A Winter Night's Dream

A Winter Night's Dream

by Andrew Matthews, Julie Gonzalez


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385730976
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/13/2004
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Andrew Matthews lives in Reading, England, with his wife, Sheena, and their cats. After a career as a high school English teacher, he became a full-time writer in 1994. Since then he has written more than 50 books.

Read an Excerpt

A Winter Night's Dream

Act I Scene I: Casey

When I found out Mr. Hart was going to teach me freshman English I was really pleased. He had this reputation for being really wacky, but he was a strict marker as well, so it was practically impossible to get A's from him. I'd seen him around school in his corduroy jacket and trousers, looking a bit like a creased teddy bear, and he'd taken a few assemblies that I actually listened to because they were funny, so I felt like I knew him.

But I started to have doubts when I was talking to Jonathan and Toby, who'd had Mr. Hart in seventh grade. I told them about how great I thought it was, having him for my teacher, and Jonathan shook his head. "I don't think you'll get on with him. He calls girls love and darling."

"Yeah," said Toby, "but he calls the boys love and darling as well."

So when I went into my first lesson with Mr. Hart, I got ready to meet a megaweird sexist perv.

We didn't get off to a brilliant start. Mr. Hart read out the class list and when he got to me he said, "Karen Celia Freeman?"

I said, "Casey."

Mr. Hart looked at me over the top of his glasses. "Sorry?" he said.

I said, "I'm called Casey. It's my initials--K.C. I don't like Karen or Celia. I don't answer to those names."

It came out sharper than I'd meant it to and I saw Mr. Hart wince, like he had me down as someone with attitude because I hadn't called him sir. There was this silence because the whole group was waiting to see what he was going to do about it.

"Celia . . . ," said Mr. Hart. "I once had a girlfriend called Celia. She used to say, 'Jolly dee!"'

The rest of thekids laughed, but I didn't. I thought Mr. Hart was putting me down, like all the other grown-ups in my life.

Being, in the advanced class wasn't as good as I'd expected either. I mean, it was good in a way because if you said something intelligent you didn't get groans from the thickos at the back of the class, but it was harder to get top grades--and that meant pressure from Dad.

The main problem was Spanish. At the end of eighth grade, it seemed like a really good idea to opt for Spanish as a second language, but when it came to Spanish in ninth grade, I got lumbered with Mrs. Pereira. She was one of those teachers who can't keep control but carry on like there's nothing wrong. Kids would talk and mess around in her classes and she didn't do anything to stop them. She just chattered away at the front like everybody was paying attention. So, when report cards came along at the end of the Christmas term, I got a D in Spanish. I couldn't believe it. Id never got lower than a C in my life. Mrs. Pereira's comment was "If Karen were to apply herself more to this subject, her grade would improve." I wanted to scribble on the bottom, "And if you applied yourself more to teaching, all our grades would improve." I didn't, because I knew I was going to get enough hassle as it was.

I don't want to make out like Dad was going to freak or anything, that's not his style. Dad goes in for the quietly-but-deeply-disappointed approach. When he got my report he flicked through it, going, "B, hey, that's all right!" Then he got to the D, and his mouth went all small and tight like a cat's bum. "So what's the problem with Spanish?" he said.

I said, "Mrs. Pereira's a rubbish teacher."

"If she was a rubbish teacher, she wouldn't have the advanced class, would she?" said Dad.

"She can't control us!"

"She shouldn't have to control you; you should be behaving yourself."

"I am!"

"Then how come you only got a D?"

He didn't go on and on at me. He just started talking about spending more time at work so I could have a private tutor. That made me feel like I'd let him and Mum down. The worst thing about that was, I knew Dad wasn't trying to make me feel guilty--I was doing it on my own.

That was typically Dad. When I was little he used to take me to the adventure playground. There was this big climbing frame that was meant for older kids, but I used to go on it. I'd climb a lot higher than I really wanted to, until it was actually scary. I'd glance down and Dad would be watching me with his Dad face on--like he was afraid for me but he was holding back from doing anything about it. I had to find out for myself that sometimes what I thought was a good idea was actually a big mistake. It's the best way to learn things, but it's also really, really hard.

My brother, Al, was his usual sympathetic self. I mean, whole seconds went by without him mentioning my bad grade. He was loving it that his big sis was in the doghouse and he didn't let me forget it. That night he had loads of chances, because practically every telly program had something about Spain or Spanish on it.

Come next morning, I wasn't feeling too brilliant about myself, especially since I got to school late for homeroom. Also, I'd lost the button off the left epaulet of my coat. The strap kept flopping and it was really irritating. On my way across the schoolyard, I met Mr. Hart coming the other way. He grinned at me and said, "Casey! How you doing?"

I said, "Crap!"

I got three paces past him before . . . Oh, my G-a-a-d! I just said "crap" to a teacher! I was sure Mr. Hart was going to report me to the principal, but it didn't happen. All day I kept to myself. I put up a CLOSED sign on my forehead and Rottweilered anyone who came near me-except Helen, but then Helen was a good enough mate to know when to leave me alone.

The weather didn't do much to improve things. The sky was gray, the ground was damp and the air felt like a slug crawling over my skin. I kept on remembering the rocky patch Mum and Dad had gone through when Dad was working so much we hardly saw him. He'd really tried to make it better-not going to so many

conferences and leaving work earlier. Now he was going to start coming home late again so I could have a private tutor. That would means rows again, and the awful silences when Mum and Dad weren't talking--and it would be my fault.

By the time last lesson came--English--I felt like the pits. I didn't register much of the lesson, but every time someone laughed, I thought they were laughing about me. I went into this dark fantasy about me, Mum and Dad in the principal's office, and the principal saying, "I'm afraid her work really isn't up to scratch. I think she should be transferred to a less demanding section."

I don't know when I started crying. I heard this tapping noise, and when I looked down, I saw tears dropping onto my poetry book. When the bell went I didn't get out of my chair. I buried my face in a tissue like I was blowing my nose.

Helen said, "You coming?"

"In a minute. I'll catch you up."

When the last kid left the room I sighed with relief, because I was alone.

Only I wasn't. Mr. Hart was still there. He said, "Casey?"

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