Jessica: Searching for Trouble

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Jessica is frustrated with the random searches going on in her middle school.  With the help of her best friend (and partner in crime) she decides to protest and ends up getting in more trouble than bargained for.

———–

I tapped my pen against the desk as I sat in English class, only half-listening to my teacher as she explained the vocabulary words for the week. I know I was probably annoying the girl next to me, Elizabeth Mays, a goody-goody straight A student who thought I was the worst person ever. And maybe I was. But I tapped my pen anyway in an effort to keep myself entertained. That is, until we were interrupted. Mrs. Keating had been halfway through explaining the word “commiserate” when the security guards burst through the door, metal detectors in hand like they were TSA agents at an airport or something.

“Random search,” the woman guard, Mrs. Sally, said.

My teacher seemed quite annoyed that they were disrupting her class for something so trivial as a random search. They did this sometimes, in an effort to deter students from having cell phones or drugs or something. Not that it was really that big of a problem with the seventh graders. Most of us didn’t have cell phones yet nor did we even know what drugs looked like. But I guess they had to do what they had to do.

“Okay everyone, get your things and file quietly into the hallway,” Mrs. Keating said.

Our reactions were mixed between groans of irritation and yelps of excitement to be freed from the torture of vocabulary. I was one of the groaners, annoyed that I had to get up and be frisked down like I was a criminal or something. And Camilla shared in my annoyance.

“I don’t see why we have to do these stupid searches. Aren’t they a violation of our civil liberties?” Camilla’s dad was an attorney for the ACLU so all she ever heard about was the Constitution and free speech and all that jazz.

“Are they?” I asked, getting behind Elizabeth Mays and avoiding the glare she shot me when I accidentally stepped on the back of her shoe. “We should protest.”

“We totally should!” Cam almost shrieked.

“You’re stupid,” Elizabeth butted in. “They’re searching us to protect us, not to rob us of our ‘civil liberties’ or whatever.”

I narrowed my eyes at her, wanting to punch her in the face. “Why don’t you keep your mouth shut about things you don’t know about?” I sneered, balling up my fists.

She rolled her eyes at me and turned away.

“So you really wanna protest?” Cam asked me when Elizabeth was far enough away to keep out of our conversation.

I nodded. “Yeah, of course. But how?” I wanted to know.

“Hmmm,” she pondered. “We could write our congressmen?”

I giggled. “That would take forever. We could just, I dunno, refuse to be searched?”

“Yeah! Civil disobedience! I like it.”

We high-fived each other and waited, folding our arms and leaning against the lockers. I watched as each student followed the same procedure: step out of the line, empty pockets, and spread legs and hold arms out. Then Mrs. Sally would run the metal detector over whoever it was while Mr. John, the other security guard, would dig through her/his backpack. And the more I watched all of this happen, the more I understood why Cam had said it was a violation of our civil liberties. Didn’t it say somewhere in the Constitution that we were protected from unreasonable searches? I made a note to myself to check that out in my American History book when I got back to class.

My stomach began to twist into knots as the guards made their way further down the line towards Cam and me.

“So we’re really going to refuse to be searched?” I asked.

“Yeah, why not? This is an infringement upon our rights as American citizens.”

Sounded good enough to me. I took a deep breath in and waited as Mrs. Sally approached me. “Next,” she said in a bored voice.

I shook my head. “I refuse to be searched,” I said, holding my back pack close to my body.

She was a bit taken aback. “Excuse me?” she asked, putting her hands on her hips. She wasn’t my biggest fan, seeing as I was a fighter and she was the one who usually ended up escorting me to Mr. Shevins’ office.

“I said that I refuse to be searched. I don’t think you have a good reason to search me, so I’m not going to let you.”

“Do you have something you’re not supposed to have?” she asked.

Mr. John walked up to us now. “What’s going on?” he asked.

Camilla piped up, “If you don’t have probable cause to search us, we don’t have to be searched. Your infringing upon our rights as American citizens. It says in the Constitution that we’re protected from unjust searches and seizures.”

There was stream of giggles from the students in our class. “This is not an unjust search,” Mr. John said to Camilla, then looked at me. “Now get out of line, hand me your backpack, and spread out your arms and legs like you were told.”

“Do you even know what ‘unjust’ means?” I said.

He folded his arms. “Miss Parker, I suggest you do as your told.”

I folded my arms, too. “No.”

“Give me a break,” I heard Elizabeth mutter.

“You mind your own business,” I told her.

“You’re holding up the class. This is my business.”

What happened next, well, just kinda happened. You know I have a temper, and I can’t help it sometimes. So I did what Mr. Shevins and my counselor had been advising me against for the last few months: I pushed her. And hard. She lost her balance and landed on the hard floor, almost knocking over the kid behind her.

“Ow!! You bitch!” she yelped, holding her arm.

“You wanna see me be a bitch?” I spat back, but by now Mrs. Sally had me in a hold and was screaming at me.

“That’s enough!” she yelled in my ear.

“No need to shout,” I said back.

Mrs. Keating was back outside her room now having noticed all the commotion. “What is going on?”

