Enjoy a free first chapter of The Lost Crown of Apollo, by Suzanne Young Cordatos
Coming June 1, 2015 by Sunpenny Publishing!
For the sun rises with its scorching heat
and withers the field;
its flower falls
and its beauty perishes.
What I Learned in Fifth Grade
By Elias Tantalos
No offense, Mrs. Struggles, you are my favorite teacher OF ALL TIME (and I’m not saying that just so you’ll like this essay) but do you have to assign an essay in the last hour of the worst school year? Pure torture!
You’ve tried hard to teach us math and science and history and stuff, but that is not what I learned in fifth grade. (Mrs. Struggles, you said these essays are not being graded—they are for our own “self-reflection” or whatever—so I’m going to be honest. Fifth grade taught me about life. The world has two kinds of people in it: Lucky ones and the kind that bad luck sticks to like a magnet.
Exhibit A . . . Lucky People
1. Kennedy Anderson is the luckiest person on Earth. Her grandma never remembers her birthday. Lucky? You bet. Kennedy gets a birthday card on the third day of every month, not just November. And the card has money in it. That grandma never misses a month!
2. Kennedy Anderson was the first person at Evamere School to get a cell phone, because she paid for it herself. I don’t have any money to pay for one, and even if I did, Mom thinks I don’t need it. (When Mom makes a decision, it takes an earthquake or tsunami or tornado to change her mind. All three at once, maybe.)
3. Kincaid is lucky because he has blonde hair that always goes straight. And, he gets Brandon to do his dirty work.
4. Brandon hit puberty way early. Between fourth and fifth grade he turned into Brandon the Gorilla Boy. Big hairy arms. Lucky? You bet. See #5.
5. Nobody messes with Brandon.
6. Kincaid and Brandon never get caught doing mean stuff because teachers never notice (not even you, Mrs. Struggles.)
Exhibit B . . . Bad Luck Magnet (Me, Elias Tantalos)
I am the fastest runner on the Evamere School Wings soccer team. Lucky? Sadly, no. Last November, I ran super-fast during the Fall Soccer State Cup Championship. Nobody could catch me, and I kicked the ball past the goalie—but I was running THE WRONG WAY AND I kicked the ball past OUR OWN GOALIE and WON THE DARN STUPID CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE WRONG STUPID TEAM. (Later, Kennedy Anderson said it was an awesome kick and there was no way she could’ve stopped it, and she’s the greatest goalie Evamere Wings ever had.)
Kennedy Anderson is the only person who still talks to me. No idea why. I’m too skinny and have brown eyes and boring brown hair that won’t go straight no matter what, and I’m the worst bad luck magnet in the world. Kennedy Anderson should be afraid my bad luck will rub off on her good luck—if it was the other way around, I’d avoid me like a rat-infested bubonic plague. Remember the Fall of Rome you were teaching us about, Mrs. Struggles? My life after the Championship disaster was just like that: it fell to ruins.
More bad luck examples from the life of Elias Tantalos:
1. My (former) best friends Kincaid and Brandon changed my nickname from “Fireball” to “Wrong-Way.”
2. My (former) best friends Kincaid and Brandon tried to MEASURE THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF MY HEAD with a ruler, because if it is regulation size they will use it for the GAME BALL next season in middle school—to make sure I go down the field the right way, they said.
3. My (former) best friends Kincaid and Brandon stopped being my friends.
4. When they stopped, everybody stopped. Almost everybody. See above reference to Kennedy Anderson.
5. My homework started to look like it was in sword fights. Bleeding red ink.
6. My back is breaking from homework papers stuffed in the bottom of my backpack that I don’t want my parents to see or they might kill me.
7. After summer vacation? HEL-LLLOOO, MIDDLE SCHOOL. Kind of terrifying.
In conclusion, I learned that I can’t wait to get out of here. I mean OUT OF THE COUNTRY. Tonight, my family is flying from JFK International Airport over the Atlantic Ocean to a country called Greece. Lucky? Some people might think boating in the Greek islands is a lucky vacation, but how lucky can it be for a bad luck magnet like me?
It will take all night to there. I went to Greece as a baby, but I don’t remember it. We are borrowing my aunt and uncle’s boat, which sounds like an old tub. With me on board it will probably sink to the bottom of the Aegean Sea on our way to visit them on some island in the middle of nowhere. My dad is from Athens, but I never learned to speak Greek and that’s the only language they talk there. Plus, I hear they don’t eat peanut butter. What kind of country doesn’t have peanut butt—
“Class, please put your pencils down.” At the front of the room, Mrs. Struggles looked at the clock on the wall over the door. “The final bell will ring in a few minutes.”
Elias fist-punched the air. “Yesss!”
As if they shared one giant eyeball, his classmates turned to stare.
“Not so fast. We have time to hear a few essays.” Mrs. Struggles held out the microphone. When presenting work in front of the class, using a microphone made them feel like rock stars, except sometimes it made Elias’s stomach twist and feel like throwing up in front of the class. Like now, for example.
“Anyone for a last turn at the mic?” Mrs. Struggles waited. Nobody raised their hand.
Elias willed the clock to speed up so he could get run home—but Aunt Kat looked straight at him and smiled. The sick feeling wormed around his stomach.
“You seem anxious to be done with fifth grade, Mr. Tantalos. Perhaps you’d like to be first. What did you learn this year?”
Exhibit C . . . . . . I rest my case
P.S. What am I going to eat in Greece? I’ll die of starvation over there.
P.P. S. I’m not coming back. EVER. Even if I don’t die over there. Which I’m counting on.
P.P.P.S. Can I leave my little sister on THIS side of the Atlantic Ocean? Second grade sisters can be very, very, annoying, and Lily is the worst. I’d explain, but that would take another essay. And I am out of here. Seriously.