My tears drop onto the splotched, dusty tile in the corner of the classroom. If I don’t stop crying, they’ll join together and make a shiny puddle around the white rubber tips of the brand-new tennis shoes Mom bought me at Sears. The more I cry, the more embarrassed I am, the more I cry.
It’s bad facing into the sharp front corner of Mrs. Dewey’s 2nd grade classroom, but it’s not as terrible as what I bet is happening behind me. I know all those kids are laughing because I’m crying, because Miss Goody Two-Shoes got in trouble. They’re rolling their eyes, or pointing because my pants are too short. Now I can never ever look at these kids again so I cry harder. I shake and gag and I don’t have a Kleenex.
If I ever turn around, they’ll see my runny nose, my sore eyes, my sad shoulders. And I didn’t even do it–I didn’t talk during heads-on-desk time. I never do. I’m a good girl. And I didn’t mean to laugh when Brian said something funny about Mrs. Dewey. Mrs. Dewey does have pushed-out eyes like a frog, and smells like the creek behind my house when it’s hot, and that’s not my fault.
It’s the third week of school, and Mrs. Dewey has yelled lots of kids into the corner. Most of them don’t look like they care. The only other crier was Lisa. Her big eyes got scary round and her teeny skinny body shook so much that even mean old Mrs. Dewey noticed. I think Lisa only had to stay up three minutes, not five. I hope I stay up 500 minutes which maybe will be until after the bell rings and I don’t have to see those kids when I turn around.
I jump because Mrs. Dewey says, “Heads on desks!” again, for like the fifth time. Am I in more trouble? I don’t have a desk to put my head on in the corner. I can only stand, and I can’t stop crying.
I like school, I did last year anyway, only Mrs. Dewey makes me scared. She yells for us to sit down, then to be quiet, then to go on the playground, then to come in from it. She’s mad at us before we ever get to school. It feels like she’s always looking for a place to put her madness, and today it was on me.
I’ve got that throw-up feeling, like some chewed-up strawberry Pop-Tart from breakfast is pushing itself into my mouth and trying to get out. I’m sort of getting used to it since I have it so much. Would Mrs. Dewey have to clean it up?
I like the smell of the chalk in the tray that’s just under my nose, even though it reminds me of a sneeze.
Is that a dead spider mashed on the ‘Make Wise Choices’ poster in front of me? It’s black-brown and extra big. After school, will Mrs. Dewey flick her long tongue over and grab it, and have it for a snack?
I’m trying so hard not to smile thinking about Mrs. Dewey eating the spider that I don’t notice I’ve stopped crying. My shoulders aren’t shaking anymore. I wipe my face with my sleeve.
Mrs. Dewey says, “Now that you’ve got control of yourself, go back to your desk.” Her voice–she sounds like a bored croaky frog–doesn’t scare me this time. It makes me mad. She didn’t put me in the corner because I didn’t have control, she just didn’t like that kids laughed. She put me up here for no good reason, and left me to be a miserable baby in front of everyone.
I stand up straight and glare right at her big messy desk as I walk by. I can make a mean face, and I do, and forget how worried I was about the cry-face I just worked up. I sit down, fold my hands on my desk, and face the front of the classroom.
When I was in the corner, the class sounded noisy. Now it’s quiet. I watch Brian look at Mrs. Dewey who’s scratching something onto the chalkboard. He turns around for a second, and nods at me. Then, without moving his lips, he says, “Ribbit.”
I hold my breath so I don’t laugh again. The next time Mrs. Dewey turns to write on the chalkboard, I whisper, “Ribbit.” I hope Brian can hear me.
Marcy Dilworth is a recovering finance professional finally pursuing her love of writing. Recent stories have been published in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Writer’s Resist, and Blink-Ink. She lives in Virginia with her husband where they serve their precocious rescue pup, Kirby. Oh, and she has a couple wonderful kids. On Twitter: @MCDHoo41