Rr-r-i-i-i-n-n-g. Connie reaches for the phone, “Hello?”
“Is this Mrs. Johnson?”
“Well, yes it is. Probably wanting the ‘other’ Mrs. Johnson, Connie thought.
“Mrs. Johnson, this is Tom Cole, principal at Towerton Middle School.”
“Mr. Cole, I’m Jake’s grandmother. Is there a problem, is Jake okay?”
“Thank you, I thought you were Jake’s mother, but yes, Jake is fine. I am sending him home from school and he should be there within 20 minutes. We’ve had a slight problem today, he colored his hair purple, but I’ve explained it all in a letter I’m sending with him. Will you be there this afternoon?”
“I’ll be here, and thank you for calling.” Connie hung up the phone, wishing her hair appointment hadn’t been so early or perhaps she would have missed this call. Anxiety gripped her. Jake’s never been in trouble at school before.
Connie pushed away her breakfast plate of sliced fresh peach and toast, moving to peer out the window. A glance in a mirror told her the hair color didn’t look quite right, but her thoughts quickly returned to Jake. Then, Rr-r-i-i-i-n-n-g.. Connie rushed back to the kitchen and grabbed the phone.
“Granny, it’s me. Granny, I’m..I’m so sorry,” Jake’s words of confession spilled from his mouth as tears stung his eyes.
Connie kept silent to hear Jake’s full explanation of what he’d thought would be a funny joke, responding to a ‘dare to be different’ challenge. The disruption of class had not calmed down, resulting in his suspension from school until he could return with his hair back to normal.
“Well, Jake, I can tell you really regret your actions. Why don’t you get home, and please don’t lose that letter Mr. Cole is sending with you, then we’ll see how much of the color washes out before your Mom and Dad come in.”
Silence in the house hung heavy, broken only by ticking of the grandfather clock in the hallway. It sounded louder and sharper with each moment before Jake’s footsteps could be heard and Connie rushed to meet him as the door creaked open. Jake stepped inside, sunlight streaming behind him and turning his purple hair iridescent. His usual robust form appeared small, sunken. His pained eyes staring back at her must have seen the shock her face could not hide.
“Jake, that is you, isn’t it?”
“Granny, it’s me. What happened to your hair? It looks kind of purple too!”
Arms around each other, laughter shakes them both.
“Get upstairs! At least you can do something about yours,” Connie urged, “and put that letter on the kitchen counter.”
Jake’s footsteps resounded with their usual bounce as he hurried upstairs. A smile crossed her lips as she remembered as a young girl seeing old women whose hairdressers had mistakenly tinted their white hair purple. Connie poured herself a cup of tea in the kitchen, feeling much comfort in its aroma.
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