Young Adult Fiction posted June 6, 2011 Chapters:  ...10 11 -12- 13... 

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The writing club first official meeting

A chapter in the book Tanisha's Way

Another Stray

by Deejharrington

Tanisha a young girl in the sixth grade who becomes friends with a seventh grader named Spooky, aka Samantha. They are both very excited to discover the school has started an after-school writing club
Tanisha and Spooky walked down the hall to Mrs. Penney's room. Spooky was excited to do her presentation on Walt Whitman. She hadn't stopped talking about it since it was assigned. In confidence, she had told Tanisha she had a costume and was going to deliver the whole thing as Walt. She giggled in anticipation.

Tanisha didn't share her friend's enthusiasm. She wiped her sweaty hands on her blue jeans for the hundredth time. Though she had spent hours memorizing her speech, she clutched her 3x5 cards like a lifeline. Tanisha just hoped she hadn't smeared the ink and made them unreadable. She could feel her legs shaking and they weren't even at the room yet.

When they reached Mrs. Penney's room, they noticed the desks had been rearranged into a horseshoe shape. A lot of the kids were already there. Tanisha looked over the kids and Spooky found them places to sit.

Most of the group were seated together toward the back of the room. The first desk was occupied by a tall, thin, very dark skinned girl in an old faded dress. It looked like it had come from the Salvation Army. Tanisha thought, 'Been there, done that.' Her nappy hair was done in bunches of braids with colorful clips at the ends. The girl was seated all alone. Looking back at the rest of the group, Tanisha had the feeling they were snickering and laughing at this girl.

Spooky had claimed the desk next to this girl. Tanisha had no choice but to take the other seat. Spooky was trying to talk to the girl. She wasn't having much luck in the way of answers. The girl kept her eyes down and her hands clenched in her lap. When Tanisha sat down, Spooky had learned her name was Lucy but not much else. Tanisha thought if anyone could get someone to open up, it was Spooky. But she wasn't having much success. All Spooky's questions were answered with single syllable words. Tanisha could feel the fear and distrust Lucy was broadcasting from where she was sitting. But Spooky didn't give up. She asked Lucy about her report. "Langston Hughes," Lucy said. It was the longest sentence she had spoken.

It suddenly occurred to Tanisha why the situation felt familiar. " Oh, no! Not another Walter!" she said aloud. Spooky and Lucy looked at her, but she brushed them off, "It's nothing, just practicing my report."

Mrs. Penney walked to the front of the room. "Good afternoon, everybody. I hope everyone is ready with their reports. I'm very anxious to hear what all of you found. Who wants to go first?" A few hands went up. "John, come on down!"

A nervous laughter rippled through the group. A tall white boy ambled up to the podium. His report was on a poet Tanisha had never heard of, so she listened closely. She figured the more she learned about the experts, the better her own writing could become.

One by one, the class gave their reports. Spooky was busy taking notes and Tanisha listened intently.

Next it was Spooky's turn. She walked up to the podium and gave a big smile to the whole room. She turned her back and dug into a large bag she had brought with her. When she turned back to the class, she had on a baggy men's suit jacket, a long grey wig, and a scraggly beard. In a gravely voice, she began.
"Hello, kids. I'm Walt Whitman. I was born on May 31, 1819. So, I guess that makes me very old." The group giggled. "I left school at age eleven to help support my family. With nine brothers and sisters, my parents needed all the help they could get. At age seventeen, I started teaching in a one room school house. I let my students call me my by first name, which caused a stir. I moved to journalism and started writing with probably my best known poem, 'Leaves of Grass.' I must admit it caused quite an uproar in the writing community. Even my good friend, Emerson, thought it was an illusion."

Tanisha saw that her good friend was a natural born actress. Spooky aka Walt, had the whole group fascinated. She then began to recite one of his poems.
'THIS is thy hour O soul, thy free flight into the wordless,/ Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done./ Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing,pondering the themes thou lovest best./ Night, sleep, and the stars.'

The room was silent for a eerie moment, until Mrs. Penney started to clap. The rest joined in and applauded. Spooky took a bow and went back to her seat.
She pulled off her wig and beard. "Boy, am I glad to get those off. They itched like a bit..., like crazy!"

Tanisha looked at her BFF with new eyes. "That was terrific! How anyone is going to top that, I don't know. You did a great job. Even Mrs. Penney was impressed. "Spooky blushed and thanked Tanisha. But she didn't have time to say more. Mrs. Penney called Tanisha's name next.

Of course, I would be called next,' Tanisha thought to herself. 'Well, here it goes." She started her report with the basic facts on Emily Bronte. "Emily is considered the greatest writer among her sisters, Charlotte and Anne. She published only one novel,'Wuthering Heights.' Tanisha could feel her audience growing restless with all these dry facts. So, she quickly finished the bio part and went right to the poem.

"The poem I choose is called, 'A Little While, A Little While.' A little while, a little while,/The weary task is put away,/And I can sing and I can smile,/Alike, while I have holiday./Why wilt thou go, my harassed heart,/What thought, what scene invites thee now?/What spot, or near or far,/Has rest for thee, my weary brow?...'

While Tanisha continued, Spooky glanced at the group. They had stopped fidgeting and grew quiet. They were listening to the words of the poem and the full-hearted way Tanisha was reading it. Her voice put all the emotion she had into the verses.
When she was finished, the class clapped without being urged.

Mrs. Penney congratulated Tanisha and said it was a wonderful reading. "Now, who's left?" No one raised their hands. A voice from the back of the room said, "Loony Lucy hasn't done her report." The group laughed. Tanisha and Spooky gave the room dirty looks, and Lucy seemed to go deeper into her chair.

Though she didn't look pleased, Mrs. Penney didn't reprimand the person who made the rude remark. "That's right. Lucy, it's your turn."

As Lucy slowly made her way to the podium, there were more snickers and calls of "loser Lucy" and "loony Lucy." By the time she got to the front of the room, her nervousness showed and her eyes were shiny. " poet...."
Someone began mocking her, "My,my my."Lucy tried to begin again, when all her notes cards fell off the podium and scattered all over the floor. The whole class erupted into gales of laughter.Mrs. Penney couldn't control the group. Lucy took one look at the class and ran out of the door, in tears. Spooky gave a dirty look to the group and followed her.

Tanisha stood up slowly, put her fists on her hips and gave the class her best Big Momma-ain't-happy look. "You are nothin' but a bunch of bullies! You should be ashamed of yourselves!" She turned on her heel and walked out the door.


Tanisha and Spooky are ready with their reports on famous poets, when they discover someone who needs their special help. A new character is introduced.
Please forgive me for not underlining the titles of poems, using regular editor I am not able to do that.
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