Mr. John explained the situation to her as I assured Mrs. Sally that I wasn’t going to attack anyone and Camilla whined about our civil liberties. My teacher shook her head disappointedly at me and Mr. John told Camilla that if she, too, refused to be searched, she could join me in Mr. Shevins’ office. I thought that this was when she was going to break and allow them to do what they had to do, but she didn’t. I was proud.

“I will not allow you to take away my rights,” she told him blatantly

I think Mr. John rolled his eyes at that. Too bad I couldn’t punch him in the face. At least Elizabeth was being nicer now, and not popping off smartass comments.

While Mrs. Sally no longer had me in a hold, she still had a firm grip on my upper arm. “I’ll take these two girls to the office. You finish the searches,” she told Mr. John. She pointed at Cam. “You, come with me.”

Cam threw her backpack over her shoulder and walked next to me, saying nothing. But I could see the smile on her face. We had won. Go us!

Mrs. Sally took us to the office and wrote up a referral, then handed it to the secretary and left. Cam and I tried to talk to each other but we kept getting glared at. So instead we passed notes.

This is stupid!!!!! I wrote.

I know right! Oh well. At least we didn’t have to get searched. What do you think Shevins is gonna do?

I dunno. Hopefully nothing cuz we didn’t do anything wrong.
Cam giggled, getting another glare from the secretary. Did you see the look on everyones faces? priceless!

I nodded. I don’t think we made enough of an impression tho.

She raised her eyebrows. What do you mean

you know they have locker searches? She nodded. I scribbled down my brilliant idea: we should protest those too. We should make signs and then handcuff ourselves to the lockers and hold up the signs. Maybe we can get someone else to do it too.

She giggled again, covering her mouth just in time to avoid another glare. “You’re crazy!” she whispered to me. “But I like it!”

Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in! I wrote.

She nodded, taking the note from me and ripping it up and stuffing it in her backpack so no one could read it.

I grabbed one of the magazines from the table and flipped through it, finding nothing interesting. Not even an article to make fun of. So I quietly ripped out a page and folded it up to make a paper airplane, about to throw it at the secretary when Mr. Shevins came in.

“Parker, don’t even think about it,” he said.

I jumped a little, having not seen him there. “Just kidding,” I said, closing the magazine and grinning widely.

“You two, my office, now.”

I set the magazine and airplane on the table and followed Camilla to the vice principal’s office. He sat down behind his desk, pointing to the chairs in front of it for us to sit as well. I saw that both of our files were wide open and I leaned over to see what they said, but he closed them and I noticed him staring at me hard.

“You both have some explaining to do.”

He didn’t seem to be in the best of moods, not like when I normally went in there. It was quite sad. “We feel that random searches are unreasonable and unconstitutional,” Camilla said.

“So we refuse to take part in them,” I concluded.

He shook his head. “Really?” he asked. “That’s what all of this is about?”

We nodded.

He leaned back in his chair, taking his glasses off and putting them on the desk. “Girls, you are on school property, and the reason that we have random searches is to ensure everyone’s safety.”

“But have we ever given you reason to suspect that we have anything we aren’t supposed to?” I asked.

“Do you want me to answer that question truthfully?” he asked me, stealing one of my lines.

I folded my arms. “Mr. Shevins, it’s not fair. We don’t have anything we’re not supposed to. We just don’t like being padded down like criminals. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Jessica, Camilla,” he said, looking at each of us, “random searches are mandated by the district. If you have a problem with it, take it to the superintendent.” He opened one of the files and scribbled down something in it. “Camilla, I’m giving you a week’s worth of lunchroom detention.” He paused, closing the file, then opening what I guessed was mine. “Jessica, you get that same week of detention as well as three after school detentions for fighting… again.”

“Awww, but Mr. Shevins…” I began.

“You’re lucky I don’t bring your brother back in for another conference,” he interrupted.

I closed my mouth. He was right. I was super lucky.

He rolled over to his filing cabinet and pulled out three pieces of paper. I glanced at Camilla as he filled them out. Lunchroom detention wasn’t such a bad thing, nor was after school detention. They were both just boring as hell. But we could handle it. Especially together.

Mr. Shevins looked up now and handed us the papers: one for Cam and two for me. “Have your guardians sign them and bring them back to me tomorrow.”

We both nodded and I looked down at my paper. Both detentions would start tomorrow. At least it didn’t say the reason that I’d gotten detention. That meant I didn’t have to tell Robert that I’d done the fighting thing again.

“I don’t want to see you girls in here again this year. There’s only a couple of weeks left. Try to behave, okay?”

“We’ll try,” I said, smiling and standing up. “Thanks Mr. S. See ya!”

The two of us left his office, papers in hand. “Lunchroom detention is lame,” Cam said.

“Yeah. Do you still want to protest tomorrow?”

She glanced at me. “But he said it was out of his hands. That we had to talk to the superintendent.”

“The superintendent won’t listen unless we do something to get his attention. Like handcuffing ourselves to the lockers.”

She digested this. “You’re right. Let’s do it.”

