Jenna licked her lips nervously. She sat on the chair, fidgeting, as the hustle and bustle of the office carried on around her, not even noticing her presence by the door. Jenna glanced at two of the secretaries, who sat next to each other, doing the attendance for the day.
Surely, she thought to herself, they must know what she did.
The secretaries didn't even look up at her.
Jenna fidgeted a bit more. The principal was just in the staff lounge, they had said, she would be up in a moment to "deal with you."
Deal with you. That's what the secretary had said to Jenna. The principal would deal with you. She will deal out your sentence, one hundred years hard labour. Or a month of peeling potatoes in the neighbouring high school cafeteria. Or even worse, having to stay in for recess.
Martin, a boy in Jenna's class had once done what she had done. And he disappeared after seeing the principal, never to be seen again. The teacher said he had moved. Jenna and the others knew better.
Justine had told Jenna that her brother had once gotten caught, and they had sent him to the high school wear he was forced to wash dishes, day and night for a week. They had chained his legs together, and bolted the chain to the floor. Justine had pinky-sworn that this information was true. Jenna licked her lips again.
The principal wasn't back yet. Jenna knew that the longer that you had to wait, the worse trouble you were in. Several people had told her this, she had it on the highest authority. If that was true (which it was, but Jenna was just hypothizing) then it meant she was in very big trouble indeed. She had been sitting her for at least half-an-hour.
She glanced at the clock to confirm this, only to find only ten minutes had passed since she's been called down from Math class. She shivered nervously, and looked around the office.
The door to the principal's office was closed. So was the door to the vice-principal's office, and Jenna couldn't see around the corner down the hall. The only other things in the office besides Jenna herself was the long desk that the secretaries sat behind, and that Jenna couldn't see over, and the copier machine, that teachers came in to use.
The bell rang suddenly, startling Jenna nearly out of her seat. The teacher who was using the copier gathered his stuff together, and left the office. Jenna realised it was lunch time. She wondered if she could leave, too. However, one of the secretaries, who was getting up to have her lunch, glared at Jenna as Jenna got up from her seat, so Jenna sat down quickly.
The office was too quiet, without the familiar whir of the copier, or the clicking of the computer keys by the secretaries. One had left, to have her lunch, letting the office door slam sharply behind her, and what the other secretary was doing behind that desk, Jenna had no idea.
Eventually, the noise in the neighbouring classrooms died down as everyone went out for recess. Jenna swung her legs sadly, wanting to join her friends on the swing set. More importantly, she wanted to eat. Her stomach was growling terribly, and it seemed to be the only noise in the entire area.
The silence was horrible. With nothing to focus on, Jenna's mind began to wander. She thought of Martin, never to be seen again by a living soul (teachers didn't count). She thought of her friend's brother, doomed to slave away in the kitchen, washing the dirty dishes left by big kids. She thought of various other tortures. Being stretched on the rack. Guillotines. Having to clean her room. Her over active imagination conjured up the most foul and gruesome of punishments. Being locked in a cell for a hundred years. Being forced to eat only bread and water. Having to go grocery shopping with her parents.
Suddenly, very, very suddenly, Jenna heard a noise. It wasn't from inside the office, but from down the hall.
It was Mrs. Sharp.
Her heels clicked every time they connected with the solid floor of the hallway, sounding each time like a rifle going off. Like a cannon being fired.
Jenna tensed as each mini explosion seemed to echo around the walls. She knew what was going to happen next. The principal was going to throw open the door, and demand that Jenna do five years hard labour in the gym, stacking equipment. Or worse, having to follow the janitors around as they cleaned the toilets. Yuck.
Jenna could feel her stomach twist into a tight knot. It felt as though an icy hand had gripped her insides and was slowly tangling them together. She gulped.
The shoes sounded closer now. She knew that the shoes, and the feet inside them, were nearly to the office. She shivered, and felt a small trickle of sweat run down her back.
The door began to creak open. Jenna squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to see anything. The door openly fully.
"Jenna McDonald?" Mrs. Sharp said.
Jenna opened her eyes, and leapt off the chair.
"I'm sorry!" she wailed. "I didn't mean to be so late--it was my little brother! He had a cold! My mum had to take care of him! Please don't sentence me to prison! I'll be good! I swear I won't be late ever again! Don't make me peel potatoes! Don't make me clean toilets! WAAAAAAHHHH!" Her pleas gave way to hysterical sobbing.
Mrs. Sharp was stunned for a moment. Grabbing a tissue from the desk, she held it to Jenna's tear streaked cheek. "It's all right, Jenna." she said, patting the girl's back. "I'm sorry I took so long. All I wanted you to do was make sure you got all the homework for that lesson that you missed. Okay? I already spoke to your teacher, that's what I was in the staff room for."
Jenna looked up at her, sniffling. Mrs. Sharp paused, then continued. "You just run along then. Don't worry, nothing is going to happen to you." She patted Jenna again on the shoulder, then crossed the room to walk into her own private office, shaking her head as she went.
Jenna for the most part, stared, then ran out of the office,
rushing to tell her friends that she had survived the most dreaded
of all student experiences--meeting the principal.