The reading assignment, given the day before by our Senior English teacher, was Milton's Paradise Lost. I don't remember if it was a condensed version, or perhaps one of the twelve books, or even the whole thing. I wouldn't put the whole thing past Ms. J. She was known for being a hard-nose teacher. And she seemed a little angry, too.
"Put your books away and take out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil," she said, just after the bell rang.
Most of the class gasped, knowing what was coming. Ms. J. passed out the quiz. No talking or looking around would be tolerated. We knew that from previous tests. While we quietly answered multiple choice questions, she step out of the class for a few minutes. Still, not a word was spoken. We knew better.
I thought it was odd, having not read the poem at all, that the questions seemed to have a Biblical theme. Being the Holy Roller of the school, I recognized much of the material. But I had no idea what the answers were. So, I answered as if the questions were based on the Bible, not on this fictitious poem.
"Alright. Pass your papers forward." Then she collected them all.
Everybody moaned. We knew this was going to be bad.
The next day, Ms. J. handed out our graded papers. Out of the students sitting around me, I was the only one with a passing grade. In fact, my score was quite high. But she was still in a bad mood.
"Somebody cheated," she said. "I know who it is, but I am not going to say his name. It just seems like if a person is going to go around this school preaching at the rest of us, at least he would be honest on a test. When I stepped out of the room yesterday, this student obviously opened his book and got the answers."
As she carried on, I knew she was talking about me. How could she say these things? She described me to a tee. I knew it, and everyone else in the room knew it, too.
WWJD bracelets then. So I didn't know what to do.
When class was dismissed, I waited till all the other students left. Then I approached her desk where she kept her nose buried in some papers.
"What do you want?" she said tersely.
"I didn't cheat on that test."
"I didn't say you did."
"Yes, ma'am. You did. Even though you didn't say my name, you described me. Everybody knew who you meant." I continued, "I admit I didn't read the assignment. I don't know anything about Paradise Lost. But I know my Bible, and that's how I answered the questions - as if it were a Sunday School test. I didn't open any books when you were out of the room. You shouldn't make false accusations."
She had nothing else to say. Neither did I.
Then I will have an answer for everyone who insults me for trusting your word.
That's day #14 of 40 Days.