“I’ve got your results.” Mr Pavot holds up the papers in one hand.
The test in the front of the pack has been graded furiously with various crossing outs and scribbles in red ink. The number ‘thirty four’ is written ostentatiously in the centre of the page.
I can’t help but cringe.
I think I know whose test that belongs to.
A quiet groan comes from behind me.
Ashley. She is great at many things but in this class she may be the bluntest nail in the toolbox.
I twist my neck to look back at the desk which Ashley occupies. Her face is scrunched up unattractively. She glances at me then back to the front and pulls a pained expression. Yes, she thinks it is hers too.
“Most of you did really well,” Mr Pavot continues, “however for the rest of you it is blatantly obvious that you need to work a lot harder if you want to pass this semester,” he begins handing back the papers one person at a time. With each student he gives a further feedback, “Good. Good. Could be better. Work harder. Well done. I hope this is not the best you can do.”
When he finally gets to me, Mr Pavot shakes his head in disappointment confusing me so much. “Meena, I thought you told me you didn’t find social studies difficult,” he places down my sheet on the desk.
Scanning the paper on my desk as he walks away, my eyes widen in complete and utter shock.
16 marks out of 100?!
What the hell? I re-read the numbers on the top right of my answer sheet. I am an A-Straight student. Why – no – HOW did I get only 16?
I tightly grip the paper, my eyes flicker through the questions. Most of my answers has been furiously crossed out to the point where I can not read what I had initially written down. There are little red comments beside a few selected questions too. ‘Answer is not spelt right,’ ‘This topic needs extra attention,’ ‘Wrong!’
“Psst,” Ashley hisses.
I turn my upper body round to face her.
“What did you get?” she asks curiously.
“16,” I reply, still unable to wrap my head around it.
“What?” Ashley answers, sharing the same shock at me. “I beat you?”
I can’t control my eyebrows from moving closer to my hairline. “What did you get?”
She got over double my marks?
“Meena, can you face the front? I think your result shows that you need to concentrate harder in my class,” Dr Pavot interrupts my thoughts.
I stutter incoherently, my brain is fighting for my mouth to argue back but I’m too caught off guard.
Ashley whispers, “Face the front.”
I slowly turn to sit properly in my seat to find a few classmates looking in my direction for being called out. Having too may pairs of eyes on me forces me to regain my composure, or at least appear like I have. I ignore their pointed stares, and they soon lose interest at my bland expression.
For the remainder of the lesson my mind is focused elsewhere. I silently debate whether to approach the front desk after class. Will it be rude to do so?
Despite my best efforts to pay attention, everything that is being taught does not register for more than a few moments. I abandon my pen and notebook, and watch the man talk animatedly beside the whiteboard.
How did I get such a slow mark?
There must be a mistake. Maybe my paper was swapped with someone else’s. I check the name.
By the time class is over, I wait for everyone else to leave the room before approaching Mr Pavot’s desk which he sits so confidently behind. “Mr Pavot,” I stand in front of him. “Is it possible to have my test remarked, please?”
He raises an eyebrow at me, “Excuse me?”
“With all due respect, sir. I have had no problems with this class in the past. Can you elaborate how I got these answers wrong?”
Mr Pavot shakes his head, “Meena,” his spiky black hair becomes slightly floppy and he leans his upper body forward. “Confidence is an admirable trait. Arrogance is not.”
His comment causes my body to stand up straighter.
“As I told you before, if you need help just ask for it. Now’s your opportunity.”
My mouth drops open. “But I don’t have any problems.” Do I? No…No! I don’t!
“Meena, do not delude yourself into thinking you can cope on your own, you need additional help….”
What? I’m fine.
“So I propose that you spend at least four lunches doing additional revision. You can come spend it in this classroom, therefore if you have any problems or questions I will be here.”
I slowly release the deep breath I’ve been holding throughout his speech, I try to find a simple and firm way to refuse his offer, “That’s very generous, bu –”
“Then it’s settled,” he interrupts me happily. “I’ll be seeing you next lesson then.”
“Make sure you shut the door on your way out. Thank you.”