No one could believe it. A trip to Niagara Falls! Around the room questions flew like frantic birds, but Mr. Gisborne answered only by passing out a sheet of paper with the details of the offer from P.T.O.
“I just got these flyers in my mailbox,” he said. “So you’re the first class to find out. So aren’t you special.” He could be sarcastic, Mr. Gisborne.
I read mine quickly. He was right. All seventh graders with a “Superior” rating would be going to Niagara Falls in November. P.T.O. was paying for the transportation; each student would have to pay for food and lodging—but the school had gotten some kind of deal. It would cost each person only about $100.
I looked over at Gil. He was reading intently, his face glowing with excitement. Or what looked like excitement. Sometimes it was hard to tell exactly what Gil was thinking and feeling.
After class, he waited for me outside the door. “Let’s walk home today,” he said.
“Sure.” I was surprised at his offer, of course. Gil was so unpredictable. He avoided me; he sought me out; he shunned me; he welcomed me—sometimes all within a single school day. But I figured there was something on his mind—and I had an idea what it was. So I agreed to walk. “But let me call my father,” I said. “He always wants to know if I’m not riding the bus.”
It was a beautiful mid-November day, and I knew Gil wanted to talk about the Niagara Falls opportunity. That was fine with me, and I was thinking maybe I’d find out why he was so interested in the falls.
We walked quite a ways before anyone said anything. I didn’t want to seem nosy, so I was going to wait for him to start things up. But when we were half-way home and he still hadn’t said anything, I couldn’t stand it any long.
“So why did you want to walk home today, Gil?”
“It’s a nice day, isn’t it?”
“On lots of nice days we just ride the bus,” I said.
“Yeah.” His head was down. He seemed interested in his shoes. Very interested.
“Are you thinking about the chance to go to Niagara Falls?”
I waited. But he didn’t seem ready to add anything else.
“And so do you think,” I went on, “that we ought to maybe try a little harder on our project?”
Gil continued to walk along, staring at his shoes.
“Well?” I said, starting to feel a little annoyed. “Do you?”
I stopped walking. Gil went on a few paces before he noticed I wasn’t with him. He stopped, turned, and looked back at me.
I was about to yell at him when I saw that both his eyes were wet with tears.