Story Part 9

by bdhesse

Shay had never sat in a more uncomfortable chair before. She couldn’t help but squirm. The voices in the next room didn’t help matters. She could hear the anger in the voices even though she couldn’t make out the words.
A quiet cough made her look up.
“Mom,” she said with mild surprise. Her mother was standing beside her.
“Shay,” her mother said, “what happened?” Shay could hear the disappointment in her mother’s voice.
“I didn’t mean to,” Shay said quietly. “He said I cheated. He said I couldn’t play.”
Her mother nodded.
“Mrs. Welsh?” the principal said. Both Shay and her mother looked up at the principal as Aiden and his parents shuffled out of the office.
“Doctor,” her mother said.
“I’m sorry?” said the principal.
“It’s Dr. Welsh,” her mother replied.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the principal said without seeming to be sorry at all. “Please, come in.”
Shay followed her mother into the tiny room. “I’m sorry to have to call you in like this,” the principal said.
Shay’s mother smiled. “It’s really no problem,” she said.
The principal turned to Shay. “Mr. Burns told us his side of the story, Miss. Welsh. Now I’d like to hear yours.”
“It’s Shay,” she replied.
“Excuse me?” the principal said.
“My name’s Shay, not ‘Miss. Welsh,’” she said.
“We’re not here to dispute your name, Miss. Welsh,” the principal said testily.
“Please,” Shay’s mother interrupted. “Shay doesn’t like to be called ‘miss.’ Just call her by her name.”
“Very well,” the principal said impatiently. “I hardly see how it matters though.”
“It does,” Shay’s mother said. There was a dangerous tone to her voice.
The two adults watched each other intently for a moment. Finally the principal turned back to Shay. “Your side of the story, please, Shay.”
Shay shrunk a little. “I didn’t mean to get mad,” she said. “We were playing and then he just started yelling at me. He said I cheated but I didn’t cheat. Then he said I couldn’t play with them. I got mad, so I kicked his ball. I didn’t mean to get so mad, but he was being a jerk. Then he started hitting me.” Shay crossed her arms and looked away. She didn’t want anyone to see the tears streaking down her face.
“Are you sure you didn’t cheat?” the principal asked.
“I didn’t cheat!” Shay cried.
“Are you sure?” the principal repeated.
“What kind of question is that?” Shay’s mother snapped. “Don’t you think she’d know if she cheated?”
“I think she does know,” the principal said. “But she probably doesn’t want us to know.”
“I didn’t cheat,” Shay said through a clenched jaw.
“Now Shay,” the principal said, “don’t forget: I already heard from your friend.”
“Oh please,” her mother cried. “Shay must be lying because clearly the other kid must be telling the truth.”
“Now Mrs. Welsh…” the principal began.
“Doctor,” she snapped.
“Right, sorry,” the principal continued. “I know you want to defend your daughter, but…”
“Defend her?” Shay’s mother said. “No, I want to ground her. But that doesn’t mean I’ll let you bully my child. Let me guess: she’s a girl so clearly she must be cheating because girls can’t play football.”
The principal turned red. “I’m not saying she can’t play…look, that’s not the point. Shay is suspended for two days. I’ll see her again after the weekend.”
Shay’s mother got up stiffly and left the room without a word. Shay followed her out.