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  • Writer's pictureMind to Performance

Brookes' Mindset Journey - Chapter 6: Rock Bottom

The door clicked shut behind him. Brookes could barely breathe. Sitting at her desk, Principal O’Malley peered at him over her glasses. Seated to her right was his math teacher, an unreadable expression on his face. And to Brookes’ absolute horror, standing toward the corner of the room was his mom, arms crossed. “Welcome Brookes,” began his principal, “let’s keep this short; I’ve got everyone on my back to make a decision about this snow.” She gestured to a chair in front of him. “We seem to have contradictory accounts and I’m hoping you can shed some light to the truth.” Brookes swallowed, suddenly aware that there was a good chance everyone in the room heard it.

As Brookes spoke, he felt his voice uncontrollably begin to waver. He had no intention of crying, but the mounting pressure inside the principal’s office had begun to make him feel less in control of…well of everything. Any quickly planned defense abruptly jumped ship and Brookes was left alone with his sickening lie. Then the dam broke; hot tears ran down his cheeks as the real truth came tumbling out. Humiliation was an understatement. Not only did he just admit he was a liar, but a literal stream of snot had made its way to his chin. Brookes felt utterly ashamed. But most of all, he felt embarrassed for his mom. This was all his doing, and he couldn’t begin to imagine what she was thinking. He silently prayed she didn’t hate him.

As the meeting closed, Principal O’Malley informed them she would be sending the kids home early, so they could head out together if they wanted. For once, Brookes wished he could take the bus. But the decision was not his to make. As they passed locker after locker on the way to the guest lot, Brookes wished he could just disappear. If they could just make it outside before his principal released the students… seeing their glee-filled faces would be simply too much in this moment. Just as they opened the parking lot door, he heard the intercom once again crackle to life.

Sitting in the car for the drive home was no better than the long walk through the halls. The atmosphere was suffocating, and Brookes could feel his mom’s hot anger radiating from her body. Nothing was decided in the meeting. Judgement was to be considered over the weekend, with his mom set to receive a call from the school on Monday. That was the worst-case scenario for Brookes, as this historic winter storm was all but ruined. He just wanted to shift the blame to something, anything but him. No. That was what got him into this mess. He made a forceful mental decision to stop pushing the fault away; instead he committed right then and there to take responsibility for his actions. Brookes felt a glimmer of hope deep, deep down in the pit of his swirling anxiety. Oh, how he wished he’d made this breakthrough a few days ago.

“I’m gone for a few months and the world starts tumbling down, huh? I didn’t know you needed me so much, baby bro.” Brookes couldn’t help but feel a smile creep onto his face, albeit a tiny one. Stevie always had a way with good-hearted razzing, and he didn’t know how much he missed it. “You really outdid yourself this time.” It felt good to get his whole story out, from start to finish. And while his sis would throw a couple jabs in here and there, Brookes knew she would always have his back, no matter what. They talked on the phone for over an hour; his mood slowly improved minute by minute, until they were both chuckling about some nonsensical pickles Stevie had gotten herself into over the years. She even shared one or two that Brookes had never heard before. As their conversation slowed to a close, Stevie became serious, “You will get through this, Brookes. Don’t forget the promise you made yourself in the car – it’s up to you and only you to make things right. Who knows, your little lie could help shape you into being a better person down the road. Love you bro.” And that was that.

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