Friday, February 27, 2009

Presidential Double Standard

When President Bush was in office, those few die hard fans who still swore he was a capable, Godly president would become terribly offended when anyone spoke ill of him. They insisted that he was the President of our country and that he should be respected. They would chide those who criticized the president or made fun of him. In a way, I get that. While I do believe it is our right to speak out against our leaders when we don't agree, there is a certain amount of respect that is due the leader of our country. This was a fairly hot topic with talking heads on cable news after the Iraqi man chucked a shoe at Bush's head. It's one thing not to like Bush; it's another to laugh when a foreigner lobs a shoe at the head of our country's Commander-in-Chief. Now, does that mean I haven't been guilty of making fun of our former president? No. I'm just saying I see their point.

The point, though, is that these same people who were appalled that anyone could treat our President with so much disrespect are now doing the exact same thing to Obama. They aren't merely criticizing his policies or decisions; they are acting like overgrown kids on the playground. They call him absolutely ridiculous, inane names (Sham Wow Obama, anyone?), they forward me insulting jokes and cartoons, and they generally talk about him like he's some guy next door. Now, does it bother me? Do I think they should stop? I'm not saying that. I'm just saying play by your own dang rules. I personally don't get offended if you criticize the President (as long as you aren't offensive in doing it. if you know what I mean). What I'm saying is that if you really think the President of the United States deserves the respect of his people--as you did with Bush--then respect our current president. You don't have to like him, you don't have to like his policies. But don't commit the same offense that you chided others over during the past eight years.

C'mon... Sham Wow???

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Inanimate Objects Have No Sexual Orientation

This blog may apply to some of you, and I halfway apologize if you are offended.

As you are probably aware, the word gay has changed meaning over the years. Originally it had several meanings: cheery, bright, high-spirited merriment. Over the years, it evolved (is that the right word?) to mean "homosexual," much to the dismay of some women I know named "Gay."

In the past few years, the word gay has taken a new, unofficial meaning, especially among teenagers. Gay is used to describe ANYTHING or ANYONE they don't like. To be called gay, a person doesn't have to exhibit any type of behavior that might be attributed to an actual gay person.

Actual exchange in my classroom:

#1: Hey, let me borrow a bathroom pass?
#2: I've only got one left and I'm saving it.
#1: You're so gay.

Or how about this:

#1: Did you watch American Idol last night?

#2: I don't like it.

#1: You're gay.

Another gem:

#1: What'd you make on your quiz?

#2: 95.

#3: Man, you gay.

The best I can tell, gay has about 137 meanings to my students. It can mean stupid, nerdy, uncool, uninformed, quiet, loud, friendly, hateful, and so on and so on. If someone does or says anything they don't like, they're gay.

But here's what really bugs me: they call inanimate objects GAY!

Shirts are gay, classes are gay, homework is gay, hair is gay, tests are gay, shoes are gay, posters are gay, holidays are gay (that could work if they meant the old meaning), books are gay, restaurants are gay, EVERYTHING IS GAY.

Want an example?

Me: Put your drink away, please.

Student: It's just water.

Me: I know but you can't have it out in class.

Another Student: Water is gay.

First Student: No you're gay!

Wait, WATER is gay? That doesn't even begin to make sense. It took every ounce of willpower not to say, "You're both retarded." (I know, I know, that's not a nice thing to say either).

It gets more confusing, though. In the next class, a student referred to something as "straight." I asked him if he understood the directions and he replied, "I'm straight."

Hmm. Is this totally unrelated or at some point did students actually start referring to good things as "straight" and things they didn't like as "gay"? I'm curious. I'm pretty certain that "straight" has been around for awhile in that context but I'm not sure. I asked my students if they deliberately use the words as antonyms or if it's just coincidence. They looked at me like I was speaking Portuguese.

Am I the only one who's annoyed by the misuse of gay?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

She said WHAT?

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking across the parking lot toward the school. A teenager was getting out of her mom's car. I heard her mom ask, "Do you have your lunch money?" The girl snapped back, "Yeah, I got it." Her mom then said, "Have a good day. Love you." The girl responded with an eye roll and a sarcasm laced "Mmm-mmh." She slammed the door and mom drove away.

I wanted to walk over to the delightful young lady and shake her 'til her teeth hurt.

