by Diane Arrelle
Margaret Smith’s mother came into the bedroom and pulled back the curtains. “Margie, get up,” she called.
Margaret covered her head with the pillow.
“Margie, I said get out of that bed!”
From under the pillow Margaret mumbled, “Don’t wanna get up.”
Sighing, Mrs. Smith tucked some loose hair back behind her ear and yelled, “Margaret Catherine Smith, you better get out of bed right now! You know today is the first day of school!”
Margaret knew when her mother used her full name, it was time to respond. She threw the pillow from her face and sat up. “Mother, I don’t feel good. I thi—”
“Well,” Mrs. Smith corrected. “I don’t feel well.”
“Then that makes two of us!” Margaret said in a hopeful tone. Seeing the look of annoyance on her mother’s face, she started again. “Mother, I don’t feel well, I’m too ill to go to school.”
Mrs. Smith started to laugh.
Margaret, still sitting in bed, was shocked by this outburst.
Finally, Mrs. Smith stopped laughing, wiped the tears from her cheeks and said, “Oh come on now! You really have to get more original; you use that excuse every year.”
“Well it’s true,” Margaret whined. “I’m sick!” She flopped back onto the pillow and dramatically threw her arm across her face.
“Sick of school?” her mother asked.
“Yeah, sick of school!”
“Well Margie, you know you have to go. We all have to do things we don’t enjoy. Life’s just that way.”
Margaret sat up again and snapped, “Oh really, Mother!”
“Come on,” Mrs. Smith coaxed. “Get dressed and I’ll make a good breakfast and pack you a special lunch.”
“That’s my girl, I knew you’d come around.”
Margaret got out of bed and shuffled to the bathroom. She took an extra long shower and slowly brushed her teeth.
Her mother called from downstairs, “Margaret stop wasting time. Your breakfast is getting cold.”
Margaret sighed, “Ah Mom, stop treating me like a baby!”
“Then stop acting like one and get down here!”
Sulking, Margaret stamped down the stairs. Her mother had made her favorite breakfast and the aroma of French toast and bacon enticed her into the kitchen.
“Doesn’t that look wonderful?” Mrs. Smith gushed. “Let’s eat all of it so we’ll have energy for a full day.”
Margaret was tempted to ask her mother if she were joining her but decided that the humor wouldn’t be welcomed. Instead, she started eating. The meal did make the day a little brighter, but still she said, “I really do hate going to school. I’ve been going to school almost all my life and I don’t want to go anymore.”
“Now Margie,” Mrs. Smith sighed. “You don’t mean that. We have this argument every September. Once you’re there everything will be fine.”
“No it won’t! I hate it there!”
Mrs. Smith rolled her eyes.
Margaret got angrier at her mother’s familiar gesture. She shrieked, “I hate my principal, and all the teachers! I even hate all the kids and I’ll tell you something. They all hate me right back!”
“Don’t yell at me,” Mrs. Smith snapped. “I’ve had enough of this nonsense! Now, you are going to finish and leave. Remember you had better not be late.”
Margaret got up, her face flushed with anger and ran up the stairs. Five minutes later she stormed from the house. Once in the warm sunshine she slowed her pace. She kept wishing for one more week of summer, but all too soon the brick school loomed in front of her. Too late for wishes, summer was officially over.
There were no children in the yard, so she knew she was late, not to mention in trouble. She tried to sneak inside, but just as she entered one of the teachers leaving the office noticed her. “Hey look,” he laughed. “Margaret’s back and she’s late again. Margaret, I thought you said that you weren’t coming back here ever.”
Margaret ignored him and continued walking. When she got to her room, the principal was there speaking to the class. Seeing her enter, he said, “Well, well, Miss Smith, I see you’re tardy again this year. We will certainly talk about this after school.”
Margaret stared at her new shoes, her face hot with embarrassment and softly said, “I’m sorry, sir. It won’t happen again.”
Then she turned to the class, looked at the children and said, “Good morning, I’m Miss Smith, your third-grade teacher.”