Mrs. McConnal XVII

From: Anonymous

Note From The Editor: The writer of this very nice story sent it to me and asked to remain anonymous. However, I have his e-mail address, so if you want to tell him what you think about his story you can email me ([email protected]) and I will make sure he gets your comments.

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Chapter Seventeen: My Birthday Party

It only took a few minutes for me to get dressed. My scrapes and bruises still hurt some, but my butt hurt a lot worse. Although the crying was over, I knew from experience with her mother that the spanking Gloria administered would hurt for a good long time. Sitting down would be uncomfortable for several days, but it would all eventually subside into a pleasant tingle, and, I knew, a pleasant memory.

I went out into the house looking for her. Not seeing her immediately I went to the front of the house, into the living room. She was there. "Let's go out onto the front porch." she said. "It's such a nice day."

Well, it hadn't been a very nice day so far, but I had no objection to going out of her front porch. Their house was an old one with a front porch swing and huge magnolias in the yard, giving not only shade but privacy from what little street traffic there might be.

She brought out a cushion for the swing and motioned for me to join her on it. That seemed nice. I sat down gingerly a foot or so away from her.

"What's the matter?" she asked. "You scared of me?'

I looked at her. She must have seen the puzzled look on my face and patted the space right next to her. Taking great care of my sore bottom, I slid over until I was pressed up against her. She put her arm around my shoulder and, as if I were melting I leaned into her as she held me tenderly.

"Want to talk?" she asked.

"I don't know what to say." was my response.

"How about starting with telling why you think you want to die." This was going to be one of those gut wrenching talks and I knew that I was likely to start crying again at some point. I wasn't sure I liked that, but thought that if I refused to continue now there'd be no one else to talk to and this chance probably wouldn't come again.

"I'm just in everybody's way." I began. "I'm a freak. kids my age won't talk to me. Older kids in my class just laugh at me. Nobody wants me around. I'm a pest to your mom. And she made you teach me to dance this summer just to try to give me something that would help me fit in with the kids at school, but I know that won't make any difference. And I know you'd rather be with your friends than being stuck here with me twice a week." I was already getting choked up again, starting to cry.

"You think I'd rather be with my friends." she stated.

I nodded, not looking at her but glad to have her close to me.

"Jeremy, little brother, I thought you were my friend." she said. she sounded hurt that I had intimated that I was not.

"You know what I mean."

"I know what you mean. You mean you think Mama made me spend these afternoons with you." I nodded. "She didn't. We did talk about you. She told me how cut off you are from everyone at school. And I asked her if we could do this while she's gone."

This was not what I expected. I looked up at her. "Huh?"

"It was my idea." she repeated. "I wanted to spend time with you this summer. Mama loves you so much that I feel almost like you're my little brother, little brother. You never would speak much to me while I was in high school."

"I was scared to." I mumbled.

"Scared to?" she was surprised I would say that.

"You were a lot older than me and I thought you'd just laugh at me, like the other girls in your class, like the older girls at school do now." It made sense to the child that I was.

"I have never laughed at you for being your age, Jeremy." she was serious now. "And I think you may be misreading the laughter from those other older girls."

"I don't see how I could." I said. "I see them glancing at me and giggling to each other, like my pants are unzipped or something, like I've done something stupid. I mean it's not just once or twice but all the time. I mean what else can I think?" Tears were flowing now, as though I were reliving each time it had happened. "Girls in your class did it, too. You must've known it."

"They're giggling because they're embarrassed." she told me.

"I don't understand." I had no idea what she meant.

"They're embarrassed because they don't know how to deal with you." She held me tighter and put her face in mine again, giggling now herself. "They want you and they don't know how to deal with that."

"What are you talking about?" I still had no idea.

"Jeremy," she said flatly, "you're the most intelligent person this town has ever seen by a long shot. You're precocious. You're always into mischief, and always getting away with it . . . except with Mama, and now me. Everyone feels like an idiot in your presence. You're intimidating. You keep yourself in the shadows 90% of the time but when you do come out can command a whole room and entertain everyone around you . . . then you dive right back into the shadows again and no one can reach you until you decide to pop out again and no one can predict when that will be. You're unattainable." Then she paused. "And you're the cutest little critter on the block."

With that she grabbed my stomach and tickled me, finally forcing a laugh out of me.