Now, it wasn't that many years ago that I was a teenager, and I am the first to admit that I wasn't always a beacon of kindness. I had my moments of moodiness and smart mouthiness (is that a word? It is now). I'm sure there were times my momma wanted to beat me with a stick. But there is NO WAY I could have ever grunted at my mother when she said she loved me. And I would have never said goodbye to anyone I loved in such a rude and careless way.

My mother never let us leave the house angry. Perhaps it was morbid, but she taught us from a young age that you never know when you say goodbye to someone if you'll ever see them again. Even if we weren't getting along, we always tried to be pleasant when we said goodbye and we ALWAYS said "I love you."

So many of the students I teach feel it is their God-given right to say whatever they want, however they want to say it. Kindness and forgiveness are weaknesses. If it is even perceived that they are being disrespected, they will retaliate in a number of ways with no regard to what punishment they may receive. For example, one of my students walks by another student's desk and inadvertently steps on their foot/purse/ bookbag. The owner of said foot/purse/bookbag jumps up and yells, "You need to watch where you're f***ing going!" or "Get the f*** up off my foot!" I write up the person who is yelling for disrupting and cursing. The whole time, the student argues with me, claiming it was his or her right to go off on the person.

The sad thing is that many of the parents condone this type of behavior. I mean, c'mon, my parents taught me to defend myself, but I would have been grounded into a permanent Amish existence if I had ever acted like that. Even worse, these parents will defend their children for going off on an adult. I have heard mothers say, "Well that teacher needed cussing out!" I could have only been so "lucky." I can only remember two times that I ever even remotely went off on a teacher. Once was in 7th grade. A student teacher deliberately bounced a basketball off my butt and laughed about it. I called him "Mr. Tater Head" and "butthole" (his last name was Tate). Turns out, I wasn't the first girl he harassed and he was not allowed to return. BUT I didn't get off scot-free. I was punished for being disrespectful. The second time I snapped at a teacher I really can't defend myself. I told her she was being a bitch (well, she was). I got in trouble for it at school and at home. This wasn't a teacher my mother even liked, but she told me that didn't give me the right to cuss at her.

For some of my students, "clicking" on a teacher is a daily occurrence. They view us as their equals, or even worse, less than their equal. I have seen a guy dog cuss a teacher for asking him to pull up his pants. I have heard a girl threaten to "jack up" a teacher who wrote her up. Heck, I had a girl cuss me out for offering her a tissue (long story). When did this become accessible? Obviously these kids aren't getting in any real trouble at home for these occurrences. If they knew there was any type of severe punishment, I can't believe they would continue this behavior, especially on a regular basis.

And it's not just the verbal disrespect. So help me God, if another freshman rolls her eyes at me, I'm gonna pluck 'em out of her head and wear them as a necklace. There's nothing worse that getting an eye roll from someone who can't even drive or vote.

I can't imagine how these kids will ever keep a job. Some may argue, "But they're just teenagers. They'll grow out of it." I don't believe that. I believe most teens grow out of the moodiness, but if you're fourteen and calling an adult a mothereffer to his face, you've got some issues. I've asked some of these kids, "What will you do if you have to work for a boss you don't like?" They all tell me they'll quit and find a new job. Sadly, they probably will quit; as for a new job, who knows if there will be one. Just another mouth for the rest of us to feed.

Parents, I know the majority of you are teaching your kids respect and kindness. If you aren't, please do the rest of us a favor. Don't allow your kid to trash talk or back talk you and get away with it. If you do, they will do it to the rest of us. Be the parent. Not their friend, not their buddy. Their parent. Your kid's future depends on it in more ways than one. 'Cause let me tell you--I use a great deal of self restraint now but when I'm an old fart, I'll claim senility and mow one of these brats down with my scooter if they roll their eyes at me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Eyes Sewn Shut (Final Part)

Lora was working on a Beowulf essay when she heard a knock at her door.

“Come in!” she sang, perhaps a bit too sweetly.

Mascara streaked from Felicia’s puffy eyes. Her cheeks were still wet.

“Honey, what happened?”

But Lora knew what had happened. She knew about the lipstick on the mirror, the earring by the bed, the smell of another girl's perfume.

Felicia never suspected a thing as she poured her heart out to Lora, as she chided herself for not listening to her friend when she told her to say “no” to Jason.

Two hours later, the girls were drinking coffee in the living room. Lora had even gotten Felicia, her face now clean, to laugh a few times. Things were right again, at least in one interpretation of the word.

Lora was brushing her teeth before bed. Felicia stuck her head in the bathroom.


Lora smiled and waved with her toothbrush.

“I left you something in your room.”

Lora waited until she heard Felicia’s door close. She spit out the remaining toothpaste and hurried to her bedroom.

On her pillow was a bracelet, Felicia’s favorite bracelet, one she made while working one summer in Honduras. With the bracelet was a note. Lora’s hands shook as she read the words.

That night, the smile didn’t leave her face, not even as she slept.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Ten)

Lora and Felicia still hung out occasionally, but the roommate was once again spending a majority of her time with Jason. Lora just didn’t think she could start over again. Finding a best friend was both physically and emotionally exhausting. Keeping one was almost impossible.

Lora decided that she had to get Felicia back. The question was how? She seemed more in love than ever, and Jason was going out of his way to prove his worth as a boyfriend.

It was another Tuesday evening when inspiration struck Lora. If Jason were out of the picture, Felicia and Lora could be friends again. Maybe best friends. But how could she separate the couple?

Lora flipped over to the Soap Network for ideas. Young and the Restless.

Perfect, she thought.

By the end of the hour, she had three ideas: she could murder him, kidnap him and hold him hostage or frame him.

Only one of those will work, she said to herself. I’m not that desperate yet.

Lora mapped out her plan to frame Jason, to make Felicia believe that he was cheating on her again. This time, though, it wouldn’t be a drunken night of making out with a co-ed in the back of a bar. Nope, this time Jason was going to do the deed… or at least that’s what Felicia would think.

After two hours of thought, Lora’s plan was set. She would wait until Felicia and Jason were out of his apartment on a date. It would all be too easy.

(Conclusion tomorrow)

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Nine)

By Monday morning, Felicia and Jason were a couple again.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Eight)

Two months had passed since the night Felicia confided in Lora. The two girls had hung out almost every night since Felicia had broken up with Jason. Lora was certain that she and her new friend were headed toward best friend status.

They were sitting in the lunchroom one afternoon. Felicia was abnormally quiet, which both worried and excited Lora. She worried that Felicia might be angry with her. At the same time, she secretly hoped Felicia had some sort of problem, something that would make her need Lora more.



“Are you okay? You’re quiet.”

Felicia didn’t answer immediately. She took another sip of her Cherry Coke.

“’Cause you know you can talk to me if you need to.”

“Jason called me last night?”

“Jason? Jason who cheated on you Jason?”

“Same one.”

“What’d he want?”

“He wants to see me this weekend.”

“Tell him no.”

“I don’t think I can, Lo. I really do miss him. I’m lonely.”

“Well… we’ve been having fun. Haven’t we?”

“Of course, but I miss, well, you know, him.”

Lora didn’t know actually.

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him I wasn’t sure. Said I’d call him back tonight.”

“Are you even considering forgiving him?”

Felicia thought for a moment.

“I’m still mad, but people make mistakes, right? He didn’t actually have sex with her. That’s forgivable isn’t it? What would you do?”

Lora wanted to tell her that she would write him off totally and devote all of her free time being the best best friend ever.

“Not my call.”

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Seven)

Later that night, Felicia knocked on Lora’s bedroom door.

“It’s unlocked.”

Felicia walked in, a sheepish look on her face.

“Um, hey, I felt like I should come in and apologize for earlier. I didn’t mean to take it out on you. Jason just really pissed me off.”

“Oh. It’s fine, I guess. No big deal.”

Felicia took another step into the room.

“No, it’s not. I had no right to be such a rotten bitch. You were trying to help. I just don’t want hard feelings between us. It won’t make living together very enjoyable.”

Lora sat for a moment, her mind working furiously, and then turned in her chair to face Felicia.

“Would you want to talk about it?”

“No, it’s okay,” Felicia replied. “I can see you’re busy.”

“I’m not that busy. Here,” she said, patting the bed, “sit down and tell me what’s up.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

God Bless Hannah Montana

I have literally lost sleep over my future children. Will I be a good mother? How will I teach them right from wrong? How will I explain the unfairness in the world? How will I talk to them about drugs? About sex? Will they be able to text message?

