Principal Morris sighed as we turned the hall corner “There’s not much else we can do. “She’s just too …precocious.”
“So you will ask her mother to remove her from our school?” I could not follow the logic.
“Bother you, Jamie.” Principal Morris muttered. “You’ve seen her, the way she disrupts class and the other children…goodness, they’re here to learn and that…brat!” The word exploded out of her mouth.
I froze. “Did you just call the daughter of our most generous benefactor…a brat?”
Principal Morris paled to the shade of her cream-colored suit. “No.” Her voice was a mere whisper.
“You can’t do that!”
Her eyes squeezed shut. “Enough, Jamie! Look…come listen. Just listen. I want you to listen to her version of what she learned today and then tell me if this school can really handle this child!”
I followed her to her office and there we found both mother and daughter creating paperclip jewelry from the office accessory box on the textbook shelf. Principal Morris cleared her throat.
Mrs. Trowell jumped, a healthy blush covering her face. “Principal Morris! Jamie…sorry.” She gestured towards the colorful pile Sarita was gleefully pawing through. “We uh, got a bit carried away, I’m afraid.”
“So I see.” Principal Morris forced a smile, delicately stepping over the child playing on the floor to reach her desk. “Mrs. Trowell, you are aware of the nature of this visit, correct?”
The youthful face seemed to age at once. “Yes.” She said wearily. “You said there was something wrong with Sarita?”
I winced. “Actually, Monica, there’s nothing really wrong with her-”
“Then why am I here?”
“Sarita?” Principal Morris leaned forward to see over the edge of her desk. “Tell us what you’ve learned in school today, about the United Kingdom.”
Sarita popped up to her feet at once. “Oh, I learned a lot.” She beamed angelically. “The United Kingdom is made up of…” Her smile faltered, the light in her eyes fading to somewhere far away. “Cream cheese, I think.” A finger went to her mouth. “And once upon a time, there used to live a princess in a dungeon.”
“A dungeon?” Her mother exclaimed. “The poor girl!”
“Oh yes.” Sarita nodded energetically. “She was a very poor princess, so she had to live in the dungeon, because she couldn’t afford to keep the rest of the castle…um, clean?” Her cherub lips twitched and the finger came out of her mouth. “But in the next province over, there was a prince who rode a unicorn and-”
“Sarita!” Principal Morris thundered. “What on earth are you speaking of, child?”
Her small face grew very red and her lower lip trembled. “T-the United Kingdom.” She sniffled.
“Shhh!” I found myself mopping her face with the edge of my cashmere sweater. “You know about the United Kingdom, love. You live in England, and where’s England?”
She buried her face in my waist. “The U-united Kingdom,” She sniffled. “Is a real-la-tiv-vely small ree-ge-ion, with four differ-rent countries. England, Scotland, Wales, and a-a part of I-land.”
“I –land? Never mind.” Principal Morris sighed. “That¸ Mrs. Trowell, is why you’ve been asked here.”
“I’m afraid I don’t see the problem.” Mrs. Trowell scooped up the handfuls of newly separated paper clips and returned them to the original container. “However, I can understand why you asked me here.” She held out her arms and caught her daughter up into a tight hug. “I suppose it is hard to see true colors when under the moon’s light, isn’t it?” She cracked a smile. “I will be removing Sarita from your school, I should have mentioned my disappointments earlier, but I’m afraid you’re not the kind of influence I want around her.”
Slender fingers stroked the silky head. “She is a child, Principle Morris. And children play. The more creative they are, the brighter their lives are.” She turned towards the door. “Sarita is like a candle with her vibrance and imagination, I could never extinguish such a flame, just because someone feels it is time for her to grow up. One day she will tell you all about your United Kingdom…but for now, I see nothing wrong with hers.”
I followed her out the door, but I knew she wouldn’t be coming back. They walked down the hallway, solemn, somehow two-halves of the same person.
Mother. Daughter. Family.
Little hand in big hand.
The glow of child-like energy faded away. “You shouldn’t have let them leave, Sis.” I muttered.
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