passing notes

She actually loved her junior high math teacher, Mrs. Tucker. She loved her despite her hatred of math. She loved the way Mrs. Tucker taught, sitting at the front of the room with an overhead projector and writing out problems using felt tip pens in every color.  She loved the way Mrs. Tucker looked disheveled but happy, with crazy messy hair and hands permanently smudged with ink.  She loved the way Mrs. Tucker spit and used her stubby fingers to erase her work while she patiently answered every question.

So she was heartbroken when Mrs. Tucker caught her passing notes to her friend, Linda, pretending that she hated Mrs. Tucker as much as Linda did.  She had so few friends, she would do almost anything to make up commonalities.  By the time she arrived at the principal’s office, she was sick with worry about what was going to happen to her, and even more worried about what her parents might do to her.  She kept reminding herself of the old spelling rule she had learned, like it held some other truth: your principal is your ‘pal.’  She sat on the bench in the hallway and waited for the principal to summon her.

She waited a while, long enough that classes broke and kids could see her sitting outside the office glumly waiting. Finally, the principal asked her to come inside the office. When she sat down, the principal asked her a string of questions that had nothing to do with the note or its content, some of which was pretty obscene.  The principal wanted to know what she read, what kind of music she liked, her favorite subjects in school and facts about her family life. She was terse and defensive, not really understanding where this was all going. Her answers were shrugs and nods and “I don’t knows.”

At the end, the principal pulled out her official school records, wrote “Very good writing sample” and inserted the note into eternity.   Her gut clutched.  Then the principal said that the note was extremely well written, which was unusual among kids passing notes in class.  As punishment, the principal told her she was going to have to work for the school newspaper. Starting tomorrow after school.

Her gut clutched at that, too.  She didn’t know what to tell Linda.

On her way out of the office, she ran into Mrs. Tucker, who winked at her.


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