“C. A. D. D. B,” Charlie breezed through the answers without giving the questions much attention. The technique served him well for his entire high-school career, and he felt like the final test of his final class was just a formality for him. However, it was the one question he did pay attention to that changed his life.
“Congratulations! 50 point bonus question: 1 + 1= ? ” Charlie smiled at the final question. He knew Mrs. Wallace would probably give everyone the bonus points. He wrote down “3” as his answer, then turned his scantron in.
“Thank you, Charles. Stay quiet ’til the end of class please,” Mrs. Wallace subtly reminded Charlie that he could not leave until the bell rang even if it was a test day. Charlie resented Mrs. Wallace strict attitude at first, but throughout the year she became one of his favorite teachers. He returned to his desk and pulled out a sketch pad to doodle quietly. After a while all the students finished, with time still left in the class period.
“Since everyone’s done, I’ll go check them while you all wait here,” Mrs. Wallace said, making everyone wait for the results. “Charles, you’re in charge.” Charlie nodded, thankful they were at the end of the year now. He endured being called “teacher’s pet” the entire fall and most of the winter. it seemed that no one cared after winter break anymore. Everyone was as eager to leave as he was. He half listened to the conversations while he continued to draw.
“Yeah her parents are totally out of town. It’s just going to be the few of us,” Charlie recognized Matt’s voiced, and assumed they were talking about his girlfriend Maddie. “Who knows what’ll happen?” He said. Charlie could hear the grin in Matt’s voice. Charlie lost himself in drawing, but after a several minutes he heard a friendly voice next to him.
“Whatcha drawing?” Charlie looked for the voice and found Kelly, one of the cheerleaders, looking down at the sketch on his pad: a #2 decorated with looping embellishments.
“My cousin asked me to design him a tattoo,” Charlie said.
“Ohhhh. It’s pretty!” she said. “Maybe you’ll have to design one for me too,” she winked at Charlie, but he was already focused on his drawing again. ” Okay, well keep in touch during the summer!” she patted him on the shoulder and moved to join some other friends. Then Mrs. Wallace returned.
“You guys are lucky I’m so generous. I can’t believe how many of you answered the bonus question wrong,” she said. She organized the stack of scantrons on top of her desk and stared out at the class with a smile. “It’s like almost everyone was in on it.” She began calling out names, and reached Charlie at some point halfway down the list. “Charlie Mendoza.” He stood to get his test, but Mrs. Wallace held it up high.
“Charlie here is the only one that got it right,” Mrs. Wallace smiled at Charlie while she handed back his test. “Every one else just doodled.” He heard what she said and looked at his score. Perfect 150, including the bonus.
“Mrs. Wallace?” Charlie interrupted before she called out the next name. “You said I got the bonus right?” She nodded.
“Yes. I know you’re the valedictorian, Charlie, but it doesn’t hurt to loosen up now and then,” she advised.
“But, I put a three for the answer,” he said. Mrs. Wallace nodded.
“I know, that’s why you’re right. Everyone else put some little squiggle I’ve never seen before. Must be an internet thing,” she shrugged.
“But Mrs. Wallace. One plus one isn’t three. It’s two,” Charlie said.
“What’s a two?” she asked?