Writing Clash

A Morning of Firsts

Mary Lou lingered at the doorway, hands clutching her small purple backpack. Her blonde curls had been brushed silky smooth, and I had let her use a bit of mascara and lip-gloss.

Usually Mary Lou was the epitome of careless. She did and said what she wanted whenever she wanted. She usually was oblivious to other people's thoughts and opinions. But today was her first day at a brand new high school. I would be worried if she wasn't nervous.

"Lotte?" she said softly. I smiled and gathered her into my arms.


"Will... the kids here make fun of me?"

I rocked her gently. "No. I know it for sure. After all, I used to go to school here too. I already talked with the principal and your counselor. All you have to worry about today is getting to class on time. No dilly-dallying in the bathroom fixing your hair!"

She giggled a bit. "Kay. Bye Lotte."

I grinned when she pecked me on the cheek. The teenagers walking around didn't seem to notice, although some of them glanced our way. If anything they would ignore Lotte altogether; I would be beyond happy if she made a single friend today. But Lotte was a friendly girl. She had a better chance out of anyone. Her mannerisms were too cute to ignore. Even though she was seventeen years old -- a junior now -- she came off as being around ten years younger. The other girls would be fawning all over her.

I let out a big sigh when Lou entered the building. Worrying about her would fix nothing.

I walked back to the car and put it into drive, hoping no teenagers would dart out in the process. I got through the parking lot with only two honks and one raised middle finger. God. Now I remembered why I hated high school so much. Truthfully Mary Lou was better off than me in a place like this, even being effected by as much down syndrome as she was.

Now I had about half an hour to kill before going to work. The new coffee shop around the corner looked promising.

By the time I pulled into the shop, I noticed Alex's silver Chevy. Ugh. What did I have to do for a bit of relief? Peace and quiet? Those words were all but a foreign language to a farming town like this. I reluctantly entered the coffee shop, arms crossed over my chest.

But Alex didn't spot me immediately. I scanned the whole room for him. It was only on the second scanning that I saw him, holed up in the corner by the window with a book propped up in one hand and a fork with a giant slice of bacon in the other. I smiled. Bacon? Normal. Book? Not normal.

At the counter I ordered a bagel and cup of coffee, then went to sit across from Alex. So now I was the one bothering him. Huh.

It took him a second to notice me at all, but he didn't act surprised. He just nodded and took a bite of eggs.

"What are you reading?" My amusement was evident in my voice.

He smiled and held the book up so I could read the cover: Poultry Farming for Beginners.

Oh dear.

"We're interviewing our last couple today," he said. "They've offered to give us a tour of their place -- hens and all. I wanted to be prepared."

I rolled my eyes. "Sure you did. It looks more to me like you're considering buying a farm for yourself!"

Alex surprised me by frowning. "You're wrong about me, Lotte." My breath caught. "I wouldn't do that to my family no matter how much I might want to. We're in a bit of a disagreement now, but soon enough I'll be in my father's good graces again. This job is only the first step."

I found myself wanting to defend Alex. He should be able to do what he wants! I scolded his father in my head. I knew first-hand how Mr. Kane was. But instead I chose to say nothing.

We spent the rest of the time eating and sipping coffee in silence.