That afternoon at lunch we worked out the logistics of our plan. Camilla agreed to get the handcuffs if I’d provide the poster board. The next morning we would meet before class (under the premise that we needed to work on a project for school) and make the signs. This was the most ingenious plan we’d ever devised. Besides the plan about going to the Mets game while I was grounded, which I screwed up by letting the Facebook world know, but that was my own fault. Anyway, this plan would certainly lead to trouble, but we were both sure that neither her parents nor my brothers would really care much since we were fighting for our rights. Robert might be upset, but Daniel would understand and not let me get in trouble.

Katelyn was freaking out again when I got to my last class. “I heard about what happened,” she said, sitting in the empty seat next to me. “You wouldn’t let them search you? Are you crazy?”

I smirked. “Yeah, a little.”

“Did you get in trouble?”

I shrugged. “Sorta. But I’m not telling Robert til tomorrow. So can you keep it a secret, please?”

She nodded. “What happened? What’d Mr. Shevins say?”

“Nothing new,” I answered just in time for our teacher to come in and Katelyn to tell me to explain it to her later. But I didn’t really tell her anything later. We just rode the bus together and laughed about some of the stuff that happened in history class. Oh, and I looked up the Constitution in my book and Camilla was so right – we were protected against searches! And we were also given the right to assemble, AKA protest. Which meant that our plans for the next day couldn’t be interrupted.

I walked to the store after I got home to get a poster board and some markers. I also decided to get a couple of rulers so that we could glue them to our boards and hold the signs up. This was perfect.

The next morning, Daniel drove me to school on his way to a meeting in the city. “What is it you’re doing again?” he asked.

“This thing for my history class.”

“But aren’t you in history with Katelyn? Why isn’t she doing this?”

“It’s sort of an extra thing that Cam and I are working on.”

He raised his eyebrows and looked at me. “Is Cam in your class?”

Crap. I forgot about that minor detail. “Not the same period. But she has the same teacher.”

He nodded. “All right,” he said, pulling into the school parking lot. “Just as long as you’re not doing something you shouldn’t be doing.”

“I would never,” I said, heart skipping a beat. “Thanks, Dan. See ya this afternoon.” I pushed myself out of the car and jogged towards the entrance.

Cam was waiting near our lockers when I walked up. “Bout damn time,” she said.

“Sorry. Daniel took forev to get ready.”

“Yeah whatever, blame it on him.”

“Always.” I slid down to the floor. “I cut a poster board in half,” I told her, handing her the piece.

She sat down next to me. “Perfect,” she said.

So the two of us sat there, pretty much in the middle of the hallway, drawing on poster boards. I was half expecting Daniel to walk in and catch me in the lie I had told him – even though this was sorta an American History thing since it was fighting for our rights and all… right? Anyway. But no one bothered us, and within minutes, we had two brightly colored posters: Stop the unreasonable searches!!! and Lincoln Middle ignores the Constitution! And then in tiny letters on both signs: Amendment #4 of the Constitution of the United States – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. Then we glued on the rulers and held up our signs.

How do they look?” I asked Cam.

“Brilliant,” she replied. We gave each other a high five and she fished two pairs of handcuffs and two small chains out of her backpack. “Since the handcuffs won’t go through the lockers, I had to find something that would,” she said, referring to the chains. She looped each of them through the holes in our lockers and then cuffed one pair on each one. “Ready?” she asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

And then we cuffed ourselves to the lockers. It was the weirdest and most random thing I’d probably ever done. But we certainly got all the attention we bargained for – and more.

It started when the first bell rang and students began filing into the hallway. Cam and I held up our signs and explained to the student body why we were chained to our lockers. A couple of them dismissed it as us being complicated like always. But most of them listened to us and agreed. A few even stood with us at the lockers, helping us share our cause. It was amazing.

“Jess! What are you doing?!?” I heard the familiar voice shriek.

I turned to see my twin sister marching up to me, a mixture of shock and frustration on her face. “Oh, hey Kate. We’re fighting against the unjust-ness of random searches.”

Yeah!” Cam shouted. Obviously her adrenaline was full blast. “As American citizens we will no longer allow this school to violate our rights guaranteed by the Constitution!”

“Yeah!!” the students who had joined us shouted (too bad we hadn’t brought extra handcuffs or they could’ve chained themselves to the lockers, too).

“What? What is wrong with you? I swear that one of us was mixed up in the hospital.”

“Shut up, Kate. Can’t you just support me for once?”

“Yeah, like you always support me?” she asked, walking past me to her locker. “Sorry, but there are more important things in life than the school having random searches.”

The students around me were trying to rally other kids, and I wished for a second that I wasn’t handcuffed so I could have an actual conversation with my sister. But it wasn’t important enough to find the key. “I’m just fighting for what I believe in. Why is that so hard for you to understand?” I wanted to know.

Because you’re making a scene. Trying to be the center of attention like always. It’s annoying.”

“You’re annoying,” I muttered, turning away to help with the rallying. A tear almost slipped down my cheek – almost. But I wouldn’t let it. Too many people were around. It did bother me, though, that my sister was never on my side with anything. I was too radical for her. It shouldn’t have mattered, but it did.

