Tardy

          On the days my mother would force me out of bed late were always dreaded. I would beg to stay home, she would send me back to bed only to wake me an hour later, telling me to get up, get ready. It felt like betrayal.  The attendance office at my school was no bigger than a walk in closet with an oversized desk dominating the tiny room. I would enter, peer over the desk to see the disgruntled attendance secretary. My mom would have to come in, to sign me in. I would give the secretary my name, and my student ID. She never cared why I was late. One day, with the pass to class, she handed me a detention slip. I was supposed to report to detention one day this week for two hours. I was not a bad kid who skipped out, I was sick.  My mom, standing next to me flabbergasted as to why her daughter was being given detention for being late for the first time. The secretary explains that I had missed ten days of school, I reached the limit of absences. Students on the ‘ten day list’ were assigned detention when late. I remember trying to count the days I had missed on my fingers, I figured it was more than ten days.  My mother went from flabbergasted to furious. She first decided she was going to sign me back out of school, taking me back home. The secretary told her she couldn’t do that, and if she did I would still have to serve detention. My mom demanded to talk to my principal. He came and simply reiterated what the attendance secretary had said. My mom and my principal hashed things out for a little bit, coming to the conclusion that if a doctor’s excuse could be produced than I would not have to serve detention, the lateness would be excused. I glanced at the clock hanging high on the wall, squinting a bit. I had missed the entirety of first period, math. My head throbbed.  The bell rung, I was still in the attendance office, second period was beginning. I would be missing health now. I watched from within the office the hallway fill with students, on their way to the next class. I’d rather be on my way to class. The fax machine whirred to life, a doctor’s note was spit out.  Printed on a white piece of paper, was the note. VOID printed all over the note but when I looked beyond the print I saw in my doctor’s messy scrawl, “Please excuse Emily from her absence, she is experiencing headaches…” And with that, I slipped out into the steady stream of students on my way to class, the detention slip in the recycling bin.

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