Welcome to Twelve, a new book of Friday Fiction! This story begins the summer Emily Kingston turns twelve and is about a friendship that changed everything.
I hope you enjoy it!
CHAPTER TWELVE – LETTER FROM SCHOOL
I went home from school with a letter from Mr. Kearny. He told me I had to have both my parents sign it and give it to him the next day. He also said that he and I were going to have another “chat” the next day at school. I didn’t know what I was going to say to Mr. Kearny, but I put that out of my mind.
I walked up our street and thought about what I would tell Mom and Dad and I started to worry. I only wanted to have it be normal at home, with no problems like me getting into a fight at school.
When I walked into the house, Mom was in the kitchen and, even though I hadn’t wanted to go in the house and tell her about the fight, it felt so good to be at home and to see her face. Out of nowhere, tears welled up in my eyes. I did the best I could to wipe them away before Mom looked up.
“Hi Emily,” she said. She smiled, but when she saw my face, her face changed. I don’t know how moms know this, but she took one look at me and right away she could tell something was wrong. I had just been so glad to see her, but then when she looked at me and her face changed, all I wanted to do was run upstairs.
Mom asked, “Is something wrong, Emily?”
There I was on the spot again. I didn’t like lying to people, but I didn’t see any other way to go. I was starting to understand why people don’t always tell the truth. I didn’t want to get in any more trouble by telling another lie, but I needed time to figure out what I was going to do. So I said, “I’m okay, Mom. I’m just a little moody.”
Mom looked at me for a clue. Then her face changed. “Ohhhhhhhhh….,” she said, with an all-knowing look. I felt sick about it because I realized that Mom was probably thinking I had gotten my period. Because I wanted to get upstairs, I let the idea stick. “I’ll be in my room, Mom.” and she said, “Okay honey.”
Mom said, “Emily, if you need anything, just let me know.”
I answered, “Okay, Mom, I’ll be fine” and I ran upstairs.
When I got up to my room I sat on my bed, turned on the radio to make some noise and I called Jackie. I told her everything that had happened, the fight, my talk with the principal, Mom thinking I got my period. Then I told her about the note I had to have signed.
“Well, what are you going to do, Emily?”
“I don’t know. I really don’t want to tell them about the fight. If they find out, the next thing they’ll do is ask me all kinds of questions about how it started, and how I know Marcy and whether Marcy had ever bothered me before. I just don’t want to tell them about all that. If I tell them all that, they will tell the principal and the teachers and then I’ll be a total loser at school. Marcy will torture me for who knows how long and it will be worse. She’ll be even worse to me if I get her in trouble. Plus I’m the one who started the spitting! How am I going to explain that?”
“Listen, Emily. You’re right. No way can you rat on Marcy. She will get back at you. You don’t have to tell your Mom and Dad. Bring the note to me and we’ll figure out what to do about the signatures.”
“I don’t know, Jackie. I’m already in enough trouble.”
“Look, I’m not saying we’re going to fake the signatures, Emily. Just bring it over here, we’ll look at it and see what we can do.”
I sat on my bed and wondered. Would one more lie take care of the whole problem? I had a bad feeling about Jackie’s advice, but I couldn’t see any other way out of the mess. “Okay, Jackie. I’ll come over. I’ll bring the note, but I’m not saying I want you to do anything about it.”
I went over to Jackie’s apartment. Her mom was already home, so we went right to Jackie’s room, shut the door and looked at the envelope. Mr. Kearny had brought it down to 7th period and my English teacher had handed it to me at the end of class, so I never had a chance to look at it. It was a school envelope and had “Mr. and Mrs. Kingston” typed on the front. It was sealed. That was already a problem. If I opened it, how would I close it back up without Mom and Dad noticing? If they never see the note, though, maybe Mr. Kearny doesn’t have to know I’m the one who opened it. I felt sick. I was already in trouble and I was getting deeper and deeper into a crazy mess of stories. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep track of all the things I was doing.
Jackie came over to me. “Let’s see.” She took the envelope out of my hand and looked at it. “Okay,” she said. “Let’s open it carefully, just in case we want to close it back up.” I had no idea how she was going to do that, but she looked like she knew what she was doing. I hadn’t noticed that the envelope wasn’t completely sealed. Mr. Kearny must have just barely licked the glue on the flap. After a minute, Jackie had successfully pulled the flap away from the back of the envelope. It looked a little wrinkled, but we could probably fix that.
She opened the letter and said, “Want to read it first?”
I took the letter from her and read. There were two paragraphs. The first one started out with “I regret to tell you that today your daughter, Emily was involved in a fight with another girl…” Mr. Kearny used a lot of serious words: “Troubling, disturbing, worrisome…” The second paragraph talked about my first “chat” with Mr. Kearny and Mrs. Smithfield and the one I was going to have with him the next day. Sure enough, Mr. Kearny asked my parents to sign the letter and add any comments at the bottom. Now things were getting even worse for me.
“Okay, Jackie. Even if we do somehow get my mom and dad’s signatures on here, how are we supposed to put a comment at the bottom? This is getting really bad. I think I should just show them the letter, tell my parents the same thing I told Mr. Kearny, that it was an accident, and get it over with.”
“Emily, you know your parents aren’t going to let it go. They’re going to ask you a ton of questions.”
Jackie went to her desk and grabbed a piece of paper. I went over to her and saw that she was practicing signatures. They looked terrible.
“Jackie, there’s no way Mr. Kearny will think my mom and dad signed that! Plus, what if he compares it to other stuff that they’ve signed? I’m dead!”
“You’re right. Maybe I need to practice a few more times.” I sat down in one of Jackie’s bean bag chairs and Jackie turned and we looked at each other. Then Jackie said, “Wait, here’s another idea.”
