Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)
TITLE: High Noon in the Lunch Room
By Donna Powers
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Ever since Mindy started going to high school with me, I’ve been pretty protective. They call her a geek. She’s known as the kid who’d rather study than party. I’ll admit that Mindy does take her grades seriously - and those clunky black glasses don’t help – but she’s a sweet kid and anyone who takes the time to get to know her will find out how nice she is.
So, when she told me some girl was hassling her for lunch money, I had to do something. Nobody thinks our cafeteria food is that great, but Mindy’s shouldn’t have to skip lunch. When I first heard about it, I admit I wanted to rip that meany’s face off, but I decided I’d just talk to her. After all, ripping someone’s face off would probably get me suspended or something.
After all, I’ve got problems of my own. My math teacher told me that if I don’t pass the math final on Thursday, my grade is toast. Unlike Mindy, I’m not a brain, so I decided to ask for extra help. The teacher suggested a tutor, and I was desperate enough to say yes. I’m supposed to meet my tutor – some math nerd named Amanda McNulty – after school today. Mrs. Goodkind made sure I knew Amanda was the last math tutor available, in order to further emphasize that she’s my last chance. Like I care which nerd tutors me.
I put my own problems in the back of my mind and went to meet Mindy during lunch period. I asked her which girl was messing with her. She pointed to a Goth-wearing brunette who was slouching next to the soda machine. I walked up to her and gave it to her straight. I was fighting for my little sister’s lunch and I was determined to win.
I looked her straight in her kohl-rimmed eyes. “Are you the one who’s been taking lunch money from Mindy Landis?”
She glared at me. She didn’t look so tough to me, but I wasn’t in ninth grade.
”Yeah. I took the nerd’s money. Who wants to know?” Her voice sounded like gravel mixed with gasoline.
”I want to know. I’m her big sister. Give her back her money, or I’ll report you to the principal for bullying.”
Her laugh sounded like she’d been gargling ice picks. “Mindy can’t talk for herself? She needs her big sister to fight her battles?”
I stood my ground. “It doesn’t matter what you think. Give my sister back her money.”
She shrugged. “Oh, whatever. The little nerd just needed to get shook up. I wasn’t gonna keep her money forever.” She stalked over to Mindy and plunked her money down. “Sorry, nerd. Here’s your money.”
”Don’t do it again, “ I warned her.
“Whatever,” she said, and stormed out of the cafeteria.
I stayed long enough to be sure that Mindy got lunch, and then walked back to my own section of the cafeteria.
If only I’d left it at that.
But I couldn’t get that sneering face out of my mind. She’d acted as if ripping off younger kids was what she did for amusement. She shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. True, she’d said she was sorry, and given Mindy back the money - but she didn’t sound as if she’d meant it.
In Sunday school, we’re taught to love our enemies and forgive them. I knew I should forgive her, but I just couldn’t stop imagining her strutting around hassling girls like Mindy. I made up my mind that she’d never do it again.
I went to the principal’s office after school, and played the recording I’d made with the tape recorder hidden in my purse. I decided to erase the part where she’d given back the money and apologized. The principal agreed with me that it was enough and told me she’d be suspended. It seemed a fitting punishment.
And it may well have been… except that when I heard the principal tell his secretary the name of the “mean girl” I’d reported, and helped to get suspended, it was none other than Amanda McNulty. Yep, that same Amanda McNulty who was my last chance for a math tutor.
So what do I do now?
I only hope Mindy can figure out senior math in a hurry, because tonight she’s gonna be my new math tutor.
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