Science Fairness (Challenge SIX)

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LexiScherr Challenge ~ Write a short story about the adorable friendship between these two:
http://www.hitrecord.org/records/1003418 
http://www.hitrecord.org/records/890440


Thank you for the challenge, Lexi!!! I hope you enjoy the following tale about Theo and Frances. :) 


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     “It’s time to get up!” the alarm clock rang out precisely at 6:00am just once before being smacked off. The message was that of a pre-recorded demand from Theo’s mother that he himself had programmed as part of his daily wakeup routine. Theo, ever the eager student, loved Mondays. And today was no exception. He quickly showered, got dressed in his finest shirt, pants, bow tie, and color corresponding suspenders, and shot right down to breakfast.


     “You’re five minutes ahead of your schedule, Theodore,” Theo’s mother said, as she poured a fresh glass of apple juice for him.


     “Today is the day, Mother!” Theo exclaimed.


     “I know, dear.”


     “Today is THE day, y’know….As in THE DAY!”


     “I said that I know that, dear. Now, eat your breakfast or you’ll be late for school.” Theo happily chewed on his piece of slightly buttered toast. He wasn’t worried about being late. He was never late for anything in his life, and today he would be on time because his bright future depended on it.


     At the bus stop, Theo could barely contain his excitement. He had dreamed of this day for so long, and now that it was finally here, he was hoping that it would surpass his highest expectations and be remembered as the best day ever. As the bus pulled up to pick up it’s final rider, Theo stepped onto it and began the scrutinizing search of finding an available seat. He slowly walked down the aisle but couldn’t find any place to squeeze in next to anyone.


     “Theo, you can sit next to me!” said a small voice from the back of the bus. Theo looked straight at the one who called out his name and met the eyes of Frances. No one had ever dared of crossing the dividing line between the front of the bus and the back. It would be unheard of for a regular kid who belonged up front to sit among any of the monster classmates holding down the fort in the back, not that Theo had ever acted as any regular kid, but he was far from being acquainted with anything with horns or tentacles or sharp claws. Theo chose to sit on the floor.


     What a shame, thought Frances. He knew that the student segregation was just a part of maintaining order in and out of the classrooms of Mount Naught High, but he had hoped for a little leeway on the bus. Why can’t every one who is going to the same place ride TOGETHER if they’re already riding together? It didn’t make sense! But Frances wouldn’t have to fret for long, because today everything was going to change.


     Small groups of chatter kept rising, filling the entire classroom with a deafening noise. Paper airplanes were soaring overhead. Chairs kept being scooted in and out. Pencils were getting sharpened. Mr. Bradmeyer entered the room, and the noises slowly faded away. “Settle down, everyone,” Mr. Bradmeyer said. “Everyone be seated, so we can take attendance.” The students cooperated, mainly because Mr. Bradmeyer was the kind of teacher who enjoyed mixing fun and education, as long as, his temper didn’t flare up. “Michael Abley.”


     “Here.”


     “Tina Coolson.”


     “Present!” As Mr. Bradmeyer kept calling out names, Theo tried to stay focus, but his mind kept wandering to the importance of today. The big announcement could not have come sooner, and then it came. Eventually.


     “Okay, class. Now that we know everyone is here, let’s get started…..Last week’s pop quiz scores were a little too much on the low side. So, we will be retaking that test tomorrow.” Moans and groans spurted out from both sides of the room. “I know you can do better than an A-, so study hard.” Today is the day, thought Theo. Today! Today! Today! “Now, onto what else is on our horizon. Coming up, we will be participating in our annual Science Fair.” Yes! Yes! Yes! Theo lived and breathed science. Chemistry had always been his forte, so anything involving mixed concoctions and beakers gave his life purpose. “And today is the day we will pair each of you up with your partner.” Partner day! Theo loved partner day even more than his own birthday. Partner day meant the official start of Science Fair season, and it also meant one of Theo’s fellow classmates would have to talk to and hang out and collaborate with him for it was the final grade requirement.


     “But this time we will be handling things a little differently than usual,” Mr. Bradmeyer added. Different? All eyes carried confusion. “After several parent-teacher meetings debating over the issue of discrimination in the classrooms, it has been decided that we will partner up kids and monsters together.” The class really came alive. Kids and monsters can’t work together! It went against every belief in their society! The outrage! “Quiet!……QUIET!!!” Silence. “There, that’s better,” Mr. Bradmeyer continued. “That doesn’t mean a kid is guaranteed to be paired up with a monster. It only means that I will be placing all names into one hat only and drawing the names at random. It’s all based on chance.” Theo wasn’t so sure about his chances; the last time he experienced a moment of chance that was in his favor was when he was four-years-old.


