Sometimes it’s nice to get a feel for how a book is written before you purchase it. If that’s the case for you, you might like to read Chapter 3. Here it is:
“One hundred forty-six!”
Anthony Sumner bursts into Mrs. Andrews’ government classroom,
interrupting the activity and announcing his presence with his usual
flair. Arms raised exuberantly, he marches directly to the whiteboard in
the front of the room, erases the “149,” and scribbles “146” in red ink.
“Happy Monday!” He winks at his teacher, high-fiving a classmate at a
nearby table as he sits proudly at his seat.
“Thank you, Mr. Sumner, for again gracing us with your presence
and your countdown. How in the world would we survive without you?”
Mrs. Andrews has paused her discussion about the limits of the executive
branch to entertain the daily disruption. “If you must share with us the
number of days until baseball season starts, could you at least arrive to
class on time, so you don’t mess with our mojo? Keep this up, and I’ll start
keeping track of the number of days until you graduate.”
Muffled laughter around the room. Anthony is undeterred. “Don’t
you already?” he asks, cocking an eyebrow at his teacher.
“Not publicly,” she retorts. “Now get caught up. We have learning to
do. And stop with the eyebrow.”
This time the laughter isn’t as muffled as before. Anthony digs into
his backpack, extracts his binder, and tries to shift his attention to the
presidency. But that date sticks in his head: February 20. The first day of
baseball practice. His senior year. The magic. The glory. February 20, 146
days from today.
Anthony leans sideways in an attempt to make eye contact with Nick
Greene, his best friend and the team’s center fielder. In stark contrast to
Anthony’s boisterous entrance, Nick is silently attending to his notes,
alternating his focus between his laptop and a printed diagram of
governmental checks and balances. They’ve been friends for years, since
the first day of sixth grade. And now they are virtually inseparable, one’s
Mike to the other’s Marcus.
“One forty-six, man! You ready?”
Nick shifts his eyes uneasily toward the front of the room and shuffles
his materials at his table. Other students straighten up in their seats,
though Anthony seems oblivious to it all. “Nick!” he hisses. “Hey!”
The silence finally catches Anthony’s attention, and he calmly settles
back into his chair, tongue in his cheek as he attempts to subtly attend to
his unopened binder. Mrs. Andrews, as he suspected, is standing directly
The giggles of his classmates become hoots as the teacher pronounces,
“Mr. Sumner, I’ll expect to see you for a few minutes after class today,” and
she swirls back to the front of the class. As she resumes her questioning
about presidential power, Anthony steals a glance at Nick. Across the
room, his friend looks back. Anthony shrugs a “What’s the deal there?”
gesture, to which his pal simply nods obediently back toward the teacher.
And into the government lesson they go.
As the final bell rings, the cacophony of high school voices serenades
Anthony from the hallway. His classmates file past him, some jostling,
others whispering “good luck,” and the rest simply ignoring him en route
to third period. Someone drops a book, and Anthony picks it up, hands
it back to its owner, and eyes the empty room. Mrs. Andrews waits, now
seated at her desk. Anthony strolls over and pulls up a chair opposite her
desk, swinging it around backwards and straddling it. “Thank you,” he
“Thank you, ma’am?” Mrs. Andrews looks at Anthony, then the chair
he is perched upon, then back to Anthony. She waits.
Anthony catches the hint like a pop fly in the infield. Gracefully, he
stands, twirls the chair around, and sits properly facing his teacher. “Yes.
Thank you, ma’am.”
“For what, young man?” Mrs. Andrews directs her focus to her laptop,
where she is entering grades, checking her email, or updating her notes
for a future class.
“For letting me keep the countdown in here. None of the other
teachers will let me. You’re the only one that gets how important it is.”
“Why were you late today?” she asks, still typing. “Walking Meaghan
“No,” Anthony feels himself blush. “We broke up. Too much drama,
plus I need to focus on baseball. It’s better that way. I was just late, no
“That’s honest, thank you. You wouldn’t believe the excuses I hear.”
Mrs. Andrews sighs and looks up at her brash pupil. This is the third
year in a row that they have had a class together. Sophomore year was
World Cultures, last year U.S. History, and now U.S. Government.
He is an intelligent student, keen on how to play the school game, but
academically lazy. He seems to do just enough to get by, just enough to
keep the wolves at bay. It isn’t his scholastic drive that intrigues her, rather
it is his personality. He is playful, yet driven. A lovable scamp. She smiles
and shakes her head simultaneously.
“Have you decided about basketball?” she asks, returning to her
computer. “You know, the college coaches like student-athletes that are
well-rounded and involved all across campus. Another sport might…”
“No way, man,” his animated response demonstrates his happiness at
not being called to the carpet on his tardiness. “I’m a single-sport athlete.
A specialist. I can’t split my training time, anyway. Plus, you give so much
homework, it’d be impossible.” He grins, hoping she’ll see it.
Her unamused look flattens his smile. “Indeed,” she sighs again.
“Well, just remember: If you want to talk through any of this, just let me
know. I’ve done that dance before.” Glancing at the framed team photo
from her own college basketball days, the memories flicker in her mind:
the recruiting trips, the scholarship hunts, the joys of camaraderie on
and off the court, and the many paths that led absolutely, sadly nowhere.
Her slate-gray eyes meet his, and she sees the sparkle that was at once
disarming. “Now go. Can’t be late anymore.”
Leaping up with athleticism and flair, Anthony pushes the chair back
to its table and shoulders his pack. “Thank you, Mrs. Andrews,” he calls
over his shoulder. In a blur, he disappears into the noisy hallway.