Gentry parted his lips. But no words came out.
Zach waited for an answer, wide blue eyes aimed at him.
But he didn’t have one, so he simply said,
“If you don’t want to cheat, fine. But it will be harder.”
Zach sunk into his seat, weary-eyed at the realization of what he’d just insisted on. Learning a year’s worth of lit in the last weeks of school? Probably impossible.
Colleges would never ask about it or care to know, but there was still life outside school... beyond Handson. There were times when you just had to take setbacks into account. In this case, it came with the territory.
No one said he had to be happy about it.
Gentry gave a wry half-smile, and nudged Zach’s leg with his foot.
“How’d you survive middle school?”
“…I was homeschooled.”
Gentry nodded slowly.
He privately decided that Zach was a lot like a tree. You either moved around it or chopped it down, but it wouldn’t bend like a reed no matter how hard the storm. At worst, he would end up a big old stump; cut down to size and worn down. He would be chopped to pieces, used for his raw material... his honor, his hard working nature, his sympathy. But even then, he would still be there, believing in what he believed in.
And deep in his gut, Gentry respected him for it.