The gymnasium of Benton AG High was filled to the rafters with people. The noise of three hundred people, all shouting and cheering and hooting was deafening, factor in chants, calls, and cheers from the cheerleaders and the background music blaring from two speakers. And we'll I could barely hear myself think. In the center of the gym, between the two basketball courts, there was a large plastic sheet, that was roughly the size of my bedroom floor. Sitting in the center of the sheet and in the center of the sheet, there was an old three-legged stool. Surrounding the stool was four, three-gallon size buckets.
The buckets I knew was filled to the brim with a mixture of apple-sauce, vanilla pudding, and green food coloring. The area around the pool smelled like an orchard or at the very least reeked of apples. The cheerleaders were finishing their little show. She was mostly flashing movements, some did cartwheels others lifted pom-poms and tossed them around. Others bent their whole bodies into letter shapes. It a strange speculum to behold.
"Madeline." A mother voice called out from behind me. "I know your busy watching the show, but we need to have a small talk with you." The voice belonged to Alice, oddly petite red-haired women who happen to be the Girl's P.E instructor. Despite not taking P.E this year, do to my problem I had gotten to know her briefly early one Saturday morning. She had since become a firm ally to me.
"Yes, ma'am?" I said as I turned around and offered her a curtsy.
She returned my curtsy with one of her own before saying.
"We have a little problem." She said sweat dropping a little as she folded her hands in front of her, she opened her mouth but before she could
speak aloud blooming voice cut her off.
"We have more than a little problem! We have a freaking huge problem here! It's like throwing a monkey wrench into a room filled glass balls. It's like releasing an enraged bull into a china shop! It ruins the whole bloody thing! Should have known there would be trouble! There always trouble when it comes to people like you!" The shrill voice of Mrs. Arnold could be heard in the background.
Soon her large form could be seen charging up to us. Her large meaty arms flopping around like the arms of a windmill and her normally perfectly styled beehive hairdo a messy of losing hairs and starting to unravel at the top.
"Now, now. No need to make a mountain out of a molehill." Alice said as she turned around and shot Mrs. Arnold a look that could kill. "We just need to put our heads together and think!"
I peered toward Alice, then I peered toward Mrs. Arnold, then I tilted my head to the side in confusion. I'm sure if this was a popular anime a large question mark would appear, floating right above my head.
"We could always just hose him down outside?" Mrs. Arnold said, clearly making an effort to avoid looking at me.
"Her" Gently corrected Alice. "Madeline is a 'Her' not a 'Him' And no that would be cruel, there frost on the ground. And the poor dear will catch her death of a cold if we did that."
"…" A shiver passed over my body. I felt my temper starting to rise. I went to open my mouth but one look from Alice's face made me quickly close my mouth. She had just taken up for me. So, part of me. Part of me felt like I needed to trust her right now. Though my normal temperament was to trust no one.
"I suggest, we let Madeline use the girl's locker room. That is after all the only washroom that has hot running water and is in halfway working shape. Given the limited school budget after all." She said smiling.
".. I suppose so.." Mrs. Arnold said taking a deep breath. "But what if somebody walks in on him? How are we going to explain that? Remember it was the Benton PTA who funded this idea. And the Benton PTA does not approve of. Does not approve of people like Ms. Brewer here.."
At this point, my temper got the better of me as I marched up to the shapeless form of Mrs. Arnold, then taking a deep breath I shoved my finger into her face. "Listen." I started in a commanding tone of voice.
You could hear have heard a penny drop. Thankfully the cheerleaders out front had worked the crowd into a fever pitch. With all there shouting, chanting, and noise making. Our little talk had thankfully been drowned out.
"I volunteered for this bloody thing and I can damn well walk off right here and now," I said peering the women's eye. "To be honest. I, as under the impression that I could use the staff bathroom to maybe get the bulk of the goop off me. But a nice hot shower does sound better. And let me tell you something else, there no way in hell, I'm going to get hosed down outside." I made a point to push my finger into the woman's chest with each point I made. And then I waited.
Mrs. Arnold for her credit took a deep breath and turned away from me. My eyes watched her stomp off. A little smirk played across my face as she pushed the double doors open and vanished into the hallway. That smirk fad when I caught sight of Alice peering down at me with her arms crossed and folded under her breast.
"So that settles that." She said with a little sigh. "Remind me never to cross you, Madeline. You seem to have quite the temper on you. I think running a hundred or so laps after school should help curve that temper. And yes, I agree the women had it coming to her. But she still a teacher and teachers should be respected. Teachers should also respect students. Even if they don't agree with there life choices." Alice paused and shook her head.
I opened my mouth to speak but she held up her hand and shook her head.
"No, I've made up my mind. You will do one hundred laps around the gym after school for a period of five days. I'll also be having a one on one talk to Mr. Chambers, chairman of the school board about her conduct." Alice said with a sage nod of her head.
"Remember Madeline, two wrong's do not make a right." She said reaching over and ruffling my hair. "But hey you get to work off that all that turkey and dressing and stuff." She said winking again.
"I don't even like turkey. Or dressing or those casserole dishes.." I muttered as peered out again. A few nurses in their scrubs were there, all smiling and waving to the crowd the cheerleaders too had settled down and moved from the center of the floor to the side and were sitting down with there legs crossed.
"Well..here always steak. A nice Delmonico, cooked out on the grill would be just as nice. Spend the day lounging around, watching anime, reading light novels and flipping through manga." Alice said smiling softly well he placed her hand on my shoulder. "Might let you run those laps before the break starts. You know, one Saturday morning, come in bright and early. Bust through them and boom your free for a whole week." A little smirk formed upon her face. "Maybe by then, the smell of apples would have left you."
