December 2019 short story of the month
Sometimes kids are the only ones willing to say what’s really on their minds, and our family needed a little dose of honesty. We almost never said something straight out. My step-mother was the worst. All she would do was pretend like nothing happened. And she expected all of us to do the same. We were supposed to pretend to be the perfect family in public. We didn’t want anyone to know the truth about us.
So the day Sam finally said something, no one believed him. Everyone assumed he was lying. Who would believe those things about our picturesque blended family? We were the epitome of how a family with kids from two original marriages could come together and be happy again.
We weren’t though, not even on our best days. Most days we barely spoke to one another, and when we did, it was just shouting.
“Sam! Stop fidgeting. Please sit still; you are distracting those around you trying to take their quiz,” Ms. Morgan yelled.
Sam couldn’t get comfortable though. His legs hurt. Finally, he gave up trying to sit and just stood up. Every person turned to look at him, except his step-sister. They hated being in the same history class. She didn’t need to look up. She knew what was wrong with him.
He knew he shouldn’t. The repercussions for what he was about to do could be worse than what he was already going through, but he was only 15 and he didn’t see anyway around this.
“Can I go see the nurse?” he asked Ms. Morgan loud enough for the whole room to hear. He made sure his step-sister heard him too. She looked up and shook her head before returning to her quiz.
Sam didn’t bother sitting on the hard plastic chair in the nurse’s office. He didn’t like waiting. It was making him anxious. He rocked back and forth from his heels to the balls of his feet and shoved his hands deep into his pockets. He was still doing that when she finally came back from checking on a student who sprained her ankle in gym.
Sam told the nurse his legs hurt. She watched him rock back and forth and didn’t really believe him.
“Are you trying to get out of something going on in class?”
Sam shook his head. He had a feeling she wouldn’t take him seriously, so he did the only thing that would convince her. He turned with his back to hear and dropped his jeans.
The nurse sent him to the counselor’s office and immediately went to speak to the principal.
He spoke with the counselor for over two hours. He almost missed the bus to go home. When he took his seat on the bus, his step-sister watched him over her sunglasses but didn’t say anything. She shook her head again and put in her headphones.
Several weeks later a social worker visited the family. By then there were no marks. The social worker spent less than an hour in their home. She questioned the children with both parents there.
Her assessment when she left was that Sam had lied. The kids were fed everyday and clothed. They had a roof over their heads; the boy was clearly acting out. Such a waste of her time.