"They want to spank you and they want to go to bed with you at the same time. And they can't do either one. They know you don't have a mother or a girl friend, and they want to be both. They giggle when they see you because they don't know how to deal with their own feelings, not because they're laughing at you."

"Are you sure?" I asked. All this was coming as a complete shock to me.

"Of course I'm sure." she answered. "Do you think that girls don't talk about these things among themselves?"

"Besides," she added, "you've got more class and distinction than any guy even in college. All the boys in high school seem like doofuses compared to you."

I hung my head, "I bet you weren't thinking that a few minutes ago."

"While I was spanking you? Of course I did. Why do you think none of your teachers ever spanked you, no matter how much mischief you get into? It's because once they're dealing with you one on one it's like they're dealing with a 65 year old supreme court judge or something. And they can't spank a supreme court judge."

"It didn't seem to slow your mama down." I said.

"Of course it did." she went on. "Why do you think it took her so long to finally get around to wearing your fanny out?"

I blushed. "It didn't take her but a few weeks after school began."

"Once you were finally in her class." she pointed out. "She told me about your hand spanking for smoking. Jeremy, that was the first time she ever spanked a student. Do you realize that?"

"Yes." I did know that.

"I think she did that on impulse, she wasn't thinking that she was spanking a student but that she was spanking her friend."

"Her friend?" she kept confusing me.

"Yes, her friend." she kept being amazed that I was confused. "A teacher may spank a student because she's mad at him. But an adult friend spanks a young friend because she knows he needs it. You needed for someone to rein you in, Jeremy. Such a friend doesn't let herself be manipulated or intimidated by a young friend. She loves you too much for that."

She continued, "That first spanking was impulse. You had it coming for intentionally disobeying her after she caught you smoking the first time and let you off. That last spanking, when she really tore you up, she had to think long and hard about that. She was afraid you might hate her for it."

"I could never hate your mother." I said. "I love her. A whole lot."

"I know. She knows it too, now." she hugged me closer. "But at the time she wasn't sure how you would react to such a severe walloping. But she knew you were engaging in behavior that would kill you if it didn't stop. Just like this afternoon."

I sighed deeply. Yeah, my butt was going to hurt for a long time.

"But I felt sure you wouldn't hate me for it. You don't, do you?"

"No," I was quick to answer, "no, I don't hate you Gloria. Please don't think that."

Then she added, "But you did hurt me when you said you thought that I only spent time with you because Mama made me, and that you believed I would rather not be spending time with you."

"I'm sorry." I said. "I would never hurt you intentionally, really."

"I know." she said sweetly. "Hang in there a few more years, Jeremy. I know it's real hard for you now. I know nothing fits right. But in another 10 years you'll probably have your doctorate degree from some top notch university and everything will be fitting perfectly."

She took my nose and wiggled it. "Now smile for me."

I did. "OK . . . big sister." And I hugged her tightly.

"Oh, goodness," she said, as if she'd been stung by a bee, "how could I have forgotten?"


And she jumped up, taking me by the hand, and pulled me back to the kitchen.

"Happy Birthday, brand new teenager!" she exclaimed as she pulled out from the cabinet a tray of cupcakes she'd made, each with a candle on it.

Then she got out a half gallon of ice cream from the freezer. "French vanilla!" she said proudly, "For a special occasion."

There were thirteen cupcakes. She lit each candle and told me to make a wish and blow them out.

I had to think for a little while before deciding what wish to make. Then I realized that what I wanted was for everything Gloria had told me to be true.

And I blew out all the candles in one breath.

After we had eaten, Gloria said, "Mama sent you something special."

"Really?" I asked.

She brought out a small package. I could tell it was a book from its size and shape. It was a very nicely bound thin volume.

When I opened it I saw Mrs. McConnal's handwriting, 'To Jeremy, my mischievous Puck, on your 13th birthday. love, Mrs. McC.'

It was a beautifully made copy of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Attached was a note saying that we would start work on it as soon as she got back. (It's a prize to me still.)

I started tearing up again.

"You're not a pest to her, Jeremy." Gloria told me. "You're one of the brightest stars in her life."

"She's the brightest part of my life." I said.

"I know." Gloria said. "Feel better now?"

"Yeah." I answered.

I walked my bike home that evening. My scrapes and bruises had me a little sore, but it was my bottom that kept me from sitting on that bicycle seat.

I was 13 today. Things weren't quite as bad as I had thought they were.

The End

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