I looked at the clock. Only one more minute.
Ms. O’Donnell stared us down. We had just been sitting here for fifteen minutes. We had finished out schoolwork early but she refused to let school go out early.
The bell rang and the room erupted.
Ms. O’Donnell put her hands on her ears and walked out the room muttering something.
“Ms. O’Donnell!” I cried running out the room.
“Yes, Natalie?” Ms. O’Donnell asked. I pulled a box of chocolates out of my backpack.
“Happy summer,” I smiled. Ms. O’Donnell smiled back.
“I expect to see you at this weekend Christmas in July meeting/Erin’s dress making?” Ms. O’Donnell asked. I nodded.
“Everything’s almost set up and July 25th is a month away. All we need to do is get the word out,” I said.
“Don’t worry about that,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “I’ll handle the media.”
“Thank you, Ms. O’Donnell. I had my doubts about you but you really are a good teacher,” I said.
“You’re welcome, Natalie,” Ms. O’Donnell said with tears in her eyes. “That really means a lot to me.”
I smiled and walked back to the class.
Maybe Ms. O’Donnell had a little bit of heaven in here.
I looked out the window. A black limo pulled up and a short blonde girl got out of it.
“Don’t move,” Mrs. Stewart commanded. She poked me.
“Ow,” I said.
“We’ve been over this before, Natalie,” Mrs. Stewart said. “If you don’t stand still I’m bound to poke you with one of these pins!”
“Who is that girl?” Sean asked looking out the window.
“I think that’s one of Ned’s friends. I believe her name is Kristen. She’s from Hollywood and is married to Ned’s best friend from there,” Ms. Erin said looking out the window.
“I can tell,” Mrs. Stewart said looking out the window.
In less than two minutes Kristen walked into the room.
“You’re even prettier than Ned said,” Kristen said hugging Ms. Erin. “Omygosh!”
“What?” Ms. Erin asked.
“You got Jessie-Maria Sean for your wedding!” Kristen shouted looking at Sean. “No way! I tried to get her for mine but they said she had left the state and was no longer preforming! Leave it to Ned Davis to get what he wants!”
Wait, what? Sean was famous?
Mrs. Rivers looked at Sean. Sean looked like a deer in a car’s headlights. She tried to run away but as she ran Abby lost her grip on the pins and they pierced her skin and caused her to fall down. Blood dripped from her leg.
“I’m sorry, Jaci,” Sean cried. “I’ve bloody the dress.”
“It’s ok,” Jaci said grabbing a Band-Aid from the first aid kit. “We’ve got plenty of fabric if we can’t wash it out.”
“Honey, why did you tell Tom and me about this?” Mrs. Rivers asked.
“Most people once they find out I’m gifted use my gifts for…profit,” Sean cried.
“Oh, baby,” Mrs. Rivers said hugging Sean. “Sean, honey, Tom and I would never use the gift’s God’s given you for profit.”
“Sean?” Kristen asked. “Why do you call her by her last name?”
“Cause my first name is embarrassing,” Sean said. “My name means bitter gifted.”
“Let’s get the dictionary,” Mrs. Rivers said. Emily came back a minutes later with a dictionary.
“B…,” Mrs. Rivers said flipping through the dictionary. “Bitter!”
“See, it means something that is unpleasant, distasteful, and distressing,” Sean pouted.
“It also means being relentlessly determined,” Mrs. Rivers read.
“Determined?” Sean asked.
“Relentlessly,” Mrs. Rivers said hugging Sean.
“Sean, I have an idea but I don’t want you to think I’m trying to use your gifts,” Ms. O’Donnell said.
“What is it?” Sean asked.
“I think that we should not only have a little carnival thing but a Christmas show and nativity play! Sean could perform in the show and we could advertise it!” Ms. O’Donnell said. “What do you think? It would be for a good cause.”
“On one condition,” Sean smiled. “You call me Jessie-Maria.”
“Deal!” Everyone shouted.
“Oh, thank you!” Virginia shouted hugging Jessie-Maria. “I just know we’re going to help all my friends! Thank you. It means a lot to me.”
