Lessons Learned

The room was quiet, tense breathing and pencils scratching, the only sound to be heard. As I sat there, studying my own test, I felt Krissy’s pencil tap me lightly on the shoulder.

I snuck a glance backwards, she waved the folded note in her hand and nodded towards Kristin, in front of me. I sighed. It seemed easy, just pass the note with the test answers to Kristin. I knew they were the test answers because Krissy had told us the day before that she had them. I was to pass them to Kristin when Krissy was done using them.

I could use them after Kristin, although I wasn’t much for cheating. My lack of a social life left plenty of time for studying. So all I had to do was pass the note from one girl to the other. Easy. I glanced up at the teacher, she was watching everyone intently. It would take some quick maneuvers to get the note passed.

Krissy was getting impatient, I reached my hand backwards and grabbed the note. Now all I had to do was pass it forward to Kristin.

I tapped Kristin with my pencil, she was waiting. Just as I was ready to hand her the note, “Amy, what’s that in your hand?”. Oh crap, I was caught. My heart started to race. “Please bring it to me.” Oh, oh ,oh, How was I going to get out of this one?

I got up and handed the note to the teacher. She opened it and gasped. She directed me to go sit in the hallway. As I looked back to my classmates, I saw Krissy shaking her head and Kristin looking defeated.

The teacher came out in the hallway. “I know this isn’t yours, Amy. Just tell me who’s it is and you won’t get into any trouble.”

But I will get in trouble, I thought. While I believed that Kristin and Krissy were my friends, I was petrified of the prospect of turning them in. In the hierarchy of sixth grade popularity, I was just beginning to come into my own. 

“I can’t tell you.” I manged to stammer. She looked me squarely in the eye and told me I had until the end of the day. Otherwise, she would take action.

Action? Detention wouldn’t be as bad as the alternative. I imagined the girls ganging up on me after school. Worse than the possible beating I might endure was the distinct possibility that I would become the girl who told. A stigma worse than detention. Yeah, her action couldn’t be as bad as the alternative.

Lunchtime came, Kristin and Krissy begged me not to tell. Begged, really? I was expecting death threats. I began to feel a little heady with the promise of favors and material things offered as compensation for my fall from grace. Surely a couple of detentions was worth the admiration I would garner by not telling.

The end of the day came all too quickly, the teacher cornered me before I could get to the bus. “Well?” she waited expectantly.

“I can’t tell you.” I stared at the ground, feeling both smug and anxious, waiting for her sentence.

“I’m sorry you feel that way, I thought the candidate for Student Council Secretary would do the right thing. I’ll have to take your name off the ballot, you can no longer run for Student Council.”

I felt the world turn sideways, I trudged onto the bus, tears streaming down my face. My fall from grace not the cheap thing I imagined.

This post was written in response to the weekly memoir writing prompt from The Red Dress Club. This week’s assignment was, when meeting someone for the first time, describe a scene from your life that would help show the person your true self.

As always, critiques are welcome. This event popped into my head when I first read the assignment and wouldn’t quiet down until I wrote it.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “Lessons Learned

  1. Once again you never fail to disappoint when you write.

    Oh how I wanted you to tell…Oh how I wanted you to keep the secret.

    Great response to the prompt! I always get giddy when I see your linky!

  2. dysfunctionalsupermom

    There is never anything to critique when you right. It’s always so good. I just wanted it to keep going. I always do.

  3. Beth Hedgpeth

    You are an outstanding writer!

  4. Ouch. That was like ripping off a band-aid with a little skin still attached. At least we can look back and laugh at all the stupid choices we made in the name of popularity. Krissy and Kristin, no doubt, went to every single school anyone has ever gone to in the history of school.

  5. Reading this, I couldn’t help but feel for you. The social pressures of your peers, the temptation of popularity, the risk of punishment.

    I wanted you to tell so you wouldn’t get in trouble. I wanted your friends to confess. I wanted you to stay quiet.

    And in the end, I was mad that the teacher, knowing you weren’t the one who cheated, knowing that you “couldn’t” tell, knowing – at least a little bit the peer pressure in school, devised a punishment meant to rob you of something you wanted.

    The punishment did not fit the crime.

    Fantastic post, as always. 🙂

  6. Oooh. I hate being in positions like that. Especially at that age when perspective is so limited.

    I love the way you told this. Drew me right in.

    I’m visiting from the Red Dress Club linkup. 🙂

  7. Patty

    You always have such a way with words. If only we could understand that those kind of “friends” are not worth the kind of loyalty you showed.

  8. Oh High School–I do NOT miss that! That teacher must never have been a student!

    It’s always the “good” kids who get caught in situations like these!

  9. PearlsGirl

    I absolutely love your writing. I look for you each week. This time we are side by side on The Red Dress page.
    Great story, thanks for sharing. I think we all have similar happenings. It seems sixth grade is when we all try to come into our own … and it is so difficult.


  10. I always love reading your writing.. This story was excellent. Though I wish you would’ve told!! 😉

  11. Oh gosh, that wasn’t fair, it wasn’t nice!

    I hate it when teachers can’t see past their desk and ignore the social pressures in the classroom.

    I’m not sure if I’m glad you didn’t tell or wish you did, but I’m still kicking myself that you missed out on Student Council.

    Beautiful, real writing.

  12. Ugh! I do not miss that peer pressure! Your story took me right back to those days. Great post!

  13. I Thought I Knew Mama took the words out of my mouth –
    don’t miss those days! Great post.

  14. Oh I remember how tough it was to be that age. I felt for you through this whole post. Makes me so glad that I am years and years and years past the anxiety of adolescence, not looking forward to it for my kids!

  15. Great insight into the pressure to tell vs. the consequence doled out by the social group.

    I want to know what happened after that 😉

  16. oh man…

    i felt this one.

    shame SUCKS. I am sorry. and im with MamaRobinJ, I want to know the rest of the story!

  17. Oh I feel for this girl.
    If we could all turn back time and say to our younger selves “HEY, grow up, be independent and don’t do what they tell you to!” the trouble we might have saved ourselves.
    I know I would have. But I wouldn’t be who I am now.
    Great job as always Amy.

  18. Rock and a hard place. You described it well. I would not have wanted to be you. I’ll take a day of dirty diapers, tantrums and dishes piled up in the sink over that age and those times ANY day!

    Great writing!

  19. Ugh…what a crappy situation to be in at that age.

    Sorry you lost out on being on Student Council

  20. sharon

    What a disappointing response from your teacher. She must have realised who had passed you the note and to whom you were passing it and yet only you were punished. Not very nice friends either to have not come clean about their involvement.

    A hard lesson to learn Amy, I hope you managed to avoid being in that situation ever again.

  21. Popped over from Wednesday Window, but sticking around now! Great post. You have a great voice and I look forward to reading more!

  22. Ah! I was so conflicted reading this! I really didn’t know which way I wanted you to go. I think if it were you, I would have made the same choice. Sixth grade is a jungle and girls are fearsome predators.

  23. Great post. It definitely brought me back to Jackson Jr. High, sixth grade, with all its horrors. Remember Tara Marshall? She used to bully me Every.Single. Day. I can look back now and laugh…well, almost.

  24. Why didn’t they just study so you wouldn’t be in jeopardy?

    Great writing!

  25. Wonderful writing! I am visiting from the Frugality is Free blog hop. I hope you will stop by and visit my blog too. Thanks!

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