The Way Out Is the Way In"Goodbye. Au revoir. Adios. Arrivederci. Kwaherini. In English, French, Spanish, Italian or Swahili, it doesn't matter what language you say it in. It all means the same thingI'm out of here."MySpace. com
How time passes always amazes me. When you want it to speed up, it slows down. And when you want it to slow down, it zips by in a flash. Go figure.
Right now I really need to get out of here. I'm looking at the clock on the wall and impatiently tapping my pencil on the desk. All I've been thinking about for the past nine days is putting this drama behind me. So when Ms. Grayson announces a pop quiz and then puts the test on my desk facedown, it's the last thing I expect to be doing on my final day at this school. When I turn the exam over, I silently groan: a history quiz. Are you kidding me?
I look up at Ms. Grayson, who is engrossed in a book and already in her leave-me-the-hell-alone mode.Name:
I scribble Kenisha Lewis
halfheartedly at the top of the page.Date:Seriously, does it really matter at this point?Class period/subject:
I write 6th period/U.S. History.
It's my last day here and I'm finding it way too hard to keep the smirk off my face. I look up at the clock again, then back at the test I'm supposed to be completing. It's fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice. I have no idea why teachers think history is supposed to be interesting. Who cares what a bunch of dead people did a few hundred years ago? How is this supposed to change my life right now? It's not. So why even bother?
I start writing, but lose interest by the third question. For real, right now my mind is a million miles away. I've been spacing out for the last five days. The thought of going back to my real school and my real life is all I can think about. I tap my pencil on the desk again and notice my eraser is half gone. I have to get some new pencils and some new notebooks. I also need some new clothes and sneaks. The list I'm compiling in my head is getting longer. A new backpack and a new laptop would be sweet, too. What else
"Psst, hey, what's number two?" someone behind me whispers.
I hear someone utter the wrong answer, almost immediately trying to cover up with a very loud cough. Everyone around me starts laughing. I do, too. It's so obvious how this game is played. Still, a few seconds later someone whispers
another answer. We all look at our papers to check if that's what we have. I do.
"What's number three?"
"Is there a problem back there?" Ms. Grayson says. No one responds, of course. It's an unspoken rule in high school"snitches get stitches." So, did she really expect anyone to say, "Yeah, somebody didn't study, so we're back here cheating our asses off."
I look up toward the front of the class. Ms. Grayson is staring straight at me. I ignore her and look around the room at the other students in the class. I can count on one hand how many are actually paying attention. I guess we all feel pretty much the samebored. Three months into the first semester, and it feels like I've been here a decade. I don't know if it's me or the school or what, but something's gotta give. I look up at the clock and count the minutes until I'm outta here.
For the last two weeks things have been going pretty good for me, surprisingly. I'm slowly getting my life back together. School is okay. The students around here are still lame, but that's nothing new. It's just more obvious now. It's like everybody all of a sudden is losing their mind or something. Maybe it's the weather, or the phase of the moon, the sun and the planets, or just plain stupidity. Whatever it is, it's messing with everybody's head.
But that's their drama. I'm not really paying much attention, since I expect to be out of here in a minute. By in a minute,
I mean today. Now! As soon as possible! By here, I mean Penn Hall High School. They call it "The Penn," for obvious reasons. It looks more like a maximum security penitentiary than a high school in the middle of Washington, D.C. All the classroom windows have bars, and there are reinforced steel doors everywhere and metal detectors at every entrance. Like that's supposed to actually stop drama from happening. Seriously, you'd think with all that, we'd be safe and secure. Wrong. There was a stabbing in a fight earlier this morning. Rumor has it that one of the guys fighting had a handgun stashed in a classroom. Real safe, right? But I don't intend to be around when the rest of the drama jumps off.
I'm being paroled. These other pathetic fools have to stay here for the next year and a half or more. I sympathize. Well, not really. It just sounds good to say that. I hate most of the students here. They're either users, fakes or wannabes. Either way, I'm out of here and glad of it.
