Stephen Tucker was so bad at standardized tests, that he seriously considered hiring someone to take the SAT’s for him. This idea seemed especially good as he sat in the back row of a classroom, staring at the same math problem for ten minutes.
“What will I do?” he thought, “If I don’t get a good score, then I won’t get into a good college, and if I don’t get into a good college, then I won’t get into a good grad school.” He hated thinking about his future. It never helped. He tried to focus back on the math problem, and that’s when he noticed her. A little woman, the height of a finger, staring at him from the corner of the page.
“I am the Amazing Doris.” said the little woman, “I will give you whatever you want…for a price.”
“Can you get me an amazing grade on this test?” asked Stephen.
“Yes,” said the woman, “but you must give me your first born child.” Stephen nearly fell backwards in his chair.
“No way,” he said, “That’s crazy. That’s way too much.”
“What would you give me?” asked the woman. Stephen thought for a second.
“I would give you my calculator and three #2 pencils,” said Stephen, “Right now that is all I have to give.”
“Very well,” said the woman, “but I will expect more next time.” Doris proceeded to feed Stephen the answers he needed, and Stephen completed the test with flying colors. Several months later, he learned that he scored in the eighty-ninth percentile, just bad enough not to look suspicious. The next fall, Stephen got into the school of his dreams, and didn’t think of Doris again for nearly five years. During that time, Stephen majored in philosophy, but partied non-stop. This came back to haunt him senior year when he waited until the last minute to write his thesis paper. It was on the night before the deadline that Stephen thought of Doris again, and instantly she appeared, just as before.
“Hello, again,” said Doris, “As before, I will give you whatever you want…for a price.”
“I need you to write my thesis paper,” said Stephen.
“Will you give me your first born child?” asked Doris.
“No, and it’s very creepy that you would ask,” said Stephen.
“You’re very judgmental considering you need my help,” said Doris, “What would you give me?”
“I will give you my coffee table, and my microwave.”
“Done,” said Doris, “but I will expect more next time, ” and she worked through the night writing and proof-reading Stephen’s thesis paper. When it came around to grading time, Stephen scored the highest in his class, and won the opportunity to speak at his graduation ceremony.
Again, Stephen decided to party instead of write. On the night before graduation, Stephen thought of Doris for the third time, and for the third time, she appeared.
“Oh, it’s you again,” said Doris, “You know, that table you gave me had a faulty leg. It’s not good to cheat a cheater. So, for this wish, I will only accept your first child.”
“Are you sure you will not accept my couch, or my bed,” said Stephen.
“If you’re not willing to pay the price for cheating, then you must go it alone,” said Doris, and she was gone. That night was the toughest of Stephen’s life. He wrote, and wrote, and rewrote. The first draft of the speech was awful, but it slowly improved, and with it his self-confidence. When he presented the speech the following day, he finally understood that the cost of cheating is always too high, because the price is always oneself.
This story was written by Alex Schattner (7/22/12)