School Pizza This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   "Who's buying pizza for lunch today?" Ms. Sullivan, our second grade teacher asked each Friday.

"Me, Me!" a chorus of affirmative responses echoed through the classroom, as the majority of the class waved their hands in the air.

On all the other days, I came to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made at home. But Fridays were different. Everyone who was anyone in the second grade bought their lunches on Fridays. Usually my mom sent me to school with a dollar bill to pay, but one particular Friday I wanted to pay for lunch with my own money.

That Thursday night, I dumped the contents of my piggy bank onto the kitchen table and proceeded to count out the nickels and pennies. "One, two, three," I counted the change three times before I was sure that I had the one hundred cents. Slowly I poured the change into a small, blue, satin change purse which I had been saving for a special occasion.

Friday morning came, and I placed the pouch into the pocket of my jacket. As I walked up the street to school I paused every few minutes and stuck my hand into my pocket to make sure the purse was still there. It was not until I fingered the cool, soft, satin that I felt assured. When I finally got to school, I walked into my classroom and straight over to the closet where we all hung our coats. I took mine off and hung it on the hook under my name, and sat down. Ms. Sullivan began to teach us arithmetic. While the rest of the class was consumed in their times tables, I couldn't concentrate. All I could think about was lunch time. Every few minutes I stole a glance at the clock on the wall, but since I couldn't tell time, I had no idea how much time had passed. So I tried to listen to what our teacher was saying. The minutes crawled by as we went from math to science, where we were studying plant life. Normally I couldn't tear my eyes away from my glass jar of algae, but my mind was filled with visions of school pizza. Finally, after what seemed like millenniums, Ms. Sullivan announced, "Lunch Time!" We all raced to the coat closet to get our jackets.

I grabbed my coat and stuffed my hand into the pocket to retrieve the purse. It wasn't in that pocket. Befuddled, I opened the other pocket, and it wasn't there either. I started to look in the inside pocket, but before I put my hand inside, I knew that it wasn't there. I stepped away from the coat closet and stood there shaking, feeling a lump growing large inside my throat, while all the other kids ran out of the room screaming, "Pizza, pizza!" I ran over to Ms. Sullivan.

"Ms. Sullivan, Ms. Sullivan," I cried.

"What is it, Daphne?"

"Oh, Ms. Sullivan, I had my lunch money in a blue satin purse in my pocket when I put it in the closet, and now, now ..." I couldn't finish the sentence without hiccupping. "And now, it's not there!"

"Daphne, are you sure? Maybe you just didn't look hard enough." She took my jacket from me and checked the pockets, one by one.

"Well, it's not here." She walked over to the closet and bent down to the floor. She poked her head inside and looked around the floor, but I knew she wouldn't find it.

"Maybe you dropped it on your way to school." She tried to find a logical solution to a problem that she just didn't want to face. How could I tell her that I had stopped every other minute on my way to school to make sure that it was still there? I just looked down at the floor and shook my head, while fat, salty tears made their way down my face, despite the fierce blinking that I was doing to keep them back. They dropped onto the floor, one by one.

"Oh, Daphne, I don't know what to tell you. I'm so sorry." How could she begin to explain the cruelties of the world to a seven-year-old? I looked up into her eyes, wanting an answer that she couldn't give me. She just held me and we stood like that for a few minutes, silent save perhaps for the sound of my sniffling. Then she walked over to her desk and pulled out her wallet and handed me a crisp dollar bill.

"Take this and go buy yourself some lunch."

Hesitantly, I took the money from her outstretched hand. Slowly, I walked out of the classroom toward the cafeteria. I entered the lunch room, where the buzz of chatter was overpowering to my ears. Everyone was laughing, talking and eating pizza. I walked over to the lunch line and took the last piece of pizza, which was tepid by now. I took a chocolate milk. There weren't any ice cream sandwiches left, so I had to get orange sherbet instead. I handed the dollar bill to the lunch lady, and walked out. By this time, most of the cafeteria had cleared to go to the playground for recess. Normally I played with my friends, but today I just sat in the stairwell, alone. I tried to eat the pizza, but I couldn't swallow. I couldn't taste it. I didn't even notice that there was no circle of the pepperoni in the middle, like there usually was. I walked outside and threw the lunch into the large plastic trash can, where the remnants of all the other school lunches lay packed together. I heard the bell ring, signaling the end of recess. I walked back into the building and into my classroom. I didn't even notice as the rest of the day passed. Soon enough, it was two o'clock. Everyone got up, pushed their chairs into their desks, and got up to leave. As I walked out the door, I felt Ms. Sullivan give me a pat on the head.

"Everything's going to be all right." She sounded confident enough but I just shook my head in silence. As I started walking home, I felt a raindrop. Soon it was pouring. I started thinking about the day, which brought forth a fresh batch of tears. My tears blended in with the rain. I tried to smooth away the strands of hair that had become plastered to my face. I wasn't but a few feet down he street when I spotted a tint of blue underneath all the wet leaves not far in front of me. I bent down and to my disbelief, there was the tiny blue change purse. It had been turned inside out, and now the blue dye was running onto the white inside. It was empty. I picked it up and put it in my pocket, and walked the rest of the way home.


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






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback