Skip to content

Long Story: The Rough Draft

January 3, 2013
Part of the crowd at the G20 Meltdown protest ...

My English class had only 25-30 students in it when I read my story, but I felt like the world was watching me. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Students entered Mr. Fay-guns’s class very quietly the day that the stories were due.  Mr. Fay-guns (spelled Faggins), my tenth grade English teacher, was sick and had a raspy voice, so we were going to read our stories in front of the class so that he wouldn’t have to talk much.  Making noise meant getting noticed, and most students didn’t want to get called on to read.  I wasn’t the kind of student that usually got noticed, so I had determined that I probably wouldn’t have to read.

The directions were on the board in handwriting so large that it was impossible not to notice.


“Each one of your names is written on a strip of paper in my tissue box.

I will choose one student at a time by pulling names from the box.

If you do not read when I call your name, you will get a zero and detention.

Volunteers may go first.

Whiners will go before volunteers.”


So, getting noticed had nothing to do with it.

Still, a lot of students who normally talked before class weren’t talking because Mr. Fay-guns might interpret their talking as whining.

“Did you finish your ‘Long Story’?” Denise asked as I sat down.  She was in her cheerleader outfit again, and her legs shifted in my direction.

“I have a rough draft,” I said, trying not to stare.  “But I haven’t made any corrections.”

“Can I read it?” she asked.  She smiled as we made eye contact, and I felt something like dizziness, but I knew she didn’t feel it.  It would have been depressing, but I was used to the notion that my infatuations were not infatuated with me.

I glanced at the teacher.  “Mr. Fay-guns is going to start calling on us soon.”

“You’re pronouncing his name correctly now,” she said, referring to yesterday’s conversation when I had said something rude about him.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that.”  I gave her the first couple pages of my story.  I had it paper clipped instead of stapled because I kept adding more.  “Can I read yours?”

“No.  It’s stupid,” she said.  I could have argued, but I was more interested in her reaction to my story than I was in her story.

Mr. Fay-guns told the class to quiet down even though we weren’t that loud.  “It’s that time.  Before I pick names, are there any volunteers?”

Silence.  I was surprised.  Every class has a couple (or maybe a few, if you’re lucky) students who love being the center of attention.  But not  today.  Something about the mood of the class kept even the regular volunteers from raising their hands.

Then a couple students volunteered other students who didn’t want to read, and those students who got volunteered told them to shut up.  Mr. Fay-gun’s face was getting red, and the situation was about to get out of control when a girl sitting in the back of the room said, “Jimmy should read his story.”

Without turning around, I knew who it was, Rebecca, the tenth grade’s hot vicious minx (I didn’t call her that until after we graduated because the word “minx” wasn’t in my vocabulary yet).  I was surprised that Rebecca knew my name.  Rebecca was one of the few tenth grade girls who rivaled Denise in looks, but Rebecca wasn’t really competition.  Denise was unattainable to the masses because she was so pretty and popular.  Rebecca was unapproachable because she was so mean.

Another difference?  When it came to Rebecca, it wasn’t her legs that guys gawked at.

“Jimmy, I heard you have a big story,” Rebecca said somewhat loudly from the back.

I was embarrassed.  I don’t like being talked about in front of others, even when being complimented.  And I don’t think she meant her remark as a compliment.

“It’s called ‘Long Story,’” I said, probably with a stammer.

“Long Story,” Rebecca repeated.  She was wearing one of her low cut sweaters that dared to be stared at, but I was so stunned that I could only look at the floor and hope that somebody else would volunteer.  “How long is your long story, Jimmy?”

“25 pages or so,” I mumbled, wondering why she was targeting me.  I wasn’t popular, but I had never been a target before.  I was very careful to do things that would not make me a target.

“You should read your story to the class… slowly.”

Then I understood.  And so did the rest of the class.

Other students, even a couple of my buddies who should have known better, called out my name to volunteer.  The fear of reading a story out loud was more important to them than our friendship.  I glared at Mr. Fay-guns, hoping he would intervene, but now he seemed amused by the situation.  I was on my own.  I would have to defy peer pressure by myself, and I was preparing myself to do it.

“I’ll read it.”

And the class quieted down.  But it wasn’t me who had volunteered to read.

“James, I’ll read your story to the class,” Denise said, making eye contact with me again.

I should have been grateful that Denise was willing to read my story in front of everybody.  But there was something about the look on her face.  She was proud.  I knew she would read my story and read it great, and she would emphasize the right words even though she was reading them for the first time.  There was a part of me that wanted to hear her read my words.

But a part of me was annoyed with Denise.  I might not like being noticed, but this story was mine, and I didn’t want her to take any credit for my words.  I didn’t mind feeding her good lines that she could repeat for laughs in class, but I didn’t want to give her this story.  All the credit (or maybe the blame) would be mine.

I stood up and said, ‘I’ll read it myself.”

A couple guys, disappointed that they wouldn’t be able to stare at Denise’s legs all period, groaned.  One guy behind me said, “Sit down, dickless.”

I turned around and said, “She would have been standing behind a podium anyway.”

“Oh,” the guy muttered.  “Sorry.”

Denise handed me the beginning of my story and smiled at me again, but this time it looked fake, and I wondered if I had made her mad, but I didn’t have time to worry about that.  I took a deep breath and began the steady zombie walk up to Mr. Fay-gun’s podium.  I saw other students sitting back.  They could relax now because even if they got called on to read, it would be a long time from now.  They got to relax while the back of my neck got hot, and my knees wobbled.

“Congratulations, Jimmy,” Mr. Fay-guns said with his temporary raspy voice.  “You just got drafted.”


To be continued in Long Story: First Person Point-of-View.

Or to start Long Story from the beginning, read Long Story (Part 1): Teachers with Funny Last Names .

From → Long Story

  1. Great start! When’s the next installment?

  2. Though it has been a long, long time, reading this brought back that fear of being in front of the class to read, complete the math problems, etc. Very well done!!

    • Ugh! Math problems were the worst, especially if the teacher called us without warning. They really should have given us time to think it out before calling on us (though I probably would have wasted the thinking time).

  3. I have this crazy thought that when he starts reading, it will be scenes from the previous and current instalment and proceed to become an endless loop. Not sure if I am making sense. Haha.

    • Ha! That would have been called “Infinite Story” or “The Neverending Story” (which I think has already been done). Mine is just “Long Story,” and it’s long from a (former) high school student’s point of view, not from a novelist’s point of view. But you’re correct in that we’ll read the actual story (I hope it was or will be good).

  4. I’m really enjoying this “long story” – but I want it to be longer so I have more to read before the next week’s installment! You’re a great writer.

  5. Opinionated Man permalink

    Your writing style is very neat and clean. Excellent.

  6. …… waiting for the next one …… are you done yet?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Long Story: Bad High School Memory | Dysfunctional Literacy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: