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NO FEAR!Morgan Love Series Book 5
By Stephanie Perry Moore
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2011 Stephanie Perry Moore
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSerious Stuff
"Okay, everybody, it's time to have a party!" Billy stood in front of the class and yelled. Fie had watched Mrs. Hardy after she stepped out of the room. By now she was already at the other end of the hallway.
Mrs. Hardy was headed to the principal's office. You didn't have to tell my classmates twice that it was time to have a bit of fun. Trey went up to our teacher's desk and turned on the radio. Sometimes she let us listen to it after our work, but it was never set to the station Trey had on. And it was never so loud either. I had a bad feeling that we were going to get in major trouble because of all this.
Brooke jumped up and reached her hand out to me. "Come on, Morgan. Let's dance!"
I wasn't trying to be a party pooper. I just knew we were supposed to be reviewing the last couple of weeks before Christmas break. The big standard test was coming in the spring.
Yeah, Mrs. Hardy got called away to the office, which is on the other side of the floor. But who could say that we wouldn't get caught? She was known for sneaking up and catching people doing stuff they weren't supposed to be doing.
Brooke and I had just talked about being each other's friend. We had such an on-again, off-again friendship. This time we promised we were going to help each other do the right things. So I gave Brooke a look like, No, Brooke. Don't dance around the room and get in trouble like everybody else.
But Brooke was already up, and I could see it in her eyes that she was ready to have some fun. Even so, I wasn't going to fall for that this time. I just sat there, looking at her with my hands on my hips.
Finally, I grabbed my best friend by her long ponytail and said, "We are not doing this, okay?" To my surprise, she didn't even argue with me and just sat down.
After a few minutes of watching the other kids, Brooke was becoming upset. "See that, Morgan? We could've been havin' fun too. Mrs. Hardy isn't even back yet."
Alec heard what she said and called out to us, "Yeah, but the ones she catches are gonna be in trouble!"
"Come on, Alec, man. Have a little fun," Trey said, as he bobbed up and down like a jumping jack toy.
Alec didn't back down. "We're gonna have fun. Whenever she gets back, it'll be time for recess. But the way you all are actin', you'll make sure we won't have any more free time this year."
"What are you doing? Are you about to tell on us?" Trey asked Alec, as Alec gently opened the classroom door and peeked out.
"No, I'm watchin' out for Mrs. Hardy since nobody's thinkin' about that," Alec said, sounding like the grown-up one.
"Good lookin' out, Alec! Party over here," Billy sang out, waving his hand around in the air.
I was really happy that Billy wasn't sad like he'd been acting lately. He and his sister and his mom had been living with his mom's aunt, Miss May. She was my grandmother's best friend and neighbor. Of course, since I wasn't an adult, they didn't tell me everything that was going on. But I think Billy's sister had been acting out because she was tired of moving around. My mom told me that some people just don't handle changes very well.
I know for myself that moving around a lot is a big deal. I remember when my parents got divorced and I had to move with my mom to a place I didn't know anything about. Once she got remarried, I moved back in with my dad. But then he got assigned to a naval ship off the coast of Africa to serve our country. When my dad left, I was so sad. At that time I had to go to a new school and move in with my mom, my new baby brother, Jayden, and Daddy Derek.
Since then, we haven't moved around anymore. I actually enjoy living with my new family. So everything turned out to be good after all. I was hoping the same would happen for Billy's family. But for now, I was just happy to see Billy smiling.
"Here she comes! Here she comes!" Alec yelled out and ran back to his seat.
Trey didn't listen. He kept the music going and half of the class didn't even sit down. None of them knew how close she was, and they didn't listen to what Alec said. They just kept doing the wrong thing.
"What in the world?" Mrs. Hardy said, as she walked in and flicked the lights on and off. "Who turned on that music?"
Suddenly, the class was silent. I sunk down in my seat because I didn't want her to call on me. If she did, I was going to have to tell and I didn't want to. I planned to keep still and to keep my mouth shut.
"You know what? I don't even want the answer. All of you students need to understand that this is not a time for play. I know Christmas is coming and you all are excited, but we have some important work to do. So, everybody settle down and let's get started."
I was so glad that she wasn't going to punish the whole class this time. Mrs. Hardy was a very smart lady and she knew what she was doing.
"First of all," Mrs. Hardy said, "the name of the standard test is the CRCT. Can anyone tell me what CRCT stands for?"
No one answered. Then Alec raised his hand. "Mrs. Hardy, I think CRCT stands for Criterion-Referenced Compare Test. I asked my brother Antoine about it because he had to take when he was in the third grade."
"The word is not compare, Alec. It is competency, but that was very close," Mrs. Hardy said.
"That sounds so confusing. I see why they just call it the CRCT," Brooke added.
Mrs. Hardy went on to tell us more about it. "The test is very important because it's going to tell how much you know. It is organized by subject and the content is based on the standards given by the state. The main purpose is to let parents know if their child understands the material they are being taught. Furthermore, it's important that you pass the CRCT in the spring so you can go on to the fourth grade. If you do not pass the reading and math, you will have to repeat the third grade and possibly be in my class again next year. Now, how many of you want that to happen?"
No one raised their hand. I don't think any of us wanted to be in the same grade over again just because we weren't ready to take that test. Our friends would pass us by while we're still in Mrs. Hardy's class, learning the same things and doing the same things all over again. For me, I was going to do my best not to let that happen.
"I know that all of you are more than able to pass the CRCT. However, the conduct that I saw just now from some of you makes me think you won't like your test results."
The more Mrs. Hardy kept talking, the more we started feeling smaller than ants. I hadn't even done anything but I was shaking. Just the thought of not passing that test and having to repeat a grade made my hands sweat and my heart beat faster. As Mrs. Hardy said, if we had to take the test today, I knew I wouldn't do well. At the moment, I was really afraid that I wouldn't pass the third grade.
Because of all this, I didn't think we should have recess. But Mrs. Hardy asked us why she should care to give us extra work since we didn't seem to care about passing the CRCT. I wanted to stay in my seat and ask her to teach us, please! But she made us line up to go outside and play. And off we went.
During recess, Trey came over to Brooke and me. "What's wrong with you, Morgan? Why are you lookin' at me like you're mad?"
"Mrs. Hardy said we need to make this time count for something and now she doesn't even wanna teach us because she thinks y'all were playin' too much."
Alec walked over bouncing a basketball. Trey said to him, "Alec, tell her we have plenty of time to get this. If we let ourselves worry too much, then we'll all be too scared to do a good job."
"Yeah, that's true. We can't take it too serious, but we do need to take it serious enough so we have the skills to pass," Alec replied. Then he took a shot at the net, making it with a swoosh sound.
"And what are you worried about anyway?" Trey asked me. "You're gonna do better than any of us."
Alec started coughing. "I guess I see a contest comin' on."
"He's probably gonna do way better than me. I'm scared."
"You're scared, Morgan? Then I should be scared." I could tell Trey was starting to think about it all.
"What? You really don't think we're gonna pass?" asked Billy. "My sister said part of it was pretty hard ... but we still have some time before we take it. Right?"
"Well, I'm just worried about repeating a grade, okay?" I said to my friends before walking off the playground. I was pretty much in tears.
* * *
"Derek, you're going to have to tell the church that you can't be there this time. You know that I have a house to show and you said you would be here this time when Morgan comes home. Can't you reschedule?" my mom asked, looking unhappy.
"But, honey," Daddy Derek said, "we agreed that my job takes precedence. Someone else in your office can show those clients around."
Mom stopped chewing and let her fork hit the table. She was pretty upset, but Daddy Derek wasn't about to give up. The two of them kept talking about it, with both of them giving their points of view. I don't know if they had forgotten that I was sitting at the dinner table or not. I was just feeling so lost. I heard what they were saying, but I didn't care and I wasn't really taking it all in anyway.
I had a standard test to get ready for. I needed to study for it because I could not fail. The whole idea was really scaring me. Because Mrs. Hardy kept telling us how important the results would be, nothing else was on my mind. Not even eating my favorite meal that was right before me. How could I not enjoy this large plate of spaghetti and juicy meatballs?
Today had just been hard. I didn't even want to play with my friends at recess. And, by no fault of my own, now I was listening to adults talk. I don't know why they were acting like I wasn't sitting right there.
"Can I be excused?" I finally said, after just playing around with my spaghetti.
Both of my parents looked at my plate and then looked at me. Mom said, "Morgan, you didn't even touch your food besides moving it from one side to the other. What's going on?"
"We're not angry with each other, if that's what you think, Morgan," said Daddy Derek.
I didn't want them to worry about me. They had their own problems. My mom had just started her new job. Although Daddy Derek thought he wanted her to work, it had been causing problems ever since. I certainly didn't want to throw my anxiety over the test in the mix.
"I just have some homework I need to look over. And I'm not that hungry."
"Morgan, please eat a little more, okay?" Mom requested.
Then Daddy Derek said, "Honey, why don't you just call your parents and have them sit over here until Morgan gets home?"
"Because they have something to do tomorrow and you said you were going to be here. I really have a problem with that."
"I can be here by myself," I said, surprised that those words just came out of my mouth.
"That's not a bad idea. At her age, she should be able to stay home by herself after school for a while. We should try it."
Mom just shook her head. She wasn't even trying to think about it. I guess I didn't like the fact that my mom still looked at me like her baby.
I spoke up, "Mom, I can do it. I'll be okay."
"I'll be home an hour and a half after she gets here. I just can't be here right away," Daddy Derek said. "If she's willing to try it and nothing is wrong with it, I think we should let her."
"Morgan, I have to tell you to eat all of your food. You're not ready to be here by yourself yet. It's not that I don't think you're a big girl, sweetheart. I just don't think it's time for you to be home alone right now."
I stood up from my chair and yelled, "That's so unfair!"
"Morgan, sit back down. You need to check your attitude, young lady."
She didn't have to tell me twice because I already knew that having an A + attitude was way better than having a rude one. It's just that sometimes when you don't get your way, it's hard to hold back your feelings.
"Mom, I'm sorry you think I have the wrong attitude, but I'm tryin' to grow up and you won't let me. I don't want anything else to eat, so can I please be excused? Please?"
"Go ahead, Morgan. I'll be there in a little while to talk to you."
Walking to my room, I prayed, Lord, please help me keep my feelings in check. Mom and Daddy Derek are the parents and they know what's best for me. It's just that I get told no when I really wanna do something. Help me to understand that when I don't get my way it's okay. And help me not to be so afraid. In Jesus' name. Amen.
I finished praying and put on my nightclothes for bed. Just then I watched my door slowly open and Mom creep in. I might as well be ready for the major letdown of not staying home by myself. So I was just waiting for her to tell me who my sitter was going to be for that time.
"Morgan, may I have a hug?" she whispered.
I had no problem giving her one. I had just prayed and asked God to help me not to be angry with her.
"You're growing up on me, sweetheart. I'll call as soon as you get off the bus. And Derek said he'll be here not too long after you get home."
"Oh, my goodness, Mom! You mean you're gonna let me?"
"Now, I need you to understand that this is a big deal, Morgan. I want you to lock the doors behind you right away. And you need to turn on the alarm as soon as you get in. The only thing I want you to make is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I don't want you cooking anything."
"I know, Mom. I know."
"Okay, then the answer is yes."
"Thank you, Mom!"
"Just don't make me sorry about it, Morgan."
"Yes, ma'am, I won't," I said in a serious tone, as I gave her a big kiss on the cheek.
* * *
"What's up, Morgan? You're night and day from the way you were yesterday," Brooke said to me when I walked into the classroom with my head held high and a smile plastered on my face.
"That's because I'm not a little kid anymore," I said.
Billy jumped in, "Well, the last time I checked, you were in third grade just like the rest of us."
"See, it's like this. Kids need someone to pick them up from the bus stop. Kids have to have someone with them when they get home from school. Some kids have to wait after school for their parents to pick them up, but big kids—like me—get to stay home alone," I said with pride.
Trey started laughing. "What! You're gonna stay home alone? Miss Chicken?"
Excerpted from NO FEAR! by Stephanie Perry Moore Copyright © 2011 by Stephanie Perry Moore. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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