“Listen to this: what if we tell my mom and she signs her own name to it and says that you were staying with me for a few days while your parents were on a trip and that she will be sure to tell them when they get back?”
“That’s crazy! Why would your mom agree to do that, Jackie? That’s just one more lie on top of all the other ones I’ve told today!”
“My mom’s cool. She would do it. I know she would. All we have to do is ask. Come on, let’s do it.”
I don’t know why I said okay. I was desperate for a way out of this mess. I didn’t think Mom and Dad would understand at all. I thought, well, Jackie’s mom was pretty cool. And she was an adult. It would be like I was taking the whole problem to her and she was taking care of it and I wouldn’t have to deal with any of the problems with the envelope, with Mom and Dad’s signature and comments. So I said, “Okay, Jackie. Let’s tell your mom.”
We went into the kitchen to tell Mrs. Conroy. The radio was on. She was sitting at the kitchen table, smoking a cigarette and reading a magazine. There was a cup of coffee on the table too, half empty. Jackie did all the talking and told her mom the whole story and sure enough, Mrs. Conroy was cool about it. I thought wow, how many moms are there who would cover up for their kids’ friends? She signed it and wrote the comments that Jackie said she would. We put the letter back in the envelope and I was all set. After that was done, Jackie’s mom said, “Emily, have a seat for a minute. Jackie, go on down to your room for a bit, will you?”
Jackie said okay and went down to her room. I looked at Mrs. Conroy. She was so different from my mom. And I couldn’t imagine what she was going to say to me. I didn’t know what to say to her either, so I sat and waited.
“So Emily, I guess you’re wondering why I would cover for you by signing that letter.”
“Well, yes, but thank you for helping me.”
“You know, Emily, I like you and you’re doing me a big favor by hanging out with Jackie so much. I mean, you know her dad and I split and, since I have to work, I’m not home as much as I was before. I don’t worry as much when she’s with you.”
She had already finished her cigarette so she reached over to the coffee cup and drank that down. Then she pulled another cigarette out of the pack and put it in her mouth, flicked her lighter and lit the cigarette as it bobbed up and down on her lower lip. I couldn’t decide if I thought that was cool or disgusting, but since she was helping me out, I thought it was okay.
She took a drag from her cigarette, and she started talking again even as she was still breathing in. I wondered how she could do that.
“You hang in there, kid. Okay?”
I said okay and then I said I had to get home. I told Jackie bye, and I left with the letter. When I got back home, Mom said, “How are you feeling, Emily?”
I smiled and said, “Better now, Mom” and I really did feel better. That wasn’t a lie. I was glad to not be telling a lie, even though I was sitting on a whole pile of lies. I figured the mess was finished.
I was so busy taking care of the problem with the letter that I still hadn’t thought about the talk I was going to have the next day with Mr. Kearny, but I decided I would just wing it. Maybe I would say I was upset because my parents were away and I missed them and being at my own house and that when Marcy and I bumped into each other, all of that kind of came down on me. Maybe I could tell Mrs. Smithfield, “girl-to-girl” that I felt kind of moody because I was getting my period. That would be a crazy lie, but it might end the whole problem at school too.
Of course, on top of that, I still had Marcy to deal with, but maybe she would just be glad I didn’t tell about all the other things I thought she had done, and after all, I didn’t exactly know for sure that Marcy was the one who messed up my lockers and who threw the mashed potatoes in my face. Maybe she would be relieved and would stop messing with me because I kept her out of trouble.
Dad was home and Tommy came into the house and to dinner with a face flushed from running around outside. He had been in a big after-school game of football in a friend’s back yard and was full of stories about it. I sat at the table, relieved. And I was glad that Tommy had a lot of stories about his football game so that I could just sit and listen instead of answer a lot of questions. And on top of that, I was glad that I had Jackie as my best friend, and glad her mom was so cool to cover for me.
I went to bed that night hopeful that my problems were behind me.
Mr. Kearny called me into his office during homeroom and asked me for the letter. I handed it to him and, even though I was just going to let him read the note from Jackie’s mom, I told him right then that I had been staying with Jackie and that she had signed it. He read the note, took off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose. Then he put his glasses back on and looked at me and said, “Emily, I’m going to ask you again what happened with Marcy in the hall yesterday. You keep saying it was an accident, but I find that hard to believe.”
“It was an accident, sort of.” Then I told him about missing Mom and Dad and then I didn’t know what else to say because Mrs. Smithfield wasn’t there and I thought about how I was going to tell her about maybe getting my period and being moody because of it. But I decided that even if I didn’t want to tell that to Mr. Kearny, if I did, maybe he’d be so embarrassed that he wouldn’t ask any more questions.”
I went for it. I told him the lie about my period and sure enough, Mr. Kearny was embarrassed and he sat down and said, “Okay, Emily. Homeroom is almost over. Why don’t you run along so you don’t miss your first class? And watch where you’re walking in the hall.”
Sure enough, I was off the hook and out in the hall on my way to History class. I got to class before Marcy and she walked in just as I sat down. She walked down the aisle to her seat and as she passed me she said “Nice top” and nothing else. I couldn’t decide what she meant when she said it, so I let it go. Maybe she was making a joke, I don’t know.
Thank you for reading.
Just jumping in? Click below to read previous chapters:
Chapter 1 – “Meeting Jackie”
Chapter 2 – “Mrs. Conroy”
Chapter 3 – “Downtown”
Chapter 4 – “Capture the Flag”
Chapter 5 – “The Fight”
Chapter 6 – “Lemonade”
Chapter 7 – “The Fort”
Chapter 8 – “School Starts”
Chapter 9 – “The Locker”
Chapter 10 – “Meeting Marcy”
Chapter 11 – “Fight in the Hallway”
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