Tardy Hall

By Michael Collins


     The wheels of my bike whirled furiously as I pedaled as intensely as I could manage.  My heart was punching me in my chest, and breathing so hard it felt like Godzilla was sitting on my lungs.  The  wind roared into my face and blew my hair back as a million urgent thoughts raced through my mind.  The foremost thought was this: I’m gonna be LATE for school!

     If only today had been a ‘Blue Day’ schedule, then my teacher would let me in if I was half a minute late.  That wouldn’t happen for me, today, though.  I had him first period.  Mr. Gunn: a cold-hearted, stubborn, old-fashioned geezer who wouldn’t let you in his class late, even if you had a hatchet buried in your forehead. He was waiting for me in my first period math class.

     Combing down a persistent length of hair had wasted four minutes in the morning;  fixing a loose chain on my bike, another six.  To add to my troubles, traffic in front of the school was horrible, and I had to constantly weave around cars until I finally reached the bike rack..

     I locked up my bike as fast as I could.  Dreading what it might tell me, I checked my watch.  7:18!!  The bell rings at 7:20! Aah!  Not only did I have less than two minutes to get to class, but the bike rack and my math class were on opposite sides of the campus! 

     I blasted across the school courtyard.  Crap!  I’m not gonna make it!!  I thought.  Past the courtyard, I raced towards the first row of portables.  I checked my watch again.  7:19:48!  Twelve seconds…  I ran even faster, pumping my legs as hard as I could. 

     Some people with less idiotic teachers were still walking to class, and they looked at me as if I were insane.  Maybe I was, but I could not stand the useless, boring waste of Tardy Hall.  It was even more useless, boring, and a waste of time than my math class, which was something hard to accomplish indeed.

     I rushed into the last row of portables.  My math class was in the very last building in the very last row at the very back of the school.

     Yes!  I reached the building.  I scurried up the ramp as if I were being chased by Death’s Cousin: Boredom.  If I could see him he would probably have a math textbook instead of a scythe. 

     ‘Doo Dee Dooo!’

     Crap!!  The bell!! Arh!  I threw open the door and hurtled inside.  My desk was in the back of the room.  I collapsed into my chair as soon as the bell ended ringing.  Made it..Geez.   My head slammed onto the desk seemingly of its own accord.  I realized that my skull felt like it was going to explode and my lungs were on fire. My heart was finished punching me in the chest and was now trying leap out of my insides to slap me in the face.  I sucked in air like a vacuum cleaner.  I must have looked really stupid, but I didn’t care;  I didn’t like anyone in the class anyway.

     “Chris.”  It was a low, stern, matter-of-fact ‘what do you think you’re doing?’ voice.  

      I raised my head from my desk slowly, tiredly.  A scowling, balding, wrinkled, infuriatingly militaristic old man was shaking his head at me.

     “Huh?” I uttered, ever the innocent teenager.

     “You were late,” he told me in a voice that was half-‘Got you!’ and half-‘I’m proud of being a harsh discplinarian!’

     I took in another humongous gulp of air, and somehow replied, knowing the utter futility of the action but ready to try anything, even pleading to Scrooge’s Brother The Math Teacher, to get out of going to Tardy Hall for the rest of the school day.  Bah humbug.

     “But I got in the door before the bell stopped ringing.”

     “Yes,” admitted the man, much like a clever salesman negotiating a price, “But you didn’t sit down before the bell stopped ringing.  That’s the rule.”


     “Get out your planner,” he said.  I could imagine him in judge’s robes with a mallet and an old english wig (he would need one, since he was bald.) ‘You are sentenced for life to sit in a stifling room copying useless rules and scraping gum!!  Dismissed!’  CRACK!

     I growled, letting him now my obvious displeasure as I opened my backpack.  Then I decided I was really tired of such treatment from hard-hearted math teachers.  “This is stupid,” I muttered, just loud enough for him to hear.  And he did.  “Not as stupid as you being late to my class,” was his infuriatingly inane and useless answer. 

     “But I’m in your class!  Why does everyone want to do this to me?!”  I was fed up with him.  His was the only class I was ever late to.  He frowned and gave me a look that said ‘You are irresponsible, immature scum, youth, and I won’t stand for such a heinous act as your showing up one point five milleseconds late to my class.’  I felt the heat rising within me as I slammed the planner on my desk and slowly sifted through the pages until I got to the pass section.  “You do realize that I’m missing more of your idiotic class by going to tardy hall than I would if you just let me stay?” I challenged.  “If it is so terribly important that I be in here to complete your moronic little warm-up questions, why don’t you let me stay?  The point of school is to learn, is it not?  So isn’t this self-defeating?!”

     The persisent math teacher seemed to relent.  “Alright,” he said.  “You have a point.  I’ll let you out of tardy hall, just for today.”

     “Really?  Well, there is an inkling of sense in this world, after all!” I said, putting the planner back in my bag.

     “Now, hold on.” He said.  My hand froze.


     “You might still need that planner.  Here’s a referral to the office for insubordination, insulting the teacher, and excessive tardiness.”  He ripped a pink sheet off of his pad and held out for me matter-of-factly. 

     As I stomped up towards the teacher to snatch the pink slip from his hand, I could almost see the grey-robed, droopy-faced, math book-wielding Spectre of Boredom standing behind my teacher.

     Maybe next time I would get out of bed earlier.


Back to Sonicblade's Works