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“Okay, guys. We are going to try something new this week.” Mrs. Larson said. She was the adviser for the National Honor Society “So, I have a bucket filled with names. I have recorded these names from lunch observations. These are kids who sit by themselves at lunch. I want you to get to know them. Be nice to them and sit with them at lunch for three weeks. Then, tell me about your experiences.”

She handed the bucket to Clover and she drew a slip from the bucket. Clover grimaced and passed the bucket to Ron and so on. It was my turn to pick from the bucket. I hoped that my person was Patti Jetley or Fritz Hilcock. They were bearable. I just didn’t want to be stuck with Jessica DeMayo or Luce Deffing. I closed my eyes and drew a slip. Fredricka Lunmayh. She was even worse. I put my hand over my face as I passed the bucket to Luke. Mrs. Larson was a nice woman, however, this was going to be torture. 

Mrs. Larson dismissed the meeting and we all headed to our study hall. “Lyzz! Who did you get?” Clover called, as she sped up after me to walk back to class. She caught up with me and pulled out her slip. “I have Jessica DeMayo! She blows her nose into her hand! I bet that you didn’t get someone that bad.”

“Oh, don’t go saying that yours is worse until you read my slip.” I cover my face and hand her my slip. “I have Fredrika Lunmayh. She smokes in the bathroom. I could suffer from secondhand smoking!” Clover and I giggled as I opened the door to Mr. Feldcamp’s room. The bell was going to ring in five minutes, so Clover and I sat down and decided to talk. 

“Do you want to switch slips?” I asked, in a long, slow, high-pitched voice. I acted like I was joking with Clover, though I actually wanted to switch.

“God, no! That girl has too many problems. We had a feud in third grade. She gave me a swirly, Lyzz. A swirly.” Clover complained. I groaned and she giggled slightly. She needed to know that I was actually serious about switching. Fredrika was violent.

“I hope that Fredrika won’t influence me to smoke or do drugs. I have a weak personality.” I say to Clover. Clover and I were best friends. We have known each other since third grade. She knew how to fix all of my problems.

“Look, if you are worried about it, then ask Mrs. Larson to switch. She won’t take it offensively. Don’t you have her for psychology next period?” Clover suggested as I nodded. I was a nervous wreck and I had spread myself thin enough already. I needed to learn how to say ‘no.’ I just always say ‘yes’ before I realize that it wasn’t the best idea. And I am most certainly not going to quit anything that I start. 

“Yeah. I’ll ask her then.” I replied as the bell rang. Clover and I gathered our things and left the classroom. I opened my locker and grabbed my psychology textbook and notebook. I slammed my locker and went to Mrs. Larson’s class. I set my things down at my assigned seat and walked up to Mrs. Larson’s desk. She looked up at me, from her computer, and smiled. 

“I was wondering if I could switch my slip from earlier for another one. Am I allowed to draw a different one?” I asked. I gulped down a deep, nervous breath, as Mrs. Larson’s pursed lips open to speak.

“Well, you could; however, if something is more of a challenge to you, don’t you think you should take it?” Mrs. Larson replied. She folded her hands together, on top of her desk.

“Mrs. Larson, Fredrika doesn’t even -” I started to explain to Mrs. Larson why I didn’t want to spend time with Fredrika, but she cut me off.

“Lyzz, just try it out. If you still don’t like her after two weeks, then we can switch you for the last week. I don’t think you will end up switching though. I think that you might like Fredrika.” Mrs. Larson said. I didn’t want to argue back, so I sulked back to my seat. Technically, Mrs. Larson gave me two options. At first, she said, ‘Well, you could.” Could, as in I could switch my slip. I wanted to. However, in the end, it blew up in my face and I had to wait for two weeks, just to switch my ticket. 

I went through my fifth period class, dreading the minute that the bell would ring to dismiss us to lunch. I never looked at the clock, so the following event would seem farther away. Finally, after 45 minutes, the bell rang. I groaned and picked up my things. I left the class room and headed towards my locker, so I could grab my lunch bag. I walked, as slow as I could go, to the cafeteria.

