The bell rang, signaling lunch. Students pushed their way out of classrooms and into hallways, moving like a herd toward the cafeteria. Some stopped at lockers to grab brown bags. They’d be first to choose a spot to eat, although their seating was already pretty much predetermined. Others filed into lines, waiting for hair-netted, middle-aged women to spoon food-like entrees and side dishes onto plastic plates, which were then transferred to plastic trays.
Numbers flashed across their chests as they navigated the treacherous waters of high school society. The bouncy cheerleader with a perky smile on her face began with a 3. One of the jocks called out to her, moved over to make room. Her number rose to a 4 as she sat down and began conversation. Another jock didn’t make it to the table in time. His number tumbled from a 5 to a 2 when he realized he’d have to find somewhere else to sit.
Most of the kids who found their group toggled between 3s and 4s: the jocks, the preps, the geeks, the nerds (because we all know there is a distinct difference between the geeks and the nerds). Even the stoners hovered around a solid 3. Only the misfits, sprinkled around the edges of the room like tiny splinters of wood, were a dismal 1.
Maggie defied convention. She was tall but not gangly, wore glasses and braces, and had hair that was too frizzy to be considered curly. Her smile was infectious, and she smiled at everyone. She sat, well, wherever she wanted to, really, and wherever there was room. She could chat about Friday’s football game as easily as she could discuss the merits of the current war in Syria. Sometimes, she would even sit all alone, but that was OK. She still enjoyed the company.
Maggie was an 8. On a good day, she could even be a 9.
She didn’t deserve to be an 8, they whispered behind her back. Seriously, she should be a 5 at most. Funny thing, though, Maggie didn’t care.
And no one could figure out why.
* * *
Today’s prompt: How would you rate your self-image?
And congratulations to Lindzee Armstrong, winner of Monday’s Pretty Darn Funny giveaway! Be sure to come back this Monday for another episode of Pretty Darn Funny and a brand new giveaway.