BANE: The Baneful Minding of Peas and Miss Q By Sharon Collins

Week 3 Word: BANE
Word Count 493
The Baneful Minding of Peas and Miss Q
Sharon Collins

Napoleon had Waterloo. I have Miss Q. Five foot nothing tall and square, she may have been the original inspiration for Leggo people. Bowl-cut, black hair, lipstick-less lips, and black, canvas Skips, she rules the lunch-nasium, an echoey cavern replete with sweat and peanut butter doubling as both gymnasium and lunchroom.

Although not required, girls are encouraged to wear slacks on gym day; I don’t like slacks and have worn a pink plaid dress instead. Miss Q is NOT happy with me and I know it. But at 88 pounds and the tallest girls in class, I have developed a semi-permanent slouch trying to keep my bony wrists covered by sleeves that aren’t long enough. The thought of high-water pants is simply intolerable.

I stand, clad in plaid, as the teaming-up begins. I am chosen nearly last, barely more desirable than the one believed to have cooties, or the one with blue-coated impetigo-elbows, or worse yet, the one with the dreaded pinkeye. Painting a target on my back, Miss Q, hands me the scuffed volleyball and blows her whistle, twice. Knowing I’ll be out in mere moments, I heft the ball high, squeeze my eyes shut, and fling it as hard as I can. It hits a target, just not the right target. Miss Q’s left temple stops the ball. She doesn’t have to say a word. I know that I am out. And I will stay out until lunchtime.

The bell rings and custodians appear to pull lunch tables from their walled-cocoons. Like metal-jointed mantises, they squawk and unhinge as I hand my 35 cents to the lunch lady. My Waterloo marches on. Corned-beef hash (pink and gray dome of dread), sixty-seven canned peas (ghastly green horror), slice of Wonder (slick with Parkay), and half pint of room temperature Dairlylea invite me to gag. But I dare not; Miss Q is watching. I choke down the hash and half of the peas; I wash down the Wonder with slightly sour-smelling milk before I raise the white flag. Surreptitiously, I pry open the carton and spoon in the remainder of the vile vegetables. Having consigned them to their watery grave, I heave a sigh of relief. Popping up, I am about to swing my leg over the bench when I am firmly pressed back down. Around me eyes flare, eleven fifth graders frozen in fascination. Miss Q stands behind me, palms heavy on my shoulders.
“Not so fast Missy. You have to finish ALL of your lunch. There are children starving in Africa, you know.”
“I, I, I am done…” I stammer, showing my empty plate.
Snickering she picks up my pea-laden carton.
Oh no, you’re not,” she grins, sloshing it slowly back and forth.
My mind’s eye sees the ghastly, little, green globes, bobbing about in their warm, frothy bath…It is too much…My stomach rebels.

Casualties of war, my Hush Puppies or her black Skips will ever see another gym day.