Our shortcomings don’t define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates. When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she’s quite sure he’s asked her on a dare and refuses. It takes more than just her mother’s assurances that Cindy’s beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning him down.
Read an excerpt!
Cindy paused outside the door to her Math class and took a deep breath. So far, she’d avoided an encounter with Cory or Sally, and now she’d have to face them both. Surely Sally would make sure Cindy heard all about the dance and her fabulous date. She’d never cut class before, but the thought crossed her mind. Instead, she pushed through her anxiety and limped inside.
Head down, she made her way to her desk beneath the burning weight of everyone‘s stares. She slid into her seat, wishing she could turn invisible, but knowing she eventually had to face the music.
“Welcome back, Miss Johnson,” the teacher called out. “We’re happy you’ve made such a rapid recovery. We only just learned on Friday about your accident.”
Cindy plastered a smile on her face. “Thank you, Mr. Hansen. It’s good to be back.” Had she really said that? She dared a glance at Sally and curled her lip at the pep captain’s conceited smirk. With Cory behind her, seeing his reaction was impossible. She dared not make an obvious turn in her seat.
Mr. Hansen fished through papers on his desk then looked up. “See me after class about your missed homework. I have the assignments listed for you.” He picked up a textbook from his desk. “If everyone will turn to page one hundred fifty, we’ll get started.”
She retrieved her book from her backpack and flipped to the correct section. Following the droning voice of the instructor, she felt a tickling sensation along her side. Lifting her arm, she found Cory had tucked a note there. Before removing it, she glanced up at the teacher. Sweet relief, his back was turned to the class as he focused on the blackboard. She hid the missive in the open pages of her book and read. “I missed you while you were gone, and I’m glad you weren’t badly hurt. Did you get my card?”
With her jaw tensed over that blasted non-emotion revealing card, she took pencil in hand and jotted her response on the back of his note: Yes, I got your card and I thank you for thinking of me, especially on a weekend when I know you must have been very busy.
She stared at the last remark and grimaced. Was it too catty? No, he deserved it. She quickly folded the paper in half, and while eyeing Mr. Hansen, did a half-swivel in her seat and pushed the note across Cory’s desk. She straightened, faced forward and enjoyed feeling rather vindicated. She dipped her chin and tuned into the teacher’s voice as he explained the formula on the board.
“Misterrrr Neal.” At the teacher’s voice, her gaze popped up. “Would you care to share with the class what you’re reading? I assume from your latest test grade, it isn’t your lesson!”
She could only imagine the horrified look on Cory’s face at the moment, and she cringed, awaiting his response. From the corner of her eye, she saw Sally’s smug smile.
“I’d prefer not to share, sir.” His voice sounded steady and in control, quite unlike her nerves.
“Then please pass the note in your hand forward and I’ll be happy to read it aloud.” Mr. Hansen’s gaze bored past her.
Cindy’s stomach roiled. If Cory got into trouble he could lose his place on the football team, and the season wasn’t over yet. Cindy slid from beneath her desk and stood. “Mr. Hansen.” Her voice trembled in rhythm to her knees. “It’s my fault. Cory sent me a get well card and I passed a thank you note to him. I apologize for disrupting the class.”
Mr. Hansen’s dark brow furrowed as he eyed her. “Well, Miss Johnson, because you’ve already suffered a great deal recently, I’ll let this pass, but…” His gaze scanned the entire class. “I will not tolerate any further note passing by anyone.”
SHORTCOMINGS BY GINGER SIMPSON IS COMING MARCH 1ST FROM MUSEITUP PUBLISHING!
Ginger Simpson retired from the University of California in 2003 in order to devote more time to her writing. She’s multi-published with several small houses and has decided to bloom where she’s planted rather than seeking a contract with a bigger house. Her grandson, Spencer, is autistic, and has been the biggest inspiration in her life. Watching him develop and improve has shone her that with perseverance, most hurdles aren’t all that tall.
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