I never really knew my parents and that fact honestly didn’t bother me as much as it did the other kids. I never longed to see if I looked more like my mom than my dad and I never wondered what kind of job he worked at, or if mom’s hair was curly or straight. I truthfully never really gave it much thought if they were the kind of people that would treat you cruel or kind. And I guess that was kind of strange seeing how the other kids always wondered about the little things like that. The way I looked at it, since they weren’t here there was no use wondering why not, especially if it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Almost everybody at St. Mary’s Orphanage has a gift from their parents when they dropped them off. If you came here when you were a baby then it’d most likely be the blanket you were bundled in, unless your parents gave you something extra to remember them by. If you came here when you had sense enough to know this wasn’t where you were born then it’s probably something special like a picture of your old family or maybe a real golden necklace—something nice like that. I’m not sure if I was left on the front porch or not because I don’t remember being anywhere else but here. I’m fifteen years old right now. The farthest my memory can go is two. Apparently, my parents left me a cloak—a pretty bold red one. It doesn’t make me sad that I’ve been abandoned here. I don’t miss them because I don’t know them. St. Mary’s is all I ever knew and I’m okay with that.
St. Mary’s is an old rundown building sitting across from an old meat shop that always reeked and a flower shop that never had any business. One of the rules we had to follow here was the morning prayer. It was when all the kids from ages six to seventeen had to wake up at four thirty in the morning and be down in the cafeteria by five since it was the biggest room in the building. It was always cramped because this orphanage was very crowded. A priest would volunteer to come down and say a few things behind a dull wooden podium that was far too small for him. The purpose of the prayer was to lift our spirits for the upcoming day and encourage a hard-working attitude, I guess, but nobody really paid attention since it was so early.
Speaking of which, it was almost time for the morning prayer but for some reason I couldn’t get myself up from bed. My two roommates, Maribel and Grace, were always the ones to force me up. Except Grace had a sleepover in a different hall, surprisingly, and Maribel woke up extra early today to help cook the breakfast with the lunch ladies. She was kind like that, which is why she’s my favorite person here. To be honest I don’t really like Grace too much.
I cracked open heavy, crust-filled eyes and made sure to glare at the ceiling to make a threat to God. I can’t remember what I said exactly but it had something to do with me warning him that it had better not be passed five or else. And I guess God doesn’t like playing games like that because when I groggily got out of bed to wipe my ice-cold fingers over the surface of my clock I was upset to discover that it was five fifteen. I wasn’t happy but part of me decided that it was alright because it gave me all the more reason to dislike the man. And I needed all the reasons I could get just in case someone asked me why I did. I lazily slid my bare feet over the cool floor in search for my clothes. It was freezing in that room, it really was. I had goose bumps popping up from every inch of my body but I hardly even noticed the air from how much of a bad mood I was already in. On my way to the clothes bin—we didn’t have a closet—I had to pass Grace’s mattress. I stopped dragging my feet to stare at it. It smelt just like Grace. The stench made me even more annoyed so to satisfy my growing annoyance I collected a big ball of spit and spat it at the middle. That made me laugh. I laughed even harder when I imagined Grace actually laying in that after a long day. As I was getting dressed into a navy colored dress with a white rounded collar and the same black boots everyone is assigned to wear, I found myself spacing out, wishing I’d be there when Grace landed on my wad of spit.
Now for the tricky part. I would somehow have to make my way into the cafeteria without being noticed by the nuns. You’d think it’d be a senseless task since everyone is required to attend the prayer so, of course, you’d assume everyone was attending. Only, even though the nuns were the ones who lectured the importance of this prayer I often caught them sneaking their way out for whatever reason. They would sometimes whisper loudly to each other to make sure we could hear, commenting that they’re going to find themselves out because they could have sworn they heard pitter pattering upstairs or maybe even a baby crying.
