A Fortunate Mistake

She fumbled in her purse for a tissue to wipe her son’s nose. Before she could find it he sneezed again, sending a glob of snot down the front of his freshly ironed shirt. She sighed. So much for first impressions.

“Mommy, my nose is running,” he said.

“I know honey, hold on. Mommy is getting a tissue. NO! Don’t wipe it with your sleeve… oh hell. Where is that tissue?”

She felt her blood pressure rise as she continued to look for a tissue. Finally she settled on a shirt from her gym bag. She leaned into the backseat and cleaned up her son as best she could.

Seeing the cross look on his mother’s face, he said, “I am sorry mommy. I didn’t mean to.”

She felt a stab of guilt. She had been wound so tightly this week. Obviously at four years old he wasn’t too young to notice. She hadn’t meant to take it out on him.

She softened her face into a half-smile, saying, “I know sweetie, mommy is just in a hurry. I was hoping we could keep you somewhat clean for an hour. Oh well, we’ll just have to make do.”

She put her car into reverse and backed out of the driveway. The mechanical voice of the GPS system began to tell her what turns to make. She had 15 minutes to get to the appointment. The school was only 10 miles away, but who knew what traffic would be like on a Wednesday morning at nine? She sighed again, trying to release the tension in her shoulders.

She looked in the rear view mirror and saw a sweet cherub face staring out the window quietly. She wondered what was going through his mind. She felt a pang in her chest looking at him. His lips were downturned in sadness. It was hard on them both since his father passed away. That had been nearly a year ago. Now she was headed back to work for the first time since her son had been born. He had to get into this school. This interview was key.

“Turn right in 1.5 miles.”

Thank God for the invention of GPS. Her husband had always been the one to drive. She was horrible when it came to directions. She pulled into the parking lot on the visitor’s side. She unbuckled herself, grabbed her purse, and picked up the slip of paper with the principal’s name on it: Mr. Johanson.

They walked down the long quiet hall. The clicking of her heels seemed much louder than she would have liked. She held his hand so tightly he said, “ouch mommy!” Losening her grip, she looked at the office directory in the lobby. Mr. Johanson – Suite 300b.

They walked up the winding staircase. The school smelled like old books and wood polish. It was an old building. She remembered driving past it when she was a little girl. This was the first time she’d ever actually been inside. It was beautifully preserved, giving off the air of learning and seriousness. It was hard to imagine her little boy spending his days here. For the hundreth time, she wondered if she was doing the right thing. Did he really need any more change in his life? Did she?

She knocked on the door and heard a deep but friendly voice say, “Come in.”

She poked her head around the door and asked, “Mr. Johanson?”

“Yes, can I help you?”

She walked the rest of the way into the office, gently guiding her son by the hand. She was stunned into silence for a moment. The man sitting behind the desk had the warmest eyes she had ever seen, which led her directly to his smiling mouth and firm lips. Her first thought was “We didn’t have principals like him when I was in school or I would not have had a problem going each day.” She flushed at this thought, stammering, “I, uh, we have an appointment.”

“You do? Well I don’t see it in my calendar here. I’m not typically in the office on Wednesdays. But please do come in.”

“Oh goodness. I am so sorry. I confirmed with your secretary last week.”

“Don’t worry about it. I was just finishing up. If you don’t mind waiting one moment, I’ll be right with you. Why don’t you and the boy have a seat right there? I’ll only be a moment while I finish this email.” With a friendly gesture towards a comfortable seating area in the corner of the office, he turned back to his computer and began typing.

She led her son to the couch and they both sat down. She saw tissues on the table in front of her and handed one to her son so he could wipe his nose again. As she took deep breaths, she stared at the back of Mr. Johanson. Broad shoulders. Good posture. She could see his muscles through the soft blue dress shirt he was wearing. She suddenly wondered if his eyes were that same blue.

She shook her head to clear these inapproprate thoughts. She looked at her son and smoothed some errant hairs. He looked up at her with wide eyes, obviously intimidated by the formal office. She smile reassuringly to him although she felt a bit intimidated as well.

After a moment, Mr. Johanson stood up from his desk. He cleared his throat and joined them. He sat on a supple leather chair across from her. He looked directly into her eyes. A feeling of self-conciousness swept over her. She wished she had applied fresh lipstick before getting out of the car. Why didn’t she wear her hair up instead? She could feel her curls frizzing from the late summer humidity.

“So where were we? You said you had an appointment and my secretary carelessly forgot to mention it to me.” He chuckled and leaned comfortably back in the chair.

