She walked into the school room. She looked out of place.
“Don’t sit by me,” I whispered. “Find some other space.”
She was totally disheveled from her head down to her feet.
There was not one thing about her that resembled clean or neat.
She looked my way and I knew at once that she could see me staring.
I guess it might have looked to her like I was rudely glaring.
She had no pride or money one who saw her would assume.
Thankfully, she chose a desk on the far side of the room.
She said, “Excuse me teacher. “I know I look a mess.
I had no time to bathe or put on a nice clean dress.
Late into the night, we heard someone knocking at our door.
A little neighbor asked us to watch, Joe, her Labrador.
A fire was burning in her house and the fire truck was coming.
When the siren started blaring, she knew Joe would take off running.
Mamma held onto Joe and I followed the little waif.
She went to watch the fire and I had to keep her safe.
The house burned to the ground as if it was made of paper-mache.
The family and Joe went to their Grandma’s house to stay.
We just moved to town and it’s my first day at this school.
Though I was late today, I almost never break a rule.
Thank you for your gift of time. I wanted to explain.
Though to worry about my dirty dress will make me appear vain.”
When she sat down at her desk, she looked calmer than before.
I turned my eyes away and began staring at the floor.
I could almost hear the stern voice of my otherwise sweet mother.
“Whatever you surmise, you must never judge another.”
That girl and I are friends, now. The awkward day… we never mention.
I learned my lesson well without further intervention.