Editors' Prize Winner | June 19, 2020

Mr. Hyde wrote digestive system on the board and Ronny Trezzo’s hand shot up. Hyde turned to face the class, then froze when he saw Ronny already had a question. The classroom was quiet except for the burble from the aquariums along the far wall and Ronny’s impatient grunts as he pumped his hand in the air. Hyde leaned back into the chalkboard as if to brace himself. I’d been in classes with Ronny before and had never known him to be a curious student, but that year in Hyde’s Life Science class he’d started sitting in the front row and asking questions. If evolution was real, why did people have to invent shoes? How much food would you have to give an elephant to kill it? What would happen if you shot an atom bomb with a bow and arrow? At thirteen, Ronny was already five ten and thin but tough-looking, with a head of dark, matted curls. Hyde was half a foot shorter than Ronny and tended to answer his questions as if humoring a superior. Ronny’s hand stayed raised, and Hyde let his shoulders slouch as he almost whispered, “Yes?”

Ronny cleared his throat and said he actually had two questions. First, he wanted to know how our bodies told the difference between pee and poop. Second, he was curious if the two ever got mixed up, pee coming out of a butt or poop coming out of a peehole.

The students who usually laughed at Ronny’s questions looked at one another with their mouths hanging open, trying to read from each other’s faces if they’d heard him right. Hyde’s bald head turned a velvety shade of red while Ronny waited for an answer, a chewed-up Bic poised over the open notebook on his desk.

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