They called it a near miss, but I called it good.
“You almost failed it!” Jaimie screeched at me..
I shrugged. “I made it, though,” I said calmly, prying my test result from her thin fingers.
“But -- you’re so smart!” she continued.
I rolled my eyes. “Just cool it,” I commanded, waiving the test and walking towards the school exit.
She hurried to catch up to me, shuffling in her clogs. “But exams are so important; aren’t you worried?”
“About what Mom and Dad will say!” she cried, then shushed as a group of 12th graders glared haughtily at us.
12th graders. Dang-gone-it, I’d be joining them when school started back up in the fall.
“I think it’s a good thing,” I said, finally voicing my opinion.
“That they’ll yell at you?” she asked, trying to comprehend any reasoning I might have for that.
“I made it, they can’t be so mad,” I said, an edge in my voice. “Besides, this might show them I’m not such a genius.”
She stopped suddenly, her eyes going wide.
“Jack?” she whined in hushed tones.
I wished the 5th-grader would wizen up and get a clue.
“I hate Mom always bragging to people about how well I’ll do,” I explained.
“But you are smart.” She looked disappointed.
“Perhaps, but it’s embarrassing when they tell everyone.”
Rain splattered on her face, and she wiped her eyes. I finally looked at her, and noticed the down expression on her face.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, surprised.
“Well, I thought I could be like you,” she sniffled, “but now you tell me you don’t want to be smart. I don’t get it!”
I smiled a little bit and punched her shoulder lightly. “Hey, chin up, kid, you are smart. As long as you keep trying to catch up with me, I’ll be running ahead. ‘K?”
She nodded, a smile drifting onto her face. She gave me her hand, and we walked home.
I went on to graduate from college, and Jaimie wasn’t far behind. She won that race, but to this day I claim it’s because she had better shoes. They called it unfortunate, but I called it good.