Stacey Daisy staggered under a precarious pile of gift boxes, packages, and bags as she shoved her classroom door shut.
Holding on with all her might, she lurched down the hallway and tumbled into the teachers’ lounge, but her load got away from her. Back-to-school gifts scattered over the snack table, startling a group of coffee-drinking teachers. One seasoned fifth-grade teacher squinted at the pile and muttered, “apple crap.”
“What?” Stacey, a second year teacher, felt her eyes mist over as she surveyed the pile of gifts. She brought her right hand to her heart as she searched through the pile. “Look, Lucas-with-the-perpetually-runny-nose gave me this,” she held up a scarf with ‘No. 1 Teacher’ with a string of appliqué apples woven across it.
“Got 50 of those at home,” was the response.
Undaunted, she continued. “Well, I like my crystal apple pin from Vanessa-always-dresses-as-a-princess.” She sighed with happiness.
“See those at Goodwill all the time,” barked another teacher.
“Well check these out!” she stammered. “Sticky-hands-Sam gave me these apple socks!”
The fifth-grade teacher hefted her foot onto the table and jerked up her pant leg. “The very same honey,” she smirked.
“Well, I will treasure these always!” Stacey gasped, and stomped out.
Later that day, Stacey’s cat greeted her as she opened her apartment door.
“Sorry Bud, a little busy here,” Stacey heaved the pile into her bedroom. “Okay Bud, let’s get these things into the closet shall we?”
Her fingers just brushed the handle and BLAM! the closet doors exploded open! An avalanche of apple gifts flew into the air; apple earrings, apple socks, and apple hats spilled out. The scent of apple blossom perfume filled the air.
“MMMEEEOOOWWW!” Bud screeched and jumped into the air. He landed with a thud and glared at Stacey.
“Ouch!” Stacey yelled as an apple bracelet landed on her head. Remnants of Christmas wrap lay in the rubble. “Wow. I didn’t realize that I had gotten so much from my kiddos last year. They are so sweet! Bud, can you believe those cynical old teachers made fun of my awesome apple gifts? The kids gave me these special things!”
Bud began licking himself. Undaunted, Stacey continued, “I am going to take this opportunity to wear my entire apple collection right now.” She decorated herself from head to toe.
She was still admiring her treasures when the doorbell rang. “Stacey, you home?” shouted her best friend.
“OMG! What happened to you? Matronly much?”
Apple earrings dangled off Stacey’s earlobes, an apple hat crowned her head, she had apple socks and bracelets and pins, an apple scarf and three apple tote bags hung off her body.
“My students…” Stacey’s voice trailed off as she caught her reflection in the mirror.
“Pa Leeze!” Tracy smirked.
The pitter-patter of footsteps on the stairs stopped Stacey’s heart. Wide-eyed she looked at Tracy in panic. “Oh no, it’s…”
“Honey!” an older woman’s voice rang out.
“My mom!!” moaned Stacey.
Stacey’s mother stood there, all size two of her. She wore black from head to toe with her striking silver hair set off by Italian glasses and race car red OPI lipstick. She sucked in a breath with her hands on her hips, “Stacey, are you feeling alright? You don’t seem yourself. Are you ill? Do you need anything?”
“I’m beginning to feel that way,” Stacey stammered.
Stacey’s land lady approached. She was at least sixty, with the body of a thirty-year-old. She swung her arm around Stacy’s mom’s shoulders and turned to Stacey.
“Oh girly girl, lose the apple glam, you look older than me, sweetie!” she exclaimed. She and Stacey’s mother left giggling down the hall—promising to be back later.
Pausing a beat Stacey shrieked, “Tracy, help me!”
They loaded up her apple scarves, socks, earrings, bracelets, hats, pins, necklaces and totes and stuffed them into Tracy’s car.
Tracy stomped on the gas pedal of her Suburban. “Girl, I am taking you to Goodwill to dump this apple crap, and then to TGIFridays to celebrate.” They lurched as the vehicle squealed into traffic. Stacey giggled with guilt, then relief.
The next day, Stacey flicked the lights on in her classroom. Sparkles and pink tissue glowed from the gift bag waiting ominously in the center of her desk. Stacey read the words ‘WELCOME BACK MISS DAISY,’ as she peeked through the tissue paper. She breathed, “Oh no, apple crap!”