“Good morning, students,” Brian said distractedly, his fingers skimming through the papers on his mess of a desk to locate his lesson plan. He read through it quickly to remind himself before moving to the front of the room. Some of the noise in the room died down, but there were a few students who kept talking.
“Good morning, students,” Brian repeated loudly, speaking clearly above the noise. The last students quieted down, giving Brian the floor to speak. “So, hopefully someone will be able to remind me, did we finish talking about foils on Friday?” The students that were actually awake and paying attention nodded. “Good, good. That means we are going to be doing a project !” Groans echoed around the room.
“Mr. T, can we just… not?” One student, Evan, asked.
“Would you all rather write an essay?” He raised his eyebrows. “That’s what I thought.” Brian-or as the students call him, The Grading Terroriser’s English class was notorious for the rigor and constant essays. He was a hard teacher, but his students left his class prepared for the next year.
He clapped his hands together to get everyone’s attention before he began to pace the front of the room. “Alright, so, does anyone want to refresh the class’s memory on what a character’s foil is?” Several students raised their hands. “Yes, Lui?”
“A foil is a character who contrasts with another character, usually the protagonist, in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character!” He recited in a high-pitched squeak.
Brian rolled his eyes. “Thank you, Lui, for reciting the definition as if you were reading it from the Wikipedia page.”
“You’re welcome!” Lui replied with a cheeky grin.
Brian rolled his eyes again. “Now that we’re all up to speed, for this project, you and a partner-”
“Will we be choosing our partners?” Craig interrupted.
Brian rolled his eyes before attempting to repeat himself, plowing on as though the interruption hadn’t happened. “You and a partner-”
“Yeah, but can we pick our partner?” Tyler asked.
An exasperated sigh escaped Brian’s lips. “You guys are my AP kids. You’re not supposed to be this bloody rude.”
“Does that mean we do get to pick partners?” Marcel asked.
“If I let you pick your partners will you all stop talking?” There was a chorus of ‘yes’s. “Then fine. You can pick your bloody partners. Now let me speak.”
He sighed before going back into his description of the assignment. “You and a partner,” he held up a hand before someone could ask again, “yes, a partner you chose, will be creating a script to perform later this week. Since we have spent the last week discussing what makes a dynamic duo, your characters will have to complement one another’s personalities. You will have time in class today, tomorrow, and Wednesday, and we will present these scenes on Thursday. Any questions?” Several hands shot up. “Yes, Evan?”
“Do we have to make up these characters?” Brian blinked, slightly surprised it wasn’t another troll-tastic question. Sometime AP students were a bit of a handful, those smartasses .
“Good question,” Brian said after a moment. “You can, but you do not have to make up your characters. You can use characters that already exist, but do not assume that I will know anything about them. Your scene has to give me enough information that I believe they are a good pair. Treat any character you use as if they are your own original character, because I might see them as such. Any more questions? Yes, Nogla?”
“Do we haveeeeee to do this?” He whined.
Brian ignored him. “Any questions that deserve an answer?”
“Oooooooooooh, get rekt Nogla,” Marcel called from across the room.
“Any more questions?” Brian asked in exasperation. “Yes, Anthony?”
“I wasn’t raising my hand,” Anthony, the Italian one, said in confusion.
“I meant the other Anthony,” Brian clarified.
“I didn’t raise my hand either,” Anthony, the black one, said plainly.
“I meant the other one,” Brian clarified again.
“Oh, um, what exactly is a foil?” Anthony, the jiggly one, asked, head tilted in confusion.
“I hate you all.” Brian said. “If anyone has any real questions, I’ll be at my desk, doing work, which is something I suggest you all try.” He waved his hands in a I meant it, start working manner, before moving to sit at his desk. There was shuffling as partners were chosen, arguments over which friend would go with who, over whether to pick one’s boyfriend or one’s best friend: the usual bickering.
“Wait, Mr. T, I have a real question now.”
Brian rolled his eyes. “Yes, Nogla?”
“Does it have to be a love scene?”