I stuck out my tongue.
"Pardon me ya'll." One of the cheerleaders said as she poked around the corner. Her blonde highlighted hair was held back with a deep blue ribbon. "But, Madeline. There waiting for you. There some nurses from UMC here too to collect the donation check." The cheerleader paused and held out her hand.
"Looks like its show time girl!" Chirped Alice as she patted me on the shoulder.
I smiled and reached out and took the girls hand and smiled as I was lead out into the gym floor. A loud shout of praise rose from the voices of all those sitting in the bleachers. The cheerleader turned around and in a soft tone of voice whispered to me.
"You're really brave for doing this! Really brave!" She paused. "The squad chipped in some money too and you'll find a little kit in the locker room. Its nothing special, just some shampoo, some lotion, some basic make-up items like blush and lip gloss and a foundation that might look cute on you." She rattled on as we reached the center of the stage.
"Okay remove your shoes." She said smiling as she peered down at me. "We don't want them to get ruined." She before leading me onto the matted area. "And we don't want your heel to tear the covering."
I nodded my head and reached down and removed both of my leatherette pumps from my feet and placed them to the side. Giggling then I wiggled my freshly painted toes.
"Matching today are we?" The cheerleader said grinning as she eyed my freshly painted fingernails that had been painted a soft peach colored. I had painted my toenails in the same shade this morning. It just felt right. To match that is.
"Yep," I said blushing as I smoothed my skirt down and grinned like a fool.
The cheerleader then leaned in and whispered into my ear.
"Is there a certain boy in the crowd you like?" She giggled and took my hand and guided me toward the center of the floor.
A deep blush colored my cheekbones and smiling a little I whispered back to the cheerleader. "Matthew… Mulcahy.."
The cheerleader smiled. Before finally saying. "He's cute, and he's totally fallen for you. You make a cute pair." She said offering her hand. "Now step up and over and once you're in the pool, take a deep breath and be sure to fix your dress. Then take another breath."
I nodded and stepped into the pool and then raised up my leg to clear the wall. Then grinning a little I walked over to the stool and eased my bottom down before perching my naked feet on the middle bar. Grinning like a jester I ran my hands down the side of my dress and smoothed it out. Once that was done, I folded my hands in my lap.
"Hello Benton AG High School!" A teacher with short blonde hair called out. She was dressed in causal pastel pink sundress. "We hope you did well on your exams and we wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving break. Don't eat too much turkey and dressing now!" She added with a wink.
A few students were polite enough to laugh but most just remained silent. The teacher flushed at that and pressed on with her little speech.
"First I would like to thank the cheerleaders for putting on such a wonderful show! You girls rock! First, let me take this time to personally thank each and every one of you who contributed to the fundraiser. There way to many to thank, but you guys are epic! All of your pledges will go toward buying some coloring books, dolls, plush toys and crayons and other items that make those hospital visits more bearable."
A loud round of applause
"As you know, for the last few weeks, we've been looking for one brave volunteer to step up and get 'Slimed' if you will. And the lovely young lady behind me. Ms. Madeline Brewer has bravely volunteered. Madeline, I hope you like apples because we have four buckets here filled to the brim with applause slime!" She said peering at me.
I could feel my cheeks flushing with color. A small smile formed upon my face as I folded my hands in my lap. One of the cheerleaders rose up and walked over to where the four buckets were all neatly lined up. Bending down and balancing the bucket on her knee, she raised the bucket over her head and advanced toward me.
"And here the first bucket!" The teacher cried as a massive landslide of thick, green, mush rolled down and covered my head. The smell of crushed apples flooded my nose dripped down my face. My ears burned as I heard my friend and classmates yelling and laughing.
"We love you, Madeline!" Cried one voice from the crowd. Followed by another voice shouting the same thing.
I blinked and flicked some of the dripping mess toward the teacher, who jumped back and blushed.
"And here comes bucket number two!" Another landslide of thick, crushed apple goop that poured down over my head. Coating my shoulders, running down my back and rolling down the front of my dress. I never really liked the smell of apple sauce. But now I hated it.
The other two buckets were quickly poured over me. Coating me from head to heel in bright, green, apple smelling slime. Finally, the event was brought to a close and I was allowed to wash up. And so that the story of my week before Thanksgiving break.
Two weeks later. Lily and Robin opened up 'Magnolia Bakery and Tearoom'. A colorful anime-inspired Bakery and maid-café theme pastry shop that was located in the historical section of downtown. True to there world, I was made there first 'Petite' that is a junior employee. Lily's little sister a cute, shy girl called Jamie, full name Jamie Sarah Potter joined the staff a week later. Jamie and I soon became steadfast friends, as Lily and Robin both drilled us hard and made sure we earned our keep.
I spent Thanksgiving day with Matthew and his family, Kayla being my big sister tagged along too. It was a fun-filled day, we played board games, the men went hunting, as per tradition in the South. Kayla and I helped with the cleaning. Matthew killed the first deer of the season.
The day following Thanksgiving. Kayla and I hit the open highway and spent one of the most confusing, most nerve-racking, most insane days of my life in the mal. And it was a total blast let me tell you!
Anyway, more to come. Till then ya'll stay sweet.
With lots of love,
Madeline D. Brewer.
To be continued in 'emMadeline Makes Peace/em'