After lacing up my boots the best I could I stomped my feet on the ground to get a good feel and to make sure there weren’t any pebbles or dirt inside. After doing so, I went stiff because I remembered that I was upstairs and the cafeteria was somewhere below me. Hastily, I quietly made my way out after a quick glimpse on both sides of the narrow hallway. It was hard getting my door to soundlessly close because as slow as I was going I was beginning to make myself nervous. And when I get nervous I get irritated. And when I get irritated I get angry. And when I get angry doors don’t close quietly. Nonetheless, I managed to do so and when I did I made a heavy sigh and wiped imaginary sweat off my forehead. Making sure to keep to one side of the wall, I tiptoed down the corridor with wide opened ears. It wasn’t difficult until I got downstairs. At the end of the steps I caught the shoulder of a nun standing at the corner of a wall, mostly all of her hidden in the mouth of the hallway. I didn’t recognize her at first since the walls were already an ugly dark brown and her habit sort of blended in. I’m glad I did see her, though, because just as her existence was brought to my attention I dropped to lay myself flat on the steps. I was a skinny, small girl so doing so hid me well. It was a good thing I dropped when I did because as soon as I fell I heard the nun suspiciously cease her hushed prayer to open her ears in search of me. I dared to raise my head up, just slightly, to see if she caught me. And I was almost tempted into darting back up the stairs because my stomach leaped at the sight of her. She was staring right at me with her fading blue, bucked eyes. Or, at least it looked like she was. In reality, she was actually just paying close attention to the stairs, privately insisting that her age and mind weren’t playing tricks on her. To my surprise, she started toward the steps with a harsh walk, determined to discover the truth. I stopped breathing, hoping that would help. I don’t think it did. The closer she got the faster I attempted to think up an excuse as to why I woke up late and was sneaking around St. Mary’s. Gratefully, though, a voice stopped her and forced her to turn around to acknowledge it. It was another nun. This one was younger but still old to me. Her voice was sharp and she didn’t pause in between her words, warning her fellow sister that they were lingering too long in the halls and were to report to the cafeteria immediately because one of the stricter nuns was growing skeptical of their absence. When they turned to dart away I decided not to dwell so I sprang up from the staircase and hurried down the steps and into the hallway the nuns went down, keeping sure to stay far behind them.
I was lucky enough to experience no more obstacles. The cafeteria doors were wide opened, welcoming to all who entered at their own risk. I was almost tempted to turn right around when I saw all the bored looks the kids were making and the stern faces the nuns were making. However, fearing punishment, I finished my journey. Quietly, without drawing attention to myself, I crawled into the cafeteria and sat in the back which was extremely close to the entrance. That was good because if it hadn’t been I don’t think I would have been able to mouse in like I did. And it was also good that the priest was saying a prayer that had the nuns hot gluing their eyes at him so they didn’t notice me invite myself in at all. I smiled, relieved, and wanted to wipe invisible sweat off my forehead again but didn’t because I discovered something horrible. I discovered an incredibly ugly girl with dull orange specks littering her face and long straight hair of the same color. She was making a face at me like I did sometimes when I looked at her. It was squished together in the center of her portrait, making me have to guess whether or not she was glaring at me, or just plain constipated. I returned her face, only I purposely made mine prettier. Plus, I made sure to stick out my tongue. She was really offended by that. Her mouth dropped and her green eyes almost popped out of her skull. And then I realized that although she wasn’t distorting her features as sour as she was before she was still ugly. So, I mentally scratched out my last theory and replaced it with a better one. She wasn’t ugly because of the face she was making, she was ugly because that girl was Grace!
