“Miss Wilkinson? Come in, come in.” The Principal seemed friendly. But wasn’t that how it worked? Good cop, bad cop and all that jazz. Clenching her fist so hard that her knuckles were white, she walked through the door.
“Sit down.” The Principal gestured to a shabby brown chair in front of his desk as Joanna walked through the door.
A few rules if you have to see a teacher. Number one, never admit anything. Number two, always act confident. Number three, never cry. And number four, the most important, never say anything till they’ve finished talking.
“Now, Josephine isn’t it?”
“Um, it’s Joanna sir.”
The Principal glanced down at the file that was open on his desk. “So it is.” He rested his hand on said desk before lowering himself into his chair. He was a middle ages man, nothing special, balding, no glasses. “So Joanna, how long have you been with us?”
“Five months Sir,” she replied, not letting the nervousness creep into her voice, after doing the calculation in nanoseconds.
He nodded slowly, leaning back in his chair. “So how are you fitting in?”
“Um, Quite well I think,” Joanna began. Is this all she’d been called in for? “I’ve made friends and I’m on the cheerleadering squad.”
“Really?” he sounded surprised, which Joanna resented till she remembered what she was wearing. “Well, you’ve got practice tonight yes?”
“Well, Sir, I’ve got a detention, so…”
“Ah yes, Mr Price did mention concern about you.” He cut across her, picking up a piece of paper from within the file. “He’s worried that you’re not performing as well as you could.”
“That is so unfair!” Joanna exploded. “Just because I’m from England. He expects me to be brilliant, and I’m not. I’m good at maths. Ask Mrs Walker. I’m top of my class, and it’s an advanced class.”
The Principal looked unconcerned. “I know Miss Wilkinson. I think we can discount your detention tonight so you can concentrate on your other school commitments.”
“Really?” Joanna gaped. “Like, seriously?”
He nodded. “I think you deserve a reprieve just for one missed assignment. You can go.”
”Thank you,” Joanna gasped. “Seriously thanks.” And she ran out of the office.
What I found out later was that I still had the detention; just that it was the next day. Which sucked, but hey, Cheer practice. Anyway, Lunch. When I got there, so was Scarlet. Sitting where I normally do. Between Rick and Maria. But I’m a teenager. I’m mature. I can handle it.
“Hey,” Joanna said, sitting down nest to Will. He nodded his greeting, as Maria and Mikey ignored her, engrossed in a story that Rick and Scarlet were telling.
“And so they were like I’m sorry you haven’t made it-“ Rick said.
”And so we were like, oh my god, is it us?” Scarlet continued.
“And they announced Romeo –Fredrick Clinton, Juliet, Scarlet Heysmith.
“And so I was jumping up and down, and Rick was just like cool. Wait, that means we have to kiss.”
Joanna leaned closer to Will to ask, “What’re they talking about?”
“Well,” Will began. “In drama, we’re doing an updated version of Romeo and Juliet. The auditions were today and though Scarlet has only been here for a day, she walked away with the part of Juliet. Rick’s Romeo, Maria’s designing costumes and I’m, uh, one sec.” He dived into the bag at his feet and pulled out a script. “My name is Mercutio. I get a fight scene.”
Joanna nodded slowly, pushing her food tray away from her, getting up from the table. “I’m not, um, hungry. I’ll see you guys later.”
The only person to hear her was Will and he watched her go, worriedly.
I can handle her sitting in my place. I can handle her having cool stories. But playing Juliet to Rick’s Romeo? No way. Seriously, no. I’m not that mature. I headed for the music room, hoping Will’s guitar was there, so I could practice the chords he taught me yesterday.
“Wrong fingers Anna,” Will commented as he strode into the music room, watching his friend struggle with the guitar. She briefly glanced up.
“I know.” And then she returned to moving her fingers along the fret board.
“Come here,” Will said, reaching for the guitar. “You need to put your fingers here and here, yeah?”
Joanna nodded, as he handed the guitar back. “Like this?”
“Yup,” he nodded. “And then-“
And that was what I did for the rest of lunch. And then I had cheer practice, and got a spectacular bruise on the top of my right arm. Then when I went to my locker, someone was waiting for me.