by cheri block sabraw
[Startled young bodies crow-hop to the left]
Alicia runs into a stall. The toilet flushes.
The latch clicks. She feels safe for a minute.
Cigarette smoke fills the space.
Nat and Georgia copy their friend, Alicia.
I hear the quick fizz of hot smokes being extinguished in cold toilets.
OK Girls, I see that you aren’t ready for your quiz today.
You little chickens have made a big mistake cutting my class.
Black boots, filthy Vans, and sequined flip-flops shift inside the stalls.
The rifling through their large leather purses sounds like that bear up at Tahoe last summer, the one that sifted through three garbage cans, digging and investigating, sniffing and growling, I think to myself.
[More contraband going down the toilets at American High School. Cigarettes, maybe a joint or two.]
I am so disappointed in you girls. Call me naïve. Call me stupid, but I was sure you cared about my class. What in the world came over you guys? You have to pass this test to pass the class. Are you stupid? I don’t think so. Your behavior today has really ticked me off, to my core.
Please open those doors.
[All three doors open.]
I move in front of the middle stall like the conductor of a hillbilly band.
You’ve given me no other option than to test you right here, so sit down on the toilets. Don’t worry. You can balance.
WTF, Mrs. Sabraw?
Clean up your language, Alicia. I am not your juvey officer.
[All three girls sit down.]
Take out paper, please.
We don’t have any paper.
Yes, you do. Look to your left. You’ll need several feet of it.
[They unroll toilet paper.]
Take out pencils, please. Feel free to use your eye-liner pencils. I can see you have plenty of those in supply.
[They fish through their overstocked purses through lighters, eye-lash curlers, and now empty cigarette boxes.]
Ok. The first question on Of Mice and Men:
- Why do you suppose George stuck up for Lennie, even when Lenny blew it most of the time?
Test taking continues in the American High School girls’ bathroom for about 30 minutes. Other cutters come in, see the scene, and run out.
At the end of the quiz, I collect their toilet papers and then escort the guilty to the 9th grade principal.
Mr. D, please let Alicia, Nat, and Georgia know how Of Mice and Men ended.
Spare their lives, but suspend them for three days.
Girls, while you will be gone, we are starting a new book. Stay right here for a minute while I go get you your copies.
There. Please read the first 5 chapters of Lord of the Flies.
See you on Thursday.
Good- bye, Mrs. Sabraw, they say in unison.