Sunday, 18 September 2011
01:27:05 PM (GMT)
In a small town, an old woman works at the office in a high school, as a secretary.
A girl enters, a sophomore; the woman knows her, she's new this year. Her name is
Elise Luria. She approaches the reception desk, looking nervous.
"I'm here to see the principal," she says, drumming her fingers on her arm.
"He's busy, have a seat," replies the woman. The girl turns and sits, looking even
more uncomfortable in the metal folding chair.
Awkward minutes pass, the woman sifting through papers, the girl playing with her
necklace. The ticking of the clock on the wall seems to echo in the small room.
Having worked for forty years at the school, the woman knows the type of kids who see
the principal within the first week, and this girl doesn't seem to fit the bill.
However, her nervous fidgeting and red-faced stammering makes it apparent she isn't
here for any good reason. Curiosity strikes the woman, and she grabs Elise's file
from the drawer behind her. Just as she remembered, nothing negative mars her
record; in fact, she seems to be a model student. Almost straight A's, with the
exception of gym and biology. Involved with the debate team at her old school,
volunteered at a local hospital, and the leader of a youth group at her church. The
woman went back and looked at that last one; for the first time she noticed the
girl's necklace: a silver and black cross.
The principal's door opened, and he stepped out. "Elise? Mrs. Thomson sent you?"
One corner of Elise's mouth pulled up in an apologetic half-smile, giving her the
appearance of a sheepish child caught stealing cookies. She followed the principal
into his office, and once the door was shut, the secretary leaned over in her chair,
hoping to hear the conversation. Her boredom and curiosity swirled inside her, the
mixture resulting in a desperate need to know what this girl had done.
She couldn't hear anything but muffled vocal sounds that were impossible to discern.
She woman felt embarrassed; she shouldn't invade their privacy like this. God knew
she was too old for it. What if someone were to come in and see her leaning over
with her ear pressed against the door? Her cheeks flushed red and she got back to
her work with her head lowered.
When Elise finally emerged, she had a smile on her face. She adjusted the shoulder
strap on her purse and the secretary scribbled a pass for her to return to class. As
the girl left the room, the woman stood and poked her head in at the principal. Her
mouth hung open wordlessly, not quite able to verbalize the question she was dying to
The principal, having worked with her for years, was accustomed to her curious
nosiness. He cleared his throat before explaining, "Miss Luria had apparently
'disrupted Mrs. Thomson's class'. Turns out they were discussing volunteer work in
the community, and Elise shared her experience working with autistic children at the
state hospital. She described her work there as a 'service to God', and Mrs. Thomson
didn't see that as appropriate. When she tried to say she was proud of Elise for
being the only one in the class to have volunteered before, Elise claimed that it
didn't make her a good person, it was simply how she worshiped. Personally, I'm
proud of her, although I can't say so. Times sure have changed. Mrs. Thomson must
be the only evolutionist left in our town, I think most everyone else is Southern
Baptist. It's nice to see a youth with real faith for a change."
The secretary made some remark of half-hearted agreement, not fully understanding.
The next day, seeing Mrs. Thomson collecting her mail in the office, she questioned
about the encounter.
"Oh, that girl," Mrs. Thomson sighed. "The only one in the class to have
volunteered, you know, and you know how strongly I believe in the importance of
helping the community. I thought I could use her as an example, pointing out to the
rest of the class that this was what a good person looked like. But she denied all
of it, giving credit to God. It's silly, is what it is. I know Christians
have a reputation for being the do-gooders, but I really do wish that they'd leave
all the religious mumbo-jumbo out of it. Why do they need a supernatural reason to
be a good person? The last thing I need is a girl bent on bringing God into every
At the end of class the next day, just as the bell was ringing, Mrs. Thomson looked
up to see Elise standing in front of her desk. She resisted the urge to sigh or
groan, and plastered on her best fake smile. "Can I help you, sweetie?" she asked,
in her best apple-pie voice.
Elise's trademark sheepish half-smile flashed across her face for a second, before
being replaced by a more confident look. "Mrs. Thomson," she began, "I didn't mean
to disrupt your class yesterday. It's just that it seemed you were trying to make me
into this... This shining example of a good person. And I just wanted to make it
clear that I won't take the credit. In my old town, lots of kids volunteered. My
friends and I did it to try to show a little of the love in our lives that Jesus
showed us. It's not about me, it's about Him. That's all."
Mrs. Thomson pressed her fingers to her temples. This girl. Before she could
stop herself, she blurted, "Why give the credit to some crazy hippy that died two
thousand years ago? He'll never thank you for it! Take some pride in yourself. You
did a nice thing to help people. Why won't you admit it?"
Elise was silent for a moment. Then, in a small, gentle voice she asked, "Mrs.
Thomson, would you mind if I prayed for you?"
The teacher was stricken with the girl's disregard for what she had just said, yet
some compassionate desire to help was clear in her eyes. Help with what? she
Mrs. Thomson sighed. "I'd better write you a pass to your next class," she grumbled.
"Please, may I pray for you?"
Scribbling her initials on the slip of paper and thrusting it at the girl, the
teacher mumbled, "Sure." Don't waste your breath, she thought.
Elise left for her next class, and Mrs. Thomson sat holding her head at her desk as
the room filled with students.
Boredom. I'm writing for boredom. I might add to this later. :P
Last edited: 18 September 2011