In the Principal’s Office at Saint Agnes Catholic School
Unofficial Transcript, 3/28/18
18 Hours Post-Incident
SAMANTHA CONROY, 9:13 A.M.
PRINCIPAL: Please tell me what happened with your friends yesterday.
SAM: Well, we were on the school bus. The group three bus, I mean. I’ve been in group three since third grade when they changed the groups. Before that, I was in the blue group. And María— do you know María? She just started this year, so she was never in the blue group. She was reading this book.
María’s obsessed with books. The librarian likes her a lot so she’s allowed in the sections that the rest of us fourth graders aren’t. Some people don't think that’s fair, but María says her parents had to sign permission slips and be very official, so they probably earned it. María’s parents are weird. I think it’s because they’re not real parents, just adopted ones. My dad says they’re bleeding hearts, which sounds like it hurts a lot, but I guess it just means they want to help people too much, which seems good but—
MARÍA MOORE, 8:29 A.M.
MARIA: Miss Adeyemi isn’t in trouble, is she? I went to look for her in the library, but she wasn’t there.
PRINCIPAL: Well, María, I’m afraid I can’t talk to you about that.
But ma’am, she followed all the rules. I had a permission slip and everything.
Unfortunately, the permission slip is not the issue. I’m not certain that book should’ve been in the library in the first place.
But I don’t even think it’s a dirty book, not really. It’s just that one part, and even that one part isn’t that dirty, I promise. She’s the best librarian I’ve ever had, ma’am.
Please stay on topic, Samantha.
Sam. My name’s Sam.
Okay then. Please stay on topic, Sam.
Where was I?
The group three bus.
Oh, yeah. So we were sitting on the bus like we always do. Well, ‘we’ is María, me, and Kara. Kara is my best friend. María’s our friend too. She’s mostly my friend though, because Kara doesn’t like her very much. But María’s real smart, and she helps me with my math homework, so I like it when she’s around. And I can usually keep Kara from being too mean.
But not today?
Well, today was different. Because María had the book.
I don’t remember what it was called.
So why was it special?
It was a book for older girls. She got it from their part of the library. It had a cool cover with a forest and like flowers and stuff. And… well, there was doing it in it.
And you know that’s very bad for young girls to read?
KARA BLAKE, 10:04 A.M.
PRINCIPAL: Do you know why you’re here, Kara?
KARA: Because María’s a dumb baby and the bus driver’s a tattle-tale.
We don’t say dumb here.
Well, my dad says I’m ensigned to free speech, so I can say dumb. Because we live in America.
The word is entitled, Kara. And free speech doesn’t count in the principal’s office.
Fine! María’s a not-dumb baby who can’t even read a big girl book without chickening out. Can I go now?
I forgot where I was again.
María had the book.
Oh yeah, María had the book. She didn’t tell us about it or anything. She just checked it out because she had the permission slip. But Kara heard the librarian tell her the book had ‘sensitive content,’ and then when we asked María about it she got all red and wouldn’t say. So we had to guess, and when we guessed you-know-what she didn’t say no, so we knew that was what it had to be.
And then Kara told María she had to read it for us on the bus, and María got even more embarrassed. Usually I would tell Kara to stop, but I kind of wanted to hear it too. I know that’s pretty much a sin, but I’ve never heard anything about it and I just wanted to. So I didn’t say anything.
What happened when María read the book, Sam?
Well, we all sat real close. Not that I was worried about getting in trouble with the bus driver because— no offense, ma’am, but he’s kinda old and can’t hear much. Except María was nervous and she never talks loud anyway, so she basically whispered.
At first the book was kind of boring, just a girl getting invited to a party. So Kara told her to skip to the good stuff, which happened at the party. And there was a boy who was in a room with a girl, and then, before he could touch her… private parts, Maria turned really white. And that’s hard because she’s— you know. And her voice got so low we couldn’t even hear her. She looked kind of scary actually. And I was nervous, especially because Kara was getting all mad at her.
Why did you want to read the book, Kara?
Because I wanted to know what it would say.
Why did you want to know?
Kara, why do you want to know about sex?
I already know about sex. My older sister tells me. But I kind of wanted to know without her too. Because sometimes she thinks I’m humongously ignorant and laughs at me and stuff.
Okay. Thank you for answering my question. Now, can you tell me why you took the book?
María wouldn't read it anymore.
Because it was inappropriate?
No, because she likes knowing more than everybody else. That's why she asked Miss Adeyemi for a special book.
That's not true, Kara.
Well, you don't know her. She's always rubbing being smart in my face and trying to steal my friends.
