This week’s story’s prompt is ‘A Story About Rising to a Challenge.’ The story is below the cut.
She scrunched her eyebrows together and frowned, crinkling her nose. The paper in front of her was covered in piles and piles of numbers and absolutely none of it made sense to her. The more she tried to figure out what they meant and what she was supposed to do with them, the more they jumbled together. They seemed to be dancing together across the page. They switched spots in front of her very eyes.
She could see the teacher walking between the rows of desks and looking down at what each of the classmates and neighbours were doing. The teacher moved past the board and she could see the assignment up on the board. There were five whole pages, a marathon of questions and none of it made sense.
The teacher had gone over it several times and then left them with a challenge to try and do the work on their own. But she couldn’t. The math didn’t make any sense to her and she didn’t think she’d be able to figure it out. Her neighbours on either side were flying through and chattering away about how easy it was over top of her. Frustration was building and tying her stomach into knots. She could feel the tears stinging at her eyes.
Her pencil slipped from her hand and rolled off the edge of her desk. She bent over in her chair and grabbed the pencil. The teacher walked past and missed once again how behind and how confused she was. She knew she could ask. She could just raise her hand into the air and ask for help if she wanted, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She didn’t like to ask for help. It meant that she had failed and her classmates would think she was stupid. She didn’t want them to think she was stupid. If everyone saw that she needed help in math, they wouldn’t believe she was smart anymore.
The teacher stopped a few kids away and crouched down to answer a question. The girl stared at the question in front of her and her frustration came to a head. The tears broke free from her eyes and one rolled down her cheek, landing on her math notebook. Hurriedly, she wiped at her cheeks. Stupid math. Stupid long division.
She looked up to see her teacher standing in front of her with a worried expression.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded quickly. The teacher crouched down in front of her and looked down at the questions that the girl had tried to work on. Only a few had been worked on and none had been fully completed. Question number six was completely obscured and illegible thanks to her tear drop.
“Is the math coming all right?”
Avery wanted to nod. She wanted to pretend she was fine, but her face was showing that she wasn’t fine. She couldn’t stop the tears and they began to roll down her cheeks.
“I hate this,” she muttered. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s stupid.”
“Avery, why didn’t you ask for help?”
“Well, what are you struggling with?”
“All of it!”
“Let me help you,” said the teacher. “We can start at the beginning and we’ll figure it out together.”
Avery sniffled. “Okay.”
Her teacher began to explain, slowly walking Avery through each of the steps. She showed her how the first step was to see how many times the smaller number went into the first digit of the bigger number. The answer was recorded at the top of the problem and then that number is multiplied with the first number that they used. There was some subtraction and a number was brought down. The next step was more division. Then it was time to repeat. They went through several problems together before the teacher had to move on.
Avery sniffled again as she began to tackle her first problem on her own. For a moment she felt like it was going to slip out of her head again but then things clicked. She followed through each of the steps, filling in all the little boxes in the pages of her work out. Everything had fallen into place and finally it had come together. The numbers were no longer jumping back and forth along the page. They seemed to fill into the slots all by themselves and the answers danced across her brain.
She glanced up at the assignment on the board. What once had been daunting was now much more enjoyable than she had thought. Long division wasn’t so bad after all.