My cell phone vibrates in my jeans pocket. I choose to ignore it. I know it's probably the same stupid fool that's been blowin' up my cell all week. Somebody with half a brain thinks it's funny to call me with some dumb stuff. What, am I supposed to be scared? Hardly, it just makes it even clearer: I need to be getting up out of here.
Hazelhurst Academy for girls is all I think about now. I don't care about Chili Rodriguez or Regan Payne and my ongoing drama with them. I just want out of The Penn. Everybody's acting all weird since everything happened with Darien and the police. So what? Darien got arrested. Big deal, he should have. He deserved to. He's a thug, a dealer and a bully. They think I snitched to the police on him. I didn't have to. His girl, Sierra, already took care of that. She told, not me. But still they think it's me 'cause
they can't imagine her turning on him. I can't say anything, 'cause that would be snitchin', so there it is.
I scribble a few more answers on the test paper. It's more from memory than actually studying, which I definitely didn't do. Most of this has to do with dates, names and places. I've always been good at memorization. I glanced at my notes a few minutes before the quiz was distributed. I remembered a few important names and dates, so most of it wasn't that hard.
I glance up at the clock again and see the second hand ticking a notch. I look down at the quiz on my desk and try to remember what I'm supposed to be writing, something to do with the Revolutionary War. Seriously, we're talkin' something like seventeen-whateverwho the hell cares?
As I write another answer my cell phone vibrates again. I look behind me to the left to where Cassie sits. She's chewing on her pencil not paying attention. I still can't believe she tried to mess me up like that.
"Miss Lewis?" I look to the front of the classroom. Ms. Grayson is sitting behind her desk staring at me againthis time like I have two heads or something. I look at her but don't say anything. "Kenisha." Other students start turning to look at me. I still don't say anything. "Is there a problem, Kenisha?"
"No," I finally say.
"You haven't touched your quiz."
"I'm thinking," I say firmly, giving her far less attitude than I expected, given my current mood.
"You need to get started, think and write at the same time. Class is almost over and this quiz will be reflected in your interim grade." She glanced at the clock on the wall then back to me. "You have fifteen minutes to finish." Her warning is clear. She looks around to the rest of the students, who are equally distracted, and starts droning on about responsibility and purpose.
I glance up at the clock once more. But I see something totally different. I see freedom. I see Hazelhurst. I tap my pencil on the desk again waiting for her to finish her mini-lecture. She ends by staring at me again. "You're still not writing," she says to me.
"That's because I'm still thinking," I say slowly, enunciating each word as if she was a child. She knows my sarcasm is intentional and so does everybody else. They start snickering and looking at me.
"Miss Lewis, would you prefer to continue this conversation after class?" Ms. Grayson says as she glares at me.
I purse my lips together tightly and shrug. I know it's a veiled threat, so I'm trying hard not to say anything. I just look down at my paper. Either way it doesn't matter. There's nothing she can say or do to me that will change anything in my life right now. I am out of here. It's only a matter of time.
Ms. Grayson gets up and walks down the aisle to my desk and stands in front of me. I don't look up, but instead I tap my pencil on the desk again. She picks up my paper and looks at it. I smirk inside. She likes embarrassing students, she's sadistic. It gives her a rush, probably the only thrill she gets in her pitiful life.
She places the paper back down on my desk. She couldn't say a thing. I'd completed the exam except for the date.
"You need to check your attitude, Miss Lewis. I'm not one of your friends, I'm your teacher," she says, her voice trailing off. I'm sure no one heard her except me. "Today is the twelfth," she adds, loudly."You need to get out of my face,"
is what I want to say to her. But I decide not to. I won't give her the satisfaction. Ms. Grayson is the type of teacher you'd expect to be cool because she's youngish and dresses nice. She likes hip-hop and acts like she knows what's up, but really she doesn't. She has major attitude most days and seems to not care at all on others. I look up. She's standing there glaring at me, looking like she's confused about something.
"I want to see you after class. Understood?"
"Fine," I say, knowing it didn't matter because I was out of here. She continues walking down the aisle, and I can hear other students around me...