Chapter 38: The Coolest Lunchtime Ever
“Well hello all! How is everyone doing this fine lunch hour?”
Ilona and her friends all look up at once, forcing their eyes off of whatever prized book they are each reading at the time, all to see a rather pleasing sight.
Mrs. Chase. Standing before the wall. Chatting with Ilona and her friends. And she keeps pushing her red hair behind her ears.
“Excellent!” Madison shouts, pounding her fist into the air.
“Most excellently excellent!” Clara shouts as well, throwing both fists into the air, dropping her book and losing her place. “Nooo!” Clara whines as she brings her hands back down and flips through the book to refind where she left off.
Iona laughs at her friends antics, then quickly places her trusty bookmark, the slip of paper Cynthia gave her months and months ago with everyone’s phone numbers on it, into Susan’s loaned copy of Mockingjay.
“That is great! Everyone is excellent, or more correctly, most excellently excellent,” Mrs. Chase nods at Clara, than beams her smile at all of them. “I had heard about this gathering out by this wall for quite some time now, but teacherly duties combined with teacherly duties, never gave me the chance till now to see the schoolyard at lunch, let alone you wonderful group of bookies. So,” Mrs. Chase spread her arms wide, “here I am!”
With a grace, Ilona thought, few adults could muster Mrs. Chase did something she has never seen a teacher ever do. Mrs. Chase glides downward and settles in on the playground concrete, crosses her legs, uses both hands to yet again sweep her hair behind each ear, and surveys the assembled girls.
“What is everyone reading nowadays?”
A moment of stunned silence rules among Ilona and her friends. The greatest teacher in the school, and possibly the whole world, is sitting with them in the SummerFall schoolyard. And she wants to talk about books.
A babble erupts from Ilona and her friends, with each one either shouting or blurting or exclaiming the name of some book or other.
Mrs. Chase laughs and waves her hands in the air in a sign of mock surrender. “I think I got all of that. Quite an interesting selection you all have here. Bonus House Points for whoever is reading Watership Down. Loved that one when I was young.
Cynthia waves her battered copy in the air, very much a proud young lady. “This is my mother’s copy, from when she was a girl. Now it is my turn.” She pulls the old book into a hug and a squeeze.
Mrs. Chase points at Cynthia. “See! Always remember to give your books a good hug once in awhile. They like it. Now, I bet someone else here has a hand me down book, because another title mentioned, I mean shouted, caught my ear.”
Ilona looks over as Collette’s one hand goes up, while the other waves another battered old book, a paperback sporting the title The Illustrated Man. “My dad’s copy. It is amaaaazing!”
Mrs. Chase’s finger now points at Collette. “My husband loooves that book. Read it waaay back when he was a teenager,” her hand now goes to her face, feigning embarrassment, “but I have never read it. I am a bad Muggle!”
Laughs erupt from everyone. Ilona also mentally notes both books as to read, since if her friends like them, they are great, but if Mrs. Chase knows them, they are even more special.
“What are you reading Mrs. Chase?” Cynthia asks as everyone settles down.
“Well, I am right now in the middle of the saddest book ever, My Sister’s Keeper,” Mrs. Chase replies, “It is like, really sad.”
“My mom read that one and liked it. Not so much the movie through,” Susan states.
“Yes, I heard that as well. But I have not seen the movie yet, seeing as how my geek OCD makes me read the book before I see the film,” Mrs. Chase says, and again swipes her red hair behind her ear.
Everyone nods in agreement. That is one the first rules of being a booky and geekgirl that Ilona had learned and it has served her well.
“Well now that I am all caught up with what the cool kids are reading these days, next question!” Mrs. Chase spreads her arms wide, as she often does in class, and looks from their vantage like a big hug coming at them. “Who has a significant other? Always interested in who is seeing who and the drama behind it all.”
Right away, all fingers point to Ilona. And Ilona feels her cheeks go red.
“Alright Ilona! Who is the lucky person?” Mrs. Chase’s face lights up.
“Well, um, It’s kind of… complicated,” Ilona stammers out.
“It’s my younger brother,” Clara laughs, “Jackson is telling everyone within earshot that he is Ilona’s boyfriend.”
Mrs. Chase eyes go wide, like she is seeing Ilona in a new light. “Well, looks like pairing you two together for reading was quite a good idea for Mrs. Aurora! Did you romance Jackson with Goodnight Moon?”
Everyone laughs, including Ilona, who realizes how strange and silly the actual story is.
“Mrs. Chase lays out a funny! Kaboom!” Madison shouts and proceeds to roll over her friends, all sitting against the wall.
“No! Not a kaboom!” Clara giggles as Madison smushes over her.
Madison reaches Ilona at the end, grabs her nose and makes a beep beep sound, then rolls back over everyone, finally resting back in her place at the end.
“Well, that was different,” Mrs. Chase declares, “kabooms must be your trademark.”
“Yep!” Madison states proudly as her smart phone is suddenly living in her hands, “gotta text Tracey, inform her of your cool presence.”
Mrs. Chase rolls her eyes. “Cool is a word few would use to describe me. But no matter, I must say Ilona, Jackson is quite a catch, do you two text alot?”
“Not really,” Ilona says, feeling a little less embarrassed now, probably because of Mrs. Chase’s nice banter, “neither of us has a smart phone. Jackson has Josh write me notes about how much he likes me, which are then sealed with glue, and he gets Clara to deliver them.”