How could she possibly steal your friends?
Well, Sam and I are best friends. She couldn't steal her. But she tries. And she makes Sam think she's all smart when she doesn't even know about sex or boys or Zayn Malik.
Besides, I don’t think the book thing was even Miss Adeyemi’s fault. I’m the one who broke my promise.
What was your promise?
I promised I wouldn’t share the book with anybody. My parents even reminded me when they signed the permission slip.
Then why did you read the book to your friends?
Kara told me to, ma’am. And my mom says I’m shy, which means I have trouble standing up for myself. Even standing up for Miss Adeyemi like this is hard, but my dad says it’s important to go to bat for what you believe in, and I—
That’s enough, María.
Is that when Kara grabbed the book from María?
Yeah. She reached over me to where María was by the window and grabbed it right out of her hands. She wrinkled the pages and everything.
What did she do with the book?
She started reading it. Well, she was trying. But María grabbed her arm and was pulling it, trying to get the book back. It made me feel worried because I’d never seen María lay a finger on anybody, even when we play war at recess. But she did, and they were fighting, and Kara was kind of shouting like she does, so people started looking. And I got embarrassed, reading a sexy book in front of everybody, so I told Kara to shut up. And I know that’s bad, but so is yelling about a girl’s private parts, so I think—
What happened next, Sam?
Well, Jordan— you know Jordan, right? She’s in eighth grade, and she always has the really rolled-up skirt hem. I bet you see her a lot. She was sitting across the aisle by herself, and she looked at us all annoyed. So María got embarrassed and let Kara go. But Kara had been pulling away really hard, and she fell into the aisle.
Jordan laughed kind of mean when Kara fell down, and she grabbed the book right out of her hands. The pages were extra wrinkled then. She looked at it like she was gonna make fun of it or something. Jordan’s sort of nasty that way. Kara’s sister says she doesn’t have friends be—
Okay, okay, I’m sorry. So she had the book. And she looked at it all annoyed, but then she got serious like María did. Except I think she was still mad, because her hands were shaking when she held it. And she said “why the f-word are you reading this?”
How did you feel about what Jordan said?
I thought it was really responsible of her, but I wish she hadn’t said a curse word.
What was responsible?
She told us we were too young to read the book and that it wasn’t funny, which is what I thought the whole time, ma’am. But then Kara got real mad and said some not-nice things about Jordan having s-e-x with a boy. Except I don’t think Jordan would do that because she got sad when Kara told her she did.
She got sad?
Yeah. It sounded like she was mad, but I could tell she was sad because her eyes watered.
Why do you think she was sad?
I think she was sad because she knew about the book and because Kara was being so un-Christian.
Why did you say those things about Jordan?
She was trying to put her nose in my business.
And that bothered you?
Yeah. She’s a know-it-all just like María, and she’s a hypocritical. She told us we were too young to read it, but everyone knows she had sex with a high school boy when she was just in seventh grade, so I don’t think she should be telling anyone they’re too young for anything.
Everyone in your grade knows this?
No, just the older kids do. My sister told me. She did it at a party and there was drinking and everything.
Your sister told you something like that?
Well, I heard her talking to her friend about it. But she would’ve told me. She tells me everything because she knows I’m mature.
What happened after Kara yelled at Jordan?
Jordan’s face got kinda red. And her hands were still shaking ‘cause she was so mad. And she told Kara that she didn’t know what she was talking about and she was too stupid to even know what she was reading. See, that’s what I meant about Jordan being kinda nasty sometimes. So then she looked at the book and she looked at María, who was almost crying. I think María had a hard day ‘cause she broke so many rules when before she’d broken none. And Jordan’s voice got a little soft and she said “you know why reading this book isn’t funny, right?” And María said “yes.” So Jordan told María she would give her the book back after Kara got off the bus, but then Kara got even madder. And then the bus driver yelled back at us because I guess he wasn’t as deaf as I thought, and then he told on us and now today I’m here.
What do you think Jordan meant?
When she said reading the book wasn’t funny.
I think she meant that we shouldn’t read it because there was making love in it.
She meant that we weren’t old enough. She was being concerted.
She meant that the book wasn’t about something nice. And that it wasn’t good to read unless you were being serious. That’s what my parents said. And Miss Adeyemi. Miss Adeyemi talked to me about it for a long time, ma’am, that’s why she shouldn’t be—
María. Why wasn’t reading the book funny?
Because it was about a girl who didn’t want to have s-e-x with a boy. And how that happens sometimes. But I swear, ma’am— Miss Adeyemi didn’t give it to me to be funny.