F was a horrible letter.
Fuck. Fat. Flippant. Zach couldn’t think of one good word that started with F. F was the Monday of letters, necessary but disliked. Especially when it glared at him off his report card, printed crisp and clear:
Literature: 59%! Fifty-nine percent also started with an F, and was exactly five letters away from L. L looked a bit like an upside down F, and Literture was like a longer way to say “fuck you!” Zach sighed quietly and turned the report card face down, glaring at the girl who had been leaning in to steal a glance.
What a great day this was turning out to be. Earlier he’d seen some chick cry in the hallway, surrounded by friends. He was filled with the grim realization that there would be no one around if he cried. No, you couldn’t bleed amongst the sharks, you couldn’t afford to show frustration. Especially now, when report cards got in. They always passed them out in Geometry. Every quarter, a new one, straight from the office printer, stamped with a watermark of the Kennedy Knight. The moment those slips of paper landed in the eager hands of their owners, pandemonium broke loose. If they didn’t ask, they stole a glance. Sometimes both. If they were bold enough, they pulled it from your grip and exclaimed something like,
“Wow Gentry! A-!”
The grade determined the hierchy of the classroom. A, B, C, D, F, graded your self-worth and potential as a human being. Your destiny hinged on a code of various letters, and currently that letter was F. Fucking fantabulous.
He leaned back and played it cool, watching the clock. The GSA poster he’d hung there stared back at him mockingly, but his face didn’t show any sign of agitation. That was because showing any sign of frustration, another F word, could be interpreted as a visible side-effect of an F. Then everyone would know.
“Hey Jenny, what do you have… OH! All A’s. You’re so smart! I want to be you!”
“I want to be me too. What do you have? … ohh.”
Zach crumpled the report and slam-dunked it into the trash.
No sooner had he heard the satisfying ker-plunk than Mr.Handson stirred from his seat and promptly exclaimed, “Zach.”
The burly discreetly motioned Zach to him.
“I saw you throw away your report card.”
“You have good vision.”
“I want you to see me after class. I have to notify your parents of this as well.”
“Yes sir.” Zach grumbled.
They were staring by now. Ohhh who failed now? Who got owned?
“All right.” Mr.Handson nodded, “Because your grade is not acceptable.”
Now that did it. Zach wondered in vexed frustration whether Mr.Handson had ever been in high school or if he just emerged from his mother’s womb a fat balding guy with a combover and a bad attitude, red F-marking pen clutched in one greasy hand.
“Hey, Mr.Handson. Why don’t you yell it out?”
“Yell what out?”
Zach jumped on the table, “Excuse me everyone! I have an F!”
He jumped back down, and motioned to the trash, “Just like that. By the way, everyone! The rest of my report card is in the trash, where it belongs. Go ahead, look at it!”The class stared at him open-mouthed, murmuring amongst themselves. Zach didn’t linger any longer, storming out the door before Mr.Handson could raise his voice in protest.