And, Chapter 2: School

And was hungry. She had forgotten to pack a lunch. All she could think about was But. In Trigonometry class, she couldn’t stand to think about math. The same went for Chemistry and English. She felt like everyone was always watching her. She knew that wasn’t true, but she couldn’t shake the feeling.

In the cafeteria, she spotted Comma. He was sitting with his buddies, eating a leftover ham sandwich. She walked over to him and said, “Let me have a couple bites–I forgot my lunch.” Comma dug his wallet out of his pocket. “Here’s five dollars,” he said, and handed her a five dollar bill. “You owe me eighteen dollars, now.” “Thanks!” she said. “I’ll pay you back tonight.”

And bought some greasy cheese pizza and some corn, a chocolate milk and an apple juice. It wasn’t gourmet, but it tasted pretty good. She didn’t usually sit with Comma, but today was an exception. Borrowing money always seemed to bond her to a person. She ate quietly and didn’t say a word until the bell rang. She was just drinking her last sip of apple juice. She hurried over to the trash can and dumped her lunch tray, then put the tray and the silverware on it onto the conveyor belt to the dishwasher.

And’s last two class periods of the day were both chorus. In the first period they warmed up their voices, did sight reading and went over difficult parts that they had trouble with. During the second period they practiced a broadway medley, and then split into groups to come up with choreography. Sometimes they went on field trips to retirement homes, during Christmastime they gave outdoor concerts, and at Valentine’s Day they did singing telegrams around school as a fundraiser.

After school, And and Comma met each other at the bus. Luckily, they got on before Cheese and his buddies, so they got their seats without any trouble. And sat next to the window. She opened it and felt the cool breeze. She enjoyed the warm sun on her face and dozed a little on the trip home. They got off a couple blocks from their house, which was as close as the bus stopped. And raised her hands in a hallelujah gesture and yelled, “Yea! But comes back tomorrow!” Comma smirked. He was sorta glad, too. His sister was always more agreeable when she was in love.

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And, Chapter 1: And and Comma

And was sad. But had been gone for three weeks. She got up from her bed and went down the hall, to her brother, Comma’s room. Comma was blow drying his hair into a feathery mess in the bathroom across the hall. He didn’t notice And pass by. And mistook Comma for her sister If, who usually hogs the bathroom. When And saw that Comma was not in his bedroom, she walked back to the bathroom. And said to Comma, “I miss But.”

Comma turned off the blow dryer and said, “What?” “I miss But,” And repeated. “He’s been gone for three weeks,” said And. “I understand, And. But he will be back tomorrow,” said Comma. “What if he doesn’t come to school tomorrow?” said And. Comma grimaced. “Oh, C’mon, And! You’re just making up things to worry about, now,” said Comma. And smiled. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. There’s no reason for But to not come to school.” And breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks, little bro. You’re always good at thinking rational,” said And.

And and Comma got on the bus that morning at their bus stop. As Comma made his way down the aisle of the bus, a pimply boy with big ears stuck his foot out to trip Comma. Comma was ready for it though, as the boy, whose name is Cheese, did the same thing every morning. Watch it, Cheese!” said Comma. Two boys, one short and round, the other tall and skinny, stood up, bending over, under the low roof. “What are you going to do about it, Comma?” the short one said. “I’m not in the mood for your crap today, Rock. Same to you, Block,” said Comma.

“Comma, please take a seat,” said the bus driver, whose name was Bounce. “Block and Rock, you two sit down.” By then Cheese had pulled his leg back in, not wanting to be reported by Bounce. “Hurry up!” said And to Comma. And was used to the shenanigans of these delinquents, and didn’t waste her breath on them. “I want to get this day over with!”

Helping the Salvation Army of Tallahassee

I’ve been working at the Salvation Army as a Social Services receptionist for about two months now. I greet visitors and let employees know when someone is there to see them. I answer the phone and forward calls to voicemail or let employees know they have a call. Also we have bread and pastries that people can take two items per day. And sometimes we have candy canes if they are donated.

In the area where I work, people come to get food, clothing vouchers for our thrift store, or hygiene kits. If they are transitioning from homelessness to a home and they have a letter from FEMA or Red Cross, or a caseworker, and they have a truck to move it, they can get furniture and kitchen items.

Salvation Army helps people do community service for legal restitution. They mostly help in the thrift store or the warehouse in the back and the basement. Salvation Army does emergency disaster relief, makes presentations on human trafficking, and recently are starting up a program called Pathway to Hope, which involves counseling and assistance for families.

Sometimes, like everyone, I get frustrated with all the bureaucracy. Because the Social Services are funded by grants, there are rules and limitations with regard to how often people can receive help and what kind of help they can receive. Everyone has to have photo identification and part of their social security number is entered into the computerized case managing system.

I’ve enjoyed working there, meeting new people, helping people in need and connecting professionals who do great work in our community. I hope that as I work there, I will become qualified to help people in more and better ways. I feel privileged to have this opportunity to participate in the charitable work that Salvation Army does.

A Beginning

Glide on my back, above the city.

Turn a corner, feet first.

Steam rises from the underground.

It begins to drizzle.

Pass through a mist,

At the entrance to the train station.

Closet caterpillars squirm on a leaf.

Butterflies emerge from cocoons.

Crickets chirp in the dark.

The sun begins to rise,

And birds sing a welcome song.

Another day begins.