Well, thanks to Hannah Montana, that last one will be taken care of for me. I spied this practical and beneficial book at my local Target store.

It's Hannah Montana's "Time 2 Text" book! The book is a whopping 22 pages and includes a pink phone with only THREE numbers and classic text lingo such as "LOL", "Y", "GR8", "TTYL" and "THNX." Thank GOD my child will be ready for her first cell phone! I was so scared she'd actually try to spelling out all six letters of "thanks." I'm a bit disappointed that there's no "K" button because it really wears my fingers out typing "OK." And you must be CRAZY to actually type out "okay." What a time waster!!!

You really saved my ass this time, Miss Montana.

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Six)

The move to college was uneventful. As expected, Lora’s mother cried and her dad gave her a stiff hug. Her classes kept her busy all semester but were relatively easy. Thanksgiving break quickly approached and still Lora had no one she could call best friend. She liked her roommate well enough, but the girl was rarely in their dorm, spending most nights with her boyfriend at his off-campus apartment. Lora kept her eyes and ears open, waiting for an opportunity to save someone’s day, to be the hero, to make someone realize what an awesome best friend she could be.

In September, she happened upon a girl sitting outside the campus post office, crying. Lora sat down beside her.

“You okay?”

“I’m f-f-fine,” the girl managed between sobs.

“You don’t seem fine. Need to talk? Can I help?”

The girl drew a breath and sharply looked at Lora.

“I said I’m fine. Please, just leave me alone.”

Lora stood up and took a few steps back. The girl buried her face in her hands. Lora began walking away. She was about fifteen feet from the crying girl when she heard a voice say, “Oh my God, Julie, what’s wrong?”

She turned to watch a petite brunette envelop the crying girl in her arms. The crying turned to sobs, but Lora caught a few words.

“Deployed… a year… so scared…”

I guess she didn’t need a new friend, Lora thought, frustrated.

Over the next few weeks, Lora focused on finding a best friend more than she focused on her exams. Whenever she saw someone who seemed remotely sad or bothered, she made a point to ask if they wanted to talk or if there was anything she could do. Each time, she was rejected, sometimes quite rudely. One girl literally ran away from her.

Lora was turning a darker shade of green each day. And she was growing darker in an entirely different way, too.

With each rejection, Lora grew more and more resentful toward those around her who were enveloped in the bliss of best friendship. She daydreamed about throwing mashed potatoes in the hair of the two friends who sat near her at lunch. She imagined unplugging the computers of two girls in the computer lab who giggled and gossiped as they worked on research papers. She fantasized setting fire to the sorority house she passed on the way to her morning classes, a coven of sisterhood and friendship.

Yes, she was certainly growing darker.

Christmas arrived. Lora went home, disappointed that an entire semester had passed without her finding a new best friend.

She went back to school in January with a new resolve. She just had to believe that in a place full of hormonal, fickle college students that there was someone, anyone, who could use the services of a best friend. The first month passed. Not only did she not find a friend, she didn’t even see anyone in need of one. Everyone around campus seemed happy… except Lora.

One Tuesday evening, Lora was in her dorm room watching television. While she was in the kitchenette during a commercial break, she heard the front door slam, then another door. Lora peeked around the corner, curious about the commotion. She crept over to her roommate’s room and put her ear against the door. At the same time, Felicia opened the door. Both girls let out a startled yelp.

“What do you want?” Felicia practically snarled.

“I, I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Well, I’m not, okay? I’m pissed off and I'm not talking to you about it. I just came back for my cigarettes.”

Felicia stormed by Lora, headed toward the door.

“I’m sorry, Felicia. Really. I didn’t mean to intrude. I…”

Before she could finish, the door was being slammed again. Felicia was gone.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes (who have babies)

Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, recently gave her first interview since giving birth in December. Palin said that ONLY telling young people to be abstinent is "not realistic at all."

Well, la dee dah. At least one of the Palins has a lick of sense on this issue. Too bad it's the one who is already a teenage mother.

I felt sorry for Bristol when it was announced she was pregnant. I knew the media would drag her through the mud throughout the election. She would become a poster child for both pro-lifers and those who oppose abstinence only sex-ed. As if the entire experience wasn't hard enough, Bristol was forced into the spotlight by both political parties, every media outlet in the country and even her own mother.

