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The Commons

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Sally walked passed the doors to Maxwell High. She looked at her freshman schedule. "Sally Hartage" it said at the top. She hated the name Sally. It was common. Too common. So common that no one ever used it any more. Teachers used it in class, sure. But only to common bond. To show that she wouldn't take a name that was in there class. Even "Mary" was becoming more popular. But she looked back and forth from her schedule to the cafeteria door. And decided that school was what faced her. And a teacher couldn't take anything out of her name.

1st Period: Homeroom: Social Studies: Ms. Talley.

Sally took a deep breath. She headed down seven marked halls, all named after imfamous presidents. The eigth held her locker. 37B. Across the hall was room 347--Ms. Talley: Social Studies.

Ms. Cynthia Talley held a yellow notebook in her left hand. In the right were thick circular glasses she had just taken off of her head. She stood by the doorway to greet her homeroom students. As each student walked by, she would ask them for their schedule card to make sure they were in the right classroom--they always were--and to learn names. The four-letter word haunted Sally all her life. Name.

"Your schedule, please?" Ms. Talley said is a high shrilling voice. Sally slowly handed the light blue piece of cardstock to the history teacher. "Yes. Good. Right classroom." She said this all without looking up from the small piece of paper. "Do you have a pen?"

Sally dug through her pocket to find her verdict--an old pencil. She took a moment to examine it befor handing it over to the plump teacher.

The color was the same as the light blue on the schedule sheet. A pattern of what seemed to be bunnies lined the circular structure, and a dull point ended the last point. On the other side of the pencil, a small bit of gum roamed the eraser. Sally knew it had been there for a long time, and didn't try to scratch it off. Instead, she tried to hide it. She passed the pencil with the tip of the eraser hidden under her hand.

"Thank you." Strangely, Ms. Talley examined the pencil, too. "Ew," she said unctously and choppily. But she discarded the thought in a moment. She opened up the little yellow notebook and wrote. She wrote for about a few seconds before she passed the card back to Sally. Sally moved on to an empty desk but stared back along the way to see if this happened to every person. She saw a boy. He handed her his card and she passed it back in a hurry. As he walked on, she patted his shoulder and welcomed him to the class.

"Maybe it's just girls..." Sally thought.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

By the end of the class, she stared over the room. Jennifer Hails--to put inot your attention, a completely normal name--sat behind Sally's row. The bell ran off and Sally jumped up to talk to her. She had known her all her life, and htey had become friends. Not best friends. But friends. They talked to each other in the hallway sometimes and waved in a crowded room when no other comfort could be found.

"Hey, did Talley write in the little yellow booklet when you walked inot the classroom?"

"Nah. I heard she other does it for special kids. For weirdos and freaks. I would never let her write in there for me."

Three words stuck to her head as Jennifer walked west to science and Sally, east to english. Special. Weirdo. Freak.

Period Two: English I Honors: Mrs. Freshet.

Mrs. Freshet was skrawny and old. Rumor has it she was a great-grandmother of a student when the school started back in '79. But there's also a rumor that says Mrs. Barrios drives a motorcycle, and that's a logical as a monkey on a unicorn. She waddled over to her desk in silence. She stared at the role book and at the students' assigned seats. "Sally," she muttered under her breath. No one could hear her.

Period Three: Elective: Band--Intermediate: Dr. Gradstine.

"Sa-" Dr. Gradstine started. She was the one teacher in the whole school with a docters degree. "Sa-" she said again. Then she moved on to the next name. "Jason Hendrix."

"Here." The rest of the names were called.

"Now look at the board." A short pause. "And look at your students. What do they have in common? They are your lifeline. Too many people in this class. Stupid principal. Now take a sheet of paper. Head it like this."

She wrote a heading with a brand new piece of chalk. "Now, let's say your name is Sally." She wrote Sally down. And Sally raised her hand. "Put your hand down..." She looked at the role sheet, then erased the board. "Billy. Let's say your name id Billy..." and she coninued with the rest fo the heading. Sally shrunked in her chair. Any other school wouldn't mind the name Sally. Just hers. Her little town of Dunwoody, Georgia.

Period Four: Lunch

Sally relaxed. Nothing happened at lunch. You eat and eat and sleep and wait for the bell to ring. People sometimes stare, but nothing matters. No teachers. She knew everybody here. They were used ot the name.

Period Five: Math: Mr. Kent.

Nothing happened in math either. The class was boring. It calmed Sally down. She got to think. The teacher didn't call role and he just gave the class a survey for the first day of school. He even fell asleep. So Sally didn't do the survey. She just thought. And dreamed wiht her eyes open.

She thought maybe she would just make people call her Hartage. Her last name. "Hey Harthage!" That wasn't common. So it couldn't be "too common."

But as she tried it on Anisa--a girl in whom loved everybody and their names--she didn't buy it.

"Hey Anisa."

"Hey Sally."

"Oo--Sally. Could you call me Harthage from now on? It sounds more Highschool-like."

And Anisa couldn't stop laughing.

Period Six: Reading Skills: Mrs. Hammeran.

Reading is like English. It's "Continued..."

So Sally sat in the front this time. She was confident since her last two periods had no intention of producing a commotion of the name Sally.

But Mrs. H. looked at her, and immediately asked her name.

"Harthage," she replied.

"Your first name, Darling."

Sally sighed. "Sally."

And Mrs. Hammerman almost fainted. She had ruined Sally's point and all her confidence. She slowly inched to the back of the room.

Period Seven: Science: Ms. Talley.

Ms. Talley taught both Science and Social Studies. She was a middle school teacher once and they had taught Science and Social Studies together. So she taught them both now.

The small yellow book lay on the side of her desk and she talked about atoms and molecules. Sally stared at it until the bell rang. Then she sat and stared somemore. She wondered what was in it. It was written all over her face.

"Class is over...Sally."

"Yeah, I know."

"Well, I have to go. I have an appointment. Please lock up, and head to your next class."

Sally stayed there for a while. Ms. Talley had forgotten her notebook. It was half an hour after the bell have rung for last period before she got the idea. It was a simple idea. Any one would find it easily. But Sally was different. In more ways then one.

She jumped up and rushed over to the book, flipping through all the pages franticly. She found her name. Sally Harthage. But she didn't read. She cried over the pages. Wondering what it said, but too afraid to figure out. Her hands slipped, and the notebook dropped to the floor, flipping to a new page.

Period Seven: P.E.

Skipped.

Home.

She ran and ran.

But running away still can't protect you from:

The Commons.





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