The Perfectionist This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The door was closed at precisely 7:30 each morning, but, as Matthew headed toward room 607, he still had a hint of hope that maybe today some circumstances had allowed the door to remain open a few extra moments. There was no running allowed in the hallways at Cooper Elementary, so Matthew walked with urgency. And although the hall was empty, he focused intently on the ground, hoping to look as inconspicuous as possible.
This was his third tardy. And for the third time it was not his fault. He had decided that the adults at the school understood, but Matthew himself did not. To him, late was late. He was the one slipping through the doors after the bell, not his mother. She would simply assure him that it was okay, that the ladies in the office would understand, and then drive away to safety.
He would then report to the tardy check-in desk which was run by a woman who now knew Matthew by name. He always wore a look of embarrassment when he approached her - as if he had overslept that morning or had car trouble. The lady was always pleasant enough, which made Matthew feel even worse, and he often wondered why she couldn’t just mail the tardy slip to his mother.
He glanced at his latest tardy slip as if to confirm its presence. It was stamped 7:32 and it was now 7:36 as he arrived at room 607.
The door was closed, just as he knew it would be, yet he still felt let down, as if this were a sign the day would not be in his favor. The door was closed, but he knew it didn’t really matter. He would have to open it, and walk through, and this is what he hated most. All the eyes. He would discover as he went through life that it did not matter if you walked into a kindergarten classroom or a meeting with businessmen gathered around a large conference table - all eyes would turn to examine the intruder.
Glancing at the door handle, he hesitated. As he met the gaze of his reflection in it, he appreciated its perfection. Handled so frequently by the careless hands of ten-year-olds, yet still unblemished. He wished he possessed such resilience.
Matthew looked up, reminded himself that it would only hurt for a minute, and then opened the door.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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mcpanicfanic said...
Apr. 20, 2010 at 2:45 am
I was late everyday to school, and never got in trouble. This piece is great though. Its so simple, but so good.
 
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