Sunday, January 4, 2015

#73 Magical Aptitude and Interest Survey

Plop! The stack of papers slapped down on top of the spell diagram I was sketching on the back of yesterday’s homework. “Magical Aptitude and Interest Survey” It said. “Is a magical profession right for you? Find out by answering these 50 questions.”

I scowled down at the paper. Like I needed a survey to tell me something I already knew. My economics teacher moved through the room, cheerfully explaining the instructions as she put a packet on everyone’s desk. I was only half paying attention, my mind still on that spell I was trying to work out. I glanced at the first question.

  1. Is it difficult for you to stay up all night?

I smirked and circled “Never”

Are you afraid of snakes. Never. Do you prefer cooking in a cauldron over an open fire to baking in an oven. Always.

This might be kind of amusing. I worked my way through the questions. Can you sometimes tell what other people are thinking. Are your preminitions about the future turn out to be correct? Do inanimate objects talk to you? Can you see things that no one else can see?

I finished the survey and followed the instructions for calculating my score, wrote it in the correct box on the back page, and then went back to diagramming my spell. I erased one of the pentagrams and moved it closer to the center of the pattern, then added a circle of power. It was just about right, but it was still missing something. Maybe some vortices.

While I pondered on that, I noticed the teacher up at the front of the room doing something at the whiteboard. There were three students’ names written up there, and numbers beside them. Oh, she’d been asking the class for the top scores. The highest score up there was Jared Bingham, that boy who had a crush on me, tiresome kid. That was a little surprising. I checked my score again, I had completely forgotten the number. Twenty points higher than his. I shrugged.

“If you scored well on this survey,” the economics teacher said, “You might want to consider pursuing a magical profession.”

Garbage, I thought. Baloney. I raised my hand.

“Grace?” the teacher called on me.

“Well, I was just thinking, this survey isn’t really all that valid.”

There was dead silence in the room.

Thinking they didn’t understand me, I went on. “I mean, the questions were obviously kind of slanted. You could tell what you should answer if you wanted to seem magical, so if you think of yourself as a magical kind of person, you’d get a better score, whether you were or not.”

The teacher was looking at me as if I’d just turned into a toad. Or maybe a snake. She didn’t seem to know what to say. “Well, you’re right, but I would hope that people would answer the questions honestly.”

And then I realized it. I knew why everyone looked so awkward. They didn’t know I’d scored the top score in the class. They thought I was complaining about the survey because I had been beaten by Jared Bingham, Sun Won Lee, and Coral Bates on a magical aptitude test, when everyone in the school knew me as the girl who was always showing off her latest spells. I’d been so busy working on one of those spells, I’d neglected to share my score with everyone, and now it was way too late. I couldn’t tell them now. That would look even worse.

My face felt hot. I wanted to disappear. No one would ever believe a word I said, ever again.

I never could remember exactly what happened after that, but I think I did disappear. At any rate, the teachers in my next two classes marked me absent, even though I was in the room both times, I swear. I tried and tried afterwards to figure out how to go invisible like that without being royally embarrassed first, but I never could manage it.

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