“Look- they’re orbs! Can you see them? Up in the sky! Look!” Faye runs ahead of the class, pointing at the sky. The students laugh.
“Don’t run ahead, Faye, stay with the class,” the teacher calls out.
Faye stops and waits. She squints at the orbs hovering and darting in the distance. Every few seconds, an orb slowly lowers to the lake surface, then shoots skyward again. Faye smiles.
“You really are stupid, you know that?” Chuck says as he passes.
Faye stands still and keeps her eyes on the orbs, slowly counting them.
“Everybody here?” the teacher calls from the shore.
“Everybody except Faye, of course,” Chuck answers. “She’s holding up the class- again.”
“Hurry up, Faye!” the teacher calls.
Faye shuffles up to the group.
“Now some people claim they’ve seen circles of light over the lake,” the teacher says. “Some say these orbs are UFOs. And there’s a PBS show on tonight that talks about UFOs. You might want to watch that.”
Fays stands outside the group and smiles.
“Everybody have a seat at the picnic tables. It’s pop quiz time.”
The class groans.
“Now come on, at least you get to be outside today. And I made this quiz super easy.”
Faye sits at a table, and the other students get up and sit at another.
The teacher passes out the quizzes. “You have ten minutes. Then it’s back on the bus.”
Faye looks down at her quiz. ‘Slavery in the Antebellum South.’ She looks out over the lake. The orbs are still there. But now there are other orbs- green and blue and silver ones. She gazes at the lake orbs . .
Maybe they’re alive . . Or maybe they’re magic . . I wonder if I could touch one. I bet if I touched one, I would-”
“Faye . . Faye . . ” the teacher says loudly.
The class snickers.
“Time’s up. Are you done?”
“Well, time’s up anyway. Okay class, let’s get on the bus!”
She hands her blank quiz to the teacher.
“Get another F, Faye?”
She weaves through the crowd of students, arms crossed over her chest and eyes on the floor. In her classroom, she takes her seat. Yesterday’s quizzes are graded and stacked on the teacher’s desk. The teacher is still smoking the teacher’s lounge- again.
“Who all here thinks Faye is dumber than a pack of gum?” Chuck calls from the back of the class.
The class laughs.
‘Dumber’ and ‘gum’ don’t rhyme.
“Dumb and ugly. She looks like she’s been chewed up and spit out.”
“I wouldn’t want her in my mouth- I think I’m gonna throw up just thinkin’ about it!”
“I’m gonna throw up just lookin’ at her!”
“Me too, I’m gonna spew . . ”
Then do it.
Gagging and retching noises, then more laughter.
Chuck gets out of his seat, walks to the teacher’s desk, and flips through the stack of quizzes. He finds Faye’s- an F. He stabs it with his pencil and lifts it up in front of the class.
“Lookie here. Another F for Faye.”
He carries the quiz with his pencil and strolls to Faye’s desk.
“Ugly Faye couldn’t even answer the questions. Couldn’t even guess. How stupid is that?”
A couple students giggle.
You’re a loser, ugly Faye, and you’ll always be a loser. You’ll never have a boyfriend, never get good grades, and never be popular.” Chuck spits on the floor. “You’ll never get picked for a team, never go to the prom, and never do anything right.”
He stares at Faye. She stares back.
“You hear me? I said you’re ugly and stupid. Ugly, ugly, ugly ugly!”
No. Didn’t hear it.
Chuck turns his back and sticks his rear over Faye’s desk.
“I’m gonna let one rip! Here I go!”
A few more students laugh. He turns back around, leans over her desk, and looks into her eyes.
“Come on- cry, ugly Faye. Cry. Let’s see those tears. Cry, ugly Faye. Do it. Cry!”
Faye stares back at Chuck, unblinking. Chucks blinks, straightens, and flips the quiz at Faye’s face. He throws his pencil in the trashcan.
“Stupid bitch. You contaminated my pencil.”
The teacher walks through the door, and Chuck returns to his seat.
“Good morning, class. How many of you watched last night’s PBS documentary about UFOs?
Faye raises her hand.
“Ah-ha. We have one curious student. And can you tell the class what UFO stands for?”
Faye smiles. “Yes. It stands for-”
“Ugly Faye’s orbs,” Chuck says from the back row.
“What was that?” the teacher asks.
“UFO stands for ugly Faye’s orbs!” Chuck shouts.
“That’s enough, Chuck. UFO stands for ‘unidentified flying object.’” He grabs the stack of quizzes on his desk. “We’ll continue today with the Antebellum South. All of you- er, almost all of you got all the questions right. Great job, class!”
Faye slips out of her house and watches the bright orbs reflect off the black water.
Beautiful Faye’s orbs.
She walks along the shore and finds a canoe. Faye paddles out and out . . After an hour she looks over her shoulder.
I’m in the middle of the lake.
She looks up. The orbs circle and swoop.
Orbs are right above me. If I stand I could touch one.
Faye stands, and the canoe wobbles. She steadies herself, and reaches up and up . .
“Look- they’re orbs! Can you see them? Up in the sky! Look!” Faye runs ahead of the class, pointing at the sky. The students cheer and run after her.
“I see them!”
“That’s right, Faye, you’re right again,” the teacher calls out.
Chuck kicks a pebble and stares at the crowd of students on the shore. His face turns red. His nails dig into his palms. Deep in his brain, a tiny orb-shaped structure pulses and bursts.