I thought Bristol handled the entire debacle with grace and dignity, despite the scrutiny she faced and the offhand, ignorant comments of the baby's father. I never once criticized her for her poor choices, but I did criticize her mother who has been a supporter of abstinence only education. Surely--surely--this will change Sarah Palin's views on the need for REAL sex education in schools. Her own daughter says that abstinence ONLY is unrealistic. This is a teenager who has not only been taught abstinence in schools but has undoubtedly heard the same speech at home and at her church. She didn't listen. She's not some poor white trash girl who doesn't know better. Her parents profess to be Christians. She comes from a "traditional" family. Her mother is the governor. She didn't listen.

I've been doing this same song and dance for years, but people still insist that it is wrong, even sinful, to teach anything but abstinence. It's just not working. Show me a kid who is waiting until marriage and I'll show you THREE of my students who are pregnant right now and dozens more who have had abortions or miscarriages.

Yes, teach them to wait. Beg them to wait. Hell, bribe them to wait. But just accept that many of them won't. We have to do everything we can to protect them, to protect their futures, protect their health. There has to be education for those who don't want to wait. When will our society recognize that their views are not only antiquated but simply flawed? People may reminisce about the good old days, but there has NEVER been a time when there weren't young people having sex outside of marriage. I'm not saying you have to accept it, but you have to accept that it's happening.

Bristol, I hope someone listens to you. If there's anyone qualified to speak out on this issue, it's you.

Now go get yourself a nap.

The Joys of Teaching

Sooo.... this kid put his hands on me today. Wanna hear about it?

I have this kid in class (let's call him Frank). Frank has been a problem this year. Frank's mother and I have spoken on numerous occasions, but Frank's behavior never improves for more than a few days.

Today, the students were working in groups. At the beginning of class, I was going over directions. Frank and his two group mates would not stop talking. I asked them at least four times--calmly--to stop talking, listen, hush, pay attention, etc. The final time they ignored me and continued talking, I said, "Since you don't cooperate when I ask you politely, then how about 'shut-up'? Do you understand that word?" Okay, not the most "teacherly" thing to say, but I'd had enough. We hadn't even been in class 10 minutes.

Frank grew very angry and began cussing me. I went to the button to pus the office button to let them know I was sending him down. While I was waiting for the office to respond, he walked across the room toward the door. He was still cussing. I decided it would be best to call for an escort and told him to stay put. He walked up to me and put his hands on both of of my arms beneath my shoulders. I stared in his eyes and he quickly removed his hands saying, "I let go, I let go." The office finally came over the intercom and I told them to send an administrator because a student had put his hands on me. He kept insisting he'd removed his hands, but he backed off.

The administrator came to my room, and I told him what happened (including my "shut-up" comment). He asked if I wanted to press charges. I said give me a little while to cool down.

Turns out they arrested him. He won't be coming back, at least not this year and CERTAINLY not to my classroom.

The sad thing is I was angry but not shocked or upset or crying or anything. Another teacher said it means I'm officially jaded.

Maybe I am...

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Five)

After graduation, Lora and Celeste went their separate ways to college—Celeste back to Kentucky and Lora to a university in Missouri. They promised to call and email every day, but deep down, both knew that things would never be the same. Celeste planned on joining her mother and grandmother’s old sorority. She would have tons of new “sisters” and best friends to take up her time.

After saying goodbye to Celeste on their last Saturday together, Lora’s mother found her crying in her bedroom.

“Honey, it’s okay. You and Celeste will still be friends.””But she’s my best friend. My only best friend.””I know, but you’ll have other friends, even other best ones.””I never thought I’d have one, though. What if I can’t get another one?””You will, I promise you will. You and Celeste started out as friends and eventually became best friends. It will happen again.” She kissed her daughter on the head and quietly left the room. After a few minutes, Lora went to her desk and opened up the photo album that she and Celeste had made the previous year. Flipping through, she tried to remember how she and Celeste had become best friends. What had made their relationship different? Toward the middle of the book, Lora paused on a picture of Celeste and her father. Though she had sworn she was done with him, he managed to persuade her to visit each Christmas. Celeste had sent the picture as proof of her misery. Though her father was smiling—one arm around his daughter, the other around his new wife—Celeste looked only moments away from recreating the Lizzie Borden crime scene.

