Cut Class, Not Asteroida

The room smelled of dead things. The odor of formaldehyde that Mr. Henson had warned them about and a hint of rotten sea-something irritated Michaela’s nose. Thirty preserved starfish were organized on trays by Mr. Henson’s desk.

Michaela sat on her stool, kicked her backpack under her feet, and chewed nervously on the end of her braid. She pulled her hair away, frowning as she realized that most of her mango-vanilla lip gloss had rubbed off. The bell rang. She wouldn’t have time to reapply, but it didn’t matter. Anything that smelled like food would be a bad idea.

Michaela looked at the empty seat next to her and then desperately around the room. She had bigger problems than if her lips looked irresistibly kissable. Her lab partner was M.I.A.

She couldn’t do the dissection alone. In fact, she hadn’t planned on doing it at all. Her older sister had suggested she make her partner do all the gross stuff by acting squeamish. Plus Michaela had every intention of spending her time staring at her lab partner’s adorable forehead crease as he focused, and telepathically sending his lips kissing messages.

Mr. Henson had just started talking about the dissection supplies when there was a commotion at the back of the room. He placed his hands on his hips and everyone else turned their heads.

Dustin Pierce walked into the room. Michaela sighed in relief.

“You’re late. You’re down two points for today’s lab. Please take your seat so we can get started.” Mr. Henson pointed to Michaela’s desk.

Dustin walked down the rows of desks, handing flyers to his classmates. His shirt had a hand-painted starfish and read “Cut class, not Asteroida.” Michaela wondered if he tie-dyed the shirt himself.

“Dissection is an archaic practice. We can learn what we need from computer programs, simulations, and models.” Dustin’s voice started so low, she could barely hear him, but his voice grew loud as he spoke.

“Mr. Pierce, shut up and sit down.”

Michaela stared wide-eyed, looking back and forth between Dustin and Mr. Henson, who was clenching his fists.

“These starfish were left to suffocate slowly…”

“You have two seconds to decide if you are going to participate quietly or if you will be spending the rest of the class in detention with an F.”

Dustin reached Michaela and handed her a flyer, his hand brushing hers. Michaela tried to make sense of the tingling sensation. Dustin lingered, meeting Michaela’s eyes, then turned around to shout, “Classroom dissection desensitizes students to the sanctity of life.” He threw his remaining flyers into the air.

Mr. Henson’s voice was iron. “To the principal NOW. Don’t make me call security.”

Michaela watched Dustin walk towards the exit. He turned, giving the room the most brilliant smile she had ever seen and walked out.

Mr. Henson reached for his phone and spoke in a low firm voice.

Michaela didn’t stop to think. She grabbed the flyer, her backpack, and followed Dustin out the door.

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Wordage: starfish, tie-dye
Genre: YA (Young Adult)
Wordcount: 500


  1. Excellent. I love how you were able to get so much in such a short snippet.

    The ending was good. Brought to mind when we dissected frogs in high school. My lab partner, a girl, and I decided we would rather just get an F than touch the poor thing. Would do the same today. :)


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