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Budget Cuts This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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She smiled innocently and handed me a tissue flower. Her class had made them earlier that day as Mother's Day gifts. I'm not her mother, of course, but she's the over-achiever of her third-grade class, so she made two and saved one for me.

I thanked her and moved my fingers over its petals. It was drooping. Soft and white because it was made of tissues, not tissue paper like I remembered using for the same project when I was her age. Just tissues. I suppose her class never sorted through mounds of joyfully fluorescent tissue paper and glitter glue like I had done a few years before. There was a budget cut on art supplies, so they used Kleenex.

Tissue flowers. It was all very fitting. Two dozen third-graders left class that day with sunken white flowers atop floral wire stems. No glitter fell, no paper rainbows fluttered, and no fuzzy pipe cleaners decked the halls jovially. The saddest part was that those kids thought their flowers were beautiful. Their monotone, chillingly uniform flowers were beautiful to them. The older kids, however, understood that they were the sorry result of budget cuts. We remembered, and we knew better.

It's odd, really, to be 14-years-old and know the ache of nostalgia. To hold a droopy white flower from a bright-eyed little girl and remember a time when things were better. Her class didn't know about Halloween parties, trips to the apple orchard, or music class, let alone a decent Mother's Day project. There was a lot they had missed out on, and my heart hurt a little when I realized that.

Three weeks have passed. It's June, somewhere near the middle. My class has graduated from elementary school, and last year's third grade is probably preparing their entrance to the almighty upper wing next fall. I don't think they know that that won't happen. I don't think their parents have broken the hard truth to them. The town has finalized a plan for consolidation of a half dozen primary schools. They'll be attending a more healthy facility, or so I've been told. The whole thing sounds pretty nauseating to me, but I don't know much about budget cuts.

Maybe their fathers told them, but I know their mothers haven't. They're probably still looking back on fond memories of Sycamore Primary School and crying over drooping white tissue flowers, knowing things will never be the same.

I can't be the only one.

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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Snowflakes said...
Oct. 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm
Hey Raindance, I think this is really good :D I really like the way you've written it, it made me a little sad haha. Well done :) 
hopelessnostalgic This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm
Thanks Snowlfakes! (Raindance here, changed my username!) I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :)
purplequeen said...
Jul. 5, 2012 at 10:24 am
Hi raindancegirl this is purplequeen i love this piece it is really inspiring and incredibly well written it was certainly deserved to be published it would be great if you can read mine and try to comment nicely on it.
raindance72 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 16, 2012 at 10:46 am
Thank you purplequeen! I'll try to check out some of your work too. I'm glad you liked it! :)
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