Time had never moved so slowly. It had been eight minutes since class was fifteen minutes from being over. Seven minutes left before free period and his interview with Karen.
His teacher was giving a passionate lecture on the Constitution and the men who wrote it. Usually this would be the sort of thing Teddy would be all over, but today, he was just as bored as everyone else. Six minutes left and then he heard something. Teddy looked up and Mr. Bunts was starring at him.
“Mr. Alexander, did you hear the question?”
“Sorry, yes, there were 39 signatories of the Constitution, plus William Jackson, who was the secretary and signed to authenticate the results.”
“That is correct. I’m pleased that someone has read the chapter.”
Teddy hadn’t read the chapter, but had read a book about the Constitution for a book report in sixth grade.
Mr. Bunts asked, “This wasn’t covered in the chapter, but does anyone know how many delegates there were to the Constitutional Convention.”
Four minutes left and it seemed like time might actually stop. Nobody raised their hand. Teddy didn’t want to answer, he just wanted to go to the library. Mr. Bunts turned to Teddy, with an expectant look on his face. “There were 55 delegates. I’ve always wondered why 16 of them didn’t want to sign.”
It was a perfect answer, because Mr. Bunts had a lot to say on the subject. He started off and midway through what, on any other day, might have been an interesting story, the bell rang.
Teddy was the first one out of the door. He made his way down the hall, up the stairs, and into the library. Karen wasn’t there yet, which made sense as he doubted she was in as much a hurry. Try to be cool, he thought.
Karen came through the doors and with a little wave, said, “Mr. Alexander, thanks for coming,” and then she giggled. “I’m sorry, I thought I’d try to sound like a professional journalist. It doesn’t quite work when the interview is with your locker buddy.”
“I’ve never been interviewed before, but it sounded professional to me.”
“Thanks,” she said, beaming. “Let’s go in the back, where it we won’t be bothered.”
Teddy made an “after you” hand gesture he’d seen on TV. He was ready for the nervousness to end.
Karen headed through the stacks and Teddy followed. Her pleated skirt swished and his mind, which seemed to be not working at all, wondered how long it would take to iron. Karen set her books down on the table in the corner by the window.
Teddy took a seat.
Karen opened her binder and flipped to a red tab, clicked her pen, and said, “Okay, first question, ‘You’re quite a bit younger than most of your classmates, can you tell us how you got to eleventh grade so quickly?’.”
Teddy hadn’t known what sort of questions she would ask and this one, though reasonable, wasn’t what he expected. “When I was in first grade the principal thought I cold handle something more challenging, so he moved me into the third grade. I guess I really like learning, because I thought it was fun to get harder homework. The teacher after that kept giving me harder stuff. Eventually, I skipped another grade and then I went from eighth to tenth grade when I took some summer courses.”
Karen wrote really fast. Teddy waited for her to catch up and ask the next question. When she finished Karen said, “That is really awesome. I don’t know too many kids who like their classes to be harder.”
“What is your favorite class?”
“Creative writing. I took it last year.”
“Is that what you want to do, be a writer or a journalist?”
“Yes! I would love to write a novel or maybe work for the New York Times.”
“Do you write stories and stuff outside of class?”
“All the time. I have a journal that I write in everyday and a notebook where I write short stories.”
“That is cool. That is sort of the way I feel about learning everything. Even when I’m not in school I want to learn more.”
“Do you keep a journal?”
“I do, but it’s extra dorky,” Teddy said, not even noticing that his nerves had calmed down. He was having a conversation with Karen and it wasn’t scary at all.
She laughed and said, “What do you mean?”
“When I was little my dad would give me math problems every night. I kept them in a notebook. You write short stories and I do math. Math is pretty dorky.”
“I don’t think it’s dorky at all.”
“Thanks, what are your stories about.”
“Well, I wrote this one about a girl on a boat in the Mediterranean, and…hey, who’s interviewing who, here?”
Teddy was intoxicated by her. “I think you’re way more interesting than me.”
“Nobody knows me, but you are buddies with a Nobel Prize winner, I think you are much more interesting, which brings me to my next question. ‘How did you meet Wolfgang Ketterle?”
Teddy didn’t want to mention Seth’s hacking so he said, “We just ran into him at Starbucks. I recognized him from pictures I’d seen online when he was interviewed after winning. Vikram and I asked if we could have his autograph.”
“Did he give it to you?”
“What happened next?”
“It was weird, I told him about my friend in New York, Mr. Ternov, and it turns out he knows him. I thought it was cool, but it turns out my Mr. Ternov has told him about me.”
Karen was getting all down. She asked for more details and Teddy did his best. When the bell finally rang, Karen hadn’t gotten to even half of her questions. As she packed up, she asked, “Maybe we could continue on line, later? I could IM you after dinner, if you don’t mind.”
“Sure, that would be great.”
As Teddy made his way to his next class, he didn’t even notice Wendy as he walked past her locker.