6:00 A.M. Prompt
“Ruined (Girl in Rain)”
by Kenya Jones

Wet cheeks. Hair. Clothes. Everything.
Water poured from her. It surrounded her.
She was crying, and so was the sky.

Mr. Haskins didn’t understand why the girl was sitting on the curb. She was planted square in the middle of a puddle in her nice dress with no raincoat or covering to speak of.

It was raining; pouring really. The sky had simply opened up, rather suddenly too. There may have been something in the forecast … he couldn’t remember now. Now he was distracted. Wondering what he should do about this girl and her upsettingly tardy mother. It was a bit late at night for him to still be in teacher mode. This situation confused him. And he didn’t know whether to react to it as a samaritan or disciplinarian.

They were back from a field trip. They had been to their city’s only concert hall and opera house to see Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Her favorite piece of music, he knew, had been “The Queen of Night Aria”. That was everyone’s favorite, especially young girls. It was iconic, and he’d wanted his students to experience vocal ability and prowess such as they might not ever have been aware of in their young lives. She’d had a lovely time, eyes wide and appreciative of what she was seeing. In the costumes and larger than life figures that stalked the stage. And she’d leaned forwards with her friends, listening intently, in awe of what she heard spilling from the souls of the skilled performers with heart and power.

What they had, here in the humble music room of Snowden Elementary, was a small concert choir slotted with burgeoning voices housing the potential for greatness such as those of which they had all had the pleasure of witnessing that night. Not even an hour past. The outing had been a success. The students were elated and inspired and talkative. He’d listened fondly to their chatter (and even gamely chimed in with his own professional, passionate take) on the bus on the way back to the school parking lot, which was the designated pick-up location for parents, naturally. That had been right. A good time.

Now however …

This girl – who’d been seemingly forgotten by a parent who neither showed on time, or answered a multitude of increasingly frantic calls – was brought low. So low, that she had sunk to her bottom on the edge of a high curb separating the awning covering the gym entrance (where he stood, Mr. Hastings, baffled as could be) and the cold black pavement of the parking lot.

The dress, becoming dark and dreary, soaked through by the rain, was nice. It was too short, and didn’t cover her ankles. But it had made her look lovely, like a young lady should on such occasions. Her hair, which had been twisted into a nice sort of ‘up-do’ as they say (his wife says) was falling in wet lumps down the side of her face and back of her neck. Her shoulders heaved. She was sobbing.

“Miss Rogers! Miss Rogers! Come out of the rain!”  Why had she gone to sit out there? He had no idea. What would he do with her? “I’ll take you home!”

She turned to him, her face a mask of shame and some inner pain he hadn’t been aware of the entire year he’d been teaching her. To further strengthen her already strong second soprano. To read sheet music. To harmonize. To listen to the others around her as well as herself. To lead her chorus with confidence so that they’d follow without hesitation. She looked at him and he could see such a broken spirit. His own shoulders fell helplessly.

“It’s ruined.” she said through her tears above the din of the rain hitting everything that surrounded them.

Yes, indeed, it was.

_____