“Carrie, hunny,” Mom said slowly. “I think you have a problem.”
Carrie didn’t answer. Her hands skimming over the pile of paperbacks, she continued placing them one by one on the shelf.
But Mom continued anyway. “You have to get rid of these books,” she said. “My livingroom’s become a library where novels check-in, but they do not check out!”
Still Carrie did not answer.
A rough slap sounded through the house as Carrie cried out. She blinked and stared at the pile. “I think you’re right, Mom.” Carrie said, finally looking up. Hope hopped into Mom’s eyes and did a jig as Carrie’s eyes fell back to her books, filled with tears. “I do have a problem.”
“I need another bookshelf.”
Mr. Gabriel stared up at the image of his thirty-something year old boss plastered to the front wall of Alice Academy and felt his face heat out of mortification. He turned to each of his five students with a tight-lipped look.
“I’m not going to yell,” Mr. Gabriel said finally, “I’m not going to scream… Except to ask who in the Devil gave you this irresponsible idea?” Yes, cursing seemed very appropriate right then. No matter how annoying his boss was, no one deserved this type of embarrassment.
Mr. Gabriel watched the boys shrink back as he shouted the last part.
Each boy began to draw circles in the dirt with his boots. Finally, the one at the farthest end spoke up. “Mrs. Summer is always getting called ugly, but when we found that picture on the internet we wanted to show everyone how pretty she looked. We wanted to see what the pic looked like against the nice mural in the cafeteria.”
“But the wall was too small so we tried shrinking it, but…” the second trailed off.
“Then we couldn’t see our favorite part,” said the third, tears budding in his eyes.
The fourth puffed up his chest. “Eventually, we concluded that for the school to realize how pretty Mrs. Summer is, we had to post a supersize on the front of the academy. It was Kip’s idea.”
Mr. Gabriel pinched the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache coming on. No amount of college could prepare any teacher for students like this. Was it any wonder his boss called in sick first thing that morning? “Do you have anything to say for yourselves before I call your parents?”
Each boy looked at the other before glancing up at their handiwork and then back at Mr. Gabriel. “The principal looks pretty in a bikini.”