Anthony stared into space and rolled his eyes. He wanted nothing more than for this week to be over. "Remember, we have a test over chapter five on Monday." Mr. Davis looked at the class. "And Anthony? I'd like to see you after class."
Oh great. What did Mr. Davis want now? Anthony cursed under his breath. He hated school and he hated Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis was one of the hardest, meanest teachers in the school, and he knew this would not end well.
Mr. Davis leaned against the desk next to him. "So. Are you going to study tonight?"
Anthony threw his pencil across the room. "What's the use? You know I always get F's on your tests."
"Yeah, but do you study?"
"No. I just told you... what's the use? Why do you care, anyway? You just want to make us suffer."
"No, I want to see you succeed."
"Then make your tests easier."
"That would be teaching you to take the easy way out. I want you to learn how to survive in the real world."
Anthony chuckled dismissively. "What do you know about 'the real world?' I'll bet after you leave, you go home to your mansion and eat bonbons."
"Right. And I'll bet you hope in your limo and go home, huh? Not quite. I know more about the real world than you might think."
"I grew up in the Bronx."
Anthony turned to look at Mr. Davis. "What? You? You're joking."
"Nope. I know what you go home to each day, and that's why I care."
"But if my parents don't care, why should I care?"
Mr. Davis sat down next to him. "Because you can do better. You know what? You remind me of two people."
"Me, and my son."
"You have a son? I've never heard you mention your family."
"He's just a few years older than you. I don't want you to turn out like him. He's in prison."
Anthony furrowed his brow. "Wait. Your son is in prison?"
"But you care about school. How..."
"Like you. He started hanging out with the wrong crowd. He didn't think it mattered how he did in school. He didn't think he was smart. But I know you can be different. I think you're smart."
"Yeah, but it's just not... cool to be smart where I'm from."
"Hey, I understand that. I'll tell you what. What if the two of us came up with some sort of... signal that you know an answer, even if you don't raise your hand? I'll let you write down the answers, hand it to me at the end of class, and give you credit for participation that way. If you're willing to stay later tonight, I'll help you study for Monday's test. After today, I'll even meet you at the public library on Saturdays and tutor you. Tell your friends that I hate you, and keep giving you Saturday detentions."
Anthony chuckled. "You... you'd do that for me?"
"I told you. You remind me of myself and my son. I don't want you to turn out like my son. So what do you say? Do we have a deal?"
For the first time that day, Anthony actually smiled. "Deal."
Somehow, in the span of just a few minutes, Mr. Davis went from least favorite teacher to one of his favorites. Maybe he wasn't that bad after all.
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