Skipping dessert paid off. Abigail used the extra minutes to arrive early for American Literature, securing a coveted back-row seat. The teen passage is tumultuous, but for Abigail, it was a nightmare.
Since returning from camp, she was lost. Fashion design was no longer her passion, but her parents didn’t accept its replacement as a safe alternative. It was definitely safer than Miss Falk’s classroom.
Abby looked around the sterile environment. She’s the only teacher that doesn’t fix-up her classroom. No bulletin or message boards, calendars, even the supply-cabin was bare… just like her.
Students entering room 415 interrupted her thoughts. Lunch’s over… the quiet was great while it lasted.
Following the last students through the door, was Miss Falk’s screechy voice. “Let’s go people... in your seats... there’s lots to do. Andrew, the GUM!”
Behind her desk, she contined, "Settle down. Take out your syllabus. Your first assignment is “Inherit the Wind” by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin. Has anyone heard of the Scopes Monkey Trial? Not many. That’ll change after this play. Unfortunately, it’s going to interfere with your naps, Petrocelli.”
Eyes still closed, Jimmy made a crude gesture. Louie grabbed his arm.“You nuts? You need this class to graduate.”
Miss Falk stared disapprovingly. “I was about to explain, instead of a few students reading out-loud, this play gives everyone an opportunity to participate.”
Sarcastically Artie joked, “My parents don’t send me to school to play, but to learn!”
With that remark, the classroom erupted into laughter.
“Very funny. Since you’re so interested in learning Arthur, you can be the first to see the character assignments. Rita, pass them out. Why so stunned, Petrocelli? Afraid you’re not capable of sounding like a teacher? For the next few weeks, Petrocelli is John Scopes.”
“No fair!” moaned Roger. “I wanna be a lawyer. Why’d you pick Louie to be William Jennings Bryan?”
Anna shouted out, “Because he’s so good at defending Petrocelli! Right Miss F.?”
In the midst of the jesting and complaining, Abigail sat quietly, wrestling with anxiety, anger, and uncertainty. Miss Falk watched like a lion stalking its prey. Abigail needed the class to graduate, but was facing a personal dilemma.
I really don’t want to give Miss Falk another shot at humiliating me. She didn’t give me this part by accident. I can’t believe she’s out to ridicule my faith in front of everyone again. Why does she care about my beliefs? Last year I was nasty to her and she didn’t try to embarrass me like she’s doing since she found out I’m into God. Sitting in her back-row seat, Abigail’s eyes welled up.
Miss Falk pounced. “Abigail, why so quiet? Fifteen minutes into class and I haven’t threatened you even once with detention. You sick? I thought you’d be thrilled to get the biggest part. You can talk all the time, center stage. It’s perfect for you.”
Taking a deep breath, Abigail began, “I can’t do this Miss Falk, and you know it. I can’t read this part or pretend to be Clarence Darrow.”
“I don’t remember asking you, missy.”
“Please Miss F., I know I’ve screwed-up, and I’ve apologized. This is different. How can I argue against the Bible, trying to prove Darwin’s theory when my family and I are Christians? You can’t do this.”
“No I can’t,” responded Miss Falk solemnly. Smiling, she retorted, “Because it’s already done. Be ready to read with persuasive passion on Monday, as if your life depended on it!”
* * *
Sunday afternoon a distraught Abigail consulted her youth pastor. “So, Pastor Jim, I don’t think I should read that part. Do you agree?”
“Not really. I’m glad you cleared-up why you’ve been down lately. Sorry your parents don’t want you going to Bible College, because I believe you’re serious about the ministry. That’s why you should be Clarence Darrow.”
“Don’t run from this, it’s only make-believe, but show them you’re for real. Everyone knows what she’s doing. What Biblical leader, including Jesus, wasn’t ridiculed* for their beliefs? Who ran because of ridicule or embarrassment? If you feel like I’m throwing you into the Lion’s Den, remember Daniel.** Serving God and opposition go hand-and-hand. Abby, you can’t be embarrassed unless you’re ashamed. That’s right. Check your dictionary.”
“Hi Miss Falk, I’m ready! Just wish Darrow had faced me, but he faced God.”
A defeated Miss Falk listened. Abigail was Darrow, confident and unashamed,*** but wearing a cross.
Author’s Note: True story, except for counseling. God was my counselor.
*Luke 22:36 (NIV)“The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him.”
**Daniel 6:16 (NIV)“So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
***I John 2:28 (NIV)“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming"
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