The Class Pet

By Laura King

It was Friday, the day that April and some of her classmates were going to change classes. Something about the school hiring a new teacher so she and her classmates didn’t have to be in a combo class was the reason they were changing mid-school year. April was just glad she was going to be in the same class as her friend, May. April and May were destined to be friends, at least according to their moms. Their moms met each other in Lamaze class and April and May shared the same birthday. Although neither looked like each other—April was a head shorter than May—they were the best of friends. They hung out during school, on the weekend, and practically every spare moment they had. Occasionally they got into minor disagreements with each other, but mostly were inseparable.

April was cleaning out her desk and held up some cursive papers.

Do you think I need these for Ms. McConnell’s class?” She asked May.

May shrugged. “I don’t think so. Gabby said that Ms. McConnell is much nicer and doesn’t make us write cursive.”

April looked around to make sure no one was standing close to them. “I hope that Kenny’s not going to be in our class. He keeps making these jokes about how short I am, and it’s hurting my feelings.”

I don’t think so, but I can protect you if he is in our class,” May said.

April and May realized that in the time they were talking the class started moving a couple doors down to the new classroom. In the hallway, April saw Kenny walking toward the new room and her head shrugged down. May whispered, “It’s going to be okay.”

Kenny, red haired and pimple faced, was the biggest kid in fifth grade. Like May, Kenny was also in the same classes as April. He was her biggest challenge; he would tease her about her height, make jokes about things she liked, and say obnoxious things after she would answer a question in class. April saw that Ms. McConnell was in the front of the classroom alone and thought it was the perfect opportunity to talk about the seating arrangement.

Hi, Ms. McConnell. I’m April. I want to see if it’s possible not to sit next to Kenny. He always teases me and I don’t want to sit next to him.”

She nodded. “Hi April. Of course. I’m going to let everyone choose their own seat, so don’t worry.”

April thought that Ms. McConnell seemed like a nice teacher. She reminded April of herself—she had light hair like April and wasn’t very tall.

After the class settled in the new room, everyone picked out their seats. April sat next to May and her friend Gabby. Gabby was mutual friend to both April and May, but hung out with April more often. One Halloween, April and Gabby dressed up as a salt and pepper set, and May showed up to school as a salt shaker, too. It wasn’t that Gabby and April wanted to exclude May, but it was something they saw in a magazine with two people, and they wanted to have the costume with just two people. April’s mom reassured her that May just needed a friend.

“Do you want to eat lunch together?” May asked April.

April said, “I guess. I want to play tag with Gabby, but I can eat before. I’ll meet you at the lunch benches.”

“Okay, I have to go buy something from the cafeteria,” May said. Ms. McConnell prompted them to stop talking so they could take care of some class business.

She introduced herself, talked about the classroom rules, and invited any questions from the class.

Kenny shouted out without raising his hand, “Can we get a class pet?”

The teacher said, “Let me make a list of ideas on the board. Please raise your hands if you have any suggestions.”

All kinds of animals were being thrown around like getting a class snake, rabbit, hamster, goldfish, bird, and mouse.

Kenny blurted out again, “My uncle knows someone who is selling ferrets. Can we get a class ferret?”

“Can you please raise your hand, Kenny?” Ms. McConnell said. “I’ll put down your suggestion of ferret to the board.”

Kenny’s mentioning the word ferret reminded April of the last time she was at the vet. They took her dog in for vaccinations and while waiting, April looked through a magazine about animals. There was an article about how some ferrets were carriers of rabies and they were illegal to keep as pets.

At lunch, April went to talk to Ms. McConnell about the ferret situation.

“Ms. McConnell, we can’t get a ferret. They carry rabies. I read an article about them being illegal. We just can’t,” April was so worked up that she started crying.

Ms. McConnell hugged her. “Don’t worry, we don’t have to get a ferret for the class. You are right, they are dangerous. For right now, don’t cry. Go enjoy your lunch.”

April felt better knowing that her class couldn’t get an animal that would cause harm to them. She ran out to the field to find Gabby, figuring that May would just meet her out on the field.

After the lunch bell rang, May found April in the grass area by their class. “Why didn’t you meet me for lunch?”

“I don’t know. I figured you would just eat and meet me later.”

“But you said you were going to eat with me,” May said.

“I don’t know. I just wasn’t hungry. Sorry you waited.” April said.

May wasn’t talking to April after they sat down. She pulled her chair as far away from April as she could.

Ms. McConnell announced to the class that they were going to take a vote about what their class pet was going to be. “April came up to me after class and reminded me that ferrets are dangerous animals and can carry bad diseases, so I’m going to remove them from the list.”

Why do you have to ruin it for everyone, shorty pants?” Kenny shouted from across the room.

All of April’s classmates turned in her direction and looked at her. Her cheeks felt warm and she wanted to run away.

Kenny,” the teacher said. “April did not ruin anything. She brought up a valid reason as to why we shouldn’t get a ferret as a pet. The school wouldn’t allow it and it’s not safe.”

When the school day was over, April noticed May didn’t say bye to her. By the time April reached the end of the ramp where her mom was waiting to pick her up, she was having a hard time holding her tears in.

What’s wrong?” Her mom said.

In between sobs, April managed to say, “I told the teacher about ferrets and how they were dangerous. The class thinks I ruined it for them. May hates me because I didn’t have lunch with her. Everybody hates me!”

Her mom hugged her. “Honey, I don’t think your class hates you. I’m sure they will forget about this. And I don’t think May hates you either. I’m sure she was just sad that you didn’t eat with her.”

April smiled. She felt like things might get easier.

A few weeks had gone by, and although most of the class seemed to forget about getting a class pet, May still wasn’t talking to April. She told Gabby how she felt like May was being unfair, and she didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. Gabby assured April that May would most likely forget about the lunch incident soon. Later that day, May had to present her time capsule. One of the projects the class was working on was collecting items they would put in a time capsule. It related to the book they were about to read in class. May included items like the ‘bff’ necklace she shared with April and the bookmark April drew for May’s last birthday. She even smiled at April throughout her presentation.

“Are we friends again?” April asked May.

“I was always your friend. My feelings were just hurt.” May said.

“I’m sorry for hurting your feelings. I really wasn’t hungry though,” April said.

After May presented her time capsule, Kenny shared his. He brought in his snake to share with the class.

May turned to April. “ I hate snakes. Can we move to the back of the room? Do you think we can go to the bathroom?”

April tried seeing if she could get Ms. McConnell’s attention, but the teacher was busy holding the snake and making sure no one got hurt. There was a big group crowding the teacher, and April and May just kept backing up out of the circle. There was also a box with the skin Kenny’s snake shed being passed around. April turned her head for a second, and before she knew it, May was being passed the box. As soon as May held the box, she screamed and flew back in her chair. April ran up to her friend and helped her get up. May was laughing but soon her laughing turned to tears. Ms. McConnell allowed them to stand outside the classroom for a little while. The recess bell rang, and their classmates walked out, asking if May was okay.

“Boo,” Kenny said as he walked by April and May.

“You are such a mean person,” April screamed to him as he walked to the office.

May walked over to April and hugged her.