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When All Else Fails
“Expelled?” I asked, incredulous. “Expelled?!”
“Yes. I believe that this punishment is necessary, as this is not your first offense.”
“Okay, one, I told you I was not driving recklessly. There was ice! I slipped on the ice! Why would I purposely drive into the building on? Like I’d do that on purpose. I’m a stupid kid, I know, but even I wouldn’t do that.”
Mr. Brown, the principal at my school, gave me a look. “First of all, there is no such thing as a stupid kid, just—”
“Just a lack of motivation. Yeah, yeah. God, you never change.”
“—And second, it was April!”
“There was ice!”
“It doesn’t matter now. You served your time in ISS, so there’s nothing I can do about it. But getting back to your recent offence.” He looked firm in his decision.
“Just let me explain at least. You didn’t even let me explain!”
He looked at his watch, turned his gaze to the wall behind me for a moment, and then closed his eyes and sighed. “You have five minutes.”
I smiled. “Okay. So first, I tried to join a gang, but they wouldn’t let me in, so I got kinda angry and kind-maybe shot someone. So they ended up dying, I guess, cuz I wake up in the middle of the night and there’s three guys leaning over me, holding guns. They told me if I didn’t pull the fire alarm—”
“Child, you have two minutes now.”
“Fine.” I sat back in my chair and crossed my arms, pouting like a little. “I was fighting with Sam Reynolds in the hall. He shoved me, and my arms flew out to catch me. Just so happens the fire alarm moved to right beneath my hand. Mrs. Roberts walked out just as I hit it. Sam ran off, and nobody would say that it was an accident. I tried to tell her that, but I didn’t want to say I’d been fighting, and I didn’t have another story to tell her.”
“Yes, it seems that telling stories is quite a trademark of yours.” He was referring to my multiple achievements on speech team. “I’m surprised you couldn’t think of anything. Not that I’m condoning lying, but that seems odd.”
“I know, I felt the same way. It was miserable. I was thinking, ‘I’ve lost my touch.’ I was devastated.”
“Regardless of whether you lied or not, you were fighting on school grounds, and if you’ve read the handbook any time recently, you’ll know that the punishment for fighting at school is—”
“A few days of ISS, or OSS in the more severe cases. Not expulsion!”
He looked at me with an eyebrow raised.
“It’s not like I spend my free time reading the handbook. While I was waiting for your slow self to come in to see me, I got bored and told the secretary, so she handed me the handbook and told me to start reading. You took quite a while.”
“Jane—Ms. Schroder has more important things to do than entertain a troublesome student, things like sorting out a fight, or dealing with the fire alarm going off.” He eyed me meanly. “Accidental or not.”
“But that brings us back to the beginning. How am I getting expelled over something that constitutes a few days’ ISS?”
“This is not your first offense. Actually, this is your—” he glanced at a paper on his desk— “eighth offense in the last two years. While they’ve all been of different natures, I feel that you’ve been given multiple chances to improve your behavior, and you have failed to do so. It seems like you and this school are just not made for each other.”
“You sound like a really bad reality dating show.”
Mr. Brown laughed. “While that may be true.” He sobered quickly, his smile fading. “I’m afraid that what I said is also true. You’re a good kid, Jillian. You messed up, but so does everyone else, although you sure do it a lot more than other people. That’s a bit of a problem, but it’s not like anyone’s every gotten hurt except yourself. Well, and the building. But this wasn’t my decision. The superintendent and school board are fed up with you, and they ordered it. I’m just following my orders.”
“Fine,” I grumbled. I stood and slung my bag over my shoulder. “Just one last thing: why in hell’s name couldn’t I get expelled yesterday instead of today, the last day of school before summer break?! I could’ve had a whole other day off!!”
He laughed again, sitting back in his chair. “The point of any punishment, especially expulsion, is to correct the instigator’s behavior. Not to give them incentive. You’re getting out, so that’s all that should really matter.”
“So what do I do for the rest of the day then? Since I’m not a student here anymore?”
“Technically, you’re still a student until the final bell rings. Since it’s the last day, you can just go to all your classes, turn in your books, and enjoy your last day hanging out with all your friends here. You’ve got quite a reputation among the faculties of local schools, so you’ll be treated differently at you new school. Enjoy it while you can.”
“Thanks, Mr. Brown,” I said. “You always were a cool guy.” I left his office.
“Now what the hell do I do?” I mumbled to myself.
Ms. Schroder cleared her throat loudly.
“Sorry, sorry,” I grumbled. I left the office and ambled slowly down the hall, taking my time getting back to class.
“Hey.” A voiced called at me from the end of the hall. I turned around.
He came down the corridor towards me. “Where were you? I got kinda worried when you weren’t in class.”
“Yeah, I had to go to the office. Brown wanted to talk to me.”
Sam reached me and stood in front of me. “Is everything okay?”
I scoffed. “No. I got expelled because of you.” I poked a finger at his chest, then turned and continued down the hall.
“Expelled?!” He hurried to keep up with me.
“Yeah, you d***** bag, expelled. On the last freaking day of school. God. Why couldn’t you make out with me and shove me against the wall back in January? I could’ve gotten out of school a whole semester ago!!”
“Because,” he said, stopping and touching my face, “I didn’t see how beautiful you are back then.”
“Oh please,” I continued, brushing his hand away. “Don’t get all mushy on me. You know I hate that. It’s the only reason I like you.”
“That’s not really the only reason you like me, is it?” He grabbed my wrist and pulled me toward him. His emerald-green eyes were serious. “I mean, there is so much more—”
I shut him up by pressing my mouth against his. After a few minutes I pulled away. “Typical boy. Can’t tell when I’m making a joke, but suddenly throws all his cares out the door when I kiss him. Hmph.” But then I grabbed his hand and began walking, my shoulder bumping his.
“It’s my last day. Let’s go like the locker rooms on fire or something.”