*This #fridayflash piece comes from the world of Starred. Mary Beth Fischer is the antagonist, but I wrote a scene showing what drives her forward. Mary Beth is in 6th grade in this piece.*
Never Good Enough
“I got my report card today,” Mary Beth said, skipping into the kitchen with the enveloped report card.
“What did you get, sweetie?” Mama’s knife didn’t miss a beat as she chopped carrots.
“All A’s, except for one B.” I breathed in heady scent of yeast from the homemade bread. My stomach grumbled for dinner.
The knife clattered on the cutting board. A carrot piece bounced off it, fell upon the tiles, and rolled under the counter. The moisture fled my mouth when Mama whipped around and yanked the report card from my hands. Brown envelope shreds drifted to the floor, and Mama held the flimsy paper. I thought she would rip it apart, too, but she didn’t. She moved to the table and set it on top of it as she sank into the chair.
“One B in math. In math, Mary Beth. We went over and over it.”
There was a scuff upon my Mary Jane’s. I rubbed it along my tights. “I tried, Mama. I really did. I messed up on my fractions. I’m sorry.”
I didn’t move.
“I said ‘Come here.’”
My shoes clicked as I walked toward her. The scuff was still there. “Yes, Mama?”
She grabbed my chin and forced my eyes to meet hers. I wanted to look away, but I didn’t dare. She held on for a moment longer before releasing me into my shame.
“A "B" won’t make you valedictorian, Mary Beth. It won’t win you scholarships. You have so much potential to get out of this town, to do something with yourself. Don’t you want that?”
“Yes, Mama.” I liked New Castle. I loved the small town, but I knew if I told Mama that answer, it wouldn’t be good. She wanted me to better myself. Live in a big city like Roanoke or Richmond.
“Good. Now go up to your room and study that math. I’ll call you down for supper later.” She kissed my cheek and smelled of vanilla.
“Yes, Mama.” I wanted to be a big fish in a small pond.
Instead, I went upstairs to study math.