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Mrs. Little's Discovery
By Colleen Messina

1     This was Mrs. Little's first year of teaching at Mountain Lakes High School, and even though Mrs. Little was not little, she had big ideas that kept her high school students busy. She was a quiet, unassuming person who had little going on in her life outside of her job.
2     Mrs. Little did have one outstanding quality: she was an exceptional listener. This trait endeared her to her students, but it carried over into another of Mrs. Little's duties in a devious way. Mrs. Little enjoyed eavesdropping on the students' conversations, and in this way, she learned a lot-especially during hall duty. When the students saw Mrs. Little's large figure shuffling along the hallway, they deftly moved aside so as not to careen into her, but they never stopped talking, and this is exactly what Mrs. Little wanted.
3     One day during hall duty, Mrs. Little passed a group of chattering girls. Their voices rose and fell like a flock of frantic chickens fighting for grain. Mrs. Little pressed herself against a cold metal locker and pretended to peruse her purse as she listened intently to what they were saying. The girls kept on squawking, and Mrs. Little's wide lips formed a smug little grin. Showtime!
4     "My dad is the biggest jerk in the world. He gives me a paltry allowance, an early curfew, and I have no autonomy at all! He can't take me to the party on Friday because he has to go to some sports event. He is always urging me to join a team, but I have two left feet and no coordination," Sharon complained. She was a redheaded pixie of a girl who hardly looked big enough to be in tenth grade, and when she was upset, the color of her face matched her fire engine red hair. Her knobby knees were white, ugly, and awkward as they stuck out from her short skirt.
5     "I have a terrible secret," Sharon confided to her friend, Elizabeth. "I wish I could get a replacement for my dad. Can you believe it?"
6     "I'm sorry you feel that way, but I guess you'll have to resign yourself to the fact that he is your dad. My dad can give you a ride to the party," said Elizabeth.
7     "Thanks, that would be great!" replied Sharon with relief.
8     Meanwhile, back at her post by the lockers, Mrs. Little felt disappointed. She was hoping for something a little more dramatic than that. She crept slowly down the rest of the hallway like a hungry vulture looking for a kill. At the end of the hall by a staircase, there was another flock of chattering girls. Their confident postures made Mrs. Little feel sure that they were seniors. They never moved out of the way when other students tried to pass them. Rose, a tall auburn-haired beauty, dominated the conversation with her lively hand movements and the musical cadence of her voice.

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