Unteachable(14) read online free by Leah Raeder
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Unteachable(14)
Author: Leah Raeder

Remember that.

“I’m not a believer in tests or quizzes or any of that bullshit,” our teacher said. Bullshit got my attention. I turned to him. Casual today, jeans and a plaid tee. He wore glasses sometimes, simple plastic frames, the narrow lenses emphasizing that crinkling thing his eyes did.

I was not the only girl in class who noticed this. Hiyam, a girl with skin the color of butterscotch toffee and hair like liquid midnight, kept crossing her legs this way, then that.

Wesley held the camera on Mr. Wilke, but he was looking at Hiyam now.

I rolled my eyes.

“I’m only giving you one assignment this semester,” Mr. Wilke continued. “You’re going to make a short film. Any genre, any style, any subject. It can be a documentary about your three-legged cat. It can be a classic sci-fi genre film.” His eyes touched me, and I blushed. “Whatever. It’s up to you. Minimum three minutes long, max ten. You can group up or tackle it solo. I strongly encourage you to group—that’s how most films get made.”

He leaned against his desk. I thought about that body laying atop mine on the long front seat of his car. Hiyam yawned, stretching her arms above her head. Cleavage shot.

Wesley dropped his camera.

“I’m so not working with you,” I murmured.

“However,” Mr. Wilke said, looking straight at me, raising all the blood to my skin, “if you’re some kind of mad genius auteur, you can go it alone. It’s all up to you.”

Hiyam narrowed her eyes at me, like a cat.

“This project is due by winter break. We’ll watch and grade them together. You may not ask me any questions about it. I’ve told you all you need to know. If you weren’t paying attention, I’ll post a copy to our class folder online.”

“Hear that, butterfingers?” I told Wesley.

He grinned. “Wanna be partners?”

“No.”

“I’ve already got an idea for ours. It’ll be sick.”

This boy, I swear.

I dallied when the bell rang, hoping Wesley would leave without me, but he waited, faithful, puppyish. On the way out the door I glanced back. Mr. Wilke watched me, his face angled partially away, shadowed. Our gazes struck like flint and steel. And I realized that gunsmoke smell wasn’t ozone. It was us. We burned.

Wesley ate my chicken nuggets as I stared into the parking lot, moon-eyed. Here and there a dash of rain shot down, a meteor streak of water. The sky clenched, desperately holding itself in. There’s something so terrible about wanting something you’ve already had. You know exactly what you’re missing. Your body knows precisely how to shape itself around the ache, the hollowness that wants to be filled.

Jesus Christ, this was only the end of the first week of school. No f**king way would I make it to winter break, let alone June.

“Hey Maise.”

I glanced at Wesley miserably.

You know, he wasn’t terrible-looking. He had character. Deep-set eyes, bruise blue, intense. Shaggy dark hair that always looked windblown. Big Adam’s apple, big mouth that flexed easily into a lupine grin. If he ever gained any weight or body hair, I might’ve—no, I still wouldn’t. But other girls would.

“What?” I said.

“You’ve got a crush on that teacher.”

My belly tightened. Crush was understatement of the year. But it might be good to know how it looked to an outsider. “Why do you think that?”

“Cuz you’ve been walking around with that I-want-to-be-fucked face all day.”

I laughed, and sat across from him, plucking a nugget from his tray. It looked vaguely like a deformed rooster. “Hiyam likes him too.”

Wesley made a disgusted sound.

I dipped into the honey mustard. “You don’t think he’s hot?”

“He’s a million years old.”

“You are so childish.”

“Would you seriously f**k a guy that old?”

Decision time. Do I let Wesley know the real me, or do I make up a persona for him, a suit of armor I can take on and off? As if there was a choice. As if I wasn’t burning up inside with this. Every time I opened my mouth, flame licked up my throat. I could have razed villages, kidnapped princesses.

“Yeah,” I said. “I would.”

His eyebrows went up. He leaned forward. “Have you? With a guy that old.”

I smiled enigmatically and ate my nugget.

“Holy shit.”

“You don’t even know what old is,” I said. “Mr. Wilke is probably like, thirty. That’s nothing.”

“He was in high school before we were born.”

My heart paused. Little factoids like that cut right to the bone of reality. “So?”

“So, he was probably f**king high school girls when we were little kids.”

“Why do you have to be gross?” I said, and shoved his tray at him. “You are such a boy.”

Wesley blinked at me. I think he understood what I actually meant. Not, You are so male. Rather, You are so young. He was still seventeen, a December birthday, but the gulf between us was more than five months. It was generations.

“What makes you such an authority?” he said.

I shook my head and stood up, the armor going on. But I didn’t want it to end like this. “I’ll be your partner,” I said. “If you still want me to.”

Wesley shrugged, eyes on the tray. “Yeah.”

“Good.”

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