Author’s Note: This is the first 1066 words from a first draft I’m working on. Right now ‘Anomaly’ is just a placeholder until the right title finds me. I hope you enjoy it, but it is a work in progress.
I’ve never been in the principal’s office before. Principal Dunning’s eyes concentrate on the school’s thick code book. It’s actually not a book; It’s a binder the size of five math books. The room Is silent as if everyone is scared to breathe. The red cushioned chair was made to be comfy, but all I feel is anxious. I keep having to remind myself to breathe.
You’re not in trouble, I remind myself. You did nothing wrong.
What if I did though? What if this is wrong?
Every so often Principal Dunning flips the page. His hand lingers on the corner of the previous page for a moment before he lets it fall.
Ma keeps a hand on top of mine as they lay on my chair’s armrest. She offers me a weak smile. Principal Dunning tried his best to cover the bland, beige walls. Everywhere I look I see a plaque or a framed certificate. After he ran out of those to put up, he settled for motivational quotes from people like Muhammad Ali and Maya Angelou. He has a bookcase behind his desk that takes up the whole back wall. I wonder how hard it was to fill it up. Somehow he did, and there wasn’t a sliver of space left anywhere- which might be why he had a neat stack of books beside his large mahogany desk. His voice rips my mind away from the bookcase.
“Mr. Griffin, I don’t see anything in here that says Kris can’t try out for the basketball team” Principal Dunning doesn’t take his eyes off the pages. They still scan the words as if he might find something at the last minute.
“The boys’ basketball team is for boys” Coach Griffin leans against the closed door, refusing to look at my parents or me. His button-down shirt was sticking out in places from where he hastily tucked it in. He wiped away a couple beads of sweat from his forehead. I glanced at the clock on the wall. It read 4:26. Practice for the current basketball team roster was in session.
“My son is a boy” my dad’s voice is calm, but Ma has a firm grip on his hand too. She purposely planted herself in the chair between us. His body is turned so he can glare at Coach Griffin.
“She wasn’t born a boy” Coach Griffin flatly states.
“He was.” Dad doesn’t miss a beat, “His body just didn’t agree.”
“With all due respect, this school has been more than generous with accommodating Kris and her situation” Griffin keeps his gaze on Principal Dunning. Her feels like a stab in the chest, but I shake it off.
“Him, Mr. Griffin” Principal Dunning looks up from the binder.
“You’re the only person making it a situation. Kris doesn’t make any trouble. My boy has some of the best grades in his class. You, Mr. Griffin, are the only person making this difficult. Who are you to say he doesn’t get a shot to try out” Dad takes a deep breath and reaches up to adjust his tie.
“My team is full of real young men. Kris would be out of place there-“
“Keep disrespecting my son-“
“Marcus” Ma hasn’t spoken since we first walked in here together. Her tone is firm. Ma and dad lock eyes for a moment, and he sighs.
“Kris deserves a chance to try out just like all the other students” Principal Dunning offers me a smile that washes all the anxiety away.
“Mr. Griffin, Kris has gone to great lengths to be comfortable in his own skin. We all know Kris wasn’t particularly born with male attributes, but he has successfully transitioned to his hearts content. This isn’t about what Kris was born as. That was 16 years ago. His grades are well above the requirement to try out and he’s already had a physical. He gets to try out like everyone else.” Mr. Dunning closes the binder and pushes it aside. He turns to me.
“Kris, I am a bit concerned about your well being. We have a zero tolerance for bullying, but this will be a new experience for everyone. I can’t promise you that everyone will welcome you with open arms. This can be a rough transition if you are to make the team. I want to make sure this is something you want to do.”
“I want to”
“Well then- I wish you the best of luck. Feel free to stop by my office any time.”
“So that’s it?” Mr. Griffin asks.
“Is there something else you’d like to add?” Mr. Dunning looks at him.
“I’m not giving you any special treatment” Mr. Griffin finally looks at me, and there is nothing welcoming about his gaze.
“My boy doesn’t need any special treatment. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again, Mr. Griffin.” Dad stands up and both mom and I follow. I grab my book bag and put it on.
“Thank you, Mr. Dunning” He and my mom shake hands. Dad gets behind us as we walk out. Mom grabs his hand as he stops to glare at Mr. Griffin. They’re face-to-face now. If looks could kill, Mr. Griffin would be on the floor. However, he doesn’t back away from my father.
“Marcus, we got what we needed” Ma tugged on his hand, but he doesn’t move.
“I don’t want to hear that you’ve mistreated Kris. I don’t want to hear that you’ve disrespected him. I don’t want to hear any of that. I’m only a few minutes away. I’m sure you’ll be seeing me again.”
“Mr. Williams, I can assure you that Mr. Griffin will treat him like he treats all the other students.” Mr. Dunning joins in. We walk out of his office. As I look back, I see that Mr. Griffin has closed himself in Mr. Dunning’s office. Dad grips my shoulder as we make our way out of the building and into the parking lot. There is only a handful of cars in the main parking lot. I count five as we walk across the crosswalk, including our SUV. Mom wanted black. Dad wanted red. Mom won of course, but there was a red bow on it when he surprised her with it in our driveway. The school band’s drums could be heard all the way from the football field.
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