The Hasty Promise

Author:Alien Mol
ISBN:978-0-9670728-8-3
Pages:120
Retail Price:$10.95
Grade Level:6-9

From the Back Cover:
Cherie Mason is almost fifteen and a sophmore in high school. Because of her attitude, she at times makes it difficult for herself.

Cherie adores the handicapped Mike in the hospital as well as the adorable daughters of the not so liked Mr. Fayson. For that reason she is called the teacher's pet.

Nasty comments are thrown at her.

When the boys in the class want to take revenge, Cherie is hasty to make a promise.

This promise gives her plenty of trouble, especially when her conscience begins to speak.

However, she has to keep her promise.



1. Teacher's Pet

“What's next?” Rob asked loudly as he charged from the classroom in the direction of his locker.

Cherie, whose locker was next to Rob's, heaved an exagerated sigh. “We've only been in school for five months now, Rob,” she said, her voice edged with sarcasm. “Do you think you'll know by the end of the year?”

Rob frowned at her. The squeaking sound of turning lock dials and the clanging and banging of metal doors traveled down the long hallway.

“Did I ask you, Beanpole?” he queried, his eyebrow raised in question. His twinkling blue eyes held a challenge.

A warning bell buzzed out of the loudspeaker over their heads. Rob dove his head into his locker and grabbed the first books in sight.

“Algebra, right?” his muffled voice reached Cherie's ears.

“No, biology's next,” Cherie told him, beginning to take pity on her classmate. After all, Mrs. VanOlden was no one to mess with. A forgotten text book in her class meant a definite session in the detention room!

“Thanks,” Rob responded, giving her a slap on the shoulder. “You're a pal.”

Cherie rubbed her shoulder and hurried after him. A few other stragglers pushed their way into the room after her.

As she slid into her seat, a voice hissed behind her, “Cherie!”

Mrs. VanOlden was paging through her text book, so Cherie turned and glanced behind her.

“Did you finish your history homework?” Karen whispered.

Cherie shrugged as if the answer was obvious. Did anyone ever do their history homework?

Karen pursed her lips. “He's due for another pop quiz soon,” she warned. That got Cherie's attention. Karen was extremely precise and organized. Cherie could never figure out how she did it, but most of the time, Karen's predictions were correct. According to Karen, they could expect a pop quiz from Mr. Fayson every four or five days. Of course, Mr. Fayson gave pop quizzes so often that Karen was bound to be right most of the time!

A notebook nudged Cherie in the back, and Cherie expertly slid it under her arm and onto her own desk. It was an unspoken agreement that a favor done was a favor earned. When Karen had a night in which she "forgot" to do her homework, it would be her turn to copy Cherie's. As Mrs. VanOlden animatedly described how some people acquired brown eyes and others blue, Cherie scribbled feverishly.

Briefly, she wished she had just taken the time the night before, but she quickly shook the thought away. No one did homework for Mr. Fayson!

******

There was no pop quiz that afternoon, but Mr. Fayson assigned a five page typed essay that was due the next day.

“Mr. Fayson thinks nothing is as important as history class,” Cherie grumbled to her mother after school. She took a gulp of the cold juice which Mom had waiting for her and went on.

“I have algebra homework and a test in church history tomorrow, too. I'll never get done! But try telling Mr. Fayson that. He doesn't care!”

Mom sat across from her and listened patiently till Amy and little Teddy began to tug at her.

“Why don't you air out for a while before you stick your nose in your school books again,” she suggested. “Take Little Bear for a walk or go jump in the leaves with Teddy. He's been waiting for you all day.” She smiled gently at Cherie. “Just remember, the manner in which you tell Mr. Fayson that you don't think you'll be able to get done can make a world of difference.”

Cherie felt the color climb into her cheeks, and she stood up quickly. “Come on, Teddy, let's put on your coat. Cherie will take you outside, okay?”

As Mom had predicted, the brisk fall air cleared her head, and Cherie was smiling again by the time Mom called her to come in. Quickly, she set the table and emptied the dishwasher.

She was about to disappear to her room, so that she could get a head start on her homework before supper, when the phone rang.

“For you,” her brother Len announced.

For a moment, Cherie's heart raced. She took the phone into the empty dining room.

“Don't be ridiculous,” she told herself sternly. “What in the world makes you think it would be him?”

It was Jennifer, one of her friends, asking her how to figure out one of the algebra problems. Two minds worked better than one, and, soon, the conversation turned to more interesting subjects.

“Did you see Gary take that shot in soccer today? He scored three goals, and he even passed the ball to me a few times. I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to pass it back to him, because Leah almost got it from me.”

Cherie nodded at the phone and waved her hand through the air. “He'd be so mad! At least Jason is always nice about it when you miss or do something wrong. Gary makes me nervous."

