Laynie was late for school. Her second day, and she was running late.
By having Walter drive her, she managed to dash into her first class just in time. But the whole day she was falling a little behind. She was even more confused about classes than she had been the day before.
By the time lunch rolled around she didn't even feel like eating. She spread a sheet of homework in front of her, and then almost fell asleep on it.
She was so focused on her schoolwork she almost didn't hear someone clear their throat.
Laynie looked up and saw a group of what looked like the popular kids of her school giving her nasty looks.
"What do you think you're doing?" A snooty girl in front asked.
"Uh, sitting... and eating lunch?" Laynie replied in confusion.
"I meant what do you think you're doing sitting at our table?" She motioned to her group.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was your table. I'll just move." Laynie said quietly, hoping not to get into any fight on her second day.
"Yeah. You better, freak." The girl scoffed, "I mean really who dyes their head bright red."
The group of kids laughed as Laynie clumsily stood up from the table and started to walk away.
As she was walking Laynie didn't notice one of the girls stick their foot out in front of her and she tripped over it, landing on her lunch. Which just so happened to be probably the messiest food ever. Spaghetti and meatballs.
She sat up and saw everybody in the surrounding tables laughing at her. There was spaghetti on not only her face, but her clothes too.
Too embarrassed to move, she just looked away bashfully.
"Enough!" A sharp voice called, silencing the entire cafeteria.
Laynie looked up and saw a serious looking lady approaching her. She didn't know whether she should be frightened or thankful for her interference.
The teacher grabbed her by the arm and painfully yanked her to her feet. She completely ignored the laughing group of girls and dragged Laynie away to the hallway.
"I-I'm sorry ma'am, I tripped and-"
"What's your name?"
"Laynie Combs," she responded sullenly.
She sat Laynie down in a chair outside the principal's office and entered.
Laynie wiped as much of the spaghetti off of her neck as she could, wiping it on her jeans instead.
I'm not ashamed of my hair, she tried to convince herself.
In all reality, her hair was a point of insecurity for her. When it had been long she hated it, but sometimes she hated the short hair as much as the long hair. It made her a target. Not to mention the red. The red had been the result of a date between her and her mom, and she'd joyfully gone through with it and hadn't the heart to part with it yet. She loved the red, but it only made things worse for her.
"Miss Combs, please come in," the soft spoken principal said.
The mean teacher was gone, and only the elderly principal and Laynie were in the office.
The principle was a kind looking man, with a puffy white mustache and a shock of white hair.
"I'm sorry about Mrs. Resse. She's too quick to assume with these situations. Why don't you tell me what happened?" He handed her a box of tissues to clean herself up and sat behind his desk.
Laynie told her side of the story and sighed when she was finished, near tears again.
"I'm sorry dear. Why don't you just go on home for the day?"
Laynie nodded. "I'll call Walter."
"I have to tell you one more thing Miss Combs. It's against the school's regulations to have hair that color. You'll be asked to cover it until you can dye it a more natural color."
"Sir, with all respect... My red hair is a part of me. I won't dye it." She tried to stand up straighter and look confident in her decision, but honestly she felt like shrinking into the corner.
The principle looked shocked, then crossed his arms. His mustache wiggled, and he let out a long hum. "I'll talk to the school board at our next meeting this week. Perhaps I can sway them to see it your way." He smiled slyly, then dismissed her.
Laynie walked out a very confused girl. She'd just blatantly disregarded direct orders from the principal and gotten out without any damage taken.
She called Walter to tell him she was headed home, but it went to voicemail. She left a very short, awkward message and proceeded to leave the school.