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Chapter 4: A Typical Day in the Office
Daniel made sure I got to the nurse’s office okay, then headed to lunch. It felt kind of reassuring to know that someone cared.
I sigh and shift on the nurse’s examination table. The paper underneath me crinkles. The nurse bustles into the room and examines my cheek.
“How did this happen, Ms. Chadwick?” She says in a serious tone.
I lower my eyes. “I’d rather not say.” I murmur.
“Okay. Do you want to call your dad?”
“No, I’m fine, really. It’s just a…typical day in the office.” I grin lopsidedly.
“Oh, so this happens frequently? How come I don’t get a visit more often then?” She jokes.
“Usually it doesn’t draw blood.” I joke in return, then wince at the pain. “I think this time he was wearing his class ring.”
“Who? Your ex-boyfriend?” When I give her a strange look, she continues in an innocent tone, “What? That’s the only one who I can think of that would do something like this to a beautiful girl like you.”
She swipes my cheek with alcohol. I grip the examination table with white knuckles. I squeeze my eyes shut. “You have no idea.”
“You’re right; I probably don’t. It’s the least I can do to help.” She takes some gauze and applies it over the cut with surgical tape. “Now, that should do the trick. Put a Band-Aid on it when you get home. It should heal in a few days.”
“Thanks,” I say gratefully, and hop down from the examination table to head to lunch.
When I arrive in the cafeteria, every seat is filled. Naturally. Now I have to squeeze in with someone who will push me on the floor.
I am walking down the center aisle when one of the school’s resident brainiacs sticks her foot out and trips me. I throw my arms out to catch myself and land sweater first in a cross-country runner’s lunch tray.
The lunch room stops as I disengage from his lunch. He looks at me in disgust. I mean, I would too if someone were wearing the lunch that should be in my stomach.
I stammer, “I’ll—I’ll, um, buy you another lunch. I’m so sorry.”
“No need. This is worth it.” He replies, struggling not to smile. I smile too, thinking that maybe I’ve made a friend. Instead, he picks up a ketchup package and squirts me with it.
Gross. It’s all in my hair and down my sweater and on my skirt, stockings, and shoes. I’m covered in food.
The cafeteria erupts in laughter, a shy girl’s absolute worst nightmare. Thwack! More ketchup packets are being squirted. Oh no! Now here comes the mustard. I shield my eyes from the condiments.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, I am soaked. I shudder from the sudden chill. I turn around and see the football player who hit me earlier holding an empty chocolate milk carton over my head. I wipe chocolate milk out of my eyes.
I am beyond embarrassed. I am beyond angry. I am humiliated.
I flee the cafeteria, the laughter following me down the hallway. I run into the office, where the secretary looks at me in amusement.
“Are we wearing our lunch today, dear?”
“May I call my dad?” I manage to blubber.
“Yes, of course, sweetheart.” She hands me the phone and I hurriedly dial my dad’s cell.
“Hello?” Comes a voice from the other end.
“Dad! It’s me. I need you to come pick me up from school, pronto.”
“It’s a visual explanation…”
“Don’t stress it. I’ll be right there, Abigail.” He hangs up.
I hand the secretary the receiver to hang up and I gather my stuff and sit in the office. A few minutes later, my dad pulls up to the sidewalk and hardly has the car parked before he is in the building.
He takes in my appearance, and as a seasoned dad of an outcast, knows not to laugh. He hands me a towel and a robe. I pull the robe on over my clothes and wrap my hair in the towel while he signs me out for the day.
Back in the car, he asks, “So what happened this time? And what’s the gauze for?”
“A guy hit me in the hallway and was wearing his class ring so it cut me. After seeing the nurse I went to the cafeteria to eat, only someone tripped me and I fell headfirst into someone’s lunch tray. He started to smile and I thought for once that maybe I had made a friend. No, then he decides to start squirting me with ketchup. Then the whole cafeteria gets involved.”
I cover my face with my hands, my voice muffled. “Another typical day at the office.”
My dad rubbed my shoulders and back. “It’s okay, sweetheart. Someone goes through this all the time. They’ll regret it later when you’re their boss and they have to work for you.”
I grin. “That’s when I can take my revenge.”
“No, not revenge, sweetie. Keep feeding them kindness. Maybe someday instead of spitting it out, they’ll actually swallow it. Oh, and honey, I got to go back to work, so I’m just going to drop you off and head out, okay?”
I nod, and get a lump in my throat.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
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