That’s it, Lora thought, that’s when she told me I was her best friend. It was after her dad left. I was there for her when she was sad. I helped her get through the divorce.

Lora closed the album and sat down at her desk. For the first time in weeks, she felt hopeful.

I can have another best friend. I just need to find someone who needs one.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Four)

That afternoon, armed with fresh cookies, the girls barricaded themselves in Lora’s room.

“Listen, you can’t repeat what I’m going to tell you. My mom likes to keep family stuff private.”

“I promise I won’t say a word.”

Over the next hour, Celeste revealed the reason they’d left Kentucky. Her dad had been having an affair with a woman at work. Since they lived in a small town, it didn’t take long before they were seen out together. Mrs. Brighton had been furious and threatened to take the kids and leave. Celeste’s father begged her to stay, promising that the woman meant nothing and that he would tell her it was over. Mrs. Brighton agreed to stay with him, but insisted that they had to move. She would not be the talk of the town or risk the embarrassment of seeing her husband’s lover at a social gathering. They had moved to Middlebrook to start over. It seemed that Mr. Brighton had indeed started over—he had already found another woman at his new job. This time, though, he had revealed the affair himself after coming home one afternoon and packing a suitcase.

“So he’s divorcing your mom?”
“Looks that way,” Celeste said, wiping tears from her cheeks. “What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he’s divorcing me, too. I’m through with him. First I have to leave my entire life behind in Kentucky to move to this stupid town and then he leaves us. He’s a selfish bastard.”

“I’m so sorry, Celeste. I wish I knew what to do. This has to be hard on your mom.”Celeste’s tears streamed down her face.

“It is. I’m all she has here. That’s why I wanted to come to your house today. I mean, I want to be there for her, but she’s wearing me out. I thinks he forgets that I’m hurting, too.””Sucks being the grown up.”


“Look, Cee, I know that you didn’t want to move here, but at least we met. And I’m always here if you need to talk or yell or eat cookies or whatever. You aren’t alone.”Celeste smiled.

“Lora, I’m so sorry. I guess that seemed kind of mean. But I am glad I met you.”

She reached out for Lora’s hand.”You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”

Continued tomorrow...

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Three)

Celeste missed school the following day, but by Thursday she was waiting in front of the house for Lora. Celeste’s eyes were no longer red, and she forced a smile as she fell into step beside Lora.

“I’m sorry ‘bout the other day.””No, it’s fine. Don’t be sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you, but I promised your mom I’d pick up your work.”

“You didn’t bother me. I just wasn’t read to talk about anything.””So can you tell me what happened?”

“Well, no one’s dead, but I feel like he should be. My dad… he… look, I don’t want to get into it now. There’s too much to tell you between here and school and I don’t feel like crying. How about we hang out at your place this afternoon? Can I still take you up on those cookies?”

“Of course,” Lora said.

The day seemed to last forever.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part Two)

Celeste Brighton had moved to Middlebrook from Kentucky. Blonde and willowy, she reminded Lora of a Barbie doll. After their initial meeting, the girls began spending time together each day: walking to and from school, eating lunch together, hanging out on Saturdays. Lora liked Celeste but was frustrated that her new companion was yet to say anything to indicate that they were best friends.

On a Tuesday morning in March, Lora made her way to Celeste’s house so that they could walk together. Celeste wasn’t waiting outside, so Lora sat in the Brighton’s porch swing and waited. Ten minutes later, Celeste’s mother opened to the door.

“Hi, Mrs. B. Is Celeste ready?”Mrs. Brighton’s eyes were red, her hair disheveled.

“Hon, Celeste won’t be going to school today. She’s feeling… a bit sick.””Oh. Well, is there anything I can do for her? Pick up her work?””That would be nice, dear. I’m sure she’d appreciate that. We both would.””No prob. Tell her I hope she feels better.”Mrs. Brighton began to close the door.

“And Mrs. B?”

Mrs. Brighton sighed. “Yes, dear?”

“I hope you feel better, too.”

Mrs. Brighton smiled weakly and gently closed the door.

All day long, Lora worried about Celeste. Why was Mrs. Brighton crying? And why did she hesitate when she said Celeste was sick?

