It was another day in Room 13.
13—not my favorite number, but that’s how this school year rolled.
Unlucky from the get-go, as my dad often says.
But he’s usually talking about some football game he’s watching.
For me, it was unlucky in a lot of ways.
We had Mr. Jackson as our teacher.
He believed in writing.
A lot of writing.
He believed that if we sneezed, we should write about it.
And posters all over the room reminded us of how important it was to write.
There is no wrong way to start. Just grab a pen.
I am a writer.
Good writers practice.
It never ended with this guy.
The rest of us just didn’t want our hands to fall off.
And if you mentioned the computers in the lab for writing, he would shake his head and make some weird sound.
It sounded like, “Piffle”.
Anyway, today was unlucky in another way.
Our lunches were missing.
The whole barrel full of them. Gone.
And I was hungry.
The other kids were probably hungry too.
But, really, it was me I was worried about.
When it comes to food, that’s how it goes.
And I had missed my mid-morning snack.
Not a scheduled mid-morning snack like a lot of classrooms have.
Mr. Jackson didn’t believe in those.
So, on the way in from recess, I would snag my own snack.
A quick visit by my lunch bag, and—boom—granola bar in hand.
I’d crunch it up a little on the way to my desk and tear at the top.
And like clockwork, Mr. Jackson would start read aloud.
He’d be so wrapped up in James and the Giant Peach or any one of the Harry Potter books that it was clear sailing for me and my granola bar.
But, as I said, today was different.
Not a lunch bag in sight.
This was one of the few days when I wished I had a cafeteria account.
Something needed to be done.
“So, Mr. Jackson,” I said, “What are you going to do about our missing food?”
“Simple,” he said.”We’re going to write about it.”
Oh great. As if words will magically make my peanut-butter-and-apple-on-wheat to appear. And my bag of Doritos.
I’d take those Doritos over a steak any day.
Well, maybe not a steak, but you get the picture.
And in she walked. Emily Michaels. A sight for sore— and hungry—eyes.
She carried herself in just the right way.
A careful march toward Mr. Jackson’s desk.
Arms in exact position…
To carry six flat steaming boxes.
I knew those boxes. And I knew that smell.
Pizza from Gianni’s.
For all we cared, the missing lunches could be floating toward China.
“Happy birthday to me-e-e-ee!” said Emily, dropping the boxes, one arm at a time onto our teacher’s desk.
“But wait!” said Mr. Jackson. “We should write about this!”
Not a chance, Jackson. Not a chance.
We needed both hands for something more important.