     With each name selected, Theo grew more and more nervous. Despite the randomness of the name drawing, somehow kids managed to pair up with other kids; monsters with other monsters. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, Mr. Bradmeyer called out, “Theo!….And he will be paired with…..Frances!” All eyes in the room shot to Theo. There was an unsettling silence; you could hear a pin’s pin drop. Theo remained as calm and as unaffected by the awful news as possible. On the inside, he was breaking. On the other hand, Frances couldn’t help but smile and wave at Theo who then sighed aloud and sank down in his seat. “Okay. Every team has three weeks to complete their project. Good luck!” Theo needed more than luck to survive this ugly atrocity; he needed an escape plan.


     After the bell rang and everyone had left the room, Theo approached Mr. Bradmeyer’s desk with reluctance. “Umm…Sir,” Theo stammered.


     “Yes, Theo?” Mr. Bradmeyer asked without even glancing up from grading papers.

     “I was wondering if I could maybe I dunno……trade partners with Samuel for the Science Fair project.” Mr. Bradmeyer set his red pen down and looked directly through Theo.


     “And why would you want to do that?”


     “Well, Frances is….okay and all, but--”

     “--Then what’s the problem?”


     “He’s a….The thing is….He’s a monster.”


     “I am aware….But you two will work together nevertheless.”


     “But--”


     “No buts. Rules are rules.” And with that, Theo lost the upper hand he never had.


     For three long weeks, Theo and Frances worked together. Or rather Theo did the work and wouldn’t let Frances do anything. They spent a whole week on deciding the kind of project to do. Frances would suggest, “How about we build a rocket ship?” To which Theo would reply, “Nah! That’s baby stuff!” Or Theo would mention, “We could always clone a frog.” To which Frances would say, “Great idea!” and then the thought would be scrapped because Frances liked it.


     It seemed the two would never agree on anything, until the moment of revelation occurred. One night, Theo was up late making a midnight snack at 8:30pm, when he bit into his sandwich. “Yuck!” Theo cried out. He lifted the bread slice and spotted a green patch where green should never be on his cheese. He checked the date and noticed that the cheese still had a couple of months before it would expire. Then, how did it grow mold? Perhaps, the plastic container that was intended to lock in freshness had let in air and locked in something else instead. If only there was a way to keep food tasty long enough to eat it. If only…And suddenly, a light came on.


     “Theo!” Theo’s mother hush-yelled. “Get to bed right now! It’s way past your bedtime!” Theo did as he was told and went to sleep but kept his mind awake and developed the perfect scientific solution to his food problem. He even couldn’t wait to tell Frances his idea, knowing full well that a thing with rotten fish breath wouldn’t understand the importance of food quality but be glad to move forward on what was becoming a dead project.


     The next day at school, Theo laid out his vision for Frances. “I call it The Food Saver.”


     “Wow! How’s it work?” Frances asked eagerly.


     “Well, basically, with the right cooling system and properly packed tight container, we should be able to keep food at its freshest after its original packaging has been opened through a process of plastic wrapping, baggy tightening, and ice cubes.


     “That’s amazing, Theo!”


     “I know.” And so for that week and the next, they made and remade their invention, until they got it perfect, which according to Theo, never quite happened. “It’s hopeless!” whined Theo. “No matter how cold the ice gets or how tight the food is packed, it still doesn’t taste like brand-new, fresh food.” They were stumped. The Science Fair was in two days, and they had nothing. Zilch. Nada. Forget the future. Bye-bye, Ivy League! It was nice dreaming about you.


     “If only food never expired, huh?” Frances said. Like that would be possible. Or maybe….Theo’s eyes lit up.


     “Oh, Frances! You’re a genius!”


     “I am?”


     “For today, anyways. We CAN make sure food doesn’t expire!”


     “How?”


     “By building a time machine for food!” The craziness behind such an absurd idea would turn off anyone trying to attempt it, but Frances saw the passion in Theo’s eyes and new if he thought it could be done, then surely it was doable.”


     “Let’s do it!” Frances exclaimed. “Wait! We only have two more class periods to build it. We won’t finish in time!”


     “Oh, yes we will! Today, after school, you’re coming to my house.” Frances had never heard kinder words uttered.


     “I’ll be there,” Frances said with a smile.


     Over the next two days, a kid with brains and a monster with spirit constructed the first time machine for food. It wasn’t easy to make, by any means, but it worked well. Somehow, it actually worked! And as the two heads came together, they were able to put aside their obvious differences and showcase their collected talents.


