Playing Hooky

by Emily LAWTON
 

Once in high school I tried to call myself in sick to school. Somehow I thought they wouldn’t know the voice of a 17 year old kid who is, after all, almost an adult — physically, anyway — from that of my father, a man almost 50 years old. I called and told the secretary that Abraham Farrar wouldn’t be in that day, as he had a terrible case of influenza. She asked me to hold on, please. Then the assistant principal Mr. Pellinham answered the phone. “Hello, Mr. Farrar?” He was playing with me; I knew I was sunk. But I couldn’t back out now.

“Yes?”

“This isn’t Abraham?”

“No.”

“What’s your work number, Mr. Farrar? I’d like to give you a call back there.”

“Uh…” I faltered. “I’ll be in meetings all day today.”

“Oh, so you’re not at…” I heard typing, “829-9008?” He was tenacious, like a bulldog.

I paused. I paused too long, and he said, “Abraham, I’d like you to come into my office first thing tomorrow morning.”

I hung up the phone. It was a frigid morning out. I had ten minutes before the time I usually left for school.

My bed was no longer the warm temptress it had seemed before I made the call. There was still time to go to school, and probably to avoid detention, but then would I still have to go to Mr. Pellinham’s office?

I decided not to go; the damage was done. I went downstairs to the kitchen and poured myself some cereal. The house was too quiet; all but the noises I made, so I turned on cartoons to cover it. It wasn’t fun — I felt sick. And I hated Mr. Pellinham for ruining my day off.

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