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Mystery Assignment
Zach, Age 13, Easton, CT

“I don’t remember ever seeing this before,” said the teacher as she took a deep breath.

“But,” I argued, “It’s the extra credit writing prompt you gave to me so I could get extra points on my final grade.”

“I just don’t remember giving this to you, Zach,” my teacher explained as she looked over my piece of writing. “Zach, if you can honestly find someone or something that can tell me that I gave this to you I will give you the points.”

I have to find someone who heard Ms. Shwanky give me the eight page essay to bump my grade up from a C+ to a B- I thought to myself. I couldn’t have a C on the report card that was going home in a couple of days because, if I did, I would not be allowed to snowboard in the upcoming season. I spent the rest of the day asking kids in my Language Arts class if they had heard Ms. Shwanky give me the assignment. All of my classmates shook their heads and replied no.

As I stood next to my good friend Lucas, I said that he might have to go on the big snowboard/ski trip that we go on every year, by himself. As I turned to leave my backpack got caught on the door handle of the janitors’ closet. I looked in and saw a long staircase going down into the basement. I looked over at Lucas and saw him staring at me and I motioned him to follow me. We started down the stairs and it got colder with each step.  When we got to the bottom of the stairs I had counted 30 steps.

“Who turned out the lights?” I said joking but I only heard the chattering of Lucas’ teeth. I turned around to face him and I could only see a faint outline of his pale face.

“Man, it’s really cold down here,” I thought to myself out loud.

“I know,” Lucas replied, “I left my jacket at home today."

“You can go back if you want,” I said, not sure of myself.

“No,” he replied, “I’m not letting you walk around down here alone.”  

I nodded and turned back around and started to walk towards the faint blinking light. As I was walking I tripped over something hard. And fell into a wall. As I felt my way up I felt a couple of switches. I flicked the first switch, no good. Then the second through the fifth and none of them worked. The sixth and final switch turned on the lights of the whole basement.

We stepped into what seemed to be a doorway and heat blasted into us. We stood in awe as we saw a wall of TV’s all in a black and white, showing different parts of our school. Then behind us we saw a wall of video tapes, each labeled with a room number and a date.

“Are you looking for this?” a mysterious voice said. Lucas and I froze and turned around. A big burly man sitting in a chair holding a video tape was smiling at us.

“Who, who are you?” I asked.

“I’m the school janitor,” the man replied, “and you are Lucas and Zach,as the janitor pointed from Lucas to me. “Zach, I’ve been watching you all day. Then I saw you go in my closet and I grabbed the video tape of your teacher giving you the assignment,” the janitor said in a cheery voice. “So here you go,” and he handed me the tape.

“If you both hurry you can catch Ms. Shwanky. She just got out of a meeting and she's talking to Ms. Elders,” he said while pointing to one of the many televisions.

“What will I say about the tape?” I asked.

“Say it is from Lars, she’ll understand."

“Thank you, Lars,” I said. Again I thanked Lars and sprinted across the basement and up the stairs with Lucas right behind me.

As I opened the door Ms. Shwanky passed and I handed her the tape and said it was from Lars.

The next morning Ms. Shwanky came up to me and said that she looked the tape over and gave me a B! She said that she was going to go to the doctor because she kept forgetting things. It turns out that my teacher has short term memory loss because of the fumes of her newly painted bedroom. (She took a long vacation to wash out the fumes).

In the end my parents were thrilled with my report card and I got to go on the snowboard/ski trip with Lucas.

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