EXAMS WERE BRUTAL, AS EXPECTED. I KICKED ass in History and on my English paper, did not embarrass myself in Algebra, and dreaded Spanish, my second-to-last one.
Noah tried to study with me the first night of exam week, but he was an abject failure of a teacher; I ended up throwing a package of flash cards at him after ten minutes. Thank God for Jamie. We studied every day for hours, and by the end of the week, he was explaining Algebra to me in Spanish. He was amazing and I felt amazing, despite the stress. In the past week on Zyprexa, the nightmares had stopped, the hallucinations were gone, and I walked into Spanish feeling prepared, but still nervous.
The oral exam should have been straightforward; we were assigned list of topics, and we were supposed to be able to speak about any of them, waxing poetic with proper grammar and pronunciation until Morales was satisfied. And naturally, the second Jamie and I walked into the classroom, Morales seized on me.
“Meez Dee-er,” she sneered. She always said my name wrong and in English. Annoying. “You’re next.” She pointed at me, and then at the blackboard at the front of the classroom.
Jamie gave me a sympathetic look as I passed his desk. Vainly trying to calm my breathing, I trudged toward the front of the classroom. Morales was prolonging my misery, shuffling her papers, writing in her book, what have you. I braced myself for the coming onslaught, shifting my weight from foot to foot.
“Who was Pedro Arias Dávila?”
I stopped fidgeting. That wasn’t one of the topics; we never even mentioned Dávila in class. She was trying to throw me. I lifted my gaze toward Morales, who was sitting alone in the front row, her body stuffed unceremoniously into the student chair. She was poised for the kill.
“We don’t have all day, Meez Dee-er.” She tapped her long fingernails on the metal surface of her desk.
A tingle of victory crept into my bloodstream. I took World History last year, and it just so happened my final project was on sixteenth-century Panama. What were the odds? I took it as a sign.
“Pedro Arias Dávila led the first major Spanish trip to the New World.” I responded in flawless Spanish. I had no idea how, and I felt giddy. Everyone in the room was staring at me.
I paused to reflect on my genius, then continued. “He was a soldier in wars at Granada, Spain, and North Africa. King Ferdinand II made him leader of the trip in 1514.” Mara Dyer for the win.
Morales spoke in a calm, cold voice. “You may sit down, Meez Dee-er.”
“I’m not finished.” I couldn’t believe I actually said it. For a second, my legs threatened to bolt to the nearest desk. But as Morales quickly lost her composure, a juicy thrill coursed through my veins. I couldn’t resist. “In 1519 he founded Panama City. He was part of the agreement with Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro that allowed the discovery of Peru.” Suck it, Morales.
“Sit down, Meez Dee-er.” Morales began to huff and puff, strongly resembling a cartoon character. In thirty seconds, smoke would start radiating from her ears.
“I’m not finished,” I said again, delighted by my own audacity. “In the same year, Pedro de los Ríos took over as governor of Panama. Dávila then died at the age of ninety-one in 1531.”
“Sit down!” she screamed.
But I was invincible. “Dávila is remembered as a cruel man and as a liar.” I emphasized each adjective and stared hard at Morales, watching the veins in her forehead threaten to explode. Her corded neck turned purple.
“Get out of my classroom.” Her voice was quiet and furious. “Senor Coardes, you are next.” Morales half-turned in the too-small chair and nodded at a freckled, openmouthed classmate.
“I’m not finished,” I heard myself say. I was almost bouncing with energy. The room itself seemed sharp and alive. I heard the footfalls of individual ants scurrying to and from a prize piece of gum stuck to a bookshelf on my left. I smelled the sweat that trickled down the side of Morales’s face. I saw the individual dreadlocks fall in slow motion over Jamie’s face as he planted his forehead on his desk.
“GET OUT OF MY CLASSROOM!” Morales bellowed, stunning me with the force of it as she rose from her chair, knocking over the desk.
At that point, I could hold it in no longer. A smug smile lit up my face and I sauntered out of the room.
To the sound of applause.