The amount of students in the hallway near our lockers became too big of a crowd and probably a fire hazard. Mrs. Sally had been walking down the other hallway when she noticed us all and demanded to know what was going on. We began chanting together: “Stop the random searches!! Stop the random searches!!” It was amazing and exhilarating. There must’ve been at least 40 of us there, all chanting, mine and Cam’s signs high in the air, others pumping their fists like they were on the Jersey Shore or something. Then Mrs. Sally got a good look at what was going on, looked Cam and I in the eyes, and groaned audibly (although we didn’t exactly hear her because everyone was too loud).

Teachers began coming out of their classrooms now, trying to figure out what exactly was going on. They’d seen the congregation, but hadn’t really stopped to see what we were doing. But now they were. Some tried to quiet us, others just stared out in awe. More students joined us in chanting as they walked down the hallway. It was the greatest experience.

Until the second bell rang and Mr. John bellowed “anyone who remains in the hallway after the third bell will be written up for skipping class!”

Now, there is no way that they could write 50+ students up for skipping, but no one really thought about that. It was just the idea that maybe they could get written up and in trouble that scared them. And since most of the students at my school were upper class college-bound straight A kids, they couldn’t afford any disciplinary problems on their record. So over half of the students groaned and muttered “sorry” as they walked away.

Awww come on!” Cam said. “We have to fight for our rights! Where would we be today if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been scared of being written up! Or if Susan B. Anthony hadn’t fought for women’s rights! Or what if our ancestors had been afraid to migrate here! We can’t give up!” she pleaded.

I knew that Cam would be a great community organizer some day. Unfortunately, this community wasn’t ready to be organized. Most of them were more concerned about grades.

I will not back down from what I believe in! You can write me up a million times, but I am not unchaining myself from this locker!” I shouted over the crowd murmurings.

“Yeah!” Cam and about six other students said. Only those other six students weren’t chained to their lockers. But it was the thought that counted.

“Stop the random searches! Stop the random searches!” Cam chanted, pumping up everyone else to chant along with us. It wasn’t nearly as good with just eight of us, but hey, take what you can get, right?

The third bell rang and I watched as everyone, with the exception of us eight, scampered into their classrooms so they wouldn’t be late. “Looks like it’s just us,” I said, noticing that Mr. John had disappeared.

Yeah,” Cam said. “Sucks. But still great. Thanks for staying,” she told the remaining six, all of whom I recognized from detention at least one of the times that I’d been.

“No prob,” a boy, Toby, said. “But it feels kinda weird being here without being handcuffed or holding a sign. Next time you’ll have to plan better and let us know ahead of time.”

The rest of us agreed. “Sorry, we didn’t realize that it’d catch on so fast.”

Another girl said, “yeah, everyone hates random searches. That’s how that girl got stripped searched for having Advil or whatev. Remember that?”

Yeah!” Cam said. “The ACLU sued the school on it. That was fucked up times a million.”

“P.S., here comes Shevins,” someone said.

“Shit.”

“If you’re going to skip class, you should consider not doing it in plain sight,” Mr. S said sarcastically, walking up to us. “Is this about the random searches again?”

“We’re displaying our right to assemble, Mr. Shevins, so unless you want to be sued by the ACLU for violating the Constitution, I suggest you allow us to continue to do so,” Cam said.

“Camilla, please display your rights outside of school hours. Right now it is time for class.” He looked around our small group. “Assemble before class, and after class, but during class is not allowed.”

“And why not?” I demanded to know.

“Because it’s considered skipping and disrupting class time.”

“We’re not disrupting anything,” Toby said.

“By chanting in the hallway you’re impeding on other students’ rights to learn.”

Camilla went on another rampage about famous American heroes who hadn’t allowed laws to hold them back. It was pretty funny.

Until Mr. Shevins said, “you may either take a tardy for being late to class or I will call your guardians.”

I’m not moving from this locker until I am assured that there will no long be unreasonable searches and seizures,” Camilla said plainly.

“Me either,” I chimed in, pointing to our handcuffs. “We’re not leaving anytime soon. Make all the phone calls you want. You can’t make us move.”

Mr. Shevins then looked at the other students. “Your choice,” he told them. And then he proceeded to let us all know what would happen if our guardians were called: in school suspension for two days. That meant two unexcused absences. Something that some students couldn’t afford. And when it came down to it, none of us really wanted to deal with all of that drama. Except Cam, who was confident that if she was given in school suspension for two days her father would sue the school. Mr. Shevins didn’t care, though. He pressed the threat so hard that all of our six accomplices decided to bail.

But Camilla and I stood firm.

Last chance,” Mr. Shevins said when the two of us were alone.

“Stop the unreasonable searches,” Cam spat, holding up her sign. “You should be ashamed to run a school that doesn’t uphold the Constitution.”

He shook his head and walked away. I’d never seen Mr. Shevins so upset before. It almost made me want to give up on the whole protest, too. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t back down now.

