Thursday, 20 March 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014 -

Bottom of the Class

by Rue Chapman
Published: Jan 24, 2014
Words: 22,010
Category: general
Orientation: M/F
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Bottom of the Class

Julianne joined the other students filing into the assembly hall, trying to suppress a smile. This was it, the day she'd been working towards. She knew her final exam results were superb. She'd be Dux of the school for sure. Then on to university, and life would be wonderful. Perfect planning. Julianne knew she was about to be called up in front of the whole school to be commended by the principal. She had worked so hard for this moment, and it was all about to pay off.

Mr Cooper smiled at the assembled faces. "Before we begin the assembly proper I would like to call Julianne Stemple up to the stage." Julianne stood up and made her way to the stage, smiling modestly. "Now everyone here knows Julianne. I would like to say that her exam results are the best ever recorded for our school." Scattered applause. Julianne glowed. "In fact they show a remarkable improvement on her work in previous years." Julianne smiled. "A truly remarkable improvement." The smile shrank a little. She'd certainly needed to use all her resources to get those results. "Such a result certainly gets our school noticed, which affects all of you. In fact, I have some students here who would like to congratulate Julianne personally on her work." Julianne watched six students file on stage. The smile stayed in place, but only because every muscle in her body was paralysed.

Steven Ho, Daniel Hattersley, Connie Stamopoulos, David Vella, Mei Ling, and Emma Simpson-Browne filed onto the stage. The colour slowly drained from Julianne's face.

"Each of these students came to me and told me a similar story. It took courage for them to do so. I'd like them to share those stories with all of you."

Daniel stepped forward. "My father is a minister, her family go to our church. A week before the exams she came to me and said she'd go to the police and say my father had touched her unless I put her name on my Science paper."

The watching students started to pay much more attention than usual.

After a moment's hesitation, Connie Stamopoulos stepped forward. "Julianne asked me to go shopping with her after school. As we came out of one shop the alarm went off. Julianne had slipped a blouse into my bag. She ran away and the shop people caught me. I paid for the blouse but they said they'd call the police if it happened again. Then just before the exams she said if she told on me I'd be expelled, I'd never get to university, and my family would be shamed, so I had to put her name on my Economics paper and she'd put my name on hers.

And so it went on. Emma's English results in exchange for her silence about a trip to a certain clinic; Mei Ling's computer course results or photographs of Mei with her boyfriend would be sent to her father; Steven's Maths paper or she'd tell the police he'd tried to sell drugs to her; David's History marks or she'd report him for car theft.