“Ella was in control when cell phones were the new cigarettes, power was shifting from countries to companies, and lakes had started to glow in the dark. Caffeine injected a sense of authority to her sentences, and, on this Monday morning, she was reviewing what changes had occurred in the social landscape: Which relationships had been sparked on Friday (new couples sharing new-relationship-energy photos online); which had burned over drunken argument on Saturday (ending with status updates that either alluded to the unfairness of the world or how happy they were); and which had fizzled off on Sunday afternoon, like a match. Kate, Ella’s ally, shared key information on someone’s after-party, providing details that helped to secure her control of school social circles through words- leaking stories to the right people. The strands of Ella’s black hair moved with the wind of the road after breakfast, making a lap of the town in Kate’s mothers’ car before smoking in the parking lot with her entourage- allies who stayed physically close to her body as if her social status might brush onto them, like glitter. Information leaked by another group was dominating conversations, something about what had happened in a nearby forest, and Ella was uncharacteristically silent. They were late to class.
Hear about the tree? said Cole, turning in his desk.
The blue one?
Yep, she said.
Jay told me that someone spray-painted it-
Cole curved his cheeks to smile, thinking: I look like an idiot. He turned back to his desk. He thought about what he should have said. The plastic of his seat was stiff. Ella’s rival smiled at him from across the room. The lights of the class flickered. He wanted to learn how to organize his sentences so that they would make women sweat. He considered laughing at everything, like Jay did, because Jay was always laughing and in relationships.
How sad is it that I have to treat you like four year olds? said Ms. Black.
Pretty rough, said Jay. The class laughed.
Ella, Kate, and Cole were called to the front. Ms. Black prepared the camera – the girls were smirking. She motioned for Ella to stand over the painted rectangle. Boos came from the back of the class, and students were sent to the office. Ella was given the sheet. Cole was not smiling. She read:Saint Assisi’s is a community of communities. Our students come from different regions to bring different skills, talents and backgrounds together for a cultured learning experience.I want Saint Assisi’s to stay safe so that we can learn together for success in all our different futures. This is why I am making a pledge to wear my uniform without alteration, with pride and with confidence.Differences are a threat to safety, and safety is the foundation of success- a single, uniform student body will mean success and enlightenment for all the unique students of Saint Assisi’s Catholic Collegiate in Merrickville -Wolford.
Cole took a while to start, as though he was making the confession under duress, and, upon seeing the audience, hearing Ella’s words bounce between walls, regretted having ever agreed to anything. He wanted a flatness of sound where phone dings are replaced by rustling leaves, creaking trees. He wanted to sit on a fence with a beer. He wanted to sit by a fire and watch embers crumble yellow. He took a breath. The teacher was watching. Ella was watching. Everybody was watching, it seemed, with the camera recording. Tomorrow’s community was watching. He took a breath.”
Chapter 2 (page 2), Dumb Dragon, © L. Lachance 1995:
“Once in Foodville, me and Connor were walking on Tomato Street when Kyle came running and said, “Watch out, one wave of tomato is coming.”