How to be Sent to the Principle's Office
“Will Mina Aldacott and Hazel Carpenter come to the office? Mina Aldacott and Hazel Carpenter?”
All of the kids still in their seats jerked their heads toward where I stood by the turn-in bin or where Mina was frozen in her desk, as kids usually do when someone else besides themselves are in trouble. I steadied my shaky breathing and walked to the door with Mina. I couldn’t cry. I had a problem you see, I always cry in front of a school authority member, whether I was in trouble or not.
We left the third floor and slowly traveled down the stairs, not speaking. The long climb was perfect to calm myself. We went into a bright yellow room on the second floor with ridiculous smiley elephants playing together.
Mina and I expressed twin faces of horror when we saw that James was in the office with us. He wasn’t the only one there. My brother was there too, looking sick. I felt sorry for him, but didn’t go over to comfort him yet. I was too busy speculating why James was even here.
“Hopefully he is going to get into trouble!” I sang-song underneath my breath.
Mina smiled and we sat down on a tattered, vile smelling couch, with my brother, as far away from James as we could get. Then an old woman, the vice principal stepped through the office’s entrance and adjusted the rims of her spectacles.
“Carpenter… Hazel?” She asked, like she hadn’t seen my for my entire life at this school. I looked at Mina. “I’m pretty sure that she is Mina,” I said,” So I guess that would be me.”
The women sniffed. “You too, Mina Aldacott and James Jancola.”
Mina and I exchanged a quick look between us. Why was he going too? We went into a room with a white table and six chairs with another smiley elephant smack dab on the wall. The old woman sat down, so Mina and I did too.
“This is serious, girls. We need to talk about this because this is not the type of behavior we expect from Metelhorse School. Poor James is deeply affected about what you said. What do you have to say for yourself?”
I could feel my temperature rising and my heart pounding faster and faster. I needed to talk now, or else the dreaded tears would come. “I have a question,” I blurted out,” What are you talking about?”
“Don’t try to pretend like you don’t know, Ms. Carpenter. James, sweetie,” She said, laying a hand on his arm,” Would you like to tell us how you feel?”
James lifted his bald head up and his small, black eyes shimmered faintly. Like he was crying. But James didn’t cry, everyone knew that.
“I felt hurt and so very when you said that. I can’t believe you two would do anything like this. I’ve asked you many times to stop, but you wouldn’t stop.”
“What in the world are you talking about?” Said Mina.
The old woman (I had come to now think of her as the old crone, because of how she was treating us compared to James.)
“You told James to kill himself because no one liked him at this school.”
My eyes widened. Mina burst out angrily. “We didn’t!”
The old crone looked at us and said,” You are in so much trouble right now, you should start confessing and stop lying.” Mina opened her mouth to speak, but my sobs drowned her voice out. No! I had to force them back.
The old crone looked a bit shaken. She probably wasn’t used to 6th graders breaking down inside her office.
“What is wrong? Pull yourself together.”
My stomach tightened and a lone tear trickled into my mouth. “I-I’ve been framed.” Then I blew it right there.
“James is a liar. We would never say that. And why would we? You can’t punish us without concrete evidence. Do you have any besides James’s word? I demand solid evidence.”
The old crone stiffened. “I also have only your side of the story.”
James cried,” But if you don’t punish anyone, the side that is lying will get away scot-free”
The old crone looked at him suspiciously. “Mr. Jancola, I thought the last thing you wanted was to let these girls get into trouble?”