“I hope you’ve learned your lesson, Collins.” Amy nodded in response, as if she expected the other girl to say just that.
“Spell Collins.” The two turned towards one another, both with faces of contempt. Claire’s blue eyes grew smaller and smaller while Amy’s brown ones remained strong as ever.
The former’s platinum blonde hair was sprawled elegantly across her chest and narrow shoulders before she flipped it to the side and turned to face forward again. But Amy continued to stare her down, simply because she knew it would get on Claire’s nerves.
“Stop it!” Claire only lasted about fifteen seconds, which was seven longer than Amy expected. Amy smiled and turned away from the blonde girl, but felt her judgment nonetheless.
Claire was looking Amy up and down, making a list of what was wrong with her appearance.
Number One: having both brown hair and brown eyes is boring
Number Two: her olive skin looks like a fake tan gone wrong
Number Three: no self-respecting teenage girl puts her hair in a bun
Number Four: or wears a sweatshirt that says, “I’m just here for the food”
Number Five: mismatched sox are unbecoming
Number Six: she’s too tall for most boys
Number Seven: her shoes are torn in --
“Amy Collins and Claire Montgomery.” Her thoughts were interrupted as Principal Green opened her office door to summon them. She looked up from her paper at Amy, who could do nothing but avoid the woman’s eyes. The two girls stood and walked into her office, Claire strutting defiantly and Amy trudging with her arms crossed.
Now behind her pine desk, Principal Lois Green sat in a green swivel chair. Her dark skin and short black hair were shining because of the invading light coming through the window behind her. She was taller than both girls, who were now sitting in their chairs on the other side of the wide desk and facing their Principal reluctantly.
Principal Green knew both well. Well, she knew of Claire, really. Many other girls had been to her office in tears due to Claire Montgomery. The most common phrase she heard about the petite blonde was, “cold-hearted bitch.” But Amy, Amy she knew very well. Amy was on the school’s honor roll, involved in student government, a tutor and, most importantly, Amy had been best friends with her daughter since third grade.
“It says here that you two had a disagreement in English today. Is that correct?”
“No, it’s not. There was no disagreement. Amy called me a ‘mall-obsessed simpleton’ and I’m going to get punished. Does that really seem fair to you?”
“Ma'am, I had no idea calling her a simpleton would hurt her feelings, I assumed she didn't know what it meant.”
“You see? She needs to be reprimanded.” Claire crossed her arms and tilted her head in victory, but Principal Green was smarter than Claire anticipated.
“I am a little confused, Miss Montgomery, because it says here you told Miss Collins to ‘go back to the Walmart dump bin she came from.’”
“In Claire’s defense, I do love Walmart.” Amy smiled, trying to lighten the tension. She was not sorry for what she said to Claire, but she hated being in the office room like that. Amy was just a good kid who had had enough of the bullying girl. But being in trouble, no matter the reason, broke Amy’s heart, even though Claire was not making it easy for Amy to remember being mean wasn’t the right thing to do.
“Amy is the one at fault here, not me. I defended myself from her hostility and now I have to sit through this stupid meeting. I have better things to do with my time. My boyfriend’s probably waiting for me right now and Tanner does not like to be kept waiting. It’s not as if Amy has a social life.”
“But you do? When was the last time you actually had a friendly conversation, Claire? Your so-called ‘friends’ are just your servants.”
“Well, at least I don't stay at home watching Doctor Who every Saturday night like you.”
“Oh I have no shame in that one. Doctor Who is gold.”
“Okay, girls –” Principal Green tried to interject.
“Well it’s the only gold you’ll ever see.”
“Do you think about the things you say before you say them or –”
“While I seriously debate bitch-slapping you, I hate to get my hands dirty,” Claire snapped.
“You know, for a girl who hates to get dirty, I sure have heard a lot of rumors.”
“Girls, stop.” Principal Green was firmer now.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Good job, Claire! Hell is a big word. I’m proud of you.”
“You little princess!”
“Why don’t you just shut your mouth?”
“Quiet! Both of you. Now!” The two saw their Principal’s anger clearly now as she stood in front of them. Her hands were pressed on the desk and her eyes were staring straight into their pride. “I have had enough of you two. You’re both too smart to act this way. Claire,” The blonde looked down at her lap, fumbling with the hem of her tight, black skirt. “Detention. Four o’clock. If you are late, it is the last thing you will ever do.”
Claire nodded, waiting to hear Amy’s punishment, while Amy patiently did the same. “Now, Miss Montgomery, you may go.”
“But what about Amy?” Claire demanded.
“I said you may go.” Claire looked between the two and, for the first time in her life, she wished she were somebody else. She nodded and left the office, shutting the door behind her.
Principal Green sat back down in her chair and places her head in her hands. “God, I hate that girl.”
Amy stared at her in shock. “I’m sorry?”
“Claire,” Principal Green pointed towards the door to clarify. “She’s horrible.”
Amy nodded but struggled with what to say. She had two options, she thought. One: say she hated Claire too, which was a given. Or two: speak nicely about that vain snake. “Actually, it was my fault. I shouldn’t have been so mean, I just lost my temper. I am so sorry, really. Nothing like today will ever happen again.” She really meant it, too. Amy never wanted to unwillingly be in that chair again.
“Amy, you're better than this. We both know that.” Amy did, but she also knew a part of her wasn’t. She knew a small, almost nonexistent part of her loved to bring Claire down. Realizing that part of her existed was worse than any trouble Principal Green could give her.
“You can go.”
“But...but what about my detention? I should be punished for this.” Principal Green smiled at the girl she knew so well, feeling her heart warm as she looked at Amy.
“I think you will punish yourself enough.” Amy smiled back now, knowing her principal was right. She stood up and softly spoke, “Thank you.” Amy turned and walked towards the door, ready for this day to end.
“Amy,” the girl turned back and saw Principal Green looking out the window onto the school’s courtyard filled with students. “I would have been so much meaner.”
Amy smirked and said to the woman she had known for more than half her life, “I know. You would have made her cry.” Principal Green laughed in agreement, remembering all the comments she thought of while Claire was still in the room. She turned back to Amy.
“But you did pretty well.”
They smiled at one another and Amy opened the door. She walked out of the room to find Claire waiting, with arms crossed and eyebrows raised.
“So what did you tell her about me? Did you say I was an evil wench? Because, in case you forgot, that’s you.”
Amy felt that part of her growing and already had more retorts than Claire. But she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, attempting to be a better person than her thirty-minutes-ago self.
She opened her eyes and smiled at the beautiful blonde. “Have a nice day, Claire.” With that, she left, walking past a scoffing Claire and feeling much better about herself than before. Amy’s face lit with pride, not because she had done the right thing, but because she finally realized why taking the high road was the right thing to do: being nice to Claire would drive her crazy.