We were a little nervous for a couple of minutes, but quickly shook it off when we saw random traffic in the hallway… students going to the bathroom, teachers on their breaks, and just people wandering the hallways in general. Some of them asked about what we were doing and we enjoyed having the opportunity to express our disliking of the current school policies. Well, we enjoyed that opportunity until a certain someone walked down the hallway.

Jessica Lynne Parker!” I heard. “What in God’s name do you think you’re doing?”

Uhoh. This didn’t sound good.

Jessica and I are fighting for our Constitutional rights,” Camilla explained, then almost began the speech she’d been telling everyone else when Robert cut her off.

“Do you think this is cute or something?” He was infuriated, to say the least.

“I’m just…”

“Unchain yourself and let’s go,” he said.

I would’ve folded my arms, but my current positioning and the fact that I was wearing handcuffs prevented this. So I just said it in my best attitude ever: “no.”

“Jessica, I’m not playing games.”

“I’m not either. The school’s policy isn’t fair and I’m not leaving until I get a promise from the administration that they’re changing it.”

“I’ll give you a promise,” he said in a warning tone, “and that is that I will spank you right here in this hallway if I have to.”

I blushed a million different shades of red. I couldn’t believe that he’d just said that out loud in the middle of my school. And I wasn’t entirely sure that he’d actually do that, but just in case, I backed up, placing my bottom against the locker so that it would take a fight for him to do it. And he wouldn’t want to be accused of child abuse, right?

Cam’s dad, Mr. Sullivan, walked towards us now, and I felt my best friend flatten herself against the locker as well. She was just as nervous as I. We weren’t so big and bad now that Robert and her dad were around. Maybe we wouldn’t make good community organizers.

“Camilla, what are you doing?” he asked calmly.

“Fighting for our rights,” Cam answered weakly, not nearly as confident as she had been about two minutes ago.

He then looked at me, to which I nodded, and then toward Robert. “What are we going to do with these girls?” he asked jokingly.

I know what Robert was thinking, but he didn’t say it in front of Mr. Sullivan.

“Cam, Jess, this isn’t the way to fight for your rights on this issue. Especially not without talking to me first.” He paused, looking at each of us, then staring at Cam. “Why didn’t you talk to me about this last night?”

She shrugged.

He nodded. “You wanted to stir up drama,” he answered. “And it worked, right, Robert?”

“Oh yeah. Stirred up a lot of drama.”

“There’s a time and a place to protest. And this is not it,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We will talk more about this at home. Let’s go.”

Cam shook her head. “We’re not leaving. Dad, you always taught me to stand up for what I believe in, and that’s what I’m doing. You can’t let them win.”

“Did you listen to what I just said, Young Lady?”

“Yes, but,” tears began to stream down her face now, “we’re fighting for our rights. Why can’t you help us? Why aren’t you on my side?”

He sighed, rubbing his temples. “Camilla, you can stand here all day and the only thing it’s going to accomplish is getting you escorted out of here by the police.”

“They can’t do that.”

“They can and they most certainly will. Because if you continue this display, you will be suspended, and then you will be deemed on campus without permission, in which case they will call the police.”

“Yeah, well, that’s why we’re chained to our lockers.”

It was really interesting watching this dialogue between my best friend and her father. I kept waiting for him to lose his patience, but he never did. “Do you honestly think that it’d be hard for them to cut those chains?”

Cam looked at me, then back to her dad. “We’re not moving without a promise from the administration that they’re going to change the policy.”

“The administration doesn’t handle that. The school board does. And I will discuss this rationally with you both at a later time. But right now you’re in enough trouble. You’re only digging yourself a bigger hole by standing here.”

I glanced at Robert who nodded, and then looked at Cam. Her dad had a point.

This had been fun while it lasted, but we were defeated now. Two defeated seventh-almost-eighth graders. What was there left to do besides unchain ourselves?

She took out the keys and handed me mine, and we did what Mrs. Sally had wanted us to do hours ago. I then gave my key back to Cam, successfully freed from the locker. I looked up at Robert. I wasn’t quite sure what to say to him.

Cam and I were led back to the office where our fates were discussed with the vice principal. And he also told Robert and Mr. Sullivan about what we’d done the day before… and didn’t forget to mention the whole fighting thing which I glared at him about. And then we were sent on our ways, back home to endure the rest of our punishments, which didn’t seem like much fun.

Robert wasn’t too happy with me. I figured this out because A) he didn’t really talk to me the whole ride home and B) when he called Daniel, he said “yes, I got her…. no, I’m not okay…. I know, babe. I’ll calm down, I’m just… frustrated….. Okay, see you in a little while….. Love you, too. Bye.” So clearly I’d given him reason to be frustrated and un-calm. Oops. My bad.

When we got home, I was sent to my room. Which sucked because I kinda wanted to get on Facebook and start a group to petition the unreasonable searches, but I figured that now wasn’t a good time to ask Robert. So yeah, I decided lay on my bed instead and stared at the ceiling until I heard the front door slam and two soft voices murmuring to one another. That must’ve been Daniel.

