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Drama Fiction Funny

Author’s Note: This is the final installment in the Sherwood Affairs (yay!) Thank you so much for reading this far!


           How was he going to give a speech without his notes and anybody watching? This was terrible. This was why Oliver avoided reunions. This was why polite society was advised against committing affairs. This was why people rarely jumped at the chance to become a High School vice principal.

           Where even was the principal when you needed him? At the grocery store. Once Oliver had heard a student complain that their parents had seen the real principal, whoever he was, at the grocery store during school hours. Oliver had reported to Leroy the superintendent, as he was instructed to do, that such a cut was happening, and Leroy proceeded to also go to the supermarket because the “best deals were in the middle of the day,” quote.

           Oliver wondered why that didn’t lead to speculations of an affair. One doesn’t often need the grocery store multiple times in one day!

           Leroy. That seemed to work, or at least not make the situation worse. Oliver imagined Leroy, the Head of the District, and all the other wonderful people who would not be watching him speak. That helped him calm down, and the worst twisted back into focus.

           He could do this. He could speak in front of a group of teenagers—they were barely in their thirties—about something nice regarding graduating, or family, or inclusivity—he could make up something. Yes, this could work wonderfully. Oliver felt a jolt of confidence, as if somebody else more qualified and professional had complimented him. Somebody like Jenny, wait, no, Jenny was probably very upset with him right now. Oliver shook his head. He would have to push Jenny out of his thoughts. It was too bad; she was the best at calming him down.

           Slightly less confident but still functioning, Oliver unlocked the staff bathroom’s door and embarked into the artificial white school lights, promptly bumping into Ida.

           At first, he didn’t see that she was Ida. He brain was divided between making sure he could walk straight forward and planning bits of a speech, so he subconsciously realized that he had bumped into somebody. But he heard a voice like daisies gasp an apology that tickled his senses like pollen and he looked down and saw Ida, more radiant than she had been fourteen years ago.

           And, though he was upset to admit it took a good few seconds, Oliver saw Jenny standing right behind her.

           Then Oliver realized that looking at either of them had completely obliterated the rest of his confidence and replaced it with the sinking feeling that all his progress in life had or would shortly be crumbling down, and he very quickly walked away.

           “This is boring,” Noam complained, poking Geraldine’s shoulder with his right index finger. “I am beyond bored right now.”

           “Me too.” Geraldine leaned against the wall. They were right outside the auditorium, unfortunately near what’s-his-name’s hand-turkey table, waiting for Emmaline to come back. Emmaline had sped off after Mr. Feldspar as if he had a GPS pasted to his head, giggling about how exciting everything would be getting. Nothing was getting exciting, Noam had realized. Emmaline had been gone for ten entire minutes and all Noam was getting out of it was a dusty back to his one ironed shirt. He even had to put on a tie printed with bananas—bananas!—for the occasion.

           “Hey, Noam!” somebody called from across the hallway. “You look mellow!”

           “If I am called ‘mellow’ one more time-“ Noam hissed. Mellow was the worst thing a person could be, aside from dusty or old.

Thankfully he didn’t have to complete that sentence because Emmaline conveniently skipped right over like a gleeful child.

“I took the long way back, so nobody could track me,” Emmaline explained, then smiled. “Guess what I got!” she sung, unnaturally happy given the lack of other excitement.

           “A conscious?” Geraldine mumbled, barely above a whisper. Noam had to hold back a laugh. Clearly she was being quiet because she didn’t want anybody else to hear what she had said—Noam was all for protecting his fellow students’ secrets; not so much his teachers’—but he hadn’t remembered Geraldine being that clever. Emmaline was the clever one.

           “No.” Emmaline waved a piece of notebook paper. “Mr. Feldspar’s speech!”

           “What’s that going to do?” Noam yawned. Whoop-de-do, a speech. Knowing Mr. Feldspar and his presentation-anxiety it would have been terrible anyway, so Noam was failing to see the point.

           “I can plant it on Ms. Worthington.” Emmaline said it as if it were the most logical course of action.

           “And that will do what?” Noam felt as if he were seeing backwards. “Prove that Ms. Worthington can pick pockets?”

           “No!” Emmaline whined. “None of you understand!”

           That was completely understandable.

           “We’re going to make it look like they picked their affair back up!” She said this part quietly, as if her paper-waving and previous shouting hadn’t had the potential to attract attention.

           “Let me get this straight.” Geraldine clapped her hands. “You’re going to ruin their marriage?”

           “Exactly.” Emmaline crossed her arms. “Now you’ve got it! It'll be so much fun!”

