TOSOM: The Other Side of Me-Freshman

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Chapter 35: Presentation

Amarea couldn’t believe she was sitting in the office again. She never got into trouble, yet here she sat, again. Only the really bad kids were called out of class. Everyone stared at her when she got up and left math. Mrs. Dane was busy talking on the phone when she arrived.

“No, dear,” Mrs. Dane said, “you may not go home because you feel like you are going to get a headache.”

“I know that life is unfair,” she continued, “but you can’t go home.”

“Did you finish your math homework last night?” she asked. “Oh, I see.”

“Uh huh,” she continued, “ok, I guess.”

“Alright,” she conceded, “I’ll come over and get you, but just for an hour so you can finish your homework.” She hung up the phone and sighed, “Children, you’ve got to love them!”

“Well, hello, Amarea,” she acknowledged Amarea with a warm smile. “Can you do me a favor?”

“I guess,” Amarea replied.

“I’ve got to run next door and pick up one of my children,” she said.

“You have children?” Amarea asked, never really considering Mrs. Dane could be a mother.

“Yup,” she replied, “four of them.”

Amarea coughed, “four?”

“Yup,” she said proudly, “two girls and two boys. Wheeler is 11, Micah is 9, Hollis is 7, and my youngest Tris, is 5.”

“Wow!” Amarea said.

“Any who,” she continued, “I need to go next door to the elementary school and get Hollis. So would you mind manning my desk for a couple of minutes? Mrs. Humphries is on a conference call, so it will be a couple of minutes before she can meet with you.”

“Sure,” Amarea said, “I’d be happy to.”

“If anyone calls,” she said, “just let it go to voicemail.”

“Ok,” Amarea replied, “have fun.”

Mrs. Dane gave her a funny sort of “yah, right” look and left the office.

Amarea tried to just sit, but soon found herself fidgeting and straightening Mrs. Dane’s desk. When she began to straighten a particularly messy stack of folders, the name on one caught her eye, “J. Moore.”

It was Joey’s discipline folder! Amarea carefully removed it from the pile. She stuck a pencil in the place where it was, so she could return it to its exact location. The folder was thick. Amarea giggled. She opened to the middle of the folder and saw her name over and over again. She read bits and pieces, glancing up to see if Mrs. Dane was on her way back. She read about the food fight, punching Jimmy, the bus rides, and numerous other events that involved Joey defending her. She became engrossed in one particular event involving a senior, his new car, and a baseball bat.

“Ahem,” a voice cleared.

Amarea jumped, closed the file, and tried to shove it back in place. She looked up sheepishly at Mrs. Humphries. “Mrs. Dane went to get Hollis. She’ll be back in a couple of minutes.”

“I wanted to talk to you about something,” Mrs. Humphries said, walking over to the desk and peering down to see what Amarea could have been reading. Mrs. Humphries smiled broadly when she saw Joey’s folder was only halfway pushed into the pile.

“Yes,” Amarea said, her voice shaky.

Mrs. Humphries motioned for her to come into her office. Amarea stood. Her knees were shaking. She offered Amarea a chair. Amarea sat. She felt like she was going to be sick.

“Are you all right?” Mrs. Humphries asked.

“Yes,” Amarea replied meekly.

“Good,” Mrs. Humphries smiled.

Amarea stared blankly at her.

“I know that it hasn’t been easy for you here,” she began. “I would like to do something to help the students understand what you have gone through.”

Amarea’s brow furrowed.

“I would like for you to be a part of a school assembly about childhood illnesses,” she said warmly. “I feel it is important for others to know what you are going through.” She paused and looked at Amarea. When Amarea didn’t say anything, she continued, “I have contacted a young man at the middle school and the parents of an elementary school student who are eager to share a message about what it is like to overcome certain challenges.”

“Ok,” Amarea said, still trying to digest the fact Joey had been defending her and not fighting over Maddie.

“Wonderful!” she said. “The assembly is scheduled for 2:00 on Friday.”

“What?” Amarea asked. She hadn’t really been listening to what Mrs. Humphries had been saying.

“We were hoping you could talk 10 or 15 minutes about cancer and how it has affected you and your family,” she continued.

“It’s killing me,” Amarea stated, tears in her eyes.

“I didn’t mean to upset you,” she said, coming around to the other side of the desk. “We only wanted to help others understand.”

“Understand that I’m dying?” Amarea spat out, not really sure why she was angry.

“Mrs. Dane had mentioned that you were having trouble making friends,” she began.

“I’ve got a great friend,” Amarea said.

“At this school?” Mrs. Humphries raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

“He was,” she said. A tear rolled down her cheek.

“Joseph Moore,” Mrs. Humphries stated.

“Yes,” Amarea said, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Mrs. Dane returned to the office holding the hand of a squirming child. “No, it is not time for lunch yet,” she said. “Ms. Mary doesn’t know you’re here, so I’m sure she didn’t bake you any cookies.” Mrs. Dane looked from Amarea to Mrs. Humphries and back. “Did you ask her?” she asked.

“Yes,” Amarea said, wiping her cheek.

“So?” Mrs. Dane asked hopefully.

“Amarea,” Mrs. Humphries began.

“I’ll think about it,” Amarea finished.

“Wonderful,” said Mrs. Dane. “Let us know by tomorrow! And dear, would you mind stopping at the cafeteria and letting Ms. Mary know Hollis is here?”

Amarea nodded and left the office. On the way to class, she stopped in the cafeteria and told Ms. Mary that Hollis was visiting.

Ms. Mary smiled broadly and said, “Thanks love, I’ll start baking some cookies! Stop by and get some in about twenty minutes.”

“Ok,” Amarea agreed. “Thanks.” The last thing she wanted was more cookies.

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