"Clearly there was something wrong in the world when people refused to be corrupt and accept bribes like they should."
"The Lion and the Mouse"
Tiffany Smith was the most popular, beautiful girl in the school. She was head cheerleader, dating the captain of the football team (Trevor Highworth), and her daddy had more money than most kids could ever dream about. Her one problem, in fact her only problem, was that the school was so small that all students had to share lockers and she was no exception.
She pleaded with the principal, even offering him gifts and bribes of money, but despite the greed in his eyes, his hands were tied. The school board would know. And her father didn’t have power over those fools. She had always believed that people in politics could be paid a price and things would go her way.
She sniffed to herself. Clearly there was something wrong in the world when people refused to be corrupt and accept bribes like they should. In the end, she was forced to be locker-mates with the most unpopular girl in school, Mandy Mayes.
She shivered in disgust at the thought. Mandy Mayes was always dressed in black, never wore pink nail polish and only wore black lipstick and dark makeup. As far as Tiffany knew, Mandy had no friends. Not that any would want her. She was a gross, mean girl. Tiffany sometimes felt herself doing a service to mankind for her kind treatment towards Mandy, allowing her to share the same locker and all. Certainly she could have kicked Mandy out and no one would say anything. Yes, she was doing her part.
Down the hall, she saw Shannon and Maribell waiting for her at their locker. She approached, “morning, girls.”
As usual, they responded by giggling and telling her how beautiful she looked today. Tiffany sighed in pleasure at her friends. They always made her feel warm inside, as if she were the most beautiful, powerful girl in the school. They always did what she said and never spoke back to her. All in all, they were the best friends a girl could ever ask for.
Shannon handed her clothing wrapped in plastic on a hanger. She dipped a bit at the knees. “I have your dry cleaning, Tiffany.”
Tiffany smiled, taking the clothes, “Thanks Shannon, you’re the best!”
Shannon beamed. Maribell looked insulted.
They followed Tiffany back to her locker to hang her dry cleaning inside. To her shock, the locker wash filled to capacity with a large painting. Of a little girl in a pink dress and her mother. They were smiling. How quaint, she thought. She kicked it with her pointed shoe, splitting the painting in half. There, she thought, smiling to herself in satisfaction, now my clothes have the room they need.
She flipped open her cell phone and sent a quick text to Trevor that she wanted to run home first, to change, before their date. She promised to make it worth his while if he was patient.
Later that day, just as school was ending, Tiffany saw Mandy coming down the hall and quickly slammed the locker closed. Let Mandy open it herself. Why did she always have to help the girl? She turned on her heel and, with a flip of her shiny blond hair, fell back against the locker in startling pain, dropping her clothes to the filthy floor.
“I let you share my locker! Help me!” Tiffany heard herself shrieking as she pulled at her hair in dismay. Why had the girl not saved her already? What was Mandy waiting for?
Mandy smiled gently. “Relax, Tiffany. I’ll get you out.” She leaned past and Tiffany shuddered in revulsion. Did the girl have to get so close?
Mandy worked at the combination for a moment. But she paused before twirling to the final number. “You know, Tiffany. I could let you stay here all night with your precious hair caught in the locker, but I’m not that kind of person.”
To Tiffany’s horror, Mandy leaned in close. “Remember that when you finally discover who your real friends are.” She smiled in a sad way. “I hope things go better for you.”
“Why would you care? My friends love me.” Tiffany mumbled.
“No, Tiffany, they don’t. But I care because I know that you, despite your beauty and popularity, are a sad little girl inside.” She was quiet a moment. “We all are, I think.”
Tiffany had never been talked to this way in her entire life. She was insulted and disgusted. She was about to say so, when she saw Mandy’s hand returning to the lock. She’d let the girl release her before putting her in her place.
Mandy smiled again, twirling the combination to the final number and pressed her fingers into the lock to spring it open. Tiffany watched as Mandy leaned in, taking note of the destroyed painting. She felt a spasm within her stomach. She felt the sudden need to explain. “Umm. My clothes needed room to hang.”
Mandy shrugged nonchalantly, but Tiffany saw that her eyes appeared more liquid than usual. Without a word, Mandy walked off down the hall.
Tiffany stood silently, watching her go. Why should she feel so bad? What had Mandy ever done to earn this level of respect?
She felt herself rolling her eyes at her own behavior. She leaned in the locker and removed both halves of the painting. Looking closer, she saw that it was Mandy depicted as the little girl in the pink dress. She guessed that the woman must have been Mandy’s mother. Her stomach spasmed again. Mandy’s mother died when she was little. Horrible fire.
She idly wondered why Mandy never wore pink anymore, she looked so happy and pretty in the picture.
Her cell phone beeped as she placed the painting back in the locker. She didn’t answer it as she walked in silence out to the parking lot to her car.
Inspiration from this story from:
Aesop’s Fables. “The Lion and the Mouse.” Aesop’s Fables, Online Collection. <http://www.aesopfables.com/cgi/aesop1.cgi?sel&TheLionandtheMouse2>