THE RED UMBRELLA SOCIETY
by Khrys Vaughan
“Jonathan! Get the ball!”
“I am, Ms. Stewart! I was trying, but I just couldn’t catch it.”
“What a loser! Ever heard of a boy that couldn’t play ball?!” a group of girls giggle nearby.
“I heard that if he doesn’t watch them, he’ll trip over his own two feet.”
“All right ladies. That means you too, boys. Head to the locker rooms and freshen up before your next class.”
“We always lose when he’s on our team!” an obviously disappointed boy says and stomps his foot.
Another student nods in agreement. A third seemingly takes sympathy on Jonathan by sniffing the boy standing next to him then pinching his nose.
“Phew!! You need to freshen up before class! Quit yakking and hurry up!” As soon as he runs off, the others immediately chase after him; their attention now diverted to be first to the showers.
Somewhat relieved, Jonathan lifts his head, but one by one, the remaining boys brush against him as they leave the field. Jonathan lets out a sigh. Head down again, he walks over to his Phys-Ed teacher and hands her the ball.
“I really tried Ms. Stewart. I’m just not good at sports. I wish I was, but I’m just not!”
“Keep trying Jonathan. I’m sure you’re good at other things. One day you may be good at this one, also. Now hurry on.” She smiles and tousles his hair.
Heather, a fellow sixth grader who has been sitting off to the side, looks up from her history book to see the same group of giggling girls from earlier, cross directly in front of Jonathan, causing him to drop his gear and towel.
“See, I told you,” says the seventh grader in the group, “He trips over his own two feet!”
“To the locker room now, Sara!”
Somewhat startled to be called out, “Yes, Ms. Stewart!”, she and the other girls swiftly scurry off.
Heather quickly ties her shoes, tosses her books into her book bag, and heads toward Jonathan.
“You’ve improved a lot since last time.” She helps him gather his things, then taking his towel, gently wipes the sweat from his eyebrow. “Don’t give up ok? I’m sure you’ll get it.” She adjusts his glasses, hands him back his towel, and darts off in the direction of the girls’ locker room, leaving him blushing and speechless.
Just then, several of the same boys heckling him earlier yell, “Johnny’s got a girlfriend! Johnny’s got a girlfriend!”
“I do not!” Jonathan shouts back and runs toward the locker room, even more red-faced, but confident.
Heather makes it to the locker room just ahead of the girls from earlier. She hears them approaching and peeks out the door to see the order they are walking in. Immediately, she perches herself atop the bar above the door and waits. Sara, the seventh grader who has a habit of mercilessly teasing other students, not just Jonathan, is last to enter. As soon as she clears the door, Heather firmly grabs her long ponytail, loops it through the hinge of the door, which acts as leverage, lifting Sara slightly off the floor as Heather lands in the hallway right outside. None the wiser to Heather’s presence, Sara’s friends struggle to free her amidst sporadic outbursts of pain; the door repeatedly hitting her in the face. Heather pauses for a brief glimpse before turning the corner and continuing to class.
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