The morning prayer ended within the next half hour or so. I couldn’t tell exactly because whenever my eyes shifted to the cafeteria windows it was still snowing pretty heavy outside. When the priest did all the necessary closing statements and we uniformly replied we were finally free. A nun made her way to the podium and tried her best to raise her voice, instructing that we properly form a few lines to receive our breakfast. No one paid her any mind, though, because we already knew what to do. We did it every day. I cut in line today, which I only did on rare occasions, and held up an empty fist to anyone who looked like they wanted to protest. The reason why I was skipping today was because, like I said before, Maribel helped cook breakfast today. She was standing at the start of this line with a wrapped sandwich in hand and I couldn’t wait to see her. Suddenly, though, I was snatched by the back of my collar. Assuming that a kid wasn’t too happy about my skipping I whirled around and threatened to swing my fist. It was a good thing it was only an empty threat, too, because it wasn’t a kid stopping me from breaking the rules—it was a nun! A strict nun, too. She cut her eyes hatefully at me with her mouth pressed into a fine line. It made her look like a mummy. I returned that look but dropped my fist and kept out the mouth part because I was afraid of looking like a mummy. Instead, I took my mouth to the side and bit my inner lip.
“Breaking the rules so early in the morning, Lucy?” She scolded. If only she knew that I snuck into the cafeteria. I wonder what she would do then.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry, just let me go already. It’s just skippin’. I’m not hurting anybody!” I turned to a kid stationed next to me who was making a difficult expression. “Am I hurting you?” I loudly asked, hoping he would disagree. He ignored me.
“Oh, you were cutting in line, were you? I only just found out that you were late to the morning prayer.” Oh. So she did find out. I looked around the room and parked my eyes on Grace who was standing in a line on the opposite side of the room. She stood pin straight in an ugly, oddly patterned mustard colored dressed with her head up high like she always did when she snitched. I was glad I spit on her mattress. Just as I was thinking about her falling on it the nun—I think her name was Sister Abigail—pushed me forward. Angrily, I walked. Every time I tried to turn my head in hopes of catching a glimpse of Maribel Sister Abigail would physically force my gaze forward. Her constant rough behavior was making my skin flare red but I didn’t make an outburst no matter how much I wanted to. With my arms tightly folded, we left the cafeteria. The moment my foot made it out of the room I realized something important.
“Wait a minute; I didn’t even get to eat breakfast! Can’t I even have that?!” I whined, glaring at her with a face I hoped was hateful. Sister Abigail didn’t say anything. Instead, she grabbed me by one of my long, braided pigtails and rushed me into a room where free time was often held. That, or what I was about to receive. She dragged a tattered desk out of a slim door and slammed it in the middle of the room, kicking books and dolls and more books out of the way. I sat down without her having to tell me to. She picked up a few books and went through them before dropping one before me. It was opened to a blank white sheet. Placing a dull pencil in the middle she grinned at me. I didn’t like the way she grinned at me. She looked like the Grim Reaper just before he was about to do something sinister.
“I hope you were really listening by the time you finally decided to join us.” She tapped the pencil against the paper. I’m not sure why. I think she was trying to make some sort of point. “You’re going to sit here and write a two-page report on it. When you’re finished you may go to class as you would normally do. But only after you’ve finished!”
“Don’t I get breakfast?!” I asked. I wasn’t worried about a two-page report because I wasn’t planning on doing it, anyway. And even if I was forced to I guess I could do it relatively quickly because I was used to punishments like that. Sister Abigail rarely caught anyone doing something bad unless Grinch snitched. Oh, that’s Grace, by the way. Pretty much everyone calls her Grinch because that’s what she is. She’s always snitching and fibbing and making our lives worse than it already is. We’re not really sure why so we made up our own reason. We’re not sure if it’s true, but there’s a rumor floating around St. Mary’s that Grace doesn’t have a gift from her old parents and she doesn’t even remember what they looked like. It wasn’t that big of a deal when you think about it but it was all we could come up with. That, and the fact that she was born here in St. Mary’s. Not literally, but she only got to breathe a couple breaths of Bridgeham Hospital air before she was stuck with St. Mary’s for the rest of her life. But like I said, none of this is a big deal because plenty of kids don’t have departing gifts or memories and they’re okay with that.
“No. I would have had some leftovers delivered but since you thought cutting in line was a good idea you can go without today.” And with that she left, making sure the door was secured shut behind her because she wiggled on it even though she was no longer inside. Again, I’m not sure what the purpose of that was. I groaned and decided to draw myself punching the Grinch. And after I finished doing that I thought about breakfast. Thinking about breakfast then caused me to think about Maribel. I groaned again and got out of my seat. The next hour was spent of me roaming the room, picking up old books to read a few sentences, picking up a couple of dolls in search of their tag to find out when they were manufactured, and undoing and redoing my braided pigtails. They ended up uneven and sloppy which made me mad. I couldn’t do them as well as Maribel could.
Soon, I received company. The door cracked open, insecure. I stared at it suspiciously, standing up from my fetal position. Slowly inching her head in was Maribel! I smiled wide from ear to ear. Laughing, I tackled her. She squealed some, unprepared, and begged me to quiet down in a quiet voice. I did, but of course I was still excited. After closing the door behind her as quietly as I did that morning, she brought a breakfast sandwich out from behind her back. I gratefully took it, tearing it from its wrapper. Munching rudely, I asked, “What are you doing here?” Maribel made herself at home by sitting up against the wall. I joined her, taking another bite out of my sandwich. It was tough. To be honest, it was gross. The bread was hard, the meat was probably undercooked or spoiled and the lettuce was soggy. I don’t think there was any cheese, either. I would have tasted it if there had been. But I was hungry and, most importantly, it’s not like I had any other choice. What did I look like being picky? I sat cross legged beside her and picked my ear. Maribel stared at me. My hand must have brought her attention to my hair because she commented on it, her face in light shock.
“What happened to your hair, Lucy?” she asked, taking a black tail. I looked at it with her.
“I was bored,” I bluntly said. “Can you believe they locked me in here, Belle? I have to write a stupid paper on a stupid prayer I wasn’t even listening to all because I was a couple of stupid minutes late.” I was going to continue but I decided not to. Maribel was one of those orphans still grasping onto hope. She had her heart cradled in the hands of the Grim Reapers (the nuns). I never had the courage to tell her she was wasting her time, especially when I saw how hard she worked. I didn’t want to confess that getting good grades in school, listening to prayers, doing prayers, following all the rules, and helping the lunch ladies in the cafeteria make breakfast was all just a waste of her time. In the end, when we all turn eighteen, we’ll be put to work. Of course, it’s optional. But of course, we all take it. It’s either learn how to work on the boats, fields, or mines or be homeless. I didn’t want any of us to have to choose between either of those. I wanted Maribel to be one of those doctors at Bridgeham Hospital or maybe a florist or a school teacher. They suited her far better. And I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be, but it wasn’t one of those stupid jobs. Maribel’s face was vacant as she stared at the floor. I watched her, eating my disgusting sandwich. In the silence, I analyzed her. I started with her outfit. Maribel wasn’t purposefully fashionable but she made donated clothes look that way without meaning to. Her dress was a pale, washed out blue with clear buttons going up from her chest to her collar and three clear buttons going down her back. She was wearing thick white stockings but her boots were the same as mine, though. Brown worker boots with black string. I then watched her take her small pale hand and tuck back her shoulder length, blonde wavy hair that always seemed to shine naturally. She looked at me with big green eyes. I didn’t notice how sad her expression was until I finished my sandwich. Immediately, I raised both of my black brows. Before I could comfort her, she comforted me. She held up a box I just realized she was carrying in her other hand. It was white and laced and just plain beautiful. Carefully, she opened it up and out popped a fragile looking ballerina, spinning slowly as a dinging song played. We both stared at it in silence. I turned my head away when I had enough. At that signal, Maribel closed the box. “Why did you bring that?” I asked. It was Maribel’s departing gift from her parents.
“Because I knew you’d be upset about getting in trouble with the sisters.” But weren’t you the one sad? I wanted to ask. Instead, I said nothing. “Do you want me to fix your hair?” she asked. I nodded. I liked it when Maribel fixed my hair. Gently, she took down the disaster I created. She kept it in its natural state for a minute as she finger combed. My hair was thick and dark with spiral curls. Maribel liked it. I was neutral. Parting it, she began to sew my locks into neat braids. I could tell just by feeling the way she passed each strand over each other with care and precision. I closed my eyes, feeling sleepy.
“Lucy,” Maribel began. Her voice was soft and hesitant. “Do you miss your parents?”
“What’s to miss?” I asked, furrowing my eyebrows. Maribel kept quiet. “Do you miss yours?”
“Sometimes I do, but not as much as when I was little.” She finished the first tail. I looked at it and, expectedly, I was satisfied. “They’re always in the back of my head, though.”
“You don’t have time to think about that stuff. Especially not about people who aren’t even thinking about you.” Maribel started on the second braid. She didn’t say or do anything odd but the way the vibe felt when she shifted to get to work on the next lock made me feel guilty and uncomfortable. I stopped myself from seeing what kind of expression Maribel was wearing.
“What about you, Lucy? Do you ever think about your parents?” I snorted, honestly finding humor in that.
“Hell no,” I said. Maribel stiffened.
“Lucy, you shouldn’t curse.”
I laughed a little. “What’s the worse than will happen, a punishment from the sisters?”
“God will punish you, too.”
“Don’t tell me you actually believe that crap.” Maribel slowed her sewing but I couldn’t stop the words from spilling out. This was how I truly felt. “If God really did exist we wouldn’t be here stuck at St. Mary’s. Kids hardly get adopted out of here, too. When you get old enough they send you to work in the fields or the mines or the sea. What kind of life is that, Belle? What kind of God is that to let ‘his children’ live in this dump just waitin’ to be nothin’—already nothin’.” Maribel finished the braid so I stood. I picked it up to study her work. The beginning was just as perfect as could be but the bottom was the opposite. It looked more like something I would do. Nonetheless, I didn’t complain. It was clear that I hurt Maribel’s feelings at some point so I didn’t want to make it worse. Realizing that, though, I wanted to kick myself in the rear. Maribel stood and walked a little closer to me. She was holding my red cloak that I didn’t even realize she came in the room with.
“My cloak,” I said, taking it. It was folded into a perfect square.
“It’s cold outside.”
“You’re going to school, aren’t you?” Oh, right. I unfolded the cloth and threw it over myself then tied the strings together at my neck. I decided to wait until I left St. Mary’s to put the hood on.
“You always come prepared for everything, don’t you?” I joked. She smiled which made me happy because so far I think I was messing up her day. I hugged my friend and left. When I got outside I was beginning to hate the fact that all I really had in my clothes bin were dresses. The exposed section of my legs immediately exploded into goose bumps and began to shiver when the icy air greeted them. It was a little difficult closing the front door because it was too big for me and there was a thick blanket of snow settled at my feet. As quickly as I could, I swung my red hood over my head and clench the two sides together at the bottom to keep my neck warm, too. The first thing I noticed when I got to the bottom of the steps was the smell of less than fresh meat. I think that’s where St. Mary’s gets their supply from because I never once heard them complain about business and pretty much every store anywhere in Bridgeham complains about business. I stood there in front of our building to steal a peek inside from a distance. I just wanted to know if anyone actually shopped there. Surprisingly, there was one man. He was round with three chins, a fat nose, and a bald head. He was scratching his scalp, trying to decide which ham looked the most appetizing. I shook my head and held my stomach as I walked away. Soothing my aching belly was the sweet, natural smell of flowers. I actually liked flowers a lot. I was now walking past the flower shop. The woman that owns the place is elderly. I don’t know her name but her daughter is Sally and she’s recently taken over the place because there’s a disease going around and I think her mom caught it. Walking by, I took a look through the windows to see if I could discover a customer. There were none. It was just Sally. She was staring off into space with her chin resting on the back of her hand at the purchase counter. I found myself standing still, staring at her, wondering what she was thinking about. It was probably her mother. Somehow, I must have unfocused my gaze at her because my eyes caught onto my reflection in the glass advertising plants that stay beautiful in even the harshest weather. I could see myself. Brown skin, light brown eyes, and freckles running across my nose and cheeks were especially vivid in this weather. My black pigtails were tucked into my red cloak, and I had on my dark navy dress that I wore every other day, which was peeking out from the slit of the cloak. Boy was I a sight. Breaking my attention from myself was Sally. I caught her giving me a kind smile. Nervous, I ran away. I don’t know why I ran away. I guess it was because I was never good at smiling unless it was a superior grin at Grace or something genuine at Maribel.
