Morning peered through James' window, illuminating the dust floating lifelessly in his room. He opens his eyes slightly and sits up feeling the sun on his bare back. The warmth is soothing. He reaches his hand up to his shoulder and runs his fingers down his shoulderblade. A scar he was given by his grandfather. His grandfather died last year from a bad liver. Too many nights he would spend drinking and getting violent. One night, he drank too much and visited his son. They began arguing and James stepped in. His grandfather pushed him off the porch and a broken board cut into his back. He never apologized. James closed his eyes and took a deep breath before getting out of bed.
"James! Come down we will be late to school." his sister reminds him loudly from the front door. He begins getting dressed.
The school that James and Miranda go to is very small. Miranda has two friends, and James has one. James' friend is Luke, and is from a family that has been in the military for three generations. Luke seems to be interested in continuing the tradition. Miranda's friends are Stephanie and Chealse. The three of them are very close.
James finally runs to the door, all dressed and with books in hand. "Miranda, are you driving today?" He asks.
Miranda rolls her eyes, "No, but Chealse is." she smiles.
James has a small crush on Chealse, but nothing serious. He knows that his sister doesn't want anything to happen, but it's human nature. On their way down the long dirt driveway, They both see a ball of dust forming down the road.
"James, look down yonder." she points at the car.
"They? I thought it was just us three." his eyes open wide, "You don't mean Stephanie is coming too, do you?"
She looks to him, "Yeah, I do. What's it to ya?" Miranda looks away and back to the car.
He subversively protests, "Well, one guy and three girls is just awkward."
James sighs and looks down at his shoes, and then looks at her shoes. The great difference between a girl's shoes and his isn't the way they are made, but what they are made for. What the girl does while wearing them is completely subjective. Miranda wears her two pair of shoes for just about anything. Her "sunday best" have an offwhite suede exterior and a small yellow flower embroidery where the top strap meets the shoe. Those are for school, church and going shopping for groceries. Her second pair are actually sandals. Three straps wrap around the tops of her feet, and one strap around the back of her ankle.
Chealse brings the truck to a stop and the dust barely has time to settle before James notices what's going on.
"There's only three seats!" He clenches his fist by his side.
Chealse smiles and points to the back, "Don't be complainin crazy, you have a ride today."
Stephanie snickers at James' complaining and opens the door for Miranda, while he jumps in the back with a mean eye trained on Stephanie. The ride to school was windy and uncomfortable for James. Miranda, Chealse and Stephanie were chatting the whole time about boys, school, and the party at the creek this weekend. James tuned in to the party bit, because his pa does not like her going to parties.
Chealse slows down and parks the big blue Chevy behind the school a bit and they all hop out quietly to sneak in as if they weren't late. He pretends he didn't hear them talking about the party, and walks a few paces in front of the girls. The school house is what was left of the original baptist church that had previously been moved downtown due to the members growing since the summers before. It has the typical school house image, but the teachers and principal are not so ordinary. Miranda and her friends stand around the door before going inside to greet their favorite teacher. Down the short hallway, they see Mr. Peirson turn the corner. He is wearing his signature well-polished shoes and a well pressed black dress coat. Mr. Peirson combs his thick black hair over and walks with a stride.
Mr. Peirson greets the three, smiling directly at Chealse, "Mornin Girls. How was the weekend?"
The three of them smile and follow him into the class room and tell him, all together, about their weekends. Mr. Peirson sits on his cluttered desk and looks quietly at all his less-than-anxious pupils. Some staring with blank eyes through the faint mist of dust and out the tall windows, and some nodding off- fighting for conciousness.
Only a moment later, he stands up and slams a heavy book on his desk, "Alright everyone, lets get to business!" he raises his voice a bit. Everyone throws their heads up in attention. In the very center of the big green board he writes the word "F U T U R E".
"Tell me about it!" Mr. Peirson tries to mix things up instead of diving into debates about Nazi's and Pearl Harbor.
"Stephanie," she looks up and smiles, "what do you think about the future? What kind of advances do you hope to see?" he asks.
She thinks for a moment, "I reckon everybody's gonna have electric cars and medicine will be quick to get." she smiles again.
"And what about their appearances?" Mr. Peirson looks into the now attentive group of wide eyed faces.
"Mr. Peirson," Chealse stands up, "I think people in the future will wear really pretty dresses an' such." she steps back and spins.
Her dress unfolds and rotates effortlessly in the warm breeze sweeping down from the ceiling fans. All the boys stare and want to see more. Eyes rool in the ladies heads, except for Miranda and Steph. Mr. Peirson watches diligently.
