Laura lay with eyes shut tight as violence, desperately ignoring the gentle raps from the other side of the bedroom door. She imagined herself invisible so as not to make a sound. The windows were covered and it was dark as midnight on her side of the door. Had she no children, she would find a way to sleep all day if she could. Sleep till she floated into death if she could.
Tiny children’s finger prints were smudged all over the ancient door and it rattled with each gentle tap. From the other side a young child entreated a hope-drained “Mommy,” before eventually giving up.
“What is it?” asked an agitated Laura.
“I need you to sign my permission slip,” Lola answered through the door. “It’s on your dresser.” The bed creaked. Lola waited. A signed permission slip soon sailed towards her from under the door. Lola exhaled un unwitting sigh of relief. Only with the need for permission slips were her parents ever enlisted to participate in her education, and only at those crucial moments was she reminded of their incompetence in relation to the other kids’ parents.
Lola stuffed her permission slip in her sister’s old backpack, brushed her hair back into a ponytail, stuffed her sockless feet in a pair of Reebok sneakers and was desperately searching for her notebook when she heard the familiar screams of children rushing for a school bus that had just arrived. One thing her mother could be counted on was to call the school at the beginning of each school year and have the bus stop moved so that it was directly in front of her apartment building. She could hear the rattle of the engine. The screams of children subsided and Lola knew she was losing time. She tore out of the apartment. The old woman who sat through these bus departures for her own amusement encouraged “hurry!” The driver had already closed the doors. She knocked on the door begging for entry, and from the open windows she could hear elementary school children yelling, “Wait! Wait!”
“You were about to get left,” the driver scolded. His accent was distinctly Haitian. She ignored him, but searched the bus for a place to sit. She was reminded of her ugliness by the sea of prim brown girls wearing colorful barrettes and braided hair. Their mothers had been the ones to wake them, to do their hair, iron their clothes and to ask, “Do you have your permission slip?” Lola swallowed that familiar jealousy and found a seat alone.
"Until You Found Me" by Karen Alise
Don’t ever compliment me by insulting other women. That’s not a compliment, it’s a competition none of us agreed to.