by Susan Uhlig -
“The fourth graders have won the recess soccer game all week! And I’m tired of it. We can't let fourth graders win us fifth graders even one more time!” Jake slapped his baseball cap down on the school lunch table. An empty pretzel bag fluttered to the floor. “We’ve gotta do something to beat ‘em.”
“I agree,” Paige said. “But what can we do?”
Everyone started talking at once.
“Maybe we could get . . .”
“How about . . .”
“. . . if Hershel wouldn’t play.”
“Ah, it’s not just Hershel. It’s . . .”
As I ate my turkey sandwich I listened to the jumble of voices bouncing back and forth. Eventually they slowed to a stop because no one really had a good idea. I sucked up the last of my milk and set the carton down. Now was the time to try my plan. I cleared my throat. “I’ve got an idea.”
“What, Laura?” Jake asked. The table full of other fifth graders turned towards me.
I gave them my most confident smile and crossed my fingers under the table. “How about a Surprise Weapon? Something that can stop the fourth graders from scoring.”
“. . . stop them from scoring?”
“How could anybody stop Hershel?”
“. . . I tell you it’s not . . .”
“Quiet!” Jake yelled. The others froze. Jake cast a nervous glance over his shoulder at the lunch room teachers. He continued more quietly. “Everyone hush up and listen to Laura’s idea. Maybe she’s got something.” Jake nodded his head at me.
I glanced at Paige who was eating carrot sticks. If she and Jake’d buy it, the rest would go along. I needed to play this very carefully . . . I cleared my throat again. “Well, as I was saying, I know a way we can stop the fourth graders from scoring. And, it’ll be such a surprise for them, we’ll probably get a couple goals of our own right off. My Surprise Weapon can even keep Hershel from scoring.”
“So who is it? What is it?” Jake swiped one of Paige’s carrots and shoved the whole thing in his mouth.
I crumpled up my lunch sack before answering. “Erica.”
“Erica? Erica who?” Paige asked.
I let my eyes point towards the table where the Special Ed kids sat. Erica was sitting next to Danny in his wheelchair. Everyone started talking at once.
“Laura, you’ve got to be . . .”
“ . . . you out of your mind?”
“You can’t be ser- . . .”
I waited for the noise to die down, then said...