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Worthing Flash 2020 England
July 18, 2020
I had finally gotten settled into first grade when the principal walked in with her hand on a girl’s shoulder and announced, “Boys and girls, this is Constance. She just moved to town and will be in this class. Constance, there are six empty seats, chose one.”
The Principal turned the expressionless Constance towards the class. She looked like a cartoon figure—a skinny girl with stringy brown hair, wearing a dress made from rice sacks and lace. Her socks had slid down her legs to lie on her mud-streaked shoes.
Without looking around she walked down the aisle and sat in the empty seat next to me I nodded but I wanted to hold my nose. She smelled. I knew what sweat smelled like, but she didn’t smell of sweat, she smelled a strange soap or perfume smell that I feared was going to leap off her and onto me.
We stayed at our seats for lunch and the teacher passed out little cartons of white or chocolate milk and a straw. I had a system. I took chocolate if I had meat and white milk if I had peanut butter and jelly. I lifted my desktop and took my lunch box out and the mustard smell gave away the fact that I had a meat sandwich so, without looking I took chocolate milk.
Constance’s soap nearly overpowered the mustard and made me less hungry. She stared straight ahead and sipped her milk. She must have forgotten to bring her lunch. I unwrapped the waxed paper to get at my sandwich and lifted the top slice of bread, saw the mustard and tongue along with sliced tomatoes and lettuce. It was one of my five favorites. I glanced over and Constance was still taking sips and reading from a storybook.
I had half the sandwich in my left hand and slid the other half on the wax paper. She didn’t hesitate to close her storybook and grab the sandwich and take a big bite of it. “Mmm,” she said, and I took my normal small bites savoring the thickness and chewiness of the tongue and the Gulden’s Spicy Mustard.
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