“The Headphones” Emily Henderson


“The Headphones” Emily Henderson

John was a student in highschool that seemed to always have the worst luck. Whenever he needed to show up early to school, there was a power outage that disabled his alarm to wake up on time. Whenever he needed to bring a pen for an exam, it would explode right in the middle of his sentence and he could not finish it. Whenever he was about to make a huge throw to be star quarterback, the ball magically became extremely slippery.

Well John was experiencing one of his “usual” unlucky days. While he was running late, as usual, to lunch to make sure he could grab the last slice of pizza, a mysterious student called out to him from the shadows of the hallway.

“Psst. Hey, John!” The student whispered.

“Who are you?” John quizzically asked.

“I’m Buddy,” he responded. “And I’m here to help you out.” “What do you mean, help me out? How do you know who I am? Do you even go to this school?” John was growing increasingly suspicious at the oddness of his situation.

“Don’t worry about all those details. What you should really be concerned with is what I have for you” Buddy retorted. Then he went into his backpack and pulled out a set of headphones. They were black headphones with a gold trim that had a silver lightning bolt on either side. When you looked at the silver lightning bolts, one could almost see the twinkling stars of an evening sky, or the brightness of a full moon without a cloud in the sky. The lightning bolts mesmerized any wandering eye where you could stare for hours on end without realizing a single second has passed.

“I have never seen headphones like this before. Are they a new release” John inquired.

“This here, will change your luck around. Cheats by Dre,” Buddy grinned as he saw John’s eyes grow wide staring into the mesmerizing lightning bolts.

“How will this change my luck?” “Just put the headphones on and listen to the music. Then you will get a super power” Buddy explained.

“A super power? Like what?” John questioned.

“You will see,” Buddy said with a suspicious tone that John ignorantly did not notice. John hesistantly took the headphones and as he was about to put them on, he noticed that there was no plug connected to them.

“Buddy, how am I supposed to listen…” John suddenly stopped when he noticed that Buddy had vanished from the stairwell. Now nerves settled in for John as he was standing alone. In order to prove to himself that he was brave enough he put the headphones on and waited. Just as he was about to give up on the whole notion of a “super power” Rockwell’s “I Always feel like somebody’s watching me” came on full volume.

“This is too weird,” John muttered to himself.

Then finally realizing that it must be almost the end of the lunch period, John raced down the hallway just in time to grab the last slice of pizza. He quickly rushed and left the exact change with the cashier so he could grab a seat next to his friends before the bell rang. me!” “Hey guys!” John panted. “You would not believe what just happened to There was no response.

“Yo, guys? What’s going on? Didn’t you hear me?” Again John’s friends continued on as if John was not even sitting there. John realized that he had the headphones on, noticing that the song had faded into his subconscious. He finally decided to take off the headphones.

“Hey John! When did you get here? We were looking all over for you!” His friend Luke proclaimed.

“What do you mean? I have been sitting here the whole time. Didn’t you hear me say…” and then suddenly it dawned on him. John realized what the super power was. Whenever John had the headphones on and the song was playing, he would turn invisible!

“What were you saying John?” “No-nothing. Nothing. Just that I finally got the last slice of pizza for once” John replied.

Luke enthusiastically kid, “Hey, maybe your luck will finally turn around John.”

Maybe this would be the answer John pondered. Maybe he finally could turn his luck around. Maybe this could be the end to his terrible streak of everything going wrong. As the day continued on, John could barely keep his mind focused in his classes. He was daydreaming of all the possibilities of having invisibility. What would he do? Where would he start? Then the bell rang.

John was racing to football practice which he was late for. “So much for a super power,” John scoffed. While he was in the locker room, he noticed that the quarterback, Mark was still warming up in the gym so he wasn’t out on the field yet. John noticed that Mark left his locker open and all of his gear was still there. John wondered if the quarterback would be able to play without his cleats or helmet? He had a split second decision to make: should he just go out to the field and wait on the benches for his big break or make his big break right now?