I walked up to Fredrika's table. She was wearing a plain black shirt under a leather jacket. Her hair was dyed blue, and she was wearing a short skirt. Upon her feet were dirty black and white Chuck Taylor's. She glared at me as I approached her. 

"Hi, I am Lyzz. Can I sit with you today?" I asked her. She took food off of her lunch tray, and placed it at the two seats that were on either side of her. I set my stuff down onto the table and sat in a seat directly across from her. 

"What do you want, Barbie?" She asked, sarcastically. She glared at me as I opened my lunch bag. 

"I want to get to know you, I guess. Also, my name is Lyzz. Not Barbie." I said to her. I could feel her glare burning into me. I took a bite of my sandwich and pulled out my notebook.

"So when is your birthday?" I asked. I looked up at her and she was filing her nails. She blew a bubble with her gum.

“None of your business, creep.” She replied. This girl was difficult, but maybe I could suffer a little less after two weeks. I ate another bite of my sandwich. 

“Okay, then. We don’t have to socialize.” I said while I finished my lunch. Maybe tomorrow will be easier, I thought. I looked up and she was staring me down. I bowed my head and I took a bite of my apple slice. I decided that I didn’t want my apple slices yet, so I got out my chips. I looked up once more and Fredrika flashed the inside of her jacket to me. There were multiple pockets filled with many things; there was, indeed a lighter, and an open pocket knife. I immediately lost my appetite, as I had become suddenly still. Unfortunately, this was going to be harder than Mrs. Larson claimed it would be. 

I got up to throw away my trash and Fredrika grabbed the sleeve of my shirt. “If you take my tray up, the knife stays in the pocket.” She whispered. I took her tray and threw away our trash. I sat back down at my seat and pulled out my tin of Altoids. My favorite kind were the sweet mint kind. I held the open tin out to Fredrika as a gesture of kindness. She looked into the tin and took five mints. She took all but one mint. I sighed and closed my tin of mints. I opened my pencil pouch and put away the tin. Something hit my arm and I looked around to see where it came from. Then, I was hit again, in the back. I looked around once more and saw one of my mints in front of me. I look at Fredrika and she throws two more mints at me. One hit me in the nose. I flinched as she popped the last mint in her mouth. The bell rang, and there were so many other kids in the cafeteria, that I couldn’t see where Fredrika went. 

After a week, Fredrika was beginning to warm up to me. She didn’t make me take her tray up and she let me sit four seats away from her, rather than five. She let me sit four seats away from her, though I would have preferred to sit four tables from her. We ate in silence, as lunch went on. I had bought my lunch that day, so I had to go and throw away my trash. Once I threw my trash away I went back to my seat. Fredrika slid something across the table to me. I picked it up and examined it.

"Tic-Tacs? How kind! You shouldn't have!" I said. No, really you shouldn't have, I thought. 

"Well, you kinda looked depressed after I stole your mints, so I got you new ones. These ones are better by a million; trust me. Plus, they're your color. Pink." She said. Trust me. That made me not want to trust her. I slipped the mints into my pocket. I didn't like Tic-Tacs; I didn't want to eat these because I didn't trust Fredrika. I decided that I would mail them to my brother as a joke.

Fredrika frowned at me. "Aren't you going to have one? I paid for that with my own money!" Fredrika complained. That statement made me feel bad. I reluctantly pulled out the container of mints. They were pink, after all. How bad could pink mints be? 

I opened the lid and Fredrika was smiling like a goon. I gave her a funny look, as I tilted the container to get one out. It was small in my hand. I stared at it for a while and wondered why Fredrika was smiling like that. Oh well, I thought. I popped the mint into my mouth. I let it sit in my mouth for five minutes. So far the mint was very bland, and it didn't have the strawberry flavoring that the pink mints usually had. 

"I don't see what is so special about these mints. They don't even taste like strawberries!" I complained. I shrugged at Fredrika, who was pursing her lips. 