Brian scrunched up his face in confusion. “Does anyone listen to me? Like at all? Did I ever say it had to be a love scene?”
“Ummm… no. But ye might have been thinkin’ it, see. So I had to ask.”
“No, Nogla, it does not have to be a love scene. If you and your partner do a love scene, it will not affect your grade. If you and your partner do not do a love scene, it will not affect your grade. If you and your partner do a crappy scene, it will affect your grade. See how that works?”
Nogla was spared having to answer as there was a knock at the door. Brian held up a finger to his class as he crossed the room. “Figure out your partners before I’m done or I will choose them for you.”
Brian swung open the classroom’s door to reveal Brock, the teacher from across the hall. His irritation melted as soon as he took in the shy smile in front of him. “H-Hey, Br-er, Mr. Snuckel,” he corrected himself. Teachers aren’t supposed to call one another by their first names in front of the students , he reminded himself. “What can I do for you?”
Brock’s smile widened. “Could I borrow your stapler?”
“Of course,” Brian said, lightly jogging over to his desk to retrieve it and hand it over to his fellow teacher. “You lose yours?”
Brock shook his head, his hand lingering just a second too long as he took the stapler. “Mine decided to just stop working . And I have about 70 vocab packets to put together before my planning period is over,” he sighed. “This is what I get for procrastinating, I guess.”
Brian leaned against the doorframe, “That’ll teach you, huh?” He winced at how stupid he sounded.
Brock chuckled, seemingly picking up on Brian’s inner dilemma. “Maybe you should just let me make the puns around here.”
“Yeah, yeah, keep smart-talking me and I’ll take my stapler back.”
“What would you rather me do?” Brock asked, rolled his eyes.
“Hmm… Maybe you could just kneel before me in thanks?” Brian suggested teasingly.
Brock snorted. “I am free tonight, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Brian’s eyes widened, a light dusting of pink rising to his cheeks. “I-I, um, that-that’s not-”
“I’m kidding,” he replied through his bouts of laughter, before he shoved Brian’s shoulder lightly. “ Kidding . I know what you meant.”
“Then get to it,” Brian recovered.
Brock rolled his eyes, but knelt in front of Brian, hands coming up to dramatically clasp both of Brian’s and the stapler. “Oh, great Brian, oh wonderful, generous, Brian. Thank you ever so much for granting me the wondrous gift of this stapler. I will never be able to repay you!” He stood, raising an eyebrow unamused-ly. “How was that?”
“Could do with a bit of work,” Brian answered with a shrug.
“You could do with a bit of work,” Brock muttered.
“What was that, oh borrower-of-my-stapler?”
“I meant, oh Brian, you’re my hero! Thank you, my knight in shining skinny-jeans!”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it. I’m amazing and you’re forever in my debt. Just remember to bring it back to me when you’re done. I’ve lost many a school-supply this way.”
“Will do,” Brock said, giving a mock salute and smiling before heading across the hall to his own classroom.
Brian turned back around to his students, a dopey look on his face. His grin instantly dropped when he took in their cheeky ones. “What? What do you all want?” He asked, grumpy Brian returning.
“You like Mr. Snuckel,” Scotty and Marcel sing-songed.
“Of course I do,” Brian waved them away. “He’s my colleague and good friend.”
“Noooo, you like-like him!” Lui squeaked.
“No I do not,” Brian said stubbornly. “And we are not discussing this further. Get back to work.” He plopped himself back into his chair, pulling a stack of papers closer to grade.
“Jeez, someone’s touchy…” Craig muttered.
“Yeah, touchy with Mr. Snuckel!” Nogla called from his seat.
“I hate you all,” Brian groaned. “Now, seriously, get back to work or I’ll put you with different partners. I’m not kidding.”
“Man, who got your panties in a twist?” He heard someone mutter toward the back of the room.
“Probably Mr. Snuckel,” someone else answered. There were some days that Brian loved being a teacher, and some days he was positive he was actually going to kill his students. This was one of those latter days.