John quickly put the headphones on to hear the catchy tune “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” Trusting that no one could see him, he went right for Mark’s locker and grabbed his cleats and helmet and stashed them behind the bin that held all the basketballs. Then he went right out to the field trying to pretend like everything was normal. Just as John was busying himself with drills with the rest of the team, Mark came running out to the field calling out for the coach.

“Coach! Coach! I’m sorry I’m late. But all of my stuff is gone! My helmet and cleats are missing!” The coach grimaced at what he believed to be an excuse for his lateness to practice. “Mark, you know the drill. You come late and unprepared for practice, you have to sit the game out.” “But Coach! You don’t understand! My stuff is gone,” Mark pleaded.

“No excuses! Do you want to sit out the next game too? You know this is the drill. Now go sit out.” The Coach pausing a moment to realize he was short a quarterback scanned his prospects on the bench. After analyzing their stats in his head he called out, “John, today’s your day! Get out on the field!” John couldn’t contain his excitement. He thought to himself, “Wow these headphones might actually be the answer.” At practice, John was finally able to display his ability to the coach that he could be starting quarterback. With one final attempt to ensure his start for the

game Saturday, John threw a Hail Mary down the field to his receiver for a touchdown!

“John, you really stepped up today. Maybe it’s about time you show the whole school how good of a quarterback you can be!” The Coach announced to John and the team.

Everyone cheered for John, and yet at that exact moment, John began to have a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach. He saw the look on Mark’s face of defeat and disappointment. John knew that feeling all too well. And Mark didn’t do anything wrong to deserve it. Did John do the wrong thing? Before John could think about it too long, he was being showered in congratulations from his teammates.

The next day, John was reviewing for his Math exam he had later that day when he saw the Teacher’s Lounge door was open. He could barely make it out, but he noticed that an answer key was left on the table and no one was in the room. So again, John had to make a choice. He quickly put on the headphones to listen to the infectious song. Strange how John neglected to hear the lyrics before entering the Teacher’s Lounge. Was someone watching John? No, how could anyone? He was invisible.

John quickly went into the Teacher’s Lounge and made a quick copy of the answer key before running out of the room. He didn’t take the headphones off until he was back in the darkened stairwell when he first met Buddy. He took a look at the answer key as the bell rang and a flood of students came pouring through the hallways and stairwells. John had to keep up with the crowd and get to his math class. While he was trying to steady his breathing from running all around the school building, he noticed that the headphones were gone! He couldn’t find them anywhere. “I must have left them in the stairwell,” he thought to himself. How was he going to get them back? “Maybe I will run there quick before the bell,” BUZZ!

“Alright everyone! Let’s get settled for our test today,” Ms. Matthews announced.

John panicked. He wasn’t ready for the test and without the headphones he was afraid to take out the cheat sheet. Just when he felt like the walls were caving in on him, John’s pen exploded, AGAIN!

Ms. Matthews noticed that John’s hands were covered in ink and allowed him to go to the bathroom to clean up. This was his moment! His chance to run downstairs to grab the headphones. But he thought to himself, could he keep up with the headphones? What if anyone found out? Was it worth the panic if someone else were to take them away from him?

John finally realized his bad luck did pay off. He decided to clean his hands and return to his math class. He took the exam without the “aide” of the answer key. Even though he didn’t pass the exam, he was relieved he wouldn’t live with the guilt of a potential honor code violation. Because he failed the math test, the Coach had no other choice but to bench John and use the only other quarterback, Mark, for the game. While John was on the bench not able to play the game, he realized that he no longer felt like he had bad luck. Rather he understood finally that the person that was always watching him was himself.

Review Questions: 1. What do you think of the friend, Buddy? Was he a real ‘buddy’? Why or why not?

2. Did John do the wrong thing? Why or why not?

3. Does doing the right thing only matter because people are watching you? What does it mean to do the right thing?

4. Think about the song that was playing on the headphones “I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell. Do you feel like you are only doing the right thing because you are supposed to? What if no one was watching you. Would you still do what was right? Why or why not?

5. Think about the consequences that happened to John from the headphones. Do you think they were fair? Explain.

6. Use Kohlberg’s theory of the six stages of Moral Development. How would John make his choices for each step?