"Just wait for it. I promise that they are the best." She said. I had fully finished the mint, and it still didn't taste good. Suddenly, the room was bright and colorful, and I felt amazing.

"Wow! Those are good mints!" The room was fuzzy and bright, and I felt like I was on cloud nine. Fredrika was laughing so hard that she was snorting and slapping at the table. I wanted to laugh too, so I started to giggle along with her. I had never felt so happy in my life.

"Wanna know what those were, Pinky? Well, you'll figure it out if you remember this conversation!" She said through her loud guffawing. I heard a pretty ringing noise as I stood up. I saw two blurry figures rush towards me. When they were closer, I could see who they were. 

"Clover! You have got to try these mints! They are so good!" I exclaimed, trying to tell which face was Clover's. I tripped over my feet and one of the Clovers had caught me.

"What happened, Lyzz! Why are you acting like this? What were you thinking?" Clover asked in a frustrated tone. 

"Well, I can't remember. I just remember eating a mint and feeling different." I said, trying my hardest to remember. 

"Lyzz. Who gave you the mint?" 

"Fredrika of course!" I said, jovially. Clover whacked me on the arm and frowned.

"Lyzz, Fredrika could have drugged those! Why did you take them?" 

"Because she got really sad when I didn't do it. I felt bad and didn't want to give them back to her. That isn't what you do when someone gives you a gift! You have to learn to say no! Especially, when 'no' is what your mind is feeling! Plus, Fredrika never feels remorse. She was toying with you, Lyzz!" Clover was soon finished with her tirade. She grabbed my things from the table and led me to the bathroom.

"Hand me the mints please, Lyzz." Clover held out her hand and I placed the mints into her hand, sad to see them go. She flipped open the top and dumped them into the trash can. She then tossed the container in along with them. 

She grabbed a paper towel and got it wet. She dabbed my face with it. My head was slowly beginning to hurt. I was beginning to have a migraine, and I was coming back to reality. I had now actually understood what the mints were and what was in my body. I began to cry. Clover dabbed my tears away and hugged me. She was a better sister than my actual sister was. I felt bad that I had taken and accepted the 'gift.'

"I am so sorry! I didn't mean to!" I cried. I felt miserable and my stomach was twisting. I threw open a stall, and threw up. Clover held back my hair, so I wouldn't get it dirty. After I had finished, I was wobbly and weak. Clover helped me get to the nurses office, and she even got my stuff from my locker for me.

My mom picked me up early that day, and had let me stay home for the rest of the week. I told her what had happened and she was mad at Fredrika and Mrs. Larson. 

"Mama, It was my fault. If I had said 'no' to Mrs. Larson, then I wouldn't have been tormented by Fredrika. If I had said 'no' to Fredrika, then I wouldn't have taken the mints and ate one. I did that because I didn't want to argue. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But I ended up hurting myself, trying to make other people happy. It was my fault."

"Honey, I am so proud of you for taking account of your actions. I am not mad at you. I am a little disappointed, however, a lesson taught is a lesson learned." Said Mama. Her words were always comforting and wise.

"What does that mean? 'A lesson taught is a lesson learned?" I ask, unsure about the answer. 

"What it means in this case is, if you had said 'no' to Mrs. Larson, then you would not have had Fredrika as an acquaintance. Then you would not have learned what happens if you say 'yes' just to please someone. Fredrika was the one who gave you that lesson. Cherish it; it will stay with you forever."

"Thanks, Mama. I understand now." I really had understood. In the future, I decided that my happiness and well-being isn't the cost to make someone else happy. It is a tough lesson, but an important one. If only I could have learned it the easy way.


March 20, 2020 15:11

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2 comments

Sarah Horn
20:57 Mar 21, 2020

So happy you recovered so quickly. Do you think the mints were a warning of what’s to come if you didn’t leave her alone?

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Artemisia Pearl
13:36 Mar 24, 2020

That is a good theory, however, I am not quite sure. Now that you say something, I think it could have been the meaning of the mints.

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