Clara was so glad when 4th period Math Sciences class ended. She just wanted to crawl under a rock. She had always wanted to go to public school, but it didn’t take her long to discover what she had been during all those years of home schooling. Today, the math teacher had gone on and on about how Clara had been the only one to solve a complex equation properly. Clara knew that this was going to make her the target of cruel abuse – especially since the praise was immediately after the teacher’s rant about how there wouldn’t be a cheerleader squad after she flunked all but one of them. Clara felt that her worst fears had been confirmed when the cheerleading squad gathered around her at her locker. She decided that Lana must not be with them because the usual nausea that she felt every time that Lana came around was missing. She turned around to see Lana grinning up at her. She looked and noticed that Lana’s pendant was missing. Clara remembered that Lana didn’t wear it when she was required to wear her cheerleading outfit to school.
Lana said, “Hi neighbor.”
Clara said, “To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”
Lana said, “We thought you might want to sit with us at lunch today.”
Clara said, “Either I am still dreaming or you want something from me.”
Lana said, “That’s not very nice! We just wanted to extend a hand of friendship.”
Clara said, “Well then, thank you very much but no thanks.”
Lana said, “Well … um … would you like to hang with us after school?”
Clara said, “I don’t know, did you guys bring some rope that you wanted to try out or something. Get to the point Lana and tell me what you want.”
Lana said, “Well, we thought you might help tutor some of the squad. If our grades drop too much, we’re not allowed to participate in cheerleading activities.”
Clara said, “And I am supposed to do this out of friendship? The first day here, the principal told you to show me around and you took off. Do you suddenly want to be my friend again now that you need me? What do I get out of it? Are you going to make me a cheer leader?”
The cheer leaders laughed so loudly that they could barely keep standing. A crowd gathered to see what was going on. Lana motioned for the others to stop laughing and said, “We would be willing to help you with hair and make-up tips. I know some good diets and I could help you pick out some clothes to better … work with … whatever it is that you’ve got.”
Clara said, “Again, NO THANKS!” Clara turned her back on Lana and pretended to do something in her locker. She wanted to hide the fact that she was troubled by being mean. She really liked helping people but she had gotten nothing but ridicule from Lana and her friends since she started attending public school. She had to bite her tongue to keep from agreeing to help the squad now that they needed her.
From behind her, she heard Lana say, “Even though you have no justification for being that way, I guess you just can’t help acting stuck up … considering who your Mother is!”
Everyone saw Clara’s body stiffen. They stepped back as they felt a sudden wave of heat. As Clara slowly turned, she seemed to grow six inches in height. She towered over Lana and Lana trembled at the sight of Clara’s red, glowing eyes.
Clara said, “MY … MOTHER … has … NEVER … been … ANYTHING but nice to you! Now you’ve DONE IT! I can’t walk away from this one! Now I’ll have to decide what exactly to do to you. I don’t know if I can control myself enough to stop short of sending you to join your Aunt Nell in HELL … and leaving nothing of you but a pink stain on the floor to remind people that a BITCH like you once walked these halls!”
Lana felt something wet running down her leg. In her mind’s eye, she saw images of Clara pushing the Kent’s tractor out of the mud and of Clara leading an unwilling bull across the farm on a chain as if it were a lap dog on a leash. In a quiet, cracking voice, she stammered out, “I’m sar…sar…sorry. REALLY sorry! I … la.la.la.like your .. your Mother! I REALLY DO!” Lana lowered her head and ran down the hallway. All that could be heard was the clip clopping of Lana’s feet as the crowd that had gathered held their breath.
Clara looked around at them with an angry expression on her face. She said, “What are you IDIOTS staring at?! The freak show is OVER!”
He students quickly dispersed. Clara turned back to her locker and took several deep breaths. There was a tap on her shoulder. Clara turned to see the principal standing there. He said, “I should suspend you for making threats, but I don’t take any … lip about my Mother either … and I know that yours is the closest thing to a saint that this community has. So, go get a mop from the janitor and clean up after Miss Lang. The trail leads from here to the girl’s bathroom. But get it done quickly before the mess gets tracked all over the school or someone slips and falls!”
Clara quietly said, “Yes, Sir” befor heading off to find the janitor.