Posts Tagged ‘School’

If you’d like to read Gladys, which could be considered part two of Helena, click here after reading below:

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It’s a small smile, but enough to show me that her two front teeth overlap. She stands a distance from her mother’s side, trying desperately not to look at either of us.

“I’m sure Helena will be welcomed with open arms, Ms. Harris. In fact, I’ll see to it that she is.”

I smile warmly, but the girl blushes from head to toe and moves farther away. She absently pulls her hair, strand by stand, dropping each one to the floor as it comes out at the root and it’s suddenly clear why there are sparse patches scattered across her scalp.

“Helena, stop.” Her mother’s whisper is sharp. “Remember what I said.”

I didn’t think it was possible, but the girl turns a deeper shade of red and I can’t help but wonder if she’ll be alright here.

“Nothing to worry about.” I reassure her. “You’ll be fine.”

Ms. Harris’ lips tighten. She turns to Helena and brushes roughly at her blazer, pulls on her tie.

“Well Helena, I’m off. And for heaven’s sake, keep your hands out of your hair.” With that she walks away, leaving the girl gaping after her. No hug. Not so much as a good-bye.

“You’ve got lovely hair.” I tell her as we head into my office. I walk to the chair behind my desk. “It’s so straight.” I reach up to my own curly mop and laugh.

She stands until I ask her to sit.

“We’ll head to your class when you’re ready.” I offer when I notice her eyeing the door.

“I’m ready.”

“Really? Because we can sit here for a while. Talk. There’s no rush.”

She pulls at her hair, adjusts her glasses and stands.

“No, I’d like to go now if that’s okay.”

The walk to Mr. Roy’s room is quiet, no one in the halls, just the sound of Helena’s loose laces slapping the floor.

“Your mother didn’t tell me much, I’m afraid.”

“I’m sorry about her. She’s like that.”

“Have you signed up for any of our teams? Or enrolled in the book club?”

“I suck at sports and book club is social suicide for someone like me. I don’t need any help being unpopular.” Her tone is well beyond her years.

We reach Mr. Roy’s door and Helena finally looks at me.

“I’m okay on my own.”

Several bracelets slide out from under her jacket sleeve and circle her thin wrist as she reaches for the doorknob.


“Absolutely no jewelry allowed. Yeah, I know. I read the rules before I got here.”

“Yes, you’re right, but what I was going to say is, you know where my office is if you need anything.”

She enters the classroom and from the hall I hear her say; “What are you lookin’ at? Never seen a baldy, four-eyed, new girl before?”

I think of Ms. Harris and how Helena had stood so far away from her. How her mother had been so rough, how she hadn’t said good-bye. I think of her tight lips and her stern whisper and I know now, Helena has always been okay on her own.


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Did it really happen? And, was it only yesterday? It already seems such a distant memory. But yes, it happened and, although it does seem many moons ago, it was, somehow, only the day before today.

The mission: to transport five children, one of them being my daughter, to a trail for a school fieldtrip. Our destination: a route approximately 34 kilometers, or 21 miles, away from my house. Their plan: to hike from 10 ‘til 2. My goal: to throw them from the moving vehicle.

Oh, I kid, I kid.

Of course I stopped the car first. I even made sure they were supervised before I sped off. You see? Solid parenting, folks. You saw it here.

Yes, I could’ve hiked. Yes, I could’ve helped, but I also could’ve snuck off to write away the hours in a cozy bistro with a caffeinated cappuccino. I’m sure you understand my inner war…that would be the one I’m simulating. In reality, there was no battle.

Writing outside of the house is a very different experience for me than writing at home. Take all the of the still available distractions such as, ahem, the Internet, and add to that the opportunity to people watch, one of my favorite addictions pastimes, and I still find myself more focused, not to mention less guilty. I don’t feel like I should be paying bills, vacuuming, doing laundry or participating in any of the usual time-suckers.

Minus the spell I spent being awesomely responsible, I had a decadent three hours to write a short story that I consider fairly contest worthy. And alright, I admit to a pinch of peeping.

I couldn’t help myself. It was amazing to see these people file in one after another, cramming the at first empty bistro in that sleepy village of 3400, not to mention how many of them had a touch more than a glass of wine with their soup de jour.

No judgment. Just jealousy.

Where do you like to write?

Beatniks Bistro

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Sweat trickles right past his finger and I wonder if he can feel it. I doubt it, because he pushes harder, burying his nail into the soft of my spine.

It hurts. I don’t move.

“Whaddya think yer doin’?” His whisper is cruel, seething.

I sit silently, facing front. Inching so slightly. Hoping he won’t realize I’ve lessened the pressure of his poke.

“Think yer so smart, huh?” Push, push, push.

“Ya big suck…all goody two shoes.” Pffft…


His spit spray wets the back of my neck and I regret my ponytail instantly.

The kids are playing kickball on the gravel field. I sit on the grass, bagged lunch at my side. Left of the field, near the fence, there’s a dip. I position myself just right. I am almost invisible. I pick at my peanut butter covered crusts. Daydream about being anywhere else.

My eyes are closed.

When I open them, the red kickball is bouncing away, slowing to a roll at the edge of the grass. Stops at his feet.

For once, I have to take my glasses off so I can see. Takes me a few minutes to realize they’re cracked. My only pair.

The skin on my forehead is split open from hairline to nose bridge. We’ll mend it best we can, the Doctor tells me, but this is going to leave a scar.


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“Hey”, he sneered my way. “Hey!” a little louder, a little breathier.

I blushed. I always blushed; perpetually, painfully shy, continuously craving invisibility. I stared straight ahead, eyes on the board, palms and pits producing an instant hot sweat.

“You know…you gotta have the ugliest nose I’ve ever seen.” he hissed.

I leaned forward, hands flat on my desk; perspiration mixing with the Comet residue the janitor had left behind, forming a balmy paste over my flattened grip.

It was Valentine’s Day and the Carnations would be delivered soon. You could feel the buzz in the room. I tried to focus on that. Once my flower came, I’d be vindicated. He’d feel so stupid for taunting me. He’d realize I might be popular and that someone out there might think I was pretty.

The Carnations were a big deal at our school; a yearly tradition. They cost three dollars of hard-earned pocket-money so selecting the recipient was taken very seriously. Boys sent them to girls, girls sent them to boys, girls even sent them to each other. Most were fired off anonymously; the only ones signed stemming from legitimate daters and official best friends. No one else dared to be so outwardly presumptuous.

“I bet you think you’re gonna get a flower, don’t you?” he jeered.

I tried to lift my hand discreetly, bringing it up to camouflage my apparently hideous nose and my now stinging eyes. I would not cry in front of him, but the smell of the Comet coming from my grit-covered hand was burning my nostrils and losing me my battle.

“You think you can hide that big banana?” he laughed. “Good luck with that. Good luck with that and that grease-slicked skin of yours.”

I liked to think it was the fumes, but my eyes were brimming regardless of cause and I knew he would be sure he’d gotten under my skin, fumes or not.

“Are you crying?” he mocked. “God, you’re such a baby.” Out of the corner of my eye I could see his knee bouncing up and down. His leg jostled a mile a minute causing the frayed hem of his jeans to swing back and forth.

Although tears were the last thing I wanted him to see, they did make him back off.  No one wanted to be responsible for making someone cry in class. It meant a trip to the office and a call home, neither a favorable outcome.

I tilted my head and stared through the window. Outside was bleak. It had been a particularly cold February and the wind was whipping through the trees. I swallowed the lump in my throat and longed to be out there. Being outside in blustering gales coatless would be better than having to sit here, enduring him.

I tried to pay attention to the lesson being taught. I tried not to think of my rumbling belly, my chemically transformed skin, my imminent flower or the jerk next door. I had almost accomplished all of it when there was a knock on the door causing an eruption of excitement amongst the other students.

I simply froze. What if it hadn’t worked? Or worse, what if I had somehow messed it up and it wasn’t anonymous after all? The sweat magnified and became a fast-trickling stream flowing straight down my spine.

“You’re getting greasier by the second, loser.” he said in a snide tone.

My eyes were glued on the flower bearers. They were shouting out name after name and at long last, mine was called.

As hard as it was to have all eyes on me, I lifted my cement-stiff body out of the desk and forced my heavy legs to move towards the front of the room.

As I got closer, confusion set in. Two flowers were being held out.

“Do you want me to pass one to someone?” I whispered, my face flaming with prickly heat.

“Nope, both for you. Lucky,” the girl said enviously. “I didn’t get any.” It shouldn’t have, but it made me tingly inside.

The tingling shrouded the walk back to my desk and shielded me from the stares and snickers. I sat down in a trance-like state, eyes glued to the blossoms laid out in front of me. Their sweet aroma replaced the smelly Comet, their pastel shades swapped for the unicolor scheme outside.

A legit Valentine’s Day Carnation. I did a quick mental check; nope, I’d only sent myself one. I was sure.

Two?” I heard him exclaim. “I don’t believe it,” he almost sounded wounded. “You sent those to yourself,” he guessed. “You had to!”

My face seared and my throat tightened. He’d managed to break through my bubble and yank me back to miserable reality. Only reality didn’t seem all that miserable anymore. Someone had thought of me, someone liked me.

The bell to end the school day rang and he got up quickly. “See ya later, freak show.”

I waited for everyone to leave, their chatter slowly quieting as they filed out one by one.

I wanted to pack my flowers in my bag without the other kids knocking around. I wanted to make sure they went unharmed.

As I swung my legs, now light, around the side of my seat, something caught my eye; a pink ticket that hadn’t been there before. I recognized it instantly and my heart skipped a beat as I quickly looked around. If anyone had seen it, I’d be the laughing-stock of the school, the butt of every joke, as opposed to now, being the butt of only most.

I reached down to grab the Carnation receipt, my fingers fumbling over the waxy paper. But, as I brought it closer to my face, I realized it didn’t belong to me. My name was boldly printed in the recipient’s box sure enough, but the printing wasn’t mine.  It was his…the jerk next door’s.

Okay, we all knew that was coming.  Except for…maybe the boys…                                                           

This short story is published on Ezine: http://ezinearticles.com/?Two-Is-Better-Than-One&id=7041636 

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