“My pleasure,” Jessie-Maria said. “We’re supposed to use or gifts to help others right?”
“Oh, where is my camera?” Momma asked. “I had it at Abby’s wedding.”
“Mrs. Matthews! Abby and Jaci are on their way from North Adams,” Regina said. “Everything isn’t finished yet! Oh, this is going to be a disaster!”
“The baby shower isn’t going to be a disaster!” Momma shouted. “As long as I can find my camera.”
“Well at least the cake is finished,” I said looking up at it. Ms. Donna had made the cake, and Jaci made the icing. The cake was kinda silly. It was decorated with question marks and diapers.
“I brought the baby shower umbrella!” Mrs. Stewart shouted running into the house. “Where’s the rocking chair.”
“Can I get a little help here?” Ms. Donna asked from the steps. “Steve said he was going to help me carry it down from the attic. I don’t know where he is.”
“I’ll help,” Mrs. Stewart said dropping the umbrella and helping Ms. Donna.
“Ok,” Mrs. Stewart said setting the chair and umbrella up. “Now all we need is the mother-to-be or is she already a mother? She has Jessie-Maria.”
“Where is my camera?” Momma cried. “Oh, Natalie, can you go check upstairs in my room. Knock first. Oh and bring our gifts down too.”
I nodded and walked up the steps.
“Come in,” Mr. Steve’s voice said when I knocked.
“What are you doing?” I cried when I heard a familiar tune and saw Mr. Steve with my mom’s camera.
“You’re really good,” Mr. Steve said not taking his eyes from the camera. “When did you start playing the piano? You couldn’t have been but four or five in this video.”
“I was three when I learned the basics and how to read notes,” I said trying not to cry. What was Mr. Steve doing snooping on my mom’s camera card?
“Why’d you stop?” Mr. Steve asked. “You’re really good. You should start taking lessons again.”
“No!” I cried. Mr. Steve looked up from the camera.
“What’s wrong?” Mr. Steve said. “With talent like that you really could become something.”
“What’s wrong? You’re wrong!” I cried.
“Excuse me?” Mr. Steve asked.
“How dare you snoop on my mother’s camera card?” I cried. “That card has special memories on it! Memories that you shouldn’t see!”
“And why shouldn’t I see them?” Mr. Steve asked folding his arms and getting angry.
“Because,” I said.
“Just because,” Mr. Steve said. I nodded.
“And what’s wrong with taking lessons? You have a gift and you should pursue such a talent with all you’ve got,” Mr. Steve said.
“Music was something I shared with my dad,” I shouted as calmly as I could. “When he died I stopped playing and Momma didn’t mind. So I haven’t touched a piano since I was five.”
“That’s not right,” Mr. Steve said shaking his head. “There aren’t any piano teachers in Florida. So we’ll have to try North Adams.”
“Don’t you understand?” I screamed. “I don’t want to take lessons! My father was my teacher! He understood how I learned music better than anybody else ever or could!”
“Natalie, this music teacher isn’t going to replace your father,” Mr. Steve said with disgust in his voice.
“Oh, but you can!” I screamed. I grabbed the gifts and walked out the door before Mr. Steve could say anything else.
“Did you find my camera?” Momma asked. “What’s wrong?”
If I looked how I felt, I was a mess. How could Mr. Steve force me to take piano lessons? So what if I had a talent? My father loved music, and introduced it to me. I couldn’t learn music with anyone else. I just know I couldn’t.
“Mr. Steve has your camera,” I said. “Tell him to stop snooping!”
“Snooping?” Momma asked.
“He was looking through your card,” I said.
“Um, ok,” Momma said not seeing the invasion of privacy.
“You just don’t understand!” I cried walking towards the bathroom. “Nobody understands.”
What in the world was that? Is that you God?
“If it’s about those naked baby pictures of you…,” Momma started but I slammed the bathroom door.
By the time I finished crying the baby shower was underway. The shower might have been a lot of fun if Mr. Steve had destroyed it for me, but looking back I think I destroyed it for myself.