Making The Grade

[01.27.00] » by Bryan A. English


The cry could be heard from one end of the small town of Balamb to the other. It certainly reached its target. Zell Dincht sat straight up on the towel he'd been lounging on. On the beach several gulls heard the call and flew off, screaming a reply.

"Zell… I think Moma Dincht wants ya." Irvine's words conveyed the smirk that had exploded on his face.

"Shut up! Isn't it time for you to go back to Galbadia? Or to visit Selphie in Trabia? And if you say one word Squall… I'll gut you with your own sword." Zell looked miserable enough to kill his best friend too.

Squall didn't even open his eyes. He knew that Zell would be on his way home the next time his mother called, which was seconds after her first bellow. And Zell was off like a rocket… until he hit the end of the beach and he suddenly realized that was racing towards his doom. His pace slowed considerably.

"Watcha think got into Moma Dincht's skirts?" Irvine was laying on his back, enjoying the sun.

"Report card… Zell's always arrived nearly a week before the rest of ours. Negative about living down the road from the Garden. Headmaster Cid delivers it in fact. The Headmaster was a friend of Zell's grandfather and visits all the time… sucks to be him." Squall looked down at his arms. He turned onto his back, praying that he wouldn't be pink by the end of the day. He hadn't had a decent tan in years.

Back at the Dincht's…

"An F?! F?! What is wrong with you?!" Zell's mother's face was an intense beet red. She waved the sheet of grades like a live snake in Zell's face. Headmaster Cid sat quietly in the living room, wishing he'd mailed the grades instead of delivering them for once. He knew that this wasn't going to be pretty.

"Well… what the hell is wrong with you?!" Zell stood helpless before his mother. He knew that no matter what he said, it would be wrong. Lying wouldn't work, not with his mother. He simply shrugged his shoulders and grunted out an "Idunnoh."

"Its those damn comics! The Fighting King! Combat King! Whatever! You read those all the time! Whatchya do, skip class and read them?"

"No… ma…"

"Don't you 'ma' me! I'm furious! Was it being in that dang-blasted SeeD?! Rushing all over the world and what not! Not only can you get yourself killed, you're ditching your classes! And what would your grandfather think? He'd be ashamed is what he'd think!"

Zell had to fight to keep control over himself. He was devoted to SeeD, had been all his life. But his mother wouldn't care about that right now. And it was unfair for her to draw his grandfather into this.

"Mom… you know Headmaster Cid excused all of us when we were fighting Ultimecia… ask him. He's right over there." Zell pointed towards Cid, who was currently fascinated by an invisible thread on his sleeve.

"Don't you go bringing Cid into this! Why did you fail Stats? Answer me!"

Zell's mind was racing. He hit upon what might be his salvation. It was a desperate gamble, but worth a shot.

"Mom, you opened my mail. You can't do that! It's not fair to me… it's… it's a breach of my privacy!" Zell's chest swelled at what he thought was a glorious victory.

"No one ever said life was fair! Is it fair for me to have to cook and clean and sew all day?! Don't talk to me about fair! Now why the hell did you fail your class?"

Zell squirmed where he stood. He knew that it would be too dangerous to try to distract his mother again. And whatever lie he made up what be torn to shreds by his mother. He made up his mind to try the truth, at least a segment of it.

"I failed because I stopped going."

The screech from his mother was barely intelligible. "WHAT?! You stopped going? Why? What the hell kinda reasoning went into that decision?"

"Professor Brown was so boring. His lectures were the exact same thing as the readings. So I decided to just read and go to Quisitis with any questions I had. She aced the class when she took it. Figured I couldn't miss anyting important that way."

"Well, you missed something. And Quisitis hasn't been a student for years!"

"Um… I missed some quizzes that weren't in the syllabus. And I didn't get a copy of the review for the final."

His mother's rage had worn itself out. Now only a seething cold fury existed for her. She was trying to understand her son. She loved him and was trying to look at things from his view, but at the same time she wanted to strangle him.

She took a deep breath before continuing. "So, where did you go during class?"

Zell looked ashamed when he answered. "The library."

"Lotta good it did ya. Whatya do there, stare at girls?"

"No… well…"

"You ditched class so you could drool over girls?!" Her anger was reheating.

"Not to look, I talked with this one girl…" By now Zell had resigned himself to defeat, his head hung in failure. But Zell's mother had forgotten about the class.

My baby… ditching class for a girl!! I wonder what she looks like. I hope she's pretty! But Zell wouldn't go for an ugly one. No… She better treat him good. But of course she does. She's so grateful for the way Zell treats her that she… but how does he treat her? Is he mean to her? How serious are they? Have they… no… Zell is much too young. But boys… and these girls nowadays. Clothes don't stop them much.

"Zell… what's her name?"

Zell was completely shocked by this question. He was expecting 'Is she pregnant yet?'


"Is she pretty? What's she like?"

Two hours later Zell returned to his friends at the beach.

"Well, how'd it go? Doesn't look like she took off to much skin?" Squall grinned at his friend.

"Well… I'm retaking Brown's class."


"And my mom wants to meet Lily."

"Huh? You want me to bring Rinoa and help shift some of the focus?" Squall eyed Zell's reaction.

"Nah… Lily'll do just fine by herself. Mom wants to meet Rinoa though. She said next semester you'd better bring her by or no more cookies for you." -End

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