The way Mr. Mack cleared his throat gave me the feeling that it wasn’t the first time he’d tried to get my attention. Oops. I glanced at the desks around me and realized I wasn’t even on the right page. Figures.
Carter Johnson leaned over to see what had kept me so busy. He sneered at my half-finished sketch. "Dweeb," he muttered.
I slid down my chair, wondering for the zillionth time how such a big meathead could be in the same grade as me. Then I flipped my notebook shut and looked up.
Mr. Mack sighed and repeated the question. I squeaked out an answer that was apparently not awful because the Mackman nodded and turned to the next victim, I mean student.
I ignored my notebook for the rest of class, and did my best approximation of paying attention. When the bell rang, I shot out of there. I should have headed to the cafeteria before the lunch line got insane, but nature called. I ducked into the bathroom.
"Get me out of here," someone squeaked.
I checked the stalls. For once, the bathroom was empty. Where had the voice come from? Probably the pipes, I figured, and went about my business. I was drying my hands when I heard it again.
"Come on already! It’s getting hot in here."
That’s when my backpack started shaking. I unzipped my bag and poked through books, gym shorts and – oops – a forgotten note to my parents. My notebook dropped to the floor.
"A talking notebook?" Was I going crazy?
"No, dummy. Look inside!"
I flipped through the pages.
My latest doodle gasped. "Fresh air, finally!" He yanked his fingers through his hair, spiking it more than it had been. Then he looked to me. "Well?"
"Well, what?" I couldn’t believe I was talking to a drawing.
"Are you going to finish me or what?"
"Finish me!" It was not a request.
I fished a pencil out of my bag and gave my doodle baggy jeans and sneakers. For kicks, I added a skateboard.
"Nice wheels," he said. "Now if we could do something about food. I haven’t eaten since, well, ever."
My own stomach grumbled, but I ignored it. Instead I drew him a triangle with circles inside.
"What’s this supposed to be?" he said, scrunching his nose. "Swiss cheese?"
"No," I sighed. "Pepperoni pizza."
My doodle shrugged, and popped the food into his mouth. It disappeared from the page.
Next, I drew a plate piled high with squiggles. "Spaghetti," I explained.
Down the hatch it went. He burped. "Delicious. Now, about that kid in your class with the bad attitude."
"You mean Carter Johnson?"
"Yeah, him. I’ve got some words for that guy." My doodle crossed his arms. "Nobody calls me a dweeb and gets away with it."
"He was talking to me, not you."
I could have sworn my doodle turned red. "Nobody calls my maker a dweeb, either."
"You just called me a dummy," I pointed out.
"That’s different," he huffed. "Don’t worry. I’ll take care of this."
Before I could say anything, he pushed off on his skateboard, leaving a hole on the page. Then he slid through the crack under the door.
I ran out of the bathroom just in time to see him turn the
corner. "Stop! You’re just a piece of paper!"
My doodle didn’t turn back.