by Carol L. MacKay -
Lena dawdled at breakfast. When it was time to go she tied her shoelaces, untied her shoelaces and then tied them up again. She forgot her lunch on the kitchen table on purpose and had to come back for it. Lena wished the bus would roar away without her, but it waited quietly at the corner. At school, she hoped her teacher, Mr. Beckman, would forget about photo day. He didn’t.
“It’s time to line up for school photos,” Mr. Beckman said after recess. “Comb your hair and get your beautiful smiles ready.”
Lena’s best friend, Natalie, pulled out a comb from her desk and ran it through her long black hair. Lena thought Natalie was so pretty she could be a movie star one day.
“Better get yourself ready,” she said to Lena. “You don’t want another picture like last year.”
Lena knew it wouldn’t matter if she combed her hair. She knew it wouldn’t matter if she smiled her biggest toothiest smile. It wouldn’t matter if she showed her dimples, popped her pimples, or wore her favorite shirt. Her school photo would turn out cross-eyed, bed-headed, cow-licked, and pucker-pussed. It would be an embarrassing magnitude-ten disaster, same as always. Just once, Lena wanted to have a photograph of herself that she could give to her friends that didn’t look ridiculous.
On photo day in kindergarten, Lena’s ringlet curls refused to co-operate. Natalie said Lena’s head looked like it was covered with twisty balloon animals.
In her first grade picture Lena’s red hair stood straight on end because the comb she used was full of static. Natalie said Lena looked like a frightened carrot. Sometimes Natalie said things that weren’t nice, but her photos always looked great.
In second grade Lena thought she would finally take a good photograph, but at the moment the flash went off, she sneezed...