His eyes were the exact blue of his shirt! Her faced flushed. What was going on with her? She was acting like a school-girl. Trying to compose herself, she cleared her throat and began to speak. “I know we are late trying to register for the school year, but my husband died last fall and our life has been a bit disjointed since then.” She smiled slightly to keep him from interuppting with his condolences, as most people did at this point, and then continued to speak. “Orginally I had planned to homeschool my son until he was at least in third grade. However under our present circumstances, I find myself needing to return to work fulltime, so it’s no longer possible. I believe strongly in the importance of education and want my son to have the best one possible. Your pre-K program is the best in the county and I was hoping you would make an exception to your enrollment deadlines and let him be considered for your fall registration.”

She smiled and took a deep breath. Mr. Johanson was sitting back listening to her with calm interest. He didn’t give her an expression of pity like she was accustomed to. She was relieved by this, but also disconcerted. Did this mean he wouldn’t feel for her situation and allow them to enroll passed the deadline? She sat up straighter when he shifted his wieght on the chair and began to address her. He almost looked amused.

“Ms. ??”

“Lucille, erm, Lucy. You can just call me Lucy. This is my son Aiden.”

“Okay. Lucy. I think there must be a mix-up here.”

Alarm shot through her. What did he mean a mix-up? Her expression must have been clearly puzzled as he continued.

“I am the President of the school. Not the principal. Mr. Johnson, our principal, handles enrollments and registrations.”

A bright red flush ran up her face from her neck as she looked down at her hastily scribbled note. Why, yes, she could see now that it could have been “Johnson” instead of “Johanson.”

“Oh my goodness! I am terribly sorry. And we interrupted you! I am so mortified.” She scrambled to get up and gather her purse and son. She was flustered and realizing that she was now very late for her appointment with Mr. Johnson. She so badly wanted to make a good impression and now she had messed everything up. How typical of her. She could feel tears stinging the back of her eyes.

Mr. Johanson stood up when she did, but leaned towards her and put his hand on her shoulder. “No, please sit back down. I think I can help you.”

Tentatively she sat down. She was still flustered, but feeling defeated by her own mistake. Her son looked at her with confusion in his eyes.

“Hey buddy, you want a sucker? I have some in that drawer right over there. You can go get one if you want.”

Aiden looked at her, “May I mommy?”

“Yes dear, of course.”

She sighed and sat a little deeper into the couch. Her head was pounding. She must have looked exhausted. Mr. Johanson studied her. She was very attractive, despite the deep frown lines on her forehead and the grim set to her mouth. She also looked like she hadn’t slept well… there were dark circles under her eyes. He felt an instinctive need to help her.

Normally he didn’t get involved with the parents of the school. He left that to Mr. Johnson. However, Mr. Johnson was a man of strict routine, and he knew that he would not look into the eyes of this mother and feel sympathy for her situation. Likely he would enjoy telling her that she was too late to get her son into the school for the Fall.

“Ms… er, I mean Lucy. I know Mr. Johnson very well, and I have to say, he’s not a man to break rules. However, I can see you are in a difficult situation and your son has impeccible manners for a young man his age. I think I might be able to help persuade Mr. Johnson to making an exception in your case.”

It would probably cost him, if Mr. Johnson had anything to do with it. Johnson would not be persuaded easily. His mind wandered to the box of cubans he had in his desk drawer. They were saved for special occassions. Well, they might go a ways in tempting the principal to meet his request for this attractive young mother.

“You realize this is a highly academic school though, right? This is not a day care. While we have a extensive curriculum to exand the imaginations and culture of our students… it is about learning.”

“Yes sir. That’s why I am so set on having Aiden here. I have heard wonderful things about your school and feel it would be the best place for him. He’s a very serious and somber child that thrives on routine. Even before… well, even before our lives changed so drastically.”

Concern for her and Aiden showed in his eyes as he looked at the boy quietly staring out the window.

“You don’t think he would be better in an environement more prone to play and amusement?”

“Look at him Mr. Johanson… do you think he would fit in? In an environement like that? No, I am sure that this school is exactly what he needs.”

“Well then. I will speak with Mr. Johnson today and give you a call at the end of the week.” He stood and put out his hand to shake hers. She rose from the couch with a look of relief and gratitude in her eyes. She could feel a year’s worth of stress and tension release from her shoulders almost at once. And then when her hand touched his, a shock of electricity warmed her all over.

His hands were suprisingly calloused for a man that sat behind a desk all day.

He felt the same jolt at her touch and immediately felt the urge to hug her, although he’d just met her. Something protective within him wanted to give her more comfort and reassurance. But he didn’t want to be too forward and scare her away. Something in her eyes reminded him of a skittish doe.

He put his other hand on her as they shook, looked deep into her eyes and told her that everything was going to be just fine. Leave it to him.

Although she had just met him, she felt that she could trust him. For the first time in a long time, she really did feel like everything was going to be okay.

Last 5 posts by Miranda Krebbs

Last 5 posts by Miranda Krebbs