Midnight Spade

From the Schoolhouse

I saw her from a distance as I rode the mule slowly forward.
She fluttered in the soft moonlight, her arms swaying in a cool breeze.  Every day for fifteen years I had passed beside her on my way to the school door.  Each day I had greeted her with a smile and each day she had returned the glance.  

I tied my steed to a small tree nearby and stumbled forward in the dark much like Nehemiah had done on his midnight ride through the rubble of Jerusalem. Her rutted feet projected through the hard soil.  They exuded a silent strength that had withstood all the storms and vicissitudes of life.  She stood unapologetically before me, proud, strong, inspiring.  

I had decided long ago that on my last day of school, I would take her with me.  My plan was simple and daring:  I would sneak in one night at midnight when the school was in a deep sleep, and when no one was looking I would abduct her.  It would not be pretty.  She would protest of course, but that could not be helped.  I had to have her.  

I kept the plan secret, telling no one.  Only the mule knew listening in on my midnight discourse to the wind as I plodded along the side trails to get here.  But he wouldn’t talk.  

With shovel in hand, I studied her profile wondering where the spade would strike first. I knew there would be consequences, but they could not be avoided.  Call it a criminal act if you wish.  It was not so to me.  Holding the shovel high in the air with both hands ready to plunge it into the dirt beneath her protesting arms, I made my peace with the venture hoping she would understand.

Then the spade hit the dirt.



From the Schoolhouse

The form was simple and straightforward.  
I created it quickly.  It said, “pIck one item in Dr. Denny’s room that you would like to take with you when school ends.  Tell why you want it and why you deserve it.”
Kids fanned out scrambling to find the best bargain.  There were dragons, a huge green fish, a Cat in the Hat stuffed doll, a big rabbit holding a welcome sign.  I had movies, books, trinkets of all descriptions, pretty wax candles with ambrosial scents, clocks, pumpkins, a Spiderman poster, a tall lamp, a brand new never used ancient cassette player in a pristine box etc.
As the kids jockeyed and pushed to find the best yard sale bargains, one tall, smart girl remained in the corner plotting.  She was one of my best students holding an A average without even trying.  She never said much, but when she did talk to me she was quick and witty with a sly smile that I loved.  We would go back and forth with our dry remarks trying to get the other to break into laughter.

While the other kids argued over the fish and the dragon, she strolled nonchalantly  up to my desk and tossed her form into the air watching it flutter onto the pile of other wish list forms like a Shenandoah leaf tumbling from a top branch into the valley.  She didn’t say anything.  She just shot me a dry grin and sashayed back to her corner.

“Did you find something you like?” I asked over the din in the room.
“Yeah,” she said laconically as if her choice meant nothing to her.
“Well, what did you choose?” I tried to avoid whatever trap she might be setting.
She smiled.  “Just read it,” she said leaning against the wall in the corner as if she was beneath a city lamp pole at midnight.  The form said simply:

Name–Samantha  Class–2B
Item desired–
Dr. Denny
Why I want this item–
He would be fun to have in high school.
Why I deserve this item:
This question is irrelevant.
I had to laugh.  I yelled across the room.  “I have a great brand new cassette player you could have if you want to swap for something practical.”

She stared thoughtfully at me like I was a twinkling trinket in a jewelry store window.  “No,  I’m quite happy with my decision.”