Brown Paper Bag

February 17, 2010
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When the sun disappears from the sky and clouds threaten our outdoor science lab, they let us out for lunch. Students pour from classrooms into the hall, headed to their lockers and then the cafeteria. Two minutes later, the halls are empty.

I dig my paper bag out of my backpack and head outside to eat in the parking lot. The fresh air whips my hair into frizziness, but the cool air clears my mind and makes up for it. I sit on the sidewalk and open my paper bag. It's a sandwich, wrapped in plastic saran wrap. I open the sticky plastic and examine it. Turkey and cheese, just like always. I take a small bite. The traffic is loud. It distracts me from the thoughts in my head; Obsessions, she called them. Another bite. And then I'm disturbed.

She comes up behind me and sits on the curb, close enough for me to feel her breathing. I look up slowly from my sandwich. I knew it'd be Mrs. Taylor.

"Hi, Alice. Do you have a moment?" she asks. Her cup of tea expels steam onto my face.

"What do you want?"

"I just wanted to say hello."

I can tell from her voice that she wants more. I turn away from her. "Didn't you just say that?"

"Why are you eating out here?" She glances at my sandwich and empty paper bag with concern.

"It's not against any of the rules." My voice has a defiant edge to it that she ignores. I wrap the sandwich back up and put it in the bag. The paper feels soft on my hands. I trace the edge with my pointer finger, making never-ending circles.

"I know that," she says.

"What's wrong with eating outside?" She leans down, watching the cement. Her eyes ponder my situation. "Do you have someone to sit with inside?" She says it slowly, as if each word has been chosen carefully.

I look away from her and shrug. "I don't know."

"You really don't know?"

"No," I say. "I don't have anyone to sit with." I look into her face for a second, but return my eyes back to my bag. Her brows furrow.

"Why do you care?"

"I want you to be okay."

I stand up abruptly. "I'm fine." I lean to pick up the crumpled bag and turn my back, leave her sitting on the curb, waiting for some kind of answer, some kind of reassurance that we're on the same side. But I don’t look back, don’t smile. The door slams behind me as I turn a corner to my next class.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

swimstar28 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 26, 2010 at 11:12 am
This was so strong. You have a confidence in the way you write: something to admire. I love the way that you centered around an object, a feeling, that is so small, yet it leaves the reader with a feeling that the story was centered around more than a brown paper bag. LOVE IT!
Susan said...
Feb. 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm
That was great! Please post more!
AmberAnn_d-_-b replied...
Feb. 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm
Nice dialogue and adjectives, good job. :)
Anita This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 24, 2010 at 7:22 pm
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