Palmer and I spoon, sharing a pillow, sinuous slate plaits with silky sable.
My bare arm stretches out, one finger pressing snooze.
"Aren't you back today?"
Palmer nuzzles my nape, "I can tell you're excited to be starting Abel Harts PS. Up and at it. You're the principal. They need you. I'll go and press perk."
"Thanks. Love you."
"Love you more."
A brisk buss and the day begins.
My clothes constrain, clutching, and controlling; the tan trouser pants with berry button-down shirt feels like a costume. Where is the last year's freedom — cozy comfy casuals, time to travel?
"Maybe I should change."
"Charlotte! Stop this. You look great — You'll do great — Trust me — Trust yourself."
Abel Harts Public School, a beige block building, fields, flowers, freshness flourishes. A scarlet sedan, a tawny truck and a silver SUV — the Superintendent's — sit in silence beside my midnight mini.
My heels click on the ceramic tiles, across the foyer, left into the empty main office, right into my office, where Linnie Rhorer, laptop open on the round table, smiles up at me.
"Good morning Linnie. This is a surprise."
"Hello, Principal Bramlitt."
WHY is SHE here?
"Let me drop my bag and I'll join you. Have you been waiting long?"
Too bad if you have been waiting because you weren't EXPECTED!
"Not at all; I had some little jobs to do and this just suited me."
I clutch my laptop under my left arm, my right hand is moist, carrying a notebook and pen. Sliding onto a rigid red chair, flipping open my screen, top of my pen, book open with today's date, I raise my eyes, looking at Linnie's part.
I wonder if she knows she's due for a colour?
"You're set. Wow, aren't you efficient? I don't want to take too much of your time; however, I need to talk with you about a meeting and a phone call I have received from your parent community."
I haven't even started here and there are complaints already! SHIT!
With my hands below the table, I look down, blink away tears, pressing my palms onto my lap, after a belly breath, I gaze into her blue irises.
"A Mrs. Vergie Tristan called, most upset about your appointment. Seems Vergie was most impressed by your predecessor. I did agree with Vergie that Mai has a spectacular year; however, the community was aware she was in an 'acting' role for one year alone. I met with Ms. Charlyn Munderville, a parent worried about her special needs son's transition, specifically in light of the bond he developed with Mai."
I nod, swallow, force my shoulder back, my spine straight.
"Linnie, I don't know what to say in response. I haven't even started."
"Charlotte, I told both moms the board, I have complete confidence in your capabilities. I confirmed your credentials, convincing Vergie and Charlyn to contact you. Do you want to know what I'd if I were you?"