Amanda started to say no, that her foster father and foster brothers and sisters had, but then she realized that he meant Dad Ken when he referred to her father. “Actually the whole family has been helping me learn to play basketball,” she told him.
“She never played basketball till she came to be part of our family,” said Sarah. “So we’ve been giving her what our dad calls a crash course.”
“Your dad,” spoke up Julie. “You mean Mr. Carter? He isn’t your dad, your just second hand kids that the Carter’s take in to make money.”
“That will be enough of that,” roared Mr. Bailey. “Julie, you apologize immediately to Sarah and Amanda.”
“I’m sorry Sarah and Amanda,” said Julie. “I guess Mr. Carter is the nearest thing either of you has to a father.
“Oh that’s alright Julie,” spoke up Amanda, her voice sweet. “We all tend to speak about things we’re ignorant about now and then.”
Sarah glanced quickly at Mr. Bailey to see if it looked as if her foster sister was getting herself in trouble and was quick enough to see the teacher quickly cover his mouth with his hand so that the class wouldn’t see that he was grinning.
“Julie, you can sit the rest of the class out and think about what you just said,” said Mr. Bailey.
“You’ve done it now,” Sarah whispered to Amanda. “Julie is really going to have it in for you.”
“That’s ok,” answered Amanda. “She asked for it and I can handle her.”
“Amanda Younger, I need to speak to you for a moment,” said Mrs. Stevens, as the class was dismissed at the end of the school day.
“Yes ma’am,” said Amanda, putting on her backpack and approaching the teacher’s desk.
Sarah, hung back and waited for her foster sister.
“I think this is self explanatory,” said Mrs. Stevens, handing Amanda the essay which Amanda had passed in earlier. At the top of the paper was a large red F and a note reading, ‘parent must sign and paper returned to teacher’.
“I don’t understand,” said Amanda. “I thought I did a good job on that essay.”
“You did,” answered Mrs. Stevens. “Too good. No eleven year old wrote this, you copied it.”
“I did not,” answered Amanda. “I sat right there at that desk and wrote it, I never got up after you gave us the paper to write on so I couldn’t have copied it.”
“I don’t know how you did it, but I know you never wrote this yourself,” answered Mrs. Stevens.
“Yes I did,” answered Amanda.
“If you want to take it up with the principal feel free to do so,” answered Mrs. Stevens sternly. “You can make an appointment to talk with him in the morning.”
“I want to talk with him right now,” answered Amanda.
“Well I’m afraid you can’t always do things the way you want to do them, young lady,” answered Mrs. Stevens. “You students don’t run this school.”
“I’ll be more than happy to take this to the school board,” answered Amanda, completely forgetting she was not her twenty-six year old self. “You’ve accused me of stealing someone else’s work and passing it in as my own and I resent that. I am sure that I am perfectly capable of proving that I did nothing of the sort.”
Amanda’s eyes flashed as she spoke and Mrs. Stevens was more than a little startled. She was not used to being answered in this manner by a student. “You just take it home and have one of your parents sign it and you bring it back,” she answered. “If they want to carry it any further, they may but that certainly isn’t your place.”
“Since I’m a ward of the state, I’ll call my caseworker about this,” answered Amanda. “And as far as my taking this to the school board, I would not be the first student to do that.” She was so angry that she completely forgot her role as an eleven year old and rattled off a number of cases of students making complaints to school boards across the country with which she happened to be familiar.
Sarah wanted to giggle as she saw Mrs. Steven’s jaw drop as Amanda spoke. Sarah slipped out of the room and found Brenda and Steve waiting in the hall for her and Amanda. Quickly she explained to them what was going on.
“You girls go in the room and listen so Amanda’s got witnesses,” said Steve. “I’ll see if I can get the principal or somebody in there.”
Steve hurried to the principal’s office and quickly explained to the secretary what was happening. Hearing the angry voices, Mr. Darian, the principal came out of his office and listened. “Sounds like this is all getting blown out of proportion,” he said. “Let’s go see if we can’t get this soothed down. This is Amanda’s first day here and maybe there’s been some sort of misunderstanding. And I don’t think that Mrs. Stevens would accuse her of copying unless she thought she was right. Let’s see what we can do about this.”
“My sister wouldn’t cheat,” Steve told him coldly.
“Ok, well, let’s not you and I fight about it,” said Mr. Darian. “I sincerely hope you’re right. Let’s you and I go see what we can do to help straighten this out.”
The two of them hurried to the classroom and found Mrs. Stevens and Amanda glaring at each other.
“Ok, now let’s see what we can do about this,” said Mr. Darian.
“This girl passed in an essay that is way beyond the capabilities of an eleven year old and insists that she didn’t copy it,” said Mrs. Stevens. “I don’t like having to accuse any of my students of cheating, but in this instance, there’s no other explanation.”
“And I don’t like being accused of cheating and not being given a chance to prove that I didn’t,” said Amanda coldly.
Kate Carter and Robbie slipped into the room and took a seat in the back. Brenda smiled. “I’m glad I thought to call Mom and tell her we’d be late and what was happening,” she thought and went to the back of the room to sit with her mother.
“May I see the essay?” asked Mr. Darian. Amanda handed it to him and he read a part of it silently, then he shook his head. “This is quite an impressive essay, Amanda,” he said. “Are you sure you want to insist that you wrote it?”
“Yes sir, because I did,” answered Amanda. “I should have remembered to write like an eleven year old,” she thought to herself. “But it’s too late now, so I’ve made myself a mess.”
“You said you’d like a chance to prove you didn’t cheat,” said Mr. Darian slowly. “How would you suggest you do that?”
“Why don’t you give me some paper and a topic to write on and let me sit right here and write it while you all watch me?” suggested Amanda. “If it’s the same quality as this paper, you’ll all know I didn’t copy anything.”
“That sounds fair,” said Mr. Darian. He looked at Mrs. Stevens to see what she thought.
“I think so too,” said Mrs. Stevens. “And Amanda, I’d like nothing better than to have you prove me wrong.” She took several pieces of paper out of her desk and handed them to Amanda who sat down at her desk and took out a pencil and waited expectantly to be given a topic.
“Suppose you write an essay about Abraham Lincoln,” said Mr. Darian. “You probably know enough about him not to have to look anything up so nobody can say you’re copying any thing.”
Amanda started to write and the room was quiet. Mr. Darian joined Kate Carter at the back of the room and Mrs. Stevens looked through a pile of papers that were laying on her desk. Nobody wanted to make Amanda feel uncomfortable by feeling like everyone was staring at her.
“All right Amanda,” said Mr. Darian after Amanda had been writing for fifteen minutes. “That ought to be enough to show your writing ability, don’t you think?”
“Yes sir, I think so,” said Amanda. She sounded very confident as she handed the paper to Mr. Darian as he approached her desk.
Mr. Darian read the paper silently, then looked up. “Good Lord,” he said, looking around the room. “I’d be proud if I wrote that myself.” He handed the paper to Mrs. Stevens who also read it.
“Amanda, I apologize,” said Mrs. Stevens. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be wrong about something. You have a wonderful gift for writing. I am shocked to find an eleven year old writing like this, there are students in high school, maybe even college who can’t write that well.”
“Yay!!” whooped Steve. “We knew you didn’t cheat Amanda, we knew you didn’t!”
“Well, I guess I’m not going to get to be an ordinary eleven year old this time around either,” thought Amada. “But I won’t let them make me a genius and stop me from playing basketball and things either. I guess I’m going to sort of be somewhere in between and that seems like a pretty good place to be.