I pushed myself up and inched outside, sitting quietly at the top of the staircase to listen to what they were saying.

“I just don’t know what to do,” Robert said. “This is the second time I’ve gotten a phone call from the school about her. Why is she acting this way?”

It sounded like Daniel was embracing him now, probably holding him tightly because, from the sounds of it, Robert was crying a little. “You know what we have to do,” he answered softly. “And we have to let her know that it’s not okay to continue this behavior.”

I was so scared when they called me. They told me that if I couldn’t come up there that they’d have to call the police. What if Doug hadn’t taken my patient? What if I’d been at the emergency room with someone? She’d be in jail right now. And thank God Mr. Sullivan came in because it didn’t look like I’d be able to convince her to leave with me.” He paused, sucking in a deep breath. “Dan, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

“I know, baby, I know,” Daniel said. “You’re doing great. Jessica is definitely a handful and deals with a lot of this pain in a different way than you or Kate would do. It’s more outward for her – the fighting, making bad grades, blatant disobedience – it’s her way of dealing with this situation. And we have to let her know it’s not healthy.”

Yeah, I couldn’t keep quiet after that. “What? I wasn’t ‘dealing with this situation’ today… I was standing up for my rights!” I said loudly, stomping down the stairs to see Daniel holding my older brother in his arms, both of them a look of shock on their faces.

“Jessica, you were sent to your room,” Daniel said.

“Yeah, well I don’t care. I don’t like that you’re talking about me like I’m some horrible person for just standing up for what I believe in. I thought that you’d understand. That you’d be proud of me for not letting people walk all over me. But I guess I was wrong about you.”

He repeated, “Jessica, you were sent to your room.”

“I don’t care!” I shouted. “Are you even listening to me?”

He walked towards me now, towering over me. “We will talk about this later. But right now, your brother and I are having a discussion and you were sent to your room, so I suggest you return there until he or I tell you otherwise.”

If Daniel had been anyone else, I would’ve decked him. It pissed me off so much that he wasn’t listening to me. And since I couldn’t punch him, I decided to punch the wall instead. “Whatever, Daniel,” I said, regretting that I’d hit the wall because pain was radiating through my arm now. I wasn’t going to let him know that, though. “You’re just a douchebag like everyone else.”

I knew it hurt him, but he didn’t let it show.

“Fine. Next time I’ll just let people walk all over me. I’ll keep my mouth shut and not care that people are taking away my rights. And you know what else? When someone says that fags shouldn’t get married, I’ll agree with them. And when they say that they shouldn’t be allowed to raise kids, I’ll give them a high five! How about that?”

Both Robert and Daniel winced at my use of the f-word and I was sort of scared that one of them might slap me at my outburst, but they didn’t. Instead Daniel just said, “are you finished?”

“No, I’m not finished,” I said. “I think you’re both hypocrites for being mad at me about this and I hope someone kidnaps me and you never have to see me again because it’s obvious that you don’t need any of my drama.” I broke off suddenly, my throat closing up and tears randomly streaming down my cheeks. I totally hadn’t been expecting that, but I guess I was so mad and hurt, they just came. I turned away, not wanting them to see me like this, and began rubbing my wrist where it still hurt from punching the wall.

“Jessica,” Robert said, clearing his throat and seizing my arm to pull me towards him. I broke away quickly. “Daniel and I care about you, and we do want you to stand up for what you believe in. But we want you to do it in the right way. And not through fighting or nearly getting yourself kicked out of school.” He seized my arm again and led me to the couch where we both sat down. “You’re not just drama in my life,” he told me. “You’re my little sister and I care about you and love you. Just sometimes I don’t know what to do with you. You worry me.”

I didn’t say anything, just stared at the floor as my tears fell.

“Is your arm okay?” Robert asked, now getting into doctor mode.

“Yeah, it’s fine.”

He took it from me anyway and felt over it, asking me to move it in different directions before finally determining that I probably had fractured it and needed to get this seen about ASAP. He made me pile into the car with him and Daniel and took me to his office where it was x-rayed and then wrapped up. My brother had been right – I had fractured it. According to him, it’d be well in a couple of weeks, but I’d have to sit out of softball for a little while to let it heal. Which pissed me off more because the season had just really started… but it was too late to do anything about it now.

He kissed me on the forehead and sent his husband and I on our ways while he finished out the rest of the appointments he had for the day.

“I’m not impressed with your outburst,” Daniel told me.

I ignored him, slamming the door as hard as I could with the stupid cast they’d put on my arm.

“When we get home, you may go up to your room and work on your homework until your brother gets back home. Do you understand?”

“Yeah, I guess,” I muttered. Like I was really going to work on homework.

Fortunately, Robert only worked a few blocks from home and within no time we were pulling back into our driveway. I went to my room and locked the door, then flopped on my bed and took a nap. It’d been an exhausting day.

Katelyn woke me up when she knocked on the door a couple of hours later. Guess that was one minor problem with locking the door. I opened it for her and shuffled drowsily back to the bed. “What’s up?” I said sleepily. “How was school?”

“It was okay. Was weird without you there in seventh period. Everyone was talking about what happened.”

