Saturday, April 3, 2010

Small Victories

by Jodi Milner Sam checked to see if the hall was clear before darting behind the raspberry colored door. The old janitor's closet wasn't used during the day, no one would find her there. The smell of window cleaner, bleach, and wet mop head made her nose wrinkle. She wriggled past the mop bucket and metal garbage can to the supply shelf stuffed to overflowing with toilet paper rolls and aerosol cans. By the light of the dingy skylight she climbed to the top shelf where she kept a shoe box hidden. As the tiniest girl in the fifth grade, Sam was often teased. It didn't help that she couldn't pronouncing her S's either, they came out as a toothy hiss instead of a crisp 'Ess'. The tall and popular Tessa came up with a new taunt that morning, it still echoed inside Sam's head, “Hey Sprout, did your Momma forget to water you?” All the kids had laughed at the joke and at first recess one of the boys dumped a cup of water over her head. Her T-shirt was still damp. She laughed it off and immediately began plotting her revenge. Knowing she could strike back made school days bearable. All of Sam's trophies hid safely inside the box. Her first was Blake's shirt button, secretly snipped off after he had picked on her during dodge ball. It wasn't much, just enough to help her keep her head held high. He didn't even notice the loss. Next was Tyson's shoelace, teased from his favorite sneakers during a science film, a far more difficult feat requiring time and a careful touch. He had taken her sandwich at lunch insisting that bigger people needed to eat more. He had actually cried when he realized the lace was gone. That kept her smiling for a solid two weeks. There was Cindy's lip gloss taken straight from her pocket after Sam heard her making midget jokes in the girls bathroom. Jessica's earring, Ben's Zippo lighter, Jill's purple ball point pen, all taken in revenge. She was never caught, was too smart for that. Each taking was planned and calculated down to the last detail. The tiny Sam with a lisp was never suspected. Her latest conquest topped them all. As her riskiest achievement yet, the thought of this taking made her heart pound in her chest. She looked at her watch, the loss would be noticed any minute. Sure enough from the playground a series of screams erupted. The double doors leading to the school yard burst open bringing the sounds of a girl wailing and the frantic chatter of those following in her wake. Sam had to hold her mouth shut with both hands to keep from laughing out loud. From her jacket pocket she pulled the long blond braided pigtail, severed from Tessa's head. She coiled it into the box along with the pair of sharp scissors. After returning the box to the top shelf she slipped into the hall with the others to enjoy the show.

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