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Lizzy’s pet crow, Angus, sat on her shoulder and whispered true things in her ear. Angus told her that Penny’s mom wouldn’t ever let Penny wear a nightgown to school on Pajama Day. He told her that Sarah was sad because her father traveled a lot. And one rainy day, Angus told Lizzy that Lucas was about to start again.

“Why are you always talking to yourself?” Lucas asked, poking her in the shoulder. “Is it because no one else will talk to you?”

Lucas couldn’t see Angus, and there was no point in trying to explain.

“Dizzy Lizzy!” he shouted, in a sing-song voice.

She wanted to tell Lucas to stop. But all her words got stuck in her throat.

Ben and Javier joined in. Dizzy Lizzy, Dizzy Lizzy, Dizzy Lizzy, over and over.

Lizzy felt hot tears in the corners of her eyes. Angus told her to ignore them.

But it was easy for Angus to say that. He could fly away anytime he wanted to. “They’re mean, Angus,” whispered Lizzy.

“She’s talking to herself!” Lucas cried, while Ben and Javier made horrible faces. Angus cawed loudly at them, but they couldn’t hear him.

Lizzy started to walk away from them, but Lucas put his foot in front of her ankle. And she fell… down, down, into a puddle of sticky mud. Angus had taken flight; he was perching in a tree. He told her to stay calm.

Lizzy slowly got to her feet. And she shoved Lucas as hard as she could.

“Lizzy!” exclaimed Mrs. Barrett, her teacher. “You are not allowed to push another student. I’m taking you to Mr. Rosen.”

Muddy Lizzy walked silently beside Mrs. Barrett on the way to the principal’s office. Angus said, “You should tell Mr. Rosen what happened.”

“You should be quiet,” said Lizzy.

Mrs. Barrett couldn’t see or hear Angus either. She frowned. “Students do not tell teachers what to do. You’re already in trouble, young lady.”

Mrs. Barrett went into Mr. Rosen’s office alone, then called Lizzy inside.

Mr. Rosen’s eyes widened when he spotted Lizzy’s mud-splotched overalls. But he didn’t say anything; he just asked her to take a seat on a leather-covered chair. “Mr. Rosen is a fair man,” Angus said.

“I know,” said Lizzy.

“What do you know?” asked Mr. Rosen. His voice was curious, not angry.

Lizzy didn’t say anything. She knew Mr. Rosen couldn’t see Angus, either.

Mr. Rosen asked her a couple of questions. Lizzy didn’t want to talk about what had happened. To her surprise, Mr. Rosen pulled out some paper and crayons. “Draw me a picture, Lizzy.”

Lizzy picked up the sharp black crayon, and she drew Angus.

He had a big yellow beak, and big eyes, and strong wings. He was flying high over the playground, over the grass and mud, over Lizzy… and Lucas. Lizzy-in-the-picture had pigtails. Lucas-in-the-picture had angry eyebrows and a scowling mouth. Mr. Rosen’s eyes were gentle. “Can you tell me what’s happening in the picture?”

Lizzy knew she could tell him about the picture, and he wouldn’t laugh. So she told him about Angus, and how he kept her company. And that Angus-in-the-picture had warned Lizzy-in-the-picture that Lucas-in-the-picture would start trouble. And that was exactly what Lucas-in-the-picture had done.

“Thank you, Lizzy,” said Mr. Rosen. He looked at her from under his soft, bushy eyebrows. “You know you’re not allowed to push other students.”

“I know,” said Lizzy in a small voice. “And I’m sorry.”

“But bullying is also not allowed,” said Mr. Rosen. “So I’m going to give you a warning to keep your hands to yourself…” He smiled. “And listen to Angus. It sounds like he gives you good advice.”

Mr. Rosen walked out of his office with Lizzy. He asked his assistant, Miss Carter, to help Lizzy find some paper towels for the mud.

“Oh—one more thing, Miss Carter,” he said. “Please call Lucas Moore to my office.”

Linda McMullen

Linda McMullen is a wife, mother, diplomat, and homesick Wisconsinite. Her short stories and the occasional poem have appeared in over 70 literary magazines.

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