Friday Fiction "School Days"

Today our Friday Fiction is being hosted by Joanne at Open Book . Enjoy the stories and leave a comment. (While you are at Joanne's, wish her a happy anniversary today!)

Here's a tribute to all the kids finishing school for the year-

(an exerpt from "A Home for Phoebe")


One warm spring morning, as they were hurrying through the path, Phoebe was listening to Alice spell her next lesson, when Gabe and Joey stopped short. The girls almost bumped into them. Hector stopped throwing sticks at a blue jay and came prancing to see what they all were looking at.

Not five yards ahead stood a skunk, probably just awakened from its winter hibernation and searching for food. Its black fur with the bright white stripe was damp from the morning dew on the underbrush. It looked at them for a minute and deciding that they weren’t a threat, waddled down the path with its fluffy tail waving back and forth.

Hector whispered, “My cousin, Jake, from over in Pittsfield, said that if you yanked a skunk up quickly by its tail, it won’t spray you.”

Gabe said, “I’m not going to try.”

“What a wimp!” sneered Hector. “I’m going to try.”

Alice grabbed his arm, “Mama will skin you if you get sprayed!”

Hector pulled away from her grip. “Ah, stop your fretting! I’ll be fine. Just you watch.”

He tiptoed with long strides up behind the unsuspecting animal. The others watched in curious alarm as he closed his fist around the furry tail and jerked! The skunk squeaked and wiggled and scratched. Hector dropped it like at hot potato, but not before it squirted him with its strong fumes. He coughed and choked and his eyes watered. The others couldn’t help but laugh; even though they knew they would probably all carry some of the scent for days.

Hector stunk! At school, he hung his jacket on a tree branch and rinsed his head and hands under the pump. He even tried to wash his shirt. He wrung it out as best he could and sniffed. It still stunk. It would have to do. Miss Pratt was ringing the bell and everyone was going inside. Hector was glad Miss Pratt had opened the windows to let the warm breezes through. His seat was near the wall. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

“Whew!” she exclaimed. “There must be a skunk outside.”

She quickly closed the sashes to keep the smell from coming in. But, it only got worse! Miss Pratt’s eyes watered and she realized her mistake. “Oh dear! Help me open them again!”

In minutes the air cleared, at least a little.

“Who may I ask encountered a skunk this morning?” she asked with her kerchief to nose.

Phoebe looked at Hector. His face was red. She wondered how William could stand to share the desk with him. She caught Gabe’s eye and he shook his head no. Alice kept her head down in shame. Miss Pratt knowingly read their guilty faces, and proceeded to sniff each student to find the culprit.

Coming to Hector, she coughed and gasped. “Hector, you may return home for a bath and clean clothes… please!”

In relief, he bolted out the school door. Phoebe wondered if he would be back that day.

Now that the winter’s snows were past, the school term would soon end. There was much work to do on the farms; spring planting and sheep shearing and such. Even now, some of the big boys missed school because they were helping with planting and animal birthings. The Jensons had four more fluffy lambs, and Granny’s hens were brooding again.

The final event at school was the big spelling bee. Phoebe loved spelling and hoped to at least spell better than Hector. Night after night, she recited words for Granny. Maseppa didn’t even know there were so many English words.

Finally, the last day of school arrived. The students scrubbed the floors, decorated the windows with flowers, and displayed excellent papers on the walls. Miss Pratt rehearsed their songs and recitations. Phoebe spent many hours studying a poem she had chosen by Robert Louis Stevenson. Everyone wrote rhymes in each other’s remembrance books. Phoebe made one with papers stitched together. Alice had a fancy one with an engraved leather cover. Miss Pratt dismissed them early to ready for the Final Day Program that evening.

Phoebe sat on the porch to read what her classmates penned in her book. Hector wrote,



Phoebe liked what Penny wrote in her beautiful penmanship.

May our friendship spread
Like soft butter on gingerbread.

Your friend forever,
Penny Weston

When she blustered in the kitchen door, Maseppa was making bread. She said, “Phoebe, you change out of school clothes and do your chores.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She was too excited to grumble and scampered up the stairs. Soon they heard her galloping back down and she flung her arms around Maseppa.

“Oh, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” In her arms was a long, pink dress with ruffles and a lace collar. Phoebe twirled round and round the kitchen.

“You talk much!” complained Maseppa with a strange smirk. “I want you have dress like other girls. Now, go do chores and then wash in tub.”

Phoebe gave her another hug and big kiss on the cheek, before putting the beautiful dress upstairs and running off to do her chores.

That evening, the daylight lingering longer, Maseppa hitched Ginger to Granny’s buggy and they were off to the Final Day Program.

Phoebe stood next to Penny and Annie as they sang “My Country Tis of Thee”. She got a little nervous and almost forgot the first word of “REQUIEM, but remembered every bit right down to “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, And the hunter home from the hill”.

She even stayed up through three rounds of the spelling bee, missing on the word “antiquity”. Hector missed the first time with the word “honesty”. Phoebe clapped loudly for Gabe, who won the whole spelling bee with “connoisseur”.
Gabe also received a diploma for graduating from grammar school. Next fall, he planned to attend secondary school in Philipstown. It would seem strange not to have him walking to school each day with them.


She turned to see Penny behind her.

“Oh, Penny. Thank you for being a good friend to me this year. Do you remember that first day when I got the ink all over me?” Phoebe laughed, but stopped when she saw that Penny wasn’t laughing.

“Phoebe, I came to say farewell. When Papa got hurt… we just can’t do the farm.” Tears ran down her freckled cheeks. “We’re going to the city, so Mama can get a job.”

“Oh, Penny!”

The girls clung to each other.

“I will miss you, Phoebe! Will you write a letter to me?”

Promising to always be friends, they bid each other a tearful “God bless you.”

It started out such a happy day. Why do things have to change? I don’t want to make any more friends. Either I leave them or they leave me. If I don’t make friends then it won’t hurt. Why do things have to change?


Dee Yoder said...

Oh, very good, Vonnie! I love this little slice of life. Poor Phoebe...I feel very sorry for her.

Catrina Bradley... said...

This reminds me of the Little House books. I could have read about Phoebe and her life for pages. Good stuff!

S.C.(S.Harricharan) said...

Awww. Another little glimpse of Phoebe's life. Glad I got to read it. Thanks for sharing! ^_^

Linda said...

This is good Yvonne,...I enjoyed it.

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits


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