After 6th period, she hurried out of school, clutching Celeste’s work to her chest. She knocked on the Brighton’s front door. This time, Celeste opened the door. She was still in her pajamas and her eyes were red and swollen as Mrs. Brighton’s had been earlier.

“Oh my God, what’s wrong?”
“Lora, is it okay if I just talk to you later. I’m…we’re having a bad day.””Um, yeah. Did something happen? Did someone die? Your mom said you’re sick, so I brought your work. I just thought…”

“I’m not sick. Just… upset.””Oh.”

Both girls stood in awkward silence.

“Well, if you want you can come over later. I’ll fill you in on what you missed today. I can get mom to make us some cookies or something.”

“I may. I just don’t want to leave mom right now. That cool?””Yeah, cool. So, just let me know,” Lora said, handing Celeste the books and turning toward the steps.

“Thanks for the work.””It’s no problem,” Lora said without turning around.

“No, really, thank you. You’re such a great friend.”
As Lora walked down the front steps empty handed, the hint of smile spreading across her face.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Eyes Sewn Shut (Part One)

I finally finished the 2nd story in my Saligia series (Story One can be found here:

I'm going to post a piece of the story each day since it's rather long. Feedback is encouraged. BE BRUTAL.

Eyes Sewn Shut

All she had wanted since first grade was a best friend. Each girl in Middlebrook Elementary School seemed to have one. She’d see them in the lunchroom, heads together, giggling over their lunches as they shared whatever desserts had been packed that day. She’d watch them on the playground, swinging side by side and talking in their own secret languages. She listened as they planned sleepovers and trips to the movies, coordinating their outfits to match right down to their Keds.
It’s not that she was terribly unpopular. Whenever the class split into teams for kickball, she was never chosen last. She was invited to birthday parties at least once a month. On Valentines Day, when the students in class would exchange little cards, Lora would always receive a dozen or more.
But Lora Barton was never satisfied with being noticed or chosen or remembered. Lora wanted a best friend.

As Lora grew older, things didn’t change much. She was asked to dances, invited to study groups. She was even on the homecoming court one year. But Lora still didn’t have what she desired. Girls were fairly nice to her and she occasionally attended parties, but there wasn’t one that she could call her best friend.

Each day in Algebra, she’d watch the girl beside her doodle on the back of a notebook. She’d write her name, her boyfriend’s name, her name with her boyfriend’s last name. None of this bothered Lora until the girl began to write:


Lora felt herself stiffen as those three little letters appeared on the notebook in purple block letters. She had never written those letters herself, had never called anyone her “best friend.” She’d certainly not had a friend she wished to keep forever! Courtney glanced up and noticed Lora staring. She shuffled her notebook under a folder and pretended to listen to the lesson. Lora turned red and for a moment fantasized about snatching the notebook away and ripping it to shreds, as if tearing those names would break some magical bond.

As Lora walked home that afternoon, she wondered if she’d ever attain the elusive best friend she’d so wanted since childhood.

Three blocks from her house, she heard someone scream behind her. Turning around, Lora saw a small puppy running down the street. Chasing the dog was a girl about Lora’s age, red-faced and screaming.

Noticing Lora, the girl yelled, “Grab him! Please grab him!”

The dog was about four driveways from Lora. Across the street, Mr. Wilkinson was backing out of his driveway. Lora knew she had to act fast. She ran toward the blue truck, waving her arms above her head.

“Mr. Wilkinson! Stop! STOP!”

About the time his brake lights turned red, Lora caught sight of the puppy out of the corner of her eye. She turned around and scooped him up in her arms.

The red-faced girl jogged up to Lora, completely out of breath.

“Oh my God, thank you so much. I thought he was in his crate, so I left the front door open while I unloaded the car.”

The little puppy squirmed as Lora handed him over to his owner.

“Um, no problem,” Lora answered.

“No, really, you don’t understand. I couldn’t bear to lose Rudy. He was my sixteenth birthday present and I sleep with him every night. He’s my best friend.”

“Your best…?”

“Well, not really, but sometimes I feel like he’s the only one who gets me.”The girl smiled at Lora, her entire face lighting up. Lora laughed nervously.

“Look, why don’t you come by my house. It’s a mess ‘cause we just moved in, but my mom just went and bought pizza.””That’s okay, I…”

“C’mon, you have to let me repay you somehow. You’re my hero!” She hugged Rudy to her chest. “Our hero.”