Trying to get the final edition of the literary magazine out before we all lose our sanity has proven to be a major challenge for my staff and me. Both my poetry and fiction editors are seniors; they are inundated with pretty heady stuff this time of year: college scholarships, bigass papers, prom, the musical, and naturally, each is also an officer in at least one other school organization. Beth and Michelle also work at least 15 hours a week at an outside job, take all honors and Advanced Placement courses, and as a result of all this, are chronically sleep-deprived.
For the past couple of weeks, we've been stealing periods here and there and time after school to read submissions, edit, type, and do the graphics for what will be our last issue. I ply them with chocolate and sneak them coffee from the lounge when their energy shows signs of flagging.
Recently, Michelle was reading a piece of short fiction and crabbing about the typos and spelling. "Why is this so hard?" she moaned. She picked up my red pen and circled the word "tong" in the story. "Tongue!" she yelled. "Tongue! Not tong!" Angrily above the misspelled word, she wrote t-o-u-n-g-e.
"Er, Michelle?" I said. "It's t-o-n-g-u-e."
Michelle looked at me, stunned. Then she folded her arms on my desk and buried her face in them. From the depths I heard a muffled voice, "Oh God. Maybe I should take a writing course before I sign up for this gig."
On Friday, Beth sat down at my computer to do the page layouts. Suddenly, she was overcome with a fit of sneezing. Michelle and I blessed her a few times, but soon it became not only tedious, but pointless. She was going to sneeze, that's all there was to it, and we had work to do. Finally, I said, "Geeze, Beth! What the heck?"
"I'm sorry, Mrs. D.," she said. "I have some kind of allergies. I'm not sick."
"Well, you're really pissing us off," Michelle pointed out. "We have a crapload of work to do, and you're no fun."
"Honestly," I agreed. "It's very selfish. Here we are, stuck on a Friday with all this junk to read and edit, getting punchy, and you're sneezing for apparently no reason."
"It happens every time I go into a building," Beth said. "When I'm outside, I'm fine."
"What the heck kind of dumb allergy is that?" Michelle sneered.
"Apparently, Beth has an edifice complex," I said triumphantly, and high-fived my appreciative staff.
I'm gonna miss these girls.