You can read the previous post in this series here: Part 2

*****

Same Old, Same Old

The science teacher asked, “Does anyone know how a rocket gets propelled?”

Sage answered enthusiastically, “Application of Newton’s third law of motion generates thrust. Most propulsion systems use thrust and some fuel accelerates it. The reaction to that acceleration produces a force on the system.”

The teacher glared at him. Then she turned to the class. 

“Does anyone other than this troublemaker know how a rocket gets propelled? If not, why are you waiting to open your books?” she said, continuing to stare intensely at Sage.

“If I parrot what they say, I’m a great kid! Ask questions or give answers that are ahead of the class, and you’re a troublemaker,” Sage complained to Felix.

Before Felix could respond, the teacher said, “No more nonsense, Sage. That’s two strikes for you already. If I catch you talking one more time…”

The science class ended. It was time to move on from a screaming maniac to a performing arts nut. 

Ms. Venus Bruno was supposed to be their math teacher, but she spent more time planning for their play performance than teaching. A stout woman with a tight bun, she appeared perennially annoyed. Rumors had it that she had never smiled since Earth’s creation. 

“It’s math time!” Ms. Bruno announced. She handed out the worksheets and announced, “These are due by the end of class.”

Even before they could complete their math worksheet, it was time for writing class. In that class, Sage raced to complete an essay. He was halfway through and it was time for the next class.

“Why are they rushing through classes like this? They won’t let us finish anything. And then, they blame me for my lack of focus,” Sage noted.

“Have you lost it? Who’s to tolerate these classes if they’re any longer?” Nero replied.

“As if they’re better now,” Sage rolled his eyes.

*****

At night Sage scribbled in his daily journal:

Terrible day! Same old, same old! Look at those impressive bows and arrows. Why can’t my school train me in those? Maybe I can write a book on ancient history.

Memorize the surface area of Mars! Who cares? If I land on Mars, I’ll admire that place. Am I a nitwit to be counting the square centimeters of the space I’m setting foot on? My computer can do that for me. Nonsensical! Monumental stupidity!

That was Sage’s routine diary entry. Unhappy about school was always the theme. His parents, Sarah and Calvin, told him that he had no choice. 

“All schools are the same, Sage. Your dad and I hated our schools, but now we’re engineers. You must graduate from college. How else will you earn a living? Stop complaining, and start focusing,” Sarah lectured. 

As always, Sage zoned out. He thought of battle strategies until his mom said, “Sage, go to your room now!”

*****

Sage skipped on to the stage. He was scared. 

“3…2…1…ACTION!” shouted the show director, Ms. Bruno.

“It’s been a hard day…,” he began singing.

“Cut! Cut! Cut! What are you singing?” shouted the director.

“They say I’m different…,” he started humming.

Ms. Bruno walked around impatiently. Suddenly, she hit Sage in the face. Startled, he punched her back. An intense fight picked up, but before anyone could claim victory, a mysterious voice stopped the combat.

“WAKE UP, Sage!” Calvin exclaimed, holding his hand in pain. He jolted up like a bullet to find that he had kicked and punched his dad, who tried to wake him up.

“Ms. Bruno won’t let me be in peace, even in my sleep,” sighed Sage.

“Eat quickly or you run late to school!” Sarah exclaimed at breakfast. Sage obliged, and he got to school thirty minutes early. Mom’s always in a hurry for no reason, he thought.

“Hello!” his friend John shouted.

“Hi, J-cube,” he replied, and added, “Is Nero Throw-A-Fit here?”

“I’m not J-cube! My name is John James Jojay. I’ve told you that a hundred times from kindergarten.”

“Yeah, but J-cube sounds cooler.”

“Whatever! Talking of throwing a fit, Nero’s launching one right now. Ms. Bruno gave him the role of a guard in the Count of Monte Cristo play. Nero’s parents get upset if he doesn’t play the lead. He prefers the song group over this humiliation.”

“Who likes to be a guard? Well, the song group isn’t great either. We’re all irritated but tolerating it quietly,” Sage lamented, looking lost.

“He’s using some really rough language. I haven’t even heard many of those cuss words! A few I got from some movies. Wonder where he learned the other ones from?” John said with his eyes wide open.

“Why? You want to learn those too?” Sage grinned.

“Sounds fun and grownup! I’ll be a normal teenager if I learn those,” muttered John. Sage shook his head disapprovingly and headed into the classroom. 

“The !@#! teachers couldn’t give me anything good, could they? They want to make me a joke in front of my parents. They !@#! know that I’m the best actor around,” Nero swore. 

“Any way to shut him up?” Sage asked Felix, who was watching the tantrum with slight amusement. 

“Why stop him? It’s fun to watch,” Felix replied.

By this time, the Throw-A-Fit shouted, “The teachers are all ridiculous! Our principal, Mr. Princeps, should get fired!” 

Livia reprimanded Nero sharply, “You’ll get us in trouble! Stop it, Nero.”

“I won’t! Who’re you to tell me?” Nero shouted.

“I’m Mercédès, the Countess in the play in which you’re a guard,” Livia rubbed it in.

“What on earth?!” yelled Nero with fresh vigor.

“Livia, you’re impossible! I’m glad I’m not the Count of Morcerf, your partner in that play. Who wants to dance with you?” said Sage, making a face at her.

“Sage…,” began Livia.

“Sage and Livia, you both are pieces of…,” shouted Nero.

“NERO! SHUT UP!” the whole class screamed in unison.

*****

Note: This young adult fiction is a collaborative effort with Rishi Sridhar.

*****

You can read the next part in this series here: Part 4

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