           Noam wasn’t sure if he wanted to get it. This plan seemed very, very bad, but all of Emmaline’s plans seemed bad initially yet he followed them dutifully and they ended brilliantly. Noam flicked his eyes between Geraldine and Emmaline. If somebody were to contradict Emmaline, it would certainly be her sister. Geraldine made no movement, only stared blankly at the floor; Noam figured they could proceed as usual.

           “Okay. Who’ll be planting this speech?” he asked.

           “I will,” Emmaline sighed. “Things only work if you do them yourself. I’ll plant the speech and Noam; you do what you do best: rile up our class.”

           “And what will I do?” Geraldine asked, not entirely earnestly.

           “What you do best: stand here and don’t mess anything up.”

           With that, Emmaline flew off with a rustle of papers. Geraldine and Noam turned towards each other.

           “Any ideas? I’m not really the idea guy.” Noam rubbed his hands as if he was, in fact, the idea guy.

           “I might have one,” Geraldine replied delicately. It was as if Emmaline’s absence had switched off Geraldine’s inhibitions. She led Noam a few feet closer to the turkey table and cupped her hands around her mouth.

           “If you make a turkey right now,” she hollered, “you will be payed! By the administration! Come now before Mr. Feldspar bans it!”

           The words “Feldspar” and “ban” seemed to trigger a united reaction amongst the Class of 2009, and they all descended on the table at once.

           “What?” was all what’s-his-name managed to muster.

           “Just go along with it,” Noam instructed. “You rarely know what’s happening anyway.”

           What’s-his-name argued for a few moments before realizing that it was no use: enough people figured that they would be payed to trace their hands on construction paper, and that with the prospect of something limited-edition meant they wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon.

           “Yeah!” Geraldine encouraged, her hands still a megaphone. “Don’t let this time be like the Whipped-Cream Carnival!”

           Noam had forgotten about the Whipped-Cream Carnival. He laughed at the memory. Once, he, with the help of a bunch of students who didn’t want to take a math test, had monopolized all the spinney-chairs in the school and sent students rolling down the hallway. Everybody not in a chair was granted one can of whipped-cream to do whatever they wanted. It only took half a class-period for the building to look like a blizzard had personally stopped by.

           As expected, Mr. Feldspar had tried to ban whipped-cream and spinney chairs, because his default reaction to anything was banning it.

           “This is the one thing I retained from Psychology.” Noam realized that when Geraldine spoke, she didn’t speak to any one person. She didn’t even make eye contact. “Mob-mentality.”

           “That’s…great?” Noam wasn’t sure what Geraldine meant either. What had happened to Geraldine and Emmaline? They had gone from the two nosiest, quickest people he had ever known to speaking in metaphors.

           “We’ve got them dealt with.” Geraldine suddenly spoke quicker and her tone had turned darker and more commanding, like Emmaline’s. Speak of Emmaline. “We’re catching Emmaline.”

           “Catching?” Wow, Noam felt dumb.

           Geraldine rolled her eyes. “Unlike my beloved twin, whose name mine rhymes it, in case you forgot, I am not fond of breaking peoples’ marriages.”

           “But I take it you’re still fond of provoking Mr. Feldspar?” Noam internally argued that there was a distinction between being morally bad and bothering a highly-botherable teacher.

           “Of course,” Geraldine scoffed. “I’ll bothered him for every reunion hereafter, even if it isn’t involving our grade. But he didn’t ruin my marriage-“

           “You’re not married,” Noam pointed out.

           “Same difference,” Geraldine continued. “He didn’t break mine so I’m not breaking his. It’s the golden rule.”

           Noam only then realized how very golden Geraldine’s hair was, and how shining her eyes were when she took charge.

           “That sounds wonderful!” Even if Noam didn’t wholly agree with Geraldine’s moral upstanding—which he entirely did, now that he was thinking about it, he thought that Emmaline was being rather unfair—he accepted that he had the attention span of a fruit fly and was already tired of watching a frazzled what’s-his-name. “These are my two favorite activities: running around and causing chaos!”

           “Is your husband…alright?” Ida asked slowly.

           “He’s completely fine.” Jenny shrugged as if he hadn’t just run away from them like they were ghosts.

           “He looks stressed. Do you know why?”

           “Ida, Ida, Ida.” Jenny shook her head as a parent would to a very small toddler. “Despite what popular culture displays, married couples do not possess a hive mentality. I have no idea why he is stressed.” Jenny craned her neck to look at the closest available clock. “But I think it could be due to the fact that his speech is starting in three minutes.”

           “Right.” Ida was inwardly looking forward to it. She hadn’t been to any reunions before and was eager to see what anybody had to say. She probably could have worded something nicely, if given the chance. Something about growth, blossoming, and community spirit, and everybody would have been bored and confused but it wouldn’t have mattered because she would have been too wrapped up in the hope that somebody had heard her. “I suppose we should go to the auditorium, then.”