“What’d they say?” I asked, rolling over to face her.

She shrugged. “They were just talking about it all. What happened to your arm?”

“Huh?” She pointed to the cast. “Oh, that. Yeah. I got mad and punched the wall. Hah.”

She shook her head.

“I know. I shouldn’t have let my temper get the best of me. But you know how I get sometimes,” I said. “So does everyone think I’m crazy or did they agree?”

“A little of both.” She sat down on her bed. “I think you’re right, you know.”

I raised my eyebrows. “About what?”

“About the random searches. Everyone hates them and they’re annoying and it does seem like an invasion of our privacy. But couldn’t you have just written a letter?”

“I guess I could’ve,” I said, although that wasn’t really my thing. That would be something Kate would do… she was always the type to prefer peace instead of fighting… to prefer letter writing instead of loud protests. “But I didn’t. And it’s kinda too late now to change anything. Besides, if I’d written a letter, no one would be talking about it right now.”

She nodded. “I did something for you.”

“Yeah?”

She started digging through her backpack and took out a typed sheet of paper, then handed it to me.

I read aloud: “We the students of Lincoln Middle School in the Montclair School District feel that random searches of students, lockers, and students’ possessions is unconstitutional and therefore should be prohibited.” I continued reading the letter to myself, feeling a smile spread across my face. And then I saw that she had signed it, and underneath her signature were 157 more signatures. “Wow. Kate… you started a petition?”

She nodded. “The only thing it’s missing is your’s and Cam’s signature. And then we can send it to the school board.”

“But I thought that you thought the protest was stupid?”

She shrugged. “Not stupid. But I didn’t like that you were making a big scene. I didn’t like the way you did it.” I must’ve been the one mixed up in the hospital, because she was talking just like her older brother. “But I guess it made it easier because after they kicked you and Cam out of school everyone was talking about it and angry at Mr. S for not listening to you guys. So it was really easy to find people to sign the petition.”

I smiled.

“So maybe it was sorta okay that you did the rally and all. It made the day much more interesting.”

“Kate, I miss you. It seems like we’re both so different now that… well, you know.”

“Yeah. I know,” she said and lay down on her bed, too. “It sucks.”

We lay there and talked until Robert came upstairs and asked Katelyn if he could talk to me alone for a minute. I had the feeling that this talk wasn’t really a talk and wished desperately that Kate wouldn’t leave, but it was no use… she left without so much as an objection.

Robert sat down on my bed next to me. I could tell that he wasn’t too sure of what to say, and I wasn’t either, so there was an awkward silence for about 40 seconds. “Jessica, I’m very disappointed in the behavior that you displayed today.”

I nodded.

“Do you understand why?”

“Not really,” I admitted.

He sighed. “Okay, I guess I’ll try to explain it to you again.” He then went on to tell me what everyone had been telling me all day about the time and the place to protest, and how I shouldn’t have gotten such an attitude, and that if I was really that concerned with random searches I should’ve planned it a little better. And, granted, he had some good points, but I still didn’t totally agree with him. “And then the tantrum you threw after we got home? That was pretty unnecessary.”

I hung my head. He was definitely right about that. And I did feel kinda bad for using the f-word, and being mean to him and Daniel. “I’m sorry about the tantrum.”

He lifted my chin and turned me to face him. “You’re getting a spanking, Jessica Lynne,” he said.

My stomach dropped. “But Robert…” I whined. “It’s not fair. Because I was just trying to get them to change the policy that I thought was unfair. I bet Rosa Parks didn’t get spanked by her older brother when she refused to move to the back of the bus.”

“Rosa Parks also planned out her strategy before refusing to move to the back of the bus. And she probably talked to her family about it, too. You’re getting a spanking and that’s the end of the story. You were kicked out of school today, and given two days of in school suspension, not to mention all of the trouble you caused yesterday… pushing someone after we’ve already had a discussion about fighting… and then the tantrum you threw today. I think I’m quite justified in giving this to you.”

I picked at my cast. I wasn’t quite sure how to argue what he was saying. So he took that as me submitting to the punishment.

“Come on,” he said, practically dragging me to my desk. He sat down in the chair and unbuttoned my jeans.

“Waitttt Robert!” I whined. “Please. I’m sorry. I’m really really sorry. I’ve learned my lesson. Please don’t spank me.” I tried to remind myself that I’d just punched a wall and fractured my wrist, so this measly spanking would be nothing, but it didn’t quite work that way. Especially when he tugged my jeans to my knees. “Pleaseeeee,” I begged as he pulled me over his lap.

“Jessica, Daniel and I are not going to tolerate disobedience and disrespect from you anymore. It’s not okay to solve all of your problems by fighting. If you have an issue with the school, or an issue with someone at school, or an issue with Daniel or me, you are to talk it out with someone, do you understand?”

“Yessss,” I whined, but only because I was facing the carpet and my panties were being pulled down.

He rested his hand on my bare bottom. “I’m not happy with the behavior you’ve shown me today. You were definitely not acting like a thirteen year old.” With that he lifted his hand and brought it down on my backside, causing me to squirm and cry out a little.