He runs four fingers through his hair and asks the class with a smile, "And what about entertainment, or the economy?"
James stands up and begins to speak his thoughts, "In the future, I wana to see a cure for cancers and a way for families to make some damn money. It just aint easy for some." he stands for a moment, and hears the snickering and smiling.
A student raises his hand, "How about you get off your ass and get a job, James."
The class quietly laughs.
Miranda walks over to the smiling joker and says, "How about you get off your mommas tit and pick up a gun and look out for our momma while he's at work-" she grabs him by his pressed polo collar and pulls him close, "and instead of pickin on people try to get ta know who hell you're freakin talkin to!"
Mr. Peirson steps in and seperates the two of them before anyone can move, "How about we calm down and not be rude, you two."
She lifts her chin up and takes long steps to her seat, not knowing to feel embarrassed or proud of what she had done to the boy.
"And I'll see you after class, Miranda." He stares at her and the boy until she finally sits down and looks away from the boy in the back.
After a very tense session on what everyone expects to happen in the future, and hostile glares. After the hour, Mr. Peirson waited behind his desk. The fans on the ceiling spun slowly above twenty-two unevenly spaced desks. At this point he had already taken off his expensive coat and draped it over the back of his chair. Southern humidity being as uncomfortable as it is forced him out of his chair to pace the room in front of the windows until Miranda returned from the restroom.
She knocked once on the tall door frame, "You wanted to see me?" she asked, knowing exactly what was going to happen. One day of detention, maybe some extra homework.
"I want to know why your mother's condition has made you so violent." he turns from the window, and motions her to enter the room.
"It aint her! Jesse just knows how to get under my skin." she tucks her hair behind her ear, but some still slips back down.
He puts his hands on his hips and runs his hand through his hair, from rightside of his forehead to his left ear, "I would like you to get to know the difference between defending you, and your family, and harming people who may be ignorant to the truth."
Mr. Peirson goes to his desk and pulls out a tan folder and opens it up. Along with six or seven other students, her name shows up twice. She huffs and takes a seat in the desk immediately in front of Mr. Peirson's desk. He sighs and pulls out a blank referral.
"And I suppose I'm gettin a counselin too, huh?" She rests her face on her fist, with her elbow propping her up on the desktop.
"Yes, I suppose that will happen too." He sits still and begins writing on the paper.
"Whadya mean, 'too'?" She asks, dropping her arm on the desk, "Detention?"
He looks up and asks, "Should I even tell your parents?" his pen drops, "I think you are an adult enough to make the correction on your own, don't you?"
Mr. Peirson rolls his chair back slowly and walks around his desk. He takes a seat in front of her and smiles.
He reaches his hand out to her shoulder and asks, "Wouldn't you want James' and your grades to continue to excell?"
Mrs. Jackson turns the corner and calls Mr. Peirson out of the room, "Do you have a few mintutes to talk about the vacation request of yours?"
Mrs. Jackson is an average height and has a feminine, but raspy voice. She spent a few years in the military as a drill sergeant. Her hat hangs behind her chair in her office. It's an intimidation factor for those who have disciplinary issues.
"Yes I do. I'll be there right away." He gets up and throws his jacket on, "You stay out of trouble Miranda, I will see you for detention tomorrow."
Mr. Peirson pokes his head back in, "Oh, and keep your friends out of trouble too. You gals are pretty cool by me." his accent and behavior make him a definite yankee around town.
"I will, Mr. Peirson..." she huffs again and stands up.
Before Miranda has a chance to leave, Mindy walks in. Mindy, the one who caused all that trouble a couple days ago. She was shocked that the girl's slender frame recovered so well from being pummeled the way she had been, but there she was. Her first thought was to keep walking and run right over her, but Miranda noticed Mindy's right hand was holding something behind her back.
"I apologize about the rucus I caused saturday in the flower shop. Momma just had me all wound up from an hour before." Mindy lowers her head, "I wish you would let bygones be bygones."
Miranda was even more angry than before, but a feeling came rushing through her chest and to her arms, relaxing every muscle, "Why not," Miranda closes her eyes as girl before her lifts her head, "I don't mind letting something go. After all, I am you elder and should act like it."
From behind her back, Mindy hands her the hat that fell off her mommas head before stopping the punch that would have really started trouble for both families.
"I chased it down as far as it blew." She smiles and lets go of the hat.
They both walk out of the room, and walk home. James meets them both outside shortly after.