A girl can never have too many erasers. It’s why seven square ones line the top of my desk. Not that I’m an error machine, but you know as well as I do, mistakes happen.
I’m all about the pencil and its temporariness even though my little brother raves about the magic of a blue ink pen. Someone better tell him how the mystique of permanent ink wanes in middle school. That someone won’t be me. I don’t want to take away his optimism.
Brushing back a layer of curls, I feign attention at morning announcements with the rest of my bleary eyed classmates.
Over the intercom, the principal spouts a laundry list of events for the week...club meetings, club cancellations, volleyball try-outs, spirit days. The speaker crackles as he fumbles to turn off the mic.
Our teacher steps to the front of the room as I adjust my erasers in preparation for note-taking.. “Settle down, take out your lists of research topics.”
He likes to partner us based on interests not friendships, which means I actually get a partner. That is, if anyone else finds the town library as interesting as I do. It’s my number one choice.
“I believe Miss Watson has a special bulletin about an upcoming eighth grade-only event.” Mr. Benton claps his hands to re-capture our attention. “Straighten up for your student body activities chair, and count yourselves lucky to hear her announcement before the rest of the school.”
Isabella Watson is never one I count myself lucky about. Ever.
Keeping my eyes on my line of erasers, I try not to watch her slither to the front of the room. I can imagine it all too well. Her swishy walk. Her five-gazillion piercings. (Isn’t there some child protective law against the pounds of metal you can insert into your face?) Her awkward haircut, shaved on the left, shaggy on the right. It’s no wonder she doesn’t topple over.
We get it, you’re different, but some of us would rather not shine the spotlight on what makes us stand out from the crowd.
“Good morning, fellow Starlings. I have a special announcement to share.” Isabella stands perfectly straight and recites her words while staring at the light fixtures on the ceiling.
I can’t help but follow her gaze, wondering if she’s pinned her speech there.
Someone flicks a tiny wad of paper toward her. It ricochets off her right shoulder, and Mr. Benton stands, casting his stink eye onto each of us. No one takes the blame. All eyes fix on our Activities Chairwitch.
She clears her throat and smiles. “As I was saying... Next Friday, we are going old school by reviewing a tradition--the Father-Daughter Dance, Rainbow’s End. Eighth graders only. We invite-”
“Um, Ms. Watson, did you mean reviving? Reviving a tradition?” Mr. Benton smiles.
“What? Yes. Reviving. That’s what I said.”
What a disaster.
“Where was I? Oh, yes...We invite all girls and their dads to put on their dancing shoes and booger...I mean, boogie...boogie the night away in the Old Gym. It’s sure to be a night to remember.”
Isabella’s face enflames, and she slinks back to her chair while laughter pings around the room like firecrackers. I stifle mine. The last thing I should be doing is laughing at someone for making a mistake. Mistakes suck. Mistakes ruin your life. And, as much as I despise Isabella Watson, I despise mistakes more.
She gets a pass for this one. Besides, my brain’s latched onto her scary announcement, the one about daughters and fathers, together, dancing. (If you want to read more, look for this new middle grade story at your local bookstore soon!)