have it in her.

I guess the worst part was knowing that if I’d been her shoes, I probably would’ve.

 

 

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