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Violet's Second Chance

“Set your story on the eve of the first day back at school.”

By Gillian CorsiattoPublished 9 months ago 5 min read
2

Grade five had ended on a sour note for young Violet. On one of the very last days of elementary school, she had been caught stealing an eraser from a grade-five-only book fair set up in the hallways. She was humiliated in front of her teacher and her entire class when a parent volunteer walked in with the school principal and pointed her out specifically as the thief. She was then forced to publicly return the eraser that she had taken and the shame she felt was all consuming. Summer vacation couldn’t come fast enough after that. Maybe after two whole months of no school, her classmates from grade five would forget all about the ordeal and she could sneak subtly into middle school without catching anyone’s attention. It was much safer to fit in quietly than to stand out.

The summer break had been rejuvenating, relaxing, and refreshing. The eldest of six kids in the family with a single mom, Violet spent a lot of her time around home babysitting her siblings. However, she was old enough now that she could take them on short adventures to the playground or for walks around the block. If money allowed, she could even walk them down to a nearby convenience store where they could pick out an ice cream treat or a cool drink. Though she was often in charge of looking after the kids while mom was busy or working, she still found enough free time to contently sit down and read a book. Reading was one of her absolute favourite things to do. She could read the same book five times over again before she got tired of it. It didn’t matter what she was reading. All that mattered was that she was reading at all.

Now, on the night before a new school year would start, Violet sat crossed-legged in the soft grass of the backyard. Around her, the bugs of the evening started to sing and the sunset painted the sky a deliciously golden colour. The clouds were like smears of white paint. As an eleven year old going ready to step into her first day of middle school, she figured it was time for some introspective reflection. Being the oldest of her five younger siblings, Violet was used to the prospect of having to grow up and mature quickly so wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable with how she was feeling on this eve of the first day back at school.

A mosquito buzzed irritatingly around her ear. When it landed on her cheek, she swatted at it and it left a dismal display of blood and bug guts on her skin. “Yuck,” she said, using her shirt sleeve to wipe it off.

The back door opened. Mom stepped outside onto the deck and closed the door behind her. Violet looked up at her from where she was sitting on the grass.

“How are you feeling?” asked mom.

Violet picked a dandelion up from out of the ground and gently blew on it, sending fluffy wisps of seeds wherever the air decided to take them. One wispy seed clump landed on her cheek just opposite to where the mosquito had landed. Looking up at her mom, she smiled.

“I’m feeling good,” she replied.

“Ready for tomorrow? First day of middle school!”

“I’m ready!”

Mom walked down the deck stairs and joined her eldest daughter in sitting on the ground. She then put her arm around her and pulled her in for a one-arm hug.

“You know I’m always proud of you, right?” asked mom.

The truth is, Violet didn’t always know this. She spent so much time being the second mom figure to all her younger siblings that sometimes she couldn’t tell at all if her mom was proud and thankful for her or if mom simply saw Violet as an equal. Another mom. Another adult in the house ran wild with little kids. As an answer to mom’s question, Violet shrugged, but the corners of her lips curled upwards.

Together they sat silently in the grass for some time, just taking in the heavenly summer evening, before Violet broke the silence.

“I wonder if I’ll make some new friends this year,” she said.

“Of course you will!” mom replied in a way that was uncharacteristically enthusiastic for her, “all your old classmates will be there but a bunch of kids from other schools will be there too.”

At the mention of the word ‘kids,” Violet felt her neck and shoulders relax. She had been unaware up until that point that she was unintentionally holding stress in her upper body. It felt good to relax and she realized her body hadn’t felt relaxed like that all summer, despite the summer vacation feeling serene and fairly stress-free. Mom then spoke again.

“Maybe you’ll find a new friend who loves reading just as much as you do.”

Mom rarely took an interest in Violet’s reading. She was too busy feeding babies, wrangling toddlers, and putting the older kids in timeout to stop and ask about a book she may have been reading.

“You know, when I was a kid, I loved reading too.”

“Really?” asked Violet, feeling suddenly inquisitive.

“Yep! Back then, it felt like I had all the time in the world for reading!”

Violet wanted to know more. “What did you like to read?” she pressed on.

“Anything and everything,” mom replied, “encyclopedias, poetry, magazine articles, mysteries, romances, dramas, anything.”

“Do you still have any of your old books?” Violet inquired further.

“Hmm, no,” mom said with a hint of sadness in her tone, “most of the books I read were from the library. The few books that I did own to myself were sold in a garage sale to raise money for me to go to college.”

Violet didn’t know her mom had ever gone to college. Almost as if reading her daughter’s mind, mom continued to explain.

“I didn’t make it all the way through college, but I did get a decent start at it.”

“Why not?” Violet asked. She was as captivated by her mom’s story as she was by any of the most interesting books she had ever read.

“Because I had you!”

Violet felt suddenly guilty but mom pulled her in again for a tight hug, indicating there was no sourness to be felt about the disruption of college caused by the birth of a baby. Violet felt comforted by her mom and got the sense that there were no hard feelings arising from the conversation which had gotten promptly more serious in nature.

“I hope I get to go to college, too,” said Violet.

“I hope that for you, too, dear,” said mom.

“But we probably won’t be able to afford it,” said Violet, now sounding dejected.

“We’ve got time. We can save up.”

An idea struck Violet’s mind like a bolt of lightning.

“I could sell some of my books,” she said, “just like you did.”

“You sure could,” said mom, “but you’re only eleven. I think you should keep them for a while yet.”

A dragonfly flew towards the pair and landed gently on mom’s foot. Violet reached out to it and the dainty insect crawled onto her hand. It stayed perched there while the mom and daughter examined and appreciated its intricate beauty, and then, just as fast as it came, it flew off into the calm summer evening, and left the mom and daughter duo to taste the sweet air for a little while longer in their own retrospective silence.

Short Story
2

About the Creator

Gillian Corsiatto

Author of Duck Light and avid musical theatre lover. Love writing spooky stuff and funny stuff 😈🥸

My website is www.gilliancorsiatto.ca

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