“Owwww! I’ve learned my lesson,” I promised him.

“I certainly hope so,” he said, continuing to whap his stupid hand against my backside. And I couldn’t even reach back to block because my right hand was in a cast and I didn’t want to take the chance of him hitting my arm and making it hurt all over again. Then I’d have a pain in my ass and a pain in my arm.

“Please Robert. Please stop,” I begged, kicking a little.

He rained more swats down. “I’ve just started, Jessica Lynne,” he told me, circling my waist now and concentrating on both cheeks, then my sit spots.

“Owwwwwwwww,” I cried. “Stoppp pleaseee!” I kicked up my legs to block the smacks, but he pushed them back down.

“I want to make sure that you’ve learned your lesson.”

“I haveeee!!” I promised him as he slapped my sit spots. My bottom felt like it was on fire already. I hadn’t realized how hard Robert could spank! After all, I guess only Daniel had spanked me before and it seemed like Robert didn’t really adhere to the warmup rule.

“What have you learned?”

“Owwww!” I shrieked, kicking again, to have my feet pushed back down to the floor. “I’ve learned – ah! – that… ow!… I shouldn’t fight!”

“Good,” he said. “I’m glad you learned that. ‘Cause you know what’s going to happen if you fight again, or throw another tantrum?”

I kicked my feet up again, trying to block, but he kept spanking. “I’ll get another spankingggg!!!” I cried, tears rolling down my face now.

“Yes ma’am you will,” he said. “Stop kicking,” he warned.

“But it hurts.”

“Good. Maybe you’ll think about this before you do something that gets you in school suspension.”

“I willlll I promiseeee!!! Oooowwww!”

Tired of my kicking, he repositioned me to where his leg was restraining mine, and finished up the spanking, hard and quick smacks. I was screaming and crying like crazy, reaching back now because it was all I could do to get this pain to stop. Not that it worked. He spanked around my hand, and then stopped only for long enough to reach for the hairbrush.

“Nooo please don’t use that!!” I begged. I was sobbing now, gasping for air. “I’m s-sorryyy!” I stammered.

He rubbed my back for a moment, letting me calm down before speaking again. “I’m going to give you a hairbrushing, and then we’ll be all finished. But let me tell you one thing, Jessica Lynne Parker. If you behave like you did today ever again, you will be spanked by both Daniel and me, and it will be much more than just a hairbrush spanking. Do you understand?”

“Y-yes, sir.”

“I’m very disappointed that you were sent home today, but I’m even more disappointed in the tantrum you threw earlier. I can’t believe that you’d use the very word that you’ve been offended by so many times. How do you think that made Daniel and me feel?” So yeah, my sobs that had died down? They started back up. I was disappointed even in myself for doing that. He didn’t need the hairbrush to drive that message home. But he used it anyway.

“I didn’t mean it,” I said weakly.

“Keep your hand out of the way, Jessica. You wouldn’t want it to get hit with the hairbrush,” he warned right before crashing down the wooden implement from hell on my bottom. And I couldn’t kick anymore, so reaching back sounded like the best thing to do, but I didn’t. Not only because I didn’t want my arm smacked, but also ’cause I knew that I deserved this. And while it didn’t make the spanking hurt any less, it certainly helped me take it. Oh yeah, I cried and cried, but that was it. I just lay there limply, allowing my older brother to give me the punishment that I deserved. And when it was over, I let him lift me up and I fell into a hug, rubbing my aching backside.

“I’m s-sorry, R-Robert,” I hiccuped.

“I know, Jess. I know, baby.” He held onto me tightly, kissing my forehead. “It’s over now.”

I nodded, feeling safe and secure in his arms… which was weird, ’cause I’d never had that feeling with him before. But I liked it.

We stayed like that a few minutes, and then I pushed away, pulling up my panties and then failing at getting my pants up. But have no fear, Robert helped. “I’m going to tell Daniel I’m sorry,” I told him, wiping some tears away and sniffling.

“Good idea,” he answered, patting me on the bottom.

I looked up at him. “And Robert… I should tell you I’m sorry, too… even though I just said it for like an hour while you were spanking me.”

He chuckled slightly.

“But I really am. I shouldn’t have been mean to you today. And I’ll try to do better.”

He ruffled my hair and said, “I know you will.”

I wiped the rest of my tears away and skipped downstairs where I hugged Daniel and apologized to him, too, snuggling up on the couch next to him. And the four of us watched tv together like a big happy family, which I’m not entirely sure we’d done before then.

A few days later, the students of Lincoln Middle School submitted the petition to end random searches with Cam’s dad behind us. They weren’t automatically banned like we’d hoped for, but at least it was a start. And Mr. Sullivan had promised us that there would eventually be results, even if it wasn’t until we were in high school.

Oh, and I apologized to Mr. Shevins, who, as always, was delighted to see me in his office for something other than being in trouble. We had a mini-counseling session and it was fantastic, and then he sent me on my way as I promised for sure that it’d be the last time he saw me in his office during my seventh grade year.

———–

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