Author : Derrick Paulson


When Principal Wallace came back from his mid-morning meeting his secretary informed him that a student had been sent to see him; but, when he opened the door to his office, he hadn’t expect to find the sophomore girl kneeling on the carpet, her hands cupped over her knees. He had, however, expected the dress.

“What are you doing, Bella?” Principal Wallace said as he entered the room. “Get up and come have a seat.” He gestured toward one of three leather upholstered armchairs that faced his desk as he sat down himself on the other side near the windows.

The sun was warm through the panes, but the wind outside was as incessant as ever.

“Sir, I will, but look.” Bella remained on the floor. “This dress goes almost to my feet. It goes way passed my knees!” To emphasize this she grabbed some of the blue and orange floral fabric near her ankle and bunched it up in her fist.

“That’s not the point.” Principal Wallace said as he leaned back. “You know the hemline is not the issue. Bella, we’ve been over this.”

Principal Wallace caught movement outside, turned his head to see a man walking his dog. The big, shaggy, white canine moved timidly, one booted foot after another, as if it were walking on thin ice. A gust of wind came up, sending the dog’s hair flying in all directions. It reminded Principal Wallace of a picture he’d once seen of a twentieth century actress in a white dress, her skirts billowing in the blast from a subway vent.

“Bella,” Principal Wallace turned back to find the sophomore girl standing, arms folded, “you know the policy about this. You can wear jeans, you can even wear pajama pants, but you can’t wear a dress to school.”

“But this was a gift from my great grandma.”

Bella had said that on a similar occasion about a miniskirt.

“Look,” Principal Wallace eyed the time on his computer screen, “you might get away with wearing a sundress in Downtown, but not here Bella. If you don’t want me to call your dad I’m going to have to ask you to go home and change before you miss another class.”

“Fine.” Bella dropped her arms to her sides and turned to go.

“Not that way,” Principal Wallace emphasized the words as he shook his head. “Take the elevator.”

When the girl had gone, mumbling something under her breath about elevators being for babies, Principal Wallace got up and went to the windoor. Opening it up he stepped out. His anti-gravity boots hummed softly as he walked on nothing but air fifty stories above ground level. a few stories down he saw the hover-yard where some of the boys where taking advantage of a free hour to practice their 3-point dunks. Maybe tomorrow, he thought, if they were at it again he’d show them how they used to do it old school. Maybe tomorrow.

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