Running made me reach the school faster. I hated school. I especially hated the way our school looked. This wasn’t a school reserved for orphans; it was the town’s so every child in Bridgeham attended. It was kind of hard for a lot of the younger kids because they got bullied for being abandoned but the older kids are used to it, like me. I don’t know why but some children that are supposed to be happy with parents are still unhappy and still want to start a fight when they see a kid less fortunate than them. And I guess that kid was me, today. As I advanced toward the prison I was approached by someone bigger than me. He had a friend behind him but his friend just looked like he was going for the ride because of the way his eyes looked. He must have heard about me. “Well, if it isn’t Little Red Riding Hood!” He shouted, trying to cause a scene. I only stared at him. He was kind of chubby, but not really. He was definitely tall and had light brown hair with equally as brown eyes. “Where’s your picnic basket, Little Red?” He asked, mockingly. Even though I knew he was being sarcastic I still answered.
“At home,” I said. He laughed.
“Home?! What home?” The kid behind him laughed nervously. I glared at him, finding absolutely nothing amusing. I guess that was my mistake, though, saying that St. Mary’s was my home. Maybe God was still mad at me for threatening him this morning. I didn’t know what to say back. Quite frankly, I wasn’t in the mood. I didn’t want to play with bullies and I wasn’t looking to get into any more trouble because if I did I may just say something mean to Maribel again by accident. Being the bigger person, I walked around him. To my surprise, though, the chubby boy snatched me back by my hood. I opened my brown eyes as wide as I could before cutting them down to slits directed at the bully. I lifted a small fist warningly. “Ooh, I’m scared!” He laughed, holding his stomach while he did. I made him choke on his jumping breath. With just a swift swing of my hand he found himself sprawled out on the snowy floor, holding his cheek. I could tell he was trying to fight back tears and groans. His friend backed up a little, staring at me hard. I didn’t pay him any mind because I decided he wasn’t worth my time. In fact, none of them were worth it anymore. Since the ‘fight’ ended relatively quickly I started to walk away. But he stopped me by shouting my name. I think he stopped me because there were plenty of school kids gathering and oohing and laughing and pointing. I turned around, putting my arms into a fold. I think I looked cool while I did it. Or, at least, I was trying to. That pissed him off pretty bad. He snarled and struggled to throw himself back into a stand. Suddenly, the kids started chanting ‘Fight!’. I’ll be honest, it got me pretty riled up. He charged at me and I charged at him. He swung and I ducked. He paused, confused, and I tripped him then kicked him. Everyone went wild. I did, too, because in the spur of the moment I kicked him some more before trading my feet for my fists. He pushed me harsh but it didn’t hurt. I backed up on purpose because I was beginning to feel bad for him. Surprisingly, though, he grabbed my pigtail and yanked at it, bringing my head down. While my face was falling toward the floor he lifted his knee to kick me in the nose then let go, allowing me to spin around while I held my soar face. Now he went and did it. I stopped spinning and clenched my teeth then balled my hands into tight, angry fists. He copied me. He couldn’t copy my war cry, though. I made a pretty loud one while I charged and swung. Hard. Everyone stopped cheering at the punch. They all retracted their hands from the sky and exchanged excited faces for shocked ones. It was probably because of the excessive force I used and the sound of breaking bone on impact. I didn’t stop there, though. I pounced on him like a wild animal and swung my fists at his face, chest, and neck without mercy. He was no longer confident. He was wailing and I didn’t care. He was screaming and begging me to stop but I was unaffected and refused to obey. Instead, I kept hitting him in the dead silence of the crowd until an adult pushed through in a hurry. Rough hands pulled me away from my bully.