“Janna likes him,” Jennifer confided. “Oh, that reminds me. Janna said that Karen wanted to know if we all wanted to go shopping next week Thursday. Karen’s mom has to go to Roosevelt Mall anyway, and we can ride with her. Do you want to go?”

Cherie's face lit up.

“That sounds like fun!” she responded.

“That's because you-know-who works in the food court at the mall,” Jennifer teased.

Cherie ignored her, but she was glad Jennifer couldn't see her flaming cheeks.

“I'll ask my mom and let you guys know tomorrow,” she told Jennifer. “I think it will be okay. I'm babysitting for Lindsey and Maddie Saturday night, so I'll have some spending money.”

Jennifer's voice darkened at the mention of the little girls. “Lindsey and Maddie are so cute and sweet,” she said. “Why can't their dad be nice too?” She groaned. “I can't believe he's making us write that essay. We just finished one a few days ago!”

“Cherie!” her mom's voice called out. “Time to eat!”

Hurriedly, Cherie hung up and went to the kitchen. She had a lot to do tonight!

******

Cherie glanced at her watch as she brushed a kiss on her mom's cheek.

“Bye. Be careful. Hope you have a good day,” came her mother's customary goodbye.

Cherie waved over her shoulder and started down the street towards the bus stop. She grinned. It was no wonder dad had once called her his “Borderline Child.” Ahead of her, her younger brother, Bradley and her little sister, Amy, strolled leisurely towards the end of the street. Behind her, she heard Len and Heather rushing around trying to find their shoes, lunches, and bookbags. As usual, she was neither late nor early, but just right on time. It was like that with everything. She was just a very ordinary, in-between kind of person. It was no wonder Ryan didn't even know she existed!

Cherie shook her head. There was no time to mope now. She broke into a run and reached the corner a few seconds before the bus did.

She had been so deep in thought that she hadn't even noticed that there was an extra person at the bus stop today.

“Good morning, Cherie,” a deep voice greeted her. Inwardly, Cherie groaned, but she replied politely, “Good morning, Mr. Fayson. How are you?”

“I'm fine,” Mr. Fayson told her, “but my car's feeling rather poorly today.” He laughed at his own wit and pointed to a house just down the street from Cherie's. An old stationwagon sat in its driveway. Cherie giggled in spite of herself. The car did look tired. Its rusty hood sat just a bit crooked on its frame, and the back bumper, which was bent and dented in half a dozen places, nearly touched the ground.

The high school bus squealed to a halt in front of them, its orange and red lights flashing, and Cherie quickly joined her friends in the middle seats. Behind them, the elementary school bus loomed into sight, arriving to pick up Heather, Bradley, and Amy.

After the remaining students had been picked up, the bus laboriously pulled into the high school parking lot, its shocks creaking and groaning as the wheels bumped through a deep pothole. Cherie jounced along and bent to gather her things. Another school day had begun.

Cherie pulled on Janna's arm and hung back as the others made their way down the hallways.

“Come this way,” she coaxed, heading towards a different hallway. Janna looked at her quizically, but Cherie just put on a pleading face.

“Ooh,” Janna said slowly, understanding lighting her eyes. “I see!”

Cherie tried to act nonchalant as they ambled towards the tenth grade lockers. Ryan was just dumping his backpack into his locker when they walked by. His blue eyes glanced their way for a moment, then he turned and walked towards his classroom.

Janna nudged Cherie, but Cherie just stared dumbly after him. The girls turned the corner to angle towards their lockers.

“Why didn't you say something?” Janna whispered. Cherie just shook her head and smiled dreamily.

“He looked at me,” she announced.

Janna threw up her hands in exasperation. “Yeah,” she commented, “but next time at least say ‘hi’.”

At that moment, Gary walked by.

“Hi,” he greeted.

Janna was struck dumb. As Gary disappeared through a doorway, Cherie and Janna dissolved into a fit of giggles.

“You could at least say ‘hi,’” Cherie mimicked Janna teasingly.

The two girls opened their lockers and pulled out the books for their first class. The first class that morning was history. Karen, Janna, Jennifer, and Cherie quickly compared notes.

“My essay is only four pages,” Karen confessed, and Jennifer shrugged, “I'm not done.”

Mr. Fayson quickly scanned the essays as the students laid them on his desk.

“Rob, make sure you type it next time,” and, “Steve, I know you can do better than this,” were his only comments. He perused Cherie's essay. With an approving nod, he put it aside.

“Looks good, Cherie.”

They were his first positive words that morning.

Cherie saw Gary raise an eyebrow. Quickly, she found her seat. Why did Mr. Fayson have to say that? She wished she had not worked so hard at it the night before.

As they left the classroom, Mr. Fayson tapped her on the shoulder. “Did my wife call you about Saturday night?”

Cherie nodded curtly and hurried past him.

Rob looked at her stormy expression as she yanked open the locker next to his.

“Easy,” he chided, the corners of his mouth quirking up into a mischievous smile. “It's okay if you're a teacher's pet. We all like you, anyway.”

Cherie rounded on him. Rob held up a hand when he saw her furious glare.

“Just kidding,” he assured her, but Cherie didn't even hear him.

“Don't you dare call me that,” she fumed under her breath, her frown deepening when she saw how Rob was biting his lip to keep from laughing. “I don't think it's funny,” she added, but a giggle bubbled up as she said it. “Oh, you're impossible,” she tossed over her shoulder, and she hurried to her next class.

******

Cherie had fully intended to take the advice of her mom where Mr. Fayson was concerned. Maybe, if they all went together and politely reasoned with him, the homework would lessen. But after Mr. Fayson singled Cherie out again, and after overhearing Leah calling her a teacher's pet, the resolution flew clear out of her head. If Mr. Fayson was not reasonable, why should she be?

Each night, Cherie tossed aside her history assignment and joined her fellow classmates in secret rebellion.

Mr. Fayson had taken it in stride at the beginning of the year, but his patience had long ago worn thin.

“Who was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence?” he questioned the class. No one responded.

“Jason?”

“Um...” Jason tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Abe Lincoln?”

Cherie clapped a hand over her mouth to prevent the laugh, which bubbled up from slipping out. Around her, others snickered.

Mr. Fayson's face flushed. “Rob, maybe you know better,” he tried, his voice tight.

Rob nodded vigorously. “Ronald Reagan, sir,” he answered glibly, his dark blue eyes serious.

The snickers grew louder. Mr. Fayson slapped his hand down on his desk.

“Pay attention, everyone,” he warned. Only Leah and Shannon, at the very front, took notice and sat up a little straighter. The command had the opposite effect on everyone else, and the hum of voices grew louder. Mr. Fayson's face got redder.

“Don't think this won't affect your grades!” he raised his voice to almost a shout.

But the class had become oblivious to his voice. Jennifer tossed a note to Karen, making no attempts to hide her movements. Gary stretched and yawned elaborately, and Abe drummed his fingers on his desk.

Mr. Fayson gulped in a lung full of air and tried once more. “If you can't behave, fine! For tomorrow, read the next four chapters thoroughly and answer the questions at the end of each chapter. Now quiet down and listen!”

The hum of voices grew to an indignant buzz.

Mr. Fayson wiped the back of his hand across his forehead and began to explain the Declaration of Independence in a loud voice.

Cherie muttered under her breath as she wrote down the assigned homework, but she glanced at Mr. Fayson guiltily. He was mad enough to split, and they were the cause of it. But hadn't he brought it on himself? How could they know anything about the Declaration of Independence? They were all at least five chapters behind in their homework because Mr. Fayson continually gave them enormous amounts of reading material. She chewed her lip. The other students only knew one side of Mr. Fayson, but she knew, that, although “brutal” as a teacher, Mr. Fayson was a kind and fun daddy to his little girls. What she was supposed to make of it all she didn't know. One thing she did know. There was no way that she was going to be able to finish all four chapters, whether she really tried or not!

******

“Listen to this one!” Janna said softly, her eyes aglow. She turned the volume down on her Walkman and handed the headphones to Cherie.

Cherie hunkered down a little lower into the leather bus seat, scooting her knees up the back of the seat in front of her. Peering cautiously at the bus driver's face in the rear view mirror, she slid the headset over her ears. Even though the driver, Miss Eckerman, was friendly and jolly, she wouldn't hesitate to report a breach of the school rules. But Miss Eckerman had her eyes on the road.

Cherie tapped her fingers on her knees in rhythm with the beat. When the song was over, she handed the Walkman back to Janna.

“That's so sweet,” she agreed enthusiastically. She reached down and dug a cassette tape out from the bottom of her bookbag. “Look, my brother threw this one out, but I found it. Do you want to listen to it?”

Janna nodded.

Cherie would never have admitted that she had only found the tape a week earlier, and that it had been her first attempt at listening to “radio music,” as she referred to it in her mind. Even much less would she admit that she hadn't enjoyed it at all at first.

“The third song is the best one,” she pointed out.

The bus slowed, and Cherie glanced out of the window with a puzzled look on her face. This wasn't one of the usual stops. Who would be getting off here? The bus swerved to the right and came to an abrupt stop along side the road.

Cherie heard Janna's sharp intake of breath. Miss Eckerman stood up and made her way down the narrow aisle. Janna fumbled the Walkman and tape down into her bookbag and sat up straight, checking her seatbelt as she did so.

But Miss Eckerman was not conducting a seatbelt check. She came to a halt by Janna and Cherie's seat and held out her hand. She did not say a word. Her probing gaze held a look of both sternness and disappointment. Cherie's heart began to thump, and Janna failed in her attempt to look innocent. They had been found out!