Note: You can also find this piece here on ff.net.
Summary: Arthur and the gang are sophomores at Elwood City High. Watch as they go through the ups and downs that come with teenaged life. Rated K+/PG for some violence, some language, and some adult situations.
Warning: Minor explicit language
George looked around trying to find his second class. He was already late to his first class because a group of freshmen blocked his path. Now he was lost on his own, standing between four unmarked doors as the bell chimed overhead.
“Aww, man,” he sighed, sulking off towards the assistant principal who was rounding up late students. When he approached, the man had three sophomores and a junior under his control. When he saw George, his gruff face showed a slight smile.
“Which room you lookin’ for, son?” he asked somewhat kindly. George held up his schedule. “It’s okay, kid, you’ll learn them all eventually,” he said, pointing to a well-marked door to George’s left. “Welcome to high school, kid. Congrats on getting advanced woodshop. That’s a hard class to get into.”
He walked off before George could explain that he’d been held back. The sophomores glared at him; they knew what class he was really in. That didn’t matter now though. He entered freshman English again; he’d received the same teacher last year, and her familiar frown greeted him as he sulked into class late.
George quickly realized he was in the remedial ninth grade English course. Three students near the dingy windows threw paper back and forth while two girls chatted about beauty supplies. The teacher didn’t say a word; she never disciplined these classes.
“Are there any questions about my policies before we move on?” she asked. George raised his hand. She sighed with contempt. “You’re here because you were supposed to be here all along, George. Why didn’t you ask that question before? You may’ve moved on with the others.”
The few people who were paying attention laughed darkly. They loved watching teachers get on other students, and George was easily their new favorite target. He sank down in his desk, pulling out a notebook and sketching out a new design for Grandpa Wallace. He couldn’t undo the damage his mom did to the dummies, so he’d start from scratch—”
“No doodling in my class!” the teacher spat, yanking the notebook from his hands and causing a lead-filled gash to cover the book. “It’s detention, Lundgren! Any more problems from you and I’ll write you up!”
Laughter filled the room. George eyed his broken pencil and ripped notebook with an angry glare.
“Fuck you!” George spat. The teacher gasped, but at least the other stopped laughing.
George left the room before she could formally kick him out. He left the notebook behind, moving towards the unmarked doors from before. When he found one of the unlocked ones, he opened it. Inside was a storage room, probably left unlocked by the janitors retrieving supplies. George moved to a semi-broken chair. He sat down waiting for someone to come find him, but the bell rang for third period with no such searching.
Once the hallway emptied after the tardy bell, George began his walk home. He easily slipped out of a door leading to the faculty parking lot, and after running towards a neighboring street, he was home free. So what if he was skipping school? He didn’t belong there anyway, not with the hateful teachers and even more hateful students.
After an hour of walking, he arrived in his father’s work room. His father smiled, passing him a chisel. He accepted, moving beside him to help carve out a yard sculpture for a neighbor’s birthday. They whistled some songs together, light smiles on their faces. When the phone rang to inform Mr. Lundgren that his son was missing from school, they let it ring.
“I won’t ask, but you should probably go tomorrow,” he winked after playing the message. George shook his head. “So you want to drop out? But you’re just fifteen. They won’t let you.”
“I can’t do it, Dad. They don’t respect me. They don’t even care,” George whispered. His father nodded, going to the desk where they kept different paperwork. “What are you looking for?” George asked. His father pulled out a battered leather-bound book.
“This will get you away from that school. Your grandmother got me this program years ago thinking you wouldn’t be able to handle public school. It’s a home school program, and if they accept it, you’ll never have to go back there.”
“Will I still have to learn?” George asked. His father nodded. “But you’ll help me, right?” George asked nervously. His father nodded with a bright smile.
“You won’t have to worry about anyone bothering you again. Your mother won’t be back either,” he said sternly, holding up another folder. “I can’t really afford a lengthy divorce, but I know you’ll end up with me. I love you, son.”
“I love you too, Dad,” George smiled, watching his father put both folders on top of the desk. “Dad, can I see if the wood shop teacher minds me working with him some? You’re really good, but I want to see what he has to offer too.”
“If he’s willing, I don’t mind. He might teach you something I can’t, which’ll be good for business. Now, let’s get back to work,” he smiled.
A quarter after five, a police officer showed up with the principal. Mr. Lundgren laughed heartily as he opened the door.
“Where the hell have you people been? He’s been here since before noon!” he laughed, stepping onto the front step to talk to them while George helped make some TV dinners for them. He couldn’t hear what they told him, but his father’s laugh and response was perfectly clear, “Well, you won’t have to worry about him anymore. I’ll be at the Board tomorrow to get him out of your pathetic institution. And I expect you to replace whatever it is he left behind that’s broken. He had a very nice notebook when he left this morning, but it and the fine pencil he had with him is somewhere in your pathetic, shitty building,” he emphasized, turning to the cop. “You should charge that woman.”
“We can’t,” the police officer replied gruffly.
George couldn’t help but smile. When his dad finished telling them off, they laughed together over dinner. It was the happiest they’d been in months, if not years.