When this first happened, the day after Ilona read to Jackson, she did not know how to respond. Ilona was touched, and did not want to hurt Jackson’s feelings. And she knew not to show the notes, innocent as they may be, to her friends, especially Clara. Every other day when lunch would start up at SummerFall, Ilona would rush to the enclosed kindergarten play yard and hand back a note to Jackson, all sealed with glue only to be broken open at home by Josh. They would chat for a few minutes, about anything from cartoons to books to strange sights seen on Youtube, all while waiting for his mother to pick him up. After goodbye hugs and whispered promises from Jackson, Ilona would dash down to the gym and gobble down her lunch. Thankfully Mrs. Travis was very supportive of this entire endeavour, as was Clara and her friends.
For Ilona, this was quite abit of work, with everything from reading these simple ditties from the mind of a little boy as dutifully transcribed by Josh, to her spending time every other night crafting her responses. All this while keeping the whole Jackson as boyfriend issue secret from her parents. Ilona is fairly certain, after casually bringing the topic up some time ago, that they would never approve of a boyfriend at this point, kindergartener or not.
So Ilona’s newest job was to keep this relationship going, keep it quiet from disapproving parents, and keep hearing the occasional joke about it from her friends. All for the lovely feelings of a young boy.
Mrs. Chase moves her playful eyes over to Clara. “You deliver the love notes? That is such a nice big sister thing to do!”
Clara shrugs her shoulders. “It keeps the muskrat happy. And besides Ilona is a ‘cool chick’ as he always says,” she puts air quotes over Jackson’s words.
“So Ilona the cool chick is dating your little brother and all is well with the universe. That is groovy,” Mrs. Chase states, waving her arms in the air like she is conducting everything all around.
Without realizing it, Ilona’s head flinches towards Cecily. Out of the corner of her eyes, she notices Clara and Cynthia doing the same thing. Cecily had been laughing and giggling and getting squished by Madison, just like everyone else, during this entire time. But as soon as the topic turned to Jackson, Cecily went into silent mode, all quiet sitting next to Ilona, and kept her face down.
Mrs. Chase scans the girls several times, with her eyes continually resting on Ilona. “I take it my declaration of grooviness was premature? A jealous ex is in the picture?”
Cecily keeps her head down. “Me. It was me. I did something terrible and horrible and-”
“It is alright Cecily, no one blames you for being protective of a friend,” Cynthia’s soothing voice fills the air.
“Protective! I scared him!” Cecily’s head pops up and her tone is loud. “I didn’t mean to scare him! Well, mostly didn’t mean to! It’s just that…” Cecily trails off, still clearly agitated.
“Okay…” Mrs. Chase says, now staring at Cecily, “Want to fill me in Cynthia?”
Cynthia clears her throat, something Ilona has only seen her do when giving a report to her mother, and starts explaining it all to Mrs. Chase.
“We don’t blame Cecily for this, none of us do, not even Jackson. Well, after he calmed down abit. Basically, when Jackson publically announced Ilona as his girlfriend, we were all fine. All except Cecily, who decided that Jackson might hurt Ilona. So she went to him at the enclosed kindergarten school yard at lunch when Ilona was not present and-”
“I didn’t mean to! I said I was sorry!” Cecily pipes in, straining her voice. Ilona gently pats her back, making Cecily turn to her. “I am sorry,” Cecily says quietly.
“We know Cecily, we know, do not worry,” Cynthia replies, then continues, “Cecily gave Jackson a lecture of rather epic proportions. All telling him that Ilona was not someone to trifle with and that if he hurt her, Cecily would get vengeance.”
Mrs. Chase stares intently at Cynthia. “Okay… this is certainly different. And that upset Jackson? And he told Clara? And eventually it all became bitterly public? And it all got sorted out? And now all is well?” She keeps babbling this out, making Ilona realize Mrs. Chase is slightly stunned by all this.
Cynthia smiles at Mrs. Chase. “It was not all that dramatic thankfully. Clara managed to calm down Jackson fairly easily, and that night I had a small bit of girl talk with Cecily. The next morning had a bunch of us present while Cecily apologized to Jackson. He bounced back fairly well, but as you can tell, Cecily still feels slightly guilty.”
“I said I was sorry!” Cecily whips her head back and forth between Ilona and Cynthia, “really I am!”
Ilona musses up Cecily’s hair. “We know, dear, we know. Everything is alright now.”
Cecily’s eyes go from tearful to happy in an instant, with a smile breaking out.
Mrs. Chase shakes her head. “And I thought my life was complicated when I was in grade five,” she sighs, “just wait till you hit grade ten.” Mrs. Chase’s eyes go distant for a moment, than snap back to the girls. “So now we know who has a significant other, anyone have any prospects?”
This causes Ilona and her friends to all look at Susan.
“Well, someone has someone in mind. Details! Details!” Mrs. Chase wildly throws her arms in the air.
Susan glances around before answering. “We aren’t dating, or even talking about dating, or anything. She just happened to see a video we put on Youtube, made a comment, I replied, and it has kind of steamrolled from there. Now we tweet and facebook and text. But nothing concrete.”
“Yet!” Collette declares. “I have been pushing and pulling and getting all in her face about it. Strike while the iron is hot is what I say.”
Mrs. Chase laughs. “That is certainly good advice that I wished I had followed way back when. So Susan, what is this lucky girls name?”
“Samantha,” is the one word that flows from Susan’s mouth, now all full of smiles.
The sound of Gandalf shouting “You Shall Not Pass!” slams the air. Madison insanely giggles as she picks up her smart phone and starts reading. “Got a text back from Tracey! She shouts hello to all the Muggles! And she wants to know when the next episode of Clara’s Corner is going up!”
This causes babbling amoungst everyone, as schedules have to be looked at and ideas batted together.
Mrs. Chase interrupts it all.
“That reminds me of something that I wanted to ask all of you. A thought I had about Clara’s Corner.”
They all stop and listen. And love what Mrs. Chase says.
Song For This Chapter: On Top Of The World by Tim McMorris
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.