           “I can’t find her,” Geraldine huffed. This was what she got for trying to stop Emmaline: a sweaty back and raspy breath.

           “Me neither,” Noam panted next to her. At least she was running around with a person who followed her plans, though if she didn’t fix this then no one ever would again.

           “Where could she be?”

           “Probably in some place we’re not.” Noam had regained his breath surprisingly quickly and he started speaking rapidly. “This is a large school. It wouldn’t be hard for her to move around exactly as we are, and therefore avoid us every single time.

           Geraldine groaned. This would take forever! “Do you think it would have been smarter if we had just found Ms. Worthington and waited casually by her side?”

           Noam nodded and breathed in deeply. “Time to run, again-“

           He was cut off by an announcement that crackled through the school’s speakers. They were already broken in 2009; now they were deteriorating. “All Students and Teachers, Please Report to the Auditorium.” Whoever was making the announcement—it sounded robotically like Phillip—said something afterwards, but it was unintelligible and overwhelmed by static.

           “Come on!” Noam tugged Geraldine’s sleeve. “That’s where she’ll be!”

           Both of their targets would be there, fortunately, but Geraldine had only just calmed down her racing heart and didn’t exactly want to start it back up again. “They always give a few minutes of leeway for these announcements. Can’t we walk?”

           “No!” Noam was fired up and shining with enthusiasm. “We need to go right now!” He was beaming. How could anyone beam while running? Even Emmaline didn’t have that much stamina. Geraldine decided it would remain one of the mysteries of life as Noam quite literally swept her off her feet, pulling her arm hard enough to dislocate it and otherwise dragging her like an inconvenient but entirely necessary suitcase.

           Oliver stood at an empty podium—a podium, who even buys a whole podium for a school reunion?—and gripped the edges, trying not to tremble. Here were all of his awful students. The good thing was that the majority of them wouldn’t be paying attention and he could mess up without so much as an upward glance. The back thing was that three students specifically—one he knew was Noam, that was the one who had caught him, and the other two had rhyming names that he had never bothered to learn—had recorders for brains and would be keeping track of his every fumble. Another bad thing was that Ida would be there, Ida the wildcard, who either radiated like the sun or stood smally in the back of the room like a squished bug. Ida could be the beginning or the end. But the worst thing was that his wife would be watching as well. Jenny was the one who had taught him how to speak in front of a group and she would be the one to see that yes, he had changed greatly. She could look at his improvements and see that she had no reason to be angry at him.

           A small voice in the back of Oliver’s mind questioned why he couldn’t just ask Jenny if she was angry, and they could collectively lower the stakes resting on this moment, but Oliver reminded himself that that wasn’t how things worked. The whole affair was dramatic. It required a dramatic solution. A dramatic speech would be perfectly dramatic.

           Oliver stared at the empty podium and prepared to start.

           “Please empty your pockets before entering the auditorium!” Geraldine was banking purely on how she assumed Ms. Worthington and Jenny were—pure and filled with the belief that students were naturally good—because anybody else would have ignored two students hollering from the end of the hallway.

           As hoped for, Jenny paused a few steps before the auditorium door and turned towards a very frazzled Geraldine and Noam.

           “Yeah! You!” Noam joined in the shouting. “Ms. Feldspar! Mr. Feldspar’s wife! I don’t know what last name you’ve taken!”

           Geraldine appreciated Noam’s attempts at political correctness, but not right in that moment.

           “Why are you two screaming and running?” Jenny asked, once they got close enough.

           “Empty your pockets! Both of you.” Ms. Worthington turned around as well.

           “It’s a fundraiser,” Noam explained. “We’re requiring all adults to, from this moment on, empty your clothes.” Geraldine coughed. Wow, running was really hard!

           “That’s not normally what empty your pockets means,” Ms. Worthington corrected gently. “You don’t need to empty everything-“

           “Yes, you do. New style.” Noam held out cupped hands. “Please. Now.”

           “I’m keeping my keys, though,” Jenny requested.

           “That’s fine,” Geraldine confirmed. “Keys and things are fine. But everything else.”

           Dubiously but still pleasantly, Jenny and Ms. Worthington reached into their pockets—Ms. Worthington had many, because she liked to wear flowy dresses and flowy dresses always have tons of pockets—and handed over a few spare coins, some loose strings, and one crumpled up piece of paper.

           “Thank you!” Noam chirped brightly once he got ahold of the paper. “You may proceed.”

           Noam and Geraldine nodded cordially at a few other students as if what they had just done was not at all suspicious and ducked into a back row of the auditorium. Mr. Feldspar stood at a podium—Geraldine didn’t recall a podium; it must have been new—looking like he was facing his imminent demise as he stared intently at the podium’s surface. Geraldine wondered if he had written a new speech, or if he was just staring at an empty surface as a coping mechanism.

