Cory slumped at his desk, his left hand on his forehead as a visor to shield his eyes from the teacher. He pretended to write on the test paper, flipping his pencil occasionally to erase imaginary answers. A world history test was the least of his concerns. Why bother with what had already happened? The past was past. Nobody could do nothin’ about it – just as nobody could keep his dad from splitting. That was history - just as well.
“Five minutes left,” Mrs. Moyer’s voice broke the silence. “Check your answers. Be sure your name is on your paper.”
Might as well put an “F” on it for you, Mrs. M. - save you the trouble. Cory scanned his paper and counted maybe five completed answers. The rest of the page was covered with blank spaces where answers should be. Just like my life – full of blanks.
“May I have your attention, please?” The voice of the principal boomed over the P.A. system. “We want to recognize all our honor students today by asking them to stand in their classrooms as their names are called. . .Aaron Applegate, Trisha Atwater. . .”
“Hey, Cory,” a voice chuckled behind him. “Ya getting’ ready to stand up?”
“Right after you, Bud.” He fired back without looking at Rollie Wilson, whose chances of standing were as slim as his own.
“April Wagner. . .Philip Yountz. Fairfield High salutes these honor students who have earned high marks for their diligent work. May this be an inspiration to all of you. You are dismissed.”
Cory darted to the door, but Mrs. Moyer stepped in front of him. “Could you stay a moment, Cory?”
“I’m due at work,” he looked down at the floor.
“This won’t take long. Have a seat.”
Rollie leaned into his ear as he passed him. “Maybe she’s gonna tell ya they missed your name.”
“Same to you, Rollie!” Catching Mrs. Moyer’s sidelong glance, he reframed his sneer into a smile. “Have a good one, Rol.”
Cory wilted into a chair and steeled himself.
“How’s your job going, Cory?”
“O.K., I guess. It’s a job.”
“Do you like it?”
What is this – twenty questions? He resettled himself. “I do all right.”
“Have you made any advancement since you started?”
“I. . .um. . . don’t understand.”
“Have you gotten any promotions or raises?”
“Sure. I’ve gotten two raises and I supervise three other guys now. They answer to me.” He squinted. “What’s that got to do with history?”
Mrs. Moyer smiled. “It may not have anything to do with world history, but it has everything to do with yours. We are all making history - in a sense – our own. The question you need to answer – maybe not at this moment – is this, what kind of history do you want to make for yourself?”
Geez. Why didn’t she just ask about the test and tell me I’m gonna flunk? He sat up and tugged his pants at the knees.
“Cory, you’re already making history in your job by working hard. Someone recognized that and rewarded you. What do you think might happen if you applied yourself to other areas of your life?”
Cory grunted. “You think you’re gonna hear my name on the P.A.? I doubt it.”
“That would be a wonderful goal. You’re not president of the company where you work yet, but you achieved a new level – you’re making progress. What’s to keep you from making some history in this class by improving? Look at the historical achievers we’ve studied. How did they make the history books?”
He remembered that lesson – they did it one step at a time.
“Think about it, Cory. The test today was just one test and more will come. Your history is up to you. Thanks for staying – I don’t want to make you late for your job.”
Three months later. . .
“May I have your attention, please?” the voice came over the P.A. “At the suggestion of a teacher, we want to recognize both our Honor Roll students today and also those who have improved their grades significantly this quarter in what we are calling our Achievement Roll. Will you please stand in your classroom to be recognized when your name is called. . .Amanda Messer. . .Cory Miller. . .”
“Way to go, man,” Rollie slapped his back. “Stand up!”
Cory rose to his feet and caught Mrs. Moyer’s eye as she nodded approval. It’s history. . .my history.
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