     Science Fair day came with its usual pleasant surprises and hideous disappointments. There were several impressive entries, as well as, a handful of duds from all students. Theo and Frances were busy setting up their displays. “I think it looks wonderful,” Frances beamed.


     “I think it’s missing the red trimming,” Theo observed.


     “Right. That’s in my locker. I’ll go get it.” With Frances gone, Max, a kid classmate, approached Theo’s table.


     “So, what’s your project THEE-OH?” Max asked obnoxiously.


     “It’s a food time machine,” Theo replied.


     “THAT is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”


     “Okay. What’s your project?”


     “Me and Gus cloned a bunny.”


     “I would’ve went with a frog,” Frances said, now standing behind Max.


     “Well, well. If it isn’t the Brainy and the Beast together at last, ” Max said. “I was just asking Nerdface about your dumb project.”


     “Hey! Don’t call my friend Nerdface!” shouted Frances.


     “Oh, I’m sorry, Frankenstein. I forgot you two are besties.”


     “We’re not friends,” Theo spoke up defensively.


     “Yes, we are,” sniffed Frances.


     “No, we’re not! We’re classmates! We’re lab partners! But we are NOT FRIENDS!” Surprised by the outburst, Frances withheld tears and ran off. Max put his arm around Theo.


     “Hey, buddy. I believe you just scared off a monster. That’s a first,” Max said. Laughter erupted. Theo half-heartedly chuckled and looked on with his head aimed slightly downwards.


     When it was Theo and Frances’ turn to present their project, Frances was nowhere in sight. “Where’s Frances?” Mr. Bradmeyer asked.


     “I think he went home sick,” lied Theo. He presented the food time machine. He placed an old sandwich into a box, flipped some switches, turned the dial, and took out a brand new sandwich that tasted delicious. A whirlwind of applause took over the gymnasium. Mr. Bradmeyer and the panel of judges were mighty impressed. They awarded Theo and Frances a first-place ribbon.


     “Congratulations!” Mr. Bradmeyer said with a firm handshake. This was the moment of triumph that a kid like Theo hopes and plans for every day, but the victory didn’t taste as sweet as it should have. Something was off. And Theo had a hypothesis about why his smile was faked and his stomach was hurting.


     The next morning, as Theo sat by himself at the bus-stop, he knew what he needed to do. But would he be brave enough to apologize? And how could he do it? The bus pulled up as usual, Theo stepped onto as usual, but then Theo had an unusual thought. Standing there, scanning the bunch of kids and the horde of monsters, Theo realized something that a genius such as himself should’ve discovered in the first place. He watched on as kids were talking and laughing together. And then he directed his attention towards the monsters and saw them do the same. He saw kids shove each other playfully ; again, the same was happening among the monsters. And in that split second, everyone, all kids and monsters, blurred into one.


     “Are you going to take a seat?” the bus driver impatiently asked, stirring Theo from his inner thoughts.


     “Yes,” replied Theo. “I will.” Theo slowly made his way down the tight aisle. He didn’t stop walking, not even when he spied a small seat in the middle. He just kept walking towards the back. Pretty soon conversations were forgotten as all attention landed on Theo. He just kept walking. Finally, when he came to the last section of the bus, Theo politely asked, “Is this seat taken?” to which Frances looked up with the biggest grin on his and removed his book bag from the seat. He nodded his head in acceptance. Theo sat down right beside Frances. After a long periord of shock, eventually the other kids and monsters reengaged in their conversations, which were now a stir of whispers about what just happened.


     “Here, this belongs to you,” Theo said as he handed Frances a shiny blue ribbon.


     “So, you won?” Frances asked.


     “We won……..Now, about yesterday.”


     “Don’t! There’s no need to say anything. I understand.”


     “Good. But I need you to know that I truly am sorry. No one has ever stood up for me before. I should’ve done the same for you.”


     “Oh, I wasn’t offended by Max. He had actually complimented me.”


     “What are you talking about? He called you….beast and Frankenstein.”


     “Frankenstein was the scientist who created the monster, so he called me a scientist who was a human. He compared me to a human! Imagine that!” Frances laughed. Theo joined in along with him. They laughed and laughed. And during that short bus ride on the way to school on what had started out as a grey morning turned brighter as a kid and a monster began the best friendship of their lives.


 

Created: Feb 26, 2014

Tags: theo, inspiring, monster, project, school, kids vs monsters, class, teacher, frances, challenge, rosellaweigand, differences, student, friendship, kid, brave, short story, lexischerr, separation, science fair

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