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Not a B Student | By Paul Lewellan

I skipped lunch, content with a granola bar and an open pack of chocolate covered raisins found my desk drawer. I nibbled while sipping on cold coffee.

I studied a picture of my wife Andrea, our daughter Jessica, and our son William, at American Players Theater in Spring Green, Wisconsin, where we’d seen Merry Wives of Winsor. William was an acting intern that summer. Basket Carrier Number Three was his big break He had three lines. In the photo Jessica tugged on the wispy blond beard William had grown. They were laughing over some smart-ass remark I’d made taking the picture. Better times.

A student cleared her throat behind me. “Mr. Beiderman,” she said firmly, “I am not a 'B' student.”

“I beg your pardon.” I turned around to face Tiffany Butler.

“I said, ‘I’m not a B student.’” That’s the way conversations began with my Honors English students. Tiffany would not leave the office until she brought me to my senses, and I changed her grade. She stood resolutely in her distressed American Eagle jeans and her powder blue AE shirt. Her Nikes were fluorescent green. "I did not deserve a B.” She crossed her arms.

"Why do you say that?"

"For three years at Middle School I got all A's in every class for both effort and ability, except for one C in gym class, and that grade was unfair. Those uniforms were disgusting, so I couldn’t...”

"Yes, I see," I interrupted. "But this isn't Beatrice Potter Middle School; this is Goldwater High School. We don't give effort grades or ability grades; we grade on actual work. Based on your first test, you are a B student. The Romeo and Juliet test could raise your grade. For that matter, there’s nothing wrong with getting a B."

"But I don't deserve a B." She raised her voice, perhaps, because she feared I was hard of hearing.

"You're right."

"Huh?"

"Technically your grade was a C+, but I didn’t discover my addition error until I had written a ‘B-’ on your test.”

Tiffany glared. I reached for her test from the stack sitting on my bookshelf. “Let’s take a look at what you might have done differently. You could do a rewrite.” Eventually Tiffany left, test in hand, determined to prove to me she was not a B student by revising her essay for a higher grade.

I turned back to the photo on my desk. If only every problem were that easy to resolve.

Paul Lewellan lives and gardens in Davenport, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi River. He’s sheltering in place with his wife Pamela, his Shi Tzu Mannie, and their ginger tabby Sunny. He keeps a safe social distance from everyone else. He’s recently had work published in Passengers Journal, The Athena Review, October Hill, Kalopsia Literary Journal, and White Wall Review.


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