EPISODE ONE: The Study Club
“Vicki, will you please come to the front of the room?”
She hated it when her teachers put her on the spot like this. School had only just started, and already she’d been called to the front of the room for a private discussion seven times. All had been about her grades, and all had been loud enough for everyone in the class to hear.
“Yes, Mrs. T?”
She rose and stood as close to the woman’s desk as possible. The rest of the class had begun to engage in low conversation, but she knew they were listening intently.
“I want to speak to you about your grades.”
“I don’t understand,” Vicki said. “We’ve talked about this seven times in the last three months. I’ve been doing my homework.”
“Yes, you’ve been writing your name at the top of the page and handing it in,” Mrs. L said, “but you haven’t been answering any of the questions. How can I grade an empty paper?”
Vicki sighed. Didn’t Mrs. L understand that her life didn’t revolve around school? She had a thousand other things to do without having to worry about schoolwork, things like hanging out with her friends and watching reruns of Danger Girl High.
“Mrs. L, I’m sorry and I will try to not do it again.”
“No, you won’t try,” the teacher said, leaning forward. “I got a call from your father this morning. He’s not happy with your grades.”
“My father called you?”
“Yes,” she replied, nodding, “and I told him about a program we have that could help you out.”
I don’t like the sound of this.
“It’s called Study Club, and it only has three members per semester. It’s an intensive study group where you work together to forge good study habits.”
“I don’t have any study habits,” Vicki said. “How can I help anyone forge something I don’t have?”
Mrs. L laughed. “Maurice will take care of you.” She handed Vicki a yellow sheet of paper. “Here is the information. The first meeting is this afternoon.”
Vicki grabbed the paper and returned to her seat.
What had her father signed her up for? He wasn’t even involved in her life. What made him decide to start interfering now?
And who was this Maurice guy?
There were too many questions and two more hours until she’d find the answers to any of them.
Xavier knocked on the classroom door three times but no one responded. He checked the number on the door, then glanced at the number on the yellow paper in his hand again.
Room 305. Study Club. 2:30-4:00.
He was in the right place, and it was already 2:30. Why isn’t this Maurice guy here yet?
“Hey, are you here for the Study Club?”
Xavier turned around. A girl roughly his age stood behind him, holding a yellow paper in her hand.
She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
“Are you Maurice?”
He tried to open his mouth to tell her that he wasn’t, but words escaped him. He shook his head.
“Well, do you know where this guy is?”
Again, he shook his head.
Where are those words, bro? You see a cute girl and all of a sudden you can’t talk?
Xavier wasn’t really a sociable person. That’s why his father had forced him to join this Study Club. Only three people could join at a time, so his father assumed it’d give him three automatic friends for the semester. He didn’t have the heart to tell his dad that if he joined the club, he’d be the third person, leaving him with only two friends. He had doubted he’d make any friends, but at least he would get better grades.
Now, he knew that he had to make at least one friend: a girlfriend.
“Where is this Maurice character?” Vicki mumbled under her breath. It was already time to start this thing, and she didn’t want to stand out here with this creepy guy who didn’t know how to speak.
“I’m right here.”
Vicki jumped at the voice. A tall, brown haired kid maybe a year older than her pushed open the door to Room 305. He wore the standard white polo and blue dress pants that everyone was required to wear. He wore glasses that hid part of his big blue eyes. Vicki kept herself from tearing them off his face. They were the only thing standing between him and true perfection.
Two seconds in and she was already in love. She reminded herself to thank her father later.
The boy who couldn’t speak before was suddenly very angry.
“You said 2:30, and it’s—”
“Still 2:30,” Maurice said, cutting the boy off. “Let’s go inside, shall we? I only have an hour and a half to fix you two up.”
“Don’t we have the whole semester?” Vicki asked, ignoring the other boy and following Maurice. “We don’t need to get to work right away. We could spend some time getting to know each other.”
Maurice laughed. “Your name is Vicki, right?”
She felt her face turn red. He knows my name! With or without the glasses, this guy is perfect!
“Yes, I’m Vicki,” she stammered.
“Well, I’ve seen your grades, and if they’re any indication, I’ve got my work cut out for me.” Maurice pointed to two chairs in the front of the classroom. “You two will sit right here. I will begin with our first lesson in two minutes.” He paused. “You may not converse with one another.”
Vicki took a seat. “I don’t want to converse with him,” she said, sliding her desk away from the other boy’s.
“His name is Xavier, and that is good that you don’t want to converse with him, because you are not allowed to converse.” Maurice began looking through a folder on his desk.
“But that’s not fair,” the boy named Xavier said, sliding his seat closer to Vicki’s. “I want to converse with her.”
“I don’t care what you want,” Maurice said, sighing. “This isn’t a social club. You aren’t here to make friends. You’re here to learn.”
“I don’t want to converse with him,” Vicki said, sliding her desk even further away from Xavier’s. “I want to converse with you.”
Maurice raised an eyebrow. He cleared his throat.
“Vicki, I am your Study Club tutor. We will never be friends or anything more than that. We will maintain a strict tutor/student relationship. Please set aside any hopes of anything more right now.”
Vicki felt a pout coming on. It didn’t matter what Maurice said. She could make him change his mind. One day, before the end of the semester, she would get him to love her.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Xavier trying to slide his desk closer to hers again.
“Maurice,” she said, raising her hand. “What is your favorite thing to do after school?”
He did not even lift his head. “I enjoy teaching obedient Study Club members. No more talking, Vicki.”
“You said I could not converse with Xavier, but I need to converse with someone or else I will lose my mind and not be able to study. If I don’t do well in school, my father will kill me.”
She smiled in victory. Her father had always told her that she had a way with words. There was nothing Maurice could say to that. He would have to talk to her.
Maurice sighed and turned another page in his binder.
“Okay,” he said. “You may converse—”
“Thank you so much!” Vicki interrupted, jumping up in her seat. “We will first talk about what is your favorite ice cream, and then we’ll talk about your favorite TV show, and then—”
She felt the disgust flood her veins as she heard his words. She didn’t like Xavier. Why did she have to talk to him? Why couldn’t she talk to Maurice, who was so obviously boyfriend material? Didn’t he realize that she was in love with him? Sure, it was only 2:32 and they’d only just met, but that’s how the best love happened: at first sight.
Vicki sighed and folded her arms. She’d get Maurice to love her somehow. Maybe if she did super well in all of their Study Club sessions, he would realize how amazing she was and he’d fall in love with her.
She clapped her hands together and smiled. This is going to be perfect!
“You like to dance?” Xavier asked, clapping along with her. “Will you dance with me?”
“Of course not!” Vicki shouted. “And I’m not dancing. I’m clapping.”
He ignored her and yanked her out of her seat, pulling her into the most awkward and uncomfortable waltz she’d ever experienced.
“I don’t want to dance, Xavier,” she said, pushing him away. She glanced at Maurice, who didn’t seem to notice.
“I need to relate to human beings in order to study well,” he said, rehashing her own argument. “And I need to do well in this club or else my father will kill me.”
What could she possibly say to that? She didn’t believe a word of it, but she’d just used a form of that very argument to win some points with Maurice.
“Okay,” she said, “but no dancing.”
“But that’s how I relate—”
“Instead, we will converse.”
Vicki sighed. What had she gotten herself in to? How could she possibly survive a whole semester of this?
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