           Noam randomly yanked Geraldine down and she bumped her knees on the floor.

           “Ow-“ she began, but he clamped a hand over her mouth.

           “There’s Emmaline!” he whispered, pointing through the slats at Emmaline’s shoes.

           Geraldine held her breath as if Emmaline could hear it—which she probably could—and waiting for Emmaline to walk all the way to the other side of the auditorium, look around, confused, and sit randomly in the middle of the row, staring forcefully at Ms. Worthington and Jenny, who had moved to the front and were staring at Mr. Feldspar, who was staring at the podium. If Geraldine had cared about geometry, she would have quickly pointed out the ornate shape their gazes were making.

           Mr. Feldspar started talking—weakly, quietly, and mumbling—and Geraldine figured she could get back up because it would be rude for Emmaline to interrupt the middle of the speech to come over. Emmaline didn’t want to ruin the speech itself, after all, and as far as Emmaline knew, Ms. Worthington was currently inspecting the paper. In reality, Geraldine was. She carefully pried the crumpled paper out of Noam’s grip.

           “You could have just asked!” he complained.

           “That would have taken too long,” Geraldine said off-handedly. She unwrapped the paper and immediately saw that it was undecipherable.

           “See, I should have kept the paper,” Noam quipped, taking it back.

           “You’re telling me you can read that?” Geraldine asked incredulously. “Hieroglyphics would be clearer!”

           Noam sighed and pointed at one tiny, scrawled letter. “This is an a.”

           “This is taking forever.” Geraldine took the paper one final time and ripped it in half. “I don’t know how Mr. Feldspar could have read this awful handwriting.”

           “It’s because he doesn’t write often,” Noam pointed out. “He just bans things.”

           That was consistent with his character. Geraldine crumpled the ripped strips back up and put them in her own pocket. “The important part is that Emmaline’s plan wouldn’t have worked.”

           “The important part is that we stopped her plan,” Noam corrected. “Because we’re cool.” He smiled. “Remember the Kool Kidz gang?”

           “I do,” Geraldine confirmed. She remembered a lot of things, like how very fun it was to bother people but it was even more fun to thwart evil plans, and was learning many new ones, like how reunions are only as nice as the people you share them with and we have all changed and grown—

           Geraldine shook her head. Somehow, she had let Mr. Feldspar’s very cliché, very repetitive, very forced speech invade her subconscious. It sounded suspiciously like the graduation speech the Superintendent had given 10 years ago, just this one with more nods to Jenny, though Mr. Feldspar was trying his best. That seemed good enough.

           Everybody seemed good enough. Everybody seemed content, which was rare. Mr. Feldspar was clearly proud of his speaking—he even looked up a few times—Jenny and Ms. Worthington were exchanging friendly glances as if they had known each other forever, Noam had gone from buzzing with impatient energy to peacefully full, Emmaline was still in the lonely euphoria of thinking one’s plan had worked—even Phillip was busy taping hand turkeys to the walls, and Geraldine was glowing inside because her mission was accomplished, her plan had worked, and all of that, all on her own.

           It sure was a happy reunion.

December 04, 2020 01:35

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8 comments

Regina Perry
15:01 Jan 22, 2021

I'm so glad Emmaline was thwarted and Geraldine got to show her individuality. Causing chaos is fun, but not when it turns nasty.

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Meggy House
20:51 Jan 29, 2021

Exactly! Thank you so much for reading!

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A. S.
19:22 Dec 11, 2020

Just finished reading all three of the Sherwood Affairs... and I loved them. You managed to not only establish characters but show their growth throughout three short stories. Bravo! I really loved how Geraldine was able to find herself and escape from her over-bearing sister. Would you be willing to read one of my new stories and let me know what you think? I would really appreciate your critique!

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Meggy House
22:25 Dec 11, 2020

Thank you so much for your delightful commentary! I greatly appreciate your reading and I would love to read one of yours!

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Ray Dyer
03:40 Dec 06, 2020

Thank you for returning to this one, Meggy! I was wondering how you would wrap it all up. “Now you’ve got it! It'll be so much fun!” regarding ruining their marriage...dang! That's cold! And yet, much fun to read. Thank you for sharing, as always! Loved reading it!

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Meggy House
21:49 Dec 06, 2020

Thank you so much for reading! I am so happy you enjoyed the story! I wrote this one with you in mind, because I knew you wanted something bad for Oliver, and I know I didn't really deliver on that but I'm happy you appreciated it anyway!

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Ray Dyer
01:47 Dec 07, 2020

Absolutely! I was excited when I started reading it - it didn't end up where I was hoping at the end of Part 2, but I totally enjoyed where it went!

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Meggy House
22:47 Dec 07, 2020

Thank you so much!

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