Towards the end of the lecture, I’d grown bored of drawing. The light blue lined paper that was my notebook was black with ink, scratched on in random doodles and patterns. My leaky pen tapped the corner of the page in a rhythm-less tune as Professor Gergins droned on and on. Despite this being the first class of the semester, he’d confidently insisted that we were ready to begin learning the conjugations of verbs.
“…And so, if you wish to conjugate, you must first relate the subjects with the verb endings in your mind.” Professor Gergins’ annoying giggle echoed around the room as he laughed at his version of a joke and I groaned at the cheesy wordplay. If only I didn’t have to take a language, if only Everground University didn’t have this stupid requirement…I’d have to work really hard if I wanted to have any hope of passing my freshman year.
After a minute of quiet- that is, excusing a cough from the front of the classroom and the low ‘you suck’ that someone shouted from the back of the room- Professor Gergins straightened his tie so that coffee stain on his shirt was hidden better and frowned at all of us. “Before I dismiss class, I have one question.” The overwhelming responses of moans were not surprising to me at all.
“Who can conjugate the verb soffrire for me?” The Italian word for suffer; how fitting of such an idiotic teacher- or as he sternly reminded the class when someone had accidentally called him ‘mister’, professor. I didn’t see any difference between this man and the two other language teachers I’d had in high school besides the placement of their jobs.
The fifty other kids in the room sat in complete silence; the only sounds being the intense clicking of keys as Nova and the other overachievers frantically tried to find the notes they’d taken on their fancy computers before anyone else managed to beat them. If my own computer, with its speech to text program, wasn’t broken again, I’d have been able to find the notes as well…if I hadn’t been browsing the Internet all class; there was a strong possibility that I would have been procrastinating.
“Yes?” asked Professor Gergins suddenly. Someone had been quick and he must not have expected that, because the only thing I heard in his voice was complete surprise. I flipped to a fresh page in my notebook and began to start the doodling process all over again. The clicking sounds around me stopped as everyone listened to what the person had to say.
“Soffrire. The English translation is ‘to suffer’. Present conjugation: io soffro, tu soffri, lui soffre, noi soffriamo, voi soffrite, loro soffrono.” Whoever this mystery student was really knew their information. I should consider hiring them as a tutor so I didn’t flunk out of the class immediately.
There was something strange about the mystery student’s voice. It was odd. That voice…
That sounded a hell of a lot like my voice.