“Me llamo Señor Carrrrrl,” Sr. Carl (who else?) intoned. He had a deep voice forever tainted by New Jersey influence. “Me tengo dos perros. Me gusto rrrojo.” His black, heavy brows seemed to droop further over his deepset, dark eyes as he read the words he’d written on the whiteboard.
Turning an ever-tired, middle-aged face to the class, he sighed. “Ahorrrra, escrrrriba sus prroprrrias rrespuestas,” he over-accentuated slowly. Blank looks returned his droopy half-gaze.
He sighed again. “Take these sentences. Write your responses,” he translated. Still blank. Wil stifled a yawn, and she wasn’t the only one to do so.
Sr. C. blinked a few times. He’d been told teaching junior high was difficult, but he’d also been told his Spanish wasn’t good enough for a job at his own brother’s family business.
“Get a paper, you guys,” Sr. C. directed. “Then, write some sentences about you.” His eyes shifted to the left as he thought of another necessary direction to pass on. “In Spanish!”
His young pupils slowly began pulling out papers and pencils, squinting at his example up front as if it were foreign to them. They opened Spanish/English dictionaries, their textbooks, or spied over their more responsible friend’s shoulder at common vocabulary.
Wil rose and grabbed a student dictionary off the shelf. She picked the largest one, to double as a cover for solving her secret puzzle. Sr. C. wouldn’t bother them while they worked, but she worried about classmates spying.
Meanwhile, Sr. C. had turned his desk radio on. As usual, he tuned it from AM Sports News to the first Spanish station that came through. An excited radio advertisement rapidly babbled about some product or service no one in the room could understand. Sr. C. sat heavily in his desk chair and tiredly extracted a pile of last period’s assignments from the mess on his desk.
“Me llamo Wil,” Wil said under her breath as she wrote. She stopped to chew on the end of her pen. She couldn’t think what else to write, since her Spanish was slightly less rudimentary than the teacher’s. She glanced at the example sentences, but she owned no pets and didn’t have a favorite color.
Carefully, she slid her newest note discreetly from under the dictionary. She would fill in a clue, then write a sentence in Spanish.”Two birds with one stone,” she told herself. Then, “I wonder how they say that in Spanish?”
Shrugging, she looked at One Across. “Name of school: C-E-N-T-R-A-L.” Wil carefully penned her response.
She thumbed randomly through Spanish phrases, then wrote under the sentence about what she called herself, “Me gusto limonada.”
“Plant starter: seed.”
“No tengo un perro.”
“Tengo pelo castaño.”
An upbeat mariachi pop song played in the background as both of her assignments slowly took shape.