Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RED (02/01/18)
- TITLE: Tilted Hearts
By Francy Judge
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Shayna smiled more than usual that day. She didn’t think she had any friends in her sixth grade class, but someone must like her. She was tempted to read it during her math lesson, but knew Lance would see her and say something like: “Whose your secret admirer? Must be blind or stupid.” He sat to her left, five names ahead of her in ABC order. Instead, she listened to Mr. Clark’s geometry questions: “If the diameter of a circle is 8, what is its area?” Too easy, but she wouldn’t raise her hand to answer. Shayna wouldn’t draw attention her way. If Mr. Clark called on her, she would have to answer and hear snickering at her Irish accent.
Was she imagining the waxy scent of the red crayon? Shayna dreamed of possessing the superpower to become invisible, but maybe she was gaining the power of nasal ability. She would be able to smell smells miles away. It might not be the most useful superpower and could be a negative, but she could find some use for scent recognition. She could become a famous detective, solving crime with her nose.
When Mr. Clark asked the class to take out their assignment notebook, she glanced at the crooked heart again. The bell rang. “Class, before you run to your buses, get your Literature textbooks. You’ll need it for your homework.”
As Shayna reached in her desk for her book, the card stuck to her hand and fluttered to the floor. She didn’t realize it dropped until Lance picked it up.
"Hey, what's this? Shayna’s got a valentine?” He waved it in the air. “Ooh, a red heart. Someone is in love!”
“Give it back!” She tried to act like the card wasn’t important, but her voice shook.
“Not until I read it.”
“Roses are red
Vilets are blue
Hipos are ugly
And so are you.”
"Ha! That's great. Here, you can have your love letter.” He dropped it on the floor, grabbed his backpack, and ran to the bus with his buddies laughing too.
Shayna thought he must be making the words up to irritate her. She opened the card on the bus ride home and read the same words. “Hipos are ugly, and so are you.” She knew Lance must have made the card. He couldn’t spell in spelling bees. The words wouldn’t bother her if she didn’t think they were true. She had two blocks until her stop, two blocks to hold back her stubborn tears and swallow the lump in her throat. Shayna crumpled the handmade card and tossed it in her bag.
Charging up her driveway, Shayna noticed a drooping rose on the flowerbed edge. A rose as red and sad as the heart on the card. She stomped on it, releasing its sweet scent before going inside and closing the door.
She opened the card and pressed out the wrinkles. Grabbing the nearest pen, she scribbled out the poem–so hard the paper tore. She thought about how she could get back at him—tell him he was stupid and couldn’t spell simple words. She could draw a picture of a dumb looking monster with buck teeth and point out the resemblance.
On the bus the next day, Shayna had to sit in the seat across from Lance, but he was too busy writing something to bother her. She steamed remembering the card, the heart that tricked her until the boy next to Lance grabbed his paper.
“Wow, you failed every class! Here pass it on!” He threw what turned out to be Lance’s report card to the next person who laughed and passed it again.
“Hey, give me that!”
Shayna saw the humbled look on Lance’s face. She could finally get revenge when the report card landed on her lap. She saw the F; she leaned across the seat. “Here.”
“Thanks.” Lance wiped his nose on his sleeve. “Sorry, I was the one who…”
“I know.” She smiled, not because he apologized, but because her heart felt right.
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