“Lucy!” The sound of my name snapped me back into reality. I looked up to see Mr. Driscoll giving me an infuriated look. Mr. Driscoll was the principal of the school and a great friend of the nuns. He was really religious, too. “What is God’s name are you doing?! Are you trying to kill the boy?!” He left no space between his grip and my wrist. It was beginning to hurt but I didn’t care enough to complain. I only really hated how he never made sure to moisturize his hands because they were always rough and cracked so I think that while he gripped onto me he might have been leaving small cuts. It was a really gross feeling.
“He started it!” I shouted back.
“That’s when you should have called an adult!” Oh, yeah, like that would have done something. Adults were never too fond of me and they knew my reputation so my rushing into the principal’s office or classroom to inform someone that I was being bullied would have sent them to the high heavens due to a serious laugh attack. Not that there really is a heaven. Mr. Driscoll addressed the crowd. He tightened his hand around me as he scolded them all before informing everyone that they had detention for encouraging a fight. Finally, through the frustrated moans of the crowd, he acknowledged the chubby one. He knelt down beside him. I was still standing because he was tall. He stroked his cheek a little in a comforting manner. “We’re going to take you to the hospital.” And just like, that nuns that were school teachers rushed to the boy’s aid. I was getting mad because he’s the one that picked the fight but he’s the one that was also getting all the special treatment, while I was the one defending myself and all I got was a scolding and a rough hand attached to my wrist. So, again, I tried to clear my name.
“He started it!” I shouted even louder, getting on my tippy toes in case I was unaware that Mr. Driscoll was hard of hearing.
“This is your second fight this week, young lady. The Lord is frowning down upon you.” I think that was supposed to hurt. He dragged me off into the school where he brought me to the girl’s restroom. It was dark before he turned on the lights. And when he did I was beginning to wish they were off again. The restroom was unsanitary. There was toilet paper, balls of hair, and bugs scattered around as if that’s what the tornado that occurred within it was made out of. I scowled, hoping that it wasn’t going to be my responsibility to clean that up. “I want it to be spotless,” he said. I was beginning to miss Sister Abigail and her prayer report punishment. He left to get the appropriate tools to clean the bathroom. I get punished a lot so I do these things pretty quickly now. While it looked like a three to four hour job I could do it in one. It sounds kind of long but it wasn’t. In the end, I had a few miscellaneous finds. A hall pass, a few pencils, and a green scarf. I didn’t know where I was supposed to put them all but I decided to keep the scarf and pencils for myself. I then looked at the classroom number on the hall pass and decided to put it back where it belonged. I left the bathroom, first checking to see if Mr. Driscoll was in sight because I didn’t want him to catch me finished just yet.
It didn’t take long to reach the class because it wasn’t far. After I opened the door I was a little more than surprised to see Maribel inside. I could only stare at her for a while, wondering if I was seeing things correctly. She had a broom in her hand, sweeping dirt into a pile. All the desks in the room were pushed to one side and the chalkboard looked wet. Casually, I walked on inside. When I did, Maribel finally noticed me, looking up from her hill of dirt. “Were you punished?” I asked. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Maribel get punished before so I was expecting her to say no. She did.
“No,” she said, sweeping unconsciously now. I went to place the hall pass on the teacher’s desk.
“Then why are you cleaning?” I asked.
“Because I want to,” she said.
“Shouldn’t you be in class, though?” I was already on my way out but I wasn’t in a real hurry to reach the exit.
“I already did the work early…,” she said, voice drifting off. I nodded a little.
“Oh, okay,” I said, “Well…bye.” I didn’t want to disrupt her little hobby so I opened the door to excuse myself out.
“Lucy,” she said with a strong voice, “let’s run away.” I looked at Maribel, unsure of how to react.