Hop to It
“It’ll only take a second,” Mr. Anderson assures me, but I know it’s a lie. I can smell the alcohol on his breath from his daily bowl of spiked Fruit Loops. How is he still teaching?
“I’m telling you, I can’t do it. It’s wrong,” I insist. He smirks and continues shoveling large spoonfuls of cereal into his mouth.
“If you want the grade, Miss Roberts, you will do it. Weren’t you just telling Miss Maloney you’d kill to pass this class?” he smiles weakly then shrugs his shoulders and walks back into “the liquor store” as the students call it. It’s just a shabby closet, but every time Mr. Anderson goes in, he comes back out with a full bowl of cereal reeking of vodka.
“Alright class follow me,” Mr. Anderson calls, his hands gripping his fresh bowl.
I clench by teeth and grab a bucket off one of the tables. The muggy air smacks me in the face as I step out the back door and begin trudging up Pioneer Hill. I can see the indentation near the top. The ribbets and croaks grow louder as I get closer, making my stomach writhe. I finally get to the top of the hill and join my classmates in a circle around the little pond. The water is overflowing with frogs and toads of every shape and size. An eerie hush falls across the pond, like they know what’s about to happen.
“Okay class, as I said earlier,” Mr. Anderson begins, swaying a little on the uneven ground, “Grab a frog, or toad if you so desire, put 'em in your bucket and bring 'em back down to the classroom. The stabbers are in a jar on the counter. One thrust through the back of the head ought to do it.” We all stand in silence. What happened to being given dead, frozen frogs like in middle school? Catching and killing frogs on school property has to be breaking some kind of law, right? A moral or ethical law at least! Also, could they really not think of a better name than stabbers?
“Mr. Anderson,” Jess Maloney raises her hand from across the tiny pond, which more like an enormous muddy puddle, really. “Is this, like, allowed? What if we refuse?”
“It’s your midterm, Miss Maloney. What would happen if you refused a midterm in your other classes?” Mr. Anderson replies simply. My heart drops. A failed midterm? I can’t even consider a failed midterm. This is the first time I’ve had an “A” in any science class, let alone an AP class. My parents would kill me.
“If there aren’t any other questions, hop to it!” Mr. Anderson laughs at his pun. I clench my teeth even hard. It makes me sick. I stare down at the muddy pool of amphibians, completely ignorant of the genocide that awaits them. I squat next to the water and scoop my bucket in. Amazingly I catch a frog, and stifle a sob. The frog frantically tries to climb up the sides of the bucket but keeps falling onto its back. I shudder. There's no way I'll be able to go through with this.
I saunter back down Pioneer Hill and into the classroom. Victor Simms wasted no time putting his stabber to use. Thankfully he must have done it right, the poor frog is motionless, spread out across the tray. Hannah Rink’s frog doesn’t look as lucky. It flops awkwardly around the try, as if half of its body no longer works. The stabber flailing around out the back of its neck. I stare in horror for half a second and then rush across the room to my table.
My hands are slick with sweat and the frog has given up trying to climb up the bucket. It is now sitting perfectly still, like I do when I’m afraid. I sit back down in my chair and pull the tray over in front of me. It’s covered with a paper towel and four small pins to hold the frog down when it’s time to dissect. Hannah Rink is crying now, begging Mr. Anderson to put her poor frog out of its misery. I am absolutely going to throw up.
“I’m sorry buddy,” I whisper to the frog as I stare down into the bucket. I take a deep breath and scoop the frog into my hand.