Prompts: (I never got there, again)

  1. You don’t want to go right, you want to go left
  2. The bells, the bells
  3. Look! It’s a roller coaster!


Eugenia Parsniffle was nobody’s idea of the perfect teacher, but then nobody ever accused those of us in her classes of being perfect students, either. For one thing, not one of us wanted to be there. In my case, at least, my parents had finally decided it was time for their tomboy daughter to embrace a little charm and decorum. How else would I ever attract a nice young man to take me off their hands?

The enrolled me in Miss Parsniffle’s school when I was thirteen. My mother tried to tell me it was a reward for something wonderful I’d done, but she never quite told me what the great deed was, and I was pretty sure she was just waiting for something that might qualify to come up.

“You’re going to love it there, Pip” my mother said. “The Modern Academy for Young Ladies of Breeding is well-known as a marvelous place to develop your more genteel qualities. And I’ve been assured that Miss Parsniffle will take a particular interest in your case.”

Ah, there it was. In just those three sentences my parent had given me all the reasons I needed to hate that place.

A girls’ school, for cryin’ out loud! And charm and breeding and all that stuff? No way! Not for this kid.

“I’m not going,” I protested. “You can push bamboo sticks under my fingernails. You can hold my hand over a hot stove. You can hide my baseball equipment. No matter what torture you think up, I’m going back to Whitehead Junior High and that’s that?”

Unfortunately, my father joined the fray at that point, and I was lost.

“Patricia Isabel Pratt, you will go to Miss What’s-her-name’s Modern Academy and you will give it a fair chance. Is that understood?”

Now I could usually work my way around Mom, but Dad and I came to an understanding early on. If I didn’t like his decision about something, I was allowed to raise an objection and he—most of the time—would consider my point of view. I respected him for that, so I also went along with the corollary: if he insisted on whatever it was, I’d shut up and give it a chance before reiterating my complaint. Overall, it worked as well as anything.

This time, Dad insisted, and so I found myself, in a dress if you can believe that, and wearing a name tag that said “Hello, I’m Patricia I. Pratt.” I planned to mark out everything except “I’m PIP” as soon as the parents shook hands with Miss Parsniffle and left the premises.

There were more than a dozen of us in the same condition that day, and if the rest of them were as uncomfortable in their dresses as I was in mine, the school term was off to a lousy start.