Flash Fiction – To Fake or Not to Fake

“You should fake sick,” Terry suggested to Leanne. “If you get sent home, you don’t have to worry about forgetting it at home.”

“You can’t fake a fever,” Leanne protested. “It’s not like at home where you have lamps to heat a thermometer. The nurse stands there and watches you.”

“Then fake really bad cramps. They like to leave that puberty stuff up to parents to deal with.” Terry was studying for a quiz in algebra that she had forgotten about until Leanne had mentioned borrowing her calculator earlier. Better than studying, she was programming the necessary equations into her new TI-89. Leanne was too focused on her own problem to tell her that it had ended up being one of those quizzes where only ten dollar scientific calculators were allowed.

It was lunch period and there were only ninety minutes before Leanne was supposed to pass in the two-page paper that was sitting on top of the printer at home.

“She’ll just give me Tylenol and have me lay down for a little while. I need to not be here at all.”

Terry rolled her eyes, frustrated with Leanne’s excuses. “Quit complaining about it and either decide to fake sick and commit or bite the bullet and turn your paper in late. Don’t you have one of those late passes? Just use that.”

“I was hoping to save that for the end of the year.”

The bell rang and the girls parted, Terry to deal with the frustrations of having her calculator taken away and Leanne to wrestle with her conscience through history.

Leanne watched the clock, counting down the time left of class and how suspicious it would seem if she suddenly showed up at the nurse claiming illness. With four minutes left, she sighed and admitted to herself that she couldn’t bring herself to act. She would suck it up and take the consequences of her forgetfulness.

Leanne needn’t have worried. The Universe spoiled her that afternoon. She wasn’t the only unprepared student in her English class and Mr. Dalton gave them all an extension in exasperation. Relief flooded through her veins and carried her spirits on the bus ride home and through the kitchen door.

Her mother was waiting in the kitchen going through the mail.

“Mom,” Leanne said in surprise. “What are you doing home?”

“Your brother got sent home early. He had a stomach ache and a fever.” She looked up from a credit card bill. “How are you feeling, sweetie? You look a little flushed.”

The thermometer confirmed what the back of her mother’s hand suspected: Leanne was feverish.

“You’re kidding!” Terry laughed over the phone when Leanne called her from a mom-imposed quarantine.

“She won’t allow me out until I’m symptom free. Could you pick up my paper and pass it in to Mr. Dalton for me tomorrow?”

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