Short Stories » Studying with the Enemy
Studying with the Enemy - Short story by Maddalena Moccetti
Cody is the most annoying kid ever. He always talks loud during school, makes stupid comments about everyone and he even stole my sandwich once. Sometimes I just wish I had a rubber powerful enough to erase him. That’s why, when today Miss Ellis – the teacher – paired me up with him for the new research project, I felt like screaming. I didn’t, of course, but I wanted to.
“Miss Ellis,” said that rascal, with a smirk on his face, “how am I supposed to work with someone who can’t even read?” The class laughed. I sighed. There’s nothing you can do; he’s just not going to change.
So here I am, condemned to do a geography research about Switzerland with my worst enemy.
“Emily, the door!” shouts mom from upstairs. I don’t want to waste my Sunday afternoon with him, but I have no choice. My atlas is open on the kitchen table, along with a few other books about Europe, and mom gave me her tablet so we can look for further information. The cookies my sister did this morning are on a plate next to a pitcher of mint syrup. I don’t want to open the door, but the sooner I start, the sooner everything will be over.
“Welcome Cody. Did you bring papers and colored pencils?” I know I sound obnoxious, but I can’t just pretend that I like him if I don’t.
“Of course, I’m not an idiot.”
“Great. Come on in.” Please go away.
Cody enters in my house and starts looking everywhere.
“That’s quite a cool house. Wait, ha, is that you?” he asks, pointing at an unflattering picture of me when I was four, in a particularly unfortunate moment when I only had a couple of teeth.
“It’s my sister”, I hate telling lies, but…
“I heard you! Hi Cody, I’m Roxanne and the toothless girl is definitely Emily.” Great, why don’t you just go back to your room painting your nails or something?
“Haha, I knew it! Don’t feel too embarrassed though, you’re not that different now.” They both laugh. Am I the only one not being amused?
“I think we should start working.”
“Right, Switzerland is waiting for us, and everyone knows that Swiss people are always on time and hate waiting.”
“That’s called a stereotype, Cody, and here’s the reason why we’re doing this research: to know more about European countries, free from stereotypes and prejudices.”
“Chill out, Em, I was just kidding.” Chill out? Em? This is going to be a long afternoon.
“Do you want a cookie? No poison inside, I promise.”
“Cool, I’d love one, thanks. So, where are we starting from?” Cody sits down and browse through the books, munching. He looks calm and polite, for once. So, is he a decent person, after all? I’m surprised.
“This chapter could be a good idea to get started,” I say.
“Yeah. You’re going to read aloud while I’ll write down the most important things, ok?”
Deal. We work together for an hour and a half. We read, learn, discuss. Switzerland is cooler than we expected, so it’s actually fun writing a presentation about it. And Cody – I’d rather eat alive ants than admitting it – is nice. Really nice. He writes down everything I say, and tells his opinion about it, but never in a cocky way.
“You know what?” he says, after having finished all of the cookies. “These are delicious, and you’re not as bad as in school, I got to say.”
“What, do you think that I am the one who’s annoying in class? But you’re the one always teasing me! And everyone else, actually.”
“Me…teasing you? Come on! I just like making jokes. It’s not my fault you lack of sense of humor.”
“You stole my sandwich.”
“It was so tasty! Did your sister make it?”
“So you’re not even sorry about it?” I look in his eyes, fierce. He doesn’t back down. We both stay serious for a while. Then his smirk turns into a smile. A lovely smile. Wait, did I just say lovely talking about Cody? The most annoying kid that ever walked on earth? What’s going on?
“Well, I should go back home, now. See you tomorrow, toothless girl. Don’t forget to bring the presentation’s papers. And a snack for me, a sandwich maybe. See you.” See you tomorrow, annoying kid.